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A road trip to California


In February of this year, this editor turned 40. That isn’t a fact that I felt needed to be celebrated or, indeed, mourned, but I did feel that it should be marked in some way. I love music festivals but not cold weather and/or mud (anymore), so I scoured the warm-weather areas of the country looking for something that works for myself, my wife and my three-year-old.I

And so it was that we decided to attend the Ink-N-Iron festival in Long Beach, California, on June 12-14. Children get in for free and, while the VIP ticket prices were expensive, having clean toilets and some sofas to lounge on made them totally worth it. But more on that later.

A week before the festival, my family and I piled into our mini SUV and drove to California over two days. We decided to stay in Venice for the first week, before moving to Long Beach for the festival.

In the past, I’ve had more than a few negative things to say about LA, but I put those misconceptions to rest during this trip. There’s plenty to enjoy in Cali, and I soaked in much of it, from the amazing Amoeba Records, with its incredible $1.99 CD section, to the Rainbow Bar & Grill (Lemmy of Motorhead’s favorite haunt), from Santa Monica pier (great for the kids) to the hilarity that is Muscle Beach.

I also took in some pre-festival shows. On Saturday, June 6, Sunset Strip favorites of the late 1980’s Blackboard Jungle played a reunion show at the Viper Room, the venue formerly owned by Johnny Depp situated fittingly enough on Sunset. It was a great show too, with Faster Pussycat guitarist Brent Muscat playing a set with his Las Vegas All-Stars (also featuring members of Jellyfish and Cats in Boots). Two more old LA rockers, the Wild and Love Razors, also played.

A few days later, hair metal parody band Steel Panther played the LA House of Blues, with punks the Disowned and hard rockers Future Villains. Steel Panther were awesome too – hilarious and filthy. There are no lyrics that we can reprint here without offending everyone, but like Spinal Tap, Steel Panther’s is a joke that wouldn’t work if the songs weren’t great.

The next day, we were at the festival. Ink-N-Iron is a great event, as much about the hot-rod cars, custom motorcycles, burlesque shows and tattoo art as the music. The clothes on display all weekend were fantastic – the rockabilly fashion looking tremendous in the Cali sun.

Musical highlights included old school British punks the UK Subs, old school LA punks the Dickies, rockabilly veterans Wanda Jackson and Sonny Burgess, psychobilly bands Nekromantix and the Creepshow, new-school punks Pennywise and the Bouncing Souls, ska band the Aggolites (with a guest from the Specials), funk rockers Fishbone, new wave-turned industrial man Gary Numan, and former Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy.

After ten days, it was time to hit the road and return to Colorado, the Cali sun having an impact that will stick for a while.


Brett Calwood
Brett Callwood is an English journalist, copy writer, editor and author, currently living and working in Los Angeles. He is the music editor with the LA Weekly. He was previously a reporter at the Longmont Times-Call and Daily Camera, the music editor at the Detroit Metro Times and editor-in-chief at Yellow Scene magazine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brett_Callwood

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