Studio Surf Styles Vol. 1 Hodads Hang 10!

The Syndicate of Surf

The Syndicate of Surf was barely more than a gleam in Dick Dale's eye when it found itself trapped on a school bus each day for an hour and a half and subjected to the Top 40 playlist of Detroit's CKLW.  It matured slowly and found the more fertile sounds of early 70's FM radio and was fed by DJs like Kid Leo on Cleveland's WMMS.  It then consumed it's sister's record collection and built it's own made of pop, rock, RAMONES and Sabbath.  The Rock Muse was the mother that Lester Bangs rolled and became it's surrogate father.

Decades passed.  Life happened.  The Syndicate lay dormant, unaware of it's power.

Lightning struck in the form of The Atlantics 'Flight of the Surf Guitar'.  The Syndicate stirred, listened, absorbed, and a year later, roared it's own roar.

Hodads Hang 10! is it's primal scream.  What's yours?










Now available from Sharawaji Records

Hodads Hang 10! is a wet and glorious tidal wave of Silvertone powered rock n roll

Hear tracks originally recorded by The Stooges, The Dictators, The Ramones, Bob Lind, The Seeds, The Sex Pistols and Swing West in addition to four original compositions by Da Vinci Flinglestein.

Available now as Limited Edition Digipack CD and digital download from Sharawaji Records.

The Syndicate Hit List

Syndicate Hit List

Picking Music for your Funeral

So I got my copy of  Surf Explosão by The Dead Rocks yesterday and removed the incredibly sturdy and functional cardboard packaging with quaking hands and heart.  After clawing through what seemed like 16 layers of plastic/tape/corrugation I finally held the hallowed disk carefully by it's edges.

Nervously I scanned the song titles looking for it, the song, my song Surf Man. Most of the titles are in Spanish with the exception of Johnny Crack Corn and Fingerboard.  And and.... where is it?  The last song is called Sugar Man which is close sorta but no cigar.  Close enough that i probably misread the dang thing on Discogs and so my hopes for Surf Man oblivion for the night have been, obliterated.

I don't even play the stupid thing.  It lay on my dining room table like an abandoned carp carcuss- swollen with enough tainted meat to feed a family of 5 but no one brave enough to give it a try.  

Sigh.  Not my first disappointment, musically speaking.

I'm reminded of another fateful purchase, I think it was spring, 1974 when, swayed by the clever lines and cadence of a CREEM Magazine record review, probably by that wanker Robert Chistgau I purchased Stranded by Roxy Music.

Understand this; I live (lived) in rural Ohio.  Cleveland is about one and a half hours to the north.  Columbus is close to 2 hours to the south.  I'm barely 17 years old, no car, no license and my pocket money comes from an after hours job at my high school cleaning toilets and pushing broom.  The picture I'm trying  to paint is one of little access to popular pop culture and limited means with which to puchase it.  Every dime had to count.

So when I see in my local Value City Dept store a piece of vinyl actually reviewed favorbly in CREEM Magazine (my pipeline to the Rock World) with promises of 'heavy' guitars it's a no brainer. 

I snapped that sumbitch up.

Racing home by what ever means was available that day- ride from a buddy being the most likely, I crack that cellophane and slap that puppy on the turntable.  The vinyl is pristine as always but if the album is any good at all it will soon degrade into a jungle of popping noises and the occasional skip.  That's just how I roll.

But this was not one of those albums.   Where the hell's the guitars, heavy or not?  Street Life- ok, not bad I guess. Not really used to this type of singing.  Next song is lame.  I start skipping em. Flip record.  Shit.  No better.  How bout the album closer- that's always a big number.  Mother of Pearl???? Are you kidding me? And these are the only lyrics: 'Mother of Pearl you are my only girl'. Meaning...what exactly??? Makes 'Hornswoop my bungo pony dogsled on ice' (BOC) almost comprehensible by comparison.  And far more interesting.  Was this sung during an actual raid of his mother's underwear drawer? Is he wearing articles from her collection of unmentionables? I paid almost $4 for this piece of crap.  This is cruel, it is not kind, not even in the right fashion.  

