"I was about 5 when they had the Cuban missile crisis and I can remember my mother being terrified and people crying in the streets," said Peter Case. "I despise having the threat of nuclear war held over our heads."
Tonight at the Variety Arts Center, Case and a dozen other local acts (including Firehose, Divine Weeks, Divine Horsemen, Dream Syndicate, Ray Manzarek, Screamin' Sirens, Superheroines, and the Brigade) are trying to do something about it. The event is a marathon concert to benefit the newly merged anti-nuke organization SANE/Freeze.
Unlike past SANE-sponsored shows such as Survival Sunday, the lineup and the low ticket price are aimed at a new generation of fans and bands who have grown up under the nuclear cloud but as yet haven't done much about it.
"I wanted to get this new group of artists involved and behind what some of their lyrics talk about," said Claudia Miles, co-producer of the concert. "Protesting and political involvement doesn't have to have ended with the '60s."
Miles, who has worked as a club booker, band manager and music publicist since the days of new wave, organized the show with Cheryll Roberts, co-chair of the local SANE/Freeze board of directors and the driving force behind past Survival Sunday concerts.
While this may not be of the same magnitude of those star-studded events, Roberts noted that just as in the '60s, a blend of music culture and shared political/social values among the youth could shake the foundations.
"The people who listen to Peter Case and Firehose feel that the priorities of this country need to be changed but they haven't felt there was anything they could do," she said.
How aware are local bands themselves of the issue? At the Survival Sunday shows, many of the top--Peter, Paul & Mary, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash--were all vocal and committed SANE members. With the exception of Ray Manzarek and one member of Randy California's band, none of the acts on the bill have signed up.
"I didn't know a whole lot about SANE," said former Rank and File member Chip Kinman, whose new band, Blackbird, plays today. "We're doing the show because it seemed like a good opportunity to get the band off on the right foot."
"I had an idea of what SANE was from touring in Europe," said Mike Watt of Firehose. "And the recent performances of certain lieutenant colonels, I think, is reason enough to have such an event."
CANNOT TELL A FIB: Revenge is sweet for the Fibonaccis. The band is sending a copy of its new album, "Civilization and Its Discotheques" to a New York producer who, according to keyboardist John Dentino, strung the group along with the promise of a possible record deal. The catch is, the band is sending him the album packed in a large box full of cornflakes--"for the flake of the year," said Dentino.
Dentino admits, though, that the producer is not entirely to blame for the long time it took the band to release its debut album. (The group made a 1982 EP and a 1983 three-song "single" and contributed five songs to the 1986 "Terrorvision" movie score.)
"The real reason is twofold," Dentino said. "We were put off by a lot of people. It's just a common, boring story you hear from L.A. musicians all the time. And the band has been in flux."
Dentino also acknowledges that the underground art-pop scene the Fibonaccis were once part of has shrunk since the early '80s. "Back then everybody was going to Al's Bar and seeing the Fibs and Wall of Voodoo and Nervous Gender," he recalled. "There was a lot of excitement, but then I was younger."
SPLITHAIRSVILLE: Roy McDonald, Redd Kross' drummer for the last two years, has dropped out of the band following the group's return from tour. "He just couldn't handle rock 'n' roll anymore, I guess," said the band's Jeff McDonald (no relation). The departure was ill-timed since the band is slated to start its debut European tour this winter. . . . Blood on the Saddle, perhaps the one group that ever truly merited the mantle cow-punk , has broken up. Though SST released the band's third album, "Fresh Blood," in August, the group suspended operations in February, according to founding singer-guitarist Greg Davis, who has formed a new band, the Drivers. Meanwhile, drummer Hermann Senac can be seen playing with Crowbar, and bassist Ron Dotelho is working with singer Bobbi Bratt. . . .
And it looks like the recent earthquakes claimed at least one local music figure. Ex-PiL member Keith Levene, recently working in the studio with Radwaste following the completion of his "Back to Black" LP for Iridescence Records, has returned to live in England following the temblors.