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Monday, November 21, 2011

When You Were Burning All The Photographs, Was There One That Made You Laugh?

When You Were Burning All The Photographs,
Was There One That Made You Laugh?

by Ralph Alfonso

Whatever roads we took
You know, we finally made it here
A little older, a little wiser
We like to think that, anyway,
you look great
I'm not just saying that
Why would I?
There's nothing to gain
I missed that train
I spent too much time looking at
the schedule
not realizing
time had run out
Doors shut
the whistle blows
Where you went
The conductor knows
Those railway tracks
Never looking back
When you were burning all the photographs,
was there one that made you laugh?
The secret sign
The secret joke
The time and place to our favourite song
We knew all the words
Sometimes I try to sing along
But now my heart
gets it all wrong
That's how it is
I know i'm just passing through
Wanted to say hi
Nothing happens unless you try

(c) 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bongo Beat Records & Film Pop presents the Montreal premieres of two important films

Bongo Beat Records in association with Film Pop is proud to present two important film documentaries as part of the Pop Montreal festival  for 2011.

First is the Montreal premiere of Bloodied But Unbowed, The Birth of Vancouver Punk Rock 1977-82

Ralph Alfonso designed all the Zulu Records punk re-issues when he was part of the Vancouver music scene in the 90s and is one of the few original 1977 pioneers who has contributed both to the 77 Toronto scene (as  manager of The Diodes, The Crash'n'Burn Club and journalist for Bomp, Cheap Thrills, and New York Rocker) and the 77 Vancouver scene through associations with Zulu Records, Sudden Death/Joe Keithley and the individual band members.

This film means a lot to us and we are very proud to be involved with Pop Montreal and Blue Sunshine in presenting it.

Susanne Tabata | Canada 2011 | 74min. | Quebec Premiere
Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 19:30 - 21:00
 additional matinee screening Sunday Sept. 25 at 1:30pm!
Bloodied But Unbowed is the first in-depth chronicle of Vancouver's original punk scene. Distinct from London, New York and L.A., Vancouver punk was eclectic, raw, politically charged, relentless and at times comedic. Bands like DOA, Subhumans, Young Canadians, Pointed Sticks, Modernettes, UJ3RK5 and the Dishrags, helped forge the city's reputation as an alternative mecca, attracting and influencing the likes of Kurt Cobain, former Guns N' Roses' bassist Duff McKagan and Henry Rollins.
Leather, spit, beer, drugs, sex and a righteously enraged music terrified the mainstream in Vancouver in the 70s and Bloodied But Unbowed captures the raw essence of the kids who barely lived through it, as well as those who did not. Drugs wreaked havoc in the punk scene, snuffing short the lives of some of the scene's luminaries. But despite the harsh toll, many of Vancouver's most infamous sons (to wit: Joe Shithead and eternal bad boy Randy Rampage) are still on the road, playing gigs, pissing on squares and generally causing an uproar. Narrated by Billy Hopeless and packed with stories of love and loss, rebellion and regret, Bloodied But Unbowed captures the rise and fall of an epic era.

The next film is a long overdue look at the life of Phil Ochs, one of the great heroes of the 60s musical revolution and an inspiration for many (including myself). Again, this is the Montreal premiere.

Kenneth Bowser | USA 2010 | 96min. | Quebec Premiere

Friday, September 23, 2011 - 19:00 - 20:50

NOTE: Michael Ochs will NOT be at this screening due to unforseen circumstances.
From civil rights to the anti-war movement to the struggles of workers, folksinger Phil Ochs wrote topical songs that engaged his audiences in the issues of the 1960s and 70s. In this biographical documentary, veteran director Kenneth Bowser shows how Phil's music and his fascinating life story and eventual decline into depression and suicide were intertwined with the history-making events that defined a generation. Even as his contemporaries moved into folk-rock and pop music, Phil followed his own vision, challenging himself and his listeners. Not one to pull punches, Ochs never achieved the commercial success he desperately desired. But his music remains relevant, reaching new audiences in a generation that finds his themes all too familiar.
Guest Bio: Michael Ochs
Michael Ochs is an American photographic archivist best known for his extensive collection of pictures related to rock music dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. The Michael Ochs Archive contains 3 million vintage prints, proof sheets and negatives which are licensed daily for use in CD reissues, books, films and documentaries. The Los Angeles Times called Ochs "America's preeminent rock 'n' roll photo archivist" and The New York Times called his archive "the premier source of musician photography in the world".

