Archive for Michael Des Barres

SXSW Day One: If You Look For It, (Maybe) They Will Come

Posted in SXSW with tags , , , on March 15, 2013 by 30daysout
Des Barres 1

Michael Des Barres was a rock and roll superhero.

Finally hitting the streets of Austin for the sprawling South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival is a relief of sorts, because the machinery of fun is finally set into motion. One may have a plan, or a schedule, and of course that just gets thrown out the window once the music starts flowing from all directions.

We tried an experiment of sorts on our first full day of SXSW: we thought we’d stick in one general place and see what would come to us. We chose a two-or-three block area along the city’s West Sixth Street, a decent distance away from the epicenter of madness closer to downtown. An open-air club called the Dogwood and its next door neighbor, the Molotov, served as our ground zero for Wednesday music, with a side trip to the great Waterloo Records in-store (actually outdoors) stage a block or so away.

The Austin-based soul singer Nakia (yeah, the Team Cee Lo guy from the first season of “The Voice”) was not a bad way to start the day. Wheeling through some horn-drenched covers (correction: NOT covers – see the comments), he drew an enthralled crowd off the street who appreciated his histrionics. Nakia has a wonderful, soulful style and we thought his was going to be the best voice we’d hear all day. We were wrong.



Then came the full-frontal rock and roll onslaught of Michael Des Barres, the actor/singer who fronted Power Station for a while back in the 1980s. Des Barres is an old-school rock guy. As he explained to us, “The best rock is below-the-waist music,” says Des Barres. “Plain and simple, rock and roll is a synonym for f***ing. It’s not a synonym for meditation … it has to get your body moving and your fluids flowing.”

And that he did, with a crack Austin pickup band that Des Barres admitted he had rehearsed with only once before. Rolling in to “Carnaby Street,” his rock manifesto and title track for his latest album, the Marquis blew our hair back with a short but intense (and loud!) set.

It all rolled to a stop with Des Barres’ own “My Baby Saved My Ass,” mixed into a medley with “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” and a tantalizing taste of “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” done up Power Station style. Des Barres made good on his promise: his set hit hard below the belt and for the record, our ears are still ringing.

Upon strolling next door to the Dogwood, we encountered the great Texas singer/songwriter Billy Joe Shaver on the sidewalk. Billy Joe, carrying his University of Texas tote bag with god knows what inside, said he was going to push up his short set to fill in for the scheduled act who was stuck in traffic.

Lucky us. Billy Joe’s set was nothing but classic: kicking off with “Heart of Texas,” he then rolled into “Georgia On A Fast Train” then slowed it down a bit with “Honky Tonk Heroes.” With the audience in the palm of his three-fingered right hand, Shaver unleashed the gorgeous “Live Forever” before ending on a up note with “Old Chunk of Coal” and the singalong “Try and Try Again.”

Billy Joe’s an American songwriting treasure; at age 73, he’s in the twilight of his epic career so catch this great performer live if you get a chance.

We also liked a raucous country rock unit, American Aquarium, out of Raleigh, North Carolina. They had a nice throwback sound reminiscent of early Steve Earle, or the Gin Blossoms. We couldn’t pick out any of their song titles but it all went down as smoothly as the day’s third-through-fifth beers.

Then, back to the Molotov for a surprise: a pop-up set by the great Raul Malo, frontman for the newly revitalized band The Mavericks. Raul told us he’s going to play with the Mavericks today (Thursday) and Friday in Austin, but his little set at the Molotov consisted of some old rock covers designed to showcase his utterly out-of-this world voice.
Raul Malo 1

Raul Malo, right, with the great Danny B. Harvey.

He rocked “Shake, Rattle and Roll” then put a velvety texture on the evening with a beautiful take on Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou.” A few songs later, he was off into the night – and we are going to try really hard to catch The Mavericks, who incidentally have a great new album, In Time.

