Jim Lascko
Contributing writer - Terri Simons

PA ~Tell us about your Solar Fire Light show...

It's a thick psychedelic stew for your eyes that you can eat with a fork! We start by hanging a white back drop across the rear of the stage and setting up a scaffold near the rear of the room. I use at least 4 projectors for my shows... 3 - Optikinetic Solar 575's with 2 Solar Systems (attachments with 2 rotating wheels that holds all the various geometrical designs) along with a Xenon 35 mm slide projector for the images. It's older equipment, but very reliable and effective! 

On top of the chaos this creates we add strobes, blacks lights, spinner beams, smoke, etc. while also utilizing the in house lighting system. We can usually get a pretty good looking "time tunnel" effect going with changing space scenes, alien planetscapes, stars, planets, etc. Every once in a while you might even find some aliens peeking in us just to see what's going on! 

Although we use the same equipment at each show, we vary it enough so that the shows are never exactly the same way twice... different venues with different lighting systems and different set up situations all make for a bit of variety. We just tend to work with what we've got at the moment and each show is a unique and memorable moment in time! 

PA ~ How and/or why you became interested in stage lighting? 

It's truly as they say.... necessity IS the mother of invention! The lightshow came about when we were trying to do some early spacerock-type shows locally and needed something psychedelic for the eyeballs. Liquid Louise couldn't keep coming down from Canada to do our lighting, so we had to start doing it ourselves. The Solar Fire Lightshow is loosely patterned after the all out visual assaults that Hawkwind was famous for when they used Liquid Len and the Lensmen many years ago in the UK. We also pay a bit of homage to AnArc Lights (another outfit Hawkwind used) and Fruit Salad Lights (the Ozric Tentacles lightshow) in our presentation - although we still have yet to equal the magnificent mind-bending shows that they have all done in the past! :-( 

PA ~  How long have you been 'in the light'?!

Since around 1984 - when I took a big handful of magic mushrooms and saw the "magnificent perfection" surrounding me! Until that time it was just as the prophet Isaiah said it would be... I listened and listened, but did not hear... and I looked and looked, but did not see! My own experiences with acid and magic mushrooms (along with a few Hawkwind and Eloy records) helped take care of that and opened me up to what I like to call The Way! 

Since then I have been into The Word and have searched out the more eternal truths as revealed in old writings such as the Book of Genesis, 2nd Book of Esdras, Book of Enoch, Book of Sirach, and the New Testament of Jesus Christ. Reading these old writings along with newer books such as The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross (John Allegro), Mankind - Child of the Stars (Max Flindt and Otto Binder), Gods & Spacemen in the Ancient East (W. Raymond Drake), and Alien Contact (by Timothy Good) can give a startling alternative insight to past events that may have happened on this planet which have led us up to where we now find ourselves - standing on the edge of time and staring into space! The present is where Time meets Space and we need to look at what these old texts are saying through our 21st Century eyes and with an open mind. 

We have now arrived at the point where the supernatural magic of the past - and future science and technology - is colliding with religion and the old pagan beliefs. Science and technology have made many marvels possible and have shown the infinite possibilities of the many new horizons left for mankind to (re)discover. What was once looked upon as "supernatural magic" can now be viewed as simple scientific and technological accomplishment. It really is a very small leap from the old "fire breathing dragons and monsters" raining havoc down from the sky - or "Ala Din's magical door" which yielded only to the command of "Open Sesame!" - to our modern war planes and armed drones dealing death and destruction from above and the electronic eyes used to open modern supermarket doors! 

The main stumbling block that stops us from making these obvious connections is that our egos will deny that any "Being" has ever done anything ANYWHERE before we came along... that we are the top dogs in the universe! But it is written that "There is nothing new under the sun". We must keep in mind that Mankind has now traveled full circle and we are attempting to become our own God(s) or Superior Being(s) that the past so often speaks of... the very ones that our own modern science has denied for so long! We deny that Life and Order was brought to our planet while at the same time spending trillions of dollars attempting to bring Life and Order to other worlds for the benefit of Mankind. Our modern life is truly a contradiction! 

PA ~ Who have you been fortunate to have worked with?

