Tom Heath: Good morning Tucson. It’s a beautiful Sunday in the Old Pueblo. Thank you for spending part of your brunch hour with us on your downtown Tucson Community sponsored Rock n Roll radio station. This week, we discussed the musical journey of a naughty dog from the club’s of Mexico to the bars of Tucson.
Tom Heath: Today is January 12th. My name is Tom Heath and you are listening to my life along the streetcar. each and every Sunday. Our focus is on social cultural. And economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban core, and we shed light on hidden gems. Everyone should know about from a mountain to the U of A and all stops in between you get the inside track right here on 99.1 FM streaming on Downtown Radio dot org also available on your iPhone or Android the heading over to your respective App Store and downloading Downtown Radio, Tucson. Put that in your pocket and take it wherever you go. And if you want to reach us here on the show, our email address is contact at Life along the streetcar dot-org. We’re on Facebook at lifelong the streetcar you can find us on Twitter and our past episodes are now online at Life along the streetcar dot-org.
Tom Heath: We start Today’s Show with news of a circus coming to town. It’s not the first time. In fact, this is the ninth year that we will have the Zope Family Circus at the Mercado San Augustine. They popped up the big tent there last week and starting on Friday the 10th. They’re doing some things it’s only in town until the 26th though just a short window there. But like I said, it’s not their first time. They’ve been here many times, the circus itself travels across the country. It started back in Europe, actually some place near Venice, I believe is where this began and it’s a family-run operation. They tour a one ring tent and they focus more on acrobats and do not use a lot of the high-tech effects that you might see other places.
Tom Heath: According to their website, they celebrate the European circus Arts whose appeal depends on acrobatic Feats, jugglers, dancing dogs,aerialist and Brilliant comedic clowning. The tent holds about 500 folks and they do two or three shows a day so you can check them out near downtown. The theme this year is a throwback to the founding and they are paying a tribute to Anna, The Zope Matriarch who kept the show alive during the Depression through her tenacity and perseverance.
Tom Heath: They’re going to do more than just try to focus on the circus acrobats. They say they’re they’re trying to touch every emotion when people are there they say they laugh they cry and they feel for the characters. So yeah, you can get over there and witness this display and we invite you to share your experiences on our Facebook page. If you enjoyed it, they did make a note on their page to indicate that this is a family friendly show. They don’t use aggressive special effects. There’s no wild animals. They do have some domesticated animals that they have in their act but those are more like which are used to seeing their dogs and such not larger animals you see it other circuses. Again 9th year, so head over and check it out!
Tom Heath: George Blanda returns to our show and discusses his musical career began as a seventh grader when he witnessed a surprise performance by his classmate and it led George to a passion for music. He grew up in Nogales. He’ll tell you that he got his chops sort of as you would say playing clubs in Mexico. He had to sneak to Tucson on the bus there to hang out at the Chicago store with his friends and get some advice from local Tucson musicians and he eventually started playing here in Tucson clubs like Sharks and the Speakeasy.
Tom Heath: He has kind of got his founding, his Credo of “be good to the music and the music will be good to you” after he did an access television performance their downtown and his music is was was inspiring to a woman who was near the end of her life and a CD got into her hands through that performance and according to her family brought peace and Tranquility as she passed on from this world. So George at heart is a preacher. He’s a guitar player, a singer, writer and he just really loves music and he loves the lifestyle of a musician.
Tom Heath: You know, according to his his Credo he told his very first band they would do great things that would lead great lives, but probably not make much money. Seems like he’s been pretty happy with how things have turned out. He’s introspective at this point about his role in this Continuum of Music his band Los Naughty Dogs makes it a point to play the music of those who shape them, artists like lala Guerrero who George says was influential especially in the later years of the band. But naughty dogs are not an oldies cover band, they play original music and they put their own modern influences on the classics. I met up with George in a secret underground bunker studio in the heart of downtown to learn about his musical Journey from Nogales to Tucson.
