Thursday, December 13

Interview #19 : Thierry Los from VEGOMATIC

Thierry is the guitar player/ singer of Vegomatic a French band which took its name after a Jonathan song. The band started in the 90's and got more and more following through the years. I encourage you to look at their MySpace page to discover their multiple assets: they are obviously talented and inventive.

Thierry has also his own page,
we got to know each other at a Jonathan concert as it often happens.

His answers to my questions are really thoughtful, I am sure you will appreciate them as I did. In what follows I see Jonathan not so much as a spiritual guide but as some example which helps to give one's life some sense.

- Do you remember how you discovered Jonathan’s music ?

As an avid reader of rock mags towards the end of the 70’s, I used to see his name often mentioned but could not find any of his records. Sometimes in 1985, my newly found girlfriend left, in the flat I was sharing with a pal, a cassette of “Rock’n roll with the Modern Lovers”.

A total blast ! I lost track of this girl soon after. Speaking about it now brings out melancholy, I can’t even remember her name and would not recognize her in the street, when her gesture was so crucial ! Nevertheless I would have found out Jojo’s music soon or later, it is so close to myself.

- From 72 to 76, Europe was flooded in musical depression. Bands were playing endless and emollient songs. The release of the 1st Modern Lovers LP was for many of us like some perfect comeback of creative rock. One could again identify itself with real guys. Did you feel that way ?

Yes but I heard this LP a bit after the one I was mentioning before (I bought all the available material in a 6 months period). The actual musical depression was during the 80’s, the new wave and on the radio music with synthesizers and terrible reverbs. I was in my “back to the roots” period, discovering the inspirations of the 80’s bands I was liking as the Sunny Boys, the Fleshtones, the Barracudas, the Cramps, the Gun Club etc… I had then found the Remains, the whole Nuggets bands, and Chicago blues. These records were in a sense more human, as they were not performed by virtuosos only keen on technical challenge. But I know that those other bands were emollient because they were looking for some evolution in their art, which is not to be despised. It’s an artist way, some good things came out.

- At the same time, we were also listening to the fantabulous Flamin’ Groovies, you told me about an anecdote related to them ?

It is something personal but it illustrates well correspondences which fall in place intuitively during life. When I turned 40, I wished to buy eventually a real car to swap from the old Transit Ford model which I had been using to carry my bands and also as a daily car. As I did not find anything suiting my taste in the present car production I had a look at vintage models and I chose an series 3 XJ6 Jaguar.. More precisely a Daimler Double 6, top level range with a 12 cylinders engine which had an incredible musicality (it is supposed to be the musicians favourite).

Flamin' Thierry !!

Recently looking through my old vinyl records, I saw that on the “Shake some action” Lp cover is featured exactly the same car and the musicians are in front wearing slick suits. Like me when I take my car to posh parties ! But folks, don’t think I’m just another snob, because I have also just bought an orange VW Caravannette from 1973 ( Hippy Johnny’s one ?!..) to go surfing with my son.

- When Jonathan ended the original Modern Lovers and moved to a different style, he managed to do a perfect record with « Rock’n roll with the Modern Lovers ». On this record is the song “Dodge Veg-O-Matic” which you used as a name for your first band, can you tell us about it ?

Yes, it is an out of time perfect record. One which I would take on the mythical desert island, a sentence from the 80’s which cannot be used anymore nowadays when one can upload a full record collection on a nano i-pod.

- Listen HERE, how I managed to get Vegomatic to cover "Dodge Veg-O-Matic" on a French indie radio -

It was Muriel, the bass player who found this name for the band as well as our son’s name. She has very good taste ! Her only wrong chord was to leave me and go with our son 250 miles away from Paris to start a new life. I am driving my Jaguar to visit my son, feeding the vintage deck with old tapes. While crossing Normandy on the N112, I am listening again to all the albums released then when I was discovering Jonathan’s music and was eager to become a musician. I have found since the dark sides of the job and know what “having the blues” means. But Jonathan’s journey, long, free and independent, gives me guts in wilting times.

We never tried with Dodge Veg-O-Matic to mimic Jojo’s music, on the contrary. We did everything we could to go far from it and not duplicate him. We were rather looking at the FEELIES or to BOB MOULD sound in .. French.

-When did you meet Jonathan for the first time, how did it happen ?

In 1987, I was carrying out an internship in an advertising agency. I had foreseen to use “Egyptian reggae” for a TV commercial about the SAMOS cheese. As Jonathan did not have an agent, I took care to contact him to get his agreement…

I was feverish ! My absolute hero! To my total surprise he did agree, but I think he had felt he was dealing with a die-hard fan. We worked through phone calls and faxes on the draft as he had to adapt the text written for this purpose.. He was very enthusiastic and the result sounds like the Modern Lovers 88 album which he was recording at that time. I still have it in VHS format and would love to upload it to You Tube if he agrees and if someone can digitize it for me… It is a must !

The following Summer, he invited me to visit him and Gail near the Nevada border as I had already scheduled a trip to California. We immediately hooked together and he invited me to spend the night at his home. Gail told me it was a rare privilege, not happening often. I slept outside on the terrace under the stars where a bed had been set for Summer. Next morning, we hiked together in the nearby countryside and talked about all kinds of topics, then he taught me about guitar feeling, the emotional way to pet the strings. I came back by bus in the middle of the afternoon, ready to confront a serene death.

Thinking about it again, I realize how 87 had been intense and crucial. In April of that very year I had lost my father, killed at 45 from a brain haemorrhage. Soon afterwards I meet my teenage years hero who tells me about his artist life. His wish not to become like the people he had been seeing going to work as robots in Boston buses. To be free and without a boss, to enjoy life and not postpone most cherished desires. To become selfish in a way.. the most obvious way to be generous towards yourself and towards others.

Next year I will be 45 and I have followed the same tracks even though I have not gained Jonathan’s fame nor his genius. On the other hand, I think I am transmitting his message in everything I am doing and in every place I am playing like last week-end in Moscow where people were falling in my arms with gratefulness. I am again ready to confront a serene death.

- In 2000, your band had become Vegomatic , had changed its style and was opening for Jonathan at the Café de la danse in Paris. This was my first contact with your music and I had been disconcerted to say the least by your electrosurf pop sound. But Jonathan made a good choice, did he like your music ?

Following my initiatory journey, we stayed in contact and became friends. He slept many time at my home in Paris after his concerts. It was his wife to be, Nicole, who advised him to bill us as opening act. More than our sound, I think they had been seduced by our will not to try to reproduce things already heard so many times before, by our taste for challenge and freedom. When I am listening again to what we were doing then, it seems quite weird he might have enjoyed our music. Oh well, we were trying then to produce human robots music.

("Quelque chose" by VEGOMATIC)

- What is your favorite Jonathan song and why ?

Right now it is “Affection” because “I’m starving for…”. Each of Jonathan’s songs can be related to an important moment of my life.

- How would you rate Jonathan’s influence on rock these last thirty years ?

Essential for indie rock. Though he is far less known by people at large than say Lou Reed or Iggy Pop. But he wanted it to be that way.

- Today, Vegomatic follows up, to my mind, its perfect journey releasing a very inventive music which goes from minimalist compositions for TV commercials

(here is a commercial for Lacoste product)

to actual songs which makes you feel like dancing while smiling. Your songs are colourful and I can’t help thinking that unconsciously Jonathan has something to do with it.

Thank you but no, it is consciously !!

And I am referring to those 1987 events described above. I think we are tuned on the same sensitivity, that’s all. Vegomatic is mainly me and people whose sensitivity I like and who gather around me towards the years.

Gerard, Thierry, Macha, Eric (L-R) "Bonjour, on est Vegomatic !!"

In the next album there should be more unplugged songs where Jonathan’s influence as a guitar player will appear more obviously. I feel ready for that.

- There is a young Boston band, B for Brontosaurus, which reminds me of your first band. I have put their cover of “I’m a little dinosaur” on the JojoBlog, there are also video clips on You Tube. Have a look and tell me what you think.

Cool indeed !

