The Clive Kennedy Band

DC LIVE

The Clive Kennedy Band performed live on the DC LIVE podcast this week

Regular followers of this blog are probably already aware that I’ve been performing with my friend Clive Kennedy on and off for many years now. We’ve been doing more shows in the LA area than ever before these last few months and now that I’ve returned from my European Honeymoon we are back to work (adding our new bassist Mr John Wareham to the group…welcome John!).

This last week we were featured on a podcast put together by Don Cromwell: DC LIVE. You can hear the entire hilarious and musical thing right here.

And now it’s time we were back on stage so this weekend we’ll be playing a show at LA’s legendary nightclub The MINT.

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Oslo City Hall

OsloCityHall.jpgI’ve heard it said that some people think the Oslo City Hall is the ugliest building in Norway, but I don’t agree. I loved it instantly the day we walked around the exterior, the imposing solidity and the detail on the outside of the building impressed me. Here I am on the side that faces the harbor.OsloCityhall-WesBricklayerWEBjpg

We were unable to go inside during the National Day Holiday Weekend, so we had to come back another day to view the interior, but the outside spaces are pretty impressive. Some motifs reminded me of Frank Lloyd Wright. The roof of the eastern tower has a 49-bell carillon which plays every hour.

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The clock on the harbor side is very simple but on the city side there’s an ornate astronomical one. … and in the courtyard under that clock there are art works on both sides of the entrance depicting old Norse Mythology.

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Courtyard Woodcuts display Mythology Motifs

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Construction started in 1931, but was interrupted by World War ll and the occupation of Norway before being completed and having it’s official inauguration in 1950. The building was considered a necessary focal point where Norwegians could take pride in their country after the war.

Mural depicting WWll German Occupiers who are portrayed as insects forcing the people of Norway into camps

Mural depicting WWll German Occupiers who are portrayed as insects forcing the people of Norway into camps

There is a huge main hall and there are beautiful impressively furnished rooms with high ceilings and many murals depicting Norwegians as hard working industrious people. There is also one room with art that portrays the dark days of Nazi occupation using images of insects forcing suffering people into camps. I spent some time in this room feeling very overwhelmed by emotion as I viewed the grim artwork that fills all the walls and the ceiling of the space.

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Norwegian architects Arnstein Arneberg and Magnus Poulsson designed the building after the model of the Stockholm City hall. The first stone of the edifice was traditionally laid down by King Haakon VII. Because construction and design of this building took 30 years to complete the art esthetic changed over the course of the building’s erection and the architects used both romanticist and modernist concepts in creating the City Hall.

Huge murals depict hardworking Norwegians fill much of the interior spaces in Oslo City Hall

Huge murals depict hardworking Norwegians fill much of the interior spaces in Oslo City Hall

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There is also art portraying the Norwegian love of nature and being outdoors. Because the country is so large and the population so small it’s possible to be very much away from civilization. I have heard it said that when a Norwegian sets out on a hike alone the day can be ruined if they have the misfortune to encounter another person.

Each year on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death (December 10) Oslo City Hall hosts the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in which the annual laureate gives his or her lecture and is awarded the medal and diploma. The Norwegian Royal Family and Prime Minister attend.
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While the memories of meeting the people who are my wife’s second family in Norway were the most exciting and gratifying part of our Honeymoon, the fact that Chelsea has a relentless desire to travel and take in sights and history made the trip a very full and satisfying one. I’m a somewhat clueless devotee of architecture but I know what I like when I see it and I’m always fascinated to see more of the stuff that humans build.

Oslo Folk Museum

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There have been some requests for more pix and posts about the honeymoon in Norway and I’ll be glad to comply. This one’s gonna be pretty nerdy. There’s an awesome open-air museum in Oslo that’s largely a collection of buildings from around the country preserved as they were in their original (and widely varied) places in time. The Gol Stave Church,  from the collections of King Oscar II was re-erected in 1885 on a neighboring site. It was among five buildings moved to the present site when Norsk Folkemuseum (recognized as the world’s first open air museum) opened its gates to the public in 1901. Hans Aall was the director until his death in 1946.

