Off My Rocker, by Kenny Weissberg
[Weissberg wrote a Friday column called “Hot Licks & Rhetoric” for the Boulder Daily Camera that I devoured while growing up in Colorado. He also hosted Bill Murray on a Sunday night KCRW radio show one night just a Murray started to break on SNL. We recently got back in touch…]
Dear Kenny, my first thought was, “You played Brinsley Schwarz on your first KCRW show… and you remember it?” I finally picked up a BS twofer after turning into a rabid Nick Lowe fan in the 1980s and remember being quite disappointed… was he any kind of known quantity that early on?
I realize we must have some mutual friends. I got in touch with Gil Asakawa when he writing for Westword when home from college one break, and he took me to lunch with Leland Rucker. Both have been grand friends ever since. I think I told you I wrote my very first piece of criticism for Sam at Cakeeaters, wondering if you have any old issues of that thing rolling about? Great name/graphic, who came up with that?
One Saturday afternoon my drummer and I were hanging out downtown, sprawled about the second floor of Pearl street offices reading Rolling Stone for some reason (Dylan Rolling Thunder overage), we sniffed out the studio and introduced ourselves to Peter Rodman, who put on Quadrophenia and read a few band announcements on the air for us. We played Fred’s a few times and the like.
Did you ever hear of a band called The Mary Jane Band? Would have been very early 1970s. My mother was good friends with the mother of the bass player, remember being awed by rehearsals in their Pine Street house. One of the girlfriends gave me a nylon-string guitar, my first. Bass player’s sister cued up “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” for me, sheer wow moment.
We MUST engage in my favorite parlor game: check for overlaps. Promoter shows don’t count:
1) Dylan, Band at Denver Coliseum, 1974
2) Springsteen, Red Rock, June 1978
3) The Who, Denver Coliseum 1975
4) Richard Thompson, full band, Rochester, NY, 1985
5) Steely Dan, with guests Michael McDonald, Phoebe Snow, 1991
Thanks for writing the WHOLE thing as candidly as you did. Great backstage stuff…. TR

Hey Tim, 

First of all, thanks for taking the time to read Off My Rocker.  I feel honored when writers (especially those who are avid readers/professors/etc) take the time to read and respond to my debut effort.  My “encore career” as an author (all seven months since publication) has brought me a lot of satisfaction and joy.  While exceeding all my expectations already, it makes for a lot of ‘what if’ moments.  What if I had played the game and held out for a major agent and publisher?  What if I had hired the publicist four months before the book came out as opposed to four months after?  Ad infinitum.  Still, I get emails, phone calls, acknowledgments, and reviews nearly every day that validate all the lonely time I put into the writing.  But what if :-)
Re: Brinsley Shwarz . . . I threw in that paragraph of absolute obscure names to demonstrate how “free” freeform radio was.  The only Brinsley Schwarz songs I can remember without looking at the back cover of the LP is “The Ballad of a Has-Been Beauty Queen” and “Rock and Roll Women.”
Re: our mutual “friends,” I didn’t know Gil that well and finally met Leland for the first time last October as a guest on his KGNU show.  He told me how happy he was that I left Boulder, because he inherited my job at Audience (his first gig in Boulder).  We had a lot of fun doing a membership drive at my alma mater KGNU that day, plus he let me plug my Boulder Book Store signing.
Remember the Mary Jane Band by name only.
Off the top of my head (I’m sure I’d change this list with even ten minutes of thought), my TOP FIVE CONCERTS (and there is significant overlap as I attended your #1, 2 and 3 favorites):
1) The eight hour block of CCR, Janis Joplin, Sly & the Family Stone, and the Who (especially!) at Woodstock, 1969  (life changing for obvious reasons).  (two nights of the Who at the Fillmore East in October, 1969 tie with Woodstock)
2) Spirit, The Kinks, and the Bonzo Dog Band, Fillmore East in NYC, 1969  (Spirit is my favorite live band of all time)
3) Bruce Springsteen at CW Post University, 1975 and at Red Rocks, 1978.  The Red Rocks show was more spectacular, but the marathon CW Post show was my introduction to Bruce.

4) Roy Orbison at Humphrey’s, San Diego, 1987  (I was a fan in the audience as well as promoter, so you have to throw me a bone, plus it’s the last show I remember crying tears of joy at.)

5) three-way tie: Dire Straits at Bottom Line, NYC in ’79, Iron City Houserockers at Blue Note, Boulder in ’81 and Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul, Rainbow in Denver, ’83.

By the way, I’m a huge Richard Thompson fan too.  Presented him as an opening act at Humphrey’s six times.  Six jaw dropping experiences.  I’ve seen him a dozen other times elsewhere.

THANKS AGAIN, Tim for taking the time to read and comment on my book!


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