|ALMOST FAMOUS – Round XIV
My Continuing Adventures As A San Francisco Rock (and Entertainment Event!) Journalist
By Kimberlye Gold
This month: Kimberlye’s adventures in LA-LA land!!!
Let it be known that our illustrious publisher of this little newsrag is not the only member of the dysfunctional SF Herald family (and all its new sister publications) to enjoy a spontaneous jaunt down to the City Of Angels. I actually used to live there back in the 80’s for several years - and have made the occasional trek across the country from NY or Nashville (or wherever the hell I was currently pursuing fame and fortune) to play a gig and visit friends. Since I was long overdue for a visit – and since it was Memorial weekend – I decided to let go of the truckloads of stuff currently weighing me down in my beautiful hometown and get the hell outta here and go have some fun, baby!
Saturday, May 25 – arrived in LA w/o a hitch. No guitar hassles
on the plane, terrorist attacks and the like to bum me out. Cool! Grabbed
my 1998 Toyota Corolla rent-a-car and drove up to lovely Brentwood to
hang w/ my good friends Brenda and Howard. Felt like I was right at home
and my troubles melted away immediately. After a pleasant Japanese dinner
in Hollywood, we headed over to Beverly Hills to check out The Backstage
Café (9433 Brighton Way Beverly Hills 310-777-0252) and meet Ian
Copeland, a frequent haunt and guest star in our publisher’s
Society Page whenever he makes the trip. I had to see what the deal was
for myself. Having just finished Ian’s fascinating book, “Wild
Thing” on the plane: his memoirs of a childhood growing up in the
Middle East as the son of one of the founding members of the CIA, his
stint in Viet Nam – all the way to his becoming one of the premier
innovators of how tour booking and management is conducted in the music
business today. HE accomplished this with his company Frontier Booking
International, F.B. I., after climbing the rock ‘n roll business
ladder for years. It’s chock full of colorful anecdotes, big name
bands like The Police .(His “little brother” Stewart was the
drummer for The Police) and his older brother Miles started I.R.S. Records,
home of the Go-Go’s, Blondie, and countless other ground breaking
acts with wild stories to match.
The Backstage Café is a comfy, casual neighborhood bar and restaurant,
by Beverly Hills standards. Gold records by the most famous artists and
bands in the world (all awarded to Ian Copeland, ‘natch) adorn the
walls, along with pictures of star after rock star. There is an upstairs
“V.I.P.” section which doubles as an odd live music/jam night/karaoke
stage on other nights of the week.
As the night and liquor flowed, Ian began to put on songs from the 60’s he loves and procceded to pick up a cordless microphone from behind the bar and sing along, like a happy MC. I didn’t recognize some of them, (thank God I’m younger than some people!) but Brenda did and soon they were serenading each other with hand gestures and facial expressions. It was hysterical. I joined in on songs I knew like, “Tell Her No’’ by The Zombies, “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks and “To Sir With Love” by LULU, all at the top of our lungs. Too fun! Ian took my CD, which was sitting on top of his book and said he would listen and give it to his music booker, Sean. I started taking pictures with my groovy disposable camera, and Ian grabbed it out of my hand, handed it to his bartender, put his arm around me and posed , holding a rose between us. What a character! Brenda and I both agreed his speaking voice sounded exactly like our old “friend” Huey Lewis. Weird.
As we were leaving, I told Ian I’d be in town a few more days and asked when it would be a good time to return. “Tomorrow night!” he chimed. Ian was having a very good time – I suspect he has a good time every night. When I said we couldn’t come tomorrow, but maybe Monday, he said, “Hey, you wanna go flying??” Flying?? “I have a plane. Here’s my card – call me and I’ll take you up!” Oh my God. We thought he was just messing around, having fun with us. Little did I know…
May 26 – Went to a great beach party in Redondo Beach, right on the sand, given by one of my oldest, dearest friends, David Baker, whose new CD “Ten For The Road” I reviewed a couple issues back) and his beautiful wife Leilani. Got to see some old friends and meet some cool new ones, play some music and just have a blast. Film composer/songwriter Mark Governor, who I’ve mentioned in this column a time or two, came with us and I dragged him to the Backstage later. Ian seemed happy to see me (he’s happy to see everybody, I’m sure) and when I asked him about flying, he said to call him first thing tomorrow a.m. at home! I did get up and sing some karaoke, Gladys Knight’s “Use My Imagination”. “She’s a pro”, the guy running it said. Thank yuh very much. Mark spent the rest of the night yelling at me that I should be making my money singing, no matter what it took. Everybody’s got an answer…
May 27 - Flying the friendly skies with Ian Copeland!! Told me he’d call back as soon as he found out what the weather conditions were and sure enough, he did ! Had us meet him at Santa Monica Airport at 2pm. There was no way Brenda and Howard were getting on this little four seater plane with someone they’d only seen partying all night, but I was game! I’d always wanted to fly like this and never thought I’d get an opportunity. Ian arrived serious and sober, in a Hard Rock Beirut T-shirt and jeans. Brenda and Howard took a picture of us on the wing, getting on the plane, like Errol Flynn and Amelia Earhardt. Ian waved.
