Time is of the essence of this agreement in that I don’t believe that Memphis Vic had permission to shoot this cell phone video of Chris Isaak band in Sun Studios. Speaking of time, time present and time past, which are both present perhaps in time future (to rif on ‘”Burnt Norton”), quickly doing the math tells us that Hershel Yatovitz and I go back at least 37 years; we met as ten year olds, our parents were about our age now. Our family outings revolved around softball games at Foothills Park more than music performance; sports of any stripe were a strong suit of mine in my youth, less so for Hershel. I have this great photograph, however, of 12-year-old H-man jumping up on stage in the Beth Am social hall to stand in with the lounge lizards hired to play Chuck Berry covers at my Bar Mitzvah: he was the man. That would be January of 1977. Then later I recall thinking I was so cool as a 15-year-old sneaking into a high school / college party up Page Mill Road then seeing Hershel in the garage band at that event. The week I moved to North Beach I recall popping in to Caffe Trieste on Christmas Eve day in 1988 and seeing Hersh in their house band. When I started my music series the Cubberley sessions in 1994, Hersh was a co-leader (or at least co-writer) for what became Geffen artists Black Lab (with Paul Durham — they were known first as Durham, in a Nadine Condon BMI showcase at Bottom of the Hill, etc) — he played one of the early Cubberley shows. (Later replaced by another Palo Alto guitarist Michael Belfer when he left the unsigned band for the sure thing, the major touring act side man, to be in Silvertone, joining the succession that included first Jimmy Wilsey then, briefly, quick now, here, now, always, Spooky Arakanes).
I’ve caught the H-Man with Chris a few precious times over the last ten years or so, once notably on a co-bill with Natalie Merchant at Mountain Winery when I was friendly with her drummer Allison Miller. I nearly caught up with Hershel and Chris (and Kenney Dale Johnson, et al) in summer of 2009 in St. Louis, while Dao Strom was in Springfield, IL and Chicago, but opted capriciously to zip back to Chicago to catch Robbie Fulks and Jenny Scheinman at Martyrs. I was pleased to hear tell therefore that Hershel and Dao met up recently in Portland. Perhaps gratuitously, let me recap all these proper nouns in alphabetical order: Ally Miller, Beth Am, Black Lab, Burnt Norton, Caffe Trieste, Chicago, Chris Isaak, Chuck Berry, Cowboy Jack Clement, Cubberley, Dao Strom, Durham, Foothills Park, Geffen, Jenny Scheinman, Jimmy Wilsey, Kenney Dale Johnson, Martyr’s, Memphis Vic, Michael Belfer, Mountain Winery, Nadine Condon, Natalie Merchant, North Beach, Palo Alto, “Ring of Fire,”, Robbie Fulks, St. Louis, Scout MD, Silvertone, Springfield, Sun Studios.
edit to add, January 10, 2012: Hershel and Chris jammed with Conan on live tv last week; the set came out in October and All Music claims it is the seventh appearance of Hershel Yatovitz for Chris Isaak: