Wednesday, December 29

Happy Holidays! Rudolph! 2011 Tour Dates!

5703 ©2010 RosebudPenfold
Jonathan Richman Make-Out Room San Francisco September 2009

Hope everyone is safe and warm and merry and bright.....

A Merry Crew of Jonathan Richman, Mark Eitzel, and Carletta Sue Kay sing for the Boozy at the Make-Out Room's Christmas Craptacular (link)

Listen to Rudolph (mp3 via Bob)


2011 Tour Dates!

Mon 7 Feb Albuquerque NM (Launchpad)
Tue 8 Feb Marfa TX (Marfa Book Company)
Wed 9 Feb Austin TX (Hole in the Wall)
Thu 10 Feb Austin TX (Hole in the Wall)
Fri 11 Feb Austin TX (Continental Club)
Sat 12 Feb Austin TX (Continental Club)
Sun 13 Feb Denton TX (Rubber Gloves)
Tue 15 Feb Springfield MO (Outland Ballroom)
Wed 16 Feb St. Louis MO (Off Broadway)
Thu 17 Feb Huntsville AL (Flying Monkey Arts Center)
Fri 18 Feb Atlanta GA (Highland Inn)
Sat 19 Feb Atlanta GA (Highland Inn)
Sun 20 Feb Tallahassee FL (Club Downunder)
Tue 22 Feb Gainesville FL (Common Grounds)
Thu 24 Feb Asheville NC (Grey Eagle)
Fri 25 Feb Chapel Hill NC (Local 506)
Sat 26 Feb Washington DC (9:30 Club)
Sun 27 Feb Baltimore MD (The 8X10)
Tue 01 Mar Philadelphia PA (First Unitarian Church)
Wed 02 Mar Northampton MA (Pearl Street Nightclub)
Thu 03 Mar Somerville MA (Somerville Theatre)
Fri 04 Mar Rochester NY (Bug Jar)
Sat 05 Mar Buffalo NY (Mohawk Place)
Sun 06 Mar Cleveland OH (Beachland Ballroom)
Tue 08 Mar Pittsburgh PA (Mr. Small's Theatre)
Wed 09 Mar Newport KY (Southgate House)
Thu 10 Mar Ferndale MI (Magic Bag)
Fri 11 Mar Chicago IL (Metro)

Confirm with venue before making travel plans

Wednesday, December 8

The 70s were a crazy time

Happy Hanukkah everyone!

I bring you 1979 Jonathan, in a hilarious ruffled shirt that makes me mourn the fact that I was not alive in the 70s.

And man, the audience is SO QUIET. It almost makes me feel awkward for him.

Monday, December 6

The Lamb (1789) and Jonathan Richman (1978)

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed,
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee.
He is called by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and He is mild;
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

-- William Blake, 1789

'The Lamb' can be sung to the melody of the French folk song 'Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman', used by Mozart in Blake's time (some writers call Blake and Mozart spiritual twins; both were influenced by Freemasonry). It's also known as the melody of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'

British composer John Tavener wrote a beautiful choral setting for 'The Lamb' in 1982. He explains:

The Lamb was written twenty-two years ago for my then 3-year old nephew, Simon. It was composed from seven notes in an afternoon. Blake's child-like vision perhaps explains The Lamb's great popularity in a world that is starved of this precious and sacred dimension in almost every aspect of life.

Listen to John Tavener's 'The Lamb'

'Summer Morning'
, from Rock 'n' Roll With The Modern Lovers (snippet heard at beginning of interview)

Friday, December 3

Help Beth and follow The winding stream

I forward you a message from our friend Beth Harrington whom you can help to finish successfully her new film which is dedicated to the Carter Family and to Johnny Cash:

"Dear Friends,

As some of you already know, in an effort to complete shooting on The Winding Stream, we've recently initiated a crowd-funding effort on a site called Kickstarter. We've been doing well with this and are well on our way to our goal.

Here's the Kickstarter page which includes the opening of the film.

But meanwhile, folks from the new gallery and event space called Art Department (here in SE Portland) have graciously stepped up and offered to host a Kickstarter Party for the project on Friday, December 17. This is very exciting and we're really grateful for this extra, unexpected support.

There will be food and drink and music and clips from the film. And Art Department will make computers available so that attendees who care to make a donation that evening can do so.

We're attaching a flyer with some of the details. More info to follow!

Hope to see you at the party!