I must admit, I was scared to death. But in a good way, like when you’re a kid getting on the biggest roller coaster in the world. Ian was very quiet and all business, as he strapped me in and put on my head set and showed me where all the controls were and stuff. He talked to the radio people, and soon we were taking off! Oh my God – words cannot describe what this felt like for the first time. Total exhilaration mixed with complete terror – but the fear wore off immediately and I was like a kid in a candy store in the sky! He showed me sights all the way past Long Beach, pointed out this landmark and that building and body of water. I got to take a picture of the Hollywood sign and on the spur of the moment, snapped one of Pilot Ian. Maybe you’ll see some of these on www.sfherald.com or in this issue!
All good things must come to an end, and so he landed the plane perfectly an hour later. Said he’s been flying for 20 years and goes up about once a week. His plane’s name is “Scarlett”, christened by its former owner, a 65 year old woman. “Bad luck to change the name”, he said. He had to go “shopping for specials” for the bar right after, so I thanked him for fufilling a lifelong fantasy of mine and he kissed me on the cheek. What a mensch, (Yiddish for cool guy) that Ian! (And to think that exactly 2 years ago that day, I was chatting with Gabriel Byrne in his dressing room. Another story for the “Almost Famous” archives…)
Later I met Brenda and Howard at a beautiful hotel on the beach in Santa Monica called Casa Del Mar to have a drink and calm the hell down from my jet setting. Tori Spelling was milling about. ( Where was Mr. Fabulous??) We decided to go shopping on Main Street and what did I find in a gift shop, but a box that said “Jet Pilot” and inside was a “soap on a rope” shaped like a PLANE!! Priceless! Well, actually, it cost a few bucks, but they wrapped it up with manly stuff and tied it with a, you-guessed-it, scarlett ribbon!! I dropped it off for Ian at the Backstage a couple days later and it was mission accomplished, ladies and gentlemen!! What a treat! Go to the Backstage Café and say hello to Ian for me!!
Got to have dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant in the whole world, El Coyote. They still have the cheapest and best food and drink in town on Beverly in Hollywood, hands down! Brenda and Howard and I met my good friend, Eric Gorfain, who I stayed with my last 2 days in town. He has played and recorded with me in Nashville and I’ve played with him in LA. He has just come off the road with an artist named Grant Lee Phillips, who used to have a band called Grant Lee Buffalo. Eric, a violin player who has toured with the likes of Page/Plant, has a killer state of the art recording studio called Quietstreet. E-mail him at email@example.com if you’re interested in recording in LA.
May 28 and 29 - Made a couple interesting music liscensing contacts and had a few good meetings and I’ll keep those under wraps until I have something concrete to report. I did get to go watch Eric sit in with some band and it turns out I knew the drummer, Lynn Coulter, from ten years ago!! And he still remembered me! AND a guy came in that I knew from somewhere, and it was the guitar player, Irwin Kramer, who played my very first gig with me in LA at a club called Genghis Cohen, when I started playing guitar again! He was so glad to see me, he asked me to send him a video of that gig! Saw a couple more friends, like Sean Solomon, who used to play bass with Ron Wood and now plays with Ivan Neville. Got to check out a new, cool little club called The Mint and hear a talented pop artist named Corinne May. Made me want to book a gig immediately! I love LA!
May 30 – Sadly, it was time to go back and face the San Francisco music. Ironically, I had just found out at the last minute that Bad Company was playing at the LA Greek Theater Friday night!!! I e-mailed Simon Kirke, who replied, “Darling, you must come to the Greek and see us! Can’t you change your flight?? Alas, I could not. Duty, family and a lack of funds were calling me home. But, man, did I have fun! I’ll be back! ###