The Ballad of Carlos Guitarlos

The Ballad of Carlos Guitarlos

Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs were legendary/notorious in the post-punk L.A. days for their ferocious blues and massive drinking and drugging. Carlos Guitarlos played guitar for them. Top Jimmy died two years ago when his liver finally gave out. Carlos decided to get clean and sober at Top Jimmy’s funeral, and has stayed that way.

Now, after many years of playing on the street, he’s got a CD out, Y’see, he’s an amazing songwriter and can really really sing – R&B, blues, raw, feel the pain stuff. Even in the worst of years he kept writing and singing. He’s backed on the new CD by compatriots Dave Alvin (Blasters), John Doe (X), and Mike Watt (Minutemen).

As one who has been clean and sober a long time, it’s always heartening to see someone make it back.

From the SF Bay Guardian

“It would appear that the fortunes of Carlos Guitarlos might be on the turnaround. Most of you probably know him as the guy with the red Stratocaster playing outside the 16th Street BART station. Or maybe you remember him as the dude who, at one of his rare club dates, cleared the room with his bellowing voice (like B.S. Pulley, Carlos doesn’t require a mic or a telephone if you’re within eight blocks of earshot). Once a member of Los Angeles’ legendary Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs (who toured the circuit with blood brothers X and the Blasters), and currently scraping by as a street musician, Carlos will unveil a new solo album, Straight from the Heart (Nomad), this May.

Though 2001’s Mission Blues is mostly acoustic, Heart finds him surrounded by a core group consisting of Joey Morales, Bill MacBeath, Dave Black, and Marc Dote, as well as old friends John Doe, Dave Alvin, and Mike Watt. The old buzzard swings like he never has before, on an album featuring 13 well-penned originals and a couple of covers. A prerelease buzz is building in L.A. and New York, and for good reason – it’s a terrific album by a soulful guy. Carlos has booked a slate of shows to coincide with its release. He doesn’t suffer fools (or anyone else) easily, and given that he’ll receive a lot of attention, it’ll be interesting to see how (or if) he makes nice.”