Sunday, November 18, 2007

costello syndrome

Costello, band regroup for good cause
Joel Selvin, Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Printable VersionEmail This Article
Reddit Slashdot
Google Bookmarks
(8) Georgia (default)
Times New Roman

Austin de Lone came up with the idea of Elvis Costello playing his first album live, 30 years later, with a reunited Clover, the long defunct Marin County rock group who backed him all those years ago on "My Aim Is True." This is an unlikely event that will actually take place in two sold out benefit performances Thursday at the Great American Music Hall.

Listen: MP3: "Little Lost Lamb," Austin de Lone

"I'm not nostalgically inclined," says Costello over the phone. "I still play songs from the record, but I'm always thinking about the songs in the moment."

But Costello, a long-time friend and admirer of de Lone, had agreed to do something to help raise money to battle the incurable condition from which de Lone's 9-year-old son, Richard, suffers, the little-known Prader-Willi syndrome, a chromosome disorder that affects 1 in 15,000 births and leaves its victims perpetually starving. "It's got to be one of the most difficult things any parent could have to deal with," says Costello.

De Lone, 61, would be the guy to pull off an impossible reunion like this because there is nobody more universally liked in Marin County music circles. A utility keyboard player who has led many of his own bands - including the pioneering '70s band, Eggs Over Easy, whose 1971 stint in London is credited with starting that country's pub rock movement - de Lone has long been known as one of the nicest guys anyone could want on the bandstand. Those who have wanted him include Bonnie Raitt, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Commander Cody, Boz Scaggs, Lightnin' Hopkins and countless others.

"It takes a special kind of talent to be yourself and lend something to somebody else at the same time," says Costello, who has played extensively with de Lone and called him "not a modest talent, but a talent who's modest."

Clover broke up long ago. The Marin County hippies went to England in 1977 where they ran head first into the blooming New Wave scene. The group recorded two albums with then-unknown producer Mutt Lange (long before he found AC/DC, Bryan Adams or his wife, Shania Twain) and backed up a neophyte recording artist on his first album. He called himself Elvis Costello, and it's doubtful Clover thought he'd amount to anything.

"We haven't all played together in the same room since then," says Costello.

Clover splintered on the band's return to the states the following year, and the harmonica player/vocalist went on to form Huey Lewis and the News with Clover keyboardist Sean Hopper. Guitarist John McFee has played for the last 20 years or so with the Doobie Brothers, but bassist John Ciambotti long ago gave up the music business to work as a chiropractor in Southern California. ("For sure, he's got strong hands," says Costello.)

The personnel guarantee that Thursday's show will be one for the annals, but de Lone hopes it will be more than just another one-off benefit. De Lone would like to see the event be the beginning of a drive to raise the millions of dollars necessary to build the Richard de Lone Special Housing Project for Prader-Willi patients. The small, unremodeled house in the Mill Valley cul de sac that de Lone and his wife, Lesley, have rented since 1976 looks well loved. Amid the happy clutter of the front porch, a child's handwriting on the wall reads "the de lones live here." Inside, the air is scented Italian thanks to by Lesley de Lone, a private chef for romance author Catherine Coulter. Lesley de Lone is cooking her famous spaghetti bolognese for a neighborhood party. Caroline de Lone, a junior at Tamalpais High, is flopped on her bed, clicking away at a laptop.

A Steinway that belonged to Austin de Lone's great-great grandmothe and rolled off the production line before the First World War, fills the spare bedroom. There is enough room to walk around one side of the piano. On the opposite side, de Lone just throws piles of sheet music and other detritus pertinent to making music. The ivories are well worn; on one key, the tip is missing. An electric keyboard is perched precariously on a nearby shelf.

Although he began taking piano lessons at age 12 while growing up in suburban Philadelphia, de Lone didn't start to pursue musical ambitions in earnest until after he dropped out of Harvard. His rootsy, countryish trio Eggs Over Easy went to England to record with Jimi Hendrix's producer Chas Chandler and wound up working one night a week at a jazz club in London's Kentish Town called the Tally Ho. The band caught on.

"By the end of the year, I think there was one night of jazz left," de Lone says, "not that we ruined jazz in England or anything."

