The basic story line
is, even though he never played guitar before and had not played a musical instrument since tuba in elementary school band, Bill T received an electric guitar in 2005 -- as a joke.  From then on, despite a musical talent deficit, he tried to learn instrumental surf music but at first could not find an instructor.  He met Paul the Pyronaut -- a surf guitarist a couple of generations younger.  Over a few years they wrote some original songs.  The Lava Pups eventually emerged from Bill T's imagination.  A CD was recorded to check something off of his bucket list.  Then the CD had to be performed live.  And -- voila -- we had a band!  The Lava Pups were a reality.  For how long, who knows?


Sue - Artist, Designer, and Rocker 

Loyal readers may remember how Sue came to be a Lava Pup.  But for others, here is the four sentence recap.  In June 2012, a year after releasing our CD and playing some gigs, Paul the Pyronaut moved to the idyllic Victorian village of Ferndale, five plus hours away.  We grappled with whether to have, and how to find, a rhythm guitar player.  Fortunately, the answer sat across the breakfast table every Sunday morning -- my sister Sue, who could play rhythm, albeit on ukulele, “with the best of them.”  She… Read more

Fast, Loud, and Loose with a Sense of Fashion 

Sometimes you just got to go with what you’ve got.

Getting ready for Shine’s Surf Night yesterday included running through the set without the benefit of a band.  Wow, the old fingers were exceedingly bulky.  They had a mind of their own.  My brain said, “fifth fret, low E.”  But the fingers went wherever they pleased.  My brain responded, “We’re going to screw up this puppy tonight.”

By mid afternoon, however, any trepidation subsided.  Alfred E. Neuman’s mantra took over, “What, me worry?”  Worrying just… Read more

The Babe Was One Heck of a Ball Player 

What’s in a name?  At our Saturday coffee clutch, one Wiki Weekend Warrior mentioned that he heard a band named "Trampled by Turtles" on satellite radio.  He observed, “They sure don’t plan on going very far with that name.”  Biting my tongue, I thought, “Hey, they’re getting air play on satellite radio.  That's going somewhere!”

Actually, Trampled by Turtles is doing much more than getting satellite radio air play.  They played on David Letterman a couple of times.  They currently are on tour, crossing the… Read more

Surf on the Radio: TJ the DJ and KDVS 

During his feud with Geffen Records, Neil Young co-wrote “Payola Blues” for his Everybody’s Rockin’ album.  Its verse was:

“No matter where I go
I never hear my record on the radio”

That summed up my expectations when we recorded Into the Flow in 2011.  What radio station ever would play a song from a self-produced CD made up of original surf genre instrumentals performed by mostly non-professional musicians in a band named “The Lava Pups”?

Early on, those expectations were not too far off the mark.  But we did… Read more

Moon Dawg 2014 

Time to get back to rock ‘n roll!  This year marked the third annual Sierra Surf Music Camp.  That means it is here to stay for awhile.  After all, when you do something twice with a smart dog, it then is a habit.  Sierra Surf Music Camp passed habit in year two, and the dates for year four are out already.

Day job demands shortened my camp to a bit more than 24 hours -- arrive Saturday morning at 10:15 and leave Sunday morning at 10:45.  As you might expect, those 24 hours raced by.

I parked and pulled my… Read more

I'm Getting Too Old for this . . . . (Part 2) 

Back in the Nineteenth Century, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds . . . .”  That was before smart phones and text messages, and his phrase still went viral.  As you may recall from Part I, an Alaska Airlines’ text interrupted my curmudgeonly musings.  Was reading that text hypocritical?  Hadn’t I just written about how rude reading a text in mid conversation is?  Of course, that begs the question of whether a hobgoblin hangs out in your or my attic.

These days,… Read more

I'm Getting Too Old for this . . . . (Part 1) 

I’m getting too old for this crap!  Have you ever said that?  Thought it?

As I sat in the Portland airport, some guy in a dress shirt sans tie -- after all, it was a Sunday -- paced by.  The dress shirt elevated him to business traveler.  His cell phone to his ear -- truly old school, no blue tooth -- he uttered his frustration.  “I’m getting too old for this crap!”  Whether he was saying that for the benefit of the person with whom he was speaking or the packed waiting area was not entirely clear.  My… Read more

Return Via the Old School 

Been off the blogging track for nearly four months.  Is that a hiatus?  A vacation?  A sabbatical?  A creative slump?

