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The Big Huerta Gets Punked (South Bay style)


I understand that punk rock is not everyone’s cup of tea. Now give me a few minutes before you change the channel. Punk rock opened up doors for all of us folks that embraced music. We wanted something other than what the major record giants were serving us up. We wanted our own music. We wanted to get closer to the music. We wanted to do it ourselves and this is what we did and continue to do. Punk rock is not about a look. It is about a passion, about a feel, about a spirit, about community, about a way of getting off your butt and doing it in the best way that you can. These paintings that I do are punk rock. I do them myself. I put them out there. Call it West Coast Garage Art if you want another label. I will continue to paint, if only for myself, but I have been blessed with the great experience of them touching other people and other people digging them and wanting to see more paintings. I am truly thankful for this and this is what punk rock is, man! DIY! No one said I was a painter but I dig painting, like no one said I was a musician but I played and saw the world. This blue collar, lower middle class guy got to travel to foreign countries, play music, and met the nicest peeps in the world, and got spending money, all because of punk rock! Okay, then..

Jack Brewer and Joe Baiza are members of South Bay punk rock band Saccharine Trust. This past week I have been going down memory lane and revisiting my “punk roots”, if you will. It all started with a book release of the San Pedro punk scene called “A Wailing of a Town, 1977-1985” an oral history written by Craig Ibarra. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has a passing interest in punk rock and California musical history. A great read and Craig did a bang up job! It is strange when you know a lot of the folks in a book that you are reading. This made me re-watch the DVD, “We Jam Econo, The Story of The Minutemen”, again full of peeps that I know and have played with.

I first saw Saccharine Trust at Cathay de Grande in Hollywood with Black Flag back in 1981 or 1982. I was in a pop/psychedelic band at the time (Copper 7) and was completely blown away by this jazz infused/beatnik/poetry/punk/acid sound. I almost quit playing music entirely after seeing them. Why bother? They were miles ahead of what I was doing. The guitarist (Joe Baiza) looked like a serial killer that would cut you if you looked at him funny and the singer (Jack Brewer) was a crazed poetry spouting wildman that was off in some other galaxy, all being moved by this crazy tight and fast, acidic jazz sheets of noise. If you would have told me that in the future that I would be in a band with both of these guys on that night, I would have scurried away as fast I could from you.

Fast forward a few years later…I am asked to be in a band with Jack Brewer and I am truly honored and do not feel worthy being involved with projects of this respected poet and singer (and I was always asking Jack how he wanted the drums to go in songs and the coolest answer I ever heard was “Play the drums like Ed Huerta”) and we make a couple albums of great stuff and do a lot of shows and Baiza guest starring in the guitar role every once in awhile. We have a guitarist (Philo) who shreds considerably but when Joe plays with us, it elevates everyone’s game several more notches. Everyone respects Baiza’s stuff, (he just don’t dig the socks that I use on my cymbals to dampen the sound during practice) it is like playing with Coltrane or something. Jack also has a give and take with Baiza that can be found in most all pairings of musical genius. These two guys have been the keystones of one of the best bands to ever come out of the South Bay/L.A. area (Cobain even listed ST as one of his fave bands) and dig them research-wise if you are not familiar with them.

I did this painting for an article that I wrote on Joe Baiza (an acclaimed artist himself) for jackaboutguitars website. I was possibly introducing Joe and Saccharine to a group of people that might have not been familiar with his guitar work. That was/is my original intention with those articles, to shed some light on “blue collar” dudes that might get overlooked, but are just as incredible as your Clapton’s. Anyways, in the painting I depicted Jack and Joe in a church, Jack has a lot of biblical references in his lyrics and is very well read, and I also have the Virgin Mary giving Joe the eye, as in we need you to join the flock for your salvation or she has a crush on him. That is open to interpretation. They also have the spiritual lightness over their heads to signify they are of a different realm. They both are very kind and generous and have a great spirituality about them, not at all like their first impressions. On the votive candles are the initials of all of the past members (Rob, Earl, Tony et al) that have played in Saccharine Trust with the legendary bassist Bob Fitzer’s in the sacred heart.

Hope you enjoyed this trip. It is nice to touch base with musical punk rock roots for I am forever wallowing in punk rock painting and expression…from the garage to your heart, The Big Huerta.

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