The following Mexico Dan testimonial was provided by friend-of-the-band and super fan Nice Guy Kyle.  OK, maybe he wasn’t a “super fan,” but he was at most of the Ghetto Monks shows.  I don’t remember if we put him on the guest lists.  I hope we didn’t. Anyway, this harrowing account may shed light on the Mexico Dan phenomenon, but be warned!  It is not for the feint of heart.  Seriously, your heart could explode.

My first Monks show with Mexico Dan – By “Nice Guy” Kyle

A couple buddies and I had driven up from Tacoma to see the band play the Central in Pioneer Square.  I had seen the band play before — my friends had not.  During the first song, my friend Bryan asked “Where is your friend?” referring to Pat.

“I think that’s him next to the drummer,” I responded, as Pat was leaning against the back wall, smoking in sunglasses and a black and white plastic jacket.

Bryan: “The homeless guy?”

NGK: “No.  I mean yes, but he’s not homeless.  I don’t think.  I’m reasonably sure he is not homeless”

Bryan: “So what is he doing?”

NGK: “I don’t know.”

Bryan: “Does he play something?”

NGK: “I don’t think so.”

Bryan: “So, we drove up here to watch your friend smoke?”

NGK: “I don’t know”

So the band played and Mexico Dan smoked.   Two/three songs in the band was heating up and we were feeling the rhythm and bobbing our heads and Mexico Dan began bobbing his head.  Soon he was out dancing next to Wanz, singing along and exhorting the crowd to join in.  Whether or not we knew it, we had bought the tickets and were now taking the ride.

As the band began to warm up at Seattle’s Crocodile Café in January of 1999, a large man came out of the dressing room wearing a tight-fitting green polyester dress.  Held high above his head was a cardboard sign with the words, “Does this dress make me look fat?”  The answer was, “Yes!”  But was there a deeper meaning to the question Ghetto Monks dancer, Mexico Dan, was asking the suddenly befuddled and strangely aroused audience to contemplate?

Does this dress make me look fat?

Mexico Dan at the Croc, Seattle, WA 1999

After experiencing Ghetto Monks shows, people often asked, “Dude, what’s up with that Mexico Dan?”.  This insightful question can only be answered with a complex and rambling explanation.  You see, Mexico Dan was more than a man; more than a dancer; more than a man who has never been to Mexico.  Mexico Dan was an idea; a concept; a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a green dress.  He was a cypher for Generation X through turbulent late 20th century America.  In many ways, he was our savior.

Mexico Dan began his career as a street mime performing in Pike Place Market.  He only knew the “man trapped in a box” act.  But boy, he sold it!  You really believed he was in an invisible box. Later he added erotic balloon animals and incoherent shouting to his repertoire.  The tourists who steered clear of him can only have been thinking, “Here’s a man born to dance.”

Pat Kirby, aka Mexico Dan, happens to be my younger brother.  He had attended rehearsals as we geared up for our first show toward the end of 1995.  While we were at our parents’ over the holidays, he and I watched the movie “Clueless”, which happened to be on HBO.  If you’ll remember, when Alecia Silverstone and friends go to the club, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones are performing.  As we watched the “Bosstone” – dressed in a suit and sunglasses — dance toward the right of the stage, a growing sense of destiny and higher purpose began to well up inside of us.  We slowly turned to look at each other and grinned.  We knew what had to be done.

Check back for The Legend of Mexico Dan (part 2):  “That’s Disgusting”

Most people like bands with singers.  I don’t know that to be scientifically verifiable, but it’s a good guess.  Ghetto Monks personnel were in place, songs written — a singer was all we needed to get out and perform.  The search for a vocalist was one of the most aggravating and hilarious exercises I have ever had the displeasure to endure.

For the most part, I’m glad smart phones weren’t around in the late 90’s.  I wouldn’t want evidence that could be used against me at a later date.  I do, however, wish we had video of the vocal auditions.  It’s like the early American Idol rounds, except the people are all drunk or on drugs.

We were looking for someone who could sing; not half-rap/talk like Anthony Keidis from the Chili Peppers.  It came down to 2 black guys who could really belt.  I voted for the younger of the two, a guy in his early 20’s who had just come up from LA.  Fortunately, I was out-voted and Wanz became our singer.

You can read all about him on his Wikipedia page.  The Ghetto Monks are mentioned in one sentence, so that’s nice.

Anyway, he not only provided some great vocals; he also could really whip the crowd up and get people moving.  I never thought we were a ‘dance band’ but dance they did.  The Ghetto Monks were Seattle’s party band and Wanz was truly the Master of Ceremonies.  So what was up with Mexico Dan?

