Joe Baiza is turning into the busiest man in show business town. In one
week, his 80s beat-punk band, Sacharrine Trust opened for (by special
request of the very lovely) Tortoise at the Troubador; a few days later
Joe Baiza's Congress of... absolutely, pitilessly tore up Taix, the
venue where he's now also somehow involved in drawing great and diverse
bands for the monthly Joe Baiza night.
I ran into him in the parking lot after the Taix show, and between nips from his flask of Old Grandad which is onsale at Gelson's this week, he gave me a copy of the recently released, long lost record from Puttanesca, the band he'd joined/formed, (it's a long story), more than a decade ago, with vocalist, Weba Garretson, bassist, Ralph Gorodetsky and drummer, Wayne Griffin.
The recently reformed Puttanesca have been putting in some quite enthralling performances in support of the record. That vocalist Weba is one of the more intensely charismatic performers I've witnessed helps not a little. Damn! She captivates a room by moving across it, even before she opens her, well, let's face it, rather generous mouth.
I guess you might be forgiven for thinking if you're gonna call yourself Puttanesca you wouldn't have any trouble tossing off a rather spicy album in a day or something... Originally recorded with Mark Wheaton at Catasonic in Echo Park, the record got itself shelved when the magic and momentum of the raw recordings and the live performances got somehow lost in the mix. Before it could be retrieved, Joe was a victim of a racist attack while touring in Germany. Some might call it attempted murder. As Weba says of the time, "Things began to unravel..." Just seems to be the way when you shoehorn so much talent into one band.
After ten years of contemplation and a myriad of other quite notable projects for each of the band members, the Puttanesca record finally arrives much closer to Joe Baiza's original concept. Uncompromising and courageously stripped down; angular, trippy and raw. The beat of the drum, the bass and guitar is sheer and insistently clear. The vocals arc, arch and bend your will. Like a meeting between Dot Allison and the Gang of Four in a particularly troublesome part of town, the record is a bed of perfectly contemporary needles. It never lets me rest.
To find out more about Puttanesca and hear them, visit their website: http://www.webagarretson.com/Puttanesca/