Rock's Backpages Library Rock's Backpages

Kirk Silsbee

Kirk Silsbee

Kirk Silsbee has long been recognized as a journalist who writes about jazz and culture from a Southern California point of view.

Before he heard the call to musical prayer from Louis, Duke, Billie, Bird, and Miles, however, he grew up in the middle of the Los Angeles Renaissance of 1960s pop music. He heard rock, pop, rhythm 'n' blues, soul, surf, folk, garage, folk-rock, psychedelic and even jazz over radio stations KRLA, KFWB, KBLA, KHJ, KGFJ, KDAY and XERB. Deejays like B. Mitchel Reed, Dave Diamond, Humble Harve, Wolfman Jack, Emperor Hudson, Tom "the Master Blaster" Reed, Ted Quillan, the Real Don Steele, the Magnificent Montague, Sam Riddle, Johnny Hayes, Reb Foster, Larry McCormick, Gene Weed, Roger Christian, Dick Biondi, and Jimmy Rabbit, among others, were his conduits to the music. Local television offered shows like The Cinnamon Cinder, The Lloyd Thaxton Show, Shindig!, Shivaree, 9th St. West, Hollywood a Go Go, Groovy and Shebang.

Silsbee was raised in the Imperial Village section of Inglewood, in the geographical nexus that lay between Lishon’s Records, the Tip Top Club and the home of Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson. Before he learned about the blues at the Ash Grove and jazz at the Lighthouse, Silsbee attended his first concert: Cream at the Anaheim Convention Center in May of 1968. With that kind of banquet spread before him, is it any wonder he writes about music? The kid didn't have a chance.

 
Pic: Steve Appleford – "Silsbee learns not to cramp The Hamp"

List of articles in the library by artist

Billy Boy Arnold: Back Where I Belong (Alligator)

Sleevenotes by Kirk Silsbee, Alligator, August 1993

SPEAK FACE to face with bluesman Billy Boy Arnold and you have the feeling that something about him doesn't quite add up. He looks to ...

Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick: Déjà Vu: The Unstoppable Dionne Warwick

Retrospective and Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Arroyo Monthly, June 2010

You could be a good singer from now 'til hell and back and if you haven't got material, you're just standing there with your mouth ...

Hank Ballard and the Midnighters: Hank Ballard: A Talk With Mr. Twister

Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Los Angeles Reader, August 1993

If you not movin' your hips, it just ain't happenin'. – Hank Ballard on dancing ...

The Beach Boys: David Anderle's California Nights

Profile and Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Life After 50, May 2007

"WATCH YOUR HEAD," cautions David Anderle. The retired record industry executive-turned-painter is leading the way down a steep, narrow stairway in his classic Spanish-style home ...

The Beach Boys: Good Vibrations and Endless Summers: The Beach Boys in Hawthorne

Retrospective by Kirk Silsbee, South Bay, Summer 2011

YOU HAVE TO look for it.  Nothing on 120th Street gives an indication as you drive along the north side of the Hawthorne Airport.  ...

The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson: Perfect Harmony: Pet Sounds 40th Anniversary Show Celebrates Brian Wilson's Pop Legacy

Live Review by Kirk Silsbee, LA CityBeat, November 2006

OUT OF CURIOSITY and love of a good story, I've had a longstanding parlor question for jazz-minded friends on the far side of 60. What ...

The Beatles: A Hard Day's Documentary: You Can't Do That! The Making of A Hard Day's Night

Retrospective by Kirk Silsbee, Los Angeles Reader, March 1995

FILM CRITIC Roger Ebert ranks it "among the five best musicals I've ever seen." Andrew Sarris dubbed it "the Citizen Kane of jukebox movies." ...

Bert Berns: Here Comes The Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm & Blues by Joel Selvin

Book Review by Kirk Silsbee, Downbeat, July 2014

AMERICAN POP MUSIC from the no-man's-land after The Day The Music Died (Buddy Holly's fatal 1959 plane crash) and before the arrival of the Beatles ...

James Brown: Behold the Human Hurricane: Grammy Museum exhibit proves why James Brown was the Hardest Working Man in Show Business

Report by Kirk Silsbee, Los Angeles Downtown News, October 2011

JAMES BROWN HAD a signature piece of stagecraft that he honed over the years, beginning in the 1950s when he worked his way up through ...

James Brown: Caught in The Act: James Brown's Soul on Top

Live Review by Kirk Silsbee, Downbeat, December 2006

WHEN SOUL shouter James Brown released his big band album – Soul on Top – in 1970, it was received as neither fish nor fowl ...