Rewind to May, 1995. I answered an ad in Seattle Weekly for “band seeking keyboard player.”  I thought, “hey, I’m a keyboard player,” so I called the number.  I had been bouncing from crappy band to crappy band, with styles ranging from folk to pop to industrial.  One may have even been named Crappy Band.  I was looking to play with talented musicians, but had no stylistic intent.

I spoke with guitarist Jim Venn and said I’d come by their rehearsal space at the old Olympic Foundry in Georgetown.  After blowing them off for 3 weeks for no good reason, I finally came down to play (Jim called me relentlessly during that time.  I almost filed a police report for stalking).

Jim (guitar), BJ (bass) and Steve (drums) had been working with a keyboardist whom they nicknamed “Poindexter” for his nerdishness and use of multiple keyboards and electronics.  They weren’t happy with the sound.  The band was going for a heavy rock and funk sound like Infectious Grooves led by ex-Suicidal Tendencies leader Mike Muir.  Definitely no keyboards there.  I’m not sure why they posted a print ad.

I set up my Ensoniq SQ2 and set my 40oz on my Peavey amp.  Note:  don’t bring a 6 or 12 pack of beer to rehearsal.  Then you have to share.  You can’t go wrong with a 40oz.  Just listen to Sublime.

They had a song called “JB” named after Jeff Beck.  Clever, I thought.  That song would eventually turn into “Evere’ Bo’de’”.  I’d post a link to it, but after 20 years, I haven’t bothered to put our first album online.  I should probably do that some time.

I asked what key they were in and received blank stares.  I then asked for the chord progression, but Jim’s description was sketchy.  I asked what sound they were looking for, and they said they wanted clav.  I’d never played clav, though the patch was on my keyboard.  I just figured, “what would Stevie Wonder do?”  Note:  you can never go wrong asking yourself that question.   Unless you’re asking yourself, “How should I style my hair?”

I joined in and we played it all the way through the first time.

Immediately there was that magical musical feeling of synchronicity – one that’s difficult to explain to non-musicians.  It’s like when you’re playing together as one instrument with one mind.  We went on to play a couple more songs in various stages of completion with smiles all around.  This was going to work.  I should have brought a 12 pack.

On Saturday, April 1, 1996, a new funk rock band took the stage at the Central in Tacoma, WA.  The concrete floor was sticky with spilled beer from the previous night.  The stage was 2-tiered and carpeted. Yes, carpeted.

Taking the stage that night were:

  • Jim Venn — Guitar
  • Ira “BJ” Poe — Bass
  • Steve Thomas — Drums
  • Mike Kirby — Keyboards/vocals
  • Mike “Wanz” Wansley — Vocals
  • Mexico Dan — interpretive dancer

The six-piece barely fit on the stage, hindering much of  Mexico Dan’s dancing.  The band ran through 2 sets of high energy original rock/funk songs (later known as “runk”).  The dozen fans watched riveted — either enraptured or just stuck to the beer-soaked floor.

It was from this stage that Seattle’s most storied and outrageous band began its rise as Puget Sound’s most renowned runk sextet that featured a dancer. It was also the start…of a revolution.

 

A first impression

With me you get a second chance to make a first impression…so listen

Link  —  Posted: June 28, 2014 in Uncategorized
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After a year of recording and production, “Head Trauma” was released today.  This marks my 3rd album in the last 2 years, and is by far the best.  It’s pretty dark thematically, but the song styles are wide-ranging.  I drew inspiration from Peter Gabriel, U2 and Depeche Mode — among others.  Give it a listen and let me know what you think.  The direct link to purchase is:  http://cdbaby.com/cd/kitchenmick

You can also find it on iTunes, Amazon.com and Spotify, among other places.  I’ll be posting more info soon.

itunessnap

htalbumcover

Head Trauma Album Cover

Image  —  Posted: May 2, 2014 in artist, audio engineering, Bruce Springsteen, classic rock, Facebook, home recording, indie rock, Kitchen Mick, live music, music, music production, musician, pop culture, pop music, recording, Reverbnation, rock, soundcloud, The Ghetto Monks, The Jilly Rizzo, Uncategorized

Serious Head Trauma.

Serious Head Trauma

Still in the mastering phase for my 3rd album, I’m posting some of the new tunes on my soundcloud/kitchenmick page.  The first featured track is also the album’s title track, “Head Trauma.”  Written in the baroque canon style (think Pachabel), it is a single piano line with multiple theme variations on guitar.  There’s intentional Edge-inspired delay on the guitars and even more U2 influence on the short vocal line.  Very atmospheric, though less dark than other material on the album.  Take a listen!

I’ll be posting about other tracks over the coming weeks as I near the release date.

Link  —  Posted: April 2, 2014 in Uncategorized
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