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Tuesday, November 16, 2010 review on Rev It Up!

A diverse night of psychobilly kicked off the new year: Final Days, Liquor-N-Poker, The Vagrant Dead

January 4, 9:53 PMLA Rockabilly/Psychobilly ExaminerKim Kattari

Spike’s Bar and Billiards in Rosemead was the place to be last Friday (January 1st) if you wanted to kick in the first night of the new decade with some psychobilly-hybrid style.
I arrived as guest DJ Johnny Eagle was spinning a diverse a set of punk, rockabilly, and psychobilly, including Fifi’s punk-tinged cover of The English Beat’s “Mirror in the Bathroom” from the SLC Punk soundtrack.
As I settled in, Final Days took the stage and launched into their set without hesitation, despite the lead singer’s long battle with a fierce and persistent cold. Phil’s speech-song warble vocal style reminded me of a cross between Vic Victor from Koffin Kats and Nick 13 from Tiger Army. The band is also inspired by Misfits, as evidenced by a cover of “Astro Zombies” and another song that sounded quite like “I Turned Into a Martian.”
But what the San Gabriel Valley-based band really brings to the table is a hybrid style that mixes different types of punk, psychobilly, rockabilly, metal, and ska/reggae. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in their last song of the set, “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly in Me.” The song was a medley of different genres, with a ska/reggae bridge here, a hardcore metal break there, and a killer rockabilly guitar lick thrown in over there.
When I talked to the band later, Phil explained the inspiration behind the song: “We put a little bit of everything that we’re musically influenced by into that song. I was also reading The Alchemist at the time, and watching Clint Eastwood movies.” Along with classic Coelho novels and Western films, they noted other influences: Hector (guitarist, and Phil’s brother) would love to play with AFI and his favorite horror movie is Dracula; Mosquito (drummer and stand-up comic, providing most of the ba-dum-chh commentary between songs) was inspired by The Addicts and, fittingly, likes comedies more than horror movies.

"The After Party" from Liquor-N-Poker: rocka-punk-ska-silly?
Next up was Liquor-N-Poker from Ritchie Valens’ hometown of Pacoima, with a clever double entendre name (sound it out) that suited their fun and often outright goofy style. Few bands attempt the “drummer as lead singer” approach (The Chop Tops are a great example; check out other examples of lead singer-drummers here), but Kurlee does a great job keeping the beat while singing melodic punk vocals in a style akin to Bad Religion, The Offspring, Pennywise, and Rancid.
Like Final Days, Liquor-N-Poker boasts a diverse set of influences (from The Living End to Sublime to Reverend Horton Heat to Less Than Jake) that has blended to form a hybrid style of, well, what exactly should we call this? Punk-a-billy? Punk-ska-billy? Rocka-punk-ska-silly? It’s definitely not your typical psychobilly, for as the band told me after the show, their music is “more happy” and “more about real life” than the horror-infused mock macabre subjects so typical of most psychobilly.
Whatever you want to call their music, it’s definitely fun and catchy. From the toe-tapping snare-heavy honky-tonk beat of “She Left Me For An Italian” to the anthemic NOFX-like punk of “Living It Up” to the head-boppin’ ska-infused rockabilly of “Don’t Put Your Clothes On” (check out their entertaining video for the song below), Liquor-N-Poker keeps it exciting and fresh.
Kurlee, his brother Noe (on bass), and Manny (on guitar), have been playing together as a band since 1998, so they have the stamina it takes to keep going in the under-appreciated local music biz. They’ve released their debut album, The After Party (on Prime Music Group), which showcases their diverse mix of punk, rockabilly, ska, reggae, classic rock and metal, along with their sing-along harmonies. (Review of the album coming soon. Check back here at or at Support Liquor-N-Poker by buying their CD here.
As The Vagrant Dead got ready to take the stage I could already tell what made them unique: they sported two basses – one upright, one electric. I asked them after the show about their decision to feature simultaneous basses. Cesar (electric) and Joaquin (upright) noted that it allowed them to express their hardcore punk/metal influence at the same time as their rockabilly/country-western sound. Sometimes they synchronize their bass lines, but at other times the bassists take turns leading, giving each other room in the mix while also providing a much fuller sound.

