Rebecca Lynn: A Different Place

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Rebecca Lynn. Photo by Sander Roscoe Wolff.

Transformations, described by the owners as a "Light-based cultural gifts store," is located just East of Redondo on Broadway. On Saturday, June 18, the store is hosting a Psychic Healing Faire from 11:00AM to 6:00PM. The event will feature artists, psychics, mediums, healers, and live music by Long Beach native, Rebecca Lynn.

Lynn is primarily a violinist and singer who has been part of the local music scene for decades. She was a member of Cake (the Long Beach version), The Lungpigs, The Bibs and, more recently, Karl?. She's also been featured in the Excursions: A Sight & Sound Festival events, produced in partnership with Dave Williams and the Cultural Alliance of Long Beach.

Long Beach Post: How did you come to participate in Saturday's Psychic Healing Faire?

Rebecca Lynn: I played there with Peter Fraszczynski a number of months ago. Noelle, the co-owner, is very kind. I had offered to help draw attention to her place and gave her some ideas for how to promote on Facebook and Instagram, and offered to play one day in front of her place. So, she finally took me up on my offer.

I intend to bring my guitar, violin, perhaps a mountain dulcimer for two songs, and sing a variety of songs. Most will be other people's songs, but I will include ones I wrote many years ago. I am looking into inviting special guests, so we'll see how that might develop.

I will be playing from about noon to 5:00PM, unless I keep going. The event is from 11:00AM to 6:00PM. I will be on the sidewalk. I suppose I will be there to add to the vibe and energy, and draw attention to their event.

As a kid, what role did music play in your home, and family?

Music has always been an important part of my family. I am the youngest of seven kids. I was born in Long Beach, as was my father in early 1934. Both parents loved music. The turntable was in a prominent place in our house: In the big dining room with the long table.

My father "brought in" classical music, baroque, romantic period—"serious music," as he calls it. He also loved The Carter Family and Jean Ritchie, and other folk artists. So did my mother. In came Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, and CSNY. The Beatles were most prominent, and beloved by everyone in the family, so we had all of their records. They were very important and influential.

My parents had musician friends. My father plays the autoharp (up on the shoulder). We'd have hoots, as they called them, in our house. I observed groups of people playing guitars, banjos, etc., and all singing from books they had made. My family sings together when we get together still.

When did you take up the violin?

I started playing violin in school at age nine, fourth grade. It felt as right as nature for me to play, though I never had a lesson and consider myself self-taught. I played in the orchestra with the fifth and sixth grade students, immediately, which is odd because I could not read music. The music was in front of me, and I could see some relationship to what the other kids were playing and what I saw, but I was mostly playing my parts by ear and memory! The early love of music was a big deal. My oldest brother, 10 years my senior, started playing drums as a youth. Had a set in the garage. He brought into the fold jazz music. This is why I have a strong love for jazz now, and I loved it even as a child. I listened to KLON - now KJZZ - and dozens and dozens of albums from my brother's collection. Plus, hearing him play in the garage was an influence on me.

I had a few lessons (about six, I think), but I never studied it diligently like more dedicated students did. Poor habits started early for me; however, my interest and involvement was always strong. I did not necessarily foresee my playing in a symphony when I "grew up." Rather, I thought I might meet The Beatles, perform for large audiences, be on the cover of Rolling Stone, get on Carson and, later, Letterman. [Laughs]. 

Did you take up any other instruments?

I knew I wanted to sing, and I saw myself on guitar. So about a year after starting violin, I obtained a nylon string acoustic from my cousin. I first taught myself how to play by noodling and, later, by looking at chord diagrams from music books I'd borrow from the main branch Long Beach Public Library, downtown. I'd ride my bike there with an empty backpack and bring home Beatles books, Cat Stevens, Carole King, Ronstadt, Simon and G-funk.

How did you start performing professionally?

I used to babysit for a co-worker of my mother's. She had a house in Avalon, on Catalina Island. One summer, she brought me with her and her family so that she could party at night and I would watch the kids. In the day, I could traipse about and do what I wanted. I caught a group of guys playing on the porch of the old Chi-Chi Club. The oldest guy in the group played a big acoustic bass guitar. Two other guys played guitars, and I noticed, after going to see them a number of times, that they had a guy who would sit in on banjo and mandolin, and they all sang.

RebeccaLynnYoungOne of the guitarists, Rick Weinberg, finally spoke to me, because he noticed that, for one thing, I'd sit through multiple sets [laughs] and that I was singing along to songs no 15-year-old should know. This guy was in his early 30s. I told him that there was always music in my family, and that I played violin and some guitar. We exchanged phone numbers and addresses because I boldly dared to say that I'd like to do what he was doing, and thought that I was capable of that.

