Palo Alto Rock a a to z w

W

World For Ransom is or was a Palo Alto based rock band featuring Billie Eyeball — her legal name for as long as I’ve known her — and Dave Womack as manager. Ray Poague, a Gunn 1980 graduate, played keyboards (and is friends with Steve Zukowsky and early guitar hero of mine). Billie and David were my first tour guides — like Dante in the seven layers of hell/heaven — of the SF underground rock scene of the early 1990s, and before I thought to produce shows. World For Ransom sang Star Spangled Banner at The Palo Alto Firebirds semi-pro soccer team games, my day-job in 1993. Billie Eyeball and band were headliners at The Donnas’ professional debut, at Cubberley, January 1995, a 4-act all female led lineup. (The Donnas performed as Ragady Anne — but I remember they had written some potential new band names on the chalkboard -! – in the green room, including the Tridents. And not to digress but Maya Ford told me just yesterday that she and Allison Robertson were already writing songs before meeting Brett at Jordan; they at Addison started the project and had a name that they never gigged under, not Ragady Anne. Actually Michael Ahern whose father played with Elvin Bishop came to the show as guests of Ragady Ann and was noodling on the backstage piano -! – and Margrit Eichler, of True Margit, on the bill — and related to both Joseph Eichler the architect and David Geffen the guru —  was stunned at his form, The Masked Men? — sorry Billie for the distraction from your our our story).

Billie Eyeball solo (actually with pka Joni Meloncramps, Noelle Hughes) played Earthwise 15 year show in 2009 at Bottom of the Hill (with…wait for it…Intersteller Grains featuring Justin Markovits the plumber drummer former Blue Eye Devil Mountain View grad, Rich Corny of The European Cobbler of Cali Ave near the Edge; Insects in Space featuring twin Palo Alto high grads Tommy Jordan of Geggy Tah and his sister — and poor Tom Jordan senior sat thru a bunch of other stuff he probably was not interested in, bless his heart, the first time we met – -and he was an advisor to me when I ran for City Council later that year, after meeting my eventual wife Terry Acebo Davis, or in 2012 I forget, but not notably in 2014; Chris Cotton, Mountain View grad and Blue Eyed Devil founder and former Yellow Dog recording artist; Alexis Harte I think; Lisa Fay Beatty as a duo but not with Carla Kihlsteadt but debuting as all the bands did either new material or new projects or new configurations; Lisa who in the Mudwimin — with my Terman classmate Mia Levin daugther of Henry Levin of the Stanford Education department played the first Cubberley Sessions / Palo Alto Soundcheck session, in October, 1994; maybe one moor; shot by Mickey Budziak a dear friend, who worked for years and years at Keeble and Shuchat.

World for Ransom had a song about “Sergeant York” that I learned the hook for before I had seen more recently at Stanford Theatre the Gary Cooper movie. It’s a big world, outside my door, or became one thanks to Billie and Dave (who was also my stage manager 100 shows, and recommended I book the tape from Dixie Chicks but I didn’t listen).

They lived on Cowper, downtown north, in the back.

From one twenty seven ninety five PAW:

Cutting edge at Cubberley

Fronted by singer/songwriter and Palo Alto resident Billie Eyeball (her real name, they say), the modern pop band World for Ransom will headline a four-band benefit concert this Saturday,Jan. 28, at the Cubberley Community Center. Known primarily to San Francisco audiences for songs like “Thank God for the Pill,” World for Ransom’s music has been dubbed “lush, eclectic and very listenable” by BAM magazine. Also, making its professional debut will be Ragady Ann, comprised of four students at Palo Alto High School, and a veteran favorite of local Battle of the Bands contests. The other two bands on the schedule are True Margrit and the Cat Cody Band, a hip-hop jazz act from Los Angeles. Tickets are $5 at the door. All ages are welcome. All proceeds will benefit the Women’s Cancer Resource Center in Berkeley and Family Service Midpeninsula’s teen hotline. For more information, call Earthwise Productions at 949-xxxx.(I guess that’s written by Monica Heyde, as compared to Robyn Israel, Jim Harrington or Karla Kane, or Rachel Metz or Allen Clapp).