The Vagrant Dead growled and swung and stomped their boots (photo by Kim Kattari).
 Once they started to play, it was an entirely different thing that stood out to me: Jesse’s voice. At first I thought there had to be some distortion effect on the vocal mic, but I quickly realized it’s just his voice – raspy, growling, throaty, and, to be honest, just plain scary. You’d expect to hear vocals done this way in hardcore death metal, but it’s rare to come upon this in psychobilly (the notable exception being Demented Are Go), especially The Vagrant Dead’s style of country-western-tinged, boot-stomping, Tom Waits/Johnny Cash-inspired punk-psychobilly en español.
I also asked them how they came up with their name (by the way, it was simply a coincidence that the band’s initials – “V.D.” – suggested the possible consequences of “Liquor-N-Poker”). Jesse (whose father is a preacher) pointed out that it’s a bible reference, as well as a theme used by Stephen King. Joaquin added: “The vagrant dead and skeletons are like rock ‘n’ roll itself. It just keeps going and changing. Rock is still wandering around. It doesn’t die.” This sums up exactly what this band is doing – combining the old with the new in their pastiche of influences: Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, Demented Are Go, Misfits, The Beatles, The Stones, The Ramones, and contemporary hardcore metal.
All in all, this was not your typical psychobilly night. The hybridity of the music last Friday was a welcome change of pace. I hope each of these bands continues to diversify their music, drawing inspiration from a range of genres and cultural influences.
Kudos to "Rev It Up" and Brando Von Badsville for booking local bands that don’t limit themselves to narrow definitions of psychobilly. Click here to check out reviews of Brando Von Badsville’s Rev It Up shows at Spike’s from LA Times and LA Weekly.
Also, I have to give props to the sound guy, Cesar, who was brilliant at leveling out each of different instruments so that the crowd could easily distinguish the bass from the guitar from the clear vocals, and so on. It’s so rare to hear great sound in a small punk-psychobilly venue. Nicely done!

Urban Ink Magazine covers Tigermask @ Safari Sams

Rebel Beat
The Vintage Ink of LA Rockabilly


LA might be the entertainment capital of the world, but it’s also home to America’s longest-running underground music scene: LA rockabilly.