- What is your feeling about Jonathan’s evolution, what he is doing nowadays ?

- His greatest talent is to last !! And here and there begins to appear more blues and melancholy. He is focused even more (if it is still possible, he has been gone so far!) on emotion and on the outlets of all the range of human feelings.

- What are Vegomatic’s future projects ?

I started Vegomatic and the Surfin’ Robots, electrosurf bands, because I was thinking it would give me access to Japan and to California where I am dreaming to play. When Muriel left, Macha Kouznetsova, a Russian native, joined the band. And now we play there on a regular basis, in the cold. But the heart of men, cold it’s not!

( a video from the band showing a mock-up for an experimental TV project)

In life, one does not usually get what one had been dreaming of but life provides us sometimes with something else, nice as well but one has to know how to truly enjoy it. Like Jonathan, I have always been interested by the musics of the world. This reminds me that I am the one who introduced him to the Gypsy Kings music which later influenced his guitar playing.

Last year I signed with Universal for a side project called Montlery in which I am doing electro disco ! This project is deliberately a commercial one, I had always in mind Jonathan covering that Bee Gees song in the middle of “Give Paris one more chance”, thinking he would understand my approach even though it had been totally orthogonal until then. The video clip where I am featured as a 3D cartoon character and where I am fighting using my Mosrite guitar puts things back in place.. “Rock’n roll will never die” as would say a die-hard fan of his.

("don't give up now" by MONTLERY, a cartoon starring Thierry and Macha characters)

-The ritual question to end, any anecdote related to Jonathan ?

As we came out of a so-so concert of his, Jean Touitou, our mutual friend –also producer of Jonathan’s Mustapha recording and manager of APC – told him about our disappointment. Jonathan not taken aback at all told us in French “le mieux est l’ennemi du bien” (the best is good’s enemy). What a philosophy !

Tuesday, December 11

Interview #18 : Santiago Delgado

To end the year, there will be two interviews with European friends of Jonathan's. The next one will be with Thierry the guitar player in the French band Vegomatic.

But let's get started with Santiago Delgado who intrigued us last week with his "Jonathan" song. Listen to this song in the dedicated message linked below, (translated lyrics included). He seemed an obvious choice and reading his words, I started to understand why Jonathan was so keen on touring in Spain. He knows he has there his most fervent fans.

- Could you first tell me about your band , introduce it, music style and so on ?

My band is Santiago Delgado y los Runaway Lovers. Runaway after DelShannon and Lovers after Modern Lovers, of course. The music is"naive doo-woop", a mix of doo-woop, rock´n´roll and pop, but we aren´t a doo-woop group. Our home town is Bilbao, Spain. On stage, we are three voices, a spanish guitar and a cajón flamenco (percussion).We are Santi, voice and guitar, Juanjo and Igor, voices, and Gorka, percussion. More info on the
My Space page of Santiago Delgado y los Runaway Lovers

- You sent me a song dedicated to Jonathan. I do not speak Spanish, what is it about

"JONATHAN" is sort of a protest song. I want to hear again the Jonathan from " Rockin and romance", the one who plays and sings ROCK´N´ROLL .

You will find the lyrics and the song in mp3 format in the
message just a bit below

- How did you become familiar with Jonathan's music ? and what is your favorite period of his career and why ?

Ufff¡. It´s very difficult to answer...but...the 80´s. Why? "Rockin´and romance" is my favourite Lp, but Jonathan sings, Rockin and Romance,It´s time for..., and Jonathan 88, are for me...perfect,...and also, the shows with Andy Paley with nylon string guitars, the shows withBrenan Totten and Avila, the shows only with one guitar...THE PERFECT JONATHAN IS JONATHAN SMILING ¡ YES ¡

- Did you like the original Modern Lovers ?

Yes, great songs "Roadrunner", "Girlfriend", Pablo Picasso,Goverment center...Obviously, theirs is a great FIRST Lp.

- Jonathan seems to have lots of fans in Spain, what do you think of his album sung completely in Spanish ("¡ Jonathan, te vas emocionar !")?

For many reasons it was one disappointment...a mistake...but with a great cover of "Compadrito Corazón"., but it was the first step in the career of Jonathan in the latter step the song "Vampiresa Mujer" is better than "Vampire Girl"...One song in spanish is better than the same song in english¡ IMPORTANT¡ EH ¡ VERY IMPORTANT¡

- Do you see any flamenco influence in his recent guitar playing ?

Yes, in the last tour, Jonathan sang with Muchachito Bombo Infierno and KIKO VENENO. Kiko Veneno is the composer author of "Volando Voy"( year 79, aprox) one of the most famous songs of Camarón de la Isla, the nº 1 voice of the new flamenco. On YOU TUBE, you can see some fragments of these shows, Jonathan sings "Volando Voy"...and makes up the lyrics¡

Note: "Echate un cantecito" of Kiko Veneno is a great Lp.

- Have you seen him on his last European tour ? If so how was it ?

No, but the previous tour, yes, in Vitoria. I liked it very much, for me it was his best show with Tommy Larkins.

- What is your favourite Jonathan song ?

IMPOSSIBLE to choose one.

I will give you you 14, one Lp in fact : The beach, Gail loves me, Now is better than before, That kind of music, Dancin´late at night, Vampiresa Mujer, Roller Coaster by the sea, Vincent Van Gogh, NeonSign, Egyptian Reggae, My baby love love loves me, I´m a little dinosaur, You are the one for me, Rockin´leprechauns,...

and one bonus track: I have come out to play...and...and...and...eternally

- On the pictures of your band , you are all wearing blue striped shirts as Jonathan used to wear. Is that some kind of reference to him ?

Yes, of course...and to Johnny Kidd and The Pirates, and to Kirk Douglas,and to the Barracudas....

- Is your band covering some of his songs ?

No, we can´t, but all of my songs are like Jonathan´s songs. Hey ¡RRRRRRRRROCKIN and RRRRRRRROMANCE!

- Any anecdote related to Jonathan ?

In Madrid, Year 88 or 89, Club Universal. Sold out. After the show,the DJ plays oldies, 50´s, 60´s, girls groups, etc. Through the list, the DJ plays "Travellin man" by Ricky Nelson.

At that moment, Jonathan comes out on the stage and is dancin´dancin´twistin´round and round...the people clap their hands, and shout: JONATHAN, JONATHAN ¡

But the DJ thinks: Ah, Jonathan starts again the show...and...the music stops...the music disapears SILENCE¡ JONATHAN DISAGREES, very angry, and says: Hey, maestro DJ, Mr. DJ...(in the middle of stage with his arms open...) and shouts WHERE´S RICKY NELSON?....SILENCE¡ ....and again, very angry...WHERE´S RICKY NELSON?...SILENCE¡...Jonathan goes to the dressing room, backstage....Finally, The DJ plays again Ricky Nelson.

Saturday, December 8

another Shirin


From L.A. Record:

Hi Jonathan. I met you the day after my friend Becca played her favorite Modern Lovers song for me, ‘Shirin & Fahrad.’ You were set to perform in Portland at Dante’s Inferno, so I invited her along. Before you played, Olivia and Chris in C.O.C.O. performed, bass and drums doo-wop-doo-yeah. Then you performed and I sat still and listened to your words, remembering that when you fronted the Modern Lovers you had them play at a lower volume cos you wanted people to hear your words. And you had a lot of funny songs, but the one I really liked was ‘Not So Much to Be Loved as to Love,’ and I yelled out ‘Yeah!’ and you looked over holding the acoustic guitar and nodded. Afterwards, you buzzed around like a hummingbird and I went with the New Bloods across the street to Voodoo Donuts. After enjoying a most delicious pastry with pink frosting, peanut butter, and sprinkles and back to where everyone stood on the sidewalk, Chris introduced us. As we went to shake hands—zap!—and we both pulled away, simultaneously speaking—me: ‘Sorry, my hands are sticky!’ And you: ‘Sorry, I scratched you!’ I couldn’t stop smiling, eyes dancing: ‘You didn’t scratch me,’ And you: ‘I like things that are dirty.’ After which your voice dropped out and I wondered if you had hurt it singing—and you said, no, it was much more serious than that, and that you were seeing a doctor to have vocal chord surgery. Me: ‘Oh, maybe we should stop talking then…’ and off you flew. I walked away on a cloud, really happy to have met you on the astral plane. The experience meant so much to me I decided to adopt the name Shirin. That was a year and six months ago… I live in L.A. now, recorded a solo album, looking for love again. From my bedroom window, I look at the downtown skyline and listen to ‘Miracles Will Start To Happen.’ Hope you are feeling better.

