“Where Were You?” – ‘April Fool’s Day’ 1986 – Tripod Jimmie along with David Thomas & the Wooden Birds at the Berkeley Square, Berkeley Ca [4-1-86]


This particular post has a different title, for the simple reason that the performances that these images were taken at, occurred on an April Fool’s evening. Shame on you for knowing about it, and not attending, for you missed something quite special.

I was keen on seeing Mr. Thomas and his bandmates perform, since becoming familiar with the early recordings of Pere Ubu, and more recently, the Pedestrians’ releases, which briefly featured another of my favorite musicians-Richard Thompson-as well as members of another “difficult” group of musos, Henry Cow….. A heady mix of musicians that would often collaborate, to say the least – and expectations of a unique performance were on my mind, well before the event commenced.

Admittedly, I was not familiar with the opening group, Tripod Jimmie, before the show, but was informed about the connection to the early line-up of Pere Ubu, and guitarist Tom Herman’s contributions, by a fellow music enthusiast and former colleague – John Garcia.  The set was a powerful contrast to the recent recordings by David Thomas, and really amped the atmosphere before the headliners came on.

Michael Conen - [PROOF] Tom Herman vertical [Tripod Jimmie - Ber

Michael Conen - [PROOF] Lennie Bove & Tom Herman horizontal no 2

For more on Tripod Jimmie, have a look here:

The Hearpen Page on “A Warning to All Strangers”

Tripod Jimmie review

The Wooden Birds’ set was very satisfying, since every number would provide a twist or turn of a musical, or theatrical aspect, which would keep the viewer/listener quite engaged.

Michael Conen - [PROOF] Daved Hild & David Thomas [David Thomas

Daved Hild & David Thomas

For me, the performance provided an edge that can best be described as watching something that caused you to feel it was humorous, but somehow, you knew you shouldn’t laugh, and all the while, there was this fantastic soundtrack to the proceedings, present to keep the audience enthralled with the proceedings.

Michael Conen - [PROOF] Allen Ravenstine & Ralph Carney no 2 [Da

Allen Ravenstine and Ralph Carney, providing textural shades and color to the proceedings

Michael Conen - [PROOF] David Thomas arms alight [David Thomas &

David Thomas in full swing

The set by Mr. Thomas and the Wooden Birds seemed to go by in a flash, and there was quite a bit of enthusiasm from those in attendance, to bring the band back for more. John Garcia will have a much better memory of exactly what songs were performed by both bands, and the very unexpected encore set, by Mr. Thomas, Tom Herman, Tony Maimone, Allen Ravenstine, [and if memory serves, perhaps Ralph Carney joined in], and a nervous Daved Hild on drums.

The drummer was quite nervous, as he was not so familiar with the patterns used on the Pere Ubu numbers that were performed. And, it was entertaining to see David Thomas trying to convey what and how to play those parts, in an attempt to synch the drums with the rest of the musicians, who knew those numbers, like the back of their hands.  In spite of this minor setback, the encore set was a rousing success, and a delightful surprise for all in attendance – and it would seem that even the oft-serious David Thomas approved of the proceedings, as evidenced by the conspiratorial smiles found on the faces of the musicians afterward.

For more on David Thomas, Pere Ubu, Tom Herman and other Ubu-related projects, go here:

Ubuproject website – David Thomas link

Michael Conen - [PROOF] Tony Maimone & David Thomas horizontal f

Long-time collaborator Tony Maimone & David Thomas

Michael Conen - [PROOF] Tony Maimone & Daved Hild [David Thomas

The rhythm section for the set

Michael Conen - [PROOF] David Thomas finger snap [David Thomas &

Little did anyone suspect, what transpired that evening, would set in motion a “reunion” of sorts, with Mr. Thomas and a reconfigured Pere Ubu, about one year later.

Michael Conen - [PROOF] Tony Maimone & David Thomas [David Thoma

Tony Maimone & David Thomas in one of my more satisfying shots from the evening

Michael Conen - [PROOF] David Thomas concentration [David Thomas

David Thomas with the accordian, although it would appear he’s reading a page from a book

Hope you enjoyed this set of images, and as always, constructive criticism is welcome.

**One additional NOTE:

Should Mr. Thomas, or his collaborators wish to use any of these images, as stated on the UBUPROJECT website, please let me know, and your wish is my command.

As noted on this page: Photos & recordings


While many of you who arrive here, to look at these photographs may get turned off to my use of watermarks [thinking they ruin the image], let me explain why I choose to do this.

No one paid for my camera equipment but me. No one paid for the film I used to take these photographs.  On occasion, when I free-lanced for a free monthly newsletter, and they published a photo of mine, the payment for each photograph barely paid for the fuel to get my vehicle to the show [when I *did* have a vehicle], and the film I used on that night. 

Not too many of my photos were published, at the time, because the artists I chose to capture images of, were not hugely popular then.  Hence, the old dictum, “Supply and Demand”; I had the supply, but the demand [pre-Internet], was not there. You can argue the relative merits of the quality of my work, and that is precisely what a blog offers:  a venue for discussion.

Back to the watermarks: no one is subsidizing my time to scan and then clean up the images I am presenting here. Start to finish, each negative will take approximately an hour-and-a-half to reach “proof” quality – which is what you will see here.  This is my labor of love, and until there is some measurable return on my efforts, what you see is what you get.




2 responses to ““Where Were You?” – ‘April Fool’s Day’ 1986 – Tripod Jimmie along with David Thomas & the Wooden Birds at the Berkeley Square, Berkeley Ca [4-1-86]

    • Thanks, Sheila!
      Luckily I could set up where I wanted to, and put my flash on a cable, off to the side, as I’d hoped I’d be able to. Good thing I was ready with the flash, because there wasn’t much stage lighting to begin with.


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