Welcome back, my friends, to the "Battle" that never ends.
We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!
This is 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' ('BOTB') where you listen to different recordings and vote for the one you like best. A new Battle gets posted on the 1st of each month and on the 7th, I place my own vote, tally 'em all up and announce the winner.
Friend? Foe? Stranger? No matter, ALL are welcome. So pull up a chair, pour yourself 24 oz. of DOG BITE High Gravity Lager (or the poison of your choice) and turn it up to Eleven!
[NOTE: Links to the first year of 'BOTB' (#1 - #24) can be found at the very bottom of this page.]

Friday, June 24, 2016


I learned firsthand in Hollywood that the order is:
1. Who you know.
2. Lucky breaks.
3. Persistence.
4. Talent.
~ Stephen T. McCarthy

We've always been a close family. I mean close both spatially and relationally. I grew up only minutes from my maternal grandparents and so did my cousins. Almost every Sunday for many years we got together at Grandma and Grandpa's for dinner. We'd play Wiffle Ball in the street (which is why my Sister is even better than my male readers at baseball), then we'd sit down for dinner, after which we'd watch 'The Wonderful World Of Disney' together, or the fake Moon landing, or whatever was on the tube at that time.

My cousin Johnny Napier is about 5 or 6 years younger than I am, and when I was a teenager, I corrupted and poisoned that good Catholic kid with my Rock 'N' Roll obsession. I used to say, "Johnny, come out to my car with me. I've got something I want you to hear." And there I would play Santana, or Thin Lizzy, or Lynyrd Skynyrd, and I'd crank it up to eleven.

The band I turned Cousin Johnny onto, however, that really did the trick more than any other was Aerosmith. Johnny got hooked.

[Below, photo of Kuzin John Napier performing in Topanga Canyon, California.]

Years later, Kuzin John got into a band and began performing at local Los Angeles dives like the legendary Club 88.

The first band was called 'Sex And Violins', and I thought they were pretty... well... let's just say it wasn't my cuppa Malt Liquor. It was a Punk/Thrash kind of band; no one in it was particularly good, including my Cousin. But I always supported Johnny 100%; I went to all the shows, dragged friends with me, and applauded loudly. But I can't honestly say I dug it.

Johnny and I grew up in a section of Los Angeles that later famously became known as "DOGTOWN". Geographically, Dogtown was the very Southern-most part of Santa Monica and the very Northern-most part of Venice. (Nappy, Bonehead and I lived in the Santa Monica portion, and Johnny's family lived in the Venice section. All of us were about 17 blocks from the Pacific Ocean and about 8 blocks from each other.)

Dogtown is frequently referred to as the place where "Xtreme Sports" first came to life in the form of "radical skateboarders". At the very time we all lived there, guys like Tony Alva, Jay Adams, and Stacy Peralta (The Z-Boys) were creating something new in America. In fact, Nappy and Bonehead knew a couple of those guys pretty well, having attended high school with them. And by weird coincidence, my great buddy Eric (who was also really into the skateboarding scene and always looking for empty swimming pools to practice in) once shared a Santa Monica hospital room with Tony Alva. He said the steady stream of "hot babes" coming in to visit with Tony was non-stop and amazing to behold!!!

Yep. Johnny, Nappy, Bonehead and I are all "Dogtown" natives. ('The League Of Soul Crusaders' Bay Street house was just a block or so from the Z-Boy's skateboard shop/headquarters.)

In October of 1992, I moved from Los Angeles to tiny Prescott, Airheadzona - the home of "Billy Jack". (The Courthouse where Billy introduced an idiot's head to the concrete fountain is still there, for you road-tripping cinema historians!)


The culture shock was too much for me, and about 17 months later, in 1994, I moved back to L.A.

Only a couple weeks after I moved "home", and just a couple weeks before Jesus unexpectedly visited me and transformed me in my Los Angeles apartment, Kuzin Johnny called me to say he was in a new band called 'BLACK CAT MOAN'. They'd recorded 5 songs, and Johnny wanted to bring over a six-pack of beer and play them for me.

Inwardly, I cringed a little bit and said, "Sure, come on over!"