-- Sue Siadat

Thanks to Sue Siadat and L.A. Record

L.A. Record

Friday, December 7

vuelve al rock´n´roll por favor no te hagas de rogar

Santiago Delgado y los Runaway Lovers from Bilbao, Spain ask Jonathan to come back to rock'n'roll with their song "Jonathan"

Santiago Delgado y los Runaway Lovers - Jonathan MP3 (2MB)

Spanish lyrics:

Jonathan, Jonathan,
vuelve al rock´n´roll por favor, no te hagas de rogar (no, no Jonathan)
Jonathan, Jonathan,
coge el saxofón por favor y empieza a soplar (no, no Jonathan)
vuelve a cantar y palmear como Jonathan
vuelve a sentir alegría de vivir como

Jonathan, Jonathan vuelve al rock´n´roll por favor no te hagas de rogar (no,no Jonathan)

Jonathan los amantes modernos te necesitan, Jonathan
deja la cumbia, la salsa y el merengue y vuelve al rock´n´roll (no,no Jonathan)
deja Hollywood, en Hollywood no te quieren y nosotros si Jonathan
no bailes más con Cameron y baila con nosotros
vuelve al rock´n roll

vuelve a cantar y palmear como Jonathan
vuelve a sentir alegría de vivir como

Jonathan, Jonathan coge el saxofón y empieza a soplar (no, no Jonathan, Jonathan)

vuelve al rock´n´roll por favor
y haz el avioncito, haz el avioncito
vuelve al rock´n´roll por favor
y haz el dinosurio, haz el dinosaurio
vuelve al rock´n´roll por favor
y haz el mosquito, haz el mosquito

English lyrics:

Jonathan, Jonathan,
Come back to rock n roll please, don't make us beg (no, no Jonathan)
Jonathan, Jonathan,
Grab the saxophone please and start blowing (no, no Jonathan)
Come back to sing and clap again like Jonathan
Come back to feel the happiness of life again like

Jonathan, Jonathan come back to rock n roll please, don't make us beg (no, no Jonathan)

Jonathan the Modern Lovers need you, Jonathan
Leave the cumbya, the salsa, and the merengue and come back to rock n roll (no, no Jonathan)
Leave Hollywood, no one loves you in Hollywood, and we do, Jonathan
Don't dance any more with Cameron and dance with us
Come back to rock n roll (No, no Jonathan)

Come back to sing and clap again like Jonathan….
Come back to feel the happiness of life again like

Jonathan, Jonathan grab the saxophone please and start blowing (no, no Jonathan, JONATHAN)

Jonathan, Jonathan
Come back to rock n roll please
And do the little airplane, do the little airplane
Come back to rock n roll please
And do the dinosaur, do the dinosaur
Come back to rock n roll please
And do the mosquito, do the mosquito
Come back to rock n roll, please

Santiago Delgado y los Runaway Lovers (MySpace)

Thank you, Santiago!

Extra-special thanks go to Turquoise Taylor Grant and Marisela Salinas for their help in translating the original Spanish lyrics to English.

Tuesday, November 27

Short interview from 1978

In 1978, Jonathan was attending a concert of the Troggs in Boston. The opening act were the Real Kids and the interview is happening just after their set. The Troggs can be heard warming up in the background and Jonathan is announcing his new album to be released, "back in your Life". He has not found the New teller yet ...
you can listen to it by clicking the title of this message

Friday, November 9

More unreleased Modern Lovers from 1971 and 73

When you think you have absolutely everything ever released by the Modern Lovers, there is something new just lurking around the corner...
We got the 71 Stonehenge Ipswich one month ago and out of the closet comes this other one which could be called "More Songs of Rememberance " as it includes demos from 71 and 73 plus unreleased parts of the Harvard live set already well exploited in the the two Longbranch CDs and in the Precise Modern Lovers one.

There are five demos :

1. Girlfriend (Cale production of April '72 with John Cale on Mellotron, according to Doug C., the expert on Modern Lovers)
2. Modern World (Kim Fowley Sept. 73 session)
3. Ride down on the highway (Fall '71 Intermedia demo.)
4. A Plea For Tenderness (Kim Fowley Sept. 73 session)
5. Hospital (Kim Fowley Sept. 73 session).

then are some missing Harvard mixer songs from 71, existing on bootleg tapes (see Bob's nerdy page) but with a better sound here, also Bob had attributed some of these songs to another gig "Cambridge Boathouse 1973").

Live - Harvard University 1971:
6. She Cracked
7. Astral Plane
8. Someone I Care About
9. Hospital
10. I'm Straight
11. Cambridge Clown
12. Fly Into The Mystery
13. Such Loneliness
14. Womanhood
15. Dignified & Old
16. Unknown Instrumental

As you would have guessed these recordings are available on Dimeadozen.
Question, are there more songs ?

I Am Not Hippy Johnny

How Jonathan Richman used his outsider status to revolutionize rock and roll

(From Guilt & Pleasure 6: The Sound Issue)

I then realized what my father had said earlier, in the ’50s: “You’re not Jewish, you’re not in the Mafia, you’re not black, and you’re not a hillbilly. Why the fuck do you think you can be in the music business?”
— Interview with Kim Fowley, Ugly Things magazine, 2001

During the early 1970s, Jonathan Richman and his band the Modern Lovers launched a small revolt against the rock world. In a period when rock music had become heavy, mellow, ponderous, and technical — sometimes all at once — the Modern Lovers stood for raw simplicity. They wanted nothing to do with meandering blues jams or ten-minute drum solos or trippy sound effects or forty-foot Marshall amps. Stark, energetic rock and roll was what they played. In his oddly nasal voice, Richman sang about girls, neon signs, highways, and other things he loved. He also sang about things he hated: long hair, bell-bottoms, emotional detachment, and drugs. Within Richman’s idiosyncratic mind, an unlikely assortment of bands — from the Velvet Underground to the Beach Boys to the Stooges to Question Mark and the Mysterians — seemed to coexist happily until he and the Modern Lovers reconfigured them into something better.

Writers and musicians alike have rightly credited Richman as a forerunner of the punk revolution. His minimalism, defiance toward everything “hip,” and knack for writing oddball lyrics (his observation that “Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole” will remain immortal) helped to establish the fundamentals of punk. The Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and many others have acknowledged their debt.

But Richman can also be viewed as one in a line of Jews who exercised a defining influence on rock and roll between the 1950s and 1970s. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Phil Spector, Bob Dylan, and Lou Reed (Richman’s main musical hero) immediately come to mind. True, most musicians of Jewish background — and quite likely Richman himself — would object to being classified as Jewish musicians. They didn’t set out to create Jewish music in whatever form. On the contrary: they usually embraced the music of other groups, especially black music. Why should they be pigeonholed by an accidental fact of birth? Yet one can’t help but notice, as Kim Fowley’s father did in the 1950s, the high number of Jews who populated the music business. And then one can’t help but wonder how their Jewish backgrounds might have been relevant to their music.

read the rest backstage>>

Thank you to Tony Michels, Shaina Feinberg at Guilt & Pleasure, and to Devon!