I won't get paid for another 2 weeks and I still have to have cigarette and gas money.  Just cause I don't have a car doesn't mean I ride for free. I must right this wrong.  But how?

I'll Abie Hoffman the shit out of this atrocity.  How? Airplane glue. It's not just for sniffin.  I squirt it all over one side of the album and let it dry overnight.  Next day it's as hard as the record and I slip it back in it's sleeve.  I have my buddy cart me back to the Value City and show the returns lady, "Look" I explained.  She'd never seen anything like it and promptly refunded my $4 and change.

Back to the record aisle and I grab what I should have grabbed all along- Rampant, by Nazareth.  Sigh of relief.  This is the type of Noise you can depend on.

But you may be wondering  about my Surf Explosão album.  Well, it's like this.

I put it on the following morning while getting ready for work and it really is a great album.  These are the kind of players that make every note seem effortless, like this is just the order in which you play them and yeah, we know how to play them exactly like that and BTW, we don't really sweat unless we feel like it.  Chicks dig it. Plus they do covers.  Something by Jim Messina and the Jesters.  Dark Eyes which here is called Les Yeux Noir and a Paul Johnson (Belairs) classic Vamanos.

Side 2 seems even better- I haven't listened enough to give a note by note blow by blow recap but I usually hate that kind of thing anyways.  Title track finishes and then, and then and then.....

OH MY GOD SUGAR MAN IS REALLY SURF MAN!!!  The reverb! The noodling! The feedback from the elevator music on Mars! The melody that appears disappears and reappears like a mage from beyond where we be!  It's so good.  So excessive.  I can smell the carp frying now!  Gimmie gimmie that mudvane!

Now I die in peace. This is what will play at my funeral.  I will give instructions to my son this weekend.  I am saved knowing that here is my soundtrack of the end my friend.

Give it some thought.  Should you ever find the perfect music for your funeral you need to lock that sumbich down. Cause once you're gone, they're liable to play Freebird, and I played that one one time too many.  

dum-dum-dum   dum-dum-dum-dum  de-do----de-do----dum-de-dum.

DVF 11-22-2016


All Right Now Baby! We're All Bozos on this Bus Part II

It's Christmas morning and the big day was finally here.

My first drum set. Under the tree. Totally surprised. Almost as if I hadn't picked it out myself.

It wasn't easy convincing Santa to buy the thing. Aside from the noise I would make, the other barrier to securing my prize was our 'limit' for the Christmas budget. It had increased from it's original 1963 low of $10 to the incredible sum of $25 by 1971 but still fell far short of the $125 price tag. There was only one thing to do and I did it. Cough it up. A rip off you say? Paying for your own Christmas gift? Not when you can get ol St. Nick to pony up 25 smackaroos and I end up with a (used) Slingerland kit complete with snare, ride tom, floor tom and ride cymbal. And the great big drum in the middle that most everything else was attached to. Bought it off a girl in high school who used it in jazz band whatever that was.

Of course I had no idea how to play.

My first practice pad was my bed. I set up 2 pillows as the snare and a tom and used a pair of coat hangers as sticks. My first song was CCR's version of Before You Accuse Me off of Cosmo's Factory 1970. Man I could fluff pillows all day to that one- I really liked the rolls of which I think there are exactly 2 in the whole song. I'm proud to say that the Credence record was my own purchase. What with my after school job as school janitor, I was no longer dependent on the cast off records from my sister's collection. I could buy my own. And it allowed me to finance the drumset.

Now my sister's collection was no small thing. Deb was 'into' music and bought a lot of it. Not the timid Beach Boys records of my oldest brothers' or fuddy duddy Eddie Albert of my grandpa's or too old Ray Charles of my mom's either. Deb showed me the way into the larger darker side of the business. Cool stuff that got little or no airplay. Bands like 10 Years After and Pink Floyd.

(Yes chill-ren, there was a time when The Floyd was not played on the radio stations. Those were dark days they were. Oh we had lectricity but only when the river was high enough to power our water turbine. And lightning strikes. Boy the whittling that we done and the pranks that we hatched! Quite the kerfuffle that! Even now I slap my knee and say, hey, is that a squirrel?...what was I saying?)

