The Dunes -
North African Grooves
The Square Roots
The Cousins Gibb
The Silly Frogs (1981-82)
|The Virgin Unplugged - Tim Fuson's Acoustic Madonna Revue
I spent many moons with The Dunes - a North African Fusion (Chaabi Funk Gnawa Rock Berber Metal Arab Reggae) band project. I sang, played guinbri, bass, guitar, clarinet and bendir with the group, and wrote songs in English and Moroccan Arabic for the group to perform. The band members brought together an improbable mix of influences, approaches, attitudes and aesthetics. When it worked, it rocked heavily. Highlights: I got repudiated by the Hendrix estate for writing Gnawi lyrics to Voodoo Chile, then wrote a better song in response. I jumped around like a maniac, and impersonated a dictator. And I returned to writing songs with my own voice after many years of pseudonymic and support/sideman activity. Yeah, it was a good time!
Side project between myself (guinbri and singing) and Anis Sehiri (loops and beats) of The Dunes band, exploring the possibilities of techno-Gnawa grooving. Made a spate of live appearances around Berkeley in 2006-07
Listen to "Ghumami-Musa" by Gnawatronic
Led by multi-instrumentalist, storyteller and Sufi shaykh Yassir Chadly, the Marhaba group drew on a wealth of talent to present traditional Moroccan music to Bay Area audiences in the mid-90s. I held my own with rhythm, Gnawa-ing and the occasional oud-ing, while the mega-talented Bouchaib Abdelhadi (violin, oud, percussion and singing) and the soulful Hafida Ghanim (vocals and bendir) shone. Lack of creative direction meant the group never developed a real identity - but there were some lovely moments...
Listen to "La ilaha illa Llah" by Marhaba and friends
In 1991 I was finishing degrees in music and anthropology. While pondering music and culture at Cafe Strada, I brewed up a musical project that was great fun.
In my days with The Square Roots, I had worked up a few cover songs to play and sing if Jerry broke a guitar string. One of these was Madonna's "Like a Virgin". The idea of doing Madonna covers held a sort of hip currency in indie circles in the late 80's and early '90's. The Lords of the New Church had recorded "Like a Virgin", Sonic Youth had covered "Into the Groove" and John Wesley Harding had recorded an acoustic version of "Like A Prayer". My response was that, well, anybody could do one Madonna cover. But it took someone special to do an ENTIRE SHOW of Madonna covers. I was determined to be that person.
Between 1991 and 1993, I performed my Madonna Revue on Sproul Plaza, KALX-FM, and several times at the Starry Plough.
Listen to "Vogue" live on KALX, 1991
OK look - I have a very special relationship with the Cousins Gibb, the obscure purported cousins of the famous Brothers Gibb (i.e., the Bee Gees.) In particular, during my years of contact with them, I developed an almost symbiotic relationship with Cousin Tomothy. I helped him record demos, I teased out the archaeology of the lost "Fes" album and helped produce its recording in the early '90s, and I appeared in the Cousins' 1988 Christmas special as a clarinet-playing member of the Salvation Santa horn section.
But people continue to believe that Tomothy Gibb and I are in fact one and the same person! I mean, that's crazy! Why would I adopt an alter-ego? OK sure, at the end of the Square Roots I was having writer's block and renegotiating my relationship to the whole creative enterprise, but would I really go to the length of writing and recording in character as another person? That's just silly conspiracy theory stuff.
So anyway, The Cousins Gibb claim that their more famous cousins, the Bee Gees stole scads of creative ideas, songs and structures from them over the years. You may think that the Cousins' music is derivative of the Bee Gees. In fact, according to the Cousins, the influence was in the other direction.
The Cousins Gibb on stage with The Young Fresh Fellows - Cotati, 1988.
Listen to "Bighead" from the album
"Fes - A Failed Rock Opera" here:
Acoustic 2-piece that sounded like a full band, punk energy, Beatle-Everly harmony, cranking out infectious pop nuggets left and right, as comfortable (and convincing) playing at the Fillmore as on Sproul Plaza - The Square Roots tore it up like nobody's business.
One of the great lucky occurrences of my life was to join the Guitardoz when they answered my ad in BAM magazine in the spring of '83. Jerry and Oscar were already punk veterans when I got on board the train - it was a delight and honor for a green kid like me to ride with them!
Listen to "No Money" by Guitardoz:
New wave and punk took a little longer to get to Novato than it did to other parts of the world. Something had to be done. Unfortunately, it was The Silly Frogs...
Listen to "The Back-Off Treatment" by The Silly Frogs