So, Johnny gets there with the six-pack and a cassette tape. We crack a couple beers open and hit "Play". The first song was titled 'JOHNNY'S GONE'[excerpt]...

"Bags are packed / Toothbrush safely tucked away
Coat's slipped over his shoulder / Now it's finally the big day.
Says goodbye now / Bids farewell to all his friends
It ain't quite goodbye though / He'll be coming back again.

Walking through the jungle like strolling through the park
Another mother's favorite son seeks the light and craves the dark.

Now the word is on that Johnny's gone
Loosened up and lost his grip and the last year's up and done
Trying to live down a reputation, ended up living it up too high
The dreams did not happen as the years slid right by.

Big city lights expose secrets of the dark
All the days remind him of the things he hasn't got
[*something*] exchanging, with new friends made and old ones lost
It's a brand new world to step in, he just doesn't know the cost.

Walking through the jungle like strolling through the park
Another mother's favorite son seeks the light and craves the dark.

Now the word is on that Johnny's gone
Loosened up and lost his grip and the last year's up and done
Trying to live down a reputation, ended up living it up too high
The dreams did not happen as the years slid right by.

{*Great sax solo here!*}

Now he don't see the jungle / He only sees the park
Another mother's favorite son leaves the world without a mark

Oh, yeah, I don't wanna be like Johnny!
Oh, Lord, I don't wanna be like Johnny!
Oh, Lord...
Oh, Lord..."

And the song ended with a great merging into that riff from The Doors' song 'Touch Me'.

About halfway through 'Johnny's Gone', I glanced at Johnny from the corner of my eye.

The next song was 'HARD NIGHTS'[excerpt]...

It started with a bang on the electric piano:

"Woke up with my shoes on / Couldn't find my pants or my knees
Looking for my aspirin / It's just nowhere to be seen.
A warm beer in the fridge now / Warm because that bill's overdue
I've lived through mornings like this before / Guess I'll live through this one, too.

I finally get it together / Go out hoofin' it for a job
They say, 'You're qualified, son, but this is the Nineties and your hair's a bit too long'.

I don't think about money / Because it depresses me when I do
I don't think about women / I'm just taking lumps for hard nights, rhythm and blues.

I hope I don't die before I get there
Didn't think I'd have to wait this long
The crowd's calling, wants some more
I can't keep disaster from my door
I'm not old, but I'm no longer young."

I stopped the tape after 'HARD NIGHTS' and said to Johnny, "Tell me the truth! Did you go to THE CROSSROADS and sell your soul?"

To say that I was blown away would be a huge understatement because, today in 2016, I'm STILL blown away! The transformation had occurred so quickly - less than a year and a half - that it seemed / seems positively supernatural to me.

Suddenly, Johnny had this great Rock 'N' Roll voice with total mastery, total control over it; he was writing fantastic songs; he had the second best Rock "scream" I've ever heard (only Roger Daltrey could top him); and he was playing his harp (harmonica) with a Bluesy punch and ability that would have made Bob Dylan and Neil Young envious as hell!

What I learned was that other than just intensely practicing his craft over the last 17 months, Johnny had taken some professional voice lessons. Hokey-Smoke, was that ever a great investment!!!

'DO THE THING' [excerpt]
I ducked into a Blues jam out on Broadway and Fourth
I didn't tip the waitress and I felt no remorse
They called my name, I grabbed my harp and mic
Got down, got loose, got funky,
Cut the air like a knife
Did The Thing!!

(Fun Fact: The club he alluded to at Broadway & 4th is the same bar I mentioned to Pooh Lynth in the comment section HERE, where the cops chased a criminal through it while Cranium and I were drinking hair of the dog at the bar.)


Those songs, and others that Johnny and BLACK CAT MOAN had recorded, like 'The Redemption' and 'How Your Puzzle Fits' (maybe my favorite), could have and should have been FM radio hits. 'Mar Vista Girl' had Top 40 all over it without sounding slickly commercial, and 'Clean Life' rocked like a son-of-a-bitch!!! It was as good as, or better than, anything on the radio.

These songs had IT ALL! Their sound was unique - it was Hard Rock with overtones of Blues, Funk, and R&B - and I guess if it was a drink you'd get closest to it by blending Aerosmith with Jim Morrison and Michael Jackson and something else I can't put my finger on. Maybe that mysterious ingredient is "Just Johnny".

