For our recent concerts at the Community School of Music and Arts,
San Jose Mercury News writer, Yoshi Kato, promoted the shows by writing:
"The Hipwaders have a clean yet hard driving sounds that’s very garage rock — if the garage was clean and organized and had piles of toys stacked in colorful bins. (They) all have a great rapport both with one another and their audiences, and humor is omnipresent."
While I can’t argue with that description - and I actually agree with it - I approached the shows with trepidation. As I roamed the school grounds prior to our first show I noted a recital was taking place in a nearby classroom. Young students where performing classical works on violin and piano with professionalism way beyond their years. While I never “studied” music as I should have, I did take piano lessons as a kid. I learned just enough to read music v e r y s l o w l y. At fifteen I learned guitar out of a book and began writing songs. I no longer needed to read music to enjoy playing and my instrumental skills have progressed at a snails pace as I view musical instruments as merely tools to write songs.
Therefore, my musical inferiority complex reared it’s head and I felt strange about performing in a place where “musicians” studied and guest performers where technically proficient way beyond me.
I though of other times where I felt I was “outed”. There’s a Bay Area promoter who likes to joke(?) with me every time he books a show with us by saying he “knows” that we’re just punk rockers disguised as children’s music performers.
I have to blame Lenny Kaye for all of this as he was the compiler of the original “Nuggets” 2LP set back in 1972 that brought attention to 1960's American garage pop/punk rock. I had the privilege of meeting Lenny when we shared the Kidzapalooza stage at Lollapalooza 2007. Lenny’s the longtime guitarist for punk/poetess icon, Patti Smith. I told him how influential Nuggets was to me and that it had ruined my ability to appreciate commercial music. He said, “Your welcome.”
So, back to our shows at the Community School of Music and Arts. It didn’t help we started our
sets off with our most popular song, “Educated Kid”. Ironically, it’s our simplest song consisting of just 3 chords ( A, D & G, if you must know). I don’t think any more than 3 people in attendance had even heard the song but the crowd quickly caught the groove and clapped along. I relaxed and both shows rocked. The kids and parents were into it and any feelings of inadequacy never materialized.
I sent an email thanking the staff for having us and I was sent an email back that they received from a concert goer. It was a note from a grandmother who had brought two young grandchildren who “loved the show” and she was “amazed two children could sit in their chairs for so long.”
The best part of the note was at the end when she writes that she was planning to have the children start taking music lessons at the school, “but now they love to take rock music”.
Ha! Now I know how Lenny Kaye feels. A small part of me thinks it’s wrong to have corrupted a couple of innocent children. But mostly I feel like: #*%& YEAH!!!
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JUSTINE JOHNS?
1 day ago