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ROCKTALK : Dear Lyle Lovett: Fans Rule at Shows : Play the hits, start on time and don't tell anyone to clap. And please drop the funny attitude at your concerts.


Dear Lyle Lovett:

Never was the awesome majesty of the Rule more apparent than at your Aug. 6 concert at the Santa Barbara County Bowl. For a guy with funny hair, you're cultivating quite the funny attitude to match.

After walking about 72 blocks uphill to the venue--and at the free-of-charge, peek-and-feel checkpoint--was a sign that read: "Lyle doesn't like smoking." Reportedly, you stalked out of a prior gig in New Mexico after sniffing out the trail of, not even the Marlboro Man, but the dreaded Zig-Zag Man emanating from the audience.

The next example of the Rules-According-to-Lyle may have stretched the Rock Star-Rock Fan relationship inordinately beyond the typical scenario wherein you play songs and we adore you and make you rich.

Once inside the tree-lined venue, the ushers were instructed to tell the patrons that you didn't want people getting up in the middle of a song to go to the bathroom. Wait a minute, what if you drank a dozen of those $4 brewskis? What if those Spanish Inquisition-model folding chairs hurt your back? What if you didn't like a song? What's next? A dress code where fans are forced to get haircuts like yours at the gate?

So, that's the way it is, huh, Lyle? Well, I have some rules I'd like to see implemented:

* Never say: "How's it goin' Santa Barbara," or Ventura, or Albuquerque, or wherever you happen to be. You don't really care and neither do we.

* Never tell anyone to clap their hands. Don't tell me nothin' about nothin'.

* Never inflict a drum solo on the crowd for any reason. Only locusts, ambulance sirens and jail are worse.

* Be sure and play the hits, not a bunch of new songs we may hate.

* Don't charge $23 for a T-shirt or $30 for a ticket.

* Start on time. For one so demanding, you'd think you could afford a watch.

You were 20 minutes late, but the show was undeniably great. Yet, I have to admit that I left right in the middle of a song before the first encore. Perhaps no one saw me; I was wearing black. They may be after me even now. Good thing I gave a fake name at the box office.

Sincerely, Jim Smith


OK, rock stars, stop me if you've heard this one before. You're up there on stage sweating like someone who just saw their doctor's bill, cranking out what you hope is your "Stairway to Heaven" off your "Sgt. Pepper's" masterpiece album. Then you notice--hey, besides your girlfriend and the bartender, who's that standing in the back?

You never know who's going to show up to your gig. It could be Carl Chamberlain, who used to work with Diane Lai at a library in Port Hueneme. Now Lai has connections with the Cultural Bureau of Hunan Province in China--right, mainland China.

Billions of Chinese can't be wrong--they want rock 'n' roll acts, just as much as any 14-year-old metal kid. Want them for what? An example of decadent capitalist culture? Maybe, but also for a tour of China.

"Since they didn't know much about rock 'n' roll and jazz, they sent me to scout some bands," said Chamberlain, who ended up one night at the Midnight Hour in Ventura watching an Oxnard band called Wonderwall. For one reason or another, the band couldn't make the trip.

Enter Los Guys, a pair of wild and wacky folk rockers from Santa Barbara. Guess who has a guitar player named Harold Lee who speaks Chinese? Guess who's leaving on Sept. 1 for a seven-week tour of China? Included will be gigs at Hunan Cultural Arts and Entertainment Center in the provincial capital of Changsha?

The Guys may have to change some lyrics, actually a lot of lyrics. I'd love to see the faces of the Chinese crowd when Donaldson sings obscene things about George Bush.


Santa Barbara bands with recent or forthcoming releases include Spencer the Gardener, Ladybug Garden, Twelve Stories, Creature Feature, the Frank Jaegers, Old Man, Citrus Groove, Grizelda, the Body, the Roadhouse Rockers and Tao Jonz.

The Jonz boys' second one, "Keeping Up With The Jonzes," is especially recommended. This quartet features impeccable musicianship, cool songs and everybody sings. The songs feature touches of rock, reggae, jazz and funk. Trust me on this one.

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