Beth Harrington

Follow The Winding Stream

"I kept Jonathan longer than I kept my husband"

From SFGate, Aidin Vaziri interviews Dawn Holliday:

For the past 21 years, Jonathan Richman has played an annual December show in San Francisco to celebrate the birthday of Dawn Holliday, the general manager of Slim's and the Great American Music Hall.

Read more

Wednesday, December 1

Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins: December 2010 Show Dates in California with legendary country singer/songwriter Gail Davies

9285 ©2010 RosebudPenfold

Sun 5 Dec San Francisco CA (The Great American Music Hall) with Gail Davies

Mon 6 Dec Goleta CA (Mercury Lounge) with Gail Davies

Tue-Wed 7-8 Dec West Hollywood CA (Troubadour) with Gail Davies

Thu 9 Dec Costa Mesa CA (Detroit Bar) with Gail Davies

If you know more dates please let us know! As always, impressions, stories, reviews and photographs/videos are welcome! Thanks for being the world's most wonderful blog neighborhood!

Friday, November 19

Oh Moon, Oh Jonathan ...

Oh Jonathan, Prince Of Dorkness On Earth, why is this new album so short (36’), with two reprises of songs already on the album?

One might argue that they sound different, yes like take #1 is different from take #13. I have nothing against including more than one take of a song but look, the Stooges when they released the outtakes of Funhouse covered 6 CDs. We had hours of Iggy to listen to. Why is the spelling of the title of the French song faulty, when you sing rather fluently in French and have enough friends in France who could have helped you on that matter ? “sa voix m’Atisse” is just not meaning anything in French, (just like I did a misspelling in my first sentence where I meant to write Darkness). Did you really mean to involve Matisse the painter in this ? I don’t think so, because in the bi-lingual reprise you translate it by “her voice Stirs me up”, which would translate in “ sa voix m’attise”. A very nice poetic song by the way which, without prejudice from my side, is higher grade than the Italian one (“We’ll be the noise, we’ll be the scandal”, no kidding ! you’re too kind to be the scandal). Don’t take me wrong I like this mini album (without the reprises it lasts 32 minutes), and my two obvious first choices are “My affected accent” and “The sea was calling me home (Reprise)”.

As usually you are very skilled in the building up of your compositions and here it is operating like magic. “My affected accent” starts with chords and singing which reminded me of “Nineteen in Naples”, but just when I felt uncomfortable figuring out you were recycling old recipes came the bridge to another shore. The song evolves in that, oh so regretted by me, old Modern Lovers style,

Pic by Chester Simpson 1980

grooving rythms, let it go spirit and witty lyrics (“ I had a fake professorial rolling O, O, O, I talked about things I didn’t knOOw").

The other song sounds like your new way which Chimaerandi wrote so accurately about. The cello backing up on the reprise of “The sea was calling me home” is a brilliant idea to pull this sad song to the Velvet Underground dark playground . It is the song which I have programmed on replay.

Melancholy and disillusionment look like the main inspiration of many beautiful songs here, “Even though I know I am the wind and the sun”, “Bitter herb”. A song like “If you want to leave our party, just go” would never had been so gloomy ten years ago, and it really moved me. The production on “Winter afternoon by B.U. in Boston” does not do justice to that nostalgic Bostonian song, the metronomic drums are far too much in the forefront and cover Jonathan guitar playing and singing, another take could have been included to extend the length of this EP. Unpredictable Jonathan, thanks for these new songs.

Tuesday, November 16

Oh Moon, Queen of Night on Earth

Okay, I've had it long enough to put together a semi-cohesive review of sorts, if anyone is like, "DEAR GOD I MUST KNOW HOW CHIMAERANDI FEELS ABOUT THIS" I posted it to my Livejournal, and am going to link it up here. :) Enjoy my shameless self promotion:

So, a new Jonathan album. I was terrifically excited, excited enough that I couldn't wait for the album to come and downloaded it even though I have it coming. I am totally tragic, I know that. I have to admit I was a little nervy because I never fell in love with BHBIRAW. I appreciate it more now than I used to, but it's still largely not an album I listen to by itself. I shouldn't have worried, because this is by and large EXCELLENT. It's not going to replace Not So Much To Be Loved As To Love as my favorite (likely nothing will), but it is great. I have listened to it straight through a couple times, already. So I decided you all DEEPLY CARE about my impressions of the album

You can find the actual thing here. OH OH OH IMPORTANT!!! While the review is G, the rest of my journal may or may not be, so, at your own peril.

