is a truly unique guitarist. His guitar playing is a mixture of angular punk rock, free jazz and the funkiness of one who grew up on thousands of R&B albums. His first group, Saccharine Trust,
was ahead of their time during their first incarnation. Between the years of 1981 through 1986, Saccharine Trust went from minimalist punk to free jazz and spoken word, confusing most pedestrian punk rockers that wanted to hear hardcore. After Saccharine Trust's demise,
Joe Baiza started The Universal Congress Of,
a band that further explored his jazz influences. Again, Joe found himself between a rock and a hard place, being too punk for the jazz purists and too jazzy for the alternative rock set. Fortunately for Joe, Universal Congress Of found success in a Europe enthralled in the Acid Jazz movement in the late 80's/ early 90’s.
Joe continued to play in Europe for most of the early nineties until some idiotic German racists shattered his hand during a stay in Germany. He returned to Los Angeles to recover while his bandmates all remained in Germany. Joe decided to stay in L.A., starting a few new groups, The Mecolodiacs
and Joe Baiza’s Congress Of,
as well as reforming Saccharine Trust in 1999, who he still plays with to this day.
On Friday, I went to check out Joe’s latest musical endeavor at Taix Restaurant in Echo Park, The Cardovas.
They played an all-Meters
cover set, albeit with Baiza’s flavor.
Normally, I don’t like the idea of seeing cover bands, but hey, it’s The Meters!
And it's Baiza doing it! As I sat there waiting for The Cardovas to play, I couldn’t help but to look around. Taix looked like a punk rock rest home. I saw many people that I barely recognized from the punk scene back in the day because they look so much older. Some, like Nicky (formerly of the band Pop Defect
), looked timeless. Nick is drumming in 3 bands, a sign that playing music will keep one looking young.
The Cardovas came on. It was Joe on Guitar, former Universal Congress Of bass player Ralph Gorodetsky
former Claw Hammer/Devo Bob Lee
on drums & vocals and local indie jazz icon Dan Clucas
on the cornet. They also had an organ player as well who I did not recognize. They did all The Meters'
classics, "Sissy Strut," "Look-Ka Py Py," "I Need More Time," "9 to 5,"
and, of course, "Cardova."