Mike Watt joins MC Rad at Winstons to raise money for Doogood
by Bart Mendoza
Published - 01/25/07 - 08:20 AM | 1712 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It's no secret that musicians are among the first to respond when a worthy cause needs a little help. While it's generally local acts that get involved in grassroots efforts, it's less typical to see national touring groups stop to lend a hand.

Such will be the case at Winstons Saturday, Jan. 27, when a diverse bill featuring legendary punk bassist Mike Watt, New Jersey rock-reggae-jam band The Smiles Project, Denver hardcore punks The Frontside Five and Philadelphia alt rock musicians MC Rad and Leiana come together for a benefit concert dubbed "Give Till It Hurts."

The event will serve as a fund-raiser for the Doogood Conservatory, a nonprofit organization that distributes skateboards, surfboards and snowboarding equipment to underprivileged children around the world.

While all the artists involved are well worth checking out, the clear highlight will be the night's headliner, Mike Watt. One of the most important members of the early West Coast punk scene, his influence has been immeasurable. It's safe to say acts ranging from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Nirvana would not have sounded the same without his precedent-setting bass riffs.

Even a cursory look at his resume is astounding. Though he started playing in the mid-'70s with a group called The Reactionaries, it wasn't until the band mutated into The Minutemen that Watt first came to the attention of music fans. Signing to famed indie SST Records in 1980, the band toured relentlessly and released five albums by the time of its demise in 1985, following the death of guitarist D. Boon in a car accident.

Watt had already begun the first of numerous side projects by then, forming Dos, a unique two-bass duo, in 1984. In 1986 he performed on Sonic Youth's breakthrough album, Evol, and also took part in their offshoot band, Ciccone Youth. Watt followed The Minutemen with Firehose, embarking on a solo career of sorts after that band's split in 1993.

In truth, it's hard to call Watt's post-1993 work a solo career. While he has issued albums under his own name, including as the critically acclaimed Ball-Hog or Tugboat, his standing in music circles is such that numerous luminaries had their part in his releases and touring bands. Evan Dando, Nels Cline, Henry Rollins, Frank Black and more can be found on Watt's CDs. The '90s found Watt working with Porno For Pyros and forming groups such as Banyan, Hellride and The Wylde Rattz, the latter exclusively to work on music for the film Velvet Goldmine.

Watt became seriously ill in early 2000, but post-recovery he has picked up steam. His bass playing can be found on recordings from Govt' Mule to an upcoming album by American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. More importantly, he has taken the bass role with reunited '70s rockers The Stooges, fronted by Iggy Pop. Not known to waste a second, Watt is concurrently playing in such groups as The Real Oh My, The Second Men and The Missing Men.

The show's other particularly noteworthy act will be MC Rad, a.k.a. Chuck Treece. Not your typical MC, Treece is in fact a punk musician, though he first came to prominence as a proskater. Inspired by acts such as the Clash and the Sex Pistols, in 1990 he decided to concentrate on music. While the skating connection makes him the perfect act for this benefit, it's likely that many music fans know him through his work as a session drummer. During the 1990s, he toured as a member of both Bad Brains and Urge Overkill, and he can be heard on recordings by Billy Joel, Mariah Carey and Ricky Martin as well as local ska-band Buck-O-Nine. More recently, he's been the bassist with G. Love and Special Sauce, doubling on drums with the band for studio work. Bringing the evening's music full circle, he is also producing the night's opening act, Leiana.

Whether contributing to a good cause or simply taking in a night of fantastic music, the show promises an unbeatable mix of legends and new rising stars.
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