First and foremost Hawkwind of course... they are the premier Psychedelic Warriors and have been for many, many years! I'll always be thankful for the many fine records they produced and allowing me the opportunity to work alongside them. I've had the pleasure of doing lightshows for them, Nik Turner and Harvey Bainbridge (both Hawkwind alumni), Gong and Daevid Allen, Ozric Tentacles, Porcupine Tree, Helios Creed and Chrome, Alien Planetscapes, F/i, Architectual Metaphor, Quarkspace, Spaceseed ... along with many fine local acts such as Nucleon, Drumplay, Sultans of Bing, Speaker Cranker, Red Giant, Generation Gap, Rick Ray Band, Venn Diagram, the Byron Nemeth Group, and many others (sorry folks!) that I just can't recall at the moment...  Some interesting one-offs were doing Little Steven's first live "Underground Garage" (with the The Romantics, The Chesterfield Kings, The Reigning Sound, The Fondas and local favorites Cobra Verde) and the Nektar/Camel show at the Agora. The chumps at the Agora wouldn't allow me to hang my backdrop, so I'm not sure if that counts or not! It was a bit like trying to have a concert without the speakers. :-( > 

PA ~ Thanks to?

Everyone that helped or hindered me... you know who you are! I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my friends and family that stuck with me and helped me out over the many years... especially Bill Vinci, Terry Mosgrove, Scott Kuti, Jan, Elizabeth & Lisa Lascko, Greg Stacko, and Jerry & Mary Ann Lascko. The ride was bumpy at times, but I wouldn't trade it for anything else! In the end, when you're lying on your death bed, all you will have is your memories... and I'm happy with mine, the decisions I've had to make, and what I've done with what was given to me. And for those that hindered me or tried to scuttle my spaceship... I discovered that the very small word "no" is the greatest of motivators and one of the major driving forces in this world. The more people tell you NO!... the more you should say YES, YES, YES!!! Be true to your dream....  KEEP ON SPACIN'.... 

I have also done the artwork on a couple of CD's for other bands - Space Mirrors "The Darker Side of Art" - an international effort led by Alisa Coral (Russia), with Michael Blackman (Australia), Steve Youles (England), and Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Holland) and have just recently finished doing the artwork for Don Falcone's soon-to-be-released Spirits Burning project "Alien Injection" CD on Italy's "Black Widow" label which will feature many folks familar to the space rock scene such as Gong's Daevid Allen, Hawkwind's Bridget Wishart, and many others.


Strange Trips History Many years ago (roughly 17-20 years for me) I met a man named Bill through Terry, a friend of mine. He had this killer stereo, with McIntosh power amps and 2 big 15" JBL speakers, meticulously maintained and housed in a room in his basement. The walls and ceiling of this room were checker boarded with cork and interspersed with various sized mirrors, strategically placed for imaging. Bill knew sound reproduction like no one else I ever knew before or since. When it was tuned and working properly it was perfect! Big, beautiful, gorgeous 3D sound, imaging like you wouldn't believe. It was truly magical and a thing of beauty to listen to. A few of us were hooked and we began to gather there on Friday or Saturday nights where we would take some decent acid (hardly seen anymore) and go through a whole slew of albums. 

There would be our host Bill (a generation older than us and fondly known to us as the Old Man), Eddie, my friend Terry, and myself at the core. Filling the other seats with various people, who came and went over the years, we listened to many different recordings. But the records that sounded the best and the purest were the Hawkwind and Eloy albums. These were THE records that the Bill tuned his stereo to. He would line up the albums in his carefully pre-arranged order and we would drop our hits of acid, going on 8 to 24 hour trips. Playing album after album we would trip like crazy, while trying to hold down to a minimum the inevitable babbling that sometimes comes with such excursions into space. 

This went on for some time until one day some Magic Mushrooms came our way. While we were hearing some very, very interesting things on the acid we were absolutely floored the first time we all did a Magic Mushroom trip together. Talk about Angel Trumpets and Devil Trombones! Lulled into sleep by a lifetime of insistent, urging voices coming from the TV and other corrupted mainstream media, we had suddenly journeyed far into Space beyond Time where we REALLY heard the call clearly. It was only by going on these excursions into space that we were finally able to break the spell we had fallen under. And once you hear the call you can never go back. Pursuing it leads you forward on a quest where the higher you climb, the further you'll fall if you should make a mistake or lose your firm footing. Rejecting what you know in your heart is true will damn you forever! Only true ignorance, not feigned ignorance, will be forgiven. 

