Thanks so much for the interview... Can you give us some background on yourself?
Kenny: I moved to Los Angeles, CA in 1977 from Miami, Fl with my sister and mother after my dad passed away. It wasn't until 1979-1980 that I first heard punk music, in the form of the occasional 'novelty' songs that Dr. Demento played (a lot of folks I know had their first exposure to punk in this way.)
I was a weird kid, not a shrinking violet by any stretch, but as an east coaster in Los Angeles I felt a little off. I liked to skateboard and collect butterflies and shoot off model rockets and the like, but then I heard David Bowie and DEVO and The Ramones and I knew this music I had just 'discovered' held something more for me.
When I first went out exploring in Los Angeles I was 14 years old, it was early 1982, and my mom thought I was playing Dungeons & Dragons at my friend's house when, really, Bob Bonehead and I took a bus up to The Whiskey, walked from there to The Starwood, and then to Oki-Dog. The venues were not hosting any punk shows that night, but when I arrived at this unassuming little burger shack on Santa Monica the place was overflowing with punk rockers of every shape and size! I was a pretty young guy and somewhat intimidated, with little to no social skills to speak of, and didn't really know anyone. I just sat there on a bench in awe at how comfortable I was feeling being amongst these cool-looking punk rockers who were drinking and joking and having a blast! While I was sitting there, this huge black guy with blue hair (who turned out to become a lifelong friend in Marlon Whitfield) came up to me, looked down, and then smiled and handed me a flier for the Weirdos, Legal Weapon and Mad Society gig the next week at the Starwood. That was my very first show, and I was hooked! If you went to a gig at The Starwood, well you know what I am talking about. The place is more than infamous at this point, and I feel pretty fortunate to have seen three very cool gigs there before it was closed down. There was no turning back.
Punk Globe: Tell us about The LADS?
Kenny: The LADS celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2010, and we have been hosting BBQ's and other events over the past few years at Blue Star and other venues in Los Angeles. A number of our club members are still active in the punk scene and many still play in bands, such as Bad Religion, The Disgustingtons, The Liquor Locos, and my own group, Spermometers. Many are pursuing other creative endeavors as artists, filmmakers and the like. The club has a name and reputation, which mostly stems from the fact that we were around so long ago and have survived to this day, but also we are pretty guarded about our history, and there are lots of misconceptions and bad information out there about the LADS. We plan to release our story one day.
Punk Globe: I remember seeing you in New York City at The Continental with Toni DMR and Nick Marden. That was so wild. What brought you to NYC?
Kenny: I was in New York hanging out with my friend Steve Read, with whom I played in Bad Example from 1982-1984 in Los Angeles and New York. That was a crazy night, what little I recall, and I remember being pretty drunk already when we ran into you and your entourage at Continental. We all walked down to CBGB to see what was going on there. I recall running into Victor, from Reagan Youth, that night at CBGB, who I remembered from my year residing in NY in 1984, and it was cool to see him too. A fun night...
Punk Globe: I remember I was there with a movie Tweak City that II had done with Giuseppe Andrews. It seemed like you had just flown in for a couple days am I right?
Kenny: I was just there for the one night in the city. I just flew out there to visit my friend, then spent the next day in Long Island visiting my aunt.
Punk Globe: The next time I hear that you are booking a venue in Northern California.. Tell us about that?
Kenny: After living in San Francisco (where you and I met in 1987) until 1999, I moved inland (just a bit) to the Davis/Sacramento area, where I got married, raised my children (still youngsters now) and played a lot of music.
I stumbled into a venue in Woodland, CA one night called The Stag, to see locals Firepie (RIP Ken Mackerel) and The Nits kicking ass. The bar was tiny and really reminded me of the Chatterbox in SF for some reason, even though it looked nothing like the place, it just had the same family feel as the venerable SF bar. I was working with friend and fellow promoter, Casey Sharp, and I started doing live sound out there, then eventually started booking Saturday nights when Casey went off on a tour in the military. I booked there for two years and had many fun shows!
Punk Globe: Had you done and booking or promoting shows prior to that?
Kenny: I have always booked and promoted my own bands as well as friends bands. In the early 1980's, as you may recall, many venues in Los Angeles had shut their doors to punk music, and it wasn't always easy to get shows in LA unless you really knew folks or were a 'name' band. Bad Example always put on its own shows, and we would find random places and venues (such as the Masonic Temple on Hollywood Blvd – (now the world-famous El Capitan Theater) to host our brand of fun. We put on probably 10-20 independent shows in Los Angeles back then.
