I guess I was really missing a nice hefty chunk of ROCK music in my punk rock heart…MONTE’s “Bad Sick Love” is the kind of ROCK that makes me wish I hadn’t gotten rid of my 1968 Oldsmobile Delta 88. I chat with her and her partner Andie Aranow (Women That Rock) on my latest podcast.Read More
I had always found Jenny Ashley's lampshade images eerily beautiful, haunting, and ultimately disturbing. But here's the most freaky thing. I wasn't 100 percent sure why. It's not often that I catch myself off-gaurd emotionally, but that's what good art does. It yanks you from your bubble and smacks you in the face.Read More
Transition is hard for everyone. It is the necessary evil that takes us from who we are to who we're becoming. My friend Jordie Lynn Washburn understands this painful, uncomfortable, yet fulfilling leap of faith better than most.Read More
Reid and I had been dating/in a country band together for a few months when he turned to me again said, "Why don't you write a duet for us to sing?" So I did. It was called "One Way to Know."
I was 24 and I wrote it in pen while sitting on the basement floor of my dad's house in Atascadero. I wasn't usually one to sit down and write a song just for the fun of it--normally they lived inside of me until I couldn't take it anymore and I just had to get the tune out.
I thought about love, the fresh, new, scary, awesome love that I was in at that time. This song is about that moment before you leap. In that terrifying, exciting jump you risk everything to go from "what you have now" to "what we could be..together."
It takes a lot of vulnerability and courage to say to someone: "Yes, you are the one I want. I claim you!" Maybe that's why I played this song at my own wedding, at my dear friends the Levanways' wedding, and now at the wedding of Dr. Natalie Horn and Jagger Brendahl (Goddamn it, how do you spell your last name? This is exactly why you should take Natalie's last name and become the JaggerHorn you were meant to be!!!)
They are perfect for each other. Crazy? yes. Sexy? yes. Cool? yes. They have a TLC kind of love. They are both strong spirits with strong passions and big, huge, bloody hearts. They are both loyal and hilarious. Natalie brings Jagger out for an adventure and Jagger brings his wild wife home for much needed downtime. They are going to be ridiculously happy together forever and ever.
Life is unpredictable, fear is inevitable, and love is always worth it! I dedicate the third part in my random Backyard Banjo sessions to Natalie and Jagger as well as all of the new lovebirds learning how to sing their own song...together!
There's really only one way to know!
Natalie + Jagger forever!
Loose Lips sink ships and a man cannot resist. No one escapes this port o' call...
I can remember being in third grade and walking down the strand a few blocks from our apartment in Hermosa Beach. “They’re filming Baywatch,” my Dad said, pointing casually over to the sand.
All I could see was red swimsuits and a lifeguard tower cordoned off with tape. It seemed normal. Baywatch didn't just happen on TV. It happened in my backyard. Life was simple back then.
I was golden tan and white blonde from the sun and wore a pink and purple one-piece. On weekends, we’d go down to the strand and get coffee and cinnamon rolls at a little coffee shop by the beach. It was near Lappard’s Icecream, but that’s gone now too. Back then there was just a liquor store, a bait shop, and a few storefronts. The nightlife was miniscule. It felt sleepy. My sister and I were allowed to go roam the thrift stores without supervision. I could go down the street and grab the paper for my mom.
Some Sundays, I’d bring my wiener dog, Sam, hopping on my beloved $6 used skateboard with the mysterious bumper sticker (“show me your white buns,”), I’d order the dog to whip me down the coastal pathway, always bustling with bikes, bikini-clad women and surfers. For this adventure, I always wore my little denim jean jacket with the leopard print faux fur collar, which is still exactly something I would wear to this day. I was hopelessly obsessed with it and never took it off.
At the coffee shop, I used to spend whole mornings reading the Sunday funnies while my parents sipped espresso. I liked Calvin and Hobbes best, as I also had a fascination with one of my stuffed animals—Curly Face—and imagined him to be as real as the seagulls and trash littering the beach.