Thursday, November 4

More from 1 November 2010: Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins at Bowery Ballroom

'When We Refuse to Suffer/Not So Much to Be Loved as to Love' Uploaded by Thelma Blitz

'I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar' uploaded by clairedelune49

Scotty G, Jojoblog comments: "last night was my first Jonathan Richman concert. Took place at the Bowery Ballroom in New York. And it absolutely astonished me, in every way. Somebody once said about the artist Robert Rauschenberg, "He knows how to arrive fresh at the scene of the accident he is about to create." Jonathan Richman has that ability: to arrive fresh, to maintain an open connection with the song and with the audience, to mix feather-light humor with cavern-deep emotion, and to convey all this via the simplest, truest musical means--honestly, I have never experienced anything quite like it. My god, the man is a genius!" read more!

Also see sarah's great first-time story here with a photo

WOW!  01-11-10 was a very good day to be in NYC!  

Jonathan Richman on 'Late NIght with Jimmy Fallon'

'I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar'

From Monday, 1 November 2010: Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins also performed 'These Bodies Came to Cavort' from the new album O Moon, Queen of Night on Earth. You can watch it on the show by clicking here till 11/17, Jonathan appears at approximately 38:25.

Sunday, October 31

There's nothing, I tell you, NOTHING, I love as much as I love hearing about people's first Jonathan concert. Maybe that's because I remember mine so well, and how I had been waiting ten years or so to see him, and how I almost threw up because I was so nervous and excited. Glamourous, I know, but it was one of the best nights of my life.
So I really loved the review from Mademoiselle Robot, about her first time at a Jonathan Richman concert. Also, she put into words the way I feel at every Jonathan concert I have ever been to:

I can't quite describe the intensity of this experience for me without sounding like a complete nut job, but I couldn't write about it earlier because I had to digest this almost religious experience. See? Nut job. I am not religious, but I imagine that's what it would feel like. For the first time in ages, I found myself inspired and with space to think, despite
being entirely taken by the concert. This is what happens when you encounter a truly wonderful storyt
eller, I suppose - his stories take you places in your own mind that you didn't even know existed.

Doesn't that sum it up in a really cool way? Is it just me? Okay, maybe it's just me and her, but I totally identify with what she's saying here. And I find it so cool. The rest of her experience is here.

Does anyone have stories/thoughts about their first time seeing Jonathan? When was it? Was it everything you ever wanted?

Picture is from Pammadda, who has an incredible series of pictures from a concert in Paris here.

Monday, October 18

BBC 6 Music Interview - 8th October 2010

A few days ago Jonathan was interviewed by Cerys Mathews on 6 Music (BBC Radio). No live in the studio songs this time but quite an interesting interview, something like 15 minutes long.
To hear it use the following link:-

6 Music Interview

Thursday, October 7

There's Something about Lost Weekend

Lost Weekend video has an awesome clip of the Jonathan film critique/performance I posted about a few days ago. We get more of Jonathan's ideas an perhaps the movie could have been improved, his thoughts on beautiful women, and also an incredible new snippet of the "There's Something About Mary" song.

Here it is: Lost Weekend

Saturday, October 2

O Moon, Queen of the Night On Earth

Yes! New Jonathan Richman Album! and... only about a month away!!!

Set to release November 9, 2010, O Moon, Queen of the Night On Earth, will be released in both CD, and Vinyl formats.

Song List:

1. Oh Moon, Queen of Night on Earth
2. These Bodies That Came To Cavort
3. If You Want to Leave Our Party Just Go
4. I Was The One She Came For
5. Sa Voix M'Atisse
6. We'll Be The Noise, We'll Be the Scandal
7. The Sea Was Calling Me Home
8. Winter Afternoon By BU in Boston
9. The Bitter Herb
10. Sa Voix M'Attise (reprise)
11. My Affected Accent
12. Even Though I Know I Am The Wind and The Sun, I?
13. The Sea Was Calling Me Home (reprise)
14. It Was Time For Me To Be With Her

