BY BETH ALLEN
San Fransisco musician Tina Gordon had a dream—to turn a van into a rolling rock concert. It took over five years, but the Rambler is finally ready to rock! Interview with Tina December 2005.
So tell me the idea behind the Rambler.
The concept behind the Rambler started almost six years ago during a cultural decline in San Francisco. Suddenly a bunch of clubs were closing down, practice studios selling out, bands breaking up, everyone getting evicted and moving away. Remember those days? So I decided to build the Rambler as a gesture to say “If no one will give us a place to play, we’ll build one. If there’s no place to practice, we’ll build one. If there’s no place to play a show, we’ll build one! And we’ll play on these city streets that we call home.” At first it was going to be built out of a cargo van but I soon realized not even my own band could play out of something that small. The idea of a box van was much more practical. It fell into place that my pal Eric Schmidt was selling one. Now of course, five years later, there’s a bunch of great places to play. This city’s back on the rock so the Rambler gets to be all about fun—until the shit hits the fan again.
Year and make?
It’s a 1980 Chevy box van. A real beauty as soon as it warms up!
Who’s the elbow grease behind the scenes?
The Rambler would not have been built without: Al Cisneros for backbone support and my partner in concept riffing from the day the Chevy fell into my arms, Eric Peterson: Master Carpenter, Diana Coopersmith: Master Welder, Billy Anderson: Sound Genius, Doug Durt: Electronics Guru, Max Walken and Nancy Frank: Master Painters, Melynda Jackson: All Around Badass. Other builders include: Arnel Valle, Brian Hill, Shane Baker, Pamela Ausejo, and Anna Brown. Also, Genna Defiguieredo-Paiva, Randy and Josh Paiva, and Chris Hakius were involved with early metal fabrication.
Why the name “the Rambler?”
The Rockers Make it Rock, the Rambler Makes it Roll!
How long did it take to get the Rambler going?
From the concept to the Maiden Voyage: 5+ long and painful years of restless aggravation, near-starvation, solitude and desperation. Then I got a grant to finally make the Rambler happen.
Cool custom additions?
It’s all a custom addition—have you ever seen a mobile rock machine built out of a box van before? The metal fabricators put an angle-iron based rolling stage in there that could support a league of rock giants. And it does. Eric Peterson cut these awesome monitor wedges out of castaway stereo speakers and the interior’s all hand-painted.
What’s in store for the Rambler’s future?
Ultimate Universal take-over—starting with the highest peaks and lowest valleys on domestic land— water capabilities, and later flight.
What does the Rambler do when it’s not ramblin’?
It awaits a tune-up, a fresh coat of paint, and longs for the day when the rockers will take ’er back out on the road.
How hard does the Rambler rock?
The Rambler rocks so hard, that the Maiden Voyage was 12-hours long. Now that’s love.
PICTURED ABOVE: (Top to Bottom) The Rambler setting up to rock, rockiní the Rambler, and packing up to ramble on.