Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's Charles Manson's Birthday!

Really! He turns 75 today. He was born November 12, 1934. A Scorpio. Imagine that. But I'm not here to write a bio. Many have been written. And you can find a detailed summary on Wikipedia.

No, I'm not here to celebrate the man. He committed heinous acts and convinced others to do the same. He's been behind bars for decades. So why am I here? I mean, Christ, it's his birthday and this post is titled as much. What other reason could there be? Quit asking questions and I'll tell you.

In 1985, as a young man of 20, I wrote a song. It was entitled, "Charles Manson's Birthday". Why did I write a song called "Charles Manson's Birthday"? (Yeesh! Again with the questions?) It's pretty simple, actually. I was a songwriter. Sometimes a melody or a line or an idea would just pop in my head out of nowhere. I don't know where many of them came from. They just showed up. Like a drunk friend banging on your door at midnight. Didn't really matter where they came from, they were there now.

You'd think over the years, being the author of a song about Charles Manson, I'd have had numerous run ins with nuts, as well as angry folks who do not approve of musical glorifications. (Which it is not.) But I never did. However, I was forced to spend a decent amount of time after shows listening to other young men tell me about his albums, the interviews and quite a number of other Charlie related stories. But if that was my punishment, the crime was worth it. CMB has been very, very good to me.

CMB garnered one of my proudest achievements, a spot in Rodney On the ROQ's Top Ten for a week or two in 1990. And Charlie (as the cognoscenti called it) was the first song of mine to have a video. And here tis.

CMB is also one of my favorite songs to perform live. Probably my very favorite. It has virtually always been my show closer. The words are easy to remember, there's an excellent break towards the end (which lends itself to any flavor of filling) and it finishes with a digital delayed guitar explosion. Really, after CMB, there would be nowhere left to go anyway. It's the climax of the show.

And so today, I am proud to present perhaps the greatest demonstration of why I love CMB. What you are about to witness is the longest version of CMB ever performed. It occurred at Stevens Tech in Hoboken, (home of Walt Disney's head) on March 2nd, 1990. It was the closing number of a three hour frat party. Needless to say, much alcohol had been consumed. To the point that Chris Butler had to step away from the drums momentarily to relieve himself. But even that could not stop the freight train that was CMB on this night. I threw in a good part of my live schtick and we cleared out what was left of the request bucket.

Those of you who lived in Hobroken in the spring and summer of 1990 may remember this show, as it aired 24 hours a day for a number of weeks on the Stevens Tech low watt TV station. I never did find out how or why this show was chosen for such a specious honor. I guess they didn't have any school sports teams. Or perhaps the ratings were THROUGH THE ROOF! Regardless, here, in its thirty minute entirety, is Rich Grula, Chris Butler and One O Ball with Charles Manson's Birthday, presented in three parts with no commercial interruption.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Soupy Sales To You

A little girl is at the barber getting her hair cut and she's eating one of those Hostess cupcakes or something. The barber says, "You know, you're getting hair on your Twinkie." Little girl says, "Yeah. I'm getting boobs too!"

Soupy Sales has left the building. Soupy was a television pioneer. He created the model for children's programs that also appealed to adults. Pee Wee's Playhouse would not have existed without Soupy. It was crafted from the template Soupy invented. A one room set with puppet friends, guests knocking on the door (often remaining offscreen), old black and white stock footage, speaking directly to the camera, double entendres and a lotta food. The one difference being that Soupy did it live. Five days a week.

And now, here's today's important Crimestoppers. If you witness a robbery and the thief runs right past you, the best way to catch him is wait until he climbs over a fence and tears his pants. Then you'll find his hideout.

Soupy was born Milton Supman on January 8, 1926 in Franklinton, North Carolina. His father died when Soupy was just 5, prompting the family to move to Huntington, WV, where Soupy grew up, eventually attending Marshall College in Huntington after a stint in the Navy during World War II. His career in the entertainment business began while he was attending Marshall. He worked as a comedian, singer and dancer in area nightclubs and theaters. After college, he picked up his first broadcasting job at radio station WHTN in Huntington.

Soupy had two older brothers. His parents had nicknamed them "Ham Bone" and "Chicken Bone". Young Milton was dubbed "Soup Bone", eventually shortened to Soupy. He was using the stage name "Soupy Hines" when he started his radio gig, but quickly changed it to Soupy Sales, in honor of vaudeville performer Chic Sale.

On tonight's Name That Tune, a contestant who is asked to name that tune names it Bernie and is thrown off the show.

My great grandfather, Hymie Bank, owned the Cinderella Theater in Williamson, WV. It originally opened as a vaudeville house, but following the trends, became a movie house with occasional live entertainment and attractions. While attending Marshall College, Hymie sometimes booked Soupy to do his act there. At one of these appearances, my great grandfather pulled Soupy aside. He told him, "You know, you're a bright young man. I like your act, you're very professional and you're going to Marshall. But there's one thing that's bothering me." Soupy replied, "What's that, Mr. Bank?" Hymie told him, "You need a haircut." Soupy said he would go get one first thing in the morning.

