When the original line-up of the Brian Jonestown Massacre fell apart for, oh, the 73rd time in a blur of fists and supernatural disasters (we recommend watching the ego-steeped documentary Dig! for all the gory details) the last member anyone expected to rise out of the whole mess with the prospect of an actual music career was the group's bleary-eyed tambourine player Joel Gion, last seen getting his face kicked in by the band's bass player Matt Hollywood.

But shortly after giving Brian Jonestown Massacre the heave-ho, Gion got off the drugs, moved back to San Francsico, landed a steady job at famed Haight Street independent record emporium Amoeba Music and started a new outfit called the Dilettantes with a couple of longtime friends and coworkers--guitar players Jefferson Parker and Brock Galland, bassist Nick Marcantonio, and drummer KC Kozak. The major difference between this band and his old one? "It's fun," says Gion, who now does double duty as percussionist and lead singer. 

Last month, the Dilettantes released their debut album, 101 Tambourines, to great critical acclaim, with its swaggering retro guitar rock drawing comparisons to the likes the Velvet Underground, the Byrds, and the Rolling Stones. But the music owes its biggest debt to Bay Area longhairs like Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service that ushered in the Summer of Love 40 years ago. 

"We were all adamant that this was going to be a San Francisco band," says Galland, who like all the best acid rock guitarists of the era, plays Gibson ES- models. He currently uses a vintage ES-125 that he picked up from Parker. "The bands that we all liked were from here and we wanted to celebrate that and keep it going forward."

The Dilettantes explore West Coast cosmic country on Galland's "You're Going To Need More Time," take a Flower Power flight on Parker's "Don't You Ever Fail" and touch the earth with several of Gion's Nuggets-influenced  originals, including "The Whole World" and the ominous second single, "Subterranean Bazaar." "It's psychedelic music in the San Francisco tradition, reinterpreted for the modern world," says Gion.

Rodney Bingenheimer has already played them on his taste-making Los Angeles radio show, as has former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, who hosts Indie 103.1FM's off-the-rails Jonsey's Jukebox. The group just landed a distribution deal with Cargo UK that will land the album in 15 European countries. And next week the Dilettantes set out for a West Coast tour that promises to be drama-free. "I feel like I've come into my own with this band," says Gion. "I don't have to get into backstage sniggering fests any more." 

To download the Dilettante's "Subterranean Bazaar," click here.