When I moved to San Francisco in 1987 I jumped onto the Verbal Abuse road crew. Scotty Wilkins, who was singing with VA at the time, is a good friend. That connection eventually springboarded me into an occasional stage-hand position at The Farm, the amazing stomping grounds for punk shows in SF for many years. I met tons of cool folks there and fell in love with San Francisco and the underground music scene there. I lived with Bambi Nonymous from Mudwimmin. Her husband Buz and I started our own band, Tunnel Creeps, in 1988, and we played a bunch of great gigs in the bay area.
When the Covered Wagon Saloon started doing shows in SF I was part of the first crew that worked there for the first two years (including Liz, Kyle, Val Stadler and Greta Snyder.) Everyone and every punk genre was represented by the booking practices at the CW. GWAR, Angry Samoans, Nirvana, Operation Ivy, Mudhoney, NOFX, The Mentors, GG Allin and The Fastbacks played the bar, as well as your own White Trash Debutantes and many other great San Francisco and Bay Area bands. I booked occasional Sunday matinee gigs there (though I mostly just worked the door), and Liz and Kyle booked the regular Thurs-Sat shows. Mia from Frightwig took over booking, and continued for another few years with excellent gigs there before it closed down. It reopened as Annie's Social Club, but a few years ago Annie stopped doing shows there and I heard she sold the bar. (R.I.P. CW and Annies!) I understand the space is still open, but I have no idea what they are doing there now.
Punk Globe: Now you are back in the Los Angeles area and you are promoting shows at The Blue Star! Tell us about the venue?
Kenny: We started out at Blue Star in summer 2008, when the venue played host to the 2nd Annual LADS BBQ and LA Punk Rock Reunion. By the time the 3rd Annual rolled around in 2009, I was planing my move back to Los Angeles, then ended up, once I relocated, forming a promo company (DSKI) with a few LA scene vets, and we booked shows there 2-3 times a month in 2010 and also this year.
We have had some amazing shows at Blue Star over our run there, including The Gears, The Controllers, The Livingstons, Nervous Gender, Savage Republic, Saccharine Trust, The Grim, The Stains, The Deadbeats, Decry and tons of other classic LA punk bands of every stripe. I tend to book these old-time favorite bands of mine a lot, and I like to pair them up with younger (or, rather, if not younger) newer or 'newish' bands in my bookings.
Are there other promoters working there also?
Kenny: Other promoters do book shows there, most notable in my mind being Joe Dana (of Pu$$y Cow and Razorcake fame), who books pretty cool punk/pop-punk shows there, and also Lauri S. books some pretty cool metal/stoner rock shows there.
Punk Globe: When I went to The Blue Star with my pals Jackson and Coleman from Elephant when they played there. I had a great time.. You had a good sound system there.. Who is working the sound?
Kenny: The sound crew there consists of Jason Cozens, Keith (from The Bloody Brains) and myself, although I only occasionally do/did live sound there. Being an outdoor venue, live sound at the Blue Star can occasionally be tricky, but both Jason and Keith do an excellent job with the sound there. I think it was Keith working that night.
Punk Globe: The Blue Star reminds is almost like a house party . It is so cool and laid back. Don't you think Kenny?
Kenny: It's part of the vibe we've tried to create with the bands and events DSKI has booked there, but nothing happens in a vacuum, as is said, and of course it is my personal belief that the bands and the patrons who show up to the venue make the place such a treasure. But that can be said with most any venue, though Blue Star does have some advantages (location, layout, etc.) which help make that particular venue a laid back place to party and see great bands.
Punk Globe: What has been your most successful show so far?
Kenny: The most successful shows from a financial standpoint have also probably been some of the most fun.
Last season we hosted the Los Angeles premiere of the film “History Lesson, Part 1”, featuring early (1984) footage of Minutemen, Twisted Roots, Redd Kross and Meat Puppets. Filmed by local scene stalwart and cellist-extraordinaire for the mighty Carnage Asada, Mr. Dave Travis, the show was a huge success financially, but also the bands who played were killer, and the movie was great (I already mentioned Saccharine Trust and The Controllers, but HB legends The Crowd, and SST-records faves Lawndale also appeared on that bill.)
The other two hugely successful shows have happened this season, and have been the Nervous Gender/Deadbeats/Human Hands/Elephant show that you mentioned attending, and then last month the venue hosted Savage Republic, Carnage Asada, Ravens Moreland (featuring Bruce Moreland from Wall of Voodoo ) and Secret Society in Smaller Lies, a very cool new band from Louisiana that I got turned onto via Laura Feline and her promo company. Check them out Punk Globe readers, they are fucking great!!
Punk Globe: Tell us about the gigantic Halloween Bash at the Blue Star?