Buffalo Springfield: R.I.P. Buffalo Springfield's Dewey Martin

Obituary by Kirk Silsbee, Goldmine, March 2009

68 YEAR-OLD Dewey Martin, the steady percussive hand behind the drums in Buffalo Springfield, one of the most legendary 1960s rock bands, died Feb. 1 ...

John Densmore: Opening New Doors

Live Review by Kirk Silsbee, LA CityBeat, December 2006

SANTA MONICA'S THIRD STREET PROMENADE got an extra measure of holiday cheer last Wednesday evening. Drummer John Densmore's Tribaljazz convened in front of the ...

Nick Drake's Black Eyed Dog

Comment by Kirk Silsbee, LA CityBeat, October 2007

HOW MANY of us wish we could have seen and heard Ellington's Jump For Joy musical at the Mayan Theatre, Charlie Parker at the Finale ...

Bob Dylan: Stories and Questions

Comment by Kirk Silsbee, Life After 50, March 2008

Well I'll be damned; here comes your ghost again... (Joan Baez, 'Diamonds and Rust') ...

Roy Gaines: Backside of the Blues: Roy Gaines at the Chalkboard

Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Senior Life, March 2003

IF EDUCATORS WERE to design a college course on the history of the blues, they could do a lot worse than study Roy Gaines. ...

Duke Henderson: Get Your Kicks (Delmark)

Sleevenotes by Kirk Silsbee, Delmark Records, May 1994

ASK THE handful of remaining African-American performers and entertainers who were active during Los Angeles' Central Avenue heyday in the 1940s about blues singer Duke ...

Rick Holmstrom: Gonna Get Wild (Tone Cool)

Sleevenotes by Kirk Silsbee, Tone Cool, October 1999

IF YOU'VE partaken of the thriving blues scene in Los Angeles in the last 15 years, you've probably crossed paths with guitarist Rick Holmstrom. ...

Chuck Jackson in Three Acts

Profile and Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Los Angeles Reader, November 1990

AN OFT-REPEATED myth about American popular music is that the early 1960s were a fallow period, dominated by greasy teen idols named Bobby. Supposedly, domestic ...

Mable John: Her Good Thing

Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Los Angeles Reader, March 1994

For R&B Hall of Famer Mable John, Music Has Healing Powers ...

Lonnie Johnson: The Unsung Blues Legend (Blues Magnet)

Review by Kirk Silsbee, New Times Los Angeles, July 2000

SO THOROUGHLY has the myth of the hell-bound Mississippi Delta bluesman captured the public's imagination that it's narrowed the definition of just what constitutes a ...

King Cotton: Bad Acid, the Bonedaddys and the Blues! King Cotton Has Lived Through 'Em All

Profile and Interview by Kirk Silsbee, BAM, July 1997

IF YOU happen to find yourself at B.B. King's at the Universal Citywalk on a Sunday night, you'll encounter an unusual musical aggregation. ...

Love: Caught in the Act: Love Reprises Forever Changes

Live Review by Kirk Silsbee, Downbeat, September 2003

Love: Royce Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles ...

Love: Orange Skies Over the Castle

Retrospective by Kirk Silsbee, New Angeles Monthly, October 2008

"Love – featured tonight in the Diamond Mine! On display in the psychedelic department store!" –Dave Diamond, KBLA, June 16, 1967 ...

Darlene Love: Love Affair

Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Los Angeles Reader, February 1995

VOCALIST DARLENE Love's career is filled with ironies. She is most closely identified with Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" recordings, made in Los Angeles in ...

Janiva Magness: Company at the Crossroads: Blues Singer Janiva Magness Makes Life's Journeys A Little Less Lonely

Report and Interview by Kirk Silsbee, LA CityBeat, February 2005

THE BAR AT THE RITZ-CARLTON in South Pasadena has hand-rubbed wood on the walls and a copious amount of plush sofas and chairs. Bookcases ...

The Malibooz: John Zambetti's Endless Summer: The Malibooz

Retrospective and Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Senior Life, August 2005

MOST OF US HAVE keepsakes from our youth. A toy, a doll, a baseball glove – some 'Rosebud' object that once meant the world to ...

Toussaint McCall In Church

Report by Kirk Silsbee, Times Times 3, February 2014

LIKE EVERY fourth Sunday of the month, I showed up at Inglewood First Presbyterian Church early today to handle the sound system duties: setting up ...

Geoff Muldaur: Nightstick: Geoff Muldaur

Profile by Kirk Silsbee, New Times Los Angeles, February 1999

AN UNSUNG GIFT from a bygone era, the Jim Kweskin Jug Band had many things to recommend it: Kweskin's anachronistic, roughhouse vocals; Mel Lyman's stirring, ...

