Eugene Robinson rookie card: he’s got it

Randy Lutge deserves recognition for cultural contributions to our fair city, Palo Alto. He and his family managed The New Varsity for many years, and he was encouraging to the small group that tried to reclaim the historic and beloved venue as a cultural asset in 2011 and 2012.

Randy also has an archive of about 400 videotapes shot during the late nineteen eighties and early nineties. Most notably is probably the world’s best resource on Michael Hedges, the jazzy multi-intrumentalist and guitarist who died too young to garner the acclaim he deserves, at least so far. There’s also: Stanley Jordan, Will Ackerman, Tuck and Patti, some John Fahey — the founding of Windham Hill Records is intertwined with the history of the venue.

There were a smattering of punk shows in that era, although few of those were documented as well as was the acoustic guitar virtuosity.

I was pleased to see two early (by my standards) recordings of Eugene S. Robinson, who I know as the co-founder of Oxbow; before Oxbow, who still tour and produce under-appreciated cds, Eugene fronted Whipping Boy, which I never saw — until last night via the above video. The concert was January, 1985, with the local favs supporting a relative unknown touring band named Social Distortion.

vintage Varsity punk flyer

vintage Varsity punk flyer

“Venus (She’s got it)” has an interesting history in its own right. There is a good wiki on it. It hit number 1 in U.S. pop charts thanks to Shocking Blue, and then a second life in 1986 by Bananarama. I presume the Whipping Boy version is a reaction to Bananarama. In Russia, “shizgarah” apparently (if you believe what you find on the internet) is a code word in certain feminist and underground circles.

Here in contrast is a very recent version of Oxbow (Robinson, Dan Adams, Niko Wenner and Greg Davis) unplugged. They’ve still got it. And don’t be fooled by this tiny desktop in my kitchen configuration: Eugene and them still plug in and froth-rock out, despite juggling various grown-up demands like careers and families.

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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6 Responses to Eugene Robinson rookie card: he’s got it

  1. Randy Lutge says:

    Hello Mark. Thanks again for writing about and supporting the V.

    • markweiss86 says:

      I wonder what other uses there can be for your footage and archive beyond that viewing format.

      See also my long winding (experimental, which may mean excuse for sloppy editing) story of history of Jazz in Palo Alto, which links to three of your posts (Jordan, Andress, Hedges).

      • Randy Lutge says:

        I need a lawyerly type to spell out for me precise ownership and usage rights. I wouldn’t mind a different place besides you tube as they are coating my videos with their ads, for which only google is recompensed.

  2. markweiss86 says:

    Eagle Rock Entertainment handles a lot of commercial issuing of archival concert footage. Maybe Palo Alto History Association would sponsor your effort to disseminate a highlights reel. Maybe the Smithsonian would want this, should you offer to donate it. We should talk about this sometime.
    In every case, publishers of the music have to be compensated. Whether this is a revenue stream for you or it only makes you a hero and a stud for doing this, saving this and then getting it out there, surely there is a better use than just uploading it.

    I do recommend a lawyer or at least someone who has negotiated such contracts (your “lawyerly type”) but I would start with a non-lawyerly type, to find someone who shares our enthusiasm for the value of these performances. Maybe start by publishing, even internally, an inventory of what you got, by act, by song and including where possible names of the performers and side-men.

    I have some qualifications to help you, or could recommend people who know more.

    (I was Jack Walrath’s personal manager in 2004 when this 1975 film of Charles Mingus Quintet at Montreux was issued by Eagle Rock and went over some of the specifics of the case as they pertained or did not pertain to us).

      • markweiss86 says:

        Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
        As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
        Are melted into air, into thin air:
        And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
        The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
        The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
        Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
        And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
        Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
        As dreams are made on; and our little life
        Is rounded with a sleep.

        Prospero, not Bogart/Sam Spade or Hammett:

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