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That gal far across the colorful courtyard of the Folk Museum is my bride

That gal in red far across the colorful courtyard of the Folk Museum is my bride Chelsea

There are exhibits of traditional Norwegian clothing and also some fascinating examples of tools, furniture and household items from every era of Norwegian history. The progression of housing, carpentry, agriculture and technologies that changed daily life in the country (including weapons and warfare) is addressed in the indoor exhibits where we spent the first part of the day. But, yeah,I like buildings so naturally I shot 200 or so pix of the various houses, farms and urban structures in the museum. There are re-enactors roaming about the property too. We saw a horse hitched up at the 50s farm exhibit, and a woman was playing a haunting tune on a traditional Norwegian fiddle as we entered one of the more ancient farm houses.NorwayWEB-FolkMuseum-1e.jpg
Probably most fascinating to me personally was the1865 tenement building relocated from 15 Wessels gate in Oslo.NorwayWEB-FolkMuseum-1f.jpg Seven of the nine flats show typical interiors from various periods of the 19th and 20th centuries, including personal favorites of mine from the early to mid 1900s. There is also a wine shop from the same period.
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The rooms in the tenement are curated with such care that it seems as if the occupants have only stepped out momentarily and could return at any time.

1930s Bedroom

1930s Bedroom

All little touches that make a pre WWll home looked lived in are present, the dishes on the counter, commercial products in the pantry and cleaning brush in the sink. There are books on the nightstand, brushes on the vanity and a pitcher and basin for washing up in the bedroom. The desk, dining room and cocktail table are ready for use.

 

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1930s Living areas

There are 60s rooms, 70s rooms… even a flat inhabited by an immigrant family from Pakistan as it was furnished in 2002.

It looks like the student in the family just stepped out of their room in the 60s Oslo flat exhibit.

The museum is located on the Bygdøy peninsula on the western side of Oslo near The Viking Ship Museum and The Polar Ship FRAM Museum (both of which we also visited) and the KON-TIKI museum (which we didn’t- because ya just can’t do everything). The Norsk Folkemuseum was one of those things I am incredibly grateful we did while on our European Honeymoon, and thanks to my Chelsea’s ability to arrange things we did a lot.

More to come.

The Last Sundowners

Dennis Stahl leads The Sundowners through their final show before a capacity crowd at the Old Town Pub

Dennis Stahl leads The Sundowners through their final show before a capacity crowd at the Old Town Pub

Last night ended a nine year odyssey in the Pasadena area: It was the last time the unique and much beloved Sundowners would play together as a band. A full to overflowing Old Town Pub show ended the band’s career with a love-fest: an impressive turn out of friends and adoring fans from the bands long history. With bassist Michael Harpel moving to Austin TX the group is finished: there is no way to replace any member of The Sundowners, they were a band that could only exist within the interactive chemistry of it’s parts. If you’re one of the loyal readers of this space you know how near and dear to Mister Nervous’ heart this band has been. My own group is now down to one member as our drummer Kelly had to quit earlier this year… and Mister Nervous played more shows as a band with The Sundowners than we did with any other group in LA (they played at our record release show, for instance). The instant friendship that I found with Dennis Stahl has been one of the most lasting effects of the formation of my own band, and now we’re both moving on to whatever is next.

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Dennis Stahl – Mark Ferris – Lydee Walsh – Michael Harpel

There is an impressive  record of the Sundowners career in the collection of tunes they’ve made available online and on cd over the years and that’s worth a listen even now that you can no longer catch ‘em live if you’re one of the uninitiated. Finished in the literal eleventh hour (they were burning the just-mastered cds at the show last night) THE LAST SUNDOWNERS ep contains the gem Comets which is easily one of the more complex, adventurous and emotionally satisfying songs in the Sundowners catalog.Sundowners-LastShow4c

So here’s to our good friend Michael Harpel as he embarks on the next adventure in his journey. I’m grateful to have been at last night’s show and to be a small part of the Sundowners’ history and I’m very pleased to know that every member of this talented band is moving on to new creative horizons.

Love you guys!