Wednesday, November 7

Gary Lucas & Gods and Monsters: Coming Clean

Gods and Monsters in Amsterdam, May 2007: Jerry Harrison, Ernie Brooks, Jason Candler, Billy Ficca, Gary Lucas (Photo by Arjen Veldt)

Psychedelic art-rock guitar virtuoso and man-of-many-hats Gary Lucas has a colorful history (if you don't know it, read about it here). His latest album is Coming Clean with his band Gods and Monsters- which includes former Modern Lovers Ernie Brooks on bass, and Jerry Harrison on keyboards and production duties; along with Billy Ficca (Television) and Jonathan Kane (Swans) on drums. David Johansen drops in to sing a song ("One Man's Meat"), and the CD ends with a tribute to former God and Monster Jeff Buckley ("Mojo Pin" and "Dream of the Wild Horses").

Gary Lucas & Gods and Monsters frequently perform at Bowery Poetry Club in New York City. Their recent appearance (2 Nov) was for a special "Day of the Dead" show combining music with surrealistic film. (read more here)

update: nyctaper recorded this show

Gary Lucas

Gods and Monsters: Coming Clean@ MySpace (listen)

Gary Lucas@ MySpace (tour schedule)

Bowery Poetry Club

Gary Lucas: Sounds of the Surreal

Gary Lucas: Monsters from the Id

(Description from YouTube): "Legendary left-field guitarist Lucas" (The Guardian) plays his original solo guitar score for the 1912 Russian silent surrealist classic "The Cameraman's Revenge" (Ladislaw Starewicz), recorded live in Richmond Virginia at the James River Film Festival 3/25/06. Part of his "Sounds of the Surreal" silent film project, which includes original solo guitar scores played live to accompany Rene Clair's "En'Tracte" and Fernand Leger's "Ballet Mecanique".

opening for The Freewheeling Yo La Tengo

A review of the recent show (1 Nov) in San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Arts, opening for The Freewheeling Yo La Tengo, from Hippies Are Dead:

Richman's set was ultimately a unique blend of singer-songwriter melodies, social commentary, and comedy act. It was vastly different from his output with the Modern Lovers, but pretty much a "par for the course" performance for those familiar with his more recent work. "Par for the course" in this case was no mean feat, and Richman delivered a great set of sweet tunes. His performance was compelling enough that it even demanded an encore, which is unusual for an opener, to say the least. (read more & pics)

Yo La Tengo lately have been heard to be covering "New Teller" (read more in Variety)

Wednesday, October 31

The delicate art of covers

First time I heard about Jonathan was when I was attending a John Cale concert in '75. Cale was covering "Pablo Picasso" and I thought "this is great, I have to find out about Jonathan Richman". Jon Cale, helped by Chris spedding on guitar, had delivered a great rendition of that song .

Covers are not an easy art, and I would say as for Jonathan it is even more "risqué", you have to be tuned to the man's mind to be able to cover his songs correctly. We all remember the embarrassing "Pablo Picasso" which Bowie did a couple of years ago.

The easiest way obviously is to emphasize the Velvet Underground component which is always present in Jonathan's influences. Look for instance at this cover of "She cracked" by a French band, the dum dum boys.

It is right to the point, though it is probably the most velvetish song from the Modern Lovers. Today the bass player is administrating a web group dedicated to the Flamin Groovies and happens to be a friend of mine.

Do you remember Ben from B for Brontosaurus (see interview #9 )? When interviewing him, I had the feeling this young chap had understood a lot about Jonathan. Now look at this cover of "I'm a little dinosaur", just pure Jonathan spirit, I love it.

There is the camp approach which can be quite interesting too, just watch this you will not believe it, a transvestite backed up by the Histrionics and covering "I'm straight". Jonathan visits cabaret, the drummer and the guitar player seem to really enjoy themselves and are the best part of the show.

I will conclude with "Pablo Picasso" performed unplugged by Iggy Pop, and this is a great set . Iggy cannot resist to move from Pablo to Paloma Picasso ... Again a winner cover.

Friday, October 19

Autumn 2007 European tour recap

Jonathan Richman at Debaser Medis in Stockholm ©2007 Manfred Svärd All Rights Reserved
Jonathan Richman at Debaser Medis in Stockholm ©2007 Manfred Svärd All Rights Reserved

From the inbox:

Sander: To my and my friends surprise you decided to quit after only 45 minutes of play, and never came back to give an encore. So, when will you return to Amsterdam and properly finish your concert?

with kind regards

Sorry, Sander! We sympathize but we cannot forward email to Jonathan Richman. Perhaps a Jojoblog reader will kindly pass this message along to him?

From commenters:

Birgit: Last night in Essen was a wonderful show. The mood was so happy, joyful and relaxed, I've never seen Jonathan like this before. His voice sounded so young and fresh and there were so many songs I've never heard before. There really should be a new album soon, I'd love to listen to them again. Tommy was great - as always.

Thank you for a wonderful evening, it will keep me happy for a long while.

Julia: The concert in Nuremberg was magical (as Jonathan's gigs always are), too. He and Tommy even came back half an hour after the end of the gig in order to play 5 more songs, saying that they both didn't wear watches and that they would not have realized if the set had been a little short...they needn't have bothered, the concert was great anyways, but it just shows how much they care for their fans. So all the people who were still there, about half of the audience, were the happy ones, receiving a really special treat from the two musicians!


Jonathan Richman in Ottersum

Oslo: That Summer Feeling

Tommy Larkins at Debaser Medis in Stockholm ©2007 Manfred Svärd All Rights Reserved
Tommy Larkins at Debaser Medis in Stockholm ©2007 Manfred Svärd All Rights Reserved

(schedule reposted for archives)


Wed 26 Sept Rotterdam (Rotown)
Thu 27 Sept Amsterdam (Melkweg)
Fri 28 Sept Ottersum (Cultureel podium Roepaen)
Sat 29 Sept Eindhoven (Effenaar)
more info


Mon 1 Oct Aarhus (Voxhall)


Wed 3 Oct Bergen, Norway (Garage)
Thu 4 Oct Oslo, Norway (John Dee)
Fri 5 Oct Gothenburg, Sweden (Trädgår'n)
Sat 6 Oct Stockholm, Sweden ( Debaser Medis )
Sun 7 Oct Malmö, Sweden (KB)
more info


Tue 9 Oct Oldenburg (Kulturetage)
Wed 10 Oct Hamburg (Turmzimmer- Uebel & Gefährlich)
Fri 12 Oct Essen (Grend)
Sun 14 Oct Ludwigshafen (
Mon 15 Oct Nürnberg (K4)


Tues 16 Oct Brussels (Ancienne Belgique AB-Club)

Tuesday, October 16

2007 performance update

Thu 1 Nov San Francisco CA (Palace of Fine Arts) opening for The Freewheeling Yo La Tengo

Friday, October 12

Great 71 recordings found

When we thought that all the existing live recordings of the Modern Lovers had been released, a new one just appears...
This is Stonehenge in Ipswich, Ma probably end of 71 beginning of 72 according to its finder, rock archaelogist Doug C. who was kind enough to share this treasure and uploaded it on Dimeadozen. Doug is well known to the members of the old Jonathan list to which he used to be a regular contributor.

This gem consists of a two set gig of the Modern Lovers:
First Set 1. Modern World 2. Ride Down on the Highway 3. Girlfriend 4. She Cracked 5. Womanhood 6. Old World

Second Set 1. Fly Into the Mystery 2. Dignified and Old 3. Pablo Picasso 4. Cambridge Clown 5. Astral Plane 6. Song of Remembrance for Old Girlfriends 7. Such Loneliness 8. I Grew Up in the Suburbs 9. A Plea for Tenderness (incomplete) 10. Roadrunner (cut)

The sound is very good compared to the other early live recordings and there are rare songs here like "Cambridge clown", "Song of remembrance" or totally unknown ones like "I grew up in the suburbs". This last one is another lost Jonathan classic tune, nervous velvet type guitar and landscape lyrics a la roadrunner : "I grew up in the suburbs, lived by the neon lights..".
Jonathan sketched his band on this flyer. Left to right are David Robinson, Jonathan, Ernie Brooks, John Felice and Jerry Harrison

You never heard "Pablo Picasso" delivered this drumming way, in the intro to the song Jonathan says that the drummer is going to switch to guitar, the guitar player to the organ and so on but he will stick to his singing part. "She cracked" seems to have different lyrics at some point.

