Lewis Ray Cammarata
Lewis Ray Cammarata
It wasn't until 1975 that he came to the realization that, the early drug fueled days of pre 1970 distortathon, psyche fests aside, the last four years spent studiously slumming through the banality of top 40 clubbing from Boston to Flint, MI, to Cocoa Beach, FL, to Columbus, OH., descended into a suspension of musical adventurousness, setting in like a blanket of West Baltimore steel smelting smog. The explanation for this was quite simple: He was now making a living at playing music. Upon arriving in Los Angeles in 1975, the onset of the burgeoning Punk Rock/ New Wave scene a year later was a cultural besotting for Cammarata. Punch drunk with the sheer audacity of the cultural dadaism, it was another year before he found his place. That place was helping to put together seminal pop/punk band The Zippers.
Sharing stages with cultural icons like The Blasters, Patti Smith, The Buzzcocks, and John Cale, the band built a hard core following from San Diego to Houston to Tokyo. Their debut single on Back Door Man Records, He's A Rebel b/w You're So Strange, made a decent local splash, and was eventually featured in the Dennis Christopher film "Fade to Black". Eventually teaming with former Doors publicist Danny Sugerman, and keyboardist Ray Manzarek, the band released a six song "mini-lp" in 1980 on Rhino Records. Several of the songs have since been appropriated for use on half a dozen different punk/pop collections. Despite being lavished with critical acclaim from the likes of LA Times' Robert Hilburn ("the best unsigned band in America"), renowned pop critic and historian Don Waller ("angelic four part harmonies surrounded by four chords and a cloud of dust") internal issues caused the disbanding of the group soon after.
Cammarata spent the next four years in several other local groups, working with L.A. DJ/vocalist Terry Gladstone and drummer extraordinaire Michelle Mangione in Other Voices. When the group disbanded in 1985 Cammarata had decided that playing in bands and subjecting himself to the abject drudgery of pandering to corporate musical entities was the death knell to creativity. His attention now turned to writing and recording in solitude, and eventually to session work for local neophytes in need of professional assistance at bargain basement prices.
Arranging, providing guitar, background vocals, and guidance to his clientele led to the need for more sophisticated instrumentation. The situation evolved into a small, self contained production group. Before long Cammarata (with partners in crime Tom Kidd and Tom Magnuson) was enlisting the help of hired guns like sax man Cornelius Bumphus, pianist Mike Garson, and violinist Richard Greene. To Cammarata's delight this in turn led to reciprocal sessions with many of the same players, and to work with Bonnie Bramlett, Glen Cornick, Jesse Ed Davis, Rick Eckstein, and numerous other luminaries. By 1993, no longer able to sustain even a modest interest in music, Cammarata decided that he'd had his fill of L.A.
He packed the brood; wife Kathleen, and son Joseph, sold all his guitars save one, and headed off into the sunrise for the golden sands of the east coast Redneck Riviera, Virginia Beach, VA. It took eight years and a less than neighborly prod from a friend to convince Cammarata that he should sit in at a jam session at the local biker bar. His first response; "... you must be fucking kidding me! I'm 50 years old, and one thing I ain't about is biker bars".
Needless to say this one night relit the proverbial fire. The reignited passion however, was now redirected into a less formal, and more singular interest in what is commonly referred to as The Blues. As usual, Cammarata's idea of "da blues" was not exactly what his southern constituents considered relevant. Turning Tom Waits' "Jesus gonna be Here" into a one-man, slide honkin', stomp-fest just wasn't gonna play. That it doesn't play for many hasn't affected Cammarata's desire to explore the relevancy of his slide-washed, trailer park, blues-noire.
His first full length solo CD, "Monster in Disguise", released on Statue Records in 2003, two years after his relocation to the hell-on-earth also known as Phoenix, AZ, is an amalgam of gutter blues, spaghetti western mastications, and late night innuendo. He is presently working (alone as usual) on a new set of songs, more viscerally produced, in his Mesa, AZ home studio. It is slated for release when he gets it done. The tentative title is PUNT. Official Website: Lewis Ray Cammarata ReverbNation: Lewis Ray Cammarata Read more on Last.fm.
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