Geeking It Up with Billy Kernkamp

billytoys.jpg
Classic concentration.


Costa Mesa-based singer/songwriter Billy Kernkamp is playing four shows at the Gypsy Lounge in Lake Forest this month, a Thursday night residency that kicked off last week. So what better way to prepare for this historical musical event than shopping for comic books and G.I. Joe figures?

When I first met Billy Kernkamp, I had no idea he was a local musician. It wasn't until the fifth or sixth time I ran into him I had any indication. I met him on the patio of Avalon in Costa Mesa, and noticed that he was wearing a Morrissey t-shirt, something that is undeniably awesome, and started talking to him about the greatness of Years of Refusal (Moz's latest, which came out early this year). Some time later, I learned that he owned Huntington Beach vintage store Vintage Victim Denim Blue, but I still had no idea that he played.

My ignorance was my loss. Though his music's doesn't really resemble the Mozzer in the slightest, it's charming Americana with an old-school country-tinge--check out "Whiskey by Moonlight" or "What Good Am I" on his MySpace.

But what's probably most endearing (to me) about Kernkamp is what a big geek he is. Take that picture above--we're at Target, and he's inspecting, with deep concentration, which of two G.I. Joe "Hawk" figures (the character played in the movie by Dennis Quaid) he should buy. He eventually settles on one, declaring that the eyebrows a bit better on it.

Later in the day, we're looking at action figures at Phat Collectibles in Anaheim, and he finds a Wolverine that he likes--"I've been looking for that Wolverine head," he says, hoping to modify it for a custom figure. Yep. Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a huge geek, but I can't hope to compete with that. Maybe one day.

He's also a rather hilarious dude--when I found out he had the Gypsy Lounge residency for August, I asked him about it, and he responded with this via text: "Yeah it's going to be a lot of fun and work, but each night I'll be doing something different with friends from other bands. One night I'll bring the bar rock, another with a horn section, another straight up country, and one night with my penis out winking at the audience." I asked him if I could quote him on that, and he said, "Yeah, I don't care about image." But all that adds to his image--well, at least among some of us.

Sadly, though the G.I. Joe figure disappointed him--I tried to warn him that I thought the other one looked better. He just wrote me with this: "Oh, and you were right about the hawk g.i. Joe. Fuck, he needs some work. Yes, his eyes were straighter, but the edges of his cap, and his eye brows are a mess. :("

Billy Kernkamp plays the Gypsy Lounge tonight with Jameson, Lemon Sun and Handsome G. Shows starts at 9 p.m. Free, 21+.

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