Old man walks into confession and he tells the priest, "Every night for the last month, I've made love to a different beautiful young lady." Priest tells him to say one hundred Hail Mary's. Old man says, "Well, I ain't Catholic. I ain't doing that." Priest says, "If you're not Catholic, why are you telling me?" Old man says, "I'm telling everybody!"

From Huntington, Soupy moved on to Cincinnati, where he got his first television experience. He hosted Soupy's Soda Shop, the very first teen dance TV show, and the late night Club Nothing. This was in 1949. From Cincinnati, Soupy moved on to Cleveland for another local television show, Soupy's On! It was here that Soupy first began using a pie in the face as a visual punchline. (This would become one of his trademark gags.) In 1953, Soupy relocated to Detroit, where he would eventually get his first national exposure.

At ABC owned WXYZ in Detroit, Soupy hosted the local Lunch With Soupy Sales. It quickly became a smash hit. It was in Detroit that Soupy met Clyde Adler, who became an integral part of the Soupy's production team for most of his television career.After 6 years of honing the show, ABC picked it up nationally in 1959 and there was no looking back. In less than a year, ABC moved the operation to Los Angeles

A guy is walking down the street with two monkeys. Another guy asks him where he's going with those monkeys. He replies he's going to the taxidermist. "You gonna have 'em mounted?" "No. Just shaking hands."

Soupy's Los Angeles run ended up being a relatively brief stop/start affair. While the show aired locally continuously from 1960 - 1964, ABC pulled it from the national schedule in 1961, with a brief three month fill-in for The Steve Allen Show in 1962. Frustrated, Soupy went to WNEW in New York City in 1964, where he would find the greatest success of his career and where he would remain for most of the rest of his life.

An old man goes to the doctor and tells him, "I can't pee. Doctor asks, "How old are you?" Old man says 102. Doctor says, "You peed enough."

While in NYC, The Soupy Sales Show became THE hip show that all the celebrities wanted to get on. Frank Sinatra started the trend by calling Soupy and asking to be on, but under one condition. He wanted to get a pie thrown in his face. Instantly, the top stars of the day were beating down Soupy's door. Figuratively and literally. Sammy Davis Jr., Trini Lopez, Tony Curtis, Jerry Lewis and Judy Garland all appeared on the show, as did a number of pop musicians, such as The Supremes and The Shangri-Las. He was also able to feature recorded music and appearances from a number of jazz greats, jazz being a particular passion of Soupy's.

Part 2 Part 3

The Soupy Sales Show shut down in late 1966. Soupy next moved into numerous game show appearances, as well as DJing and a brief return to afternoon television with The New Soupy Sales Show from 1978 - 1979. He continued doing club dates, films and personal appearances throughout. I'm very happy to offer a zip file of a 1980 appearance at NYC's Bottom Line. And you can grab a wonderful hour long Tom Snyder interview with Soupy from 1990 right hyah.

Blind man and his seeing eye dog walking down the street. They stop at a corner and the dog raisess his leg and pees all over the man's pants and shoes. Blind man reaches into his pocket and pulls out a cookie for the dog. Lady comes up and says, "You're gonna give that dog a cookie after what he did to you?" Blind man says, "No. I'm looking for his head so I can kick him in his ass!"

Soupy was survived by his wife of almost 30 years, Trudy Carson, and his two sons Hunt and Tony, a rhythm section for hire who played with Iggy Pop and David Bowie, among others.

I never knew Soupy. I was very lucky to have met him briefly after a Bottom Line show about a decade ago. I wasn't around for Soupy's heyday, but I fell in love with The New Soupy Sales Show for the two years it was syndicated nationally. Over the years I've accumulated all the records, tapes and DVDs I could find and he never failed to entertain me. With Soupy gone, the world is a little less joyous and a little bit grayer. I'll leave you with my favorite Soupy joke.

A woman walks into a pharmacy and asks the druggist, "Do you have cotton balls?" The druggist replies, "What do I look like? A teddy bear?"

And now I love you and gimme a kiss.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Bill Ryan sighting!

Bill Ryan has been spotted in public! He was seen at the WFMU Record Fair! Here's Bill watching The Trashmen's first Manhattan performance ever.

Here is someone attempting to photograph the wild Bill Ryan. I do not recommend this.

And this is a NY Post paparazzi photographer attempting to capture a rare photo of Bill Ryan with the rock legend, Bob Bert.

Though it is highly unlikely, should you encounter Bill Ryan in the wild, we here at Otis Ball suggest that you do not look him directly in the eye. If you have food or rare and desirable records, leave them on the ground and walk away. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PHOTOGRAPH A WILD BILL RYAN!

That is all.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pier Platters - Learning the Game

So where were we? A quick reread reminds me we weren't very far.

