Handsome Dick busy with Dictators, DJing 

click to enlarge Handsome Dick Manitoba, right, has reunited The Dictators in a lineup featuring both original and new members. - COURTESY KOLDO ORUE
  • Handsome Dick Manitoba, right, has reunited The Dictators in a lineup featuring both original and new members.
Richard “Handsome Dick” Manitoba wants to clarify one thing for anyone catching the latest incarnation of his legendary 1970s outfit The Dictators in The City tonight. He tacked "NYC" on to the band’s moniker to signify that its lineup consists of mainly classic-era members, like lead guitarist Ross “The Boss” Friedman and drummer J.P. Patterson, with some energetic new blood mixed in. “That’s enough for me to feel good about going forward with it,” says the singer, 60, who is finishing a comeback single. “So calling it The Dictators NYC gives people the chance to either reject it because it’s not the original band, or accept it because it’s great, it’s fun, and they’ll love it.”

What’s the current crowd like at your New York bar, Manitoba’s? Is it yuppified?

It’s minimal yuppies. But there aren’t many fancy drinks there, so that’s a natural yuppie deterrent. But to be honest, I really don’t give a s---. If people act like human beings, and they want to spend money in my bar, I really don’t care what they do for a living.

Is there a killer jukebox?

Oh yeah. I try to do a scaled-down version of what Little Steven does with “Underground Garage,” and cover every genre in rock and roll history. So we have punk rock from Britain, punk rock from America, and some classic rock, like Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Plus some soul, R&B, and country, like Johnny Cash. So it’s basically nothing after Otis Redding.

You’re one of Little Steven’s key DJs on his “Underground Garage” satellite-radio station. How did you guys meet?

In 1978, we were in the Record Plant recording, and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were in Studio A and we were in Studio C. And there was a common meeting area in the middle, where we all hung out together. So afterward, Steven and I stayed in touch, and when he got a radio station, he asked me to be one of his DJs. And I said, “Wait. You’re going to pay me money to be Handsome Dick Manitoba on national radio, and play rock and roll? Hmmm. I’ll take it!”

”Underground Garage” is an amazing concept. Any time you listen, you can hear five great songs in a row that you’ve never heard before.

You’ll hear tons! Through Steven’s knowledge of rock and roll, there are so many more things I’ve been turned onto, just working at that station. You know how when a director makes a movie, it’s the vision of that director? “Underground Garage” is the vision of one man, and he is the general, and I am a private, simply carrying out his orders.


The Dictators NYC

Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Jan. 15

Tickets: $18

Contact: (415) 522-0333, www.slimspresents.com

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Tom Lanham

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