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Stockton musicians to go from garage bands to hall of fame

 

By Tony Sauro

Record Staff Writer

September 10, 2009 12:00 AM

The notion of establishing a rock 'n' roll hall of fame for Stockton got Kelly Foley and Peter Hackett thinking.

Which isn't a bad thing.

They weren't so much pondering possible candidates as they were musing about providing someplace for many of these experienced and talented musicians to keep doing their thing.

"They don't really have a lot of opportunity to play these days," said Foley, an artist, writer and musician who's been playing and singing in bands since he was a Stockton teenager. "If we're able to do it in exotic, bizarre locations - not just a club - we'd then try to expand that out."

Foley, 50, and Hackett, 47, mixed music and art at the Hotel Stockton and The Haggin Museum last year. They also staged a multimedia music, dance and art show this year at Kudos in north Stockton.

They've thought about performing "Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)," a classic 1969 album by England's Kinks, in its entirety. "We could pull it off," Hackett said with a laugh.

On Friday night, they'll be pulling off something different again at the Hotel Stockton, as part of the city's monthly summer Art Walk series.

Hackett will do it all, drumming for James Blonde, Lisa Gallego and Jackson (Brian) Griffith at the hotel. He'll get a break when the Willie Hines Band plays.

They'll each pick one glam-rock song (T-Rex, David Bowie) as part of their sets to accompany Foley's art display.

Hackett and Eric Westphal, a singer, songwriter and bassist, are joined by Stockton guitarist Joe Bettencourt in James Blonde and by Lodi guitar player Mike Wilcox in Gallego's group. Hackett's 12-year-old son, Matthew, also will play electric guitar.

Drummer Dave Mompean, guitarist Jeff Babineau and bassist John Wise join Hines, owner of Stockton's Replay Records and a former member of Jet Red, a 1980s rock band.

Foley and Hackett hope this showcase of musical experience will increase familiarity - fame or no fame (speaking of Bowie).

"It's just a start," said Foley, whose current band, Toadstool Theatre, released an ambitious album ("Last Days of the Flying Machine") in 2008. "They all have a body of work and a name they can attach themselves to.

"We're just trying to keep that above ground. Young people have it now the way we used to have it. Their friends come to their club shows. We have to specialize to come up with other ways to do it."

One avenue might be using an abandoned building at Sutter Street and Weber Avenue in downtown Stockton.

"Upstairs, it has this huge room with these really high ceilings," Hackett said. "I could just see my dad coming back from World War II and see people up there dancing and doing the jitterbug.

"It's funny, but Kelly and I were thinking the same thing. Maybe it's time to step up and try to involve ourselves. We're the last generation that grew up shopping in downtown. I don't know why everybody's so scared of going down there. It's perfectly fine."

Foley - whose art "sort of has been restyled into larger stuff," including some painting with Lodi's Joe Clark, who uses oils on large canvases - always is seeking unconventional ways to display, discuss and define art.

"Basically, we're the next to take over the art scene in a few years," said Hackett, who shares Foley's sentiment and points to Middagh Goodwin's Plea for Peace Center on Weber Avenue as an example. "It could go from landscapes of Lodi Lake to something more modern. Everything has its time.

"Politically, we can get connected in public-private projects to get stuff happening and do some more in downtown. There's a lot of space. A lot of space not being used."

Griffith, who grew up in Stockton and went on to jobs as an editor, columnist and reporter at the former Tower Records Pulse! magazine and Sacramento News & Review, remembers a different time.

"Stockton's one of those places where you've gotta make a choice," said Griffith, 54, a mostly acoustic singer-songwriter and single parent living in Sacramento. "You could either be a juvenile delinquent or pick up a guitar or a paint brush. Or pick up whatever.

"There was a lot of support for the arts, for nurturing people coming up. It definitely was there."

Many took advantage of it. Foley, Hackett and Griffith, just for fun, listed those whom they consider possible charter members of a Stockton rock hall of fame:

» Foley: Jazz man Gil Evans ("rock 'n' roll is more of an attitude"), The Family Tree (Segarini), Laibach, Studebaker Hawk, Crayon 48, Thunderwing. "I'm just a weirdo guy," he said.

» Hackett: Dirk Hamilton, Bob Segarini, Tommy McClendon, Pavement, Chris Isaak, and "I'd like to think we (James Blonde Band) would be among the first inducted."

» Griffith: Pavement, Grant-Lee Phillips, Isaak, Segarini, Hamilton, the Authorities and Thunderwing (with McClendon).

"There's also Lord Buckley, Gil Evans and Dave Brubeck," Griffith said. "People in Stockton had an inferiority complex. People who play music always knew cool stuff came from there."

It still does.

Contact Tony Sauro at (209) 546-8267 or tsauro@recordnet.com.

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