I love talking movies with Chip Franklin, a radio host at KGO 810 AM in San Francisco. He’s a stand-up comedian, as well as a film lover. He’s also a singer/guitarist, and when I was on his show Friday I was reviewing the great documentary Echo in the Canyon (you can read the review here: https://fox5sandiego.com/2019/06/04/echo-in-the-canyon/ )
As we talked about our shared love of some of these ‘60s bands, he said that he saw a survey online asking what the best “California” song was. So his show had us all debating it (I couldn’t decide between California Dreamin’ or California Girls, because I thought it had to have “California” in the title). He said the best was Good Vibrations. And yes, the Beach Boys and the Mamas and the Papas are featured heavily in Echo, and I spent my Saturday night watching it again. That’s because Jakob Dylan was in town at a few theatres doing a Q&A with director/music producer Andrew Slater. After the Q&A, many of the band members were going to put on a mini concert (with vocalist Jade Castrinos from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros).
My wife and I showed up a little late, but having the good parking karma I’ve got, I found a spot in the second row. As we were walking up to the theatre, my wife pinched my arm. I looked at her and she said, “I think Jakob Dylan just walked by us!”
He was wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap, so I’m not sure how she recognized him. But then I forgot about how much she was drooling whenever he was on the screen when we first watched Echo in the Canyon, and how her Wallflowers CD has been put into her Mustang recently. Anyway, I turned back around and followed him. He sat in the seats near the valet parking and I asked if he was Jakob. He confirmed he was, and I told him I gave his movie a good review. He thanked me and said, “Cool shirt.”
I looked down, having forgotten that I wore my Buffalo Springfield tee for the occasion (they’re featured heavily in the documentary). I said, “I understand why you didn’t have anything about Arthur Lee & Love, because they’re a bit obscure and you guys had the bigger bands from that era. I just love them, though.”
His eyes lit up and he said, “Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff we couldn’t fit in there. But we do a Love song, No Matter What You Do, on the soundtrack.”
I told him they’re such an underrated ‘60s band. He said, “Well, he didn’t want to leave L.A. They never toured anywhere.”
I responded with, “They were huge in Europe and Elektra wanted them to go there, but they were all holed up in a mansion they lived in off the Sunset Strip, and they were content to just get high and hang out. I’m thrilled you guys covered a song for the soundtrack, though. I figure when you do a documentary like this you have 500 hours of footage and have to figure out what to put in and take out.”
He replied, “There was a lot of footage and sometimes we’d get some good stories that were really funny, but it didn’t really fit in with what we were doing, so we left them out.”
I told him I was glad that there were some of the same people I saw in the documentary “Under the Covers” but they told different stories. He asked what that was and I explained, “It’s a small documentary they did about Henry Diltz.”
Dylan excitedly said, “We had some interviews with Diltz, too. They didn’t make it in.”
“I did notice you used some of his photographs in the movie, which was cool to see.”
He went on to explain, “At the Q&As I’ve been doing, everyone is asking me why Joni Mitchell wasn’t in there, or The Doors. There’s just so much that we couldn’t cover.”
[at the Q&A that night, somebody asked why he didn’t have the Velvet Underground in it, to which he replied, “Well, they were the East Coast, and we were focusing on the West Cost.”]
I said how thrilling it was to see all the footage of Tom Petty, and I added, “That might be the only interviews I’ve seen where both Ringo Starr and David Crosby were in good moods. I tried to talk to Crosby once and he was just angry.”
Dylan laughed and said, “He can be a cranky guy.”
I was getting ready to leave, because I didn’t want him to feel he got suckered into doing an interview when he may have wanted to just chill out before the event. So I said, “Thanks for doing such a great documentary. I have to watch so many movies, and sometimes documentaries can be boring.”
He then asked if I’ve seen the one about David Crosby yet. I said, “No, I just saw the trailers for it the other day. I hope people don’t think they should wait for that, and not see this.”
He then told me a story about the difficulty of working on this while that documentary was being made, and it reminded me of my days as a DJ at a classic rock station, and how we’d often compete with other stations in town to get guests.
When we got to the ArcLight, I was thrilled to see Tonya Mantooth of the San Diego International Film Festival. It turns out, she was going to be interviewing Dylan and director/music producer Andrew Slater.
