Jim Guittard’s Place

February 16, 2003

Posted in Life by guittard on February 16, 2009

So it has been six years since an eventful night in my life.  I can still remember quite well.  I was living in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles at the time.  For three years, I was hitting the pavement in hopes of being a known musician.  But something knocked me down.

What knocked me down was a robbery.  It was in my Los Feliz apartment.  The place was ransacked and trashed and death threats were written all over the walls.  Why did it happen?    Because of shady contacts.  Yep!  Los Angeles has quite a bit.   The cops were called and the chips fell.

I was not in the apartment at the time of the robbery but had been there right before and left to go to a hotel in Pasadena because of a funny feeling.  I thought about taking my guitars but I didn’t and so three were stolen.  My apartment was broken into and a 12 String Guild acoustic, Electric Fender B-Bender and a Fender Jazz Bass were stolen. 

I was betrayed in a big way.  I now forgive the people that were responsible.  I never got the guitars back.  They may be around Los Angeles somewhere.  My Rickenbackers survived the robbery.  I guess they are a bit holy. 

It is good for you to be stripped of your possessions at times.  What is it anyway?  Property and meaningless.  I picked up my guitars again after recovering back in Texas from the whole ordeal.

 The door was busted open and it said something like “West Side Gangsters” written on the inside of the door.  Straight into the apartment ahead was my bedroom, the door was shut but hanging on the door was a note of some kind saying something like, “We know where you are and will kill you.”  My entrance was the second door on the lower level as the picture will show. 

Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California

los-feliz-los-angeles-california

 I remember rightfully being paranoid while inside and found a suspicious looking thing that I didn’t know what it was.  It almost looked like a handmade bomb.  I called the police out again and this was in 2003 you know and the cops came out with their dogs to see what it was.  It was nothing.  They taped off the whole street and I sat on a wall down the street and played like I knew nothing.  It was embarrassing.  Old ladies were being escorted across the street and I just said, “must be a terrorism scare or something” when people would ask what was going on.

So for a week, I stayed at the Westway Inn across from the Pasadena City College.  It was a new low and I wondered what to do next.  I had actually put a down payment down on a new apartment that was cheaper and in Van Nuys, California.  When I got on the phone with mom, she said it was time to come home.  I got a U-Haul and got out of there.   I maxed out my Discover Card and lost the deposit on the both apartments.  I hadn’t even moved into the second one.  Let’s just say I was depressed as everything.  

Back in Texas, I didn’t pursue charges.  It wasn’t worth it.  I had been through enough and so had the person I was trying to help.  God knows what happened and I let it go.  I think I made the right decision. 

The Pasadena Westway Inn

westway-inn-pasadena-california

 I wrote a song around this time about the thing I was dealing with.  It’s called “Confusion, Lies, Guns, and Drugs.”  The song is country-rock and I was listening to a lot of Johnny Cash at the time so it came out this way. 

 Confusion, Lies, Guns, and Drugs

The lyrics are:

Confusion, Lies, Guns and Drugs

I woke up this morning half past two.
My only problem is where are you.
You ran off with another guy.
I don’t know why.

Confusion, Lies, Guns and Drugs. 2X

We’ve been through this many a time.
It’s starting to be a crime.
Give up the jerk with the gun.
Let’s have some fun.

Confusion, Lies, Guns, and Drugs 2X

I just don’t know what you see in him.
It seems like it’s just a whim.
He doesn’t like you for who you are.
It’s just a game.

Confusion, Lies, Guns, and Drugs 2X

Ya gotta clear your mind, choose the Way.
It’ll be a brand new day.
Give up the junk and soon you’ll see.
I promise you.

No more confusion, lies, guns and drugs. 2X

Feel free to download my “California Daze” album for free that I did in 2002 here:
California Daze

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Introducing the Ragas Art by Henry McGuinn

Posted in Music, The Arts by guittard on January 30, 2009

Here are some paintings done by Henry McGuinn.  They are quite colorful and much like the “Yellow Submarine” cartoon of the Beatles.  During that time, Henry and I watched the Yellow Submarine a thousand times.

Jim with 12-String Rickenbacker and Korg

jim-guittard-with-rickenbacker-by-henry-mcguinn

 The Ragas at Topanga Beach

the-ragas-playing-at-topanga-beach

 Jim Sleeps In Bush On PCH Near Malibu

jim-sleeps-in-bush

 The Car Chase

the-car-chase1

 3 of Clubs in Hollywood

jim-at-3-of-clubs

 Jim Drinking Stout for Breakfast at Neptune’s Lounge – Topanga Canyon

jim-at-neptunes-lounge

Thanks Henry.  The art is rad and really sums up my life in 2000.  Cheers.  Jim Guittard

Listen to a live show of the Ragas. 

