It’s been is a good year for The Go-Go’s. First came the fabulous Murder a Go-Go’s anthology of stories based on their songs and now the band is getting a long overdue documentary. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie when it arrives in theaters.
In the late 1970s, early 80s, my band played many of the same L.A. clubs the Go-Go’s were performing in at the time. They had created a local buzz long before their first record came out. I went to see them at the Whisky a Go Go and they already had that great mix of punky attitude and 1960s girl-group musicality. Beauty and the Beast came out about a year later and was a huge hit, as you probably know. The Go-Go’s were rightly celebrated as the first all-girl band to hit the top of the charts.
But they weren’t the first great all-girl rock band. That was Fanny. Their first album came out in 1970, ten years before the Go-Go’s arrived. Give a listen to to the song Blind Alley below. That’s right. Fanny rawked!
I was fourteen years old when I first saw/heard Fanny on the Midnight Special TV show. As best I can remember my reaction was, well…adolescent male confusion. They sounded like a real rock and roll band. But they were girls. Girls didn’t play music like that. I wasn’t anti girl rockers, but…my aspirations to become a rock star were closely related to my being a quiet, nerdy male person who played an instrument reasonably well. I joined other male persons of the same sort to make a loud, rhythmic and occasionally melodic sound. That’s what rock bands were supposed to be. And now there was this! Mind blown.
Other folks were probably as confused as I was, maybe more so. Fanny did pretty well for their time, considering the level of sexism in the music industry. A couple of their songs made it into the Top 100. David Bowie promoted them and Barbara Streisand hired them as her studio band. They toured with Jethro Tull, Slade, and Humble Pie (the last two seem like particularly good match).
Anyway, thanks to the wonders of internet and music streaming, you can now give Fanny the listen they deserved all those years ago. Some links below:
In Desert City Diva (both the book and the podcast), Rolly Waters’s investigation leads him to a late night rendezvous at a place known as Desert View Tower. Someone calls to him from the rocky boulders above – “Proceed to the Crocodile!”
You’ll have to read the book to know what happens next, but the crocodile and other animal sculptures described in the book are real. They’re part of what’s known as Boulder Park, adjacent to the Tower, with folk art carved by a man named Merle Ratcliff in the 1930s during the Great Depression.
I’m always looking for interesting locales and places in San Diego County to include in the Rolly Waters mystery novels. Desert View Tower and Boulder Park made a great setting for chasing after scofflaws and escaping from villains.
One thing I decided when we started putting together Desert City Diva: The Podcast was that we needed a theme song. Nothing says “high production values” like your own custom musical theme. I whipped out my trusty Garageband software and put together the number below:
Drums, bass, and a couple of repeated keyboard chords came first. I played around a bit and finally came up with a melody that had the right feel (and sounded guitarlike). Then a little tag for all the instruments to play at the end. Rolly’s Theme was born. Not exactly Hans Zimmer or Danny Elfman level scoring, but not bad for a podcast.
The theme did prove fairly malleable, though. After Kyrsten Hafso-Koppman, who plays Macy, started humming along with the tune during rehearsal, we captured her voice on tape and I built a slightly different version of the tune. I call this one Macy’s theme:
I passed the tune over to guitar pro (and former bandmate) Ian Vatet with instructions to “come up with an acoustic guitar version of this, like Rolly might play at home”. Here’s what he came up with:
Nice, huh? I think so.
There’s more music from the podcast posted on SoundCloud, including some “atmosphere” stuff and the blues jam Ian produced on his own (my instructions – “killer guitar player sits in with adequate garage band”).
One of the more enjoyable parts of the Desert City Diva Podcast production was the live recording where got to put it all together with our cast. Four actors played a total of ten different characters for the production. We had a blast! Here’s some photographs from the session.
Nancy Snow Carr will be appearing in Alice! at Lamb’s Players Theatre February 29 – April 12, 2020.
The Desert City Diva Podcast is now live. This ain’t one of those two guys sitting around a microphone things, but a full-on audio adaptation of my 2016 mystery novel. Professional actors! High production values! Heck, I even dusted off my compositional skills and wrote a musical theme. Put on those headphones, close your eyes, sit back and give it a listen. I’ll be posting more information soon.