Sure wish I had files I could upload here for you to listen to. You wouldn't believe any band THAT good could have failed to make it huge! "I have to tell you, baby, Johnny was armed with all he'd need" ...including the good looks. (Well, I think he still has it all. If only he knew the right people and/or could catch a lucky break.)

I was totally bummed when BLACK CAT MOAN broke up. But not too long later Johnny was in a new band called SANCHO. This was more of a straightforward Hard Rock sound with only undertones of Funk / R&B. In 1997 they did self-produce an album titled 'PSYCHO-DELIC GARAGE' which I still listen to (when I'm not listening to Black Cat Moan).

The other day, out of the blue, I got an Email from Kuzin Johnny and, in part, he had this to say:

Hey, Stephen, it's cousin John. I attached a few of my latest. I'm railing against common sense as usual and playing with Sancho again. We're in our 40's and 50's now, but we're seeing 20 and 30-something kids really get into us. So we're all completely duped back into this bullshit like the suckers that we are. Trying to turn it all into something in the brave new world of social media before the ear hair starts showing up.
How are you and Nappy and Sherrie? Are you still writing? I'm trying to do more and more on guitar. See if I can get songs in movies, TV, etc. after the ear hair does come in.
Johnny and I then got into a humorous text exchange:

STMcC: Have you ever seen the Rap video [link-->] 'IT'S GETTING REAL IN THE WHOLE FOODS PARKING LOT'If not, check it out at YouTube. I've watched it about 30 times. It ALWAYS makes me laugh.

Johnny: Just saw the Whole Foods Parking Lot. It's friggin' perfect! Very appropriately filmed at the crammed location on Lincoln and Rose.

STMcC: Ha! Yeah, that cracks me up! In our (old school) day, there wasn't any yuppie WHOLE FOODS in Grungeville.

Johnny: Yep, that place was damn Thrifty's! 

STMcC: Man, I used to get my tennis shoes at that Thrifty's. How yuppie is THAT?!

Johnny: Not very!

STMcC: Dazzz rite.

OK now, my "Westside of L.A." homies, I'm gonna post a few songs by Kuzin John and SANCHO for your enjoyment. Hard Rock may not be everyone's Mojito, but if it is, well, this blast's for you. Bear in mind that the sound quality is sketchy - these ain't professionally produced live releases - but I still think the "it" comes through.

Sing it away, Johnny!...

SANCHO - 'Something's Missing'

For bigger picture, click here:

Alright, this is a super-freaky video. Buckle up!

SANCHO - 'Cholita Peligra'

For bigger picture, click here:

This last one is a fairly recent 30-minute concert. If you're not inclined to watch the entire show, I recommend you fast forward to the song that begins right at the 9:00 minute mark. Watch that move Johnny puts on the mic stand to begin singing. Must have gotten that from his Mom, and my Aunt, who has been a professional dance instructor for at least 30 years:

SANCHO L.A. Live In Concert:

For bigger click, picture here:

OK, Dogtown Doggs and Doggettes, as you were.

A public service announcement (PSA) or public service ad, are messages in the public interest disseminated by the media without charge, with the objective of raising awareness, changing public attitudes and behavior towards a social issue, or promoting your cousin's Rock 'N' Roll band.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy


  1. Cousin Johnny sounds pretty darn good. I love Dogtown and Z-Boys.


    1. LOVE, JANIE ~
      Glad you thought so!

      I've seen both 'Dogtown And Z-Boys' and 'Lords Of Dogtown' (Heath Ledger before he became the Joker). I can't remember which, but one of those DVDs had an Extras or Bonus Material segment which included a shot of the guys skateboarding down Ocean Park Boulevard at night toward the beach. Wow! That brought back so many memories! Because we'd take the bus down that very street to the beach day after day during Summers. Or we'd walk those 17 blocks down Ocean Park Boulevard when we couldn't afford to ride the bus.

      Great times in my life!

      Thanks for stopping by, Love Janie.

