Rocking the Whisky with SAC: photo gallery

strawberry alarm clock 2012The Strawberry Alarm Clock played its second gig since the release of the new CD, this time at the Whisky a Go Go.

Surprisingly, the July 19 concert was the first time the veteran L.A. band played the rock club.

As with the April Silver Lake concert, the show kicked off with a long driving “Mr. Farmer.” The band played fan favorites such as “Strawberries Mean Love,” “Rainy Day Pillow” and of course “I&P.”

The encore was a unique instrumental take on the Beatles’ “Day Tripper” (in 6/8 time), cooked up by singer-bassist George Bunnell.

The new songs from “Wake Up Where You Are” are well integrated into the show at this point. Highlights included “World Citizen” (Randy Seol) “Drifting Away” (Mark Weitz) and the CD title song, “Wake Up” (Howie Anderson). (Get a copy of the new Strawberry Alarm Clock CD.)

Harmonica ace Robert Cowan sat in with the band, as well as Kevin Dippold on flute.

Top left photo: The band during rehearsals for the Sunset Strip show.

Below is the photographic evidence of SAC at the Whisky! (Most photos by Janet Anderson).

Strawberry Alarm Clock in concert

The Strawberry Alarm Clock at the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip. July 19, 2012.

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Howie Anderson backstage at the Whisky.
Howie Anderson backstage at the Whisky.

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More Strawberry Alarm Clock photo galleries!

Fan bulletin: SAC on K-EARTH

los angeles radio station logoThe Strawberry Alarm Clock will perform a bright-and-early unplugged set on K-EARTH 101 this morning (Friday).

The occasion is the 10th anniversary of the L.A. station’s Morning Show With Gary Bryan. The broadcast begins at 6 a.m. and the Strawberry Alarm Clock is set for midway through the 7 a.m. hour.

All band members are performing, along with longtime collaborator Steve Bartek (Oingo Boingo).

The Strawberry Alarm Clock, fresh off the release of their new CD, “Wake Up Where You Are,” also performs next Thursday night at the Whisky a Go Go.

The band has done several performances in connection with morning host Bryant. Also set for this morning’s broadcast are Peter Asher (Peter & Gordon), the Nelson Twins (Ricky Nelson sons) and Ron Donte of the Archies (“Sugar Sugar”). SAC and Asher played together several years ago at Love-in: A Musical Celebration in San Diego.

The broadcast originates from Gladstones in Malibu, and there will be cake.

Fan has Strawberry Alarm Clock covered

signed strawberry alarm clock album cover

Click image to view larger version of cover.

Strawberry Alarm Clock fan Jerry Bozajian writes about his quest to have his copy of the first SAC album cover signed by all band members from that time:

About 10 years ago, I wanted to buy a fish tank for the house. My friend told me that his uncle, Mark Weitz, had a fish and aquarium store close by.

I had heard stories over the years about Mark, how he was in the band Strawberry Alarm Clock, and how he played those awesome keyboard riffs in the song “Incense And Peppermints.”

So before I went to buy the tank, I found a copy of the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s first LP — I figured it would be cool to have him sign it. The cover is a classic, and the signed album looked great on my wall.

Several years later, in 2007, I heard that most of the band was getting back together for a show. I did a little research, and I discovered that in addition to the six guys on the cover of the LP, there were actually three more guys that played on the album.

I wasn’t exactly sure yet who did this or that, and I didn’t know who would be appearing at the show either. But I figured what the hell, so I grabbed my album off the wall and went to see the band in Malibu that June.

That night I managed to get five more signatures on the album. George Bunnell, Randy Seol, and Lee Freeman are pictured on the cover. Gene Gunnels and Steve Bartek are not on the cover, but they’re playing on the album.

So at that point, I had six out of nine. Mark pointed me in the right direction for the next two signatures. Greg Munford, who isn’t on the cover but sang lead vocals on “Incense,” was on the East Coast. Ed King was in Tennessee.

One left, with no real leads to go by. After a bit of searching, Gary Lovetro was the final piece, and I was lucky to find him too.

Three different times I packaged up the album and mailed it out, and three times it came back to me with a beautiful signature added on.

Everybody was glad to sign the LP, and I am thankful for that.

So 10 years later, the quest is over.

Jerry Bozajian

Live at the Whisky, the Strawberry Alarm Clock

strawberry alarm clock poster for 2012 Whisky a Go Go showFollowing up on the success of its recent L.A. concert, the Strawberry Alarm Clock continues the momentum with a show at the historic Whisky a Go Go.

Surprisingly, the Thursday, July 19, concert will be the first time the veteran L.A. band played the rock club on the Sunset Strip.

The late April concert at the Satellite Club in Silver Lake and the upcoming Whisky gig are in support of the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s first album in more than 40 years: “Wake Up Where You Are,” now available on Amazon.