And from Bottom of The Hill archive:

archiveBOTHand from the list — which could be it’s own article or post – it’s like looking at baby pictures, from summer, 1995 — how many of these bands do I know? how many of these bands did I see? how many of these bands did I book? how many of these shows did I see? To wit:

thelist1995

If Billie and David, who I saw a couple months ago at a Joe Zirker out show at FOG, send me a vintage photo, I’ll add

monicahaydeschreiber

but meanwhile here’s attorney monica hayde schreiber of palo alto

and1: this is a digression from World For Ransom, but too rich:

People: Bart Thurber: when Palo Alto rocked

“Basically, I hold the band’s hand throughout the entire recording process, and try to make it as fun and painless as possible.”

For the last four years, Bart Thurber has recorded more bands than he can count or remember. Bands with names like Tilt, Shovelhead, Minimal Criminal, the Guttersluts and Drug have walked the halls of his Palo Alto studio, House of Faith.

Born in Michigan, Thurber moved to Palo Alto at age 11, and a few years later began playing the guitar in local bands. Making music led him to an interest in recording it, which soon became a impassioned hobby. “The hobby got out of control,” he said.

So much so that it became a profession.

Thurber, who describes his age as “37 going on 90,” started House of Faith in 1990 in a 1,500-square-foot office building in the once-thriving, eclectic area of Urban Lane. His neighbors were potters, woodworkers, artists and craftspeople. In other words, people who liked quiet when they worked. “The neighbors used to call the cops and tell them we were devil worshipers,” he said.

“But its not against the law to be devil worshipers,” he joked. “Besides, how can we be devil worshipers, when we record Christian bands?”

If the noise didn’t get to people, the graffiti did. Every inch of space was covered with the stuff, which ranged from tame to not-so-tame. “The graffiti was unbelievable,” he recalled. “It wasn’t like gang tags, it was good graffiti, things people had drawn.”

Still, he is thankful no one called the “graffiti police.”

House of Faith provided local bands with one of the best–and least expensive–avenues for going professional. Palo Alto bands such as ETO, Daisy Chain and Smiley Face recorded with House of Faith.

Last year, however, the Palo Alto Medical Clinic bought the lot, and House of Faith became history. “We knew we were living on borrowed time, that at any month we could be thrown out. So I started to record as many bands as possible. I was on a mission from God.”

To keep things going, Thurber worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week. “I was doing one complete band project a day. Or at least I was trying to.”

The end came on Mother’s Day of this year, when several hundred friends and rockers gathered to help Thurber close the historic building. Some day, he jokes, the final day of the House of Faith will grow in people’s minds “like the 2 million that claim they were at Woodstock.”

As expected, House of Faith’s closing left many bands without a reasonably priced source for making demo tapes, which are crucial for getting booked into clubs.

Despite all the time effort and passion Thurber put into the studio, he has no resentment about the closure. “The Palo Alto Medical Clinic was very cool for letting us stay there as long as they did. They didn’t even say anything about the graffiti,” he said.

At the moment, Thurber is looking for a place in the South Bay to start House of Faith 2.

Unfortunately, Palo Alto is out of the question. “The city has a long memory,” he said.

Especially for graffiti and noise.

–Jim S. Harrington (I was actually trying to fact check the spelling of “Ragady Ann” — I think my wife made me toss the old file or flyers when we consolidated our households, recently; I also shredded 10,000 posters; tossed 200 audio-tapes)
Bart Thurber has a lifetime pass to Earthwise shows; it is on brown cardboard with a purple Kokopelli stamp and “life time pass” in my handwriting; I created one for Linda Perry in case she showed up for Stone Fox. 

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; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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