“My dad always told me I was reincarnated,” says Betty Torres, a petite, dark beauty, explaining a six- inch tattoo on her forearm of the 1940s Mexican movie star, Tangolele.
Betty fell in love with Tangolele when she was four years old. Plopped down in front of the TV, Betty became mesmerized by the sultry dancer whenever she appeared in the reruns of movies from Mexico’s “Golden Era of Cinema” played on the Spanish language TV station in Hawaiian Gardens, California.  Once the hypnotic Tangolele appeared, if anyone tried to change the channel, Betty threw a hearty tantrum. “I was so amazed by the way she danced and moved,” says Betty. “Just watching her dance; her body, her hips.” Even at the tender age of four, Betty was destined to become part of the retro-reality of LA rockabilly.
These days, the LA rockabilly scene is part music scene, part “kustom” car culture scene, and part style scene. It’s filled with people like Betty. Strike up a conversation at just about any LA rockabilly show and you’ll find people like Betty, people who seem to have a strange sense of feeling at home in this bygone era. “Probably a lot of old souls lingering around, I bet,” says Betty. LA rockabillies like Betty seem to identify, even from a young age, with the low-fi, sexy retro, boppin’ beats of vintage Americana pop culture; a time of big-bosomed cars and gals with nice headlights, the smell of vinyl, the rumble of a hot rod.  While you might be bragging about the tune you downloaded to your iPod yesterday, these misfits are bragging about scoring an autograph on their 78 vinyl.  Then they’ll whip it out and play it for you. No fussy collectors here, no, it’s part of the lifescape.
Even 20 years into her infatuation with Tangolele, Betty’s adoration hadn’t waned. At 23 Betty had a portrait of the sexy Mexican dancer inked on her arm.  This was back in the day when tattoos were only seen in Hawaiian Gardens on gangsters, but Betty was ready to use her body to make a statement; “Everybody’s gonna see my arms for the rest of my life. I want people to see what I’m about.”
Betty’s first tattoos (including her Tangolele portrait) were done by popular LA inker, Real. However, Betty also used an up-and-coming female artist named Kat Von D (then 17 and working at Bluebird Tattoo in Pasadena). Of her fellow Latina Betty says, “She’s a good artist. She’s made something of herself, I’m proud of her.”
Betty, a single mom and part time model, fiercely defends her vintage hero Tangolele who, although now 60, still stars in Mexican soaps. “She still has a hot-ass body. There’s no one else like her.” This devotion to old school artists typifies LA rockabillies and their ink. So to find ink that celebrates an obscure 1940s Mexican star on the arm of a pretty young model outside a club on Sunset Boulevard should explain why the obscure culture of rockabilly seems almost immortal, at least in LA.  While other “retro” fads – like swing – come and go- rockabilly just never dies.
Although today the term rockabilly defines a 40s, 50s and even 60s inspired kustom culture scene in LA, the word itself dates back to the 1950s, to a low budget regional music style from the American South.  Rockabilly was the music of country yokels raised on hillbilly swing who wanted to play the sexy R&B of their black Southern neighbors (hillbilly + rock = rockabilly). The strange jump swing hillbilly vibe of rockabilly became an American pop sensation, thanks to Elvis. It didn’t last long as a music craze, but during its short reign on the pop charts, it inspired hungry young farm boys all over the South to crawl out from under jalopies and haystacks, grab a buddy and a bottle of Jack Daniels, and head to the nearest recording studio to make music history. For a brief moment in pop history, their thumping, wailing, hip-grinding sound blew right out of the heat-streaked fields of the South and into the high school cafeterias of white America.
“It was the whole rebellious attitude,” says Dave Gambler of the rockabilly band, Gambler’s Mark.  “First the music definitely, you know that’s where it started. And then definitely the cars and then the style, you know the greasy hair, the cuffed pants, the boots.” And let it be understood that LA Latinos like Dave didn’t stumble upon vintage 50s rockabilly by watching shows like “Happy Days”. “My dad used to listen to Mexican rockabilly when I was growing up, bands from Mexico playing rockabilly, but singing in Spanish,” says Dave. “Growing up as a little kid I used to be like, oh my god, you know, what is this stuff?
Rockabilly is a strange musical genre, a hybrid of swing and blues. It’s like porn: you know it when you hear it. But the easiest way to spot a rockabilly act is by its standup bass. Big, ungainly, and shaped like a curvy pinup, rockabilly’s standup bass is played in a unique way: plucked and spanked. Rockabilly’s distinctive thwackety-thwack evokes the rhythms of its rural roots: freight trains, horse trots, and, well sex.  Yeah, not an emo instrument. It’s crude, sexy and primitive, and takes serious man-arms to play.
“You bop to the music …you’re jiving away, you grab yourself a nice little hot rod mamma,” says Dave. “But definitely out there with a good vibe always…always got your head bopping or swinging or something. That’s what I love about it.”
Back in the day, rockabilly was so wild and untamed compared to mainstream music, it blew the bobby socks off Suburban teens and turned on America like a farmer’s daughter in a low cut dress. Its stars – Elvis, Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ricky Nelson – were the garage bands of their day, smashing the big band scene to bits with low budget bands made up of horny, ornery, drunk teens. But the rockabilly craze came to a screeching halt when shows like “American Bandstand” cleaned up the tracks for prime time.  Gone were the sexed-up energy of slapping bass, the growl of the horny farm boy, the hip-grinding R&B of the American South and the lilt of American swing.
Which is exactly why rockabilly fans, just like all fans of unrecognized indie rock, are defiantly loyal to bands that can pull off a pure, roots sound. In recent times, bands like the Neckromantix and Tiger Army have infused the rockabilly vibe into the hipster strains of “psychobilly,” and some roots rockabilly tracks have made it into taste-making movie soundtracks, like when the very, very obscure Charlie Feathers track, “That Certain Female” appeared in Kill Bill (thanks to Quentin Tarrantino’s obsession with 1970s LA rockabilly revival label Rollin’ Rock Records).
But despite its remarkable unfitness for the mainstream, rockabilly, like the pomade stain on your pillow after a hot night with a rockabilly stud, just won’t go away. And it survives even today in LA. Every weekend of the year, somewhere in Southern California you’ll find a roots rockabilly show. And every Easter weekend the annual “Viva Las Vegas” rockabilly weekender, hosted by LA promoter Tom Ingram, attracts 5,000 fans from around the world.
Today LA rockabilly thrives as a homegrown street culture with a kustom strut. On the music side, it's inspired by everyone from Johnny Cash to Dick Dale.  On the scene side, it’s fed by the many pocket barrios of LA attracted for whatever reason to vintage bars, vintage clothing, tattoos and custom cars; a strange orgy of cowboys, swingles, neobillies, and bikerbillies.  But there’s no doubt that the paying customers, who keep rockabilly alive in LA, are the bariobillies like Betty and Dave. And God bless ‘em. LA’s Latinos make the ideal fan base for a retro music scene. LA’s Latinos rock the bar scene, the oldies, the kustom cars, the vintage fashions and are known as rabid fans who devotedly tout their favorite bands all over MySpace.
Take a band like The Moonlight Cruisers, for example.  Everyone in The Moonlight Cruisers has a fulltime job.  Busy with family and work, this band has only released a couple albums in its five-year history. Yet The Moonlight Cruisers remain one of LA’s most popular rockabilly bands. They’re a dream for a 20-something Latino promoter like Brando Von Badsville, who sold out tonight’s 500-seat Safari Sam’s show just by promoting the show with flyers and MySpace blasts. Brando has come a long way. He started his career promoting a “record hop” on dead Monday nights at a dive bar in Rosemead called Spike’s. Now Brando fills Spike’s five nights a week, plus hosts LA shows with his Tiger Mask partner Ralph Carerra. Yet only in the past few months has Brando caught the eye of the LA media. These days they’re saying Spike’s is poised to replace the once cutting-edge LA indie music scene of Echo Park.
But LA Rockabilly remains a rebel, street culture scene, kicking it old school with everything from vintage hot rods to bands releasing albums on vinyl.  In the LA rockabilly ink you’ll see tattoos of vintage microphones and Mexican Day of the Dead self-portraits. And just like the gray primered cars of the rockabilly car shows, the ink on original scenesters like Betty is black and gray. “A lot of people like color,” says Betty. “I mean it's good for them, but I want to keep it old school.”
Don’t expect to see LA rockabilly on MTV any time soon. But if you make it to an LA rockabilly show, expect to see Latinos like tattoo artist “Rockabilly Ray,” born and raised in Mexico City, and now a citizen of the small business community of LA as owner of the Tinta Rebeldes tattoo shop on Hollywood Boulevard. “We’re the number one audience,” says Rockabilly Ray. “Latinos, Mexicanos, en todo. This is the real shit. We have a lot of culture, we have a lot of fucking good music. We’re family, that’s what it is, we’re family.” After 50 years, LA rockabilly is still a street culture, kustom built.  Pull up to the bar at an LA rockabilly show and you’ll still find a bad-ass Latino sporting a nicely pressed gabardine shirt with tattoos bursting out from his wrists and neck like fireworks on the Fourth of July. You’ll still find a gal in a red satin dress that fits so tight it makes her curves look like a ‘56 Buick. You’ll feel the floor bounce under you as the crowd dances to The Moonlight Cruisers, and if your partner pulls you close, you’ll smell the Murray’s pomade in his hair. You’ll squeeze past couples dancing palm to palm and pelvis to pelvis, who are fans of the music and still don’t care if their beloved band ever sees the light of MTV, because they’ll tell you, to their dying day, “the charts are in your heart”.