There must be other sleeping beauties like this one and now we know that we just have to wait to see them getting awakened...

Tuesday, October 9

Interview #17 : Miles Montalbano

Miles Montalbano is a talented young director whose film "Revolution Summer" première happened last month in San Francisco as explained previously in our BLog.

He is part of the new generation of indie film makers, influenced by perfect mentors like Godard, Antonioni or Cassavetes. His first attempt at filming was the Jonathan concert "Take me to the Plaza". Actually Jonathan composed the soundtrack of "Revolution Summer" and as Miles will explain he got really involved in the making of the film.

Miles is a very nice person, he made sure I got his answers even though he is very busy lately promoting his film, and in passing he happens to be Jonathan's brother in law.

- You were in a punk band called Sister Double Happiness, you were a bass player then.
Did you enjoy the life on the road, the touring over to Europe, just as Jonathan has been doing for ever?

I wouldn’t call us a punk band, although we all came out of that scene and I still carry a lot of the ethos with me. Maybe post-punk blues band would be a better description. One of the best parts of being in the band for me was touring, especially Europe. I hope that filmmaking will offer similar opportunities. I would love to tour with the film.

- Had you heard about Jonathan and the Modern Lovers at that time and possibly seen them live ? If so, how was it ?
I knew of Jonathan originally from the Modern Lovers, but I didn’t see him live until about ten years ago, and he knocked me out, which is when I started to catch up with what he had been doing since.

- I have not seen "Revolution Summer" as I am in Europe, but I have read reviews and comments about the film. I hope they are accurate enough. How werethe film and Jonathan's performance received at the Roxie for the Opening?
The film received a lot of great press for the San Francisco run and was well reviewed. Reaction to the film is usually polarized. People either really seem respond to, and get what we were trying to do, or they really hate the film. Which is great. I think films should try and find something truthful to say. I would hate to make a film that everyone thought was “nice” or “entertaining”. I try to stay away from the middle of the road.
It was really exciting to have Jonathan play after the opening night screening. He played a rare electric set with Tommy, doing music from the soundtrack. Of course it was great.

- I have seen this film you shot of Jonathan playing live ("Take me to the plaza"). It was different from the usual concerts DVDs I had seen before. Did you have a special way in filming Jonathan ? Had you something in mind ?
The only thing was to try and do as truthful and straightforward representation of Jonathan’s performance that night as possible. We talked at one point about the possibility of doing a music video, but Jonathan doesn’t like to do them. He was open to doing a live documentary, so I feel lucky that we got to capture the evening. Of course, it is not the definitive document, as Jonathan is always changing and evolving, but as a snapshot of a moment I think it came out really well.

- "Revolution Summer" has been compared to Antonioni's "Zabriskie point", it is about rebellion against conservatism and narrow minded society if I dare summarize quickly. I think the film is really looking towards Antonioni, I might be biased as he is my favourite director, but how did Jonathan consider your project, it is rather different from "..something about Mary" ?
I love Antonioni also, and I was definitely thinking about a lot of his films while working on Revolution Summer, also Godard, Fassbinder and Cassavetes. We were definitely looking toward a certain type of cinema, what used to be called the ‘art film’, for lack of a better definition.
I think “Mary” has been sort of a double edged sword for Jonathan because in Hollywood you get pigeonholed very quickly. But he is a brilliant composer and I would love to see him do more film score work, and I know he is interested in doing more if there is something he responds to in the film project. Fortunately for us, he responded to the script and the ideas for Revolution Summer.

Interview with Miles about "Revolution Summer"

- What do you think then about "there's something about Mary" ?

I am not really interested in those types of films, but I did finally watch it, and it was fun watching Jonathan and Tommy.

- I understand that with "Revolution Summer" you are trying to awaken the citizens mind towards reality, using real life images. This is quite similar to the French "Nouvelle Vague " attitude during the 60's. Could you comment on that ?
The film was definitely inspired by the French New Wave movement, and also the American underground, and the Dogme 95 stuff. I think all of those movements shared similar goals and aesthetics as a way of trying to capture some sort of truthfulness in the reflection of life in film.

- In a close way, Jonathan was singing "Not in my name" right after the first US soldiers landed in Irak. I read you were working together on the editing and final cutting of the film , living together. What was Jonathan's contribution to your film apart from the soundtrack ?
Besides doing the score for the film, Jonathan was one of the first supporters of the project and really was a big factor in helping get the film off of the ground in the first place. He gave support, advice, and inspiration through all aspects of the film from beginning to end.

- Which brings me to sounds.. A friend of mine, the actor and film director Jean-François Stévenin told me once that the sound engineer is the crucial person in the making of a movie. You have to master your sounds and play with them to enhance the intensity of the images. What is your opinion ?
Yes, of course, sound is half of the equation and is extremely important and can really shape the film. And of course bad sound can ruin a film. Of course, music fits in there. When we first started talking about music for the film, I had an idea that I wanted the music to inform the film as much as the film informed the music. Jonathan had read the script and we had conversations about the mood and the themes of the film. He would come to the set and watch some of the scenes being filmed and tray and catch the vibe of what we were doing, then would go into the studio and record. When we were done shooting I had all of this music that I was able to immediately start playing with during the editing. He instinctually understood exactly what I was looking for musically and the music fit perfectly and really helped shape the film. I loved it so much that my first cut of the film was almost wall to wall music, but we ultimately ended up using it a lot more sparingly to better effect. But I am so glad that Vapor decided to release the soundtrack because I think that the music can really stand on its own also.

- Do you know why the soundtrack CD is so desperately short (28 minutes), some of the pieces seem to have been cut before the end.. ?
Jonathan made the track list and the length of the CD was not really a consideration. He wanted it to move a certain way and that is just how long the CD ended up wanting to be. I think it’s great. There is no filler on there. Just because you can fit 70 minute of music onto a CD doesn’t necessarily mean you should. As far as tracks being cut off, I’m not sure what you mean...

- What do you think about John Cassavetes ? I have the impression you have quite a few things in common concerning cinema.

Cassavetes is an inspiration, not only his films but his passion and philosophy on filmmaking. He made films for himself and never lost sight of his art no matter what the critics and the money people said. He made films because he had to.

- Maybe you know that song "John Cassavetes" by Angel Corpus Christi (she is from the Bay area too). It would be funny if Jonathan would compose some song about you and your films.
I don’t know it. The band Le Tigre did a song about Cassavetes also.

- When I read your name the 1st time, it rang a bell, I remembered it was the name of a famous character in Italian detective novels, police officer Montalbano. He lives in Sicily, likes the good food, women and has a good sense of humor even fronting ugly cases. Maybe you know those books by Andrea Camillieri, otherwise try to find one of them , I think it would be great if one day you would direct an "Inspector Montalbano" movie
My sister has one of the books, but I haven’t read it yet.

- Any opinion about the Flamin' Groovies , (they were my fave band from the Bay area)?

They’re cool.

- How would you define Jonathan's music ?
That is such a hard question. Definitions are limiting and often mis-informative, and for me Jonathan’s music spans a wide range, so I wouldn’t even try. I do like how one reviewer described the soundtrack music as “haunting instrumental music with shades of Dick Dale, Velvet Underground and Django Reinhardt.”

- Is there a particular song of his you prefer ?

I just heard the new album the whole thing is great. It’s definitely one of my favorites.

- When do you think we will get a chance to see "Revolution Summer" in Europe ?
Well, if you live near Valencia, Spain it is playing the Mostra de Valencia, Friday October 18. Otherwise, if anyone has any suggestions on venues let us know, we would love to come over a show it!

- Thanks a lot Miles, I wish you lots of success !!
Thank You!

Saturday, October 6

Hilly Kristal

from Alternatives to Valium:

Easter of 1974, I went in there with Lenny Kaye to see this band, not knowing what to expect, ’cause what was CBGBs? It was this crappy little place with a bar and a stage, and there was about nine people there, (CBGBs’ founder) Hilly Kristal bein’ one of them, me and Lenny bein’ two of them. I saw Television. And I said: that’s it. This is what we are doing. This is present-future. (read more)

-- Patti Smith, on Hilly Kristal, founder of CBGBs

Thanks Alastair!

