Cody S. Blanchard moonlights in a junkyard candy-land band
MUSIC Remember the raw, heart-thumping heat of the Jukebox Jamboree in John Waters' 1990 cult classic Cry-Baby? A steamy musician (Johnny Depp) strums and snarls towards a crowd of excited nogoodniks. There was a similar scene a few Saturdays back at a garage rock show in Oakland, thanks largely to Cody S. Blanchard. He's a Clam (of local trio Shannon and the Clams) but he also moonlights as King Lollipop, a John Waters-esque character with highwater pants and a tin can tied atop his head.
Most of the bands featured in the currently underway multi-venue Total Trash Festival have that same vibe: hot, sweaty fun. The festival, now in its third year, is spearheaded by Oakland promoter-musician Marc Ribak. He originally conceived of it as "a trailer park-hobo jungle in the middle of SF for [now deceased Cramps singer] Lux Interior." He describes the like-minded sound of trash music as "dirty, sexy, filthy, and fabulous — like Chuck Berry and Stevie Nicks thrown in a closet together."
Total Trash 3, which goes through Aug. 28, includes 69 bands, 49 of those based in the Bay Area, with sets by Audacity, the Spits, and Traditional Fools among others.
One of the bigger headliners is Vermont's King Tuff, who will be named the temporary "King of Oakland" during the fest's Total Trash Enchantment Under the Sea Dance and Art Show at Lobot Gallery. And yet, there's another, more local king lurking elsewhere in the lineup — Blanchard's King Lollipop. He'll open for Moonhearts during a day show at Hemlock Tavern on Aug. 28.
In order to determine who fit where under his large trash genre umbrella, Ribak asked musicians a series of questions, meant to place their music sensibilities as darker rock or cuter pop (both equally appreciated): "Rolling Stones or Beatles?" "Rolling Stones or Bo Diddley?" "Rolling Stones or Ronettes?" Most answers converged somewhere in middle of the Rolling Stones, Ronettes, and Bo Diddley.
At King Lollipop's recent show at the cavernous Oakland Metro Operahouse the influences of such styles of music were everywhere. From the high hair and tight clothes of the crowd — both male and female — to the raucous bands on stage. During his set, Blanchard vibrated with energy, backed up by no less than five standing drummers. "I want to have like, 20 people who can all play drums, then if I have a show, whoever can make it, makes it," Blanchard says. "It's like inviting people to a party except they're going to play music."
Blanchard has a specific vision for his rotating band of players. "I imagined there was a huge junkyard in the Great Depression and the people that lived there wanted to start a band, and they made crowns of tin cans."
On stage Blanchard's guitar is slung high, his vocals pop with bubbly rockabilly referential tone. He sings of reading diaries, and eating cheeseburgers and fries, and also does a cover of Wreckless Eric's classic "(I'd Go The) Whole Wide World."
Blanchard started kicking around the idea for King Lollipop a few years back when he wrote some songs that didn't work with Shannon and Clams — songs that were simpler, poppier, and called for far more percussion. He played his first show under the moniker in early 2011.
Last year, his friend built him a guitar from scratch, using spare parts from other guitars. This year, he's hoping to convince Raven Mahon, the guitarist from Grass Widow who is also a woodworker, to make him a wooden crown to wear at future shows. All hail!
With Moonhearts, Pangea, and Si Si Si
Aug. 28, 2 p.m., $7
1131 Polk, S.F.
Facebook: Total Trash Fest 3