The Donnas actually played their first two or three years under the name Ragady Anne, on the teen circuit of venues like Cubberley, Mitchell Park and the Cupertino Library. Many fans, especially Palo Altans, feel that the Ragady Anne era was the high water mark for these young artists, and that the Ragady Anne ep is by far their best material and recording. Mark Weiss, “to the editors” Feb. 23, 1999
Collapsing two storage units into a leaner-meaner document housing, costing me only $178/month, machine, I noted about 20 banker boxes or about 60 yards of documents, my files from my days more actively scouting the local-regional-national-international music scene and working my ass of, as, compared to James Brown, one of the one-millionth hardest working dudes in rock and roll, producing Earthwise Productions’ “The Palo Alto Soundcheck” > “The Cubberley Sessions” :: “the Palo Palooza” “Earth Day Rock n Bike” “Glad I’m a Girl Benefit” and well before “ICOBOPA” the international congress of buskers of Palo Alto (plus about ten or twenty concepts that never made it passed meeting one and three or four pages in a manilla file: Palo Alto Hip Hop Festival, Palo Alto Earthwise Film Festival, and more).
I pulled three such files, looking for clues, and thinking of John Goodman Roland Turner character in backseat of car, as Oscar Isaac Llewyn Davis contemplates Green but he sees “brown” rhymes with “frown”.
1. The Donnas — I have about 100 documents, mostly clips, 1994 thru 2001, including some letters sent and some notes. I quote above and in head from one such.
2. Cake, thinner, maybe 30 pieces, but probably distinct from “show files” for two separate dates, in 1995 and 1996 which would include contracts and ad slicks. I have thousands of clippings on local and national acts, in about 26 files, sometimes like in these two cases grouping them in own file. I also have most of the cover letters and one-sheets of the 200 or so bands who sent me their demo tapes. Literally cassettes, I recently deaccessioned and in fact recycled because they are plastic but in retrospect clearly might have tried my chances donating them and having them sold for $2 each or at least offered to Palo Alto library sales. I felt a little guilty dumping all these mediated version of human expression, even after, like the librarian at Alexandra, paying about $500 or more (prorated from total storage fees of about $10,000 or more) to keep them safe all these 20 years, and at least I am keeping their names, and will maybe publish a good section of, if not the entire list.
3. Oliver Lake, 1/22/98 This is a “show file” including the contract, and the faxed offer sheet (which is barely legible, fading, talk about ephemera). Noe Venable was the opening act (she is not jazz, but was produced by Lee Townsend).
If I get to an edit to add here, I mean to expound and explicate about the Donnas per se. Recent sightings have Maya in LA studying graphic design at local college, Tory at Harvard Law (and she should be negotiating to do a punk rock riot girl version of “totally blonde’), and Allison probably the most active still in scene with Brett not too far away.
I have a permission slip signed by Marjorie Ford (mom) and Maya from January, 1995 when Maya was fifteen covering me against claims of child endangerment for paying them to perform what was their first paid gig (after probably 20 other shows in free rooms, I allude to in the letter).
Hindsight is 20-20 but I wonder what would have happened if they stayed going forward as Ragady Anne and Electrocutes but not the Donnas and a co-producer and co-writer (likewise I wonder about my self if I had taken advice of Jon Stoll my parents met at Canyon Ranch who suggested I intern at Monterey Artists or Rosebud before spending my own money on do-it-yourself…)
An uncle of Mark Everett of the Eels is famous for parallel universe theory under which perhaps there is somewhere were Maya, Brett, Tory, Brett and I are all not at all conflicted about what we saw and what we did with our opportunities.
I am wondering about the value of writing about all this, and whether it helps or hinders doing it. Makes me want to read Mark Twain about “Adam and Eve” and how naming is doing, which is also glossed by Sapir and Whorf.