I started at Pier sometime in Spring of '89. For the first few weeks, I was picking up odd hours, mostly in the used album annex on 1st St. And a guy working there at the time, Ray, had me convinced he was in charge. He thought he ruled the used store. What did I know? He was, well, let's just say a wired guy. Putz also springs to mind. But I had to work this into a full time gig ASAP. I quit the job in the city thinking I was being offered 40 hours at Pier. Turns out, I was on my own. Brilliant. Genius.

OK. I clearly had to ingratiate myself to Bill Ryan, who ran the joint. Bill was a scary guy if you didn't know him. And at that point, I did not. He knew who I was. We'd met briefly a few months before when I first visited Pier and dropped a couple hundred bucks on Replacements rarities and similar offerings. Considering the Barn One circumstances we were introduced, I'm pretty sure I did alright on my first impressions. But that certainly wasn't gonna be enough to crash the gates. Thank god I had a winning personality and charming smile. Desperation didn't hurt neither.

My first task in the main store was inventory. I was handed a file cabinet of index cards and told to match them up with inventory stock. Clearly, this was my first hazing. But after my last job, I was prepared for boring make-work. I threw myself into the task at hand. It took some time and some awkward moments clarifying details with Bill, but I did it quick, did it thoroughly and managed to familiarize myself with the stock, which must have been the purpose of this mission. Either that or making me quit. No chance of that. I needed the job. But more important, I WANTED the job! Pier Platters was a record geek's dream.

What nobody knew was that Suzanne, the redhead you were all afraid of, would soon be going out to do lights for Sonic Youth. And then Nirvana. And then Beck. And REM. And numerous other acts that wanted one of the top lighting directors.

When I first started working at Pier, the big front window was framed with numerous copies of the same single. It was in a clear vinyl sleeve and didn't even have a picture sleeve. It was a dirty red colored vinyl and it was by a band called Mudhoney. I didn't know what that was all about. I'd never heard of them, so it couldn't have been that important. But nevermind.

So about the second week I was working in the main store, we received a number of boxes from a label called Sub Pop. I didn't understand why a store as small as Pier would be getting such a large shipment of records from a label I had never heard of. I figured I would have a busy day filing records. But I was wrong. It turned out that all these boxes only held two different albums. One of them was by some band called The Fluid, album called Roadmouth. The other title was some band called Nirvana, album called Bleach. Clearly, Bill Ryan had lost his mind. We'd be sitting on these frisbees forever. That day, we sold about 75 copies of those albums. And we were reordering before the week was done.

This was the first time, but certainly not the last, that Pier Platters blew my mind. In 1981, I bought REM's first single and I loved it. Then Chronic Town came out and I didn't care for it. I decided I'd give Murmur a try, but it was their last chance. I bought The Replacements' Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out the Trash album cuz I really liked the title. It was too punky thrashy for my tastes. But I figured I might as well get Let It Be when it came out, cuz nuthin much new was out that week. So you see, I knew everything about obscure underground bands. I even did stints DJing at ECC, ISU and NIU. I was a walking encyclopedia. I was a cup half full at best. And as I was realizing this sad, sad fact, I was also discovering that I was smack dab in the middle of everything. And I would soon be under the tutelage of one Professor William Ryan.

(Special thanks to Bill's favorite poker mark, Darren, for the sweet pic!)

Monday, September 14, 2009

DeKalb Rocks! Reunion - Post game OB&C

There was a reunion within the reunion. Like those Russian dolls. When I was asked to perform at the reunion, my first thought was I didn't have a band. I knew I had a bass player. Killer's been with me since '82. He goes back to PunkFest back in high school. He's my buddy and as fine a musician as any goofy front man could ever ask for. And he's fearless. We have a stage telepathy where he just seems to know where I'm going when I stray from the script. When there even is a script.

But who to play drums? I nosed around at hiring a pro, but then I remembered Killer telling me that our old roommate, Doug, had recently taken up drums again. You think he'd be up for it? Why don't you ask him, Killer? Well, I will. And he was! I'll be damned! That sentence musicians everywhere long to scream from the rooftops, "We're getting the band back together! "

Now it was just a matter of sending mp3s, a few phone calls and I'll see ya at the shows! But I wonder. I wonder if there's some way to make these shows really special. Maybe dig up an old song. Like maybe Hot Day! One of the first OB&C songs. The very first song ever played on the radio. Tom Ellett's Local Patrol on DeKalb's own, WKDI! Yeah. That's good. But I need something else. Something big. Like a special guest. HEY, VIPER!