LA Weekly gives Another Write Up & Review for Rev It Up!

Lusty for Life

When did "quirky" replace "sexy" in band demand? At the risk of dating ourselves, Nightranger and many of our over-30 gal pals have been pining/whining for the good ol' days, when swagger on stage was an essential part of the rocker repertoire. It's a blanket statement, we know, but today's indie bands seem more concerned with being sardonic than seducing us with their dangerous, godlike auras. Last Friday night, however, we were taken back to a more bad-ass era complete with captivating, cocksure frontmen and scorching ax-grinders. Spike's Bar in the San Gabriel Valley is best known for its raucous rockabilly and New Wave events, but Friday's Rev It Up often showcases killer garage sounds as well, and the bill was more than worth a little freeway trek in the rain, especially since it was headlined by an all-time L.A. favorite, The Hangmen. One of the brightest and bluesiest groups to emerge from the record biz ballyhoo and rock-signing frenzy of the mid-'80s, leader Bryan Small could have seen success akin to Guns n' Roses and beyond, if not for the drug problems, major label turmoil (with Capitol and Geffen) and lineup drama that plagued his band. Two decades later, despite the Behind the Music-like backstory, the group is astoundingly strong and sprightly on stage. Friday saw the lineup amped by Supersuckers' guitarist Rob Heathman and his gritty riffs fit like a tight, perfectly weathered leather glove. From classics such as "Rotten Sunday" and "Downtown" to newer jams off their Mike Ness-produced '08 EP, In the City, the Hangmen rawk harder than ever, especially Small, whose snarly Jagger-meets-Iggy-ish allure has only gotten more interesting with age. Look for their catalog on the garage-heavy indie label Acetate Records.