Some observations:
- I'm guessing the album cover is painted by JR himself, and judging by some of the song titles it looks to be in line with a theme.
- "The Sea Was Calling Me Home" was originally listed as a sort of hidden track on "Not So Much To Be Loved As To Love", so I'm very curious as to how it will sound on this album.
- I asked him in February 2010 how the new album was going and he gave a signal like there was a long way to go, so I'm guessing (key word: guessing) that most of these songs were recorded very recently.
- I have live versions of several of these songs on if you want a preview. My personal opinion: The new songs are SUPERB! These Bodies is an fairly upbeat reflective piece about how we drag our bodies everywhere and don't listen to what they try to tell us. "I was the one she came for" I believe is what some had been calling "Hurricane When She Came", and sounds like it's about how his Wife teaches him new things all the time, and betters him as a person. "The Bitter Herb" reflects on how sometimes in life you must do painful things and chew a piece of the bitter herb. This is a favorite of a friend of mine, and he opened my eyes to the beauty of this songs a few days ago. If you've seen him live recently, there's a good chance that you've heard the song "My Affected Accent" and it's a highlight of the show.

O Moon, Queen of Night on Earth
November 9, 2010

Friday, September 3


Apparently, Jonathan Richman participated in a screening of There’s Something About Mary or something.

How awesome is this? This is better than a shadowcast of Rocky Horror, you guys. And I am a huge Rocky fan.

Of course, the main attraction was Jonathan Richman and his acoustic guitar. He lovingly strummed his guitar along to parts where he appeared in the movie, all the while offering behind-the-scenes commentary of the onscreen action. Little snippets like, “We decided on using an accordion here. We felt it added a whole European touch” to which everyone busted up laughing.

His most revealing commentary had to do with why Mary (Cameron Diaz’s character, just in case) seemed like such the prototypical bro fantasy girlfriend. Basically (paraphrased):

The director was an overgrown manchild and this is his conception of what an ideal girlfriend would be like. Essentially, a chick whose favorite things are baseball, hotdogs, and beer.

You can read about it all here, and it includes pictures! Thank God for MissionMission.

Tuesday, August 31

New York dates added!!!

3-Oct Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2010 San Francisco, CA, US
6-Oct London, England Luminaire
8-Oct London, England Amersham Arms (early curfew: 10pm)
9-Oct London, England Monto Water Rats
11-Oct London, England Tabernacle
13-Oct Paris, France La Boule Noire
14-Oct Toulouse, France La Dynamo
15-Oct Angouleme, France La Nef Club
16-Oct Bordeaux, France Le Krakatoa
19-Oct Poiters, France Le Confort Moderne
20-Oct Clermont-Ferrand, France La Cooperative De Mai
21-Oct Montpelier, France La Secrete Place
1-Nov Bowery Ballroom, NY, NY
2-Nov The Bell House, Brooklyn, NY

Monday, August 9

"More Surprises" Compilation

Hello Jojo Land,

I made a compilation with live songs from 1975-1985.

Some of the songs I got through, and some through trades.

There's some rare gems here!

Wednesday, August 4


Snippets from reviews I have painstakingly gathered from all across the internet, just for you!

Singing in Spanish, Italian, French and English, Richman effortlessly entertained a hypnotised audience of all ages. He displayed his usual positive presence, spontaneous dance offs, and charismatic performance style with random crowd banter, then returning to his set like a kid too excited to stand still. Higlights include Mr Sorrow (my favorite), Pablo Picasso (of course), and a few of my favorites off A Qué Venimos Sino a Caer.

think the genius of Richman boils down to his ability to cover the entire emotional spectrum in a single stanza. We aren’t bombarded with jokes in that Adam Sandler stand-up musician kind of way, and we aren’t drowning in serious melancholy. Instead he manages to deliver verbose and hilarious narratives in the same breath as real life lessons. Last night’s “When We Refuse to Suffer” exemplified this coupling brilliantly: one moment he croons, “We turn the air conditioning on and we’re so happy that we’ve avoided bugs and sweat,” and the next he pulls away from the mic to conclude, “No more refusal to feel.” We laugh and we think – and he’s moved on before we have a chance to take ourselves seriously in either regard (the next song was about formaldehyde).

He throws in short songs about still learning about sex at age 59, and both men and women scream. He sings in French, Spanish, you name it. More screaming. His shows end quickly because he doesn’t “want to wear out his welcome,” but I truly don’t think that’s possible.

When you live in a big city like San Francisco, your friends and family will constantly remark on how wonderful it must be to live in such a great city. And when they talk about this, they’re talking about Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown. When we talk about living in a great city, we talk about other things. And one of things we San Franciscans should be talking about is the fact that Jonathan Richman is a San Francisco treasure.


