Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Norton Records 25th Anniversary Rumble took place at The Bell House in the fine borough of Brooklyn over four days last week. No-one that attended will ever forget it. Since then I hit reality with a bang and a sack full of whimper but let’s try and recapture the flavour of this hysteric event.

4 nights of Nortonian hootch that covered their chequered service. Even although he’s long gone, the spirit of Hasil was present throughout and the clan was treated to the largest collective “hunch” that the world has ever known. Billy and Miriam, ably assisted by Todd Abramson built it and the people came to worship. Many of the locals couldn’t get tickets because the place was to be invaded by furriners. One of which was me.

The Nor-tones kicked things off each evening with a short set composed of nuggets from the annals of the label. They did a great job, the very best of which was a dreamy saunter through Roky’s “Wait For You”. Nick Lowe’s “I Love My Label” sprang to mind too because these kids clearly do.

A mix of head lag and lack of space constricts my ability to cover everything that went on over there but it reached saturation at some points. It got to be a bit much to process. Perhaps a little foaming from the mouth was also evident.

The outright highest highpoints for me was being able to watch the guy that started me out on all this deliver two acoustic sets in the lounge on the Saturday and Sunday nights. Andy Shernoff - ably assisted by Brian Hurd of Daddy Longlegs and the fab Tricia Scotti - delivered the songs that brought a lot of us together like we never heard ‘em in person before. A total honour. Andy also joined Untamed Youth for a rattle through “Cars and Girls” that quite literally made some of us cry like little bitches.

The Yout’ set was also something to behold, effortlessly showing that they were never nostalgia driven to the point of novelty. They might hark back to the bygone but they turbo-charged the goods and delivered something circling perfection.

The A-Bones set and it’s culmination with Roy Loney and Cyril Jordan was beezer too. I had a lump in my throat and something in my eye during much of it. “Questions I Can’t Answer” booted me right over that brink.

Worthy of a shout out also as I run out of space were The 5,6,7,8’s who headlined the first night. No they didn’t it was The Black Lips you might say but trust me. The R&B Soul Revue was utterly unbelievable as Melvin Davis, Andre Williams, Dave “Baby” Cortez and The Mighty Hannibal indicated that age is immaterial. And that their material is solid gold. Jaw droppingly entertaining. The Great Gaylord ably assisted by The Condo Fucks – tore “TV Eye” a new one far beyond The Stooges current cabaret fayre.

I saw Reigning Sound twice. Maxwells was slightly better because they did “High School Time Bomb” but the pace of the set was better at Nortonpalooza. Patrice took me over there on my first night in town, she is a trip. Caught The Sonics two times too. One during the afternoon in NJ with my homies Nancy and Fiona and again closing the four day rally. Blimey, I nearly forgot about The Randy Fuller Four. Who could ever have dreamed of such an occurrence? Never to be forgotten for sure.

There are clips all over the interweb that allow you to hear and see nearly each and every performance. I’m not sure words are enough. It was also and opporchancity to get reacquainted with good friends and to notch up a few more. At least I got to see a wee bit of Susquehanna Industrial Tool and Die Co. I can never get enough of those Goofballs kids. It was an extreme pleasure also to meet Ms Palmyra Delran. They broke the mould when that one was made. And also Brother Mark Hershberger of the Pop Detective imprint who has recently brought The Dahlmanns to the world. So many great folks, so little time. Karen, Sal, Joe, Ken + Vibeke, Roy, Cyril, Jimmy + Gretchen, Joss + Nadia, Scott, Mr & Mrs Kogar, the list just goes on and on... Howie flippin’ Pyro too. First time since the “dog incident” in Glasgow.

Aside from everything else, making the exit up on to Union Square, the first time I ventured into Manhattan on the Thursday was pretty overwhelming. It had been so long. I made for one of the first place that I ever went back in 1983, the Strand Bookstore where I first met Miriam. Then just walking somewhat unconsciously I found myself outside Joey’s old apartment on East 9th. My heart jumped into my mouth at the realisation. It had been a long time and being able to make peace with it all has been a welcome respite to how this year kicked off.

Recent events at home have also served to create a perspective and although the coming months are likely to serve up some primo bullshit on the personal and fiscal front, I feel better prepared to deal with it after this. .

HT came in from up North Fork way and just a couple hours with KP and he did this grizzled old heart good. Likewise Duano. My pal Paul (Lukas) came out even although he had the lurghi, I hope the doc was able to fix you up young fella, me lad.

Anyone visiting the borough should make a bee-line for the Canal Bar (Hey Althea!). A home away from home during “the ordeal” (ha ha). It has the Ulf Ramone seal of approval, who could ask for any more. But wait, all bars carry his approval - right? Ha ha.

My final day in town was really something as I headed for Destination Greenpoint to Chez Zaremba then into town to meet the one and only Caryn Rose. A reminder to anyone who wants to get a cool book for anyone this Chrimbo, “B Sides and Broken Hearts” is the bizzo. From there I saw KP, then Amy joined us before she and I headed toward the Flea Market Cafe farewell nosh that Mary Lee organised. All a bit overwhelming to be honest. Amy Allison, Eric Ambel, Laura Cantrell, Mary Lee Kortes all in attendance prior to the Lakeside Lounge antics. And to have Fiona and Rinda there just iced that bloody cake.

And to top it all off – the great Andy Shernoff Esq. and Ms Delran also turned up. Karen, Jon, Ross and I hit up Manitoba’s. I’m sure that I’ve neglected to mention a host of folks and I could rabbit for acres more but what’s left of my mind is mush really. It’s unlikely that any of us will recover.

Could there perhaps be a 30th anniversary? The attendees of this stramash wait with baited breath to see if those Millers would be prepared to go through anything like this ever again.

When I was wandering around Newark Liberty Airport waiting on fate to deal its mortal blow, pining for them Tri-state urban fjords – Dave “Baby” Cortez’s “Happy Organ” was blaring from the fake fifties diner. For a few seconds, I was transported back to the weekend and all was momentarily well with the world.

If I could just do last Sunday afternoon like Groundhog Day then my disposition would much improve but all is not lost - a rather agreeable weekend lies in store in just a matter of days. I'm gonna visit google maps now to see if there's a route there that doesn't involve the usual rigmarol. Probably not.


Benjamin said...

Yep, that sounds about right, L. I still haven't been able to put the words together from my end. Still wrapping my head around those few days of total bliss. It was a pleasure hanging out with you, not to mention Mr. & Mrs. Kogar. Til next time...

Joe Bonomo said...

Great write up, L. Glad to read that you got out a bit in Manhattan. And even swung by Zaremba's

Great meeting you, finally!


Kogar the Swinging Ape said...

totally amazing weekend. great meeting and hanging out with both you and ben!

Lindsay Hutton said...

It was a gas alright. Thanks for making it one of the most memorable events in all of history. And I do mean all.

Scott Cornish said...

Much like your incident at the airport, I was in a local coffeehouse on Friday with nobody around to tell about all my Brooklyn adventures, when "Teenage Head" came on, and I just flipped. In a good way!

Cool to read your thoughts on the spectacular, and not just because they mirror my own! I enjoyed Joe Bonomo's wrap up, too.

Sometimes, the good guys win (and don't wear white).
Long live Norton Records!


Patrick said...

And what about the Real Kids, supposed to play the last day of this Norton bash?
Did thy play or maybe JF sniffed the advanced money for the show, like he did a few years ago before a tour of Europe. I love this band.