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San Francisco, Fresno, San Francisco

When did you begin seriously listening to Top 40 radio?
In 1956 (age 6) while sick with the mumps.

What station and where?
KEWB Channel 91, Oakland - San Francisco

For better or worse, earliest songs etched in your memory?
“The Wayward Wind”, “So rare”, “Rock Around the Clock” (opening scene of Blackboard Jungle); In later years, “Purple People Eater”, "Quiet Village", “Travelin' Man”, “Apple Pink and Cherry Blossom White” (Jose & Rene's theme song), and “Who Put the Bomp” -- (the Big Fella's exit music)

If stranded in the jungle, ten songs you would take:
You Belong to Me (The Duprees), Beyond the Sea (Bobby Darin), You Better Run (Young Rascals), I'll Try Something new (Smokey & the Miracles, Town Without Pity (Gene Pitney), Lotta Lovin' (Gene Vincent), Keep an Eye On Summer (the Beach Boys from Shut Down Vol. II, side 2, track 3); and the entire Pet Sounds LP. First few records owned and why: "Reville Rock", Johnny & The Hurricanes, my grandmother bought it for me. "I gotta Know" (Elvis) stolen from a juke box, "Bristol Twistin' Annie" (the Dovells), also stolen with "Diane" (Dion) and "Ride" (Dee Dee Sharp) from a DJ pile at the Our Lady of Victory Parish Bazaar sock hop at the San Joaquin Memorial High School (Fresno) gym.

One Song, a Hit the first time you heard it and why:
Runaway. I was straddled on our backyard fence on hot a summer night with my blood and Glass Pack brother, Gary, (ages 11 and 9) watching the silent screen of the Moonglow Drive-In several blocks away (Hey, there's nothing else to do in Fresno but watch drive in movies from your backyard), listening to our transistor radio. I heard the stacatto guitar beginning and this guy Del Shannon screaming his heart out at some girl like Babs Shoemaker down the street, and nearly fell off the fence. I've heard that ringing and wondered why she ran away ever since.

First trace of show business in your blood:
Age 5, I lip-synched “Tammy” as a kindergartener in the Jefferson Elementary (Colma) talent show.

First performance in front of a captive audience:
Age 6, I traveled from class to class singing a latin Christmas Carol “Adeste Fidelis” for all of the grades at Holy Angels School. Beyond Grade 3, I was met with the same numb stare that has greeted me for years since as a Glass Pack.

Between the ages of 6 and 16 what was your favorite radio station:
KYA San Francisco (when visiting) and KMAKe in Fresno

Between the ages of 6 and 16 your average daily exposure to music?
During school, two hours per day minimum; on weekends, vacation a full 8 hour work day -- there was nothing else to do but listen to the radio and imagine a faraway place inside the radio where the characters in these records lived more glamorous lives than mine.

Ulterior uses of music (this one's for Julio but if you can answer it too):
"'Cherish' is our song." - over an over again

Name of first band?
"An Even Dozen" -- a New Christie Minstrels, acoustic guitar slinging , folkie church music coed group in high school. A good way to get closer to Jane Macedo

Musical repertoire of first band?
I played a borrowed acoustic guitar and sang “Puff the Magic Dragon” , and “Green Green” with a straight face.

Earliest musical influences and why:
I didn’t know his name at the time, but Gene Vincent’s spooky go cat gone guitar player (Cliff Gallup); Beach Boys for harmony vocals, Young Rascals for live band sound. I can't forget Jimmy Mac McKenna, who taught me how to play the guitar as a mid-teenager.

Between ages of 6 and 16 favorite comedians? Woody Allen as a stand up comic on Ed Sullivan, Art Carney in the Honeymooners, and Vaughn Meador's impersonation of JFK.

Punch line of earliest joke you can recall:
“. . . Whiffledog my Ass”

Who or what influenced your sense of humor?
My next door neighbor, Mike Pontremoli, was the funniest guy on the planet, or at least the small planet we lived on. He looked like Woody Allen, made clever comments and observations about bigger dumber guys and made my brother, Gary, and I scream, oftentimes at ourselves, summer day in and summer day out, a breath of cool air in the 100 plus degree Fresno heat.

How did you first hear the name BWGP?
Current Glass Packs Craig, Laz and Julio and some of the original Glass Packs were in my dorm room at St. Mary's College “harmonizing” in preparation for our first gig. We sounded like cats screeching at the same time, some higher and some lower than others. The Great White Duck, my roommate, rolled over from his morning nap and offered to give us a name, if we’d leave him in peace. He said "One of you should be “Butch Wax” a real guy like the hair pomade". "Glass Packs" rolled immediately off my tongue in simpatico rhyme, meter and mood (We grew up to the tommy gun popping of real glass packs roaring down our street).