The Ragas Live 2000

The Ragas Release Free Album

Posted in Music, Neo-psychedelia, Psychedelic by guittard on June 3, 2008

Well I just wanted to let people know that Henry McGuinn and I have released an album on the free download site Jamendo.

The songs are from 2000 when we were establishing our band the Ragas in the beginnings of the Neo-Psychedelic scene in Hollywood.

I had enough foresight to let my 4-track roll. The tunes are pretty raw but I think captures the essense of the Ragas. We named our group the Ragas after sitar royalty Ravi Shankar and the style of raga rock music that the Beatles and the Byrds came up with.

Basically, Henry and I would jam tunes and record them and then trek out for Indian food on the Sunset Strip. It was fun times.

I hope you will download for free at:

The Ragas at Jamendo

All the Best,
Jim

Slow Pace of the Ragas

Posted in Music by guittard on May 27, 2008

Henry and I are sorting out the order of our album we will put out soon. The songs are all very nice. You’ll experience the raw organic world of the Ragas as it was back in 2000 in Los Angeles.

It’s part of my history and of course a part of the underground Byrds scene. Henry is the son of the Byrds founder, Roger McGuinn.

I am glad I let my 4 track roll during our Raga rehearsal sessions in my Hollywood pad that overlooked Capital Records. There are also some tracks from our trek down to Austin, Texas. My brother of Flat People helped out on the bass.

I’ll keep you posted.

Creative Passionate Types

Posted in Change, Music, Neo-psychedelia, Psychedelic, Society by guittard on May 22, 2008

The creative pursuit is one of the most important things one can do. Sometimes the creative types are a bit fiery and extreme in their thinking. But, isn’t this good though? Creative types bring the passion into society and really are the catalyst to make things happen.

More and more people in America are waking up to what’s going on. Right now, an underground scene is emerging. We are in the midst of the “3rd Wave of Psychedelic” music. The first wave was with the Beatles, the Byrds, the Jefferson Airplane, Love, Strawberry Alarm Clock, the 13th Floor Elevators, Pink Floyd and many others. The second wave had two offshoots: the 1980’s “Paisley Underground” scene in Los Angeles with such bands as the Bangles, the Dream Syndicate, the Three O’clock, Green On Red, the Secret Syde, and Rain Parade. The British offshoot included the post “new wave” bands such as XTC, the Soft Boys, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Shamen, and Doctor and the Medics.1

The “3rd Wave” was born in 2000. The wave is spreading out, now. It consists of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Tyde, Beachwood Sparks, the Quarter After, the Warlocks, the Lovetones, the Telescopes, Spindrift, the High Dials, Floorian, the Black Angels, Silver Apples. (My music fits in this wave. I co-write a song with Dominic Campanella from the Quarter After back in 2001.)

Beach by Jim Guittard

“Beach”

I look up into the sky
See the clouds and colours all around.
I hear the waves go in and out
See the birds and stars tonight.

Chorus

Going with the rising tide.
Shouldn’t wait till morning time.
Moments pass as I decide.
Shouldn’t wait till morning time.

I tell myself the reason why.
Waters flow and there’s no turning back.
Reaching for the horizon line,
Where it ends has only just begun.

Chorus

Going with the rising tide.
Shouldn’t wait till morning time.
Moments pass as I decide.
Shouldn’t wait till morning time.

Drifting through my open mind,
Ray of light about to shine.

Music by Jim Guittard 2001
Words by Jim Guittard and Dominic Campanella of the Quarter After

The Quarter After

We shall see how things progress from here. The world needs freethinkers and people with passion to guide the way. No need to dumb things down anymore. As the New Hampshire motto says, “Live Free or Die.”  America really is at a crossroads.  It is time for decisions.


up1Wikipedia contributors. Psychedelic music. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. May 21 2008, at 23:57. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychedelic_music. Accessed May 22, 2004.

Rodney Bingenheimer

Posted in Music, Rock and Roll History by guittard on May 14, 2008

Mayor of Sunset Strip
From my journal on May 5, 2004 – Dallas Texas

I went to see the movie about Rodney Bingenheimer called “The Mayor of Sunset Strip.” He is a guy that hung with many of the core music people of the 1960s and 1970s. Rodney was Davy Jones’ double for the Monkees Television series. Rodney knew Sonny and Cher and the Beatles.