My sister and I would take breaks from making our own music videos to Weezer’s Blue Album (our #1 favorite thing ever) to create elaborate plays and movies for this stuffed animal and his love interest, a bunny named Buttercup (from our fave oldies song, "Build me up Buttercup"). The productions were always bolstered by our random thrift store finds: records we played on my portable record player, vintage barbies, and strange clear platform shoes emblazoned with psychedelic flowers.
There were seven years where we lived in Atascadero and I traded seaweed wars for acorn wars. During one of my first times cutting class, my boyfriend and I drove to Morro Bay, where we ran into the waves and made out even though it was so cold we were both shivering. The water was colder and rockier than I had ever experienced in my 14 years of life. That was the first time I experienced "seal jail," or "The Morro Bay Aquarium," still one of the most haunted places on the planet, at least to me.
At 16, my mom and I returned to Southern California, this time to Redondo Beach, not far from PCH. I would walk my next wiener dog, Valentine, down to the pier after dinner with my mom, not telling her that I was chain smoking Chesterfield cigarettes; because that was the brand I heard that Lemmy smoked. So cool!
The glowing gray-blue waves took on an angsty backdrop during this period. I remember riding my bike away from Redondo Union High School, down PCH to the creepy, dilapidated “fun factory” under the pier. There was always some crusty vomit on the rail.
There were days I’d lie in the sand and do nothing but scribble very seriously in my notebook…looking way out of place, of course, in my docs and leather jacket. My disc man was always gunked up with sand, and my beach cruiser too. There was no escaping it. Later, while at community college Long Beach, I dated a guy who took me to an abandoned lifeguard tower during a storm. He was a total jerk, but that was a pretty good date.
I have always had a very real fear of sharks, but I’ve tried my hand at surfing a few times: one at 10, 13, and 23 (the last time). I thought I loved my husband enough that it would make me like surfing (don’t we all have this thought when we fall in love?). We liked playing music together and so much other stuff—why not surfing? Turns out I always swallow more water than I tread. And I’m still prone to panic when I’m surrounded by open waves. The ocean is beautiful, but powerful. My aunt, who raced sailboats, can attest to that. Her stories are amazing and unbelievable.
I prefer to watch Reid surf while I sit in the sand and take in the scenery with the dogs and a beer by my side. It reminds me of sitting on the beach in Hermosa as a kid with a bucket of bait while my parents cast their lines into the bubbling surf. That fishy smell clings to every pore, till you can’t smell it anymore.
Well, that might not be exactly true. I remember one time, I was probably 8 years old, walking Hermosa Beach with my dad. Along the sand there are hundreds of starfish as far as the eye could see. It was otherworldly, like an alien invasion. They looked like spiders crawling out of the sea.
We collected the dead washed up creatures and brought them home. This was Dad’s idea.
That was around 1995, just before the big El Nino, so maybe that had something to do with it?
We ended up spray painting them sparkly gold, and they hung on the Christmas tree that year. A funny memory, since Dad notoriously hates Christmas and holiday decorations. Seeing those starfish shimmering on the tree looked wild and bountiful and totally pagan.
The whole house smelled kind of fishy, and that scent never did fade.
Some people you just know you are going to click with right away. That’s how I felt about Jamie and Carl from Tinkertin Trailer Co. Reid and I attended the first Tinker Tin Trailer Prom two years ago. It was a daze of BarrelHouse beer and dancing to Monty Mills, who sang all the country greats.
Aside from their cute-as-heck vintage trailers and their obviously killer work ethic, I just had a feeling. Who were these people? Where did they come from? Last year, we took home the coveted PROM KING AND QUEEN SPARKLE PONY (I largely credit Reid’s creepy wig found in Bakersfield for this win). Better yet, we got to know Jamie and Carl a bit better. Of course, they are surfers...which immediately endeared Reid to their fucking fantastic love story. They are truly meant to be. I also know this: They know how to laugh and have a good time, but they are also dedicated to realizing a life they’ve created for themselves. Like the old adage says, these are the insane people that would rather work a zillion hours for themselves rather than 40 hours for someone else. I was happy with my sparkle pony and this new friendship and the promise of a surf trip up the coast with one of those nifty trailers. What more could a girl want?