CBGB Online- In Memorium to Hilly Kristal 1931-2007


Friday, October 5

Oslo: That Summer Feeling

from Your Way to Norway:

If you're ever asked to pick between Jonathan Richman playing acoustic guitar and a world-class symphony playing Joseph Brahms, choose Jonathan Richman. I saw both last night, and, while the symphony was enjoyable, Jonathan Richman will surely be one of the highlights of this Norwegian Adventure.

Despite being trapped in an absolutely packed room, with my glasses constantly fogging over due to the heat and humidity, watching Jonathan Richman sing his 'fun' songs in up to five different languages while periodically dancing to a beat provided by his drumming friend, Tommy Larkins, was something I truly enjoyed. Despite being in his 50s, he seemed almost ageless - he has an excited youthful energy that combines with his years of 'life experience' to produce a show that had everyone in the audience listening...
(more here)

Thanks Brian!

Thursday, October 4

Tuesday, October 2

Jonathan Richman in Ottersum (Netherlands)

From Frans de Waard:

Obviously I could bore you with tales of Rotterdam and that Zebra was in great shape, but that was something that couldn't be said from the installation. So the example how things could be done was presented to the Plinkity Plonk A&R team (alcohol and restaurants) on friday night when Freek and I headed out to Cultureel Centrum Roepaen in the middle of a black hole, but still in The Netherlands, to see the man who made that great 7" in 1977 for which I headed out to buy my first record: Jonathan Richman, without the Modern Lovers but with a drummer. What a great concert, Richman on the acoustic guitar, singing is part sad part joyful tunes, with that twinkle in his eye. It's been a while since I enjoyed myself this much. Freek and I headed out to the dressing room to get my 7" and Freek's LP signed. Jonathan came out with a note that the docter ordered him not to talk post-concert, but kindly signed the stuff and we took the picture above, without saying a word... (more here)

Thanks Frans!

Wednesday, September 26

from 1984

Jonathan Richman live, West Side Club, Lyon France, July 7,1984 at Funeral Pudding (MP3s)

Thanks, Scot

Tuesday, September 25

Tango No. 9

Photo by Anne Hamersky

From Tango No. 9's website:

In 1998, Clubfoot Orchestra veteran Catharine Clune dreamt of a new project—exploration into the work of Astor Piazzolla. Nine years and three albums later, Tango No. 9 has evolved into a critically acclaimed ensemble performing at milongas, festivals, concert halls, and clubs across the Western U.S..

With its unique instrumentation of violin, trombone, piano, and accordion/bandoneon, Tango No. 9 embraces both a reverence to tango’s seductive past and an innovative vision of the music’s storied future.

To the genre-bending virtuosity of San Francisco's renowned cutting edge chamber music scene (e.g. Tin Hat, Kronos Quartet, Rova Saxophone Quartet, Turtle Island), Tango No. 9 adds the skin-to-skin, sex-breathed passion of classic tango. Here Live No Fish, the group's third album, includes tango standards, original compositions, reinterpreted classics from Piazzolla to Prokofiev, and a guest vocal turn by indie music legend Jonathan Richman — songs that at once pay homage to tango’s seductive past while crafting a new vision of the music’s storied future.

Tango No. 9 is an all-star Bay Area ensemble (members have played with The Residents, Tom Waits, Club Foot Orchestra, Eric McFadden, Extra Action Marching Band...) united in a love for a famously elusive non-native art form. Since 1998, the group has delved deeply into the world of tango, playing countless concerts and milongas, collaborating with many of the top dancers on the west coast, and recording two critically acclaimed albums – the all-Piazzolla All Them Cats in Recoleta (lauded by JazzIz Magazine as one of the best modern tango CDs of 2002) and 2006's exploration of early tango, Radio Valencia.

With the third album, Here Live No Fish, the group no longer felt confined to tango in a single style or from a certain time. The album includes tango standards (a milonga, "Mozo Guapo", a waltz "Palomita Blanca"), original compositions ("Milonga Campera", "Sultango", "Sea of Tranquility", "Syncopath"), reinterpreted classics from Piazzolla to Prokofiev ("Street Tango", "Libertango", "Tim-and-a-Half Gavoote" & "La Cumparsita"), and a guest vocal turn by indie music legend Jonathan Richman ("Amore de Mis Amores"), who sings a song originally made famous by the 1950s Mexican pop idol, Agustin Lara.

Tango No. 9

Astor Piazzolla

Agustin Lara

Tango No. 9's "Amor de Mis Amores" featuring Jonathan Richman on vocals, MP3 (limited time) at SoundRoots

Listen to more tracks and buy the CD here

Monday, August 27

Denmark and Belgium added to Autumn tour schedule

Mon 1 Oct (Voxhall) Aarhus

Tues 16 Oct (Ancienne Belgique AB-Club) Brussels

Thanks Brad and Raffe!

Tuesday, August 21

Autumn Tour Dates in Germany

09.10.07 Oldenburg, Kulturetage
10.10.07 Hamburg, Turmzimmer (Uebel & Gefährlich)
12.10.07 Essen, Grend
14.10.07 Ludwigshafen, Enjoy Jazz Festival @ the Dome
15.10.07 Nürnberg, K4

Thanks Birgit!

Tuesday, August 7

Revolution Summer at The Roxie Film Center

Revolution Summer

Revolution Summer at The Roxie Film Center August 31 - Sept. 6, 2007

Jonathan Richman performs at the Roxie Film Center [San Francisco] for the OPENING NIGHT SCREENING on Aug. 31 @ 8:00PM.

REVOLUTION SUMMER, the feature debut from filmmaker Miles Montalbano, is a portrait of three restless young urbanites searching for meaning in love, sex, drugs, and political rebellion. Directed with a nod to the French New Wave, this Bay Area DIY production imagines a trio of responses to the current repressive climate. A sexy, dangerous drama that dances on the razor's edge between anomie and violence starring Mackenzie Firgens, Samuel Child, and Lauren Fox. Jonathan Richman composed the original soundtrack, and will perform live at the Roxie with drummer Tommy Larkins following the 8:00pm opening night screening.

Mackenzie Firgens as Hope
Mackenzie Firgens as Hope (Photo by Liz Ross)

Opens Friday Aug. 31 through Thursday Sept. 06 at the Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th St. San Francisco (415) 863-1087.
Co-presented by Film Arts Foundation and Noise Pop.

For more information visit or

Lauren Fox as Francine
Lauren Fox as Francine (Photo by Liz Ross)

Synopsis of Revolution Summer from Roxie New College Film Center:

Rated: NR Runtime: 80 mins.
Fri, Aug 31 - Thu, Sept 6

Jonathan Richman in person: Aug.31!! Filmmaker Miles Matthew Montalbano’s feature debut is the most open-hearted and open-minded political portrait to come down the pike in ages. Written under the influence of Bush’s Iraqatastrophe and the Vietnam War–era landmarks Medium Cool and Zabriskie Point, and directed with a nod to the French New Wave, this Bay Area DIY production imagines a trio of responses to the current repressive climate. Mackenzie Firgens gives a screen-melting, star-making performance as the aptly named Hope, a young woman with an undercurrent of vague idealism, an abundance of common sense and no real direction. Her best friend, Francine (a bold, brave turn by Lauren Fox), dismisses any discussion of philosophy and meaning in favor of a live-for-today frenzy of drugs, sex and more drugs. When Hope hooks up with Frankie (Samuel Child), an earnest, likable fellow who’s signed on to a subversive plot to attack an unknown target, the stakes are kicked up a few notches. Brimming with restless energy and a palpable intelligence, and driven by Christian Bruno and K.C. Smith’s probing camerawork, Revolution Summer is an up-close and deeply personal meditation on individual responsibility in the modern age. A provocation spawned by an extraordinarily deep conviction, the film is nonetheless the antithesis of a self-indulgent screed. It abounds with countless small pleasures, from the tasty, spare soundtrack by Jonathan Richman, to gritty glimpses of San Francisco and Oakland, to a tongue-in-cheek cameo by rocker Chuck Prophet. With this sexy, dangerous drama that dances on the razor’s edge between anomie and violence, Montalbano announces himself as a filmmaker to watch. Written, directed & produced by Miles Matthew Montalbano. With Mackenzie Firgens, Samuel Child, Lauren Fox, Zak Kilberg, Ari Gold, Amanda Foreman, Chuck Prophet. USA, 2007, 80 minutes.