It was fairly jarring to step over to the Waterloo Records stage for an overcrowded performance by the rap act Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, currently riding the hit “Thrift Shop.” Starting 15 minutes late, the rappers entered to the ponderous “Thus Spoke Zarathustra/2001 A Space Odyssey/Elvis” intro.

Macklemore mumbled a few unintelligible words and then the sound system blew. After a few minutes delay, they came back and said “let’s pretend this never happened. Should we start the show over?” Oh, please do.

So they start over and stumble through their first tune which received less than enthusiastic response. With their 45-minute allotment quickly draining, they went to their smash “Thrift Shop.” Halfway through a trip to Goodwill, the sound system blew again and the enormous crowd that had been standing in the hot sun in the parking lot, on the street, across the street, on top of buildings and anyplace else they could find, were restless and fed up.

Soon as the hit was over most of the crowd dispersed. On the way out, one guy said it best: “I can’t get those 25 minutes back.”

Check out our SXSW 2013 photos on our Flickr photo page


Billy Joe Shaver, left, is an American treasure.

Video Du Jour: Michael Des Barres Band

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , on January 18, 2013 by 30daysout

January in Texas means one thing: SXSW is close at hand. Now the big event doesn’t happen until March but it’s not too early to begin getting ready for the annual craziness in Austin.

For us, one of the perennial fixtures of SXSW is singer/actor/raconteur Michael Des Barres. The former Power Station singer and “MacGyver” TV bad guy has shown up and played in Austin more times than we can count – although we’ve missed him the past two years. But he’s a sure bet to make a reappearance on South Congress or one of the backwaters of SXSW this year.

So, to kick off the anticipation, here’s “You’re My Pain Killer” from Michael’s latest CD, Carnaby Street.

Michael Des Barres official web site


Christmas Video Du Jour: Michael Des Barres

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , on December 1, 2012 by 30daysout

Our buddy from L.A., singer/actor Michael Des Barres, has had a great year. First he put out a new rockin’ album, Carnaby Street, michaeldesbarreshe’s been on TV (most recently on the crime drama “NCIS”) and he recently played at the “Right To Rock” event in NYC alongside Steve Van Zandt, Elvis Costello, Tom Morello and Bruce Springsteen.

Now he has a Christmas song, “Rock n’ Roll Santa,” where the man in red slims down so he can fit down the chimney and set a good example for all the girls and boys out there.  The song is available for download on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby and a portion of the proceeds benefit the Little Kids Rock foundation.

Here’s our interview with Michael from earlier this year. And here’s “Rock n’ Roll Santa.”

Michael Des Barres official web site

Video Du Jour: Michael Des Barres Band

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , on September 24, 2012 by 30daysout

Carnaby Street, the new album by the Michael Des Barres Band, came out a few months ago and it’s still in heavy rotation on my back porch. This is old-school rock and roll, the kind we used to love back when we went to high school football games and senior class dances.

Michael Des Barres is a true rock and roll character, and a welcome guest at many SXSW festivals in Austin. This is “Hot and Sticky,” which he says was inspired by some warm nights in Texas – here, it’s played at the Viper Room on the Sunset Strip.

Michael Des Barres official web site

Video Du Jour: Michael Des Barres Band

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , on August 2, 2012 by 30daysout

We can’t get enough of Carnaby Street, the rockin’ new album from the Michael Des Barres Band. The former lead singer for Power Station and Detective has assembled a veteran band for songs that hang around the intersection of Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones.

Here’s “Little Latin Lover,” as performed live in L.A.’s Viper Room. The song has also recently been featured on Little Steven’s Underground Garage radio show as a “Coolest Song In The World.”

Check out our interview with Michael Des Barres

Michael Des Barres official website

SXSW Ripples: We’ve Heard Some Of This Before

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , on July 26, 2012 by 30daysout

Jimmy Cliff leads the list of SXSW 2012 performers with new music out.