Of course, when you neglect a project for awhile, you feel that you must come up with some excuse.  This is particularly so when people inquire about your well-being.  “Are you okay?”  “Did something happen?”  “Where have you been?”

Other than to thank people for asking, I got nothing -- no excuse, no funny story.  I simply have been on break -- feel free to call it a vacation or a sabbatical… Read more

"I Saw a Little Daylight There" 

As Thursday night's practice concluded, we moved our gear near the Doghouse door.  Rush (the band) was right, “All this machinery making modern music.”  Amps.  Drums.  Hardware.  Guitars -- an extra just in case.  Bass.  Pedal board.  A bagful of cords and other paraphernalia.  Indeed, it was a bunch of machinery that had to go less than three miles across the Sacramento River to the “new” Shine.

A Friday night gig meant leaving work early -- at 5:15 -- to go home, change out of a coat and tie, hit a… Read more

The "New" Shine 

At 7:45 or so the last time the Pups played Shine, the then owner asked, “Are you going to have enough people here?”  That question was answered with a question, “Why?”  Her response was disheartening, “If you don’t have enough people, we’ll just close.”  The eternal optimist asked, “How many is enough?”  The answer meant we had no worry.  “Ten or so.”  No problem.

Even though she always was nice to me, several musicians may not have received the same treatment.  One band agreed to be a last minute… Read more

Replaced by an iPhone Application 

How do we keep up with technology?  A Neo-Luddite might answer, “We should not.  We simply should refuse to embrace technology.”  A true Luddite might answer, “By destroying the damn machines.”  But that was not successful in the 19th Century; some Luddites were executed for destroying the damn machines.  Parliament made “machine breaking” a capital offense.

Few folks these days can be either a Neo-Luddite or a true Luddite.  Instead, we are at the mercy of Apple, Microsoft, and a bunch of young millionaires… Read more

Airborne Yet? And Other Burning Questions 

Somebody recently asked, “How is that jumping thing going?”  As we all know, sometimes enthusiasm overwhelms common sense.  My knees can attest to that.  Today, they hurt.  

The pain, in turn, raises the age-old question of whether overweight older folks are designed to jump?  We will leave to scientists, theologians, and politicians the debate as to exactly what is “age-old” and whether man is 6,000 or 200,000 years old.

My body parts are not debating humankind’s age.  Instead, my knees are complaining that… Read more

Of Gold, Green, and the Growl 

We describe our music as garage or industrial surf.  But just what is that?  Maybe it is a bit like pornography; it cannot be described but you know it when your hear it.  We think of it as throaty with a twinge of a growl.  It sounds a smidge dirty with reverb, some slap echo, and tremolo or vibrato.  Occasionally overdriven.  Our music gives the sense of playing on the verge of falling into a vat of muck and other industrial waste..   

My Schecter gold top serves up garage surf very nicely.  It defies the… Read more

Cliche? Blase? Everybody Is Entitled to an Opinion 

Day jobs and rock ‘n roll fantasies do not fold together as nicely as we sometimes like.  Demanding day jobs that we really enjoy can make the combination especially dicey.  Working every day for three weeks uses up what creativity and energy might be available for rock ‘n roll, blog posts, etc.  Tight, structured thinking and waves of projects do not allow for many free flow thoughts or mental meanderings.  

But I am not going to let another week slip by without putting fingers to keyboard.  If I tap away,… Read more

Getting the Hook 

The Sound Guy’s voice came through the monitors.  “One more.”  Huh?  “You took a long time to set up.  You’re done!”  An ignominious end to a performance that began with no sound at the Blue Lamp.

By the time that the Sound Guy put a halt to our set, I had overcome the heat, coffee, tacos, nervous energy, and embarrassment of overlooking a zeroed knob on the amp.  We started with Surf Rider because Robert needs a bit of a warm up before launching headlong into our more energetic stuff -- that, in Becky’s… Read more