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.

SAC’s new sounds, track by track

strawberry alarm clock 2011

The Strawberry Alarm Clock is ready to unleash its recent recordings on the group’s first album in 40 years.

Here’s the lowdown on each of the tracks destined for the new Strawberry Alarm Clock CD, “Wake Up Where You Are” (in running order).

Mr. Farmer: The old Seeds song written by Sky Saxon and a cult classic. Long story short, Mark Weitz (keyboards, vocals) played a Saxon memorial concert in L.A. with Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. Saxson’s widow, Sabrina, asked the Strawberry Alarm Clock to participate in a multidisc tribute album set for release later in 2011. “Right off the bat, I said I wanted to do ‘Mr. Farmer,'” Weitz says. “Going with the less obvious.” Weitz listened to the original Seeds single for two weeks, added a few lyrics and then the Strawberry Alarm clock blasted it out in the studio, with Weitz on vocals. The result is a driving hard-rocker sure to startle a few fans. If the CD has a hit single, this is it. (Two versions of the song are on the CD — a single version and a seven-minute take with some serious acid rock going down.)

Strawberries Mean Love: From the first SAC album, written by teenagers George Bunnell and Steve Bartek. “We were really proud of the vocal harmonies on the new version,” Weitz says. The song gets fresh keyboard parts and a modern feel.

Hummin’ Happy: Another song from the first album, written by Bunnell and Randy Seol.

Birds in My Tree. Bunnell and Seol wrote this and it first appeared on the debut album.

World Citizen: A new song created by the band for Garry Davis’ World Citizen organization, which promotes and issues global passports. SAC’s “World Citizen” was used in an award-winning short film. Think world music filtered through Oingo Boingo. Producer Steve Bartek (a veteran of that ’80s band) plays flute. Lyrics by Randy Seol of SAC and Arthur Kanegif. Seol sings.

Drifting Away: Mark Weitz wrote this several years ago, after his wife passed away. Weitz sings with backup vocals by Howie Anderson, who also adds some tasty guitar work. “It’s a difficult song (to play), Weitz says. “It sounds like something out of a movie.”

Lose to Live
: Another number from the first album, written by Weitz. Lee Freeman sang the original. Seol handles the vocals this time, with Weitz taking over in the middle section. Bartek plays harmonica.

Barefoot in Baltimore: Weitz wrote this song for the first album with former guitarist Ed King. Original concept was to have a Motown sound, “but it never turned out that way,” Weitz says. New version includes a keyboard section that mimics vibes. From the second SAC album; single reached No. 67 on the record charts.

Charlotte’s Remains
: One of the first songs performed by the band when they started playing together again in 2007. Cover of a moody rocker by the current king of garage bands, the Fuzztones.

Sit With the Guru: Another ’60s song, a fan favorite written by Weitz with the help of guitarist King. “It has a modern twist now,” Weitz says. Bartek plays an electronic sitar and there’s a touch of oboe, giving the number a Middle Eastern vibe. An extended alternate take is the CD’s last track. The original was on the second SAC album, and charted as a single peaking at No. 65.

Tomorrow: The band stretches out via a longer ending than on the original. Seol sings the song, a single written for the second album by Weitz-King that peaked at No. 23 on the charts.

Wake Up: A new song written by guitarist Anderson with his friend Brad Swanson. Anderson sings as well. Psychedelic touches such as backward guitar and cymbals. Heavy like the Who. The extended ending is a studio jam that broke out after “Wake Up” was recorded but proved too good to throw away.

Mr. Farmer: The long version. Big guitar in the beginning and a ’60s-style freakout at the end. “Steve’s arrangement shines,” Weitz says.

Sit With the Guru: The long version with Seol’s 10-minute drum solo.

Sources: Mark Weitz, George Bunnell

On the road: Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield

on the beach boys tour plane 1967 1968In the later part of 1967 and the spring of 1968, the Strawberry Alarm Clock toured the country with the Beach Boys and Buffalo Springfield.

“Everyone traveled on the Beach Boys’ private plane,” SAC keyboardist Mark Weitz says. “It was an amazing time.” Then-SAC guitarist Ed King recalls: “The tours with the Beach Boys in ’67 and ’68 outshine any other period in my life.”

The talent assembled on that tour still boggles the mind: Carl Wilson, Neil Young, Steven Stills, Jim Messina, Richie Furray, Mike Love and of course the guys in the Alarm Clock.