Now I'd rather perform my own frontal lobotomy with a rusty knitting needle than suffer through the millionth 'classic round' of Another Brick in the Wall. More like another brick upside the head.

By 1971 I was deep within the catacombs of FM radio and became ravenous for more and different noise from it's echo-y chambers. I kept a cassette recorder at the ready by the radio in the kitchen. By 7 or 8 o'clock in the evening it would start to pick up WNCR or WMMS out of Cleveland. I scrolled the dial madly between the 2 trying to capture as much of a song as possible. I found Procol Harem (Simple Sister), Atomic Rooster (Death Walks Beside You) and The Stones (Can't You Hear Me Knockin?). For me, songs like these were like the dead sea scrolls of music. I studied each intently and with full attention. I could only guess what they meant, but hey, they met my criteria- they sounded cool and seemed terribly mysterious. Very exotic compared to the droll repetition of my AM radio diet.

After all this analysis of heavy music and dank sounds and I still didn't know how to play drums. In desperation, I took 2 lessons. They did not go well. Not only did the instructor expect me to learn how to read music (!) the lessons consisted of me tap tap tapping on a weak little padded practice pad. I made more noise beating on my feather pillows!

After months of flailing about I had my breakthrough somewhere mid 1972.

It was late in the morning on a Saturday. I had pretty much kicked the cartoon habit by then but still wasted time looking for something to watch. I twisted the knob on the TV (remotes had not been invented- it was PRIMITIVE!) and what do I find but an an actual rock band performing and- they had a clear drum set! I could see the drummer's foot pumping up and down in rhythm with the song! He was actually using the pedal-thingy! I thought it was just for show or something... You certainly couldn't use it while hitting everything else could you? Now I could really see the drummer doing all this mad foot pumping. He grinned and absently pounded the cymbals and other drums and cowbells and 10 penny whistles for all I knew. I was lost. The band played without effort, the drummer never broke a sweat.

Thumpin Floor Toms Batman- I've got to learn how to do all that??? At one and the same time??? I was sorta clumsy with average coordination at best. I can't do all that. Not all at one and the same time.

But I'd just spent $100. And I was into Santa for $25. If I don't learn play he is going to be pissed.

I grew weak. The room began to spin and vibrate as my vision dimmed and all feeling left my limbs save the sense of sound which tormented me like a siren from the TV set.

" And that boys and girls, with their latest hit was The Raspberries!!!"

... the room became murky and I fell down what appeared to be a deep well. It's peeling walls became padded with matted orange-brown shag carpet and creased black light posters which vanished into dust. Lava lamps spilled their contents and flowing in and out of the shag like day-glow eels. Parasitic neon worms. The eyes of innocent children grew to the size of saucers. Each mutely asked same question- "Why?" I took no comfort in the numbness that spread throughout my body as it turned hot then cold and changed from light to dark and back again a 1000 times in an instant.

"Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out"

"Life's a Gas: 33 1/3 cents a Gallon!"

"Hang in there Baby!"

6 impossible things before breakfast.



Fade to black.

this story continues in the next installment.


We're All Bozos on this Bus Part 1 of several parts

Fuck it, I'll just write stuff that I think of.  Stream of consciousness or Islands in the Stream (a friend brought this song up yesterday after telling me she walked out of a Kenny Rogers concert. Walked out; hell, I'd a never walked in) doesn't matter, I'm sure I'll lose you at some point.

I want to tell you about how I got into the whole music biz but: has there ever been a more sure way to bore people to death?  Do you have a death wish? Maybe just a little bit?  Latent, needing a slight nudge?  Well then maybe I'm your huckleberry.

I was very young as child.  In fact, I was the youngest of 5, so I'm always the youngest.  You babies of the family know what I mean.  The One They Avoid. The punk.  Pariah. Marked for life with a target on your back (they love catching you from behind) never to grow up. 


And so...