I have often mentioned our old pals Kissyfish. Our sister band from Madison, WI. We played on each other's bills whenever we could. I can't speak for KF, but I loved booking those double bills just so I could see the band and hang out with them. And I have often been told I look a lot like their front man, Ryan. Twin sons of different bands. Ryan and I both did some wandering post those DeKalb days, but Ryan recently settled back in Wisconsin. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

So I shot a note to Ryan. Ryan has been better known over the years as The Viper, fastest uke in the midwest! Turns out, he hadn't played guitar in years. And he wasn't sure he'd be available for the weekend. Definitely not the first night. But he'd get back to me about the DeKalb show. Didn't look good.

As the weeks went by, I came up with set lists. We were walking on stage with zero rehearsal. Had to do as much pre-show planning as possible. Until Killer came up with the brilliant idea of squeezing a practice in. We'd have to do it Saturday afternoon, a matter of hours before the first show. Killer said we could do it in Doug's basement. Which I found quite amusing when I called Doug and he asked where we were rehearsing. heh

But he was fine with that. And with days to spare, I got a note from The Viper. He was in. Both shows. Oh, man. Dream band!

So there we were. Me and STD, pulling up to Doug's house for the first original OB&C practice in 23 years. Killer was outside before we even got out of the car. And as it turned out, Ryan was about 15 seconds ahead of us. We'd been following him for about a mile and didn't even know it. So after some catching up and makeshifitng a practice space, we got down to business.

As usual, I was the least prepared of the bunch. As I knew I would be. That's a luxury of fronting the band. Also too, I knew I could count on the band. We rehearsed both sets plus two extra songs that we didn't have time to perform at the shows. Luckily, STD filmed the practice, so I have outtake footage for the documentary! After practice, we were on the road to Abbey.

We were first on the bill, which means last band to soundcheck. I was fine with that. Get the pesky rock and roll outta the way early, leaving the rest of the night for minglin' and socializin'. And beerin'. There was plenty of all.

First pal to arrive was Jode! Jode and I go way back to 80's pizza delivery. STD and I DJed her wedding! The German wedding planner tried to intimidate us, but it didn't work. We had a Wookie bodyguard. She was also one of the privileged few to get an invite to the exclusive Ballroom Blitz. Always fun seeing Jode.

But that wasn't all. We had a couple more This Is Your Life attendees. The one, the only, Dianamal made it to the show! So we played her theme song. Really nice hanging out with her again. And then The Viper told me to go check out the bar. Where I found My Cousin Kenny's Pablo! I hadn't seen Pablo since the infamous Chicago ComiCon show! (Still waiting for those pics.) I got STD to take a picture of the OB&C/Kissyfish/MCK reunion.

I made a special pre-Otto's trip to the place where it all started. 516 S. First St. It was a trip crossing the railroad tracks and walking to the house. I made that walk every day for a year over 20 years ago. It's amazing to realize that it's all still there, relatively unchanged.

A couple more pals turned up at Otto's. I knew Stacey Deegan would be there. She was the one who finally twisted my arm into signing up on Facebook, which started this whole thing rock and rollin'. And she's working at NIU these days, so she was a whole lotta help on the ground getting this thing up and running. Plus, she had the NIU flag for the finale!

It was fun meeting some of the folks who were DeKalb high school students back when OB&C were playing the all ages basement shows back in the day. And it was an excellent surprise when Carl from IMSA showed up! I got to eavesdrop on a conversation between Carl and Ryan concerning a road trip to St. Louis many years ago.

The weekend flew by way too fast. While I'm still stunned I managed to cram as much in as I did, there just wasn't enough time. I could have easily spent the weekend just hanging out with STD, Killer, Doug and Ryan and still wished it had been longer. I guess we'll just have to do it again.

Addendum - Here's something fun I found! The Viper posted a note about the shows with a shot of the setlists!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

DeKalb Rocks! Reunion - Post game Night Two

Fortunately, we got in early Saturday night. Got some sleep and I was up by 9. Unfortunately, I spent the rest of the morning pacing STD's apartment. I coudln't wait to get back to DeKalb. We had a 4 PM load-in at Otto's, but I wanted to get into town early and do some sightseeing. I hadn't done DeKalb up right since I left in '88.

Even the drive in from Chicago was exciting. When we passed the IMSA exit, it was as if we drove through a time warp. Next stop, DeKalb. Mission: Bring back the rock.

We left the toll road and drove down Annie Glidden Road. There had definitely been some changes, but before too long, we saw our first landmark. The Bottle Store sign. Reunited and it feels so good.

We booked a room at the Huskie Inn so we didn't have to worry about too much fun, morning traffic to the airport or where to take the Huskie babes! We made a side trip to the old Wesley Foundation, the site of so many memorable shows, including the OB&C, Kissyfish, My Cousin Kenny show, the night we all met. And walking into the Huskie Inn, we walked right through the MLK Mall, where all the outdoor summer shows were held.

So bags dropped off, we took a walk to The Junction diner, passing the old Record Rev on the way. Waiting for us in front of The Junction was a newspaper machine with the weekend Daily Chronicle. Front page above the fold story on the reunion. She still loved me!