Also, am I just losing my tiny mind, or is Jonathan generally in Long Beach in the beginning of September? Wishful thinking, I am sure, because I will be down there, but it seems it is not to be :(

Picture stolen from the writer of the first review.

Friday, July 30

New dates in UK

Hi guys,
These just announced today:

The Luminaire, Kilburn, London WED 06/10/2010

Amersham Arms, London FRI 08/10/2010

Monto Water Rats, Kings Cross London SAT 09/10/2010

The Tabernacle, Powis Square London MON 11/10/2010

Haven't heard of any continental ones yet.


Thursday, July 29

Something different: Alex Chilton

Alex Chilton -Like Flies on Sherbert Session from Greg Spradlin on Vimeo.

Like Flies on Sherbert (link)

If you do a Google search on the late great Alex Chilton, a list pops up on the left of the page called 'Something different' with Jonathan Richman at the top of the list, along with Marshall Crenshaw, Paul Westerberg, Gene Clark, and Gram Parsons:

A lot of times, I’m sort of anti-intellectual about music. I think that the best music is not always made by the best musicians. It’s made by the most inspired people with the best idea. (Alex Chilton)

This quote is from a very nice appreciation of Alex Chilton by Alastair McKay at Alternatives to Valium: Goodbye Alex Chilton, Andy Hummel RIP. Your band, Big Star, was like The Beatles, if the Beatles Had Come From Tennessee (link)

A few years ago Alastair McKay rang up Jonathan Richman on the telephone. You can read the results here (link)

Tuesday, July 13

Namechecking and a request

First of all, I don't know who Teenage Fanclub is, but one of my friends does, and sent me this interview in which the lead singer name-checked Jonathan's awesomeness.

NB: I love Jonathan Richman. I love everything he’s done. “That Summer Feeling” is one of those incredible songs. The lyrics—“When the teenage car gets the cop down on it, when the flat of the land has got the crop down on it, when the catamaran has got the top down on it”—just unbelievably brilliant, you know? The last time I saw Jonathan was about six months ago, and he just gets better and better. I’ve got this little story: A friend of mine was promoting a show of Jonathan’s, and he came up to me and said, “You’ll never guess what Jonathan Richman’s rider was.” I said, “I don’t know, what was it?” And he said, “The rider was: a glass of tap water onstage at the side of the microphone. That was it.” [Laughs.] It had to be tap water.

AVC: Do you keep up with his newer albums?

NB: Oh yeah. A more recent Jonathan song I love is “My Baby Love Love Loves Me.” He did it live the last time he was in Glasgow, and he had everyone in the room singing for 10 minutes. There were 300 people in this room worshipping at the temple of Jonathan.


Interview with Norman Blake by Jason Heller, June 15, 2010, Full interview here.

also, does anyone have the Laura Palmer tape to download? PLEASE???

Sunday, July 11

Two things I love, together

I love Jonathan Richman (okay, duh, I know). I love Bob Dylan. Jonathan Richman doing the song that got me into Bob Dylan? Oh my lord, YES.

It kills me that the crowd noise on this is so loud. KILLS ME. Also, how much do I love that Jonathan forgets the lyrics halfway through and just sort of wings it? God, he's so adorable.

Tuesday, June 29

Interview #25: a Modern Lover, Beth Harrington

It has been a dream of mine for a long time to interview the Rockin Robins which enlightened Jonathan's music during the 80's. "Jonathan sings" is often quoted as a perfect album in the story of Jonathan's recordings, mainly due to the crucial presence of Beth Harrington and Ellie Marshall. Today Beth Harrington is answering my questions. After her days with the ModernLovers, she started a career in film producing and directing, she was nominated for a Grammy award and her acclaimed documentaries are definitely fascinating. But let's start in Boston during the 70's :
picture © Amy Mc Mullen

- Did you see the original Modern lovers on stage or Jonathan before he had a band ? and what were your impressions ?