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

  2. Good promo. Wish there were some YouTube clips of the Black Cat Moan band. Sancho definitely has a professional sound. Besides, any band that uses a Loteria card on their album cover can't be all bad. The particular card that they chose would be one that I avoid when I sit down with my wife's family to play Loteria. I always pick one that doesn't have the Death symbols or El Diablito, but I do try to have "El Musico" and "El Boracho" on my card if someone else hasn't grabbed it yet.

    There are some excellent bands out there now and have been over the decades that never made it out of the bar circuit let alone even a self-produced album. I've had a number of friends in bands like that. But like you say in your opening quote, talent isn't the primary criteria for making it.

    I'm surprised whenever I run across an older release by a band I've never heard of that's really good. A lot of them were on fairly major labels, but apparently never got the push from the record company or whatever happened.

    As the saying goes, "A lot of things trump talent, but Trump trumps Hillary." Okay I just threw that one in.

    I wish your cousin success. I wish us all success for that matter.

    Arlee Bird
    Wrote By Rote

    1. LEE ~
      Loteria? I never heard of it. I just thought those were Tarot cards. But, hey, yeah, I'll take the El Boracho card! Hell, it's probably mine by Divine right, anyway.

      Black Cat Moan... any Hard Rock band that melds so many influences up to and including Michael Jackson... yeah, that's a UNIQUE concoction.

      Johnny's voice really shines on clean recordings. It sounds like melted chocolate down the middle with fine sandpaper grit all around the edges.

      Sadly, my Black Cat Moan CDs are starting to crap out on me a bit. They're very old now and I think I've been literally playing them to death. My 'PSYCHO-DELIC GARAGE' disc by SANCHO is holding up better because it was professionally made, and not just burned on CD from cassette tape recordings.

      It's interesting to me that SANCHO (a band that formed in the '90s) is now attracting attention from the 20s and 30s crowd. I wonder if they view it as retro Rock or as something new and current. I've been out of the Rock / Pop scene since about 1985.

      On my blogs, it's "HELLary", mister. And don't you forget it!!

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

    2. You're not familiar with Loteria? Essentially it's bingo with weird pictures and Spanish words to describe the pictures. With my wife's family it's a mainstay at all of our family gatherings. Invariably we'll play for at least an hour or two for a quarter a game and then maybe a dollar for the last round. Typically I lose a couple of dollars each time we play. I'll allot myself a limit and then if I reach it and say I'm pulling out of the table my wife will start putting quarters in the pot for me. After all she's got more money than I do.

      At a casino I'll usually limit myself $20 on the slots and lose it pretty fast. I don't know what the deal is but my wife tends to win a lot so she'll usually fork over more money so I can keep playing slots instead of just watching her. Some people are lucky like that I guess. But I guess we're both lucky in that we found each other. Maybe she sees it that way.

      I don't much keep up with any modern rock/pop music either. And I've been forgetting a lot of what I used to listen to. Thanks to BOTB posts I kind of keep in touch with music.

      "Hellary" is appropriate since this country would descend further into hell than Obama took us in the past 8 years. I don't think Hellary will win--I hope not.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Wrote By Rote

    3. No, I don't think I've even heard of LOTERIA. I don't get out much.

      And, nah, I ain't much of a gambler either, which probably would surprise people considering where I live. I'll sometimes put $10.00 in a video poker machine, but that's just for the free drinks. I rarely win anything other than free drinks.

      I'm not even certain Hellary will be the Democrat nominee. But if she is, I believe Trump will trounce, thrash 'n' trash her. I doubt even the usual Democrat cheating and vote fraud can save her. I'm pretty sure she knows that, too.

      She's not going to like what comes out in debates against Trump, and she may just decide that "sickness" trumps public humiliation.

      If I were her, with all that baggage, I damn sure wouldn't want to publicly debate Trump either!

      ~ D-FensDogG

  3. HEY! I know that guy! He ROCKS!

    I have those BCM songs in my iTunes, but I thought the band was called "The Zone." You sent me those songs several years ago. Some of the tracks are really long - they are several songs strung together. One song which must have been in your honor is "The League of Soul Crusaders." It is good stuff, and I play a song or two still, occasionally.

    I have them listed as The Zone, but listed the album title as "Stephen McCarthy's Cousin" in case my memory let me down in the future.

