South Florida has an all-star Beatles tribute band. Bet you didn't know that.
The Beethose consists of local musical stalwarts Jim Camacho, Chris Alvy, Jordan Welch, Chris Price, and Fernando Perdomo. This Fab "Five" is playing a special benefit show at Stache on Saturday, January 3, for Arnold Abbott and his Love Thy Neighbor homeless charity group. Abbot was twice cited and ordered to appear in court recently for feeding Fort Lauderdale's homeless - in defiance of new, controversial regulations requiring that anyone hosting mass feedings in outdoor public spaces provide portable toilets and adhere to other restrictions.
County Grind caught up with erstwhile Miamian, much in-demand musician, producer, and Beethose co-founder Perdomo to chat about the Beatles's White Album (which will be performed in its entirety at the show), tribute band co-founder Jim Camacho, and life at his new home in the San Fernando Valley.
See also: Jim Camacho Prepares For U.K. Shows
New Times: The news of Arnold Abbott went viral on the internet, so you would have read about it in L.A. What's your reaction to the story?
Fernando Perdomo: It's become a national problem and a national outrage. It's sad that people didn't know about this guy until he started getting arrested. I think news should be more about positive things than negative things. Something positive is coming out of this, and I'm glad that people are realizing that how stupid they (City of Fort Lauderdale Police Department) are to arrest this man, who all he wants to do is help others. I'm glad that things are looking more positive for the situation and I'm glad that it's given awareness to the charity.
How do you feel about helping Love Thy Neighbor?
I feel great about helping Love Thy Neighbor, helping a celebrity charity. This charity is not just local any more, now it's gotten to the point where people are going to want to become part of this charity, even if they don't live in South Florida. I think local charities this good will eventually expand to (becoming) a nationwide charity, because homelessness is a worldwide problem; it's a worldwide issue that needs help.
I'm really happy that it's getting awareness, I'm really happy that we are doing the show to help them monetarily. I really hope this show goes well and that the place is really packed because this charity really needs help.
I also want to mention that we lost a Beethose this year, and this show will be a tribute to Domingo "Mingui" Perez (the late guitarist who performed and recorded with Willy Chirino, Cachao and others). He was going through some rough times, and we brought him into the Beethose and those final shows he did with us were some of the best moments of his life. We will never forget his energy and his amazing playing.
Tell me about founding the Beethose with Jim and Jordan. How did you guys start out?
The Beatles' music is part of our DNA; we love playing it. There needed to be a South Florida collective of musicians that love the Beatles. We've been doing it for over ten years now, and we've done pretty much every Beatles album. This will be the second time we do The White Album and it's gonna be exciting because we've all grown as musicians and Beatles' music has never been more popular. So I think the time is right to get the Beethose back together and perform the album in its entirety, which many people consider to be their best album.
Which is your favorite Beatles album to play?
The White Album is my favorite Beatles album, probably the album that changed my life the most. It's a perfect double album with a little bit of everything. Some people say that The White Album started entire genres of music.
It's not just one style all the way through; there's rock, great pop, there's some experimental music, there's some tongue-in-cheek comedic numbers, and then there's just some stuff that is purely emotional. It really showed the entire spectrum of what the Beatles could do, more than any other album, and proves that they are pretty much one of the most ground-breaking bands in the history of rock and roll. If it wasn't for them, I think music would be completely different.
It's amazing how from song to song, the album shifts genres; it starts off with a rocker, "Back in the U.S.S.R.," then goes into "Dear Prudence," which is completely unique folk psychedelia -- psychedelic but without the bells and whistles. The album also has "Revolution # 9," which might be the first music to use concrete beats and is completely out of this world. Then it has really beautiful tunes like "Goodnight Tonight" and "Martha, My Dear," which are almost old-fashioned, and extremely beautiful rock ballads like "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Sexy Sadie" -- unique.
All four Beatles got a chance to shine. Ringo has two of his best songs on this record ("Don't Pass Me By" and "Goodnight"). It's fun to play live, a double album that doesn't feel like a double album, where most double albums feel tedious, this one doesn't -- it flows.
Which Beatle are you?
I'm a combination between George and Ringo. Chris Alvy will be singing most of the George parts, but I will be playing most of his guitar parts.
Tell me about your recent collaborations with Beathose bandmate Jim at Capitol Studios and Reseda Ranch Studios?
We are working on a new Jim Camacho album, and it's going to be his best by far. He is so inspired and is recording the definitive version of his fan favorite song "Ophelia" on this record. That song calls for a robust grand piano sound and since my studio only has a spinet piano we looked around L.A. for studios with grands. We ended up getting a great deal from Capitol and we recorded the song with Nat King Cole's Steinway grand and Frank Sinatra's Neumann U47 mic. We even had some time left over to do vocal takes for some other songs from the record. What a rush this was!
What drove you to bring Linda Perhacs out of retirement?