I first became aware of the Modern Lovers in 1971 or 72, I believe it was. I was a high school student, a serious rock & roll fan and after school I’d volunteer at WBCN, a Boston progressive radio station, answering phones and doing small tasks for the DJs. The Modern Lovers were just coming on the local radar screen at the time. DJ Maxanne Sartori loved them and was championing them on the radio. I seem to recall she had a demo of “Roadrunner” that she’d play. Sometime in there ‘BCN had a big station anniversary party (maybe their 4th or 5th?) at the Harvard Boat House on the Charles River. And the Modern Lovers played. And I was absolutely smitten. It was such a great night. I still remember how thrilled I was to see them. The subject matter was stuff I related to, I had real connections to the places in the songs (I grew up about 20 minutes down Route 128 from Jonathan, I knew Government Center and the Financial District) and the raw, naked sound blew me away. Plus there was Jonathan’s hopelessly geeky look - pink corduroy pants and white belt and short hair – in those days that was REALLY odd. And that naive sincerity in a time of disaffection and cynicism and protest was pretty jarring. I couldn’t get over him. I was a fan from then on.

- I remember your contribution to the LP “Boston Incest Album”, as Willie Loco told me he really enjoyed recording with you. Do you remember those sessions ? What do you think of the album ?

The session I remember most from the Boston Incest Album was the Professor Anonymous one. Talk about an original! Professor Anonymous made Jonathan seem positively mainstream. The Prof was very Shaggs-like. Odd rhythmic stuff. Opera-gone-awry vocals. Crazy turns of phrase. Listening to a different drummer, for sure…

As for the album as a whole, I think it’s sort of an interesting sampler of music. I’m not sure it paints a cohesive portrait of the scene at the time which I think is what the title sorta suggests. But there are some great things on it. Besides Professor Anonymous, I love Willlie Alexander’s cuts, was always thrilled to sing with Willie – he’s a hero of mine. And – I’m prejudiced of course – but I like the cut my brother Lee’s band, The Peytons, did on the album.

- How did you get involved in the Modern Lovers ? Was Ellie already in the band or did you join together ?

Jonathan asked Ellie to be in the band about a month before he was scheduled to start a long overdue tour. He was forming a new band and had decided he wanted girl singers in the band. And he loved Ellie’s voice (which for the record is one of the great girl-group-y voices of all time. Beautiful, lush and unique). He’d become aware of her because of a song she wrote and recorded about him called, aptly enough, Modern Lover, and Jonathan also knew The Marshalls (the band Ellie was in with her brothers). So, Jonathan had selected Ellie and another woman to be his singers and go on a two-week California tour. But apparently at the last minute, Jonathan decided he was unhappy with the other woman. Not because of her singing (she was a very good singer, I hear), but because she couldn’t clap and snap her fingers. And, to be fair, I think he was looking for a more naïve sound. So he renewed his search for another girl singer. And Ellie suggested me. Which was wacky because I had done only a minimal amount of singing in the studio and NONE live. But I could clap and snap my fingers. And my sound I suppose could be called “naïve” or at least, unadorned. So he auditioned me in Ellie’s apartment one afternoon and hired me on the spot. I took two weeks off from my job at an AV company and spent it performing in the Modern Lovers!

picture ©Catherine Mc Dermott-Tingle

- Were you contributing to the writing of the songs with Jonathan ? suggesting other songs to cover ?

The kinds of contributions we made to the songs came about in rehearsal. Ellie and I would sometimes suggest vocal parts. And in the songs with spoken sections, like The Neighbors, we’d all make those up together. But Jonathan really did the writing. For our live performances he’d ask Ellie and I to suggest covers to do and he’d pick ‘em from our list. So Ellie would do “Too Many Fish in the Sea” and I’d do “Roll with Me Henry.” Stuff like that.

- How was life on tour ? I read in some interviews you did that it was not that fun ...

In 1980, when I joined the band I had never been in a band before and only knew other local level musicians. I guess I didn’t have much to compare it to. It was lots of fun at first – and always had elements of fun in it. But I did eventually come to the realization that it was exceptionally grueling and “shoe-string” as an enterprise. Though backed in theory by Berserkley Records, we were always incredibly short on cash. Essentially, we often needed whatever money we made on one gig to get us housed and fed and gassed up to go to the next gig! Those were in the days before lots of wanton “free credit” and there was no band credit card, no road manager most of the time, certainly no roadies, no fancy itineraries and not a lot of down time. So, we couldn’t afford to rent a van (it was cheaper to drive in two smaller cars), so the 6 of us convoyed everywhere (tricky in the days before cell phones) and shared the driving duties. I was the only person in the band with a credit card then (had that straight job at an AV company) so it often fell to me to put things on my card (maybe that’s why I was hired so easily as a backup singer?). Our drummer Michael was the defacto road manager and as a result, Ellie and I became his drum roadies, packing up his gear every night. We got pretty good at it. A typical day would be get up early after playing the night before and drive to the next place in time for sound check. Do sound check, check into a Motel 6, grab a burrito (Curley’s fave), do the gig, sleep for a few hours and then drive to the next place. Thank God we were all in our 20s and didn’t need much sleep. Jonathan told me later that those years were the hardest touring he ever did.