After bottomless coffee, toast, meat and eggs, we headed to Otto's. We were early, so we took a walk down historic Lincoln Highway. Some of the old spots remained, some were gone and some were on life support. But the anchor business, Paperback Grotto, remained. It was there before us and there to welcome us home. If the town of DeKalb was a game of Jenga, the Grotto is the one stick you couldn't remove without collapsing the entire structure.

Meanwhile, back at Otto's, it was time for load-in. The bands were beginning to arrive. And I was in charge. It was a seven band bill and there was a lot of backline to deal with. If we had to deal with changing and storing seven different sets of drums and amps, we'd be there for a week. Luckily, everyone was happy to pitch in equipment for those of us who showed up without. We managed with two drum kits and 4 or 5 amps for the entire night. And Otto's was looking pretty full just from all the band members wandering around.

Dan Chambers opened the evening with a solo set of songs from his band Smile. Next year, we're getting the whole band back together! (I'm talking to you, Porcellino!) Up next was Eddy Be and blackcandlelove with a vintage set of DeKalb coffeehouse rock funkery. OB&C hit after that and then our DeKalb headliner. The return of The Service! I was especially proud of this coupe. And they delivered. By this point, I'd put a dent in the dressing room keg and The Service really hit the spot.

The Service left DeKalb just as I was showing up. I saw them a handful of times back in the day as a five piece and I even saw the pre-Service band, BB and the Guns, open for The Ramones. But this was the first time I saw the stripped down four piece. And I've been listening to their compilation CD, This Was The Service, on endless loop since I got back to Jersey. One of the highlights of this entire project was getting to know The Service. Just a pleasure. Great guys making great music.

happy hunting hit after The Service. Timed perfectly for my free beer drunk. One more show. Special guests galore! Blue Green God's Don Yanek was handling drums for the bulk of the show. And handle the drums he did. But when Parker called up FISHMAN!, well ... FISHMAN!

But the parade of DeKalb's finest hardly ended there. Tom Ellett hopped up to pound for a couple songs. And for the last song, Parker handed his bass to Tom Rose, reuniting two thirds of Blue Green God. Yanek kicked in KISS' Strutter and I swear I saw pyro.

I put down my camcorder after hunting so I could mingle. And mingle I did. Caught up with Diane and Cerny from the Rev.
Unfortunately, Bobbo was not to be found. Next time, we kidnap him. But the Deegan sisters were there! And a stroll outside for a smoke break caught Eddy from bcl schooling a young un on DeKalb rapping.

I managed to make it back inside for some SubVerts, who were even better than the night before. And Ring 13 closed out the night with special guest Tom Clark from Blatant Dissent, ending the night, once again, asking DeKalb to paint their dick.

And just like that, it was all over. But not without plenty of talk about next year. Oh, yes. Tom and I worked out all the kinks. We went into this having no idea what we were doing and it was an all around success. It can only get better. And bigger!

I couldn't possibly embed all the videos from the shows. So I made a YouTube playlist with over an hour of clips from the shows, as well as historic videos from many of the DeKalb Rocks! bands. Please head over to the DeKalb Rocks! Facebook group to catch up with all the bands, the memories and the future of DeKalb rock.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

DeKalb Rocks! Reunion - Post game Night One

It took two and a half months of phone calls and emails. We collected videos, pictures, fliers and bios. I wish I had some drama to make for a more compelling story, but start to finish, this must have been the smoothest festival in the history of rock.

The process was an education for me. SubVerts and Ring 13 came and went before I arrived in DeKalb. I had seen The Service a few times with their original singer, but I never saw the four piece they became. Smile formed after I had already left. I knew of them from a compilation of DeKalb bands I purchased while I was working at Pier Platters. I did manage to catch the tail end of Blatant Dissent while I was in DeKalb. And I certainly saw blackcandlelove a few times. We musta shared the bill at least once or twice.

Now who am I forgetting? hmmm thinkthinkthink Oh, right! HAPPY HUNTING! Pardon my shouting. happy hunting!

I was looking forward to the shows for a number of reasons. Could not wait to see all my old friends and, also too, meet so many of the folks I'd been corresponding with the last couple of months. And I was damn near exploding in anticipation of walking the streets of DeKalb one more time. She was the one I never got over. I only left because I had to, baby, I never stopped loving you.

But the band I wanted to see was happy hunting. I never could figure out how I got a deal over them. I suspect they feel the same way. They should. If beer could play guitar, it would sound like happy hunting.

Well, I got into Chicago the night before. My fake manager, Stronger Than Dirt Pete Moss (henceforth referred to as STD), picked me up at O'Hare International. This was the first time I'd been back in town since '03. We went out for a couple beers and some late night bar food. Didn't matter. Wasn't gonna be getting much sleep that night with the knot of anticipation kicking in my gut.

Saturday morning finally arrived. Beer and smokes for breakfast, then it was of to the suburbs for rehearsal with The Chains. Seemed like a decent idea. It had been 23 years. And we had a show that night. Packed up at 2:30 and the caravan took off for the big city.