The Whisky a Go Go is located at 8901 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood (view map). It is an all-ages club.

While the Alarm Clock never played the club, bassist George Bunnell, singer-drummer Randy Seol and longtime collaborator Steve Bartek performed there as Buffington Rhodes in 1968, on an eye-popping bill that included Ten Years After, Chicago Transit Authority and Alice Cooper.

The Strawberry Alarm Clock did play the Hullaballoo Club on Sunset in 1967, the same year the young musicians found fame with the hit single “Incense and Peppermints.” They opened for Arthur Lee’s Love, the top band on the Strip.

Later Hollywood-area gigs were at the Knitting Factory, the Palace, the Viper Room, and the Pig and Whistle.

1960s rock groups that made multiple appearances at the Whisky a Go Go included the Doors, the Byrds, Love and Buffalo Springfield.

Review: SAC’s ‘fantastical wonderland vibe’

Linda Rapka’s review of the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s show of April 25 first appeared on L.A. Record’s web site and is reposted here with permission.

george bunnell of strawberry alarm clockThough they weren’t delivered to the stage upon mystical Persian rugs, as was their usual mode of transport in the late 1960s thanks to some hulky roadies, Strawberry Alarm Clock did conjure plenty of magic at its show at the Satellite.

The vintage psychedelic rockers, best known for their 1967 gold hit “Incense and Peppermints,” which saw newfound revival thanks to the stellar musical taste of Austin Powers, performed a rare live show at the popular Silver Lake club in support of its first album of new material in 42 years.

“Wake Up Where You Are,” released in March, keeps in the vein of guitar-fuzzy peace and love pop and sounded pleasingly fitting alongside the band’s classic ’60s gems like “Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow” and “Sit With the Guru.”

gene gunnells of strawberry alarm clockWith a live lava-lamp light show appropriately flooding the stage, drummer/percussionist Gene Gunnels (the only remaining member of the band’s earliest incarnation when it was known as Thee Sixpence) donned his signature magician’s top hat, further adding to the fantastical wonderland vibe.

Accompanying Gunnels was madman percussionist Randy Seol and a wall of junkyard metal drums so high it all but obscured him from view — because the only thing groovier than one drummer on stage is two drummers on stage.

mark weitz of strawberry alarm clockHowie Anderson, who joined as lead guitarist in the 1980s, played alongside SAC mainstays Mark Weitz on keys and bassist George Bunnell. Sitting in on flute and guitar was Steve Bartek, formerly of Oingo Boingo and Danny Elfman’s current orchestrator, who began writing songs and playing with SAC in his early teens.

The band made touching remarks on friends gone but not forgotten: former SAC frontman Lee Freeman, who died in 2010, and dear friend Mark Tulin, bassist of the the Electric Prunes, who died early last year.

It may have just been the special “incense,” but as they sang “There’s no place that can be better, when you’re up in clouds forever,” a certain presence filled the room, and the band’s pure magic was fully realized.

Photos by Linda Rapka

Fan review: ‘Wake Up Where You Are’

Longtime fan David Chirko wrote this online review of the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s new CD “Wake Up Where You Are.” It’s reposted here with his permission.

strawberry alarm clock album coverThe Strawberry Alarm Clock’s 2012 “Wake Up Where You Are” CD sports a front cover with the slogan “Its (sic) About Time” and the band’s moniker, in big green/blue/red shagadelic lettering, with small, coloured flowers atop and (of course) centrepiece alarm clock with black Roman numerals encircling a large strawberry in its face, and outside of it left and right, more, smaller berries, all over an orange background.

It conjures the blissful musing of a sultry summer day. The also orange back cover showcases a top-right-corner photo — interestingly, the album’s name above it — of our minstrels gazing down, but somehow back, into a time tunnel. It, as well, under the group name, lists down the left side the album’s 14 songs; all but a handful penned by Clock alumni and most being rerecorded numbers from their earlier albums.

Listening to this new SAC CD I mentally ensconced myself back in the 1960s, when I first heard them. I asked myself: Would the same sound landscape I found so captivating then, recrudesce now, crafting an ariose déjà vu?

Whether SAC does psychedelic, sunshine pop, jazz oriented pop or rock, there is always something irresistibly arcane reflected in the cogency of their poetic/musical renderings. Their lush, often gossamer, vocal meshes are adroitly combined with taut harmonizing of a plethora of florid instruments, delivering a flower power orchestra. Like scintillating keyboards and warm, inviting, fuzz tone guitars that evoke what has become de rigueur in the Clock’s oeuvre: calm confidence.