Also on Acetate, the MC5-ish Superbees are back a-buzzin' after a long hiatus. Singer David James may not be flailing about the floor or falling over his cords, but like Small, he still stings when he sings and strings. Rounding out the bill are The Royal Highness (formerly known as The Chelsea Smiles), which sports a new lineup to go with the new name (Todd Youth is off the mic and singer Skye Vaughn Jayne delivers the brutal vocal blows); and Barrio Tiger, the ferocious 'n' fun Echo Park pack, including guitarist Jimmy James (formerly with the Hangmen and a zillion other local bands) and frontman Calixto Hernandez (of the old Juvee skate shop, now slingin' behind the bars at La Cita and The Shortstop). Rev It Up did just that Friday, and we suggest rolling into Rosemead for promoter Brando Von Badville's next Spike's sizzler headlined by The Lords of Altamont on March 12. Von Badsville's also bringing his grimy rock goodness to the Sunset Strip, promoting what he hopes will be the first of a regular series of Rev It Up nights at the newly reopened Key Club, this Saturday, Feb. 27, with another Acetate band, Hollywood's Prima Donna. PD just came back from a primo punk gig opening for Green Day throughout Europe and Asia, and if the international lust they earned is any indication, the Dollsy young dudes might be leading the way for a new generation of unapologetic sleazesters who, once again, put their moneymakers where their mouths are. The all-ages show will also feature Duane Peters, The Billy Bones and original gutter punks Motorcycle Boy.

LA Weekly's write up on MONDO HOLLYWOOD!

LA Weekly's write up on MONDO HOLLYWOOD!

Mary Weiss, Guana Batz, Kim Lenz, Magic Christian, Lords of Altamont, Luis & the Wildfires, Muck & the Mires, The Tabaltix, The Love Me Nots, Gamblers Mark, Rockin Ryan, The Volcanics, Jail Weddings 
Date/Time: Sat., August 9 
The Knitting Factory 
7021 Hollywood Blvd. L.A. CA 90028 
(323) 463-0204 
Mary Weiss, The Love Me Nots By Falling James 
Remember walking in the sand? Mary Weiss does. She was one of the leaders of the pack of bad girls known as the Shangri-Las, a '60s band who were tougher and more independent than any of Phil Spector's girl-group puppets. Their classic tunes were later covered by Aerosmith, the Go-Go's, Redd Kross and the New York Dolls, and Weiss was the charismatic role model for such future divas as Amy Winehouse and the Detroit Cobras' Rachel Nagy. When she returned to the spotlight after a very long absence with her excellent 2007 solo CD, Dangerous Game (Norton Records) — which featured the catchy potential hit "Stop and Think It Over" and the all-too-aptly-titled "Cry About the Radio" — she was wise enough to employ the talents of the Reigning Sound and garage-rock auteur Greg Cartwright instead of a typical slick session band. Weiss makes her local solo debut on this opening night of the Mondo Hollywood Festival, headlining a bill that also incl The Love Me Nots, who are one of the few modern garage-rock revivalists whose lust-ridden, keyboard-pumped songs rank with their storied influences. (The coed Phoenix combo even titled their groovy new CD, 'DETROIT', in a nod to their sonic inspirations as well as their ubiquitous Motor City producer, Jim Diamond.) The fest continues Sunday with a rare visit by the Electric Prunes ("I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night") and a horde of rockabilly and garage bands. The whole damn thing gets started early at 2 p.m. http://www. laweekly. com/index. php?option=com_calendar&task=events&Itemid=571&searchtab=event&oid=26676

LA TIMES review on Johnny Legend at REV IT UP!

