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 They're Playing Johanna

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homesickjameswilliamson
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PostSubject: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeThu Aug 27, 2009 5:04 pm

http://www.mercurynews.com/music/ci_13209265?nclick_check=1


Guitarist James Williamson of Saratoga prepares to reunite with Iggy Pop and the 'Raw Power'-era Stooges

By Shay Quillen
for the Mercury News
Posted: 08/27/2009 12:00:00 AM PDT

With his indelible riffs and unhinged guitar solos, Saratoga resident James Williamson helped define rock as we now know it on Iggy and the Stooges' 1973 LP "Raw Power."
Though his music has inspired generations of subsequent rockers — Nirvana's Kurt Cobain called "Raw Power" his favorite record — none of Williamson's acolytes has had a chance to see him perform live. Until now. On Saturday, Williamson, who left music behind for a long and successful career as a Silicon Valley executive, will take the stage at the Blank Club to perform "Search and Destroy," "Gimme Danger" and more for the first time in 35 years.
"I think it's great that he's going to see firsthand how many people love the music," says guitarist Derek See, whose band the Careless Hearts will serve as "surrogate Stooges" for the evening. "When the Stooges were active in the '70s, they certainly had their fans, but it was a rough road for those guys; whereas now, the world has caught up to what they're doing."
Williamson and the Careless Hearts have been woodshedding all summer in a rehearsal facility in Palo Alto as Williamson gears up for a reunion tour with Iggy and the Stooges, tentatively slated for next spring.
For decades, Williamson distanced himself from his music career and rarely touched his guitars. While his old buddy Iggy went on to become a rock icon, the unassuming Williamson managed to blend into the Silicon Valley woodwork. "With the Internet,
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it's harder and harder to hide," he says with a wry chuckle. "I was pretty successful at it for a lot of years, anyway."
He began getting back into the guitar a couple of years ago, spurred by a burgeoning interest in Hawaiian music. While shopping for a Martin acoustic at Palo Alto's Gryphon Stringed Instruments, he met See, a salesman at the store. When the white-haired Williamson gave See his name for a potential order, it was like a baseball fanatic suddenly realizing he's been chatting with Sandy Koufax.
See, 34, reacted appropriately. "I just about melted and said, 'Wait a second — the James Williamson that played a really loud Les Paul through a Vox AC30 in the early '70s?!' "
The two struck up a friendship, and Careless Hearts bassist Brian Michael, a luthier at the store, was entrusted with getting the old Les Paul with the distinctive Leopard Lady decal back in playing shape. Williamson began taking in occasional shows by the Careless Hearts.
Though the Hearts' country-tinged rock 'n' roll is a far cry from the ferocious onslaught of the Stooges, the members are steeped in the music. "I was a big fan of the Stooges, starting from about the time I was in high school in Texas," says singer Paul Kimball, 41. "I was just discovering the underground, and the fact that there was an underground before the underground that I was discovering existed was really exciting to me. Those bands had something to say that was still totally relevant, and their music was still really interesting and non-mainstream."
The Stooges formed in 1967 in Ann Arbor, Mich., with Iggy on vocals, Dave Alexander on bass and brothers Ron and Scotty Asheton on guitar and drums. After the flops of two albums now regarded as classics, the band was about to call it quits. But the arrival of Williamson in 1971 gave it a new lease on life, with Williamson's hyperactive riffage raising Iggy's streetwise poetry to new heights.
Having caught the attention of then-rising British rock star David Bowie, the re-formed quartet — with Ron Asheton shifting to bass — headed to London to record what would prove to be their final statement, "Raw Power."
"The good part was that MainMan, our management, was busy trying to break Bowie, and they were focused on him and weren't paying attention to us, so they allowed us to make that album, which they wouldn't have otherwise," says Williamson, only 22 at the time. "The bad thing was, because nobody was paying attention, we did it ourselves, and we made a lot of mistakes."
Despite the bungled production, the aggressive sound galvanized the musicians who launched the punk revolution in the mid-1970s. Over the years, the Stooges' music began making more sense to generations raised on punk and metal, and it became a steady seller. These days, 11-year-olds everywhere are mastering Williamson's "Search and Destroy" riffs on "Guitar Hero II."
"I was astonished when I first started realizing how this whole new generation of people really loves that music," Williamson says. "In my era, my own peer group didn't want to know about it."
The original Stooges lineup reunited in 2003, with ex-Minutemen bassist Mike Watt filling in for the late Alexander, and the once-maligned band was greeted as long-lost heroes. After Ron Asheton died in January, Iggy approached Williamson about re-forming the "Raw Power" lineup. Finally, the time was right, and Williamson opted to take early retirement from Sony in June at age 59 and rock again.
He says, "I go back a long way with those guys. I said, 'What the hell? I'm not doing anything.' This is my retirement job."
See volunteered his band's services to get Williamson back up to speed. The Careless Hearts pored over old recordings to pick up every nuance. When Williamson arrived to rehearse, they were ready.
"It was freaking awesome," Kimball says. "The first time we did it, I couldn't even chisel the grin off my face, it was so exciting."
Over the summer, the five musicians — Williamson, See, Kimball, Michael and drummer Eric Powers — have hashed out a set list that includes "Raw Power" staples plus lesser-known material that emerged on the live "Metallic K.O." and "Kill City," a batch of post-Stooges demos that saw the light of day in 1978.
"Some of the ones that are less obvious are really exciting to play, like 'Johanna,' " See says, referring to one of the "Kill City" cuts. "But nothing beats playing 'Search and Destroy' at full volume with James Williamson standing next to you."
Joining the ensemble at the Blank Club will be Steve Mackay, the Pacifica-based saxophonist who played a key role on the Stooges' classic "Fun House" album and has toured with the reunited Stooges.
Warmed up from his sessions with the Careless Hearts, Williamson traveled to Southern California in mid-August to play Stooges songs with Asheton, Watt and Mackay — no Iggy yet — for a few days of preliminary rehearsals.
"We picked right up, like we had just played yesterday," Williamson says. Whatever bad blood existed around the Stooges' demise has faded with time, and Williamson says he talks to Iggy once a week or more these days. "Everybody's enthusiastic and upbeat," he says. "You know, life's too short to be arguing with each other all the time. I think we're in good shape."
As Saturday approaches, Williamson says he's not nervous, despite the fact that it's his first show since 1974, and will mark the first time his 27-year-old son has ever seen him perform. Though only a couple of hundred fans will make it into the small club, he's encouraging people to take pictures, and video cameras will be rolling to document the historic occasion.
"I'm pretty confident we've got it nailed," he says. "You know, the kids I see these days — not very many of them rock anymore. I don't know what's happened. I think there's a lot of pent-up demand for just rock 'n' roll songs. I think this will be a fun night for people."
James Williamson with the Careless Hearts
When: 9 p.m.
Saturday
Where: The Blank Club, 44. S. Almaden Ave., San Jose
Admission: $12; 408-292-5265,
www.ticketweb.com