Strawberry Alarm ClockSome of the disc’s works have a heavier, but pleasant, grittiness to them, while some pieces are served with aplomb, in cocktail lounge phraseology. Let the listener delve this mature band’s derring-do by comparing the originals with the redone tracks, whose altered tempi and newly inflected lyricism are yours to discover. To absorb the total impact of this more delicately performed album — with a hitherto unrealized dynamic range — it must be played LOUD.

Let me now exemplify, what I’ve asseverated thus far, with a few of my favourite opuses on this disc:

“Charlotte’s Remains”: Can’t you just envision go-go dancers in shimmering short shorts, gyrating in their cages? Okay, the captivating tale of a femme fatale; her “remains ” being the aftereffect upon the men she jilted. And where did Charlotte disappear to? For the answer, we’re taken into the psychedelic wonderland of ghosts.

“Drifting Away”: Commences with calescent tintinnabulation. The melody echoes, like a condor sailing over a bluff. The elocution, well timed. “Drifting away and taking my chances … ” — ah … dreaming leads the smitten awry. Drift away at the end as the volume decreases with strumming akin to a slowed clock or metronome.

“Hummin’ Happy”: The chorus opens this chestnut ballad of a “sadist” (long “a” this time) visually transforming the felicitous sights of an impetuous downtown into devastation: “Evil things make me laugh so … ” Compared with the old version, this offering is more liquid, without sacrificing SAC’s ebullient sardonicism.

“World Citizen”: Behemoth songwriting effort. A paean to the wonderment of camaraderie. Its enchanting flute is like the serpentine rising of a hand, there to sonically seduce us. The redolent percussion escorting us to a tribal culture.

I’ll stop here, leaving the rest up to you, curious listeners.

Yes, “It’s About Time,” as this comeback album’s subtitle announces, we, as SAC aficionados, “Wake Up Where We Are” and savour this fresh Strawberry treasure; praying there is a follow-up in the offing.

David Chirko is an abstract artist from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. He has published three poetry books and is an international affiliate member of the American Psychological Association.

More about the Strawberry Alarm Clock CD:

New Strawberry Alarm Clock CD is out

strawberry alarm clock CD 2012“Wake Up Where You Are,” the first new album from the Strawberry Alarm Clock in over 40 years, is now available.

The CD can be purchased via the “Wake Up Where You Are” product page (Global Recording Artists web site). Or via Amazon..

The album is a mix of new SAC songs and reinterpretations of their psychedelic rock classics. “Wake Up Where You Are” kicks off with the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s blistering cover of the Seeds’ “Mr. Farmer.” The album was produced by longtime Strawberry Alarm Clock collaborator Steve Bartek.

Ed King, the Strawberry Alarm Clock guitarist who went on to fame in Lynyrd Skynyrd, had this to say about the album: “The album is a labor of love. I wish I lived closer so I could take part. The guys play better than ever and the addition of Steve Bartek makes it now the way it should’ve been. I think his parents wouldn’t let him join the band! ‘Mr. Farmer’ is my favorite track. Mark Weitz NAILED it.”

The band — currently Mark Weitz, George Bunnell, Randy Seol, Howie Anderson and Gene Gunnels — will perform a rare L.A. concert on April 25 in support of the CD. The Strawberry Alarm Clock last performed publicly in November 2010.

More about the Strawberry Alarm Clock CD:

Strawberry Alarm Clock rocks Silver Lake

strawberry alarm clock in concertThe Strawberry Alarm Clock will ring in another era with a rare L.A. show on April 25.

“We are gonna kick some psychedelic ass,” keyboardist Mark Weitz vows.

The concert is in support of the iconic rock band’s new album, “Wake Up Where You Are,” released in March.

(Update: Read a review of the Strawberry Alarm Clock show in L.A.)

The band last performed publicly in November 2010.

(Update: The group played the show before a youthful and appreciative audience, with Steve Bartek sitting in.)

The Strawberry Alarm Clock are Mark Weitz, George Bunnell, Randy Seol, Howie Anderson and Gene Gunnels.

The concert will be at the Satellite Club, in the Silver Lake area. The venue used to be known as Spaceland. Show time is 9 p.m. with support from Swedish psych-rockers La Fleur Fatale.

Get tickets for the Strawberry Alarm Clock concert. Get directions to venue.

1960s concert dates

strawberry alarm clock concert posters

Some of the key shows played by the Strawberry Alarm Clock in the late 1960s:

July 1, 1967: With the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Country Joe and the Fish, and Captain Speed. Earl Warren Fairgrounds, Santa Barbara, Calif.

July 22, 1967: With the Yardbirds, Moby Grape, West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and the Stone Ponys (Linda Ronstadt). Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

Sept. 8, 1967: With the Who, Herman’s Hermits and the Sundowners. Anaheim Convention Center.