As a special treat, we are happy to offer a free download of a tribute song that I wrote for Phil Ochs a few years ago and by the powers of kismet, manages to tie in both Phil Ochs and the Vancouver punk scene as it features myself on vocals with Gord Nicholl (Pointed Sticks) on keyboards who also recorded and mixed it with Buck Cherry (Modernettes) at their Vancouver studios, Paramount Recorders. On electric guitar is Michael Rummen (Four Horsemen, Bruno Gerussi's Medallion, Ralph) and on acoustic guitar is Dave Rave (Teenage Head). They are all featured on the "electric" version. There is also an acoustic version which is just Dave and myself. I have only ever performed this song once or twice live and it always garners an appreciative response. Phil Ochs and his music touched a lot of people.

Band email marketing

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ralph Alfonso on tour. I am coming to your town & having a coffee. Seriously.

Hi folks.
The snow has cleared. The rains have swept away the debris and once again, yours truly, Ralph Alfonso, is on tour; taking Bongo Beat Records directly to music fans - be it at record shows, book fairs, flea markets, church basement bazaars and basically anywhere we can plant our flag and and let the Bongo Beat banner fly.

We've already hit Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, and Kingston; meeting lots of old and new friends.

Join us on our upcoming adventures.
Get Bongo Beat cds, Bongo Beat books, punk photo prints, and collector vinyl (from Ralph's collection) where applicable.

Some shows will have free cds (a cool Bongo Beat selection), so come early and say hi.


Sunday, May 15
Toronto, Ontario
Flipside DJ & Collectors Vintage Record Sale
Gladstone Hotel, 1213 Queen St. W, Toronto


Sunday, May 22
St. Catharines, Ontario
Musicians Open, 2011 Golf Tournament

Ralph is one of the industry judges at this year's 2011 Niagara Music Awards, and, as such, will be participating at this special event.


Sunday, May 29
Toronto, Ontario
Toronto Mid-Town Collectibles Show
10am - 3:30pm
Greenwood College School
443 Mount Pleasant Road


Sunday, June 19
Toronto, Ontario
Small Press of Toronto Spring Book Fair

Hart House (Univ of Toronto Campus)
7 Hart House Circle
11am - 5pm


Saturday, June 25
Ottawa, Ontario
Ottawa Small Press Book Fair

Jack Purcell Community Centre
Room 203 (upstairs)
320 Jack Purcell Lane (off Elgin, Starbucks on the corner)
Noon - 5pm


Montreal, Quebec
Semaine Italienne de Montreal / Montreal Italian Week

 8:00PM to 10:00PM

The Writers Tent, corner St-Laurent and Mozart

MEET THE WRITERS. Members of the Association of Italian Canadian Writers will be in Little Italy to present their works, discuss their books, and answer questions about writing. The presentations and discussions will be in English, French, and Italian. 

Ralph Alfonso will be here from 8pm-10pm. Come by and chat in Italian, French, or English. Ralph will have all his books and cds for sale.


Saturday, Aug 13
Montreal, Quebec
Semaine Italienne de Montreal / Montreal Italian Week

1:30PM to 3:00PM
The Gazebo, corner St-Laurent and St-Zotique

An afternoon of readings by Italian Canadian authors in English, French, and Italian.
Ralph will be reading two short poems in Italian (all authors only have 6mins ea to read).
We don't have a schedule of the reading order so please be there early to avoid any


Sept tba
Montreal, Quebec
Pop Montreal Record Show
details tba


Sunday, Sept 25
Toronto, Ontario
Word on The Street
Queen's Park Crescent


Sunday, Oct 2
Ottawa, Ontario
Ottawa Record Show
St Anthony's Hall
523 St Anthony St


Sunday, Oct 16
Toronto, Ontario
Musical Collectables Record & CD Sale
Capitol Banquet Centre
6435 Dixie Rd


Saturday, Nov 5
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax Record Fair

Halifax Forum, Maritime Hall
2901 Windsor Street, Halifax
$5 early bird (8-9am! get out of that box, I'm still pricing...)
$2 (9am-6pm)


Nov 26-27
Montreal, Quebec


Saturday, Dec 10
The Small Press Winter Book Fair

last chance for books, punk photo prints (12x18 unframed),
books, weird xmas vinyl, cds, and lots more affordable
stocking stuffers and christmas gifts

Hart House, UofT
(same building as CIUT Radio)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ralph Makes Top 50 Indie List. Broken Pencil Loves Ralph :)

Just a quick note that the latest issue of Broken Pencil magazine (#50), Canada's magazine of the independent arts, has named me one of their "50 People We Love". I am listed #4 on the list.
Broken Pencil is available in the USA/Canada and also internationally at selected outlets.

I have attached a scan of the write-up.

The write up is a very brief (and selective) overview of my almost 40 years in the independent community and I am very proud to read that I am "setting new standards for an art form that's threatening to disappear as music increasingly goes all-digital."

I have been publishing since 1969 and running Bongo Beat Records since 1995.

This is a great honour and congratulations to everyone on the list, including many colleagues and artistic collaborators; most notably Ian Ferrier who has released a solo cd on Bongo Beat and also the group project, Pharmakon MTL, which came out last month.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ralph - Unreleased Songs (Phil Ochs Tribute)

The songs "April Say" and "Stars That Are Silver" can be downloaded for free.

