Ricki C. will be opening for Brian Clash & the Coffee House Rebels this Saturday night, January 14th, in the friendly environs of Kafe Kerouac, 2250 N. High Street, 614-299-2672. Music at 9 pm. (kafekerouac.com)
E/B - You’re the only rocker of my acquaintance that will be eligible for Medicare this year: Why do you still do this? And can you remember your first gig?
Ricki - My first gig was in 1968, at my classmate Ermogene Delewese’s birthday party, in her parents’ basement rec room. It went great. The first song I ever sang in public was Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride.” That’s not a bad beginning. I’m seriously thinking of trying to find out Ermogene’s birthday, booking a gig on that day in 2018, and quitting the music biz forever exactly 50 years after I started. (I haven’t seen or spoken to Ermogene since graduation in 1970, so that birthday bit might be tough.)
And why do I still do this? What else am I gonna do, become a brain surgeon?
E/B - After almost half a century in rock & roll, after seeing literally hundreds of bands, can you name your top three performers/songwriters off the top of your head?
Ricki - Absolutely! Those three are The Who, Bruce Springsteen and Elliott Murphy. It’s not even close. Lou Reed would be fourth and he trails by a wide margin. No, maybe Ian Hunter (originally of Mott The Hoople) would be fourth, because he’s still alive and putting out great records. Anyway, after the Top Three, things get kinda sketchy, due to Rock & Roll Alzheimer’s.
Plus, The Who comes with a caveat: it’s The Who from 1965 to 1972, from “I Can’t Explain” to the Who’s Next album. After that, from Quadrophenia on, there’s a big drop-off in quality. And I won’t even consider the notion of any band not containing Keith Moon to actually BE The Who. There might be a band calling itself The Who, but without Keith, it don’t count.
Bruce Springsteen and Elliott Murphy – on quite the other hand – are still fucking brilliant. They’re both only three years older than me, but I fear that someday I might inhabit a planet that does not contain them, and I don’t know if I wanna live on that planet.
“The smart people won’t listen
And the stupid people don’t wanna know
After love, hope & dreams
All that’s left is a Trump presidency and classic rock radio”
- Ricki C. / 2016
E/B - There’s a fair amount of politics in your rock & roll, given the demise of The MC5, do you think that’s wise?
Ricki - Yeah, I do. Plus I think my political songs focus more on people than they do politics. When I first stumbled on the solo acoustic rock & roll act in 1990, my idea was that I would be the Billy Bragg of Columbus, Ohio. I’ve lost a lot of the agit-prop aspects of the Ricki C. show, I think now it’s more focused on individuals than causes. That being said, I will never set foot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame again EVER in my life after they inducted Journey this year OVER The MC5. Some sins can never be forgiven.
E/B - Nowadays, you’re almost better known as a roadie than as a performer, how did that happen?
Ricki - When Hamell On Trial hired me as his road manager after I opened a show for him at Little Brothers in the late 1990’s, it put a real crimp into the amount of gigs I played. Then I joined the Watershed road crew in 2005 and that cut even further into my playing time. Make no mistake, I wouldn’t trade one minute of those tours: Hamell & I criss-crossed America five or six times in the first decade of the 21st century, I got to see 44 of the 48 contiguous United States; and the good times (and beach vacations) in the Watershed van are irreplaceable. Plus, truthfully, I’m probably a better roadie than I am a rocker. I’m too OCD to be a rock & roll star. I want everything to run on time and the wires never to be crossed.
Also, I’m really, really lazy. I never seek out gigs anymore. They just fall in my lap. Somebody asks me to open, and I open. Otherwise I just stay home, feel sorry for myself and write Pencilstorm columns about The Dictators and The Neighborhoods.
E/B - Tell us about the gig this weekend.
Ricki - I’m opening up at 9 pm at Kafe Kerouac, just north of campus, for Brian Clash & the Coffee House Rebels. The Rebels are a scrappy little rock & roll collective, kinda like The Velvet Underground if they grew up in Columbus, Ohio, rather than the grubby environs of New York City. I’ve known Brian (Griffin/Clash) since my days working at Ace In The Hole Music, that guy is one righteous rock & roller.
There’s much worse things you could do with your Saturday night (like binge-watching some crap T.V. on Netflix or Hulu), you should come out.
For more music musings from Ricki C., check out Growing Old With Rock & Roll.
For some songs, check out If All My Heroes Are Losers