George Landa: Yeah, I’m a musician. That’s what I do. Sometimes. I think it’s I’m one of those babies at saw the Ed Sullivan Show in the Beatles showed up. I clearly remember seeing that I remember that moment in time
Tom Heath: And you so you grew up in Nogales and getting the music down in that area as a youngster.
George Landa: Oh totally! my older brother was a musician. He was a drummer and a trumpet player. He wasn’t too good, but he was a musician and we’re all baseball players or musicians in My Tribe. And and then I just remember my my current drummer, Eddie, we were in seventh grade and he shows up with the guitar and amp into the class. Our teacher says, you know, Eddie’s a real loser, but he’s going to give us a concert and if it’s a good concert he’s going to pass the class. And we’re all mostly jocks are in the back.
George Landa: Like what them pork is Eddie doing, you know, we’re checking him out gets up his guitar riff guitar and a Kingston amplifier from the Great Chicago store. That’s where we see get always get our gear. I love Joe, the owner of the place. He did so much for us. Us and he gets out the guitar and he hits a C chord. He goes pom. Pom. Pom. Jeremiah was a bullfrog bump and he starts singing inflated! The Crowd Goes Crazy. We’re like chimps in the back screaming, Eddie screaming. Stacy the front row faints and we never seen anything like this in our lives.
George Landa: So I asked Eddie. What the hell are you? Well, what’s going on here? He says, I got a band and they were playing Black Magic Woman, I Ain’t Got Nobody by Santana, House of the Rising Sun and I said, oh my God, this is mind-boggling. I hauled ass home and I pulled out my old guitar my dad got me when I was like in fourth grade, third year and the strings are about 2 inches high and I’m screaming murder because my fingers all messed up.
George Landa: Made him bring me to the Chicago store that weekend because I had a paper route so I had some cash and I ordered a book. It’s sale out of the back of a comic book, “how to play guitar in seven days or your money back” and that was it. That’s where it started. I’ll never forget that moment in time. I know you were no Galas at the time. Yeah, totally, you know guess but Chicago store that’s here. So that’s still your you knew about that in Nogales.
George Landa: Yeah, what we used to do was be Nogales around ninth grade. Eighth grade downtown was jumping. It was great and it was right connected to Nogales. You come over walk back and forth.
Tom Heath: What time frame was this ?
George Landa: we’re talking? 1975 76 77. I’m sorry. I’m sorry 72 73 74 7-5 to my senior. In high school. So what happened was I would tell my mom I was going downtown and the guy that this guy was going to soon be my bass player and my drummer, you know, we would hang out together this in the Grand Funk Railroad and stuff like then the guests of the first record. We stole from the crest. He was the guess whose greatest hits the first golden record. Oh absolutely and then you know, we’re kids we don’t have anybody in where the paper routes gone because we don’t wanna work we wanted to play.
George Landa: Playing music. So we tell our parents were going downtown. But we do was we hop on citizen Auto stage, which is the bus line at that time five bucks round trip. We’d come up on the bus we go hang out at the Chicago store. Ask all the better musicians just bhagam, you know and Joe would let us play the amps and need obviously that’s too much guitar for you kid over there go over there in that corner, but he was great. He tolerated all our nonsense. He goes call your mom and we’ll get you the stamp this guitar well, Fast forward a little bit. So you have a band the band name is we go by those bloody dogs.
George Landa: See when goes back to the training we have back as when we were kids once we get it to our junior year like 73-74 we’re getting decent at plane. But the better bands are in Mexico all the guys that are five six years older than us with longer hair. They’re playing all backed into was the red light district called Canal Street and the red light district all the clubs had bands they cover Sinatra. They covered Tom Jones. They covered all these artists. So the musical education in Nogales Sonora was fantastic because these guys were far more advanced musicians.
George Landa: There’s a kind in those days you put the record and you put back the needle you pull back the right needle so you can learn the parts. So your ear training got incredible and all of us took music lessons, you know, I was a trombone player in high school at once, you know, it’s part. The progression and becoming a piano is learning to read music not a great reader. But you know, you learned the theory and all that but in Mexico the best bands were there you become friends with these guys and they show you and then at night they let you slide into play a couple of songs whether you go get a drink and it was a great musical education.
