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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Punk Rock Guitar Heroes - Gun Club

Jeffrey Lee Pierce not only formed the Gun Club, he cajoled, encouraged, inspired, and often downright conned people into becoming performers...I think because he wanted comrades alongside him. That's the case with both Kid Congo Powers and Pleasant. We all moved within the same circle, so it was only a matter of time before the persistent Jeff wore you down and got his way. And its a good thing...Brian Tristan became Kid Congo Powers after The Cramps lured him out of the Gun Club. Up until then, he was just learning the guitar...before Jeffrey convinced Kid to be in a band with him, Kid was part of Lobotomy, the Brainless Magazine and he was the president of the local Ramones Fan Club. You will recall, too, that Jeffrey Lee Pierce was the president of the Blondie fan club.

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Kid and Pleasant, backstage at a Blondie show in San Diego

If you look closely at this photo of Blondie drummer Clem Burke backstage at the Whisky a Go Go for the B Girls show, you can see Jeffrey Lee Pierce in the mirror!

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Jeffrey Lee Pierce is in the mirror - to the right of the reflection of the flash. Look above Clem's head and in the mirror!

That B Girls show was kind of a milestone in Jeffrey's relationship with Blondie and kind of where the ball started rolling. I talked about it at length when filmmaker Kurt Voss interviewed me for his documentary on the band, Ghost on the Highway, which you can see at a film festival near you from time to time.

Let's talk about this Guitar Hero thing. What's important about the Gun Club, and about Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Kid Congo Powers is that they explored the territory where punk rock and American roots music met and then took it to a wilder and crazier level, resulting in something at once iconoclast and reverent. Trash, trash, psychobilly, cowpunk and blues emanated from the guitar duo of Jeffrey and who ever was in the band with him. When Jeffrey finally convinced Kid that he should pick up a guitar and be in the Gun Club, Kid's skills were rudimentary, but it didn't matter. Jeffrey was making unique music. Kid took those skills and like an astronomical spitfire from of those solar storms, Kid Congo Powers became a new star. He was so dazzling that the Cramps took him from the Gun Club before the first Gun Club album was made. Ward Dotson, Jim Duckworth and Mike Martt all played guitar for the Gun Club, and I hail each of them for being able to make great music in such a volatile band. Perhaps the tension was the key.

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Pleasant and Kid

If you are in the New York area, you have a chance to see Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds perform, tomorrow, June 8.

289 Kent Ave b/t S. 1st and S. 2nd Williamsburg
Brooklyn/, NY 11211
United States

for more: Kid Congo Powers dot com

you can buy just about any photo from Punk Turns 30! including the portrait of Jeffrey Lee Pierce

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