- This particular period in Jonathan’s career when he was backed up by the “Rockin’ Robins”, you and Ellie, is considered by some of us as their favourite. It was certainly a change compared to Jonathan’s previous albums. What is your opinion about it then and now ?

Well, being part of it made it a great period for me. I loved being able to contribute to the music and, hell, just being in a band would have been plenty but to be in that band, singing those songs! It was great. I will admit that the doowop-y sound we had was something that I appreciated as a music fan but never imagined myself doing. And some of it was a teensy bit sugary for me. I’m actually more of a Roadrunner-era Modern Lovers fan.

- What were your favourite songs to perform ?

Abdul and Cleopatra, hands down. I loved our vocal parts in that (and Ellie and I worked out a nice little bit of Middle Eastern choreography; also my hand clapping and snapping really came to the fore here, I must rather brazenly point out!) And I loved the old Modern Lovers songs that have to do with Boston (and my early years as a fan) so it was always fun to sing those – New England, The New Teller, The Fenway (Where I Dream My Dreams), Government Center.

- Were you also singing the older repertoire ? “Roadrunner “ and other songs from the first album ?

The ones I just mentioned we’d do. But Jonathan was very much in a period of disconnecting himself from the old Modern Lovers canon. Which I felt was sad because I loved those songs and his fans loved those songs. Roadrunner in particular was a sticking point for him (also Pablo Picasso). He just refused to do them even when people requested them. I do recall one night in Flint, Michigan in front of an exceptionally tiny crowd he did suddenly decide to do Roadrunner. I was shocked beyond belief, but quickly recovered in time to sing “Radio on!” Proud moment in my life.

- What about the Boston scene, which were the bands you used to dig ?

Loved, loved, loved The Nervous Eaters!!! Still do. Loved ‘em. Greatest unsung Boston band! Steve Cataldo wrote the greatest, rockin’-est songs ever. Did I mention I loved The Nervous Eaters?

Also loved The Real Kids. And Willie Alexander. And I must say, it was super-exciting going to the Rat in the early days and seeing The Cars come up through the ranks to become a national act. You could tell they had figured it out. My brother Lee and I used to go see them (and The Eaters and The Real Kids) a lot. BTW, a touch of nepotism here, but my brother Lee – besides being in the Peytons - was/still is a member of another fabulous Boston band, The Neighborhoods.

- Any regret associated with that time ? How did it end ?

Ah, well, let’s see. Hmm. Right after we finished the Jonathan Sings! album (which took us almost three rather grueling years to get made) Jonathan decided he “didn’t hear keyboards anymore” in the band. Which, as an artist, is his prerogative. Absolutely. But I have to admit it killed me because we’d just made an album with keyboards on it and , not for nothing, but pianist Ken Forfia was: 1) a supremely talented musician, and 2) a dear friend at this point and I thought it was a terrible idea to lose him. Especially when we’d just completed the album and were going to start touring to support it. Europe was in the offing. It would have been so great, a payoff for the three hard years of touring. So I said that to Jonathan when he told me his plan. I was pretty devastated. And then I did a sort of “you can’t fire me, I quit” kinda exit. I don’t really regret this. Jonathan prized honesty and I was always honest with him. But I felt a strong loyalty to Ken and hoped Jonathan would come around. But it was not to be. So Ken and I both stopped being Modern Lovers at that point. But Jonathan and I worked our way back to being friends eventually.

- Since then you have moved to become a very talented film director, I would like to discuss first about “Welcome to the club – the Women of rockabilly” which is to me a pure nugget. A documentary about the quest for the female Elvis ! I might be biased but I find it fascinating. What was your idea behind this project as I have asked myself if you were documenting Americana as Alan Lomax had done with the Blues, but I have the feeling you were having a true fan attitude. Am I right ?

Both things you mentioned. I am a fan but I am also a documentarian (and honored to even be put in the same sentence as the Lomaxes, thanks!) Actually, I first started researching the rockabilly girl thing when Jonathan wanted Ellie and I to pick a couple of covers to sing in the band. I found the “Wild, Wild Young Women” (Rounder) album. It was a revelation. I knew then that I wanted to make a film about the girls of rockabilly but it would be almost another 20 years before I’d have the experience and the funding to do it!