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i cannot believe its $12 to see James Williamson play! cant wait for this

sorry if this was posted before btw
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studioguy

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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeThu Aug 27, 2009 6:21 pm

Great article!

I wish I wasn't 2000+ miles away otherwise I'd be there, at least there will be video. bounce
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homesickjameswilliamson
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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeThu Aug 27, 2009 6:34 pm

Quote :
I wish I wasn't 2000+ miles away otherwise I'd be there, at least there will be video.


thats what i kept thinking studioguy, wish i could be there, hope its really well documented
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adams66




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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeThu Aug 27, 2009 6:37 pm

Fantastic - it sounds like it will be a great show. And "Johanna", Kill City and Metallic KO songs. It just gets better and better. JW sounds so enthusiastic.
Also great that Steve Mackay is still on board. His sax playing adds another dimension to the Stooges.
Can't wait for reports from the show. Someone better record this too - I know it's being videoed, but I'd love to hear a recording as soon as possible.
Cheers,
Richard
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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeThu Aug 27, 2009 6:47 pm

So far, I know that a pro shot video, as well as a fan who says she will be front and center will be shooting video. I'm probably gonna lug my reel to reel out and record it Metallic KO style, in the spirit of things!
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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeThu Aug 27, 2009 6:51 pm

interesting. i hope the REAL stooges play "Johanna" on their tour.
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Aku




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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeThu Aug 27, 2009 6:53 pm

So cool... cause.. Living in Finland - I have no chance to be there, so I'm really waiting to see the video. I`m not suprised that they are doing " Johanna" - Iggy has played that song on his solo gigs...
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studioguy

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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeThu Aug 27, 2009 7:11 pm

adams66 wrote:
Fantastic - it sounds like it will be a great show. And "Johanna", Kill City and Metallic KO songs. It just gets better and better. JW sounds so enthusiastic.
Also great that Steve Mackay is still on board. His sax playing adds another dimension to the Stooges.
Can't wait for reports from the show. Someone better record this too - I know it's being videoed, but I'd love to hear a recording as soon as possible.
Cheers,
Richard

I does keep getting better and better!!
Raw Power was the first Stooges record I got into in 1975 then KO and Kill City in that order, then later I went backwards and got the other two. James is sort of our Syd Barrett without the crazy. He makes two of the best records ever then disappears off the planet.