George Landa: So we got everything we learned how to play country whilst I know about Samba Jazz conduit anything really great, but we got to play it. We learn to play everything. We got it because they know callous. At night you can get X Rock 80 out of wadis. Okay, or you can get Koma out of Oklahoma City 1520 at night, you know and there they were playing Layla and stuff like that or Grand Funk Railroad. So it’s a green education, you know, and you’re getting all this invasion of Rock and Roll On the Border from these late-night AM stations, you know, allegedly the Wolfman was doing I never heard I can’t recall ever hearing the Wolfman.
George Landa: Thanks Rach 80 which was out of water because they go like to 50,000 Watts at night. So be On the Border was a great musical education. Hmm and it was a great time to start playing and you play with all these cover bands and we were in bands that we all dress the same and we played all these Regional Ballas we had songs, you know, eventually started recording with these bands and we’d always do the tour’s the best promoter in the 70s was Oscar Stevens who was ahead of was a radio TV personality in town and he booked bands like Little Joe.
George Landa: I don’t know if you’re familiar with them, but they’re the king of Tex-Mex Latin Breed and and they bring them in and do big shows that the TCC so we were like the under bands but it was a great musical experience moving up to the college in the 70s choo-choos was right around the corner from here Cronin. Where’s the in for Mario was playing the air Randy Castillo who used to when I was in the wobblies who went on to play with Ozzy, he would go with us to know galliston or on the weekend to get all messed up with us, you know. Edgar Winters drummer got messed up with us and hung around Felix popularity people like that. So it was just a great time to be learning the music
Tom Heath: We’re here with George Landa. He is a singer-songwriter with Los Naughty Dog’s, kind of give us the history of how he got into music and his formative years in Nogales on a Border Town and kind of sneaking into Tucson to head to the Chicago store way back to finish out that interview and talk about his own creation. As their music their tributes to the classics into the classic artists like lala Guerrero, but first, I want to remind you that you’re listening to Life along the streetcar on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtown Radio dot org.
Tom Heath: I will get back to these another interview with George landa of Los Naughty dogs and talk about the music of his later years and what it meant when he moved to Tucson and found out about people like Lalo Guerrero.
George Landa: And then when I came back to Tucson in 99, 1 hooked with a band called High-Rise, we were playing a bar called the Speakeasy and it was great because they have the prettiest bartenders in the planet I’ve ever seen it was great because Hector Rodriguez the late Hector Rodriguez was the was a show man entrepreneur good a good man. He gave us a lot of opportunity. I remember when I was playing in Portland before I came back here. This one guy told me. Hey, you got to follow your bliss. He told me the soldier musician, you know so play No, that’s great that you guys do all this coverage got to be doing your songs. He says sneak them in until you start doing your own shows that will open up more doors, but you got to do covers to get in. So that was started setting up the mission. And then in 2001, there was a band called Naughty Dogs in town. I joined them.
George Landa: They sucked the bass player was cool though. And we did a show at the Pima County Fair Lana where boggles who’s sweetheart love her to death. He was our First game there we sucked and these other guys in the band thought we sounded great. I turned to the bass player. I said I’m done with these clowns. I said you enter you out. He says, oh I’m with you I said, okay. I told the guys. Hey, we’re done when I’m done with you guys. You’re all fired what sort of band it was your pants my band now and it’s called Lost naughty dog’s all you guys all you clowns are out of here. And that was it. I told and I then I got a bunch of my guys together and I told him…
Tom Heath: You joined a band, kicked them out of their own band, change the names of it, and took it over
George Landa: I took over. Yeah, I told the guys look we’re gonna get this great equipment. We’re going to dress great. We’re going to meet the prettiest girls in town. But you gotta understand there’s no money in this but you got to be good to the music. If you’re good to the music the music is good to you. So I had guys that wanted on board and we just started playing our range riding my material playing originals and it just started working out just start working out and we play stuff and taste by my Na and was great as I’m Tony the owner of sharks loved us, so We were like one of his house bands and we got to play our stuff there and it was a great time to be playing downtown its kind in Vaudeville was down here by the Chicago store and iguana have a great Santana cover band there. Mike Flannery was playing there great guitar player and the district had the rockabilly going and all that good stuff and it sharks, you know, we were doing the Latin Rock stuff. It was rocking Espanol They called it back then.
