Sunset Junction memories

(email from I dunno when, but back aways)

My standout musical memory of the Sunset Junction Festival was Universal Congress Of…it was the year they held it in Echo Park along the lake and as usual back then the festival was great but the music bland and then UCO hit the stage and were intense. Play some more of that outside shit! somebody bellowed, and they did, Steve Moss screaming on the sax, Joe Baiza just gone on electric Ornette, and Jason Kahn’s self-taught drumming driving it all ahead. They got so funky the people danced. I also remember Pigmy Love Circus ending the event year after year…loud, fierce, drunken, funny as hell. Once Spaceland took over and pulled them ya knew it was the beginning of the end. All those poppy “Silverlake Sound” acts they’d book…. That wasn’t the Silverlake sound we remembered. Our’s was much harder and weirder, but Spaceland slowly squeezed that out of the Sunset Junction. But it was also fun to always see your friends play there, though usually in the lesser slots (11 a.m.!) I remember my brother Lex’s band last ever gig was there and they were awesome. My brother Jon played there I don’t know how many times. It was all punk and cholo and aging hippies and leather boys back then…and you couldn’t go twenty paces with running into someone you knew….glorious times. I used to love that fair. For years we lived on Edgecliffe three doors up from the little triangular park where Jack Zinder died….back then our pad was party central, three days non stop partying all Memorial Day Weekend year after freaking year. The best stage back then was right there at Edgecliffe & Sunset. One mellow afternoon I went down and caught Jesters of Destiny and Universal Congress Of back to back. I have that on tape (I had a blaster and recorded everything back then…I have hundreds  of hours of stuff from about ’85-’90). A lot of the other music over the years blends into each other now in my grey matter; nothing specific stands out. Once they began bringing in rock stars, though, they fucked it all up. And the booths got so expensive local vendors couldn’t afford them. No more Silverlake Militia selling tee shirts, no more local merchants. No more people you knew trying to sell their art or their music or whatever local people sell when a booth for the weekend only costs a couple hundred dollars. We moved over the swish alps to where we are now about 1991 and in the mid-nineties the Sunset Junction weekend partying switched to our pal Sketch’s pad off just off the Bates stage and early on they had great bands there and the cover was a voluntary $2 then $3 then $5 which we paid. Cool hangs at Sketch’s….best ever time there was maybe twenty years ago and getting there at noon and parking in front of his building (Fyl would cab it later in the day) and it was so hot we wound up hanging inside all day…DVH showed up early too and pulled out a jay and then another and another and I got soooo high when we finally went through the gate it was like Checkpoint Charlie and I was gripped by paranoia and all the colors shimmered and the sounds were like Charles Ives or “Section 43” or heavy heavy dub and it was like being at the Festival on acid….

(What a difference twenty five years makes. The Sunset Junction Fair is dead, killed by greed. And if I smoked three joints now my brain would melt.)

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