    As for Sancho, they are real pros. They sound good, and I really liked that 'Cholita Peligra' song. That VIDEO... HOOOOOO, DOGGIES! I noticed the salacious material in a couple of single frames around the 1:34 mark, and later it went full-on into nude lesbian naughtiness. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

    Fun blog bit. If Sancho starts to hit it big and need a better drummer, I know where they can find one!

      Sheesh! That's pretty embarrassing that I forgot to mention THE ZONE. (I always thought that name was too generic. Maybe that's why it dropped from my memory.)

      Yeah, actually, BLACK CAT MOAN was originally BLACK CAT BONE, but they changed it when they found another band already existed with that name.

      Then later, BCM became THE ZONE. Or maybe it was an entirely different band. That was many beers ago, and the memory ain't what it used to be (and never was).

      The guy who burned those discs for me put a bunch of songs in one file, rather than indexing each song individually. But the song 'THE LEAGUE OF SOUL CRUSADERS' was written and sung by Twinkie, not Kuzin John. That whole batch of songs beginning with 'TLOSC' is Twinkie's stuffs.

      Do you have the songs 'DO THE THING', 'STRIPTEASE', 'MAR VISTA GIRL' and 'CLEAN LIFE' also?

      That lezbo bit in the video is interesting in that it's all the same girl and trick photography. She's getting off on herself with no help. Ha!

      Not sure how that drummer idea would go over with a band that's played together since the '90s. But I'm glad you dug the blog bit.

      ~ D-FensDogG

    2. The drummer comment was not to be taken seriously, of course. Nothing wrong with their drummer... I just know a great one that needs a band. But he just got a great job in Denver as an event coordinator for a national youth group, anyway. He will teach and play eves and weekends!

    3. SBB-6 ~
      Oh, I understood the "drummer" bit was jocularity.

      Glad to hear that things are going well for him. But don't let him meet up with those Beer Boys while he's in Denver. Those guys are a bad influence. Look how they corrupted ME!

      ~ D-FensDogG

    4. I knew you knew, but I wanted to clarify in case your cousin or his drummer reads this bit. I forgot to answer: I have DO THE THING and STRIPTEASE, but not the other two.

      I agree; I hope that my kid can avoid the evil influences of those beer brothers!

  4. There's nothing I can add to this (as I think you've said it all), but I feel for your cousin. It's really hard to know when you should hold on to a dream or let it go. I guess if it gives you pleasure, keep it. If it's just eating your soul, I'd let it go. I suppose it comes down to this: if you still love it (and would rather be doing it than anything else) whether it makes you famous or not, then yes, you should definitely carry on. So many people derive little to no joy from their work. So, if it makes you happy (and you can make a living doing it), I'd call that a blessing.

    And that was quite the dance move. You can tell him "Girl Wonder" saw it and was impressed;) After all, I am famous in certain superhero circles.

    1. GIRL WONDER ~
      Yep, Johnny looks AND MOVES like a Rock Star.

      Never say die. Well... you can say it, just don't DO IT!

      Say hi to Batman for me, eh?

      ~ D-FensDogG

  5. Kuzin Johnny definitely rocks it. Would be nice to hear a version off the album, because I'm sure as good as those videos are, the live music doesn't do it real justice. Recordings at small venues like that never do. So all things considering, he (and the rest of El Sanchos) sound pretty damn good.

    I love those lyrics, too. "Woke up with my shoes on / Couldn't find my pants or my knees" - what a wonderfully descriptive verse, right out the gate. I had no idea that The Debbil waiting at the Crossroads also improved writing. I might have to reach out to him... (nah)


    1. 6-B ~
      The line I really like is...


      I've awakened hungover before and actually said that line to myself.

      I also like how Johnny one-upped Jim Morrison. Jim said "I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer". But Johnny even turned it into a WARM beer because the electric bill didn't get paid. That's pretty good when you can make 'ROADHOUSE BLUES' look like luxurious livin'.

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

  6. Okay, I'm not a suck up in the least (you may have noticed that) but I have to say that The Cousin rocks. Seriously, this is a perfect example of GREAT talent that doesn't catch the right kind of break. These guys should be touring big time.

