In 2007, I was walking down our street in Silver Spring, MD, when I met Glenn Kowalski, who was playing electric guitar through a small amp on his porch. Not acoustic folk guitar, as is more common so close to the “People’s Republic of Takoma Park,” but distorted rock and roll riffing. Hmmmm, this was my people. We got to talking, and before long we were jamming with drummer Norman van der Sluys and bass player Josh Singer as 7 Door Sedan.
7 Door Sedan was Glenn’s brainchild, a solo project for which he was just about to release a CD, Killer Good. That CD provided the raw material for our early practices, which took place on the top floor of Norman’s childhood house in Mt. Pleasant, DC (same area I lived in the early 1980s). I managed to shoehorn some of my old tunes into the set as well, like Bells and Razors which had been arranged differently for the Laughing Sam project (It was originally titled Almost a Man, then nicknamed “Afraid” after Tom Lyle changed my lyrics from "I’m hopelessly in love with you” to “....afraid of you”). In addition, we also did Somewhere in Sweden, aka the song that wouldn’t die, What I’m Gonna Say, and Second Chance, which I first recorded back in 1995, then rearranged as Shaft’s Second Chance with Laughing Sam, which is also the version 7 Door did. Check out the website for 7 Door Sedan - there’s a lot of good material to explore, including the CD we did together, Gotta, Gotta, Gotta.
7 Door was a whole other level of professionalism. We took it seriously and were merciless in critiquing each other. Because we were older and more experienced – I was just turning 54 when we started – this band had a different feel. All of us had been around the block; there was serious DC punk and rock lineage represented. Norman had played guitar in Madhouse, and Josh and Norman had been in Jamie Holiday’s Vampyre Bunnies. As a teenager, Glenn started as “Jake Whipp” in a band called White Boy with his father in the mid to late 1970s. The band has almost mythological status in the DC music scene, although it didn’t necessarily translate into more respect or gigs. But it at least gave us a base of local recognition and a more direct connection to the punk scene than what I had experienced with the New Wave-oriented Acrylix, when I had only danced around the edge of that scene. I identify as punk in spirit, but I have never been in a punk band. I loved the energy of the legendary Bad Brains when I saw them at Madams Organ in Adams Morgan, and I worked with Tom Lyle of Government Issue, but otherwise I was not really part of it. Through the new scene that grew up around 7 Door, however, I met the late, great John Stabb of Government Issue, a dear soul who died too young, and also became re-acquainted with members of Black Market Baby (Acrylix had played with them) - re-named Rust Buckit - and Ian Mackaye of Minor Threat/Fugazi whenever he was hanging out at Ft. Reno summer concerts in NW DC.
7 Door had a much heavier, retro sound than the pop/new wave sound of Acrylix. It was propelled by the solid bass playing of Josh Singer and drumming of Norman van der Sluys. Glenn and I had a twin lead guitar attack; when asked what kind of music we played, I would usually respond that “we have two guitars and we’re not afraid to use them.” Norman and Josh are at least 10 years younger than me, so I was educated on Kiss, AC/DC, and Rush, as well as various underground cartoon shows and movies I had missed while raising children (“What, you never saw Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Dazed and Confused? Fast Times at Ridgemont High???”). Glenn is about 7 years younger than me and is a huge David Bowie/Mick Ronson fan, as is Josh. Glenn is very exacting; he knows what he wants. He's a great guitar player and songwriter and a serious pedal/gearhead, and I owe a lot to him in all departments. I would say he played rock guitar and I played blues guitar, no matter how hard I tried to be otherwise. I thought it was hilarious to hear how blown away the guys in the band were to hear me play a Johnny Winter-inspired blues intro to “Neutral,” a song of Glenn’s that we played. There’s a set of my brain cells solely dedicated to those notes and so it required absolutely no foresight and planning. Da Blooz? Comin’ right up!
We were together from 2007 until the COVID pandemic put the kabosh on everything, a total of 12 ½ years. Shows included regular gigs at our local Silver Spring hangout The Quarry House, and downtown at the Velvet Lounge and DC9. We opened for 1980s indie darlings The Rezillos at the U Street Music Hall. 7 Door performed a couple of their tunes, one with Martha Hull on vocals, at a tribute for Robert Goldstein of the Urban Verbs at the 930 club in January 2017 (see photo). One of our last and most memorable gigs was a David Bowie benefit around Valentine’s Day - here’s a video of my guitar solo during our version of Width of a Circle. Our very last gig was at the American Legion Hall in Silver Spring on March 7, 2020. Then everything shut down.
Our last practice was February 29, 2020 (see photo). For at least 10 of those 12 ½ years we practiced in the basement of our house in Silver Spring, so I am/we are hugely indebted to my wife Patty for her forbearance. What I’m really saying is she’s a fucking saint. Visiting her mother, grocery shopping, whatever it took to get out of the house and preserve her sanity, she did it. Sorta kidding; she loved it and was very supportive. Our Boston Terrier, Tessie, used to love our practice; we were loud, and up until her death in 2011 she would park herself right in front of Norman’s bass drum to sleep. Like a thunder coat for her.
Meanwhile….solo Ken doesn’t magically disappear. I collected enough material to put out a CD in 2013, with 10 tunes. I came up with the name The Ken Moss Experience, or KME, because I needed to call myself something when I released the CD. People like the name. You can just say KME if you’re in a big hurry and don’t have time to say the whole thing, like ELO, ELP, CSN(Y), X, XTC, and KFC. The CD is on bandcamp (https://kenmoss.bandcamp.com) and also under the Music tab to this site. Norman van der Sluys produced the CD - he has been my champion, advocate and moral support for this project, and besides, he’s got recording equipment and a great ear. Bass player Charles Steck has also been a real solid friend and has a special talent for tolerating my neurotic and relentless self-analysis due to the fact that I’m a follower and collaborator by nature, not a leader. For the CD cover, Josh Singer contributed the great photoshop of the iconic North by Northwest shot of Cary Grant (see photo below). The ten songs on the CD span a period from the 1990s through 2010. El Pueblo (Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles), like Hollywood, is a personal song about my love of Los Angeles. Girl I Want is a straight rocker. Funky Evolution is a funky song about evolution. Dan Robinson, a superb multi-instrumentalist (especially mandolin and dobro) from the Takoma Park was a key piece for the CD. After the CD, Glenn Kowalski filled in admirably on keyboards, and Linda Reinisch added artful background vocals. In addition, Norman recorded a few others for me, including Mirage, Starting to Know, and the breathtakingly depressing Dangerous Dreamworks. I miss the practices and the shows we did at the local American Legion and VFW Halls in Maryland, as well as at Jad and David Fair’s (Half Japanese) Shakemore Music Festival in Westminster, Maryland. Here’s video of us doing Wasting My Time, Run, and from way back in Chapter III, Somewhere in Sweden.
So, that pretty much brings me up to the present.