- People like the Cramps must have got in touch with you about that film ?

Never heard from the Cramps, but other people from that period seem to like it.

- Nowadays after several other types of documentaries with very different subjects from Miracles happening in Boston to Volcanos or an unknown side of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, which I recommend the reader to have a look at on your website, you are finalizing another work in progress about music, “the winding stream” which concerns country music through the Carter and Cash families. Can you tell us about it ? There are so many angles which can be opened as their stories could be a novel.

It’s a rich story and the film covers it from the early part of the 20th century all the way to the present generation of Carters and Cashes. I’m still trying to finish it. Like most film projects, it’s requiring a final infusion of money to complete it. But if JoJoBlog readers want to see a clip from it (with Murry Hammond of the Old 97s in it) it’s on my website:

- There is an interview of you on You Tube which is also on our JojoBlog in which you say you would love to do a film about Jonathan and the Modern Lovers . I hope you are considering this seriously we will all be thrilled to see this happen... you are the ideal director for this.

I was even dreaming you could cover the whole Boston golden age time.

It’s crossed my mind to do a Modern Lovers documentary but never mentioned it publicly until that interview at a film festival in Eugene (which got posted to YouTube). [NOTE TO SELF: speculating aloud and on camera may have wide-ranging repercussions.] There are two issues. One is the aforementioned, ever-present money issue. How would I fund it? The second is even more fundamental. Would Jonathan want to participate and in what form? I’ve never even raised the idea with him so it’s sort of a moot point. But it might be fun. And yeah, a doc about the whole Boston music scene at that time would be great (although I understand there’s at least one like that out there). My pal Johnny Angel of Thrills (another great Boston band) had been prodding me to do this, too. So, if someone with the truckload of cash wants to just pull up to my backyard and dump it all off there, I’ll get crackin’ on these films.

- Have you seen the documentary Cheryl Hogan Donovan shot about the Real Kids?

Not yet, but I badly need to!!

- You told me you were a fan of the Flamin Groovies, what did you like in their music and did you happen to see them live ?

Never got to see them live. Just always loved those records. Something really exuberant about them.

- I suggested to Chris Wilson, former Groovies singer, to cover a Jonathan’s song. What Groovies song do you think you could have covered with Jonathan when in the Modern Lovers ?

Bam Balam. Even has a sorta Middle Eastern theme to it. “She’s my harem cutie from Hindustan, she’s got big red lips and a bam balam…” Also, good harmonies and a doo-wop-y bass vocal that Michael and/or Curley could have nailed. And Ken Forfia could have torn up the piano solo. And in place of the clarinet, Jonathan could have honked away on his sax! Perfect. I missed my calling as an A & R person.

- What do you think of Jonathan’s music today, his evolution ?

I think Jonathan’s remained true to himself and his audience and his music reflects that. I also think his passion for Italy, France and Spain and his acceptance there has made the move to singing in the romance languages an absolutely brilliant move. Organic but also brilliant.

- People after attending a concert of Jonathan’s are always leaving the venue smiling, could you explain this permanent miracle ?

It’s what Jonathan always contended in the jaded fading-hippie and punk periods and it is now an accepted fact of life, I believe, in a lot of contemporary alternative music (JoJo’s “progeny” if you will). People want affection. They want real emotion. They want to laugh. They want to connect to who they were as children. That’s what Jonathan is and always has been about. He’s absolutely the real deal and that makes people smile.

Are you seeing the other former Modern Lovers ? Ellie ?

I think of Ellie as a sister. We always stay in touch. I don’t see her as often as I’d like (we live on opposite coasts now) but our histories are very intertwined and I love her dearly. Jonathan and I talk occasionally and I try to see him when he’s in Portland but it’s been a while. Curley, Michael and Ken I miss - we haven’t seen each other in a long time. But it’s not for lack of affection. Guess time and distance have thwarted us. I’d love to see them all. Maybe it’s time to have a reunion?

- Finally, any anecdote related to Jonathan ?

More an image. I just recall numerous hardcore truckstop sojourns out in the American “heartland.” The band would eat lunch while Jonathan took the opportunity to do a full program of calisthenics out on the macadam as beefy men with Confederate flag-decorated ballcaps looked on, mystified.