The Tally Ho - and the 1971 Eggs Over Easy residency - served as ground zero for an important subterranean movement in British rock called pub rock. People who five years later would be producing and making the initial breakthrough punk and new wave records were taking their cues from the three Americans who were packing the Kentish Town pub five nights a week by the time they went back to the states.

"They gave confidence to groups like Nick Lowe's Brinsley Schwartz to be more themselves," says Costello, who saw Eggs Over Easy before he met de Lone in Mill Valley in 1977 while the Brit rocker was on his first tour behind "My Aim Is True."

Back in the states, Eggs Over Easy's one album fizzled. The band retreated to Mill Valley and kicked around for years before finally disbanding in the early '80s. De Lone took a lot of freelance work, including playing in a red-hot Marin County roadhouse band called the Moonlighters.

He sent the Moonlighters' demo tapes to producer Lowe, who was becoming a force in the new wave movement. The letter de Lone received back began "Dear Hero of Mine ... " Lowe produced an album withthe band that was only released in England, but he has worked a lot with de Lone over the years.

Who hasn't de Lone worked with over the years? That's the shorter list. He served 12 years as musical director of the Bammies (the Bay Area Music Awards), and he directed the house band at all the legendary Village Music parties at the Sweetwater. De Lone, who used to work the room when it was a neighborhood bar called the Office, recently presided over the final rites of Mill Valley's venerated club. "I closed that place down," he says.

He never made a killing in the music business, but was always happy doing the work, getting by, raising his family. But with the birth of their second child, says Lesley de Lone, "we entered the world of the disabled overnight."

Richard, almost 10, has been living at a group home for the handicapped since June, returning home on weekends. His visits are first respite from 24-hour care and vigilance the de Lones have experienced since he was born. The locks dangling on the refrigerator and food cabinets are not something seen in many people's kitchens.

"My son's a pixie. He's the sweetest boy in the world, but he's naughty," says his mother.

Richard was born with Prader-Willi, a syndrome first described in 1956 by Swiss doctors. Not only do the patients never lose their cravings for food, their metabolisms demand they actually eat less than the average person, about 40 percent less. Many unsupervised Prader-Willi patients die from morbid obesity.

His mother describes a young boy who, if he goes out and smells cooking, bursts into tears and can't stop thinking about food. Richard is a low-functioning case and spends a lot of time compulsively winding his belt around his hands. He can take hours picking out videos to rent. But he never stops thinking about food.

"It's like they have piranhas in their stomachs," says his mother.

Richard's birth was traumatic, but it was several days before the doctors gave them the big picture. "Basically, you've lost your child," says his father. "You have all these hopes and dreams for your child. We cried buckets of tears for six months, at least."

"You know when people say, 'God only gives you what you can handle'?" his wife says. "That's when I want to punch someone's lights out."

With Richard in full-time care during the week, signs of life are blooming at the de Lone home. Austin de Lone recently released a solo album, years in the works, "Soul Blues," that he recorded at the Site, the high-priced hideaway studio in the Marin woods where Keith Richards, Pearl Jam and others have made albums. Costello, Lowe and dieselbilly guitar king Billy Kirchen of the Moonlighters make guest appearances, but de Lone did most of the keyboards, guitars and vocals. He is also producing an album with longtime blues singer Lisa Kindred, a Mill Valley neighbor who was one of Richard's main babysitters and, many years ago, used to work the same Greenwich Village folk clubs as Bob Dylan.

"We've been in a cloud for years," says de Lone. "The fact that the little guy is gone has lifted it a little bit. It's hard to get used to."

Costello knows the situation first-hand. He has sat with his tea at the de Lone's kitchen table, while Richard crawled all over him. He is also the father of twins, now almost a year old. "People like this tend to stay behind closed doors," he says, "and stay out of the public eye."

And while Lesley de Lone remembers the shock of entering the world of the disabled, as she says, she now sees the whole world quite differently, as do all such parents.

"You meet the most remarkable people," she says. "You bow down to these people. So many people who have such great hearts, who do so much work. When a mother spends years getting their child to speak, when doctors said they never would, it may be a small thing compared to what we take for granted, but it takes so much heart and soul."

As for the world of the disabled, the de Lones are firmly on the other side. "Now we feel privileged to be in it," says Lesley.

