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Video Premiere: “Scratching at the Cat (Live)” by Stuffy Shmitt

Stuffy Shmitt - More Stuff Happens Deluxe Edition
31 August 2021

Stuffy Shmitt – More Stuff Happens (Deluxe Edition)

A veteran rock & roller, singer/songwriter and guitarist with a couple decades in the trenches, Stuffy Shmitt has played with everyone from The Band’s Levon Helm to Violent Femmes’ Gordan Gano and David Johansen of the New York Dolls.

About eight years ago, the poor bastard went off the rails, consumed by bipolar disorder. Finally, though, he got himself properly medicated, moved from NYC to Nashville, and was able to sort out everything he’d created during his bouts of depression and mania.

The resulting album, Stuff Happens — featuring Aaron Lee Tasjan, Brian Wright, and more — is Stuffy’s finest yet.

And now, on September 10th, he’s releasing a special deluxe edition, More Stuff Happens.

Available for download and streaming, the set will feature four new bonus tracks: alternate takes of “It’s OK” and “Sleeping on the Wet Spot” spruced up by keys and a powerhouse horn section, and live versions of the heartrending “Sunglasses” and the appropriately raucous “Scratchin’ at the Cat,” a tribute to Stuffy’s days hanging in Laurel Canyon at the infamous Cat & Fiddle Pub.

Big Takeover is stoked to host the premiere of the new music video for the live deluxe-edition “Scratchin’ at the Cat,” which finds Stuffy and his band operating at full-tilt at The 5 Spot in Nashville, offering a taste of what it might sound like to hear Warren Zevon fronting The Beatles circa The White Album.

The music video catches their red-hot performance as a full band, with its chugging drum pace, lurching bass line, gritty guitar line, and Stuff Shmitt’s passionate exclamations – that fulminates in a sonic storm by song’s end. Trippy visual weave in and out of the performance, adding a psychedelic layer to the already wild track.

Stuffy Shmitt had the following to say about the legendary bar that inspired “Scratchin’ at the Cat”:

“The original Cat & Fiddle was a small wooden structure in The Hollywood Hills region of the Santa Monica Mountains high above Hollywood, California. The British pub was tucked in underneath a little market called The Country Store. The only two places you could buy anything in Laurel Canyon except for drugs. Just those two glued together sharing a tiny parking lot under the tall trees.”

“It’s been said that Jim Morrison wrote ‘Love Street’ when he lived behind The Country Store. Jim’s neighbors at that time included Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills, Roger McGuinn, J.D. Souther, the Mamas and the Papas, Carole King, The Eagles and Richie Furay of Buffalo Springfield, among many others. Chris Hillman wrote “So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star” in the canyon. And later, I got a job bartending there.”

“It was a magical, wild and beautiful scene before the neighbors kicked us out. The Cat & Fiddle was owned by Brits Kim Gardner (of Ashton, Gardner & Dyke, known for their hit “Resurrection Shuffle”), his mate Steve Humphreys (bass player of the band Lion), Steve’s wife Cassie Yates, the American actress who starred in Of Mice and Men with Robert Blake, as well as the television show Dynasty, and Kim’s wife Paula.”

“When I was there, it was a zoo—a hideout for Los Angeles bands and musicians off the road, unknowns and rock stars, cockney construction workers and groupies from the Valley. Kim hosted them all with pints and pints of British ale and mountains of cocaine.”

“One night I walked into the closet of an office and Kim—with lines of coke laid out in front of him—was shocking himself with a stun gun over and over. In the new “Scratchin’ At The Cat” video you can see quick photo blasts of Kim and the lads. It was a constant party—smoky, dark and loud, like a slam-dance Brigadoon appearing every night in the forest.”

“Booby Daniels—drum roadie for Elton John and The Eurythmics—was famous for walking through the door and bellowing in his thick Scottish accent, “Has anyone seen Mrs. Daniels?!” (There was no Mrs. Daniels.) And the crowd would always turn their heads and holler back, “NO!” And in well-worn tradition, Booby would ask, “Has anybody got a toot then?’”“

“Nearly everyone at The Cat & Fiddle drove an old beat-up Cadillac. The parking lot only held four cars, so Sunny Grofe, a skinny freak with giant red glasses would valet the cars, careening and crashing them down the mountain. The modest pub was hallowed ground for many a maniac and, at the end of a night, with patrons gathered around, Kim would stand up on the bar holding his pint and do his famous waggle-your-knee-around dance, shouting, “OK, I’ve got your money, now get the fuck out!”“

“After the after-hours, usually around 3:30 a.m., I’d steer my ’64 Caddie down the winding roads in the rain, with broken wipers, totally wrecked, the radio blasting Los Lobos, into the smog and to the Fat Burger. And then one Christmas the neighbors got together and threw The Cat & Fiddle Pub into history.”

“Of course, the video for “Scratchin’ At The Cat” tells the story best.”

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