I'm extremely fortunate to be around people that are older but extremely inspired. Even though Linda took 44 years to release her second record, The Soul of All Natural Things, she was extremely inspired and making music with the energy and spark of a twenty-something.
It's amazing and great because I want to be like that when I'm her age. Andy Pratt (the obscure but influential '70s singer-songwriter) is the same way. It's been incredible though. I've worked with so many artists as a producer, both Linda and Andy are the only ones who have signed international record deals and they are 71 and 67 (respectively). It's a real amazing thing about the record industry today, where you don't have to be 20 anymore to get nationwide exposure; you don't have to retire. It's all about how inspired your are.
Right. But it seems like if there is no Fernando move to L.A., there is no Linda follow-up album.
It helped. She was already making some new music, but it was a really amazing coincidence that I moved five miles away from her. She's going to be working on a collaborations record with Sean Lennon, Jonathan Wilson, Animal Collective, Vanessa Carlton, and more, and the co-producers will be Chris Price and I. (Perdomo and Price produced Perhacs' 2014 comeback record).
You are on loan to L.A., Fernando, but you will always belong to South Florida. I think we're OK with you being out there now.
(Laughs) Great, thank you.
What can you tell us about the upcoming documentary on Linda?
It's something that's been in the works for a while, but will be a very compelling story. I don't think anyone has a story that is weirder than Linda's.
What was your favorite moment on her tour?
Well, Europe was incredible. We played some amazing theaters, some of them from the 11th century; one of them was built in 1040. When we played in North America, we played at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and it was a magical night, even CNN was there. So, hers is not just a music story, it's a human interest story.
I was so happy to have Jim Camacho with me (Camacho opened for Perhacs on a number of dates in the northwest and in California, with Perdomo accompanying him). It was really incredible to hear his music in such a unique venue; he really proved himself to be a world-class artist on that trip.
Didn't you start a duo with a female bassist recently called San Fernando?
(Laughs) We'll see what comes of that, but that's my girlfriend. We'll see what happens. Her name is Sandy and mine's obviously Fernando and we were trying to name it something like Bennifer or Jeyonce and so we tried stuff like Sandomo or Fersando, but then a friend called us "San Ferndando" and joked, "Wow, they're calling this the San Fernando Valley, and you've only lived here for two years!"
How did your collaboration with Dave Kerzner come about?
He lives in Miami! He also owns half of Dungeon Studios in North Miami, turning a room of it into Sonic Reality Studios. We kept in touch after my move and thought of me as the main guitar player and bass player for his new record. So I played on it with Steve Hackett and Simon Phillips.
Will you be touring that record?
Yeah, probably. Hopefully. Derek Cintron and Roger Houdallie will also be part of it. We're also going to have the main backup singer for Pink Floyd, Durga McBroom Hudson, who sang backups live and on the Division Bell and Endless River albums, with us.
How did you get your started with the #AFernandoSongaDay project?
That was just something that I've been doing as an experiment. I was running out of songs, so I started writing new ones. It was also a good way of documenting the songs I've written over the years, which in turn inspired me to write more. (He wrote this one called "Love Thy Neighbor" soon after speaking with New Times.)
What's the next move for Fernando Perdomo, the solo artist?
Definitely to put out a new album this year. I will always do my own music in addition to everything else I do.
Any closing thoughts?
I can't think of any better way to start what is going to be an incredible year than by playing with the Beethose at Bar Stache to benefit Love Thy Neighbor. I have a mission here though; my home will always be Miami and I always be part of the team from Miami. 2015 is going to be the best year ever and whatever happens, I'm going to be screaming, "Go to Miami! Go look at all the bands in Miami!"
There are so many amazing musicians to point the finger to over there: David Goodstein (drummer from the Nil Lara band) just played on the new Jackson Brown album, Dave Cabrera is touring with Ricky Martin, Barry Gibb's touring band is comprised of nearly all Miami cats -- Dan Warner, Lee Levin, Doug Emery. So, Miami music is everywhere. It's just a matter of time before everyone realizes that Miami is the biggest exporter of musical talent.
Funny story, Todd Rundgren loves Spam. His restaurant in Hawaii serves it. He's obsessed with Spam. So when I hung out with him recently, I told him he would probably really like my friends the Spam Allstars. He immediately jumped on his iPad, looked them up and bookmarked their page. The point is, every chance I get to push South Florida, I'm going to do it. I'm more proud about South Florida music than most people are.
Rachel Goodrich is selling out shows over here in L.A. with her new band the Grrrls; she's a superstar in the folk scene out here. Her song called "Lightbulb" did really well and used to count off the song "one-two-three, two-two-three," but when she counts it off in L.A., she uses "one-two-three, three-oh-five," and people shout it back at her, "THREE OH FIVE!" There are lots of people who have left Miami, but we are all proud of Miami. We'll never forget where we're from and we'll always be on the same team. We're travelling salesmen, selling Miami.
The Beethose, 8 p.m., January 2, Stache, 109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets for the benefit show are $20, tax-deductible and available online.