L.A. Times Music Blog

July 2, 2008 2:16pm


Although he hasn't released a record since 1998's "Bitchin,' " Johnny Legend — known to admirers as the Rockabilly Rasputin – is still in the game. Last Friday he kicked out the jams at Spike's Bar in Rosemead, playing to a largely uninterested room of traditional rockabilly types. Anything but traditional, Legend strolled on stage in droopy red pants, a red-sequined cardigan sweater and a black T-shirt emblazoned with the movie poster of Ray Dennis Steckler's cult 1964 rock opera, "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-up Zombies." With his long, flowing white beard and hair, he looked like a slightly anemic Santa Claus with nicotine-stained teeth and impenetrable sunglasses.
Stage-shy in the beginning, he turned his back on the audience and sang to the band. But he soon kicked his shoes off and stalked the dance floor in his socks, working his way through a number of classics with vigor and enthusiasm. Unlike the preceding band –  whose sound was straight out of the Stray Cats playbook and whose powdered frontman looked like Robert Smith with a pompadour – Legend possessed a raw, feral stage presence that elicited toe-tapping and more than a few grins from the few Spike's patrons who focused on the performance. He was a particular hit with some of the rockabilly ladies in attendance, frolicking, flirting and even spinning on the floor to get their attention.
The notoriously reclusive and eccentric weird-beard got his start on the Sunset Strip club circuit with a folk-rock act called the Seeds of Time (they changed their moniker to Shadow Legend after complaints from Sky Saxon's far-more-popular Seeds). Equally involved in low-budget cinema, the San Fernando Valley native spent the '70s working for Roger Corman's American International Pictures, composing soundtracks for grade-Z adult films such as "Tower of Love" and building his rockabilly chops – and future reputation – by playing alongside L.A. rockabilly revival heavy hitters such as Ray Campi and Billy Zoom. He has only a handful of records to his credit – including an appearance on the 1977 "Teenage Cruisers" soundtrack and 1981's "Rockabilly Rumble" — but if this show is any evidence, Johnny Legend still has what it takes to bop.
Photo and post by Jason Gelt

LA Times reviews REV IT UP! and Spike’s!

Rockin' hard and loud at Spike's

By -- Lina Lecaro
January 3, 2008
LOOKING for the gritty ambience of dearly departed L.A. rock dives such as Al's Bar and the Garage in Silver Lake? Dig out the earplugs and throw on a leather jacket, because your new favorite hangout lies to the east.

Yes, Spike's Bar and Billiards is in Rosemead, but that only sounds like a distant land. From Silver Lake, it's about a 15-minute jaunt -- a shorter trek than, say, the Sunset Strip. And on Friday nights, when Spike's hosts a night called Rev It Up, it seems like a trip to the corner store, with spiffily groomed greasers, goths and garagers gathering to see bands such as The Chelsea Smiles, Los Creepers, Lords of Altamont and Calavera. The unofficial dress code? Black, black and more black.

But before this wood-paneled, vintage-movie-poster-covered room became a fave with East L.A. car culture vultures and San Gabriel Valley's crimson-lipped vamps and tattooed types, it was a WWII-era hangout called the Dew Drop, then a topless bar in the '60s. More recently, it was a watering hole called Patrick's, and after the 1987 Whittier earthquake, the pool table area was added. Ten years ago, the owners changed the name to Spike's.

It wasn't the tough new name that brought in the 30-and-younger set, though. That happened after _______ _______, better known as club promoter Brando Von Badsville, came in. "They were sitting on a gold mine and they didn't even know it," says the local rockabilly scenester. "I liked how the raised counters surrounded the center floor, and thought it'd be cool to put bands in there."

It's a unique setup, and the performers -- including the likes of all-girl Misfits cover band the Bitchfits, the glam-ish Experiment Perilous, melodic punkabilly boys Deadbeat Sinatra and the Crystelles (featuring Christian Death alum Gitane Demone) -- use it to dramatic effect, roaming below the crowd and enticing pals to dance on the floor in front of them.

The loud music, no-frills booze selection and helpful help -- the door guys keep track of the cars in the lot, allowing patrons to double park and making announcements when a vehicle needs to be moved -- keep the vibe more house party than nightclub.

"I was recently at a show in Hollywood and some of the same bands who perform at Spike's were playing," says Deadbeat's Adrian Misquez. "It was a completely different vibe. Maybe it's the less expensive drinks or the pool tables that get the people more loose and grooving. Also, other clubs usually have people hanging out outside conversing. At Spike's people stay inside. It's more intimate."

Von Badsville's other nights, "Rhythm N' Booze" (rockabilly on Mondays) and "The Breakfast Klub" ('80s dance on Wednesdays), have been going strong for six years. "This has become the hub of San Gabriel Valley," Brando says.

Rev It Up Fridays (which celebrates three years on Jan. 11) is Spike's most gregarious grab bag, and worth the drive. Besides, the real ride happens inside.


WHERE: 7813 Garvey Ave., Rosemead

WHEN: Rev It Up, every Friday of the month (except the last), 9 p.m.-2 a.m.