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(Thanks to Chelsea Bagnard and Veronica Andrade for the pix in this post)

European Honeymoon

National Day in Oslo Norway

National Day in Oslo Norway

Well here we go, I promised to get this blog buzzing again and where better to start than how I spent my (pre)Summer Vacation…

To begin with: this spring  I got myself married to Chelsea, a wonderful gal, and that’s the best thing I coulda hoped for.

My beautiful bride on our wedding day: April 26 2014

My beautiful bride on our wedding day: April 26 2014

Since she’s a pretty experienced world traveller (and I’d never been off the North American continent) our honeymoon offered the chance for her to show me around some of her favorite spots on the Earth. A couple of days after landing in Oslo and meeting her Norwegian family (folks she lived with as an exchange student) it was the 200th anniversary of the  Constitution of Norway which was signed at Eidsvoll on May 17 in the year 1814. The constitution declared Norway to be an independent kingdom in an attempt to avoid being ceded to Sweden after Denmark–Norway‘s devastating defeat in the Napoleonic Wars. This is a huge day in Norway and is celebrated with children’s parades (we joined in one of those to start the day) and a huge parade in Oslo that passes by the palace. People show up in traditional regional dress and the celebrations are a joyous colorful party where even clueless foreign guys like me are welcomed like natives. After the neighborhood children’s parade led us to a courtyard where a brass band played we went to a breakfast with the family elders who welcomed me into their homes with coffee, eggs and brown cheese.

Later on we went into the city and joined the massive throng watching the parade in downtown Olso. It being an exceptionally warm and sunny day for this event the city was teeming with revelers. Beautifully dressed people carrying the red blue and white flags were everywhere! It was invigorating and a bit overwhelming. Being a relatively tall guy with a long stride and a bad hip (giving me a mild limp) I am used to trying to maintain a relatively roomy personal space. Tight crowds (and airline seats) make me instantly irritable… “Get me out of here or at least someplace where I can purchase cigarettes”, I snapped, desperate for some sort of pressure release valve (despite having quit tobacco earlier this year – sometimes I just can’t help being a bit of a jerk…). My bride tried to comply but everywhere was fenced in and teeming with the celebrating crowd. We attempted to meet the family at the harbor for ice cream (which Norwegians just love) but there was no way through.

BOOM! BOOM! Echoing across the harbor, the cannons atop Akershus Fortress fired again and again adding their voices to the celebration as we stood in the plaza by the awesome Oslo City Hall (more on that later). We milled about for a while longer and then my bride took my overwhelmed whiny old self back to the Metro so I could sit quietly in the yard of the family home and re-group a bit. Later we went to a gracious early supper at another family home. Except for my momentary crankiness this had been an incredibly fun and emotionally moving day in a place almost as far removed from our life in LA as is possible.

National day ends with a family dinner outside the Oslo house

National day ends with a family dinner outside the Oslo house

Did I mention I got married to a wonderful gal? Good.

It’s Goodbye to Kelly

IMG_7891It’s the end of an era for the Mister Nervous band. Mighty Kelly Wininger will be leaving the band next week and he’ll be hard to replace. It’s been a good run, from the first show at Hollywood’s now disappeared Cranes Tavern and the sessions for the DRAMA cd back in 2009, but now it’s done. I’m gonna really miss Kelly’s strong solid beats and constant good nature. And also that he almost always played exactly what I would play (if I were able to play the drums so well) and what any new song we practiced needed on his considerable instinct alone. I seldom had to give Kell much direction or explanation, he just knew what to do. That’s a rare thing, and it was my impression of him the first time I saw him play – the band was formed because I just knew that this guy was gonna make it work.
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I’ve played with a lot of drummers over the years and Kelly is one of the very best I’ve worked with, and also the most fun to hang out with. Kelly’s moving on to spend more time as a family man … since joining the band he’s become a husband and father and has begun to pass the torch on to the next generation of Wininger percussionists as you can clearly see here. So it’s no wonder that being in multiple rock bands pales in comparison.

Still, we’re really gonna miss the guy
and if you’d like one more chance to see him in action with Mister Nervous we’ll be at the THIRSTY CROW this Sunday afternoon  joining princessFrank (who is also a powerhouse percussionist and vocalist).