Jonathan Richman will play with his drummer Tommy Larkins opening night, August 31!!!

Revolution Summer Original Soundtrack
Revolution Summer Original Soundtrack

at Coalition of Independent Music Stores or here

Thanks Miles!

Saturday, August 4

Autumn Tour Dates in Scandinavia

Wed 3 Oct (Garage) Bergen, Norway
Thu 4 Oct (John Dee) Oslo, Norway
Fri 5 Oct (Trädgår'n) Gothenburg, Sweden
Sat 6 Oct (Debaser Medis) Stockholm, Sweden
Sun 7 Oct (KB) Malmö, Sweden

Some Autumn Tour Dates

A few shows have been listed for the Netherlands:

26th Sept - Rotown, Rotterdam
27th Sept - Melkweg, Amsterdam
28th Sept - Cultureel podium Roepaen, Ottersum
29th Sept - Effenaar, Eindhoven

Some information here:

Fuji Rock 07

Iggy Pop, who turned 60 in April, was the most anticipated act at FRF '07. At four years Iggy's junior, Jonathan Richman had enough steam to play three sets on three stages. Both men are cited as punk progenitors, but their careers couldn't have diverged more. Iggy still works the self-destructive rocker thing, while former Modern Lover Richman renounced electricity in the mid-'70s, opting for what sounded like children's music.

Richman's show at the Field of Heaven was steeped in nostalgia — for his native New England, for public plazas, for a certain European model of sophistication (songs sung in flawless French and Italian). But it was also there in his irrepressible style, the one performance-related constant of his career. In the middle of a verse, he'd drop his acoustic guitar and execute some curious dance moves or shake his jingle bells (literally). Richman has always been nostalgic, but it was startling to hear him play three songs — "Old World," "Girlfriend" and "Pablo Picasso" — from that formative phase he once so vehemently rejected. The audience didn't care. Richman's past isn't important. They love him for what he is right now, and they heartily requested an encore.

They got two.

-- Philip Brasor, in "Fuji Rock 07: We came, we saw, we survived" The Japan Times Online

reports (and pictures) at Fujirock Express '07

He doesn’t really worry too much about hitting all his notes, and would be as content to clap along to the drummer for two minutes as to play another song. Further, at the two shows I saw of his here at least, he didn’t talk much, but he communicates everything he needs to with his face. I got the feeling the party in his head was much better than party the rest of us were experiencing. (read the rest here)

-- kern, in "Jonathan Richman Rapscalion"

But the most revealing song was one I never heard. "And then soon came 50," he sang, "just like 1-2-3." Jonathan must be sick of being always described as boyish, innocent, naive, but he still wants to remain young at heart. "Why did we come down to earth if not to make mistakes?" he said. And it was his sincerity that communicated to the audience, which had become quite huge (and quiet) by the time he got to the song that elicited the biggest reaction, "Dancing in the Lesbian Bar." Standing up front, noticed a bunch of youngish, partly bearded faces suddenly appear stage left. It was the Shins, who had just finished their set at the White Stage and apparently rushed over to catch the end of Jonathan's set. They got a special treat: an encore. The audience just wouldn't let him go and he returned to do a heartbreaking version of "Not So Much to Be Loved As to Love." He obviously didn't want to go away. Every concert adds to his nostalgia. (read the rest here)

-- phil, in "Surrender to Jonathan - To be loved"

"Soon came 50, then 54 ... I'm not 19 anymore"

Jonathan Richman may admit his age, but that don't stop him singing about Girlfriends. It's innocence.
(read the rest here)

-- donald, in "Jonathan Richman Perennially young"

Still, it was a gem of a performance. Jonathan played few complete songs, and the snippets of his hits, which included "Dancing at the Lesbian Bar" and "Egyptian Reggae," were often interrupted by sudden bursts of dancing and percussion playing, not to mention Jojo's bursts of physical sincerity, which is embodied by him dropping his guitar, opening his arms wide and raising his voice in a cappella ecstasy. He even did a bit of "Pablo Picasso," which was weird and special because he's famous for refusing to do anything from his electric Modern Lovers era. Maybe he'll do a longer version at his Heaven performance tomorrow. Despite the sound problems, the audience almost refused to let him go, and he tried to placate them with a few more shakes of the jingle bells and some Jonathan gestures. It wasn't enough, and never is. (read the rest here)

-- phil, in "Jonathan Sings! ...but is difficult to hear"

Fujirock Express '07 website

Jonathan Rocks Fuji Rock

The former Modern Lover is scheduled to make three official appearances at this year's fest, which is notable considering Jojo's famous reluctance to outstay his welcome.

Maybe it's all the birds and the insects and the general nature thing. (Still, one of the gigs is a midnight set in the Palace tent, a place one could hardly call pastoral.) In any case, as eternally boyish as he is, Jonathan is 56 this year, which means there may not be that many more opportunities to see him do his unique thing, at least not in Japan (to paraphrase a line from "Pablo Picasso"). As everyone knows, he doesn't do his electric Modern Lovers stuff any more--hasn't, in fact, since 1974--but the spirit of rock'n roll is still there in his jaunty outlook, his very underrated guitar work, his amazingly heartfelt delivery, and his wicked dance steps. (read the rest)

-- from Blogging with Fuji Rock: Jonathan Richman

Blogging with Fuji Rock

Wednesday, August 1

How to buy Jonathan Richman

Alexis Petridis on the best Jonathan Richman tracks
Friday July 20, 2007

The Guardian (,,2130109,00.html)

In 1991, Jonathan Richman was prevailed upon to provide a sleevenote for his new album, Having a Party With Jonathan Richman. "Once in a while a record comes along that is such a departure from the normal style of a singer that some explanation is in order," he grandly began. "This record is not one of those. As far as I can tell, the style of singing, the melodies and the lyrics are a lot like what I've been doing for the last 10 years."

You couldn't fault him for honesty, even if his timekeeping was a little out: it was a lot like every other album Jonathan Richman had made since 1976 and it's not vastly different to those he's released in the subsequent 15 years. Devotees can spend hours discussing the more pensive tone of 1995's You Must Ask the Heart compared to the more straightforward exuberance of the preceding I, Jonathan, but to the untrained ear, they all sound much the same: simple three-chord songs, sparsely arranged, with lyrics that are either whimsical or touching, sung with utter sincerity in Richman's distinctively adenoidal voice. Even when he sings in Spanish (1994's Jonathan, Te Vas A Emocionar!) or employs a crack team of Nashville musicians to back him (1990's Jonathan Goes Country), it all just sounds like Jonathan Richman. With his latterday career, you either get it or you don't.

The same is not true of his earliest recordings. Cobbled together in 1976 from various early 70s demos, The Modern Lovers is one of the all-time great debut albums: a ferocious, unimpeachable collection of nakedly emotional Velvet Underground-inspired rock. To understand how bravely out of step the original Modern Lovers were, hear Live at the Longbranch and More, or Precise Modern Lovers Order, both recorded before audibly bewildered audiences between 1971 and 1973: Richman's a cappella set-closer, Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste remains almost unbearably moving.

By the time their demos were released, the original Modern Lovers had broken up: the band that now bore their name had largely ditched the angst of old in favour of rough, acoustic rock'n'roll and childlike songs about abominable snowmen and Martians. 1977's Rock and Roll With the Modern Lovers is notable both for Richman's biggest hit, the instrumental Egyptian Reggae, and for its bizarre sound quality, the result of recording in the studio toilets. A budget compilation, Roadrunner, mops up B-sides and compilation tracks, among them the eight-minute acoustic version of Roadrunner.