He seems like a really nice guy, in Jan after Ron died I couldn't take it anymore and tracked him down and emailed him, we emailed back and forth a few time, and the same on Facebook. Bs'ed about guitars and stuff.

I hope they come somewhere close to MN in 2010 so I can see them live.
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sway

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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeFri Aug 28, 2009 12:59 pm

this made me smile really big!

it sounds almost hallmark to refer to this as a "historic event", but really...it is.

im looking foward to these guys kicking ass again. i wanna see 'em.
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comaman

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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeFri Aug 28, 2009 1:31 pm

Very cool news. If they could Scott Thurston back in on electric piano it would be even better....
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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeFri Aug 28, 2009 9:49 pm

When James plays a guitar solo at practice, I feel like I've had my ass kicked.
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studioguy

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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeFri Aug 28, 2009 11:14 pm

dereksee wrote:
When James plays a guitar solo at practice, I feel like I've had my ass kicked.


My guitar would suffer from extreme performance anxiety in that situation. affraid
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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeFri Aug 28, 2009 11:49 pm

My Les Paul would crawl in a hole and die. Laughing
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MJG196

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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeFri Aug 28, 2009 11:50 pm

studioguy wrote:
My guitar would suffer from extreme performance anxiety in that situation. affraid

SOme people call that impotence. Try Enzite!
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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeFri Aug 28, 2009 11:57 pm

dereksee wrote:
When James plays a guitar solo at practice, I feel like I've had my ass kicked.

I betcha even Chuck Norris or Steven Seagal would admit the same Laughing
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studioguy

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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeSat Aug 29, 2009 12:09 am

mg196 wrote:
studioguy wrote:
My guitar would suffer from extreme performance anxiety in that situation. affraid

SOme people call that impotence. Try Enzite!


I don't think they make that for guitars! Unsure

"If a note sustains more the 4 hours contact a luthier immediately"
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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeSat Aug 29, 2009 6:09 am

[quote="mg196"]
studioguy wrote:
My guitar would suffer from extreme performance anxiety in that situation. affraid

Some people call that impotence. Try Enzyte

They're Playing Johanna Smilingbob
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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeSat Aug 29, 2009 6:27 am

:O they're playing johanna


can't wait to see this on video
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studioguy

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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeSat Aug 29, 2009 6:31 am

[quote="Loose1969"]
mg196 wrote:
studioguy wrote:
My guitar would suffer from extreme performance anxiety in that situation. affraid

Some people call that impotence. Try Enzyte

They're Playing Johanna Smilingbob

If a guitar used that, would it turn into a bass?
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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeSat Aug 29, 2009 11:49 am

studioguy wrote:
[

If a guitar used that, would it turn into a bass?

That's the best laugh I've had on here in ages.
although funnily enough I don't think of bass guitars as being particularly masculine....
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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeSun Aug 30, 2009 1:13 am

Nadja wrote:
That's the best laugh I've had on here in ages.
although funnily enough I don't think of bass guitars as being particularly masculine....

Ron is crying right now. Good job, yo.
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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeSun Aug 30, 2009 2:04 am

mg196 wrote:
Nadja wrote:
That's the best laugh I've had on here in ages.
although funnily enough I don't think of bass guitars as being particularly masculine....

Ron is crying right now. Good job, yo.

Yep. Let us not forget that in reality, Ron was the best bass player the Stooges ever had. Razz
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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeSun Aug 30, 2009 2:05 am

Quote :
Ron was the best bass player the Stooges ever had.

you're in for it now Loose, lol

he was a damn fine bassist though, never noticed bassists till dave, then later with 74 stuff, Ron, such a talented bunch of people
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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeSun Aug 30, 2009 5:06 pm

Sorry, but I wasn't thinking about Ron in this instance mg196.

there's only one person I have on my mind when I think about bass guitars...and his kind of masculinity I like..the shy, sweet type

and Loose I sure don't care how much praise Ron gets! No-one deserves it more.

ok, back to Johanna or whatever.
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PostSubject: Re: They're Playing Johanna   They're Playing Johanna Icon_minitimeThu Sep 03, 2009 6:02 pm

Glad they're playing "Johanna" one of my favourite Williamson era songs. Smile
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