He is most known for being the groundbreaking radio DJ for KROQ 106.7 in Los Angeles. He was first in putting on “the Runaways, Blondie, the Ramones, Social Distortion, Van Halen, Duran Duran, Oasis, the Donnas, No Doubt, Coldplay, Dramarama, the Offspring, the Go-Go’s, the B-52’s, X, the Vandals, and others.”1

The movie is a nostalgic documentary that shows much of my old stomping ground: the Tower Records on Sunset Blvd., Canter’s Deli on Fairfax Avenue, and the Denny’s Restaurant on Sunset Blvd. near the Guitar Center. There’s even a bit showing a crippled guy who polishes the stars along Hollywood Boulevard.2

Rodney also made his own English Disco Club that operated for awhile in Los Angeles. To me, Rodney’s a strange guy. I’ve never met him but I had a friend in L.A. that knew him well. Some people have talked bad about him but my friend said he was nice. I respect his great knowledge of music.

It seems that music was and still is his salvation. I can relate a bit. As a kid, I often locked myself in the bedroom and listened to the Beatles or Elvis. They were my heroes and took me to different places. At school, I was a freak and even loner, I suppose: the only guy with sideburns when I was sixteen years old. That was in 1990. Sideburns weren’t very in style then.

There was one time in the school cafeteria when I was sitting at the table alone and this bully behind me at the next table made fun of me. He yelled and got my attention. I looked over and he was holding two napkins up to both sides of his face like they were sideburns and laughing. I just ignored him. He was some punk clown.

In my high school days, I read biographies about rock and roll. I read one called Life With Elvis by his kid step-brother David Stanley.

At the age of sixteen, David Stanley found himself at the top of the world, traveling from city to city as a personal aide to his stepbrother Elvis Presley. Touring with the king of rock ‘n’ roll, Dave lived life in the fast lane – a way of living most people only dream about. On August 16th, 1977, tragedy struck when Dave found the king of rock ‘n’ roll lying facedown on his bathroom floor, dead at age forty-two. Life With Elvis tells Dave Stanley’s compelling story about growing up with Elvis, the dangers and disillusionment of life in the fast lane, and how he discovered true meaning in life through faith in God. — from book’s dustjacket.

It’s an interesting read. The book has a bit about how hoods often hastled Elvis about his sideburns in the boys’ room. One time at Humes High in Memphis, Elvis’ future bodyguard, Red West, stepped in to help Elvis. This was the time when short hair and flat tops were in style. Elvis styled his hair after truckdrivers. Elvis eventually became a truck driver for awhile before recording “That’s Alright Mama.”

From Elvis’ ’68 Comeback Special

It was natural that I picked up the guitar in the 9th grade and never looked back. Music was my way of relating to the chaotic world around me. Things would explode and erupt but the music remained with me. It is proof that music is power. I really hope that the kids these days can put good stuff in their heads to empower. Elvis, along with many others, instilled in me a philosophy of hope and trust.

I don’t think the kids are getting this message today. What do you think?

Me – With the Highlander Band 1991
Jim Guittard - Highlander Band 1991


up1Wikipedia contributors. Rodney Bingenheimer. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. May 9 2008, at 15:05. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_Bingenheimer. Accessed May 14, 2004.

up2I spoke to him a few times en route to the Musicians’ Institute that I was attending.

The Ragas Press Packet

Posted in Music, Neo-psychedelia, Psychedelic by guittard on March 17, 2007

I am putting in a bit of my history.  It’s been about five years since I was living in Los Angeles.  Today, I can only think that I am really fortunate to have experienced, firsthand, the 1960’s music revival in its re-birth.  The following is the letter Henry and I used when contacting clubs. 

May 24, 2000

Booking
Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA  90046

RE:  Booking

Dear Club:

The Ragas duo was formed in mid-March 2000 after discovering a major musical chemistry between us.  I moved to Los Angeles from Texas to pursue my musical passion.  Henry was born here in L.A.  Henry is the son of 60’s icon, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds.

We are influenced by the Beatles, the Byrds, Bob Dylan, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons and incorporate 12-String guitars, and vocal harmonies in our songs.  We play both cover songs and original songs.  We focus on musicianship rather than cool grooves or beats.  The old school sounds are what we are focused on.  Our songs range from jazz rock, country- rock, folk-rock, psychedelic, and raga-rock to name a few.

At present, we are searching for a bassist and drummer to complete our band.  In mid-June, we will have two English fellows visit us to most likely join the band.  We switch off with lead guitar.

We are so excited to be involved in the music scene in Los Angeles.  We can be reached at 323-###-#### and at our address in Hollywood, California.

Please find our demo tape included.

Thanks For Your Consideration,
Jim Guittard and Henry McGuinn

Here’s one of our setlists that I scanned.