Sunday Feb 16 – 2-6pm
The Thirsty Crow
2939 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
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Here’s something that surprised me

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When I opened up facebook this morning and I saw someone had posted a link to an article that Cal Worthington had passed away over the weekend I went right ahead and posted on my page with a quick comment, “I was beginning to think this ol’ boy was gonna live forever” and moved on.

I was totally unprepared for the eventuality that within a few hours the FB universe would be filled with posts that were not just nostalgic or ironic but dripping with genuine grief! Now I well remember seeing his teevee commercials ever since I got within cable-tv range of Sacramento stations (carried by the northern Nevada cable provider) and finding him a quaint/corny/oddly-compelling example of clever self promotion and good ad strategy. But that’s it. I understand that something you’ve been used to seeing your whole life can take on a larger presence in your emotions than – well perhaps more than it deserves but… well the ol boy was a car salesman, after all.

I got it when we all felt a huge loss after Huell Howser passed away: he was such a big personality, so full of enthusiasm and completely riveting to watch. But he was our tour guide to wacky California destinations… way more than a clever pitchman, he was our over-the-top enthused travel guide.

So what’s the deal? Is it that we’re so insulated by our busy lives, so dependent on teevee and social media to provide us with any connection to humanity that we feel more grief for a salesman than the dead guy who just got hauled away by an ambulance down the block? We can wage war by drone, order goods online, massage our desires with internet porn, and spend family/friend “quality time” sitting at a table wildly scrolling through our phones instead of having an actual conversation… and many of us feel a real sense of loss at the passing of a shrewd businessman that we never really knew.

I dunno… the whole thing makes me a bit nervous about the state of our emotional wiring.

It Doesn’t Get Better Than This

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Memorial Day: Jamming with friends Jerry Shine and princessFrank at an epic holiday BBQ with the Sundowners in Alta Dena CA. And how cool is that guy juggling fire???
What could possibly be better than good friends playing music together surrounded by happy revelers? Not much in my estimation. I grew up this way and it’s kinda my mission to make this happen whenever possible.

The Sundowners will be joining princessFrank this Sunday at his regular Sunday afternoon residency – June 2nd at the Thirsty Crow.

Mister Nervous is gonna be playing with princessFrank  on June 9th (next week) at the always-awesome Thirsty Crow .

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Kulak’s Woodshed

Wes Dildine and Clive Kennedy at the recent FOLKTACULAR event in Santa Monica
(pic by markbludigital.com )

I was backing my good buddy songwriter Clive Kennedy at his recent show opening up the local mini-folk-festival FOLKTACULAR. Clive and I have done numerous shows together over the years. He’s a fine writer, superb vocalist and one of the most offbeat, funny, quick-witted and disarmingly charming performers you will ever see. Playing shows with him requires that you be ready for anything because he will make quick changes to his material and he can take whatever happens in the room and make it a part of the show. We have a lotta fun.

So much fun that I’ve accepted an invitation to join him as he delivers a quick set tomorrow night at legendary singer/songwriter hotspot Kulak’s Woodshed.
Come on by and check this out: Beverly Micken’s show will also feature Melanie Mayron and Kathryn Gallagher.
THURSDAY Feb 21st at 8pm
KULAK’S WOODSHED
5230 Laurel Canyon Blvd North Hollywood, CA 9160714046_10151381169254130_697285354_n

Talking Crap

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Well I won’t be taking any journey’s to the center of Ted Nugent’s mind anytime soon. The right wing booster and gun control opponent from Michigan was visibly  present at the State of the Union address and had some colorful comments to air to anyone who’d be willing to listen as he added to his recent litany of  tiresome psychotic tirades.

MSNBC was more than willing to poke the bear a bit, as well they might because poop “jokes” get pretty worn out coming from the mouths of kids, and it seems like ol Ted might be just a hair too long in the tooth to pull any excremental metaphors -er- outofhisass with any hope of being taken seriously. With Democrats like Obama it might seem like Republicans are totally unnecessary but it does encourage me to see the right so successfully shooting itself in the foot. Forming a circle and then attacking everyone inside it…that’s usually the left’s tactic for self destruction.