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James Williamson’s ‘Re-Licked’ Show: ‘Alternative Music’s A-List’ Brings Raw Power to New Project

Lisa Kekaula with James Williamson at Re-Licked show Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Lisa Kekaula with James Williamson at Re-Licked show Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Alison Mosshart, Jello Biafra, Cheetah Chrome Bring It to Bootleg Show

STORY By DONNA BALANCIA, PHOTOS By HEATHER HARRIS

SILVER LAKE — There was a kitchen drawer at our house that had all sorts of cool things: From screwdrivers to Scotch tape, gumballs to love beads. My dad called it “contained craziness.”

It was like that the other night for James Williamson’s Re-Licked concert at the Bootleg.  Set against a ambient backdrop, the show was a powerful reminder of punk rock’s past, and an exciting sign of the future of the genre.

Accompanied by what could only be called The A-List of Alternative Artists, Williamson amassed a show that was one of the most action-packed we’ve ever seen.  Williamson may have been known as producer and guitarist before, but now he can certainly claim the title of talent scout and promoter.

Calling on his relationships with people like Dead Weather’s Alison Mosshart, Jello Biafra, Joe Cardamone, Lisa Kekaula of the Bell Rays, Cheetah Chrome, and Frank Meyer and the Street Walkin’ Cheetahs, Williamson took a one-off show and turned it into a screaming social event of great success.

SEE HEATHER HARRIS’ PHOTO ESSAY BELOW

James Williamson with Jello Biafra - Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

James Williamson with Jello Biafra – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Band Street Walkin’ Cheetahs and ex-Dead Boys guitarist Chrome lent support as opening acts and joined in the action during the main show, as did “new guys” The Richmond Sluts, who were the young standouts.

The Richmond Sluts’ music and appearance were reminicent of a true 1970s rock n roll band. The charisma, stage presence and white go-go boots of frontman Shea Roberts is really something to appreciate.  Roberts is clearly the new sex symbol of Rock N Roll.

Williamson said he selected Carolyn Wonderland to sing “Open Up And Bleed,” because he was looking for a Janis Joplin-type style for the song.  She breathes new life into a great classic with a feminine touch and vulnerable but commanding stage persona.

Meyer of the popular Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs has a fabulous personality, cool performance style and he did an excellent job running the show, introducing performers and keeping people laughing with his jokes. He gave super energetic renditions of “She Creatures of the Hollywood Hills” and “I’m Sick of You.”

Mosshart’s performance is always something to see — unique and relaxed — her body twisting with each word and wild hair seemingly with a life of its own. She knows how to keep the audience hanging on every motion.

Her crooning “Till The End of the Night” captured the audience as she is both flirtatious and powerful in her delivery. With Malin on “Wild Love,” she shows a gregarious and giving nature in her performance. She clearly enjoys collaborating with established as well as up-and-coming musicians.

Ron Young with James Williamson - Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Ron Young with James Williamson – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Ron Young of Little Caesar was a breath of fresh air with his hard rock style.  He delivered a solid performance of “Rubber Leg.”  Young’s the kind of guy you want to be in the trenches with, as he is a real team player with a great attitude and cool swagger.

Joe Cardamone of The Icarus Line taunted the audience with “Scene of The Crime” and “Pinpoint Eyes.”  This Los Angeles artist has been working with The Icarus Line and previously fronted Kanker Sores. Kekaula’s wild energy turned “I Got A Right” into a hopping punk revival, soul style.

The opening song was a predictor for the superband performance: Biafra’s “Head On The Curve” was a wild shout out to both Iggy Pop and his Dead Kennedys days — he is still a wild man and compelling to the point where you can’t keep your eyes off him.

For show-enders “Search and Destroy” and “Louie Louie” it was like controlled chaos erupted on stage, and it was calamity on whom to focus the lens.

There was so much action at once it was like a three-ring circus with people running all over the place — Malin whipping his microphone cord around, Cheetah Chrome’s bald pate gleaming, Biafra waving his arms around, and Kekaula relieving her fellow musicians by fanning them wildly.  Yes, with a fan.

Meanwhile, Williamson, who assembled the crazy crew of alternative’s wildly talented, kept his cool, calmly playing his well-recognized guitar in the corner of the stage.

When we asked him, “How did you keep a straight face?” he responded with a cool chuckle and the whole reason for the show: “It was a lot of fun, wasn’t it?”

Yes It Was.   See The Entire Show HERE

 

 

James Williamson Brings Re-Licked ‘Superband’ Show to LA

James Williamson with musician Mario Cuomo

James Williamson with musician Mario Cuomo – Photo credit Heather Harris

By DONNA BALANCIA

James Williamson’s response to challenge is change.

Williamson took select Stooges songs, recruited top talent to record the vocals, and created the latest “Superband” of Alternative A-listers.

SEE VIDEO OF THE FULL RE-LICKED SHOW HERE

The resulting album, Re-Licked, is different than any recording Stooges fans might have predicted.

And now, Williamson’s latest band is taking its act on the road — at least once.

On Jan. 16, the group which includes The Kills’ Alison Mosshart and Dead Kennedys former frontman Jello Biafra, will perform cuts from Re-Licked, appropriately enough, at Bootleg HiFi on Beverly in LA.

Alison Mosshart of The Kills California Rocker

Alison Mosshart – photo credit Heather Harris

“I’ll probably never be able to do it again, although a lot of people are already asking for it and we haven’t even done it yet,” Williamson said of the upcoming performance. “We had bounced it around a lot. Everybody on the album kept saying we should do this live, but the logistics of getting them all together is pretty daunting.”