We were soon joined forever to the Warriors on the Edge of Time as we took our place in a line whose origins are shrouded in the mists of pre-history and the future stretches onward deep into the black void of Space. Most importantly, we found that we were not alone! Listening now with a new understanding, we realized that things are NOT what they appeared to be. Starting to question what we have been taught over the years we began to see that many important things, eternal things, are purposely hidden from those who are seeking answers. The dark powers of this world would prefer to have you stumble about in the darkness, rather than bring you into the light where you can see. A short sighted person...stupid, selfish, and greedy...is their best friend! He is the one that they would manipulate and control to the detriment of the entire planet and ALL living things. Angels of Life or Angels of Death? The choice was ours as we soon discovered that there is no going back.....only forward! 

One day, after years of experiencing and working out all of these things for ourselves, we saw a small ad in the local paper. After a 14 year absence from the US, Hawkwind was coming to a theater near us! This was the 1989 US Tour and we couldn't wait to see them. On the day of the show they came out swinging and didn't disappoint us at all. They brought everything with them including a full blown lightshow. It was beautiful! Unfortunately, they ended up losing a bit of money on that tour and that made them wary of mounting anymore "big" tours in the US. Hawkwind appeared to bring a little less with them on every subsequent tour. Although we wanted to help them keep coming to the US, we didn't know how we could do so. With Bill's knowledge of sound (and a beautiful PA system that Eddie was running) we begin harboring dreams of helping out Hawkwind by offering to do their sound on a future US tour. Wishing to provide them with the best sound we have ever heard, we wrote them letters expressing our willingness to help and explained what we wanted to do. But while we were waiting for the next tour to happen, hoping that they would accept our offer, things began to fall apart for our little group. Even though one may sometimes glimpse and perceive what is the correct path, it's another thing to faithfully tread it. Try as we might we found that we are only humans living a 3D life. Death, Doubt and Discouragement - eventually they all come like uninvited guests into your home as you go about your business. Because of this some of us are still here, some aren't, and some are now gone forever! Losing his wife to cancer, Bill fell into a depression. Not long after that, our friend Terry died. Relatives invited Bill to Arizona for a vacation, hoping that it would pick up his spirits. On his return he informed us at our weekly meeting that he was "retiring" from our group. He had enjoyed himself there and wanted to run out his remaining years in Arizona. Due to the drier climate he felt better there and could breathe a little easier. Although we were all saddened by this news, I accepted it as one of the inevitable forks in life where you have to make a choice and I respected the one he had made. Wishing him well, I told him that the rest of us would remember what he taught us and carry on with our plans and dreams of the future. 

Within weeks of Bill leaving (isn't this the way it always works?) I received a call from Doug Smith, Hawkwind's manager, saying that they were coming over to do a tour. I tried to rouse our group and get them interested in doing the sound and promoting the '95 show in Cleveland, but without Bill no one wanted to work together on it. Soon after that our remaining group broke up! Lacking the glue the Old Man provided, the rest of us just couldn't seem to get along together and they began dropping out one by one when it came time to committing themselves to the show. Having no choice in the matter but to go on with it (how could I tell Hawkwind that we can't do the show we have been asking for?) I told Doug we would do the show at the Agora Theater where they had an in house PA system we could use. I helped Doug to arrange a few other things for the "Alien 4" US Tour and that turned out to be the first time that I worked together with Hawkwind. It was a great time and I ended up with the mailing list we had gathered from the tour. Not having heard anything recently from the Kadu Flyer, a US Hawkwind newsletter run by Chris and Mary Bruce, I decided that it would be a good idea to keep this as a space rock mailing list. With this in mind I compiled and sent out our first newsletter, named after Dave Brock's "Strange Trips and Pipedreams" which had just come out around that time. 

The first Strange Trips issue went out to 2,000 Hawkfans across the US. Soon after that I began to think of the different things we could do to promote "SpaceRock" in the US during the long periods of time when Hawkwind WASN'T here. There were many local Hawkfans who were also musicians so we decided to have a New Year's Eve party. It was our first local show and a most memorable one. It featured the Milwaukee band F/i, with Doug Walker from Alien Planetscapes sitting in, and a group of local musicians opening for them doing the music of Hawkwind. There was a Hawkwind exhibit with over 130 albums, newsletters, and other memorabilia from over the years on display. Also on hand from Canada to do a lightshow was Liquid Louise and Wizard Stew. Many folks turned out and the Spirit was certainly present! 