A few weeks later I received a phone call from Rick, and he said that they were gearing up for their summer work, and thought it would not hurt to try me out and see if I might be a good addition. So, I was sent an envelope with a round-trip ticket, open date, to the island to meet with the guys but first, just with Rick, to go down their list of hundreds of songs and see what I already knew. We were able to immediately jump into dozens of songs and get multiple sets going. However, we worked as a duo. So, my first professional music work was to play in a duo where I sang and played for three hours to diners at The Catherine Hotel in Avalon. I made $100 a night plus tips, dinner, and non-alcoholic beverages.

A few weeks later, we then joined the other guys and did a rock/electric thing at night, same three-set deal, and also played in the streets in the day to tourists who tipped like crazy. We were hired by the Chamber of Commerce. I made more money in the summer of 1984 than at any other time. [sighs] I flew myself to London after High School graduation.

Did you start writing your own songs?

I have actually not written all that many songs. The first song I wrote is Floating Appendage, which the guys of The Lungpigs helped me complete. This was early '90s. I was always hard on myself as a youth for not churning out the greatest songs ever. I was able to write with The Lungpigs. Playing electric guitar in that band, and the hours we spent in the custom-designed garage/studio helped me loosen up and get crafty. I have a number of songs on that album.

I don't know if it is a transition from playing to writing. It's almost like a different place, and that could be part of my problem: The demand I make on myself for needing to come up with something wholly unique. I think loosening up via jamming can be helpful to composition; however, some folks get ideas in their heads. That certainly is also the case for me. Then, you try to flesh it out.

I do hope that I will allow myself to compose this year. In my last band experience, I did not initiate any of the songs. I helped arrange and write them; some more than others. But I was dependent on the composer. I probably allowed that to shake my confidence, and I believe that unless I have my own material, I do not want to pull a band together. I might change my view so that I can simply be more active in doing what it is I love most and feel best doing.

You were right in the middle of the Long Beach music scene when many bands were beginning to create a powerful buzz. What was that like?

It was on fire! It really felt great. It felt alive and energetic. We had great acts like National People's Gang and that whole connected group of Southern California folks - especially Long Beach, of course. We would draw a crowd and, I dare say, were well-received. We had a lot of energy, and, you know, it's not all that common to see the "shredding" type of violin playing in that arena, so I think that that was interesting to people.

I felt, at that time, that there was a good possibility that we could get enough buzz to get on TV, play big concerts, etc. [laughs] Well, you know... Steve Cross did a good job in "entifying" (I just made that up) our part of the scene by doing legal-like stuff by copyrighting our songs, establishing Headchange Records, and buying and sticking a flag in The Compound.

You kinda had to let go of 'Cake' as a band name, right?

Yes. I had named us CAKE. We all liked it. How cool for me. [Laughs] We were getting enough buzz that we could draw crowds in the Bay Area. We would be advertised in their local papers up there, of course, and the "Cake" from Sacramento caught wind of us. Turns out that they had registered their name. Oops. I guess we had neglected to look into registering our name which, for all I know, we had first. So, their lawyer(s) sent us a Cease and Desist in an envelope, U.S. Post, addressed to "Cake Jr." We scoffed at their attempts to demean us, then jammed. [Expletive deleted] 'em! [Laughs] How rude! Cake Jr.! Assholes.

So, you had to come up with a new name, right?

I suggested Suckling. [Laughs] Oh my gosh. We had to agree on something, and we didn't. The only thing we agreed on is how awful it would be to name ourselves after one of our song titles. And we did. Oh no! The Lungpigs! Why, it's a song AND a band!

What does 'lungpig' refer to?

It came because our bassist, Ted Atteberry, Jr. (my partner in The Bibs) told us at a rehearsal once that cannibals call their meals long pigs. Steve thought he said "lung pigs" and we ran with that.

This was kind of a turning point for us. Some personal issues were like monkey wrenches, and it unsettled our foundation. I love my music brothers. Steve and Rob [Fadtke], in particular, were very good to me. I will always treasure those years and the many lessons learned and the incredible rockingness and wildly good times!

You've seen the Long Beach music scene change and evolve over many decades. What's your assessment of the scene, now?

Music is important to Long Beach residents. I observe that it is a priority to many, and I am glad that this is the case. I think that some places and organizations might be more inclusive and welcoming than others, but when it comes to art and support, things are always going to be ... tricky?

I have seen people trying to organize councils and such, though I have not really been involved. There is a lot of individual involvement, such as the number of open mics in town. You can probably find one any day of the week, and multiple open mics on the same night. I think Long Beach is more serious about music these days. It seems to be a respected "thing" in town.

To hear Rebecca Lynn's music visit SoundCloud, Reverb Nation, and YouTube. You can also follow her on Instagram and Facebook. You can also contact her on Facebook to inquire about private music lessons.

Transformations is located at 3409 East Broadway, in Long Beach. To learn about the store, and their events, visit TransformationsCreations.com.

 

 



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