Tom Heath: When I ran into you for the first time, was introduced to you, It was at the Rialto and you’re performing In between sets on a wrestling card and I thought it was sort of a gimmick and then I start reading about you and hearing this. I mean this you you are like Tucson institution. You’ve been all over the place, you know, you get people you played with so many different people here in Tucson is just amazing…
George Landa: Because under that Creed, you got to be good the the music, it means you have to be honest because if there’s only one person or 400 people you owe me what you got. You’ve got to play it and I have two examples of You don’t want to share with you salute. When I first formed the band. I told them the first thing we’re going to do for those record a Christmas TV and they go what do you mean it Christmas CD, you know I said, you know, listen we got to leave a Christmas CD because all I don’t have any kids, but I said all you guys are married you have kids you’re gonna be grandparents and every year Christmas are going to say hey put my uncle on put my dad on put my grandfather on.
George Landa: So in your family’s you’ll live forever, you know, they’ll always play us at Christmas time. So we even did a song called Feliz Navidad Especially with the two but we recorded with the to I’ll give you a Christmas CD the reason for doing that was just to leave that Legacy and your family and we did we record it with love the first time we heard it on the since it was great and we had tears but there was a man named named Dan Harrigan Cox cable used to have access Tucson. It was late night cable shows and damn Harrigan and do not do Rubio had two TV shows the Harrigan after hours and don’t drool. We are going R to Ruby. Those notches the Sonora so we’ll school because I’m not just for not us. We played our rocking this fine old stuff. And on the danharriet sure we could do our blues and original stuff this probably like 2002 maybe 2003 to Christmas 2002 our Christmas 2003 and they’re putting on their under little screen on follow us on the internet at this.
George Landa: This is our address and they’re talking to all people are watching this on the internet and I’m thinking nobody’s watching this crew this show on the internet. We’re lucky to be you know anybody. Cox Cable subscribers and that’s got insomnia really are watching this show. So we put up our those Naughty Dogs at Yahoo, email address. We do our Christmas show. Well, I get an email a few days later from a lady in Terre Haute, Indiana and she says her mom is from Tucson and she was born in Tucson, but their connection to Tucson the only access they have to Tucson is on their computer to the Harrogate show and I’m like, this is boggling me. So I tell the end she said that her mom enjoyed the show. So I asked her for her address and I mailed her a CD. I got a letter like around January 17th from the daughter and she thanked me because her mom had died. She was dying, but our CD pacified the later gave her Tranquility. She would listen to our CD all day and she died with a smile and that was the power of the music that we touched that one Soul. So the message was direct and I knew I knew. That we’ve been given this opportunity by a higher power to do this because I’m always saying it’s a gift. God gives you a gift. And if you don’t take care of it it can go away.
Tom Heath: I was looking at your at your note here and it’s signed by Reverand landa. Are you a… preacher
George Landa: Back in Portland back in Portland. We had our drummer. Who’s goodbye Reverend Galactica. Told us I don’t want you guys paying taxes no more. I’m going to ordain you guys and when you go, you know, what are you talking about? Well, his dad was involved with the Universal Life Church. So he ordained the whole band. Okay, you know work we’ve done lots of weddings and I’ve had to do the vows for the people.
Tom Heath: That’s that’s the true Wedding Singer right there when performing the wedding and singing There’s this is absolutely fantastic. I’ve no idea how I’m going to edit this down until because this is just so much good stuff and you just you just thrown out silly names and places that I have to research on even know. This is a huge chunk of history. And we’re in a studio in an underground bunker in Tucson that no one knows about and this is just just amazing that you are producing not just the music but the that you’re keeping the history and that you’re pulling all of this and keeping it fresh and and two different audiences. I I just appreciate all that you’re doing is phenomenal. Thank you.