We had a great time at the SXSW event this past March in Austin, we got to meet some fine folks and experience some truly strange times. The coolest thing, though, is all of the music out now that we got a preview of at the conference. Let’s go through some of it:

Jimmy Cliff, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, gave us a taste of his new album Rebirth. It’s his first album in eight years, and certainly a return to form for the reggae master. Produced by Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong, songs like “One More” and “Ship Is Sailing” embraces Cliff’s classic sound while snapping it right up to date. This album is just one great moment after another: from the righteous “World Upside Down,” to the scathing “Children’s Bread,” to the soulful “Cry No More.” Jimmy hits a peak on his cover of The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton,” which name checks Jimmy Cliff’s own masterpiece The Harder They Come.

YouTube: “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff at Waterloo Records

Norah Jones

We kinda fell in love with Norah Jones (again) at SXSW, when we saw her play with her roots-country band The Little Willies. We didn’t get to see her solo showcase, which previewed her new pop album Little Broken Hearts. While the songs explore the hurt and confusion of a fractured relationship, the sound is dark but very rich. Thank Norah’s co-producer/co-writer Danger Mouse and Norah’s own adventurousness for push-the-envelope gems like “Miriam” and “Happy Pills.”

Let’s call out a fresh talent now: Cory Chisel fronted a band he calls the Wandering Sons at a show for the Gram Parsons Foundation, but most of the players were apparently on loan from Cory’s musician friend Brendan Benson. We did like backup singer-keyboardist Adriel Denae, and she’s prominent on Chisel’s new Old Believers. Hailing from Minnesota, Cory has a winning roots-country sound that isn’t afraid to ride rough and rock out.  “Times Won’t Change” was a crowd favorite, and “This Is How It Goes,” which kicks off the album, has a lovely vocal turn from Adriel. Best of the lot are “I’ve Been Accused” and the rousing come-to-meeting stomper “Over Jordan.” Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons are on tour right now, opening for Norah Jones – we strongly suggest you get out and catch this killer ticket.

YouTube: Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons “This Is How It Goes/I’ve Been Accused” on “Late Night With David Letterman”

We took some of Austin’s awesome Hey Cupcake! pastries to PUJOL because they are so cool, they are great rockers and frontman Daniel Pujol helped us get in to see Jack White’s showcase. Be that as it may, PUJOL’s first full-length LP United States of Being is a fine effort, front-loaded with rockers like “DIY2K” and “Providence.” Don’t miss “Black Rabbit,” Daniel’s tribute to his real-life pet, and “Each And Every Day,” which would be a radio hit if such a thing still existed.

YouTube: “Black Rabbit” by PUJOL

We gotta give some love to our friend and SXSW regular Alejandro Escovedo, for his rockin’ new album Big Station. Al played some of the most popular gigs at SXSW this year, nearly shutting down traffic on South Congress when he played in the parking lot of the San Jose Hotel and opening a show at ACL Live for some guy named Springsteen. Also, a shout out to Hacienda, who we saw at the San Jose in 2011; they have a new out too. It’s called Shakedown, and it’s produced by Black Keys guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach.

YouTube: Hacienda sizzle reel for Shakedown

Finally, a couple of faves from past years at SXSW … We caught The Gaslight Anthem under a tent in a parking lot in 2007, and since then they’ve carved out a great rock and roll niche for themselves. Their new album is Handwritten and it’s chock full of rockers (the great “Howl”) and passion (the title cut).

And if you missed our interview with rock royalty Michael Des Barres, you should not pass up on Carnaby Street, his new album. It’s our favorite album of the summer – with the blistering title track, the soul rockin’ “Forgive Me,” and Texas steamy “Hot And Sticky” you can’t go wrong. Mike and his expert band sound a bit like Rod Stewart fronting the Rolling Stones, and on “My Baby Saved My Ass” they manage to out-rock even those geriatric superstars. If you like your rock and roll old school and below the belt, Des Barres is the man for you.

YouTube: “Obsession” by Michael Des Barres at SXSW 2010

30 Days Out Interview: Michael Des Barres

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2012 by 30daysout

Michael Des Barres is an authentic rocker. (Photo by Rob Ayling)

If you are truly known by the company you keep, then Michael Des Barres is most certainly the real deal.

