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THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Good Old War Sells Out The Troubadour


I was just doing a favor. That was supposed to include a meal at legendary watering hole Dan Tana's, which is the source of as much rock and roll lore as the Troubadour bar. But we couldn't get into Tana's, so the boys went up the Boulevard to the Indian place. And it was all boys, except for the woman at the end of the table, who's a roller derby star, I kid you not.

But winding the clock back… In order to get to the Indian place I first had to walk by the Troubadour, at 8 PM, two hours before the headliner, Good Old War, who I hadn't even heard of until two days previous, took the stage. And there was a line! All the way to Doheny!

I looked up at the marquee… No one special was appearing.

So outside the restaurant, I quizzed Tom, Bill Silva's guy. They're on SARGENT HOUSE!


Bob Lefsetz, Santa Monica-based industry legend, is the author of the e-mail newsletter, "The Lefsetz Letter". Famous for being beholden to no one, and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

His intense brilliance captivates readers from Steven Tyler to Rick Nielsen to Bryan Adams to Quincy Jones to music business honchos like Michael Rapino, Randy Phillips, Don Ienner, Cliff Burnstein, Irving Azoff and Tom Freston.

Never boring, always entertaining, Mr. Lefsetz's insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music's American division and consultancies to major labels.

Bob has been a weekly contributor to CelebrityAccess and Encore since 2001, and we plan many more years of partnership with him. While we here at CelebrityAccess and Encore do not necessarily agree with all of Bob's opinions, we are proud to help share them with you.

We have quite an interesting meal. Both food and conversation-wise. Didn't Joey Ramone sing about eating chicken vindaloo? God, that's the first place I heard mention of the dish.

And just before ten, we ambled down the Boulevard to the venue.

And when the band came on, the place exploded.

Mmm… That's giving you the wrong impression, you might think Ziggy Stardust took the stage. Instead, what we found were three scraggly denizens, none of them pinup boys, although the drummer did look a bit like Russell Brand. But they could play. And sing.

And the audience knew every word.

And it wasn't just geeks. Males with no lives. Half the audience was female. Then again, this was a crowd that could embrace the word "nerd".

What the hell was going on here?

I went to the Wikipedia. I took to Twitter.

Wikipedia told me the guys had backed up someone else I'd never heard of, it recited an entire history that was written in English, but was foreign to me.

On Twitter, I said:

"At this Good Old War show at the Troubadour. Anybody know 'em? Fan? Thumbs up or down?"

Now normally when I tweet at a show, I get one or two responses. In this case, I expected nothing. Especially on a Friday night.
But in minutes, I was filled in:

@Whatsherbucket: @Lefsetz just checked them out the other day, pretty impressed. They can actually play.

@kamikazedogwood: @Lefsetz Never seen them live but their debut record "Only Way To Be Alone" was great. Fav songs are "Tell Me" and "Coney Island"

@drewshannon: @Lefsetz thumbs way up

@bradenlee: @Lefsetz good old war: loved the last one. Only listened 2 new one once. Thumbs up to Cathy&label: good people actually trying to help bands

@sargenthouse: @Lefsetz they are amazing and honesty is their policy and we back it so hard we put out their albums when no one else would listen

@mengles: @Lefsetz Amazing band.

@LOTUSLTD: @Lefsetz they are the hardest working band! They're f**king amazing!

@skippyd: @Lefsetz Really great. Trio with infectious harmonies and work ethic. A young CSN?

@StevenLAMura: @Lefsetz up

It was like I opened a door to an alien universe. Everything the mainstream says was…irrelevant. These were not untalented kids looking for fame, willing to do anything to make it, relatives of Snooki and the Situation, these were musicians barely different from when I went to school, performing, having a good time, getting high, getting laid…and even getting paid.

Yes, I was in Los Angeles, but it was like being in backwater Vermont. The rest of the world ceased to exist. We were in our own special environment.

And just when I'd think a song was mediocre, the next one would close me.

And when it was all done, the boys came out for an encore, parked themselves in the middle of the audience and performed two numbers without mics. But the audience was helping them. It was like summer camp. I expected them to start making s'mores at any moment. And my only desire was to join the club, to be included.

They weren't doing it for fame, but for the sheer joy.

Then again, in the lobby I met Cathy Pellow. Majordomo at Sargent House. A force of nature.

She does video work for Atlantic, but her passion is her label. But it's more than a label, she manages all the acts, they're in it together, 50/50, she doesn't want to ask permission to give away a track, if she feels like it, she does it.

But Good Old War wanted to be the biggest band in the world, which was beyond her mission, so she brought in Bill, who she met making Jason Mraz videos.

Can Good Old War (do some research to divine the meaning of the moniker) be the biggest band in the land? Doubtful. I'm actually surprised this is their desire, I didn't get that vibe from their performance, they seemed to be all about the music.

Then again, the biggest bands in the land used to be about the music!

The tickets were ten bucks. T-shirts fifteen. Price wasn't keeping anybody away, it was like going to a movie.

But for so many damn shows, you've got to give the tickets away.

But these people wanted to come, they needed to come.

The night was invigorating, it put a smile on my face. This is the future. The doom and gloom of the major labels and Live Nation? There's no pulse there, it's not about music, but money.

And no one wants to hear Bon Jovi's new material. They're going for nostalgia's sake.

But Good Old War played no covers. They existed in their own bubble.

How did everybody know?

Cathy tried to explain it to me, but really, if something's good today you can find it. That's the power of the Internet and cell phones and texting and social networking.

People are looking for good, they want to rally around quality.

They found Good Old War.