To learn more about the Richard de Lone Special Housing Project, visit For more information on Prader-Willi syndrome, visit

My Aim Is True Benefit: Elvis Costello with Clover (John McFee, John Ciambotti, Sean Hopper, Pete Thomas). Austin de Lone and Bill Kirchen open. 7 and 10 p.m. Thursday at the Great American Music Hall, 850 O'Farrell St. Both shows sold out. For more information, visit

To hear "Little Lost Lamb" by Austin de Lone, visit sfgate/eguide.

Costello's aim - at 1977 - is still true
Joel Selvin, Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Printable VersionEmail This Article
Reddit Slashdot
Google Bookmarks
(13) Georgia (default)
Times New Roman

Every so often, once every 10 or 15 years maybe, there's a nightclub show as special as the Elvis Costello performance Thursday at the Great American Music Hall. Maybe not even that often.

Costello has such a history with San Francisco, it's not surprising that he came here to give this one-time-only performance of his entire first album, with most of the same musicians playing the songs in the same order as on the record 30 years ago.

"We're turning the record over," he said when he reached "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," the song that led off side 2 of his 1977 classic, "My Aim Is True."

Costello, whose ambitious artistic agenda in recent years has cut across rock, pop, jazz and classical boundaries, doesn't usually engage in such self-celebration, but he did this for a friend. Austin de Lone is a highly regarded Mill Valley keyboard player whom Costello has known since he first came to the States. De Lone's son, Richard, suffers from Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare, incurable disease that leaves victims perpetually starving. Revenue from the two sold-out shows commenced fundraising for the Richard de Lone Special Housing Project.

Not only did Costello, 53, perform "My Aim Is True" song by song, making a strong case for the album as one of the great premieres in rock history, but he followed the 50-minute performance of the album with another 50 minutes of songs he wrote around the same time, one unknown gem after another. It was a daring, intimate look deep into Costello's songwriting notebooks that will undoubtedly never be repeated.

Backing him onstage were three members of Clover, a long-defunct Marin County rock group that accompanied Costello on the original recording sessions and never played with him again. Guitarist John McFee judiciously decorated the buoyant, chugging sound of the band. The tightly focused songs allowed for only a couple of brief guitar breaks, but McFee, who has played with the Doobie Brothers since 1981, tucked shimmering little accents around the end of verses throughout the show. Keyboardist Sean Hopper, who became a founding member of Huey Lewis and the News after Clover broke up in 1978, joined Clover bassist John Ciambotti, who worked for a time with Lucinda Williams and currently is a chiropractor in Southern California.

Pete Thomas of Costello's longtime band the Attractions replaced Clover drummer Mickey Shine, although Costello acknowledged Shine during the show. Clover's two vocalists were not involved in the "My Aim Is True" sessions, so the reunion also was absent Nashville songwriter Alex Call and Huey Lewis, who called himself Huey Louis when he belonged to Clover.

In between performing the "My Aim Is True" songs, Costello talked about making the album. "It was never conceived as a record," he said. "It was a bunch of demos of songs for (British guitarist) Dave Edmunds to cover."

He remembered spending the night in the crummy London studio where the record was made and being told to sleep with the lights turned on to keep the rats away. He said he woke up sometime in the night with the lights off and "the sound of rustling."

After charging through the "My Aim Is True" tunes, Costello brought out an acoustic guitar and, explaining he decided to do only songs he wrote in 1977, played a half dozen that few in the crowd had ever heard. He admitted to salvaging spare parts from some of these unpublished early efforts, like "Imagination" or "Blue Minute," for later songs. Each of the tunes would have fit comfortably on the album. "I Don't Want to Go Home" had the bluff and bite. "Cheap Reward" snarled properly.

With the band back behind him, McFee on pedal steel, Costello brought out the secret country and western flavor of the sessions. "My manager used to say, 'Journalist coming on the tour bus - hide the George Jones tapes,' " said Costello, who eventually recorded his song "Stranger in My House" with Jones.

Costello even sang a Clover song, "Mr. Moon," from the band's 1971 second album, "Forty-Niner." Costello remembered the store in London where he bought the record.