(Photo, top left: Dennis Wilson learning the flute intro to “Sloop John B.” To his right are SAC bassist George Bunnell and Carl Wilson.)

“We played colleges, giant county fairs, all over the South,” Weitz says. “Often we did two shows the same day. I remember driving around in a car in New Orleans with Stephen Stills next to me in the back seat and Neil Young up front.”

SAC guitarist King, who would go on to more rock stardom in Lynyrd Skynyrd, recalls one amazing moment on the tour: “(Beach Boy) Carl Wilson coming over to my room to show me the chords to ‘God Only Knows.’ The memory “far outweighs any Skynyrd experience,” King says.

The April tour with the Beach Boys and Buffalo Springfield came to a halt, briefly, when news came of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis. About a half dozen tour dates were cancelled in the ensuing national emergency. George Bunnell says the band was in Alabama or Atlanta at the time: “We were told to stay in the hotel and not to step foot outside.”

Incredibly, during the tour’s swing through Florida, the SAC was booked for Miami and Honolulu on the same day.

“The Beach Boys let us leave their tour and fly to Hawaii for the day,” Bunnell says. “We played at the (then) Honolulu International Center on a Dick Clark show with the Animals, the Rascals, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. We flew straight back to Florida after our performance and from the airport were driven straight to the Beach Boys show. Insane!”

Shortly thereafter, the Strawberry Alarm Clock fired their manager.

The Beach Boys were still playing surf music and their monster hits, but the band was in transition, with leader Brian Wilson back home in L.A., trying to counter the Beatles’ next masterful recording with one of their own — following up on the transcendent “Pet Sounds” and “Good Vibrations. (Singer Mike Love wasn’t thrilled with the new music, preferring the “Fun, Fun, Fun” formula.) The band sought a place with the hipster elite that dug the Buffalo Springfield, no easy turnaround for the gents from “Surf City.”

beach boys tour with neil youngBuffalo Springfield performed the same songs they played on the 2011 reunion tour, many classics of country/alt rock. The band was nearing the end of its two-year lifespan, with Neil Young (pictured on the plane, right) in hurry to exit in favor of a solo career. “The band was not a group in 1968,” the liner notes from the Buffalo Springfield box read. One fan who took a photo of the band on the tour recalls Young walking away from his camera, not wanting to be pictured with the others. Buffalo Springfield played its last concert on May 5, 1968.

The Strawberry Alarm Clock enjoyed chart success with the single “Tomorrow” during this period and reconnected with their audience with the classic album “Wake Up … It’s Tomorrow.” The group had just recorded many of its best songs, including “Sit with the Guru” and “Barefoot in Baltimore.” This was primetime for the SAC (but bassist George Bunnell and singer/drummer Randy Seol would leave the band months after the second Beach Boys tour).

Fans, no doubt, were amazed by the tour’s trifecta of now-legendary bands.

“It was a great night of music for me, and a night that remains burned in my heart and my head forever,” recalls Tim Pollard, a fan who posted recently about his experiences at the April tour stop in Charleston, S.C.

The Strawberry Alarm Clock were inspired by the Beach Boys’ experiments with transcendental meditation. “It seemed the cool thing to do,” Weitz says. “So before each concert we always meditated for 10 minutes sitting Indian-style doing our mantras.”

Here are some of the key stops on the Beach Boys’ fifth annual Thanksgiving tour of 1967 with the Strawberry Alarm Clock and Buffalo Springfield:

Nov. 17-26: Detroit, Syracuse, Buffalo, Richmond, Washington D.C., Hartford and Fairfield (Ct.), White Plains, Pittsburgh, Boston, Providence, West Point, Jamaica (N.Y.), South Orange (N.J.), Baltimore.

(The Soul Survivors played some of the tour stops. The Pickle Brothers also found their way onto the bill.)

Here are some key cities played on the April tour with the Beach Boys and and Buffalo Springfield:

April 6-24: Clemson (S.C.), Orlando, Daytona Beach, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Miami (Fla.), Oklahoma City, Baton Rouge and New Orleans (La.), Birmingham and Montgomery (Ala.), Austin, Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston (Texas), Little Rock (Ark.) and Memphis.

(Bobby Goldsboro was an added act on some Florida dates.)

View list of 1960s concerts by the Strawberry Alarm Clock