Well, there was something I had wanted, that I had been actually searching for since 2011. That was the year I started playing my bandmate Katelen’s standup bass for Hayburner’s regular set at Sidecar. It was just for one or two songs and I wasn’t thumping the strings like a pro. I knew “Jolene” by Dolly Parton and an original that Katelen wrote with this awesome part that went “And the coyotes waiiiiiiil.” I was keeping up with the music, hitting my spots, and reveling in the amazing vibrations of this big, hollow instrument. I loved watching Jamie Mather play when he was a member of Red Eye Junction and Tarweed Two, but I had no idea just how fun it was to actually play the damn thing. I thought, “If we ever get a standup bass, a killer country bassist will come into our lives.”
At the very least, I could start messing around with it. That was enough for me. BUT - Anyone who has dabbled in the world of standup bass knows that there are a few barriers for “stumbling across one,” as you might do with a guitar or whatever. No one’s older sister or brother just leaves you the standup bass they were going to learn one summer, but didn’t because they found pot instead.
First off, they’re massive. So big you need a truck or a van or a trailer to carry one. They are expensive as hell (you can’t find a used one for under a grand). Their upkeep is equally expensive: strings, pickups, setup etc. cost an arm and a leg. So, Reid and I had basically resigned ourselves to the fact that we’ll get a bass when, and only when, the stars are aligned. Oh hey! Is that a bass in the dumpster? Oh hey! That music store is going out of business! Oh hey, look what was left on our doorstep in the middle of the night! Aint nobody got money to spend on a bass just for kicks. If you do, you probably have “real” jobs. Needless to say, when, I got an Instagram message from Jamie’s Tinkertin account the other day, I was floored.
It had come in a few days prior...I don’t really know how to direct message on Instagram. I know. Sad. When I finally saw the message, however, it was ridiculously awesome: a picture of a big red standup bass she had been storing in the barn for years. On the face of it: a Budweiser emblem. Apparently the band was sponsored by Budweiser. Did I want the bass, she asked? Would I use it, she asked? Um. I did not have to hesitate. Yes, we need this bass. I was ready to shell out whatever meager means I could to get my hands on this thing. It needed to be part of the family.
Flash forward a few weeks later and we’re all having dinner at our house. I’m enjoying myself so much I almost forget about the bass. Maybe some people would think it’s weird to serve new friends Yellow Tail ceviche you made in your kitchen caught by your stepdad, but they were into it. Plus, they brought glazed donuts, Reid’s spirit animal. Eventually, the time comes. THE BASS. Carl drags in this elephant-sized lump in a green soft case. The moment of truth. Although this bad boy has a lot of work in its future, I was in love with it the moment I laid eyes on it. Yes, Dale Earnhardt No. 8 is emblazoned on the back. I’m not into Nascar, but I find this hilarious and wonderful. LEE ROCKER signed the bass, too. The story goes like this, although Carl can tell it better: The bass belonged to the Saddle Tramps out of Sparks Nevada, who one time played a casino gig with Lee Rocker. They weren’t on the same bill, but playing separate concerts at the same casino. Lee signed the bass, adding “rockabilly rules, ok!” What a nice flourish that is. It’s also go an interesting industrial metal handle and metal peg at the bottom—making it feel like a real workhorse. I could probably throw this sucker down a flight of stairs and it would just look cooler.
As of now, it needs its bridge aligned, strings put on, and pickups. Who knows...maybe more? I'm excited to find out. NOTE! I don’t want to get Jamie and Carl into trouble for gifting us this glorious bass. They loved it and used it in photoshoots, but they don’t play music...yet, anyway. : ) They loved it as long as they could until it needed more space to sprawl out. This bass needs WIDE OPEN SPACES, right?
I feel honored that this piece of American music history has made a home here at the Cain compound. Both Eric of Turkey Buzzards and Jamie Mather have said to give Ron Saul a call, resident bass guru of the Central Coast. I’m going to do that. We plan to record and gig with it, especially since there is a new REJ record in the works, and yes...we are looking for a regular bassist. If you have suggestions, please drop me a line! The journey will continue. BLESS THIS BUDWEISER BASS and The Saddle Tramps. Bless the truly amazing people who brought it into our lives. Finally, an instrument I literally cannot destroy!