From then on, you can pretty much take your pick. The albums he recorded after signing to Neil Young's Vapour label in 1996 have a slightly fuller sound, while frustratingly, all the albums from his 80s purple patch - Jonathan Sings!, Rockin' and Romance, It's Time for Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers and Modern Lovers '88 - are long out of print. Richman's curious habit of blithely rerecording songs he has already released means you don't have to resort to eBay to hear the magical When I Dance (it turned up again on 1998's I'm So Confused), or his exuberant tribute to Vincent van Gogh - "the baddest painter since Jan Vermeer!" - which reappeared on his most recent album, 2004's Not So Much to Be Loved As to Love. That said, a lot of great tracks are still missing in action.

Friday, July 20

one two three four five six

Well you might say I feel lonely
But I wouldn't say I feel lonely
I would say that I feel alive
All alone
'Cause I like this feeling
Of roaming around in the dark
And even though I'm alone out there
I don't mind
'Cause I'm in love with the world.


The car, the radio, the night - and rock's most thrilling song

(Thanks Gary!)

Thursday, June 28

Silent man for a silent movie

There is a very sensitive interview with Jonathan in Crawdaddy magazine by Tony Dushane (Antoine Duchene sounds French enough to me) called "Oh you are so silent Jonathan Richman" which is a jewel of writing of its own. It can be found at :
illustration by Tanith Connolly

Thursday, June 7

The Bostonians # 16 : Cheryl Eagan-Donovan

Cheryl Eagan-Donovan is a writer she is also a film director. "All kindsa girls", a documentary about the Real Kids is a project she started in 2001, shown in different film festivals and due to be released soon as a DVD. The film has lots of interviews with musicians from Boston involved in the Renaissance of the local scene in the late seventies, including Jonathan.
Cheryl is more than familiar with the Boston scene, she belongs to it. She used to be involved with bands, managing and promoting them during the 80's and the 90's. She saw all those bands rising in 1976 and was close to Lou Miami and Human sexual response and later to the Real Kids. Of course she is fascinated by John Felice who is a genuine novel character.
She did not hesitate to answer my questions about Jonathan, I would like to thank her here for her kindness and wish her the best for her upcoming project "Nothing is truer than truth", a film about Edward de Vere.

- You stated somewhere that the Real Kids were the beginning of some golden age for rock music in the Boston area. Many bands bloomed following their tracks, it was 1977 and the music went on better and better for the next 5 years. Don't you think that the Modern Lovers were actually the catalyst which triggered this all by the magic of their unpredictable sound ?

>I think the Modern Lovers were certainly part of the seed capital - the connection between the folk rock scene in Harvard Square - Jonathan playing on the Cambridge Common - and the New York scene in early seventies. Definitely, the exposure John Felice had to the NY scene through his part in the Modern Lovers was the catalyst for what became the Real Kids sound. The early stuff that he was doing with his first band The Kids is totally influenced by the Velvet Underground.

The Kids ...

It was not until he teamed up Alpo and Howie and Billy Borgioli that he found his own voice, the distinctive sound of the Real Kids and later Boston garage/punk rock. For example, Dinosaur Junior's new record has a song where J. Mascis does a little guitar flourish - very uncharacteristic for him - that is direct homage to Felice the guitarist.

- You were involved in managing bands , can you tell us if you were aware of some Modern Lovers influence then ?

>It was part of the history, the collective unconscious as it were of the Boston rock scene. Willie Alexander was a major force on the scene then, and his connection to the VU was quite clear. He also made the connection to Patrick Mathe, telling him about all the great the bands in Boston.

- And what is your opinion today, is there an influence after all ?
does it still exist ?

>Absolutely. It exists in all of Felice's songs, in The Cars' music, in The Talking Heads, in all the original band members' later projects.

- Did you ever see the original Modern Lovers live ? If so, how was it ?

> I did see bands playing live on the Cambridge Common in the early seventies and may have seen them but I was too young to know who they were. My dad was very hip - had seen Janis Joplin at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, etc., and he would bring us to the free concerts in Harvard Square on Sundays.

- Have you seen Jonathan live later and today ? What do you think of his evolution ?

I have seen Jonathan many times in Cambridge and Boston, and took my son to see him several times already, beginning he was about 3 years old - he is 10 years old now. Jonathan always put on great show. Every show is different but he is an extraordinarily talented musician and songwriter.

- In your documentary "All kindsa girls" about the Real Kids and John Felice, you interviewed the crucial people involved in the scene. How did it go with Jonathan ? Was he easy to interview ?

>Jonathan does not usually do interviews so I had to be very persistent. I have to thank his assistant at the time, Daisy Dailey, for putting me in touch with him. Once he agreed to the interview, everything went okay until he arrived in Boston on a Sunday night and I did not have a camera crew ready to shoot at his hotel as he requested. I had hoped to do the interview on the Cambridge Common. He graciously agreed to do the interview the next day before his show at the Somerville Theatre. He would not allow me to film any of his rehearsal, and the entire interview lasted eight minutes. As Patrick Mathe said to me about the Real Kids in France in 1983, "What should I say and what should I not say ?

- What does he think about the Real Kids, I know he liked the Classic
Ruins lead by another of his friends, Frank Rowe, but I cannot imagine him listening to the Real Kids.

>He says in the film "I'm a Felice fan." I think he is disappointed with the trajectory of John's career, especially since he was like an older brother to him. He didn't say that but John seemed to feel that. I know he has tremendous respect for John as a writer and musician. I'm sure that's the only reason he agreed to the do interview.

- You visited Natick, John Felice's and Jonathan's hometown. Is there something in the air in that place that inspired these two talented musicians ? Or is the landscape so boring that one has to find a way to escape and move on Route 128 ?

>I think there may have been a bit of suburban angst fueling the music. John certainly had strong feelings about the need to get out of Natick. It's interesting that there were these pockets of musical creativity, in Natick and on the North Shore, where Alpo and Billy and Jeff Wilkerson and Wille were playing, and it was Jonathan who brought them together.
The classic Real Kids line-up circa 1976, L-R Billy, Alpo, John and Howie

- You told me that you might help on the production of a film about the Modern Lovers, can you comment about that project ?

> I just offered to help on a film being written and directed by a Harvard film student, Katharina Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg. I have not been hired as producer yet! I only met with her once. She was referred to me by the Harvard Film Archives, who suggested that I might be able to assist her on the project. I hope to hear more from her soon about the project and will let you know the status.

- Did you like the Rockin Robins line up of the Modern Lovers with Beth and Ellie ?

>I am most familiar with the original line up.

- Do you know them ? Beth is a film director as you today, it is a small world.

> I know Beth - I saw her documentary THE BLINKING MADONNA when it first played here in Boston. She is very talented. She is a past President of Women in Film & Video New England and I am now Treasurer of the same non-profit organization.

- What is your favourite song of all the songs you heard from Jonathan ?

> I have lots of favorites : Girlfriend, Fly into the Mystery, Pablo Picasso, Rooming House on Venice Beach, That Summer Feeling.

- What is it according to you that makes Jonathan concerts different ?

>Jonathan is totally original and a consummate performer, not unlike Sammy Davis Jr., or John Lydon, or Paul McCartney, or David Johansen.

- When back in Boston, did Jonathan change ? Has California modified him after all these years ?

>My husband met him years ago flying out to California. I don't know if he's changed. I think he will always be Jonathan.

- Any anecdote related to Jonathan ?

>We did a screening of ALL KINDSA GIRLS in San Fransisco in 2005. It was a fantastic crowd - two soldout s hows with over 350 people at each show - at an abandoned warehouse - with the Flakes playing live - they did an excellent cover of ALL KINDSA GIRLS - anyway, Jonathan's wife came and introduced herself while we standing in line for the ladies room, and said that Jonathan had wanted to come but was at a Bar Mitzvah in Hawaii. So, unfortunately, he missed one of the best screenings of the film. I promised to send him a DVD as soon as it is available. I hope he likes it.