6 years old and I'm locked into a school bus- every day for the next 10 years.   We were always the first ones on and the first ones off.  This was great for after school but it meant mounting those bus steps long before the sun came up. In the winter it would take half the ride till it was light enough to read my book.  Doggie Palmer was our bus driver.  Sounds like a rapper, right?  Well the only thing Doggie played was the radio.  As in Top 40, AM, Detroit Motor City Motown.  

Every stinking day.

Now that may not sound like much in today's world with everyone plugged into a phone or pad listening and watching more content than what even existed when I was a kid but in 1963 the radio was a lot of input especially for an impressionable mind like mine.  I always was wanting to know what where and why (no one ever answered- I quit asking) and here was a device pumping the same noise at me every single day. It seemed to know everything.

It got into my head.

The Supremes, The Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The 4 Tops, Terry Jacks and the Poppy family (look it up) Mashmakhan, Mitch Ryder, The Rolling Stones, The Osmonds, Donny Osmond, Donny and Marie Osmond, The Kinks, the Animals, The Beach Boys and The T-Bones and the ever-loving f-in Beatles.

These bands and songs played in a continuous loop with an occasional "Oldie" thrown in for spice, say something like The Lion Sleeps Tonight or Leader of the Pack, songs that were maybe of 3-5 years older than what were on the current hit list.  Week by week the songs shifted.  Some got more airplay, some got less until after a month or so it was an all new hit list.  The change would be subtle and with them pounding you every day the change wasn't noticeable.  Until...

There I was, trapped in This Vortex of sound which basically is a 50 foot test tube on wheels.  The Beatles blow through the world, they conquer the school bus radio and suddenly they own the Top 40.  The top 5 songs on the hit parade are all Beatle songs.  I even Googled it to get the exact week: April 4, 1964.  This is squarely in my 2nd year on the bus, my audio defenses have long since been obliterated and even Jimmy "Fuzzy" Ferguson (made up name) in the back of the bus is singing his version of I Want to Hold Your Hand.  For reasons I was too young to understand Jimmy substituted 'pee pee" for hand.  I guess everyone got inspired.

Leave a mark?  Hell, it's a wonder I ever opened a book again.  There were rock magazines that would appear and I read all of those but that is for a later chapter.

In summary, wash rinse and repeat for the next 10 years.  Total indoctrination by the Corporate Music Machine.  

And the hits just kept on coming.

I am telling you this today simply to explain my affinity for music in general and early Top 40 in particular.  I see the school bus event as the original primordial influence of my relationship with organized sound. It seems a common belief that people view certain talents in some strange light where they act as if a person is automatically 'gifted' or even worse, 'blessed' with whatever strange talent they exhibit.

I feel no such connection to these blessed, gifted or talented people whoever they are, real or imagined.  

My connection is to the lab rat.  He's done nothing wrong.  He goes about his day in the way he's learned best how to do.  He works to get that food pellet and the occasional piece of cheese.  He has neither fault nor virtue.  He is a rat.  

He just happens to be in a certain place at a certain time that coincides with the experiment that achieves an X + Y = Z result.

That pretty much sums up my first lesson in music.

I am not the cheese.


Next Installment, Part II  All Right Now Baby!

Waiting for the Man

I need to kill some time.  This waiting is making me a bit bonkers and I'm going crazy as a bleedin coconut.  It's this whole thing about releasing my debut album.  Kinda getting impatient.  So let's talk about something else.  Debut albums.  They're a thing right?  I'm scanning my brain for famous debuts and there's only one that really stands out for me.  The Ramones.

Now there are those that would argue that the Beatles debut album was more important and it probably was to someone, but not to me.  I'm talking about that specific piece of of vinyl that is a band's introduction to the listening world..  I remember the Beatles Ed Sullivan debut back in, I guess it was 1964 (I am not fact checking- this is total stream of consciousness and fact checking would be like removing the rapids from the stream-no fun at all!).  

Sunday night and I'm in my usual spot on the floor directly in front of the television set at my grandpa's.  We'd eaten our usual farmer's dinner- something like beef roast or chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy veggie, rolls and since it was Sunday an extra special dessert; homemade pie or cake.  In the summer it would have been something like strawberry shortcake or fresh sliced peaches and ice cream.