Finally arrived at The Abbey Pub. DeKalb Rocks! Reunion night one was about to begin. I hesitated just a moment. Once it started, it had to end. I wanted one last chance to roll in the fresh cut grass of anticipation. I opened the door.

A band was doing soundcheck. They were LOUD! Which meant ... they coulda been anybody. Rock bands are loud. HUP! Only took a second to realize it was, for the first time since 1986, Blatant Dissent. But what was this? A five piece? Holy christ. Clark AND Fowler on guitar! This was mighty.

I approached the three gentlemen watching the soundcheck. I recognized two of em. Matt Parker and Dave Fishman. Two thirds of the original happy hunting. (The other member being Tim Fowler, on stage with BD.) The reunion had begun.

The guy I didn't recognize asked me if I knew who he was. He pointed to his T-shirt. It was the Otis Ball & The Chains gag shirt I had designed. Well, this must be Tom Rose. Ya see, while Tom and I had been in constant contact putting this weekend together, we were acquaintances at best back in the day. It was great to finally put a face to the voice.

Tom took me around and introduced me to RIng 13 and SubVerts. The bar was crawling with musicians. STD, The Chains and I grabbed a table and ordered an early dinner. Or was it a late lunch? Either way, this was gonna be a long night.

OB&C was first, followed by Ring 13, happy hunting, SubVerts and the night closed with Blatant Dissent. The whole evening was truly a reunion. Every time you turned around, there was someone else you hadn't seen in over two decades. Goddamn, even Roman Around made it! (Anyone seen Helen?) It was truly a magical evening.

As Blatant Dissent was wrapping up their set, Tom came up with the killer ending for the evening. All the bands go up and do an All-Star version of the Ring 13 hit, Paint My Dick. Bruce of Ring, Tom and I fanned out and grabbed everyone we could find. BD didn't know anything about this. As they hit the last chord of their set and began to exit the stage, they found Bruce and me blocking their way. And we had back-up.

And then it was time to pack up, call the limo and rest up. Cause we were doing it all again the next night. Back home in DeKalb. Otto's, here we come!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

DeKalb Rocks! Reunion - Pre game

2 nights, 12 sets, 7 bands reunited. And it appears this was the first annual. Gotta say, 100% success. But let me back up a bit.

I confess. I was a Facebook naysayer. IT'S TRUE! People, I was the guy that would never sign up. You know me. Everybody knows me. You know plenty of me. But I got the call. Like an old girlfriend you never got over. A voice from the past you always hoped you would hear, but knew you never would. "DeKalb is looking for you."

And that is the message I received from my ol' pal Stacey. She was the DJ on WDKI that had the shift before mine. We've kept in touch over the years. Here or there, we'd check in. Usually her shouting out about another fallen landmark from the town left my heart in. And my dangling participle. Probly still dangling. From a tree branch inches from the lagoon.

Anyways, Stacey sent me an email that I should hook up with Facebook cuz a group had kicked up to locate and document the music scene from DeKalb, IL in the 80's. Now ya see, I only lived in DeKalb for a little over three years, but DeKalb has never left my heart. I packed a lifetime into those three years. Christ, that townstole my heart. Never cared about a high school reunion and never lasted long enough at any one college to remember anyone enough to bother with alumni weekends. And never cared about footballs. But when DeKalb came looking for me, I wilted like ... well, like a basil plant in my yard during a long, hot summer. (Sorry, basil plant.)

So I bit the bullet and Facebooked up. The karaoke band was winding down and I could justify my breakdown to the intranet set with the idea that another online presence for One O Ball wasn't a bad idea. I've always been a proponent of least amount of effort promotion. So with that, I went through the sign up rigamarole. And immediately searched for this DeKalb Rocks! group.

Oh, my. So many long lost friends. So many bands from the distant past. So many pictures. So many memories. And my "Friend Request" inbox filled like a mob rat's car in the Hudson. (Speaking of, and totally unrelated, Wise Guy season 1 was reissued on DVD a couple weeks ago with a $15 list. For that price, you should own it.)

Almost immediately, I dove into the archives, posting mashnotes and love letters to my old heartthrob. She was the one I never got over. Ordinarily, I would show some restraint. But you know how it is with that one you never got over.

Didn't take too long before the creator of the group, Tom Rose, sent me a note. He was taken with my enthusiasm. Tom and I had been on a bill or two back in the day. He was a member of Blue Green God, who were on the That Green TV Band bill. (See the earlier post. You look it up. I'm on a roll. No time to search for a link.) But we didn't know each other at the time, outside of a vague acquaintance.

So, cutting to the chase, round about May, I got a note from Tom asking if Otis Ball & The Chains would be interested in appearing on a DeKalb Rocks! Reunion bill in Chicago in August. I had to pass. I'm running an owner operated business, I've got a 13 year old dog, just unpossible. Nice idea, but you know, ya can't go back. Besides, why is it in Chicago? Shouldn't it be in DeKalb?