Williamson and his bandmembers, drummer Michael Urbano, bassist Dan Rothchild, and keyboardist Gregg Foreman will back up Mosshart; Biafra; Lisa Kekaula of the BellRays; Joe Cardamone of The Icarus Line; and Jesse Malin, formerly of D Generation.

Re-Licked is comprised of lesser-heard songs written by Williamson and the Stooges’ famous frontman Iggy Pop. And as is typical of any rocker-turned-techie-turned-rocker again, Williamson has broken the songs down, assigning each a decidedly new role, and surprisingly welcome gender-neutral cachet.

“I feel really lucky to have these people performing and the guys are good, but the women are unbelievable,” Williamson told CaliforniaRocker.com.

James Williamson The Women of Re-Licked - California Rocker Soundcloud

Williamson: Stooges were like The Little Rascals in one regard

 

Next week’s superstar performance of the only (for now) Re-Licked show will be a defining moment that the audience can enthusiastically support, perhaps without comparisons to rarely heard, prior renditions of the underground-circulated songs.

Oddly, the standard mark of the new “superband” phenomenon — consider The New Basement Tapes comprised of Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, Taylor Goldsmith and Shannon Giddens — seems to be the absence of (and simultaneous tribute to) the most central figure.  In the case of The New Basement Tapes, the band created and recorded music for the writings of Bob Dylan. That was followed by a terrific one-off performance in Hollywood.  SEE #TNBT VIDEO

James Williamson, Iggy and the Stooges in 1973 - California Rocker

James Williamson, Iggy and the Stooges in 1973 – photo credit Heather Harris

So, of course, the obvious drawback with the Re-Licked show is that Iggy won’t be on hand to sing his own songs.

But on an evening when not only Williamson and Iggy’s mutual friends are all on stage together, across town in West Hollywood, Handsome Dick Manitoba’s Dictators will be out from New York to play. So one can always hope.

INSPIRING

They say, “Change is good,” and it may take a while to realize that, and at the very least, change is inspiring.  Much in the way that the entire Re-Licked effort is inspiring — on several levels.

For one thing, Williamson’s gargantuan task of assembling the talent and scheduling  them to record could require a degree in social engineering and advanced calendar management.  He already has the degree in technology, obtained when the Stooges were in flux and the band’s future uncertain.

For Re-Licked, Williamson traveled near and far tracking down leads on artists, such as Carolyn Wonderland whom he thought could be appropriate and agile enough to interpret and appealingly present some challenging material.

Stooges in 1973 - California Rocker

Stooges in 1973 – photo credit Heather Harris

It’s unfortunate that in their day, the Stooges songs that would be on Re-Licked didn’t get a lot of play, but like Kekaula singing Iggy’s “I Gotta Right,” that could actually work in the artist’s favor.

So one common trait Williamson shares with partners on this project is confidence.

With the reviews and the distribution of the March, 2014 recording well in hand, the show then becomes the central focus.

“Most promoters wouldn’t be able to afford this cavalcade of stars coming from all over the world to do a show,” Williamson said. “As it turns out we’re doing a few songs for the Carson Daly Show so we’re already in LA to do that.

“I just said to some of the people coming, ‘Hey we’re already here why don’t we just do a show?’ and everybody wanted to do that, and they decided to stick around for an extra day and do it and that’s how it happened.

For Re-Licked, James Williamson assembled an 'Alternative A-list' - California Rocker

For Re-Licked, James Williamson assembled an ‘Alternative A-list’ – photo courtesy James Williamson

“All these singers came because they wanted to do it,” he said. “I’m very flattered they’d spend their time, energy and talents on my record.”

RESPECT

While it may not have been there during its own time, over the last three decades, there has been a growing wave of respect for 70s-era music. Stooges music in particular has found its place among an enthusiastic and younger audience looking for a different sound.

James Williamson on Raw Power - Interview with CaliforniaRocker.com

“We’re kind of like the old blues guys,” Williamson said of the Stooges’ resurgence. “When I was growing up we had Eric Clapton, Cream, The Rolling Stones, we thought they were cool and everything, then we came to find out they weren’t the guys, the real guys were the blues guys. And we went to see them while they were still alive. That’s sort of how it is for us now. They recognize us as the guys that were authentic original sources of that music.”

Lisa Kekaula California Rocker

Lisa Kekaula – photo credit Heather Harris

Naturally, the respect of younger artists for the music and style of the Stooges emerges as enthusiastic collaborations.  It could be argued that Iggy, who more than held his own as a solo act, was an innovator in the area of era-spanning collaborations.  Among the bands and artists with whom he has collaborated are Sum 41, Green Day, Peaches, Cat Power, Kesha and many others. He will be working two shows in June with The Foo Fighters.

Williamson, on the other hand, seems to be oblivious to the age of the musicians with whom he’s working, saying that he is working with the most active musicians in the business.

“I honestly feel lucky not only to attract these people but to get these performances out them and these musicians,”  Williamson said. “You can really tell on this album the people were excited to do it.  It comes across, the enthusiasm is there and that’s a kind of magic you can’t predict and you can’t expect to get it.  You’re just lucky when you do.”

Go HERE more information on the Re-Licked show at Bootleg HiFi 

###JamesWilliamson ###

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