News & Notes: Jesse Fitts goes folk, 12 Volt Sex and (the other) Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson hit Tucson to lay down new Dude City tracks-get this!-on tape.
Photo: Corlene Byrd
Leslie Ventura

The dude abides Besides being the visionary behind local band Dude City and helping his friends record in his kitchen, singer Jack Johnson is digging his feet into another endeavor—a new Dude City album. “We wanted to record on tape, and there aren’t a lot of good analog studios in Las Vegas,” says Johnson, who recently laid down Dude City tracks at Tucson, Arizona’s Wave Lab, home to albums by the likes of Neko Case and Devotchka. Johnson hopes to press full-length records in time for a summer release. Now armed with James Adams and Tsvetelina Stefanova of Same Sex Mary, along with Black Beans N Hippie Liver’s Mike McGuinness on drums, Johnson says that for the first time, he’s found a lineup that can do everything. “I don’t know if I’m spreading myself too thin, [but] I’m having tons of fun and I really believe in what we’re doing.” –LESLIE VENTURA

Once, for old time’s sake It felt sadly appropriate, for a band with so much frustration in its past to experience a bit more during its one-night-only reunion. “What the fuck? Are we picking up Spanish radio?” 12 Volt Sex frontman Matt Gucu marveled as a booming noise-blast interrupted the quartet’s opening number Saturday night at Beauty Bar. Later, the PA dropped out completely during the group’s rendition of original single “Over Divine.”

No matter, the packed outdoor crowd wouldn’t let technical difficulties—or icy conditions—put a damper on 12 Volt’s homecoming, which saw two members fly in from Oregon for the group’s first show in five years. Fans sang along to songs from 12 Volt’s three albums, the most famous of which, Stereo Quatro, went unreleased by RCA Records for a decade before seeing the light of day last year on iTunes. Gucu, guitarist Michael Stratton, bassist Jason Coleman and drummer Gary Wright finished the show by leaving the stage in turns, one by one, each appearing reluctant to see the night end. Maybe we haven’t seen the end of 12 Volt Sex after all … –SPENCER PATTERSON

Best foot forward He’s played intense metalcore with Curl Up and Die and melodic pop-rock with Action Cat. Now Jesse Fitts is finally getting around to the music in his own heart. “My interests lie almost completely in historical American music—blues, folk and jazz,” says the longtime Las Vegan. “Folk, in particular, because it brings together other interests of mine, literary and so on.”

Jesse Fitts' One Foot on the Platform

Indeed, apart from the first two minutes of Fitts’ new album One Foot on the Platform, which are straight-jazz exploration, the project is heavily steeped in folk, with the 28-year-old’s Dylanish voice set atop acoustic: guitar, bass, piano, harmonica and drums—all played by the man best known for spearheading Curl Up and Die’s heavy math workouts from 1999 through the group’s 2005 split.

“Most people know me as a metal drummer, but I never really listened to metal or hardcore,” he says. “That stuff was physically challenging, so it was fun, but it was never my kind of music. With my music now, I’m expressing something meaningful to me.”

Fitts, a third-year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, brought his academic focus on linguistics to his latest musical project. “With a lot of types of music, any old lyrics will do; it’s just how you sing them that matters,” he says. “There are a lot of lyrics on this album. [Words] might be what matter most to me about it.”

Download or stream One Foot on the Platform for free at jessejohnfitts.bandcamp.com. And keep an eye out for news of a live version. Fitts plans to play a few shows sometime soon, including a Vegas gig when he’s back on break. –SP

Strikes and spares Killing Joke, Stiff Little Fingers, Leftover Crack, The Aggrolites, Citizen Fish, Krum Bums, Bleak Pacific, Off With Their Heads, Larry and His Flask and Dirty Filthy Mugs have been added to the initial Punk Rock Bowling lineup headlined by the Descendents, Dropkick Murphys and Cock Sparrer. Tickets for the three-day festival, which runs May 28-30 on an outdoor stage at Fremont and 6th Street, are on sale now—$90 for all-fest passes and $35 for single days. The Memorial Day weekend event will also feature a batch of late-night shows at several Downtown venues. –SP

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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