I have been listening to live bands for as long as I can remember. When I was little more than 16 years-old, my father began taking me into Los Angeles jazz clubs in the sort of neighborhoods where food stands offered hot link sandwiches and sweet potato pie. In other parts of town, we regularly saw Carmelo Garcia, Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente and Poncho Sanchez. At the Chez Club in West Hollywood, we listened to Buddy Rich as he recorded his album Live at the Chez. I was in Las Vegas to watch Frank Sinatra sing backed by Count Basie with arrangements by Quincy Jones.
Later, when Matthew Ettiinger's night club--The Plush Bunny--became my second home, I was privileged to watch some of the best L.A. bands of the time performing live. Most memorable for me was El Chicano playing their current hit Viva Tirado. I was at The Troubadour when John Klemmer debuted his hit album Touch and was there to see Jennifer Warnes launch an album of her own. I attended numerous Chicago concerts including Saturday in the Park when they played with the Doobie Brothers and at Anaheim when they played with the Beach Boys and I thought the stadium was literally going to collapse. For a time, I hung out with people at Buddah-West (the West Coast office of Buddah records) shortly after Neil Bogart left to start Casablanca Records. Buddah's flagship act was Gladys Knight & The Pips and I learned a lot about music in that environment. Bobby Gaiters, who had played for the Giants and the 49ers in the NFL, was the A&R guy and I learned a lot from him about the music business.
Last Wednesday as we were leaving our Elysée Wednesday gathering on the Sunset Strip, a converted school bus pulled to the curb and a gypsy woman beckoned us onto the bus. Instinctively, I climbed aboard and the others in our group followed me. What we found in the back of the bus--known as the Mothership--was a three-member band called Interstellar Transmissions featuring Gavin McGowen (guitars), Nathan Wilson (drums) and William Jerome (keyboards). The 'gypsy woman' was Ishani Ishaya a captivating fire and dance performer. What we experienced on the bus made every other band experience seem like 'old school'.
On their Facebook page, the band states: "We compose this music with an intention to exalt, illuminate, uplift, and empower. It is the sound of us saluting all of the amazing and inspiring beings that we have been blessed and honored to know." I have read similar liner notes on albums where you knew for a certainty that the words were PR
spin written by a label flack attempting to resonate a potential following. Such is not the case with Interstellar Transmissions for, upon watching and hearing them perform, one is immediately aware of their intent without ever having read their mission statement. It is what they do. It is what they are. They have managed to rise above all the definitions that could be applied to them.
Although we took photos and videos of the performance Wednesday night with our iPhones as the bus cruised the Sunset Strip, I determined to return with a 'real' camera and record their performance for a segment of Elysée Wednesday: Drive! So it was that the bus came to collect us in Venice where a few of us were having a picnic on the beach and enjoying the full moon. We cruised the streets of Venice as I filmed the performance enjoying every aspect of the experience. An hour and a half later, they returned us to the picnic still in progress at one-thirty in the morning.
Were I asked for my note, it would be: This transcends the experience of a band playing on a bus--it is an alternate universe of sensual, intellectual and spiritual pleasure...
This very special evening with Interstellar Transmissions will be presented as a segment of Elysée Wednesday: Drive! Episode 2. In the meantime, you might want to join them on Facebook