He’s a rocker first and foremost, one who counts among his friends Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, as well as former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones. Surrounding himself with players who share his authenticity and love for music that hits below the belt, Michael Des Barres and his band deliver a potent shot of rock and roll on the new album Carnaby Street.

Des Barres is perhaps best known as the touring singer for The Power Station, a 1980s supergroup with players from Duran Duran and Chic. Des Barres has also played with the 1970s band Detective (featuring ex-Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye) and British rockers Silverhead.

“For me, the best rock is below-the-waist music,” says Des Barres. “Plain and simple, rock and roll is a synonym for fucking. It’s not a synonym for meditation … it has to get your body moving and your fluids flowing.”

He says he reached deep into his soul for the songs on Carnaby Street. The album is a passionate, profound testament to the power of rock and roll, played in the classic style of British rockers Humble Pie, the Pretty Things and that band with Page-Plant.

The mission statement of Carnaby Street is its title track, where Des Barres remembers growing up as “Oscar Wilde in velvet jeans” and discovering rock and roll in a time when “the Union Jack was in the hands of the Who.”

Michael Des Barres playing live, with Paul Ill. (Photo by Heather Harris)

“I went to school with Mitch Mitchell, and he said ‘I’m playing in a band with this black bloke, come ‘round and see us at the Marquee Club,’” recalls Des Barres. “So it’s 1967, I walk into this club and see Jimi Hendrix. It really blew my mind!

“So today, that feeling has never left me. The same music still moves me, and gets me to moving.”

The songs came when Des Barres was experiencing what he calls “some metaphysical changes, without trying to sound too pompous.” On one of his frequent jaunts to Austin, Texas, Des Barres picked up an acoustic guitar and started to write lyrics and poetry that articulated his new outlook on life.

“I had come to the realization that my life has always been about rock and roll,” he says. “That’s always been my great love.”

So he hooked up with Beaumont’s Jesse Dayton, a mainstay of the Austin music scene and a potent rocker in his own right. Together they wrote the songs that populate Carnaby Street.

As a result, the album begins on the streets of swingin’ London but eventually finds its way to the heart of the Lone Star state. “Hot and Sticky” has a down-South sexiness that Des Barres says embodies the humid sensuality of Texas.

“I love Austin and I spend a lot of time there. I have some beautiful friends living there and when the album was in its formative stage I was fortunate to be around those authentic, great Texas musicians who helped inspire me,” Des Barres says.

In fact, we met Michael Des Barres in Austin once – strangely enough, at a Best Buy store. Former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones appeared during SXSW 2009 for an in-store promotion, and Des Barres tagged along with his old friend.

At SXSW 2009: Steve Jones (left), Pamela Des Barres and Michael Des Barres.

With Jonesy on guitar, the appearance spontaneously turned into a punk rock karaoke session. Des Barres took the mic to sing “Anarchy in the U.K.” and the place rocked out. Even Des Barres’ ex-wife Pamela, (in)famous as the greatest rock groupie ever, materialized to dance along.

“I remember that … it was small, intimate and completely improvised, which is how good rock and roll should be played,” says Des Barres.

So, Des Barres carried the rock and roll flame that was stoked in Texas back to his Los Angeles home base. He huddled with his friend Paul Ill, a virtuoso bassist, and assembled a powerful band of rock players to flesh out the songs.

“Five guys in one room, we played one song and that was it: a single, grand brush stroke,” recalls Des Barres. “We immediately realized what we had. We knew we are more into Little Richard than into Lil’ Wayne.”

The band of rock veterans includes Paul Ill (who’s also played with Courtney Love and Christina Aguilera), guitarist Eric Schermerhorn (The The, David Bowie’s Tin Machine, Iggy Pop), keyboardist Jebrin Bruni and drummer David Goodstein (Nil Iara, Jackson Browne, Edgar Winter).

“We get a huge charge in playing music that gets people off,” Des Barres explains. “When we played Coachella, I looked out over an audience of 50,000 people and it seemed like at least half were wearing Led Zeppelin shirts.”

