Expect MoJoey Mayhem, Madness: by George Varga....
To the casual observer, the combination of Kingston Trio folk music group co-founder Nick Reynolds and Joey Harris, the roots-rocking ex-Beat Farmer, is unexpected at best. Add Mojo Nixon, the master of musical mayhem, and you have a teaming nearly as unlikely as presumptive GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole naming Courtney Love and Louis Farrakhan as his new campaign managers.
Yet, while Dole is unlikely to enliven his uphill White House quest in such a colorful manner, Reynolds, Nixon, and Harris are boldly joining forces. The three San Diego luminaries will perform 9:30pm Friday at downtown's Baja Brewing Company, 203 Fifth Avenue. (Call 231-9279.)
According to Harris, the ad-hoc group will be billed as MoJoey, featuring Nick Reynolds of the Kingston Trio. But this moniker came as a surprise to Nixon, whose songwriting credits include "Elvis is Everywhere," "Debbie Gibson is Pregnant With My Two Headed Love Child," and "The Ballad of Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie."
"I didn't even know we were together yet, but I guess we are," Nixon said. "I can assure you it will be a trio, but I don't know if it will be very Kingston-like. I will defer to my elders- at first."
In this case, the members of the fledgling MoJoey agree, "together" is a relative term-literally and figuratively.
Harris is the nephew of Reynolds, who co-founded the pioneering folk group the Kingston Trio in 1957, left it a decade later, and rejoined in the late '80s. When Harris was a youngster, Reynolds helped teach him to play guitar and sing harmony vocals. He also introduced his nephew to Kingston Trio alum John Stewart, who hired the teenaged Harris as his lead guitarist in 1975.
Harris and Reynolds have informally collaborated for more than 25 years. Harris and Nixon have worked together off and on since Harris produced Nixon's debut album in the early 1980s. The two have also toured and recorded together as members of the Pleasure Barons, a band that featured Beat Farmers' drummer-singer Country Dick Montana, who died on stage last year in Canada.
"The tragedy with Dick hit everyone hard," said Reynolds, speaking from Jackpot, Nevada, where he performed with the Kingston Trio last weekend. "I was a huge fan of the Farmers, and would see them whenever I could. I even sat in with them a few times. Joey's trying to find his niche now, and if they can use my name to help draw more people, it's fine with me."
MoJoey's debut should be a freewheeling affair, since Reynolds has not only never performed with Nixon, he's never even met him.
"When I asked Mojo about adding Nick, Mojo said: 'Sure call him up. We'll idolize him all night!' " Harris said, laughing. "I think Mojo will be duly awed and respectful. And Nick is a great guy with a really good sense of humor, so I know he'll like Mojo."
Nixon and Reynolds confirmed they are looking forward to their maiden collaboration.
"I only know Mojo by reputation, musically and otherwise," Reynolds said. "I can't wait to meet him. And Joey is almost like a son to me."
"I'm excited," added Nixon, a Kingston Trio fan. "Because Nick has a bunch of stories I've never heard before. And I've heard all of Joey's."
Harris will preview new material Friday, as will Nixon, who has a starring role in the upcoming film, "Buttcrack: The Movie." Nixon promised to perform "Orenthal James," an O.J. Simpson-inspired remake of the folk ballad "John Hardy."
"It goes like this," said Nixon, who began singing: Orenthal James was a very bad man. He killed two people last night, chopped off their heads in West L.A. Must've been a mighty sharp knife.
Beyond a shared sense of irreverence, the members of MoJoey also have at least one other trait in common.
"When I talked to Nick," Harris recalled, "I said: 'Do you want to rehearse?' Because Mojo's not much for (vocal) harmonies; he's sort of mono-melodic. And Nick said: 'Are you kidding me? I don't rehearse,' as if he was Fredrico Fellini saying: 'Just be there.' And that's good, because I hate rehearse, and so does Mojo.
"I don't rehearse anymore," Reynolds, 62, affirmed. "I've been in the business 40 years. I know all the Kingston Trio songs. Joey knows some of the songs I do, and Mojo knows a few. We're not prepared to play as an ensemble, but I really wanted to do this."
Out will give the last word to the man whose Mojo is always working.
"There are only 12 notes in Western scale, and we just use four of them," Nixon said. "And I prefer to use two of them."
Keith C. Fischer
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