George Landa: It’s it’s really important to spread the message. Whatever we what we have to share because it’ll get lost. If we don’t if we’re if we’re not performing lol song with honesty and conviction. It’ll get lost. The Chicano scene is dwindling. That’s why Lalo’s Son Mark. It’s so important that The Chicano Chronicles that on his on his podcast and on the Chicano radio network to convey that message of a music that existed that was huge, but it’s disappeared. It’s dwindled.
Tom Heath: And bands like yourself keeping it alive and bring it into another generation because I’m sure you you will inspire someone else that will carry on that torch. It was shared to me and I have to share
Tom Heath: Really a lot of fun interviewing George. You can tell he’s got a lot of energy a lot of passion and we actually edit out an entire section which we talked about Lala Guerrero decided we’re going to kind of pull that back and maybe mix that with some of the interview we had with Ruben Moreno about while a Guerrero and some of the conversations we’ve had with Lalo son Dan and maybe put that together as its own little episode there. So look forward to that coming up later in the year.
Tom Heath: My name is Tom Heath. You are listening to Life along the streetcar down. Town Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtown Radio dot-org so it’s again thanks to George Lana for spending a lot of time with us. If you remember he was our guest last week and we talked about the impact of Miller’s Surplus here in the community, George has been managing that place for 20 years performing music and he’s all over the place will link to his band’s page. You can get a sense of where they’re playing.
Tom Heath: First time. I saw him was actually at a wrestling match at the Rialto. They were the entertainment between matches and its first time I met George Fun talking with him. And as you can see, he’s got quite a bit of energy, but other musical things coming up here, it’s January. So all kinds of stuff happening in Tucson. We talked a little bit about last week with the jazz festival kicked off on the 10th and we’ll run all of this week. It’s going to end on Martin Luther King day, which is January 20th. It’s a week from tomorrow to next Monday and as it has been for the last several years. The Martin Luther King day will be the the day of the final performances of the Tucson Jazz Festival and it will be an outdoor free series of concerts on the 20th stage is start around 11 a.m. And will go till about 5:00 or 5:30 or so. You can see the full line up on the Tucson Jazz societies page there will jazz festivals page will link to that from our Facebook page.
Tom Heath: Some of the notable names you got local bands from Rincon University High and Tucson High that will be performing you’ve got local stars. Like Crystal Stark will be performing on the 20th and we have Yolo County Line. The Yolo County Line is part of the headlining on the main stage for the free downtown Jazz Fest on the 20th. It’s gonna be in the same area where The taco drop was hope you got out there for for New Year’s Eve goes by there yesterday by the skating rink is coming down. So that’s going to be put back into storage. Just a little side note. Also coming up next weekend in that same general area at Hotel Congress on Sunday the 19th. We have the 2020 Dillinger days celebrating the capture of America’s Most Wanted in 1934 that happened here in Tucson at it started at hotel Tucson with that fire. They had their they lost that third floor members of Dillinger’s gang were staying there and were identified through their mug shots and such and led to a sting operation that end up rounding all of Dillinger’s gang up captured here in Tucson.
Tom Heath: Of course, we transfer them to an escape-proof prison in Indiana. Anna from which they promptly escaped in John Dillinger was famously shot down by federal agents outside of a movie theater in Chicago, but we did catch him here in Tucson. We celebrate that a Dillinger days next week. There will be a period costumes people with car shows all kinds of stuff for you to check out that’s a wrap for episode. Number one one eight were rolling into 2020. If you have anything you want us to cover please hit us up on our Facebook page or shoot us an email contact at Life along the streetcar dot-org check out some of our past episodes on our webpage and yeah, keep us up to date on what we need to know.
Tom Heath: We’re leaving you with music today from Los naughty dog’s this is from their CD called Lalo’s Town. This is a song written by George Landa at called a Barrio boy. Hope you like it and check out there their band page for upcoming concerts. My name is Tom Heath. Hope you have a great week and tune in next Sunday for more Life along the streetcar.