PRICE: $10; 21 and older

INFO: (626) 288-4366;

RIP Evel Knievel

By MITCH STACY – 2 hours ago 11/30/07 

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Evel Knievel, the red-white-and-blue-spangled motorcycle daredevil whose jumps over crazy obstacles including Greyhound buses, live sharks and Idaho's Snake River Canyon made him an international icon in the 1970s, died Friday. He was 69.

Knievel's death was confirmed by his granddaughter, Krysten Knievel. He had been in failing health for years, suffering from diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable condition that scarred his lungs.

Knievel had undergone a liver transplant in 1999 after nearly dying of hepatitis C, likely contracted through a blood transfusion after one of his bone-shattering spills. He also suffered two strokes in recent years.

Longtime friend and promoter Billy Rundle said Knievel had trouble breathing at his Clearwater condominium and died before an ambulance could get him to a hospital.

"It's been coming for years, but you just don't expect it. Superman just doesn't die, right?" Rundle said.

Immortalized in the Washington's Smithsonian Institution as "America's Legendary Daredevil," Knievel was best known for a failed 1974 attempt to jump Snake River Canyon on a rocket-powered cycle and a spectacular crash at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. He suffered nearly 40 broken bones before he retired in 1980.

"I think he lived 20 years longer than most people would have" after so many injuries, said his son Kelly Knievel, 47. "I think he willed himself into an extra five or six years."

Though Knievel dropped off the pop culture radar in the '80s, the image of the high-flying motorcyclist clad in patriotic, star-studded colors was never erased from public consciousness. He always had fans and enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years.

His death came just two days after it was announced that he and rapper Kanye West had settled a federal lawsuit over the use of Knievel's trademarked image in a popular West music video.

Knievel made a good living selling his autographs and endorsing products. Thousands came to Butte, Mont., every year as his legend was celebrated during the "Evel Knievel Days" festival, which Rundle organizes.

"They started out watching me bust my ass, and I became part of their lives," Knievel said. "People wanted to associate with a winner, not a loser. They wanted to associate with someone who kept trying to be a winner."

For the tall, thin daredevil, the limelight was always comfortable, the gab glib. To Knievel, there always were mountains to climb, feats to conquer.

"No king or prince has lived a better life," he said in a May 2006 interview with The Associated Press. "You're looking at a guy who's really done it all. And there are things I wish I had done better, not only for me but for the ones I loved."

He had a knack for outrageous yarns: "Made $60 million, spent 61. ...Lost $250,000 at blackjack once. ... Had $3 million in the bank, though."

He began his daredevil career in 1965 when he formed a troupe called Evel Knievel's Motorcycle Daredevils, a touring show in which he performed stunts such as riding through fire walls, jumping over live rattlesnakes and mountain lions and being towed at 200 mph behind dragster race cars.

In 1966 he began touring alone, barnstorming the West and doing everything from driving the trucks, erecting the ramps and promoting the shows. In the beginning he charged $500 for a jump over two cars parked between ramps.

He steadily increased the length of the jumps until, on New Year's Day 1968, he was nearly killed when he jumped 151 feet across the fountains in front of Caesar's Palace. He cleared the fountains but the crash landing put him in the hospital in a coma for a month.

His son, Robbie, successfully completed the same jump in April 1989.

In the years after the Caesar's crash, the fee for Evel's performances increased to $1 million for his jump over 13 buses at Wembley Stadium in London — the crash landing broke his pelvis — to more than $6 million for the Sept. 8, 1974, attempt to clear the Snake River Canyon in Idaho in a rocket-powered "Skycycle." The money came from ticket sales, paid sponsors and ABC's "Wide World of Sports."

The parachute malfunctioned and deployed after takeoff. Strong winds blew the cycle into the canyon, landing him close to the swirling river below.

On Oct. 25, 1975, he jumped 14 Greyhound buses at Kings Island in Ohio.

Knievel decided to retire after a jump in the winter of 1976 in which he was again seriously injured. He suffered a concussion and broke both arms in an attempt to jump a tank full of live sharks in the Chicago Amphitheater. He continued to do smaller exhibitions around the country with his son, Robbie.

Many of his records have been broken by daredevil motorcyclist Bubba Blackwell.

Knievel also dabbled in movies and TV, starring as himself in "Viva Knievel" and with Lindsay Wagner in an episode of the 1980s TV series "Bionic Woman." George Hamilton and Sam Elliott each played Knievel in movies about his life.