"The mystique of this area and all the music coming out of it was very great to me," he said. "One of the groups we mythologized most was Clover."

It's a tribute to Costello's restless creativity that in only the past couple of years he has passed through town with four bands. He played Oakland's Paramount Theatre with the Attractions, giving a textbook lesson in rock quartet dynamics. He returned to the Paramount with New Orleans songwriter Allen Toussaint and Toussaint's large band. He did last year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival with a thrown-together ensemble that included dieselbilly guitarist Bill Kirchen and de Lone, who also gave a brief opening duo performance Thursday.

It was a rare and open night - as open as the songbooks on the music stands - another brilliant performance from the redoubtable Mr. Costello. Thirty years after recording the classic "My Aim Is True," Elvis Costello and Clover were finally ready for their live debut. The British-born Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and the Marin County country-rock band came together Thursday at San Francisco's intimate Great American Music Hall for two shows at the invitation of North Bay musician Austin de Lone, an old friend of everyone involved. The $100-a-ticket event benefitted the Richard de Lone Special Housing Fund, which assists people with Prader-Willi Syndrome. The non-profit is named after de Lone's 9-year-old son, who suffers from the genetic disorder.

It was the first chance ever for a live crowd to hear timeless tracks like "Alison" performed "the way they're supposed to go," as Costello told the late crowd.At the time of the recording, the American band didn't have a permit to play in England (though Costello joked they tried to fool the authorities by claiming it was a homegrown band called the Shamrocks). Shortly after recording the debut album, Costello assembled the Attractions, and the members of Clover went on to individual success as writers and producers and as members of Huey Lewis & the News, the Doobie Brothers and other bands.

Attractions/Imposters drummer Pete Thomas joined Clover members John McFee on guitar, John Ciambotti on bass and Sean Hopper on keyboards to play both sides of the original English LP, from "Welcome to the Working Week" to "Waiting for the End of the World," with Costello. Between songs, Costello shared stories about the recording process, which took place on "sick" days from his work as a computer operator.

It sounded as if it could have been 30 hours since they recorded the tracks, not 30 years. Costello's voice has, if anything, become richer over the years, and the band re-created the 1977 arrangements with ease and authority.

The quintet left the stage briefly at the conclusion of "End of the World" before returning for "Watching the Detectives," a single that was later added to the U.S. version of the album. Though the Attractions performed on the original recording, Clover pulled it off fine, with Hopper nailing Steve Nieve's organ part.

Costello returned alone with an acoustic guitar to play some songs from the era that didn't make it to the album, some of which, like "Wave a White Flag" and "Jump Up," have been added as bonus tracks to subsequent CD reissues. It was interesting for hard-core fans, but the quality didn't measure up, and in the naked setting Costello's vocals were starting to show the effects of playing two shows back to back. Most of these songs fell by the wayside for a reason. It was like settling for "The Torrents of Spring" when you really want to sink your teeth into "The Sun Also Rises."

But soon the band returned for an arrangement of "Living in Paradise" that differed significantly from the version that ended up on Costello's second album, "This Year's Model." Then McFee switched to pedal steel and ex-Lost Planet Airmen guitarist Bill Kirchen, who opened the show in a duet with de Lone, joined in for a couple of country-tinged tunes that were deemed too twangy for those new-wavey times, "Stranger in the House" and "Radio Sweetheart." They also pulled out a nifty Costello composition from back then that was never even worked up at the time with the band, apparently called "I Don't Want to Go Home," which Costello read from a thick binder full of song lyrics.

Though Costello was, of course, the main attraction, many Bay Area old-timers were clearly delighted to see Clover again. A mention of the band's old lead singer, Alex Call, got a better reaction that that of its most famous alumnus, Huey Lewis. Late in the evening, Costello did a bang-up version of the old Call composition "Mr. Moon," which he dedicated to Call's ailing wife. (Singer Carlene Carter, who recorded the song back in the day, was seated in the balcony with her husband, Joe Breen. Carter, looking healthy after years of battling drug problems, said she has a new recording slated to come out in February on Yep Roc. Costello said Carter's ex-husband Nick Lowe, who produced "My Aim Is True," was planning to come down for the benefit when it was scheduled for October, but the date had to be pushed back when Costello was invited to open a tour for Bob Dylan.)