    Just checking in while still on STAYCATION...but a buddy can miss their friends, right?

    I've shared the "Whole Foods" video often since you got me HIP to it, brudder. Still waitin' on those vegan pointers for The Angel, lol. See text. Yeah...that's right...look at yer phone, m'good man...

    1. DOC CHERDO ~
      I has a phone?
      No, I can has a cheezburger (with no burger).

      OH, yes, I has a phone, AND I has a TEXT on it. Will get back to ya tomorrow mornin' on that. I'm hoping to be in bed in about 30 minutes. Got that 4:30 wake-up call again tomorrow. (Every Sunday I feel like I'm about to die.)

      Happy you checked in from Hotel Staycation and that you dug the Rockin' Kuzin John! That boy can sing! That boy can blow his harp, too! He's real Bluesy. Lotsa talent there that didn't know the right people, unfortunately.

      OK, yak soon, Doc!

      ~ D-FensDogG

      I knew Kuzin John would like that 'WHOLE FOODS PARKING LOT' video and that he'd recognize that it was filmed in our own backyard.

      ~ D-FensDogG

  7. Are the CD's you fear are "crappin' out" the ones I made for you?

    If so, mail them to me and I can try to redo them.

  8. A lot of bands I follow have day jobs and eke out a little side money, or maybe just break even releasing music and doing limited touring. But they love it.

    So I would agree with Robin-if John is on a stage, he's doing what he loves, and good for him. Even if he's doing something else to pay the bills, so what? There are an awful lot of people playing simply for the love of it, and with the state of the industry today, very few are really getting rich.

    If he can get a few songs on Spotify, maybe they will go viral...

    1. LC ~
      Yeah, I agree that any place where they can get their music accessible is another chance that something could happen. EVERY opportunity, right?

      One of the CDs crapping out was burned by a maintenance guy at The Grove, and the other was made by you. Two discs in each set and I think one from each is having problems.

      Thanks, Brother! I will send them to you and see what you can do. I appreciate that, LC!

      ~ McDogG

  9. This is a great post. The type of stuff you used to put up on your ‘Stuffs’ Blog and I’m here to say I like it a lot. I don’t have the time or energy to read all of the comments and your replies, and I’m nowhere near as eloquent as most of your commenters, so, if I’m just repeating what has already been said, please, feel free to just delete this comment.

    It’s my opinion that Cuzzin Johnny is not only on heck of a good looking guy, but to by ears he really does have talent. That isn’t even getting into the superb lyricist he proves in the things you have published here. He may not have had the luck, or the proper connections to make it in the world of ‘show biz’, but I applaud his tenacity and willingness to stick with what he apparently loves no matter the money that isn’t rolling in. Most performers are in it for the applesauce – that rush of performing before a live audience and the love and acceptance they shower upon you. There ain’t nothing like it. Yeah, the $$$ are nice, but empty without the luv. Why else do you suppose that some of these old guys, who have more money than they could possibly spend in what’s left of the rest of their lives, still make the arduous road tours? It’s for that personal contact high they get from the audience.

    Johnny may not have been ‘discovered’ but he’s out there doing what he loves and making others happy in the process. Tell me…who could ask for anything more? (on second thought, don’t tell me, because I’m sure YOU could ask for something more. Ha, ha, ha) That is something that money and fame truly cannot buy.

    Great job Johnny! You just keep doin what yer doin, at least until it no longer makes you happy.

    1. Hey, I remember YOU! Weren't you the one who used to say.....

      No, wait. ...I'm thinking of someone else.

      But regardless, THANKS A LOT! Glad you liked it. And, now that you mention it, I guess it IS a bit like an old 'STUFFS' blog bit.

      Yeah, Johnny can not only sing like a Rock star (that is one of the better singing Rock stars) but he has a way with lyrics, too. Probably has a way with women, three.

      Ha! I like your term "APPLESAUCE". I don't think I've ever heard anyone but you use it. Is that a FAE original? Or am I just living in the Dark Ages?

      Kuzin John hasn't even seen this post. I'll need to make him aware of it... soon'z I wake up.

      Thanks again, Nitro, for the A-list comment.

      ~ D-FensDogG


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