Evel Knievel toys accounted for more than $300 million in sales for Ideal and other companies in the 1970s and '80s.

Born Robert Craig Knievel in the copper mining town of Butte on Oct. 17, 1938, Knievel was raised by his grandparents. He traced his career choice back to the time he saw Joey Chitwood's Auto Daredevil Show at age 8.

"The phrase one-of-a-kind is often used, but it probably applies best to Bobby Knievel," said former U.S. Rep. Pat Williams, D-Mont., Knievel's cousin. "He was an amazing athlete... He was sharp as a tack, one of the smartest people I've ever known and finally, as the world knows, no one had more guts than Bobby. He was simply unafraid of anything."

Outstanding in track and field, ski jumping and ice hockey at Butte High School, Knievel went on to win the Northern Rocky Mountain Ski Association Class A Men's ski jumping championship in 1957 and played with the Charlotte Clippers of the Eastern Hockey League in 1959.

He also formed the Butte Bombers semiprofessional hockey team, acting as owner, manager, coach and player.

Knievel also worked in the Montana copper mines, served in the Army, ran his own hunting guide service, sold insurance and ran Honda motorcycle dealerships. As a motorcycle dealer, he drummed up business by offering $100 off the price of a motorcycle to customers who could beat him at arm wrestling.

At various times and in different interviews, Knievel claimed to have been a swindler, a card thief, a safe cracker, a holdup man.

Evel Knievel married hometown girlfriend, Linda Joan Bork, in 1959. They separated in the early 1990s. They had four children, Kelly, Robbie, Tracey and Alicia.

Robbie Knievel followed in his father's footsteps as a daredevil, jumping a moving locomotive in a 200-foot, ramp-to-ramp motorcycle stunt on live television in 2000. He also jumped a 200-foot-wide chasm of the Grand Canyon.

Knievel lived with his longtime partner, Krystal Kennedy-Knievel, splitting his time between their Clearwater condo and Butte. They married in 1999 and divorced a few years later but remained together. Knievel had 10 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

(This version CORRECTS spelling of longtime friend's last name to Rundle and that Pat Williams is a former congressman).)

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LA Weekly reviews "Rev It Up!" on 7/13/07

LA Weekly reviews "Rev It Up!" on 7/13/07

Hey check out what they wrote:

Nightranger By Lina Lecaro

Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Freaky Friday
Our week wasn't all fun in the sun (thank badness). After all, a Friday the 13th frolic is always best after night falls, and bad luck or no, we decided to venture out of the safe confines of Silver Lake and Hollywood for the occasion. Way out. Our destination? Spike's Bar in San Gabriel, a divy spot that's been showcasing live rock for six years courtesy of promoter Brando Von Badsville. Spike's rough charm is not unlike that of the old Al's Bar: It's a place where the toilet could overflow at any moment (there's actually a sign in the ladies' stall that says not to flush anything — even toilet paper!), the stogy stench is omnipresent, and getting sucked into a pool game with a stranger is way too easy, and way too much fun. Still, it's Von Badsville's Rev It Up night that brings a cool, mostly black-clad crowd of Eastside greasers, punks and goths to the spot every Friday, and for the 13th we watched our pals Experiment Perilous cast a dark glam spell (they dedicated their set to Arthur Kane, who died on July 13, three years ago). The rip-roaring sounds of Deadbeat Sinatra (whom Von Badsville manages) followed, and their raw yet catchy tunes — very Social Distortion meets the Ramones — got the girlies in the crowd shaking, including yours truly, especially when they ended with a cover of "Under My Thumb" in our honor. Guess everybody knows about our Stones obsession, huh? Fridays are definitely worth the drive out.

Von Badsville also does events at Spike with Tigermask's Ralph Carrera; the next show, featuring The Flash Express and The Chelsea Smiles, goes down July 27. If you're a lazy La La–lander, they've got a downtown event too. The pair will present Johnny Legend's Rock & Roll Wrestling on August 4 at the new space Crash Mansion, featuring a ton of bands and masked men battling on the mat. Actually, the venue's not really so new — it's the former Grand Ave. nightclub, which, as we revealed here several months ago, has been looking to get more rocker-friendly. Now that the NYC Crash Mansion peeps have taken over (side note: Nikki Sixx just held a press conference there for his new book Heroin Diaries on Monday), looks like the amps are about to get turned way up.