Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mark Plummer interviews Brixton Key

After Brain Surgery for Two Burst Aneurysms Chris Isaak manager is back
with new Novel “Charlie Six.”

            “He went into pre-op as Mark and came out of surgery as Brixton,” is how Brixton Key’s neurologist, Peter Weber, introduced the novelist at his recent reading in Jack Kerouac Alley, North Beach, San Francisco. The Alley Tour is Brixton’s latest twist in a career that has seen him manage Chris Isaak, during his hey-day as San Francisco’s favourite home town artist, work as a journalist for Britain’s Melody Maker music weekly, and the promoter for Carl Douglas’s “Kung Fu Fighting,” one of the largest selling 45s of all time.

Dr Peter Weber leans on a lamppost to the far right of the photo (Michael Zagaris)
            “I’ve never been too enamored by the obvious,” says Brixton Key. “There are routes one is expected to take. Then there is rethinking the past to create something new and fresh. When I managed Chris Isaak, local bands were encouraged to play once or twice a month. Apparently that created an aura of mystery. But I looked back to the bands I really admired in London, when I was growing up, and they played all the time. Both the Rolling Stones and the Who worked residencies, it’s where they built up their chops and their fan base. I thought if we took that back even further to the 1930’s when the big bands played one venue for a week or two it would be tremendous fun.
            “It was amazing how successful the shows were at the Nightbreak, on Haight Street, and Club Nine in SOMA. So much so that Isaak was welcomed into New York for a month run at the Danceteria, and into Los Angeles for a month’s stint at the Anti Club.”

Chris Isaak likes moldy  walls in obscure Alleys
             So why is Brixton Key now reading from his novel Charlie Six in Alleys and staircases in the Bay Area, rather than the usual route of bookstore readings and their formal formula of meet and greet?
            “To tell you the truth, my mind went back to Charlie Dickens. He read his books to large crowds of people at what one might call the dawn of literacy. You see, I’m always being told that people no longer read books. That’s absolutely ridiculous, of course people read books. But novels and novelists have to take it to their audience. We must rethink the whole publishing business.

I like moldy Alley concrete walls too (Photo Malani Khelif)

            “That’s why I signed to a small press, Poppynoir, who formed their business to promote Charlie Six, they are not stuck in the past, because they have no past. They’re looking at the future and it’s exciting.
            “When I thought of the Alley Tour, it clicked into my mindwindows. There’s a chapter in Charlie Six, where my picaresque character Charlie is expelled from school for reading Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ in an English class. So it seemed obvious that I should give my first reading inside City Lights Bookstore, the business built on Ginsberg’s brilliant poem. They hated the idea and thought I was daft, so fine, I’ll read it in the alley next door. 

Reading the "Howl" Chapter from Charlie Six for my urban camping friend (photo: Zagaris)

            “It was brilliant, a lot of the crowd turned up because of social networking through Facebook and my website, but a lot of people were just passing and got hooked, staying to see what was happening. It’s why I wanted a small party across the street at Specs bar. I wanted to break the barrier between people and artist, talk is looser after a beer or two. I made a lot of new friends signing books for the cats and daddyo's who got caught up in the moment, and were enticed to walk across the street to meet me.”
          Brixton Key’s Alley tour will continue in Marin on Thursday, September 8, in Sausalito at the El Monte Stairs next to the No Name Bar. Key’s reading will take place at 6:30PM, after which there will be a party at the famous Marin nightery. More readings in alleys and lanes will held in Berkeley, Northern Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles, and in swanky Beverley Hills.

Mark Plummer eating his breakfast at 9 PM with Barry White
                 Lastly, why did Brixton change his name from Mark Plummer? “When I woke up from brain surgery I felt like a different person. I’d never really liked my name for many reasons. Actually the fact that I survived the brain surgery was a miracle, thanks to my neurologist Peter Weber, so I decided I would do three things that I had always wanted to do. Change my name to Brixton Key; go to university to get a master’s degree, and to start writing the books that were lurking in me.”


Brixton Key's Charlie Six
is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and bookstores near you as a Paperback, Kindle or Nook.

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