Kenny: The 2nd Annual Duchess DeSade Halloween Sextravaganza is being moved from the Blue Star to another venue, along with some of my other gigs. I am not booking at Blue Star anymore. As much fun as I had at the Blue Star, I could not always meet their bar guarantees, and the management group there in the past year has been pretty adamant about ALL of my shows making the minimum guarantee, where in years past it was not as much a concern. I don't like signing contracts unless someone is paying ME, haha, and I don't think contracts are very punk rock, but I get it. As the venue becomes more well-known I'm not sure independent promoters will have as much access there. We will see. The local publication LA Record has been hosting indie-rock shows there every other Friday night to huge crowds, and I guess they always make their bar guarantees.
Punk Globe: Who is playing the Sextravaganza event?
Kenny: The event will be Friday October 28th and will feature, in addition to the Duchess' band, your very own White Trash Debutantes and local rising talent Mary Powers and her band Death On The Radio. There will be an opener too, TBA, and location TBA too.
Punk Globe: You are also booking The Housecoat Project for their Record Release Party in Los Angeles.. Tell us about that.
Kenny: The venue will NOT be the Blue Star, again, with some sadness, but I am very excited about this gig.
On November 11th, Meri St. Mary and Jay Crawford and the rest of The Housecoat Project are coming down to Los Angeles to promote a record release for 'GirlFiend'. Recorded more than 20 years ago and held in the vaults at Subterranean Records in San Francisco, the record is finally mixed, mastered and out! HP has reportedly had pretty successful and fun record release parties in recent months in San Francisco and Nevada City. I saw HP last year at the Eagle in SF after 20 years, and they were better than ever! I personally can not wait to hear this record, and see them live again, as HP has long been one of my favorite bands. Meri St. Mary is a punk rock institution, poet, chanteuse and general good egg, so please come out to this show. If you have not seen or heard The Housecoat Project, I promise you will not be disappointed!!!
Punk Globe: Meri St. Mary has been a long time friend of us both... Are you planning anything special that night?
Kenny: I am going to drink a bunch of whiskey and pogo around like a teenager, is that what you were getting at? In all seriousness (though I likely will be both drinking whiskey AND pogoing around like a teenager that night), Meri wants the gig to be special, and DSKI will do whatever we can to make it such. We are going to arrange some spoken word/poetry folks to come out in-between bands, and Meri may also read some of her poems. I am trying to get Fancy Space People to play this gig with them, as they played the SF record release, but so far Paul Roessler has been unable to convince Don Bolles to play this date for whatever reason. I trust Paul will do all the work he can to get FSP on this bill, and I feel they would be a perfect complimentary band for Housecoat Project to gig with.
Punk Globe: Any other shows you would like to plug?
Kenny: I am hosting an Open Mic night, the last Tuesday of every month, at Liquid Zoo in Van Nuys, called Thirsty Liver Tuesdays. It's been a fun to play solo again, as I had not done it in a while. Come on out and rock, punks!
Spermometers, a band I drum for, is playing the Pink Motel in Sun Valley on October 1st with JFA and a few others. The pool will be drained and open for skating, and a skateboard demo will also go down featuring pro skateboarders. Spermometers are also playing a benefit show on October 14 at The Vu Ultra Bar, in Newhall, CA. The benefit is called “Tacos for Ta-Ta's” and is a breast cancer awareness benefit, the funds of which will be funneled to local organizations heading up cancer research. At least that's what they tell me, so we are going for it!! The Vu is a cool space too, and I am looking forward to playing that gig.
Punk Globe: Do you have any Website addresses for people to get information about upcoming shows...
Punk Globe: What does the rest of 2011 and 2012 hold in store for you Kenny?
Kenny: I've got three more promotions planned and also a few gigs for my band lined up (in addition to the above shows, DSKI also has a show coming up with Circle One, Decry and NASA Space Universe, location TBA.) I've been doing a lot of recording as well, and I have a mobile live recording rig, so if you want me to record your band please get in touch, as I assure you no one has better prices than I do for mobile recording. Your studio, my studio, or live gig recordings. Punk rock special for you!!!
Punk Globe: Do you have contact information you would like to share for bands looking for a show?
Folks can write me at my FB page above, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Punk Globe: Any parting words for Punk Globe readers?
Kenny: Keep after it. Keep making your bands and zines and art. As the mighty Flipside Magazine opined for many years, “be more than a witness,” and my thoughts echo that sentiment exactly. It is my mantra. Quit talking about it and go do something already, no one is going to do it for you! And thanks for reading Punk Globe!
And thanks for the love and opportunity to say my piece here Ginger!!!
Punk Globe would like to thank Kenny for the very candid and informative interview... If you are in southern California bee sure to come to the Halloween Sextravganza Show... Check Kenny's Facebook Page for details....