The Ragas - Setlist
*The starred songs are the ones we played.

We did not play too many shows back then but we sure went to see a lot of shows by the Beachwood Sparks, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Quarter After, Sunstorm, smallstone, the Tyde, the Belle Isle, Whiskey Biscuit, the Snakes, and the Warlocks. Many of these bands are still around today.

Smallstone evolved into the Electromagnetic led by James Ambrose. The Belle Isle disbanded and Cliff Magreta now leads Minutes Til Midnight. Beachwood Sparks unofficially disbanded in 2003 and other groups were formed in its wake such as All Night Radio with sometimes BWS drummer Jimi Hey and BWS lap steel and organist Farmer Dave. Mystic Chords of Memory was formed by BWS leader Chris Gunst and Frausdots was BWS bassist Brent Rademaker’s. Brent continued to play in the Tyde with his brother Darren.

I am hopeful in seeing the Beachwood Sparks get back together. We’ll see.

The Ragas – June 2000 Los Angeles, California
The Ragas - June 2000

You can listen to the show here:

The Ragas Live 2000

The BJM Philosophy: Not Giving Up

Posted in Change, Family, Music, Neo-psychedelia, Psychedelic, Society by guittard on March 16, 2007

I got into the BJM in late 1999. It was well before Dig but after the Viper Room and other events made “famous” in the movie. Put aside all the fistfights, verbal attacks or whatever, the music of the Brian Jonestown Massacre stands the test of time. Forget all the hype of Anton Newcombe being some crazy guy. Who cares? It’s about music right?

Starting in late 1999, I was lucky enough to see the band in person while living in Los Angeles. Anton was a cool dude to me. I never saw any of the abuse the movie is so based upon. In fact, he’s quite intelligent and courteous.

But the mark left with me from experiencing the BJM firsthand is tremendous. If I could sum up what I have gotten out of it. For me it left me with the feeling that I can have numerous chances to do “my thing.”

It’s about going for it no matter what, not giving up. Striving through all the hype. One does not have to be near famous to have hype about them. It seems that most families have hype. They have opinions on how one’s career should be or when they should marry, etc.

With the BJM, it’s about showing the press or mainstream or others that they are wrong with their close-minded routine thinking. It is a wake up call to society to think more positively and courageously with vision. A Beatles’ song comes to mind: “Think For Yourself.” Words are “Do what you want to do and go where you’re going to. Think for yourself ‘Cause I won’t be there with you.” It’s about standing on you own feet. Making your own history.

It is funny how when I read news stories about this famous person or that. The articles always bring up the past. Writers say nothing new. They write about what they’ve been told and don’t give people the chance to better themselves. Writers go along with the status quo, maybe for what is entertaining or controversial. I think the BJM evokes courage.

In America, we talk about free speech and everything but I think, in general, it is slanted toward the controversial, trashy, and rubbish category. Why do Americans like to read about controversy? I don’t but maybe most people do. I’m 33. Not that old. I’m among the Generation X, which have been written about to be cynical or the children of divorce families. I am from a divorced family and some of my family’s past is chaotic with fistfights and verbal attacks.

Here’s an excerpt from a news article I was mentioned in concerning “Generation X” finding their place in the world.1

Jim Guittard of Dallas, who will be 32 in October, lives with his grandparents, shelves books part-time at a branch of the Dallas Public Library and hopes to head to Eastern Europe or Central Asia for the Peace Corps this fall.

Armed with a degree in American history from Colorado’s Western State College, Guittard started out working as an automobile-insurance-claims adjuster but grew tired of the constant bickering over money.

To pursue his passion for playing the guitar, he moved to Hollywood, Calif., where he found gigs playing in clubs. But the money wasn’t enough to provide a steady living. To survive, he worked a series of low-paying jobs at a talent agency, a rental-car office and an apartment-locator firm.

The experiences left him disillusioned about working in corporate America, and he moved back to Dallas a little more than two years ago.

“I don’t want to settle,” he says of his decision to seek happiness rather than money. “Do what your heart says.”

That’s why I take comfort in the BJM. The BJM, I think, looks past the obvious. The obvious is, yes, you may have a disfunctional past but you can be somebody. It’s about not labelling others. Labels can be bad.

So what else can I say? Well, if you’ve read this far then, thank you. The BJM is cool.

Back in 2001, I recorded an instrumental in tribute to the BJM.

BJM-Like Song by Jim Guittard


up1Katherine Yung, “As Generation X begins to hit 40, it’s finding its place in the world,” The Dallas Morning News, 8 July 2005.