Tom told me he knew there was a market in Chicago and he didn't want to bite off more than he could chew with two shows. Well, goddamn. What if I could get a DeKalb show? It's CornFest weekend! The annual back to school event for Northern Illinois University. Piece of cake! He dared me. Fucker.

So after a quick Google search, I found the website. They had a handful of cover bands and a lotta empty slots. I shot out an email. Hey, CornFest! I'm gonna hand you a bill of the cream of the crop of 80's DeKalb bands for the music stage. Couldn't have been more than 90 minutes before I received the response.

"I apologize Otis, but we are all booked up for this year's fest. Thanks for the interest."

That was it. Now it was personal. Not only was I gonna perform, but I was gonna book the DeKalb show.

So I sent out a note to the club that was the premiere live venue when I was there. Otto's. A quick websearch told me they still were the place to play. Another 90 minutes and we were in. My sweetheart wanted me back. Wanted all of us back. Goddamn. I'm going home.

What followed was a whole lotta emails, phone calls and persistence. All credit to Mr. Tom Rose. He pulled the trigger on this event. He was doing ground work long before I got involved. He tossed me some contact info and we became new best friends. We were in constant contact for the next 3 months. Contacting bands, working promotion, digging up archives. It was work, but truly a labor of love.

The time flew by. And so many bands were in with so little effort. First all in musta been happy hunting. And honestly, I was a Ball of jelly just knowing I was gonna get to see happy hunting again. Two nights in a row! We were contemporaries. I was always amazed they never got signed up. They were The Replacements without the deathwish. Parker had the songs, Fowler had the licks and FISH! had the attitude. Plus, they soon added Mundo, who they could always fire for a good story.

And the reunions just kept falling into place. Ring 13 and SubVerts, who were DeKalb before my time, but their legends lived on. Ring had done a reunion at Otto's just a couple years ago and packed the place. SubVerts were Chicago's punk rock pioneers, via DeKalb.

And with a little persuasion and nudging, we got our headliners. The Service's return to DeKalb and Blatant Dissent (or do you say Blatent?) finally reuniting, after many false starts, in Chicago at The Abbey Pub. Some more emails got us blackcandlelove and a solo performance from Dan Chambers of Smile for DeKalb.

And that's how it all came about. I guess there's more to tell. So stick around.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

DeKalb Rocks! Reunion vids

Hey folks! What a magnificent, historic weekend! I'll have stories and pics up shortly, but in the meantime, here's a link to my DeKalb Rocks! YouTube video playlist with tons of live clips from the weekend. Dig in!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

DeKalb Rocks! Reunion Countdown - 1

Last song, people! It begins tomorrow night at Abbey Pub in Chicago. The DeKalb Rocks! Reunion, featuring the reunion of the original Otis Ball & The Chains. We start the show off at 6:30 sharp! And I have an excellent surprise guest lined up. We do it all over again on Sunday at Otto's in DeKalb! Birthplace of Otis Ball & The Chains! Show starts at 5 with a video presentation in the Underground. The rock starts at 6 and we hit the stage at 7:30. You have been warned!

And we close out our week of sneak previews with the one, the only Charles Manson's Birthday. No choice but to. This version is the demo featuring the last DeKalb version of OB&C. Killer, Kathy Howard on drums and Leslie Frank on keys. Produced and recorded by our buddy WEZ-L. That's WEZ-L up thar.

Grab it or watch it!

So one more once, folks. It's gonna be a good one. Here's all the info. See ya there!
Abbey Pub, Chicago Sat Aug. 22
Otto's Dekalb Sun Aug. 23

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

DeKalb Rocks! Reunion Countdown - 2

Sure, it's been almost 20 years since I played DeKalb, but I ain't ripping cobwebs from my guitar for these shows! No sir! Yes, you'll hear the old hits this weekend, but I've got new material too! And it's good! And I still make videos too!

From the man who brought you Charles Manson's Birthday, presenting Fire Needs Oxygen! Grab it or watch it!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

DeKalb Rocks! Reunion Countdown - 3

Well, I said all the songs in this week's countdown were gonna be in the setlists this weekend for the DeKalb Rocks! Reunion shows. But I can't guarantee today's selection. It was never in a setlist. It was only played as a final song and I only called it on special occasions. Had to FEEL it.

Having said that, I have a good feeling about this weekend. I am strong, I am invincible. I Am Otis.

Biggie Smalls, Biggie Smalls, Biggie Smalls.

Grab it or stream it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

DeKalb Rocks! Reunion Countdown - 4

Here's one of the last songs I wrote in DeKalb. Almost made the first album. But I didn't quite finish it in time. So it made the second album, Favorite Love Songs. Which remains unreleased. I'm really happy with this home recording. Still sounds good to me. Just lil ol' me and my drum machine. And you'll get to hear it in DeKalb this Sunday!