Sept. 29, 1967: With Spirit and Linda Ronstadt (Love canceled). Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

Oct. 15, 1967: With Jefferson Airplane, Spirit, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Hour Glass, Sunshine Company, Hamilton Streetcar, New Breed. Sacramento Pop Festival at Hughes Stadium.

Nov. 17-26, 1968: With the Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield and (some shows) the Soul Survivors. Beach Boys’ Fifth Thanksgiving Tour, various venues primarily in Northeast.

April 6-24, 1968: With the Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield and Bobby Goldsboro (some shows). Various venues, primarily in the South and Texas.

April 1968: With the Animals, the Rascals, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, and John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. Honolulu International Center.

July 22, 1968: With the Seeds. Melodyland Theater, Anaheim.

View list of recent concerts (2007-12) by the Strawberry Alarm Clock

Thinking of a Strawberry Alarm Clock concert you attended in the ’60s? Feel free to add to the list via the comments section below!

George Bunnell

George: ‘We even learned songs — surf songs. It was 1961.’

I was born June 9th, 1949 in Lawrence, Mass.

We lived in North Andover with my maternal grandparents, the Giarrussos, until my folks got their own place. Shortly thereafter, my dad, who was in the Navy, shipped off to Korea.

My mom’s early influence on me was through art. She was, and is, a talented artist.

Then my dad was stationed in Norfolk, Va. The place we stayed in had a piano. I was only 2 or 3 but they couldn’t keep me away from it.

At that point (1952) my parents and my grandparents all decided to move together to California.

We drove our 1947 Chevy Coupe. It was a wild ride. We had a place to stay as my grandfather’s brother Pete had an Italian deli and café in North Hollywood. They lived behind it and were happy to have us move in until we could find a place of our own.

My grandaunt and uncle had two of their four kids still at home. Gino and Raymond. They had a band! In the living room was an organ, an electric guitar and a drum set. I was in awe!

I was only 3 but it made a tremendous impression on me.

Then to top it off, my grandaunt was a showbiz mom. She had the boys’ days occupied with dance, music and acting lessons.

My cousin Raymond was about 11 years old and was getting some starring roles. He was on “Lassie” and was in the movie “East of Eden” and bunch of others.

Childhood pic of george bunnell of Strawberry Alarm ClockMy parents took jobs at Lockheed Aircraft and my grandparents opened a 5 and 10 cent store next door to Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors. I hadn’t started school yet so I was taken care of by my grandaunt and grandmother.

My grandaunt took me to all the auditions and dance and music lessons, and to the Nudie’s store, which provided plenty of entertainment. Their clientele were the who’s who of country & western music, TV shows and Western movies. Nudie had a daughter who was about my age so I had a playmate. We bounced back and forth between the two stores all day. Nudie played mandolin and many of the other pickers would come by and jam — and drink!

They all loved my grandparents and loved my grandma’s lasagna. It was legendary.

All this was crucial because as we moved forward I was compelled to play music. I first wanted to play fiddle. But, in school that meant violin and the Christmas show, the Easter show — no fun. Then I tried the accordion like my cousin Gino. The walk to school proved to be torturous, so that was the end of that. At first I resigned myself to the idea that I would just sing instead of play an instrument. I joined the chorus, the glee club and the choir. That was OK but not too fulfilling.

Strawberry Alarm Clock bassist George Bunnell '53When I was 12 I started tinkering around with the neighborhood guitar. We even learned songs — surf songs. It was 1961.

It wasn’t till 1963 — when we moved to Woodland Hills, right next door to the Bartek family — that my true musical ambitions came to fruition.

Steve Bartek was 2 1/2 years my junior but already was an accomplished flute player. His brother Jim and I were the same age.

Eventually I discovered that I liked playing bass parts. My parents got me lessons at Wallach’s Music City.

Jim started taking guitar lessons. Another neighbor, Ron, took drum lessons. We had our first band. We played old jazz standards, no vocals.

After a while Steve and I began to write songs — “make them up” as we called it.

Soon our friends heard some of them and reacted favorably. Very encouraging!

Not long after that, Randy Seol was asked to do some background vocals for a band called Thee Sixpence. I can remember the day he brought me the All American Records 45 of “Incense and Peppermints.” Randy had a portable record player and we sat at Don’s Royal Pup eating hot dogs while he played the band’s song.

I thought the record sounded kind of tinny. I was totally into the Who and the Yardbirds at the time and liked a more bombastic sound. My friends and I were probably a bit envious. Nevertheless, we congratulated Randy on his work. Good thing because not long after that the song started to get a bunch of airplay, which led to a record deal on a major label … UNI Records.

Shortly thereafter the album deal came, and Steve and I were asked by Randy to come to a band rehearsal and play them all our songs. We did and the rest is history!