It was now after 12:30, but Costello returned once more with de Lone on piano to sing "Happy Birthday" to his longtime manager, Gill Taylor, and then to send birthday greetings to someone in the audience, Bonnie Raitt. Raitt declined an invitation to join him on stage, so Costello instead dedicated a lovely version of "Love Has No Pride" to her, accompanied by de Lone on piano. The evening ended, appropriately enough, with the whole ensemble bashing out Nick Lowe's "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding."

Thirty years after recording "My Aim is True," Elvis Costello and Clover were finally ready for their live debut. Thursday at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall, the British-born Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and the long-dormant Marin County band that backed him on his first album performed classics such as "Alison" and "Less Than Zero" live for the first time at two sold-out shows to benefit the Richard de Lone Special Housing Fund.

The non-profit agency was founded by North Bay musician Austin de Lone and his wife, Lesley, in honor of their 9-year-old son, who suffers from Prader-Willi Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes low muscle tone and an insatiable craving for food. The benefit was a first step toward building a residential group home in Marin County for people with the disorder.

"I couldn't think of a better way to start," Austin de Lone said by telephone Friday. "It was such a magical, soulful, heartfelt, rocking evening."

Clover members John McFee on guitar, John Ciambotti on bass and Sean Hopper on keyboards were joined by Costello's longtime drummer Pete Thomas. The ensemble played the entire album in order before moving on to various rarities from Costello's repertoire, with help from keyboardist de Lone and guitarist Bill Kirchen, who opened the show.

Toward the end of the second show, Costello dedicated "Love Has No Pride" to Bonnie


Costello syndrome
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Costello syndrome
Classification & external resources OMIM 218040
DiseasesDB 32846
Costello syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects many parts of the body. This condition is characterized by delayed development and mental retardation, distinctive facial features, loose folds of extra skin (especially on the hands and feet), and unusually flexible joints. Heart abnormalities are common, including a very fast heartbeat (tachycardia), structural heart defects, and overgrowth of the heart muscle (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). Infants with Costello syndrome may be large at birth, but have difficulty feeding and grow more slowly than other children. Later in life, people with this condition have relatively short stature and many lack growth hormone.

Beginning in early childhood, people with Costello syndrome have an increased risk of developing certain cancerous and noncancerous tumors. Small growths called papillomas are the most common noncancerous tumors seen with this condition. They usually develop around the nose and mouth or near the anus. The most frequent cancerous tumor associated with Costello syndrome is a soft tissue tumor called a rhabdomyosarcoma. Other cancers also have been reported in children and adolescents with this disorder, including a tumor that arises in developing nerve cells (neuroblastoma) and a form of bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma).

[edit] Genetics
Mutations in the HRAS gene cause Costello syndrome. The HRAS gene provides instructions for making a protein that helps control cell growth and division. Mutations that cause Costello syndrome lead to the production of an HRAS protein that is permanently active. Instead of triggering cell growth in response to particular signals from outside the cell, the overactive protein directs cells to grow and divide constantly. This unchecked cell division may predispose to the development of benign and malignant tumors. It remains unclear how mutations in the HRAS gene cause the other features of Costello syndrome, but many of the signs and symptoms may result from cell overgrowth and abnormal cell division.

Costello syndrome is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner, which means one copy of the altered gene is sufficient to cause the disorder. Almost all cases have resulted from new mutations, and occur in people with no history of the disorder in their family. This condition is rare; 200 to 300 (20/04/2007)cases have been reported worldwide.

A support group for families affected by Costello syndrome was founded in the UK in 1997. Although based in the UK, the support group runs a web site, and Listserve for families, and has formed a strong international community. The UK support group is a registered charity. In 2001 a similar not-for-profit organization for Costello syndrome was founded in the USA. The two organizations work hand in hand, providing a high level of support and information with the aim of gaining a much better understanding of this rare disorder.

The support group has a membership of 160 families world wide (05/03/2007)

Raitt, in the audience celebrating her 58th birthday. Also spotted in the balcony for the late show was singer Carlene Carter, a frequent collaborator with Clover and the ex-wife of "My Aim Is True" producer Nick Lowe.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home