FROM FAT BITCHES TO JOHNNY BLAZE
Temecula, CA – Covering the news about the recent 7 Days In May can wear you down so I usually pick up other free news sources, especially local print like the Valley News and the newest, Echo and Buzz, to see what's shaking in the valley of the grapes. Lately a lot of hometown talent has been featured like TemCal Publishers Bill and Jeney Gould [KEENWILD], four talents making it in American Idol [later reduced to two], and youth shows Rock The Oaks and spots at The Shamrock.
While reading this news, it struck me that writers like Pam Bowen or editor Kim Harris may think 'Wow' without knowing the origins of a music scene that seems organic without knowing its roots. There once was a time when the only music heard outside the silver dollar circle of The Stampede at the end of Old Town was the jukebox at Joanie's in Murrieta. That choke-hold was broken by a tall leprechaun named Jeff who started Local Punks, the true beginning of the music scene here.
Learning how to do everything the right way by seeing it all done the wrong way, Full Value Entertainment and later the duo KEENWILD came from that period. And if it can be said that was the start, then the song Fat Bitches is the first song on the soundtrack for more reasons then can fit this small space. To understand that birth period, let the lead-in picture speaks its magic because one of the faces there co-wrote that punk rap cult classic.
Walking down through Old Town, which one day could be even cooler than it is at present, you can lull wine in the moment of music at various places and not be aware that it was the youth who foot-loosed this Christian Johnsonville [Blazing Saddles] first through a coffee shop in Temecula on the downlow. Though this Golden Age of the local scene ended with the closing of The Vault, the zenith of the music scene was at the venue I nicknamed, The Mullet Room, business in the front, party in the back. It was owned and run by a Rasta named Johnny Blaze. It was reality tv without the tv.
The Mullet Room came into being on a cool downlow and left almost as quietly, a victim of the Twin Peaks Murrieta mindset that sought imaginary charges against Henry Ramos. But in the space of period, beginning to end, a rich texture of youth, talent, music, drama, art, and community existed. That period was truly 'a scene' in every George Plimpton aspect of the Studio 54 definition. When you stepped into The Mullet Room, it stepped into you.
At the heart of the Room was a Rasta named Blaze, and he did. He was from a better side of town, out of town, and had done well enough to entertain the idea of opening something he always wanted to; a location that offered great coffee, food, and local music for free [open mike]. The stage sat just behind the tall front window glass; a french style art scene provided the backdrop of what was to come.
A tour of the soon-to-be-opened, state of the art 'cafe' venue produced a magical surprise, one that would give the place its cool, edgy, tribe-like vibe. Through a hallway darkly lurked a secret, as in unseen, door out the rear of the building like a hidden passage, or the train station Platform 9 ¾. Finally the song question of 'Wonder what's behind the Green Door' was answered. It was the 'Green Room.'
“Well, what do you think?” Asked Mr. Blaze to the promoter and myself as he fished out a fatty from between his fingers, strangely reminisent to me on Page 139, Memoirs.
I turned to my friend, blinked, and smiled. The Mullet Room was born with a party in the back.
Over the years that followed, the rich vein of original music then made by teens and 20-somethings was augmented by the shutting of the outside cafe of the mall's Barnes & Noble [the area's core group of intellectuals, activists, and techies] and Temecula/Murrieta being just a freeway stop off the road to LA.
The touring bands were always supported from a local pool of 2000 bands in a 25mile radius of The Mullet Room. Although all the bands weren't performance level and a number of other come-and-go venues plus church music shows were popping, the shows that were being talked about, were happening at the Mullet. Like the music shows of today, the talent had to be seen to be believed. As a guy who saw the best of the 80s live, I know a thing or two about talent, and thanks to the Spoonbills [Memoirs], I knew band gymnastics.
Over the next few years, new music aka All-Ages unsigned bands and performers dazzled both underground and indie music fans. Long-time Full Value Review readers were treated to some of the purest music art moments as writing them down made my eyes wet. Perhaps the finest example of all that was available in this music mirage for the many who heard about the shows from others shown through in the noble wake of artist and musician, Elizabeth “Bipsy” Amirian.
Bipsy had relocated to the valley from North Carolina and burst on the scene by sweeping the first place prize in the high school talent contest away from the local talent frontrunner. From there Bipsy never looked back artistically. As the scene's only Messianic Jewess, Bipsy served two audiences but only one Master being such a unique scene magnet that the elctrician who did the venue wiring wound up doing stand-up when The Mullet Room debuted. Bipsy's two audiences met the first time at her funeral and the last story to run about her here in 2009, a Top 10 topper, continues to appear periodically in the current Top 7 like a sighting. St. Bipsy, Patron of our scene. Her CD, BattleCry, is a classic example of artistry via synesthesia.
It's good to see things like The School of Rock, The Shamrock, and other spots open for the youth of today covered by those who now follow that beat. Break a leg, Valley News, Echo and Buzz.