"April Say" was recorded in Toronto with Kevin Quain on piano and accordian. That is Kevin on keyboards also for "Goodbye Jack. Kerouac."

"Stars That Are Silver" was inspired by and dedicated to Phil Ochs. This track was recorded in Vancouver with Dave Rave on guitar and engineered by Buck Cherry (MOdernettes) and Gord Nicholls (POinted Sticks). This is the acoustic version. There is a fuller version with Gord on keyboards.

Just select the song and click the Download button (this button appears only for these two tracks).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Last Year's Valentine

RALPH. "Last Year's Valentine" from the album, This Is For The Night People.
Directed by Chris Hooper. Starring Sandra Steier as the girl and Graham Howell as the guy.
Vintage Car by Graham Howell.
Produced by Alison E. Rogers for Ladybird Films.
Music by Ralph Alfonso and Michael Rummen.
(c) 2011 by Ralph Alfonso/Bongo Beat Records

This Is For The Night People

Friday, January 7, 2011

Memories of Cannes, Midem, Gangsters, and Croissants

January is Midem month for many people in the music industry. Midem is a higher-end trade fair where labels and publishers and anything connected with music (video, software, internet, etc) gathers to make deals. 

The Midem Conference - a cruel knife to the soul of all who are weak of heart and endeavour. This is where the heavy deals and scramble go down, thousands of industry types clutching demos and press kits, looking for entry points to foreign lands and foreign musical adventure.

My own adventures in Cannes always revolve around what vinyl records or second hand books i've bought at the weekend flea market or what interesting book or cd at the FNAC store which gets sadder and sadder each year with less and less music, more and more dvds and so on.

Of course, the wonderful pastry shops where I sneak off to during breaks; croissants and baguettes and hand-made chocolates. I can only take so much sometimes - you need a capuccino break.

For business, I have always managed to come out with a distribution deal or sub-publishing or new contact - sometimes it may take years before you actually do business with a contact but the important thing is that you're on the radar. Lately, the exhibit floor has seen less and less attendees with everyone selling and no one buying. On the surface, anyway. There's always a deal to be made if you play your cards right.

Cannes itself can be an overpriced playland since all the hotel rates double for any convention coming to town but there's always a cool spot that's not TOO overpriced. It is a funny old town where rich and not so rich stake out their turfs; where both crowd into the shops for the January sales. 

January is usually mostly cold, sometimes rainy. During the day, it might be sunny and you can stroll along the beach.

I've printed a few things on my myspace blog over the years and I've rounded them all up here plus a few other things I just found from my notebooks; stuff written in the hotel at night or on the plane coming in or bus to Nice or sitting in a cafe after some guy from some label in Norway has told me "your label is too smart for us"

It's a compliment I guess. Too bad, cause I like Norway.

Nice Tour of Oslo, Norway. Click here.



Gangster's girlfriend

drinking wine

dark hair

Juliette Greco style

all black

long dress turtleneck


Cote d'azur avec un dur

hard living Riviera

too many secrets between them

I try not to look but

her mouth

black lipstick smile

hard to say no to

the gangster sees me

there's a scar from his ear to

his mouth

his little eye

burrowing a hole in my head

it's understood

i look again

i'm dead

well, now

i know

ralph alfonso


desole petite fleur


petite fleur

qui attends le vent

qui a faim pour le soleil

c'est moi qui ta quitte

c'est moi qui s'en vole

dans la nuit

vers la plui

d'un futur rien compris

ralph alfonso



I'm sitting all alone on the edge of the world

I'm waving hello to

everyone down below

and did I jump or did you push?

Only you and I will ever know

Ralph Alfonso



la plage a paris

un rencontre a minuit

un cigarette entre les deux

j'aime tes cheveaux dans le vent

odeur de


des gens qui rit

les amants dans la nuit

sous les etoiles


au centre

de notre monde

ralph alfonso



There's a full moon on

the sand dunes

a cool breeze that will end soon

a sad little poem

sent adrift to find a home

lovers going round the verse

still trying to find the chorus

and this is where we cue the violins

the girl is his, the good guy wins

and I wish that's how the story ends

but in this case, it all depends

Ralph Alfonso



It's a coffee cold October

All the leaves have

fallen down

There's nowhere

to go to

cause there's no one else around

but there's no mistake

that's the road

I want to take

I guess there's 

no colours left 

in the world

it's a choice between

brown or brown

I put a call in to somebody

I want to complain

I'm sick of all the

cold walks

I'm sick of 

alll the rain

Ralph Alfonso


BONJOUR TRISTESSE with Juliette Greco




CHARLES TRENET - La Romance de Paris

JULIETTE GRECO - St Germain de Pres