Other shows soon followed with the previously mentioned musicians (now known as Sun Machine) and more US SpaceRock bands like Alien Planetscapes, Architectural Metaphor, Melting Euphoria, Quarkspace and many others. Because we needed lights and Liquid Louise couldn't keep coming down from Canada, the Solar Fire Lightshow grew out of these shows. We had to make do with what we could come up with for the little money we had. It grew little by little with friends joining in to help me carry it around, set everything up and run it. There was my right arm Scott Kuti, Greg Stacko, John Merk, my brother Jerry Lascko...even my kids would help out. All excellent Solar Firemen! With everyone working together it wasn't long before our thoughts turned to doing something we had dreamed of for a long time - an outdoor SpaceRock festival with Hawkwind. The result was Strange Daze '97 - America's First SpaceRock Festival - taking place in August of '97 with Hawkwind and many of our old friends joining us for this special occasion. Camping out with like minded folks and seeing Hawkwind under the stars was a unique experience not to be missed. Nik Turner even joined Hawkwind on stage that year, paving the way for a future Hawkwind reunion. After that came Strange Daze '98 and '99 along with many other shows during this period. We are very lucky and proud to have worked with so many fine people and bands - Hawkwind, Nik Turner, Gong, Ozric Tentacles, Porcupine Tree, Chrome, Helios Creed, Pressurehed, Farflung, Anubian Lights, Alien Planetscapes, F/i, Architectural Metaphor, Nucleon, Born to Go, Quarkspace, Deus Ex Machina, Gaia Avatara, Escapade, Drumplay, Nick Riff's Freak Element, Boud Deun, Sultans of Bing, Speaker Cranker, Red Giant, Third Wish, Mullins Band, Generation Gap, Kid From Cleveland, Primordial Undermind, Salamander, Fuzzhead, Overhang Party, The Midnite Sun Lightshow, and many others. 

I have had the pleasure of doing lightshows for bands across the USA, and have also done shows in Canada, Mexico, Austrailia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark. It really has been a series of Strange Trips and I found that Pipe Dreams do come true!!! I have only one thing to say to the naysayers who claim that it used to be better or that Hawkwind isn't what they were.... Hawkwind has done it like no other band in history and has carried the standard for an extraordinarily long time. It's up to us to take what we have learned and try to carry on in the glorious tradition that they have taught us. Remember, it's only as good (or bad) as WE make it! The Spirit of Hawkwind has grown bigger than any one person or line up - and that Spirit will never die! It's just US and we must carry on. 

We now find ourselves standing on the Edge of Time and looking towards the New Millennium, our chosen path leading us deeper and deeper into space on technology's wings! Descendants of Apes climbing the evolutionary ladder, or the damned offspring of Fallen Angels busily creating a Hell that's uniquely our own? Science will have you believe the former and theology the latter. If you look into the old writings you'll see there's nothing new here. The debate concerning Mankind's awareness of where he's at within the grand scheme of things has been going on for years beyond measure. If we are indeed further along in our (perhaps mis-) conceived notion of linear time than anyone ever was before us, then why can't we see a brighter future? With our superior knowledge shouldn't things look better than ever before? Instead we see an overloaded planet teetering on the verge of collapse! A world where a few have too much and so many have too little. Space travel? Surely, but not man's way! I wouldn't want to be locked into a tin can built by the lowest bidder and depending on a machine for my oxygen. I rather go God's way where we are all travelers on Spaceship Earth...a ship big enough to hold EVERYBODY and not just a chosen few. A ship that provides for all our needs and one you can walk around on while enjoying fresh air, blue skies and a summer breeze. To live a Good Life on a Good Earth! What else is there? When your life is over perhaps THEN you may cross a million light years of space only to come shooting out of the head of someone else's dick on a distant planet. You will call him Dad too, but we all know who our real Father is! Birth to Death and Death to Birth.....from Earth to Heaven and Heaven to Earth! J. L. Lascko - traveling through Space and Time...