When and why did you join BWGP?
It seemed a logical thing to do at the time. I truly hated the pop music of the late 60's, and thought that the entire musical genre of the fifties was so far removed from the derigueur acid head music and tie-dyed culture, that "Who Wrote the Book of Love" and duck tails was a funny juxtaposition. I didn’t own an electric guitar; I’d never played one. No amp, no concept of how songs start and stop at the same time. Terrible rhythm, as I’ve only recently discovered playing every night with a metronome. No clue whatsoever of chord structure or the logic of music. O.K., it was also a way of getting unlimited attention, cheap applause, fun fun fun, hanging around creative people and doing something entirely different than what I had planned for myself. I think I thought I looked good doing it, too. I must have, as there is no other explanation for being seen with a guitar hanging around my neck for 30 years. And, let be fair, looking good has a lot to do with it (right Karl? [Glass Packs sax player]).

Earliest recollection of performing with BWGP?
Walking at night to the outdoor amphitheater behind the current football stadium on the Saint Mary’s campus with all of the Glass Packs in tow dressed in our costumes for the first time, most notably Danny Ritzo dressed like Buddy Holly wearing his father’s baggy suit flashing his drum sticks like a peace sign while the rest of us hassled the hippies in the crowd. I still love that about-to-throw-up feeling right before we go on stage.

Most desperate BWGP moment:
On tour in October 1974 in Ohio at Kent State University when I discovered before any of the rest of the group (who were waiting for me to tell them the status of our next six weeks in the Midwest, with no jobs booked at home) that our fat agent Larry Israel and his crooked addled partner Michael Oster had embellished the number of actual committed dates. Instead of 27 there were 7. Our road manager, Nancy Cassidy scrambled to fill up 12 of the empty slots so we made it some how. Apparently our big time agents forgot to make the neccessary return phone calls. In their defense, how do you do that when your phone is disconnected? [true, those morons never paid their phone bill] Ahh! good times, good times.

Most embarrassing moment performing with BWGP:
Blowing the flip in "At The Hop" at the Mystic Theater in Petaluma 1999 before a full house (one nose dive in 31 years, thank you)

Fondest recollection of BWGP:
Kickin' the Doobie Brothers' sweet turquoise ass at 7000 Seat Selland Arena -- we stole the show and then their keg backstage too; Playing any Saturday night show at the Cave in Vancouver, and these days any show at Bimbo’s.

Finest sketches:
Star Trek: VI - Spock Does the Peppermint Twist: Julio dressed like Spock materilaizing by tossing up a hand full of glitter into the spot light, the band dressed like the Enterprise Crew, Bob as the arhythmic Captain Kirk slow twistin'; Dee Dee dressed in fringe and frugging like an alien go go dancer; we passed Joey Dee & the Starliters at warp speed. (4th Annual Farewell Performance Great American Music Hall)

Not so finest sketches:
The Beach Boys Therapists (1988 Great American Music Hall). What were those Freudish looking guys muttering into their pipes about anyway? And why were the professors singing “I Get Around”? I guess nobody heard of Eugene Landy -- Brian Wilson's embezzling muse.

Weirdest BWGP moment (on or of stage):
Backing up Mr. Peanut (the giant tuxedoed peanut with a 3 foot top hat) dancing onstage with us in Vancouver to Chattanooga Choo Choo. He was running for mayor of Vancouver in 1975 on the left bank artist ticket. I remember hearing his motto “Peanuts from Heaven” as he removed his huge hat for a full waist bow setting loose an avalanche of peanuts that covered the stage. He gave me an autographed campaign poster.

How do you explain your role in BWGP the 19th Annual Farwell Performance to new friends or colleagues who have never heard of BWGP and didn't know you have a secret closet life?
I don’t seek it out anymore; although I don’t deny it when confronted. It seems like every Spring we're pretty famous, so most people with any history in the Bay Area have heard of BWGP, and seem to be genuinely amazed that that you could have such a cool side life and belong to an exclusive club with a storied past that lives up to its annual public chest thumping. You have to see it to believe it -- these guys are utterly shameless, and are worth the money. No really, we’re funny, good lookin' and provide as full a night of entertainment as you can find at any price. And if you miss us this year, we'll take your money and see you at Bimbo’s next year.


  © 2005 Butch Whacks & the Glass Packs