1995 Tour with the Rattle Kings
The legendary Jonathan Richman rolled through town to play for a small group
of loyal fans at a horrendously unadvertised gig on the 14th. Supporting him
were the Rattle Kings who are a rather impressive country rockabilly band,
except they don't have much to do with what Jonathan Richman does.
Since 1968 (no lie) before the Milkmen died, before They might have been
Giants, before the Ladies got Barenaked , Jonathan Richman (at times with the
Modern Lovers) has been writing and performing songs to make people laugh.
They have titles like "Abominable Snowman in the Market," "Dodge
Veg-a-Matic," "Ice Cream Man," and "Here Come the Martian Martians." His
lyrics are even better. Check out "Vampire Girl" about females in black with
white make up: "Does she cook beans, does she cook rice, does she perform
ritual sacrifice? Is she in heaven, is she in hell, is she a sex industry
His years of performing show through. Between verses of the first few songs
in his set he tells the sound guy exactly what knobs to turn to get exactly
what he wants. His guitar playing at this point is flawless. With no backup
except for his drummer, Jonathan and his material can stand on their own.
When asked what's kept him going for all these years, he says, "Fun. As soon
as it stops being fun I'll hang it up." There seems to be little chance of
that happening though, because he really enjoys himself on stage. Every song
has a guitar solo with his classic heavy metal posturing and hip wiggling.
He's very personable and talks to the audience a lot during his set. After
the show at the Zephyr he sat down at a table next to the stage to sign
autographs, shake some hands, and talk to fans. Jonathan Richman is the
ultimate Non Rock Star. I think he's my idol. You can get some of his great
music by calling Round Records at 1 800 44 DISCS or by writing to Les
Gripkey, P.O. Box 8024, Santa Cruz, CA 95061.
© 1995, Rational Alternative Digital