“I started with Harkness as Head Electrician around ’71, recommended by Tony Tucci who worked with me on a short gig for Paul Sanasardo. Brought in my bizerko friends from Tallahassee for subsequent US tours. Became Stage Manager and toured Europe and Mideast 2 or 3 times. I helped open the Harkness Theater and stage managed those performances. [Once] I had to throw Barishnykov (sp) off the stage to save him from being bopped on the blond bean after the show opening night. Another time a small valve fell from the grid (50 feet up?) and landed about 10 feet away from me and Ronnie Lynch, the head carpenter. Just shrugged. What can ya’ do? But it was kind of fun to wear a full tux to run the show.
I loved working for the company but I had to quit to chase my dream of film making which, [I actually] succeeded in (Tony helped and worked on the shoot). I wrote, produced and directed 2 feature films and worked on countable others until the dream became a nightmare. As Ambrose Bierce defines achievement: “The death of endeavor and the birth of disgust.” Just kidding. It was time to move on and raise a family in a somewhat more normal setting. My wife, Ellen, who helped me through all of this, including line producing my first feature (which was a smash btw) is with me today. Hard to believe.
I’ve had a ball. And I still remember my days at Harkness as some of the best (even though the dancers probably don’t know who in the wide wide world of sports I am.
Now, I’m doing something completely different in addition to the music. But the groove, which is where I started (playing in clubs at 13 years of age and recording at 16) is still what’s happenin’.
Best out to ya’,”
Spoken Word Country Blues Artist of the Year, 2005
L.A. Music Awards
(review from CDbaby)
“Joe worked his way through the early days in the city hardware store, in the freight yards of Virginia, gigging in clubs when he was 13. He grew up on Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, James Brown, Monk and Rollins. The only white kid in a soul band, he toured the South back in the day when that just wasn’t done. The group, Wayne and the Exceptions, recorded “Have Faith” which got to “#34 with a bullet” its first week on the black AM stations. Then the label pulled it. Depressed and downhearted he took to cloud nine.
Joe found his way up North to film school and started building sound tracks for industrial and feature films. That went real well for years until it didn’t.
Original songs started to flow from Joe’s pen not for projects, just because. [Four] albums and they’re still coming. These songs are his best work. You can taste the urban and down home flavors mixing well in every piece. It’s all about the groove, but the lyrics’ll get ya’. Slam in a disc and drive. You’ll see.
And check out Joe’s friends on the album. Including Grammy winner Johnny Lee Schell who’s played with Bonnie Raitt and John Fogarty; Mike Finnigan on B3 whose credits go back to Electric Lady Land with Jimmy Hendrix, currently on the road with Crosby, Stills & Nash. Greg Leisz, pedal steel, who’s frequently traveling with K.D. Laing. The recording and musicianship are absolutely first string!”
But most importantly, bask in the vision that is Joe Bear’s new website:
(review by Bob Swan, a free-lance writer living in Los Angeles, Sept. 25, 2005)
‘“. . .those hot dry [winds] that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen.’—Red Wind, Raymond Chandler
Los Angeles is the crash site of the American dream; smoldering, desperate, glowing, ecstatic. A gigantic sizzling ember. Everything jettisoned from Old World East Coast/ Bible-Suckled South/Corn-fed Midwest that landed here. L.A. really flushes out the weaklings leaving only the insane, the obsessed, the ungodly, and the visionary. They are everywhere in L.A., paved over, crazed. Valley mothers gripping steering wheels of SUV’s as they drive to Rite-Aid like it’s the last time; tattooed love/hate boys grunting, pushing Harleys across brown grass of stucco houses with torn screen doors. South Central slaughterhouse hiphop G’s and wanna-be’s executin’ each other. The blood runs dark and thin as the wash in the Los Angeles River.
L.A.’s electronic nightmare sucking the color from all the faces is the compost where pre-apocalyptic music is grown. In the heart of this American dream, I slipped Bear Country into the player. From an unholy coupling of stomp-ass Bakersfield, roughneck cowboy music and smooth, hard edge soul, Joe Bear sings into the hot, thin-air. The song of L.A.
Never has a peek at the End Times been so seductive as this new release. “A Little Bitty Piece” of immortality, a barn-burner redemption prayer gets you on the freeway. “No Right to Sing the Blues”, a smack-down of self pity, balancing Texas Swing with Memphis R&B—”What You Do” a world-weary valentine to a love hard-earned from a poet standing at the edge of the void that is L.A. Joe Bear is a moralist with a twisted-sneer bite of humor. “Ready” and “Kill All the Bad Guys” coax you toward enlightenment with battle rhythms. “Road Rager” is the coolest response to “Hot Rod Lincoln” ever. “Nelson”—as warm as Jack Daniels requiem, takes you way down. “The Bear Says So” says au revoir to all markets, bear and bull. A solid update of “Baby You’re Right” cut through with guitar slices James will love. The farewell ballad, “Your Turn” flat breaks your heart.
A veteran pack of musicians deliver Joe Bear’s sun stroked vision with rock steady assurance learned slugging it out live and in the studio. Johnny Lee Schell’s deep rust vocals and long-road guitar with Mike Finnigan’s B-3 reaches back through years with CSN and Hendrix. Whiplash pedal steel work from both Greg Leisz and Doug Livingston testify to the new sound of Joe Bear grooves with the coolest soul backing vocals from Julie Delgado, Marlena Jeter and Gromyko Collins. This is the best blend I’ve tasted in a real long time.
At “Blue and Lonesome”—snake-bit slide guitar and all—this son of Shakeytown pulls his ’74 primer coat Z-28 over to the side so you can hop in. With a rebel yell, “I’m Gone, So Long” as I hit the gas. Bear Country is what we’ll hear as we cruise heading west, always heading west. . . .
Multi Grammy winners, in-their-own-time legends, and crazed, unsung singin’ heroes ridin’ high. These are the same outlaws who made Bear Country (1) the classic it is. As at home in the woods as they are with a downtown blues groove or a rock- hard back beat. All the while, revering the past of the greatest country artists of all time. West Texan, Johnny Lee Schell, whom you might recall from his days with Bonnie, Fogarty, the Blues Brothers, Taj, etc. etc. but you might NOT know is one helluva engineer. Kansas City, Mike Finnigan, yes he’s touring right now with Joe Cocker, but you’ve heard him with Jimi, and Crosby Stills, Etta, and on and on. Frankie “Kash” Waddy, James Brown’s drummer when it was all happenin’. George Clinton’s funky drums too! And T-Bone Burnette’s buddy, Dennis Kenmore, adding just the right touch on his takes
My Conscience is Clear
“Joe Bear’s crazed angry/funny hysteria wrapped up in a tight-fisted groove. Fire this up in your car but watch yo’ speed!”
See Joe’s new website: http://JoeBearSays.com