They say a picture is worth a thousand words; if so then a song is worth a million. The ethos of California Country is greatly told and inspired by Cisco & Dewey (Tony Marsico aka Cisco.. Darran Falcone aka Dewey) ... They aren’t robbers per say, nor do they have any cowboy mythology as rustlers. but they will steal your heart by their music. And this is the story of Cisco & Dewey and how recording their 2014 album was inspired by the backdrop of the desert.
Cisco & Dewey
“Goodbye Little Bluebird”.. Cisco & Dewey
About 100 hundred miles east of the crooked city of Los Angeles lays Joshua Tree National Park. For decades this desert mecca has served as a “Bermuda Triangle” or “Vortex” for “Meth” labs, bikers and rock & roll. It was here that inspired countless rock artists. You obviously think of U2’s masterpiece “Joshua Tree” but it was also where icon artists went to be inspired. J J Cale lived in a trailer with no T.V. , little if any electricity and no real plumbing (He did have an out-house).He had a phone with no voice mail or call waiting. If he was in the mood and the phone rang he’d just pick it up and say “hey”. He was the prototype that influenced some regal guitar titans.. Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler , Duane Allman, Neil Young and John Mayer.
Significantly revered grunge metal band rock outfit.. KYUSS who later morphed into Queens of the Stone Age and quasi morphed into The Foo Fighters wrote and produced some very deep “demon cleaner stoner” rock and roll between the cactus and the desert mountains. Producer extraordinaire.. Chris Goss..” the godfather of desert rock” was the maestro of the scene. They would rehearse in their backyard where there were more coyotes than people for an audience.. Chris Goss at the Sky Valley
But the most renowned resident of this desert community was the mystical Gram Parsons. He had a brief time with The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers; also had a great influence on Keith Richards and Emmylou Harris among others. His style of music was ominous, obsessive, tongue-in-cheek country-rock synthesis, absorbing rural and urban, traditional and contemporary rock and roll. His life ended in September 1973 with an overdose of Jack Daniels and morphine. But the tale of Parson’s becomes majestic when his body was stolen from the L.A. County coroner’s possession and cremated by his roadie and girlfriend back in Joshua Tree. They were charged approximately $750 for this bizarre act. They claimed that this was how Parsons wanted his remains managed. Rock and Roll has its ironies!
Gram Parsons with Rolling Stone.. Keith Richards.. G.P. Memorial
Currently living in Joshua is Darran “Dewey” Falcone and as you’d expect is no stranger to motorcycles and brilliant song writing. He’d been writing and doing session work with some of Los Angeles’ great artists. During these early session jobs he meets Cisco. Years later Dewey quietly left Los Angeles under his own cognizance and moved into a modest home in the desert but did not give up his love for motorcycle riding and writing songs inspired by Joshua Tree. Dewey is so “Godly” blessed that his singing is pure and cathartic. So much country now is festooned with “beats” and duets with rappers like Nelly that the genre has in fact been bastardized. For the record, I’m guilty as charged for liking these same artists I’m criticizing. Okay.. I’m a fuckin’ hypocrite!
Though there was a definite “simpatico” between these musicians their sojourn working together didn’t immediately take off until 15 years later. Cisco, originally from a traditional Italian family in Philadelphia that were known for being the proprietors of the best “Hoagie” sandwiches in town. But Cisco decided that the family sandwich business and underground poker games didn’t have the pastiche he was searching for so he would move to Los Angeles and pursue his career as a musician. Starting with Chalo Quintana and Tito Larriva the Chicano punk band Los Plugz soon became the rave around town selling out and receiving great press. During this time they’d support acts like X and The Blasters. Being in a Chicano punk band had its drawbacks. Many of the big clubs wouldn’t book them because of the “element” of their crowd draw. Their popularity soon allowed Cisco to dabble into the film world and write a couple of books. He certainly kept himself busy! Los Plugz later morphed into another wonderful L.A. rock outfit… Los Cruzados. Their debut met with brilliant reviews and radio airplay. I was lucky enough to promote them at American rock radio.
The Plugz The Cruzados
After the Cruzados’ second album the band was adrift and it was time to move on. Cisco through his former band mate Chalo Quintana were invited to try out for Bob Dylan as his bass player. Cisco told us during our interview that through the grape vine Bob Dylan was a fan of The Plugz. He dug “the vibe” and sported a thin mustache along with a mariachi like shirt like you’d see in “Novella” magazines at the checkout counters at local Mexican markets. The synergy between the threesome was so overwhelming that Dylan asked them to support him during his television appearance on the David Letterman show in New York City. Dylan was promoting his new album “Infidels” and felt that this young and ruthless rhythm section would just show his always changing visage.
Bob Dylan Cisco & Dewey Liberace.. Letterman.. Dylan
The lead track on Cisco & Dewey’s debut, “The Sea We Floated On” brilliantly sets the pace for this brilliant up and coming California Country duet. It does to music as “Technicolor” did for film in the late 50’s. There’s a little “hole in the wall” cantina there in the high desert community .. Pappy & Harriet’s where Cisco and Dewey perform their brand of honky- tonk music.. The building was originally built back in the 50’s and was used as a western backdrop for Gene Autry and Roy Rogers’ films.
I wanted to thank Mike Mena and Tony Marsico (Cisco)