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A Musician from San Pedro, CA

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DIY or DIE: Thank you Mike Watt.

  • Apr 3, 2009
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Coming up on May 14th in Chicago I wll be going to see Mike Watt for, what I think will be my 36th time seeing him since 1986.  (Of course that will be followed up by a second show in Omaha on May 16th.)  Who would think that a man who started as a bass player for a seminal punk rock band (Minutemen) would end up having such an impact on my life. My cousin said it best in 1998:  "That was one of the most dynamic musical performances I have ever seen/heard."  This was in reference to the 3rd time I saw him perform the punk rock opera "Contemplating Engine Room".  4 of us converged on Portland, OR to see the show twice in one day:  once at Reed College in the afternoon, and once at a bar in downtown Portland.

Going to a Mike Watt concert is one of my simple joys, though with the grey spreading through my beard, I get a few looks from kids at the shows.  Of all the shows I have seen him at, only 1 or 2 were bad, due only to technical difficulties.  A consumate performer.  In addition, he has an uncanny knack for picking acompanying artists, especially drummers.  My friend Thomas once said, "It's so hard going to a Mike Watt concert.  I don't know who I should watch."  Yes we go to see Mike Watt.  But the talent that plays with him is so good, that the entire show just overwhelms your senses.

During one performance of the Contemplating Engine Room, the band went off on what seemed like an extended jam of the song "Liberty Calls".  It may have actually been just a normal arrangement of the song, but the performance took everyone to a different level that night.  The guy in front of me--who happened to be the guitar player from the opening band--summed it up 3/4 of the way through the song when he just got so moved he yelled "F***", and continued to groove the song.

For all you non punk rockers, don't get scared away from Mike Watt.  Give him a chance.  Buy the first fIREHOSE album (Ragin', Full-On), Try Contemplating Engine Room.  Listen to those bass lines.  Feel the groove that's been flowing out of San Pedro for almost 30 years.

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April 04, 2009
I think I saw Pair of Pliers on the one of the "Contemplatin' Engine Room" album. Can you remind me who they were?  You've inspired me now...I'll start reviewing all the albums, though it will be boring since I pretty much live on Watt's vibe.
April 03, 2009
Thanks for this review! You inspired me to start a new station on Pandora. Guess what the initial song is? You got it, "Windmilling"! Would love to see your takes on various Firehose and Minutemen albums. Also, did you ever see Pair of Pliers? An acquaintance of mine played drums on that tour, but I never got to see them.
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Tim Moore ()
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I work, I play, I work, I play...oh yeah, though it didn't happen last night, I also sleep.
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Michael Watt (b. December 20, 1957 in Portsmouth, Virginia) was the bass player for influential punk rock band The Minutemen. When he was young, Watt's family moved to San Pedro, California, where he became good friends with D. Boon. Watt and Boon picked up bass and guitar, respectively, and in the mid-1970s, they formed a band called The Reactionaries. The band later became The Minutemen, and drummer George Hurley was added to the lineup. After signing with SST Records in 1980, The Minutemen began touring constantly, releasing a number of albums along the way. Their music was based on the speed, brevity and intensity of punk, but included elements of jazz, folk, and funk. The Minutemen were ended tragically in December 1985, when Boon was killed in a van accident.

Watt and Hurley, despite originally intending to quit music altogether, formed fIREHOSE with a guitarist/ fan from Ohio named Ed Crawford. He also formed a group called Dos with his then-wife Kira Roessler. After three releases on SST, fIREHOSE signed with major label Columbia Records. Their music often sounded much like that of The Minutemen, though the songs became longer and more traditionally structured (generally, verse-chorus-verse). With the release of 1994's Mr. Machinery Operator, the band decided to call it quits.

After fIREHOSE, Watt began a solo career. His first album, Ball-Hog or Tugboat?, featured appearances from members of Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Soul Asylum, and Screaming Trees. He gained ...
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Musicians, Bass, Minutemen, San Pedro, Firehose, Mike Watt, Bass Player, Pedro, Thunder Broom
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