Des Barres’ point is that there is no iconic substitute for the classic rock bands who people once idolized – the Beatles, the Stones, Zeppelin, the Doors. “Don’t get me wrong – I love the Alabama Shakes, and Jack White … they’re tremendous. But it’s all inevitably a pastiche of what’s happened before.”

Rock and roll is Michael Des Barres’ first love.

As he wins over 25-year-old listeners with his aimed-for-the-balls rock sound, Des Barres chuckles at the irony that these listeners believe they are hearing something new. “And it is new to them … hearing ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ by a band that can play it is a true novelty these days.”

So the next step for the Michael Des Barres Band is to get on the road and take the music to the people.

For Des Barres, that will mean putting aside a prolific acting career – over the past 25 years he’s appeared on such TV shows as “Seinfeld,” “Roseanne,” “Rockford Files,” “Northern Exposure” and many more. His best-known recurring character was the evil mastermind Murdoc on “MacGyver.” This fall he will be seen in a guest shot on the USA Network’s “Suits.”

He was so successful as an actor, in fact, that Des Barres got a little bored. “I was hitting my marks, I was pulling out my gun and getting shot – but not dead!” he laughs. “So I could come back in another episode!”

He loves acting, but he maintains his heart is firmly back into rock and roll, his first love. “If I get an acting gig that I like, I will still do it but if it interferes with playing with my band … sorry,” he says. “I’d much rather be in a small club in Kansas City, rather than in front of a camera in Hollywood.”

Michael Des Barres official web site

Carnaby Street web page (U.S. and U.K. sales of the new CD and DVD)

Purchase the album on iTunes

YouTube: “You’re My Pain Killer”

YouTube: “Stay With Me” (live at SXSW 2010)

Video Du Jour: Michael Des Barres

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , on June 26, 2012 by 30daysout

Don’t ask me why, but we like Michael Des Barres. We met him a few years ago at SXSW in Austin and ran into him on the streets of SXSW in subsequent years. He played and sang with former Sex Pistol Steve Jones in 2009 and had some band gigs on his own in 2010 and (maybe) 2011. We forget.

Anyhow, the former Silverhead/Detective/Power Station singer has a new album, Carnaby Street, which comes out July 9. “You’re My Pain Killer” is the album’s first track.

Michael Des Barres official website

Video of the Week: Michael Des Barres

Posted in News with tags , , on June 25, 2010 by 30daysout

Michael Des Barres is a British rocker and actor – he’s been in a number of bands but is perhaps most famous for replacing Robert Palmer in Power Station in 1985.  As an actor, he’s been in shows like “Miami Vice” and “MacGyver.”  Des Barres is making a new album in Austin, and it’s being produced by Texas boy Jesse Dayton.  No Past, No Future, No Problem is described as a “soul” album and nobody seems to know when it’s coming out, but here’s one of the songs from the album as performed by Des Barres sitting on an Austin porch.

Michael Des Barres official website

SXSW Unauthorized Interview: Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols

Posted in SXSW with tags , , , , , , on April 7, 2009 by 30daysout


At SXSW in Austin, we caught up with Steve Jones, former guitarist with the Sex Pistols.  He played an odd little gig far from the SXSW action, at a Best Buy store in south Austin.  Because it was out of the way (and out of range for the SXSW shuttles) there were no official badges or wristbands present, just hardcore fans.

Jones is, of course, the self-taught guitarist who stole his equipment from Mick Ronson at a David Bowie gig and with Johnny (Lydon) Rotten, founded one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century.  Since the Pistols crashed and burned in 1978, Jones has played with a number of illuminaries including Bob Dylan, Thin Lizzy, Adam Ant, Joan Jett, Iggy Pop, Megadeth and his band the Neurotic Outsiders.

Since 2004 he has also been a radio personality in L.A., broadcasting his “Jonesy’s Jukebox” from Indie 103.1 until this year, when the station went Spanish.  That’s what we asked Jonesy about first.

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