It was a sold-out crowd, and they loved the movie.
Mantooth did a great interview, as always. She asked Dylan how he got such famous musicians to open up. He admitted he’s not a journalist, and because he sometimes felt awkward when reporters ask him certain questions or things from five years ago, he felt he related to them a bit. The only one he had known previously was Tom Petty (the documentary was dedicated to him, and you’ll see lots of him sharing great stories in what’s one of his last interviews).
When the audience got to ask questions, I felt guilty being the first to raise my hand. I had already gotten enough of Jakob’s time earlier in the day. But I asked why Stephen Stills seemed to have problems talking, as if he had throat surgery…and why when we see Tom Petty enthusiastically grabbing a Rickenbacker 12-string, or Roger McGuinn (The Byrds) strumming certain songs before telling us stories about them…why did they decide to have Ringo in front of a silver Firebird?”
The audience laughed. My wife leaned in and said, “That was rather rude of you to ask.”
Slater told us that Stills is having problems with hearing loss and that makes it hard for him to hear his own voice when he’s speaking. He then chuckled and said, “We thought having Ringo by the car was cool. You see Gary Lockwood driving around in that old MGB in the clips of the movie Model Shop. Jakob didn’t look as cool in the green MG, but…when we pulled up to the house, we just thought it would look good. Sometimes you see interviews with musicians from the ‘60s and there will be a plant in a weird position behind them, or just one light. These guys are in their 70s and are cool. We thought we should make them look cool.”
The crowd then burst into applause.
Someone else asked a great question, about why Neil Young wasn’t interviewed and was there anybody else they wanted to get but couldn’t.
Dylan said, “It was hard enough to get Young to play on the song, and we liked how the ending worked with him playing that psychedelic solo and the guitar dropping. So we didn’t think it was necessary.”
Slater added, “I would’ve liked to have gotten Gene Clark (The Byrds).”
I was thinking…Clark had an album called “Firebyrd.” They could’ve also had him stand in front of a Firebird.
That question prompted someone to ask about The Wrecking Crew, and how since they were such a big part of a lot of the albums mentioned in the film (Pet Sounds, The Byrds, etc.), he wondered why they weren’t mentioned. Dylan said the same thing I was thinking: “They were instrumental in all those records, and there’s also already a great movie about them [The Wrecking Crew from 2008].”
After a number of questions, we all headed out to the patio of the ArcLight to watch the band perform.
I was talking to Tonya when a guy came over to compliment the job she did moderating the event. He then said, “There’s a local connection you may not realize. Chris Hillman, who went to San Dieguito High School.”
I said, “Yeah, I knew he was local. He was in the Flying Burrito Brothers, too (easily one of the best band names of all time).”
He talked about Hillman donating items for a charity San Dieguito put on.
The concert was a great production for such a small venue. There were colored lights and some lasers, and it wasn’t just an acoustic show. They had keyboards, drums, bass, and guitars.
Jade Castrinos sounded amazing on their version of The Mamas and the Papas’ beautiful ballad “This is Dedicated to the One I Love.”
It’s hard to find someone with the voice of Mama Cass, but this version was just as good.
They also played “Go Where Ya Wanna Go” (the story behind that song you find out in the film).
Dylan said, “This is the best venue I’ve ever played.”
As the crowd of over 100 started clapping, he admitted, “I say that in all the venues. It could be Chattanooga, Las Vegas, New York. If I say that, everyone gets excited and starts applauding.”
A woman then shouted, “Thanks for not doing this in L.A.”
Dylan thought she said, “Why aren’t you doing this in L.A.?”
Once that got straightened out, he said, “Now we’re going to do a song by Love.”
I screamed and raised my fist. He looked up and said “Oh, so we have some Love fans.”
He then added, “It would be confusing if I said this was a ‘love song’ so I’ll say, it’s a song by the band Love. Arthur Lee and Love.”
They then went into a song off of Love’s debut album — No Matter What You Do. I’m not sure if they did it because I brought up Arthur Lee earlier in the day. One of my prouder moments was talking Ray Davies (The Kinks) into doing Waterloo Sunset here in San Diego, and it was the only show on his tour where he performed it.
I can’t remember the last song they did. I was on cloud nine. It was such a thrilling evening, I forgot to grab some gelato next door to the theatre.