Pillow gripped tight I wait it out through the opening dance numbers and pray for a decent comedian like Rodney Dangerfield or Don Rickles.  Usually there was some crooner mixed in like Dean Martin or Sammy Davis Jr.  Sometimes these were ok but I suffered through whatever was next to get to the comedians.  Maybe it'll be Red Skeleton! We were unprepared for Ed's next act.

Ed introduces some band from England with the ridiculous name "The Beatles".  From Liverpool which apparently is in England.  People are screaming.  The camera hits the stage where 4 men with absurd mop-top haircuts are standing.  I mean they must be men right?  They're wearing suits.  And the place goes crazy.

I could hardly hear the band for all the screaming.  Girls screaming non-stop and the band just kept shaking their heads and they were screaming "I wanna hold your HANNND! I wanna hold your HANNNND!"  In no way could you call this singing.  The camera keeps cutting to the audience which appears to be 100% female.  They are in distress.  Girls start getting dragged away by security guards. I swear as one of them is practically being carried out she suddenly revives and tries to claw away from the guards to the stage.  She's dragged backwards, flushed, crying as if separation from the source of her distress will end her.  She will never be normal again.  Something has possessed her and she is no longer her own.  Nothing will ever fulfill here again.  Nothing can.

The band raves on and on.  The drummer is perched up high on his pedestal, not a care in the world, hair flying everywhere.  Two singer/guitarists share a microphone and they lean in as they sing a new lyric- "OOOOOOOOOOOH!"  A 3rd guitarist (they all play guitars, no keyboards or horns) stands a bit apart from the others, long hair hanging practically in his eyes!  Back to the 2 at the microphone more "OOOOOOHS!!! and HANNNDS!!!" and under the one to the right who is some type of boy/man with sleepy cow eyes half hidden under his bangs is the caption "HEY GIRLS- HE'S NOT MARRIED!!!"  Against all laws of nature the screaming doubles in intensity.  More girls are hauled away but they just keep breaking free running for the stage, victims of a mad delirium.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

We are all glued to the set.  What the hell is this? Not that any of us could say that out loud.  We're a good Catholic family and 'hell' is still pretty much a cuss word.  Mom enters from the kitchen and looks the scene over.  I can't remember exacly what she said about the band, I know she was disgusted by it and amused by their lack of musicianship.  She said the girls were all acting "like idiots".  Then she summed up every parents fear in a single sentence.

"I hope your brother David never grows hair like that!"  Back she went to the kitchen.

Who was the comedian that night?  I'm sure I could google the answer and fill in all the facts.  Did the band play I Want to Hold Your Hand that first night or was it Please Please Me or maybe even Good Golly Miss Molly?  You can check, for me it will always be just as I've written it.  Memory is funny that way.  You carry something with you for 50 years and it's probably not going away.

I know the next week instead of waiting for the comedian to come out I couldn't help but wonder 'When will the Beatles be back?'.

Ramones debut?  That was a good one and I'd love to tell you all about.  Maybe next time.




Loose Change and Coconuts

It's really weird that I am this far along in a career that I hadn't planned on pursuing since the effects of the drugs and alcohol wore off in the late 70's.  As in there is a record label, albeit a small of one, that is financing my first record.  Pros are involved. Money has exchanged hands.  This website has been built all custom made for me with this little section that I get to put down my thoughts,  reviews and whatever the hell I want so you, my loyal fan, YOU,  may lap up the mess of my wisdom.

Now don't that just beat all?  Right now I don't have all that much to lay down in this column.  I think I'll wait a bit till when I have some units sold or there's some rabid person dying to know X Y and Z about the Syndicate or something like that.  Or a stray thought intrigues one of us.

If you're here I say thanks to you for coming to check things out.  Soon will have the tunes available for download and just a wee bit later on CD.  There will be merch so save your pennies and get ready to fire up that PayPal accout (I hope we take PayPal!).  Check out the Syndicate of Surf on YouTube.

I am just getting started and I have a lot of music left to go.  I've been saving it all up-  just for you and me.