Maria Muldaur: Sweet and Sassy, Bawdy and Blue

Profile and Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Detroit Metro Times, August 2007

WHEN SINGER Maria Muldaur takes the stage at this week's Detroit Jazz Festival, it will be a culmination of a chain of events that run ...

Laura Nyro, Mark Winkler: Mark Winkler Finds Healing in the Songs of Laura Nyro

Report and Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, June 2013

ASK JAZZ SINGER and songwriter Mark Winkler which of his parents he favors and he's unequivocal.  "Oh, I'm definitely my mother's son," he grins.  "My ...

Otis Rush: Peoples is Peoples: The Otis Rush Interview

Interview by Kirk Silsbee, House of Blues Online, January 2000

THERE WERE three young guitarists in 1960s Chicago who moved the blues forward to new areas of expression: Buddy Guy, the late Magic Sam (Samuel ...

The Seeds: Real Gone: Sky Saxon

Obituary by Kirk Silsbee, MOJO, September 2009

SKY SAXON, the colorful lead singer and sometime bassist of the Seeds, one of the great Sunset Strip bands of the 1960s, died June 25 ...

Sun Ra: The Solar Myth Revisited: Sun Ra's Centenary Observed

Report by Kirk Silsbee, Glendale News-Press, April 2014

HIS BIRTH certificate said Birmingham, Alabama but the man who called himself Sun Ra declared that he was from the planet Saturn. Miles Davis set ...

Steven Van Zandt: The Ramones Connection: Steven Van Zandt Explains The Secret Ingredient Behind His Garage-Rock Radio Show

Interview by Kirk Silsbee, LA CityBeat, August 2003

WHEN BRUCE Springsteen slipped into his Baptist-preacher mode and acknowledged E Street Band members at the Forum in Inglewood last year, he concluded his round-robin ...

Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson: Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson: Folks Called Him Mr. Cleanhead

Obituary by Kirk Silsbee, Los Angeles Reader, September 1988

TWO YEARS ago Eddie Vinson took part in a sax summit show at the Music Machine in West Los Angeles. In the artist's lounge before ...

Ian Whitcomb: The Troubadour Of Lost Time

Retrospective and Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Arroyo Monthly, January 2009

POET HOLLY PRADO once observed: "A city either wants you or it doesn't." Ian Whitcomb was a history student at Dublin's Trinity College with ...

List of genre pieces

At Hatikvah Music, the Whole World is Jewish

Report and Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, December 2006

BOXES ARE SCATTERED around the floor of Hatikvah Music International at 436 N. Fairfax Avenue. Stacks of CDs, reams of packing plastic, mounds of mailing ...

Dave Porter: Uncompromising Composer, Master Mood Setter, Studio City Dweller

Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Our Ventura Blvd, September 2012

AMC'S taut, psychological thriller, Breaking Bad, has short bursts of action, but it's explosive action. The story of a chemistry teacher diagnosed with terminal cancer ...

DJ Vice: Spin Meister

Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Our Ventura Blvd, November 2012

By day, you'll find him on the quiet streets of Toluca Lake. But at night, DJ Vice, one of the most popular disc jockeys in ...

Excello: It Came From the Swamp

Overview by Kirk Silsbee, Huh, September 1995

ONE OF the hallmarks of a great regional record label is the ability to define a time and place in the mind's ear. Think of ...

Up From the Ashes: Ed Pearl's Art and Activism

Profile and Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, April 2008

IT'S ELEVEN A.M. and Ed Pearl is the first customer at Masa, his restaurant of choice in Echo Park. The owner, Tom, greets him warmly, ...

After 40 Years, the Homeboys Are Still Cruisin' With Dick "Huggy Boy" Hugg

Retrospective and Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Los Angeles Reader, November 1994

AT LAST SUMMER'S Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona, one of the most popular attractions wasn't a thrill ride, exhibit, installation or culinary offering. ...

Cholly Atkins: The Man Who Taught Motown How to Dance

Retrospective and Interview by Kirk Silsbee, Los Angeles Reader, January 1995

CHARLES "CHOLLY" ATKINS has had two careers, and he has flourished in both. In the golden age of tap, he was half of one ...

Shooting Stars: Denny Bruce Produced Plenty Of Legends – But Never Became One

Profile and Interview by Kirk Silsbee, LA New Times, September 1997

STROLL THROUGH Denny Bruce's home on a hillside north of Sunset Boulevard, and you wander through mementos of a career spent nurturing greatness. ...

Stardust and Sawdust Nights: Los Angeles Bars of a Bygone Age

Guide by Kirk Silsbee, LA CityBeat, December 2005

Martoni's ...

back to LIBRARY

COPYRIGHT NOTICE