While I got ya, I'm going on early both nights! Get there by 6:30 or cry all the way home.

Grab it
or stream it.

DeKalb Rocks! Reunion Countdown - 5

The big shows are days away! Saturday night at Abbey Pub in Chicago and Sunday night at Otto's in DeKalb! Come early! Stay late! We're gonna rock the days away hyah at the MP3 Club. Every day this week, I'll be posting a set list sneak preview.

We're starting off with an old favorite. Walk On Water goes way back. It was one of the songs on my first demo that got me my record deal. They Might Be Giants sang the back ups on the album version. And it's the song I sang at Day of Action while the parade crossed the Kishwaukee River. (If you listen closely to the last chorus on the album version, you'll find a secret nod to my old hometown.)

But this is the original home demo recorded in DeKalb in '86 on my 4-track Tascam cassette recorder, back at the First St ranch. Killer on bass and joining in on the back up vox. A couple years later, we cut a full band demo with our buddy and producer WEZ-L.

This song been berry berry good to me. You can hear it live this weekend.

Grab it or stream it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Here In the happy hunting Grounds

Here we go, folks. As I write, the party starts one week from tonight. It's been a whole lotta work, but a labor of love, to be sure. Never had any interest in my high school reunions and I never spent more than a year at any one college, so that was out. But I left my heart in DeKalb. (Thanks to STD for pointing out the capitol K.) I can't wait to see all my old pals and palettes! And I'm very excited to be promoting an all-star line-up that never could have happened at the time. We really have the cream of the crop from a decade of DeKalb bands. Once in a lifetime! Well, actually twice. Sat Aug 22 at Abbey Pub in Chicago and Sun Aug 23 at OTTO'S! (Everybody gotta go Otto, OTTO!) And I GUARANTEE! you need to attend both shows for the full spectacular. Each show boasts its own surprises, unique to the evening. Plus fun memorabilia to be purchased and jealousize yer non-attending buddies with.

But there is one thing I am looking forward to above all others. and that is the opportunity to go totally bonkers over happy hunting one mo time. The songs of Matt Parker partnered with the guitars of Tim Fowler is about as winning a rock combo as I have ever heard in my life.

I arrived in DeKalb in the summer of '85. The first time I saw hh musta been fall of '85 at Two Fool's. Mighta been the first show after Fowler and drummer Dave Fishman had left DeKalb's Blatant Dissent. At the time, Two Fool's was the place to be. A basement punk club. Really just a basement. But so many bands came through that joint. And underage were welcome. So it was a great opportunity to hobknob with the local high schoolers. And watch em get drunk for the first time.

(Note on Two Fool's - Owned and operated by Larry Henrikson, the owner of the exceptional Axe-In-Hand guitar shop. I bought my Strat and my blue thin-body Alvarez acoustic from Larry. Here's a note from his son posted to the DeKalb ROCKS! Facebook group.

It was for the most part a fun experience living on the property and hearing the bands play.

The Two Fools really was a coffee house at one time. Originally called Juicy John Pinks back in the mid seventies. They moved out and I think operated downtown for a time. Two friends took over the space and the Two fools was born. I'll have to sit down and think about the details, come back later and post. Anyway, they sold sandwiches, soft drinks, and other easy food/meals. I thnk eventually it failed, but my father continued to rent out the space to bands and groups for a place to perform. A variety of bands and music. I can't say I remember everyone who performed down there. Dress for success, Blatant descent, ring thirteen, Get smart, etc, as well as bands that evolved from some of these groups. I think my brothers band performed there, not sure which one. I even played there once back in the spring of 86, horribly I might add and received the honor of being called a poser which was exactly what I intended to do.

I was btw, the skinny guy usually sitting behind the counter up at the Ax. I apologize if I ever pissed anyone off. I wasn't always crazy about cleaning up the messes. Please feel free to share any stories, hopefully I won't be too embarrassed.

I'm happy to see any pics of the old property. Sadly, it's all been torn down. I still have dreams that I'm working and living there.)

But I digress. The happy hunting I first fell in love with was the three piece. Frank Mundo came in on bass sometime in '86, freeing Parker up to play second guitar. And adding an extra ... enthusiasm to the mix. This version of the band broke up in '88, just before I left town. I'm very happy to report that I documented one of their last, if not their very last, shows. An afternoon show on the MLK Mall at Northern Illinois University.

The band reformed after I left. First with Tom Ellett on drums, replacing the Fish Man, and Parker back on bass. When Parker and Fowler moved to Chicago, the band had one more go round with Tom Rose of Blue Green God on bass and Sport on drums.

I dunno for sure what to expect from these reunion shows. I haven't asked too many questions cuz I wanna be surprised. And I understand there will be surprises. (You better be searching Priceline, Mundo!)

For all the fans and friends, and all those who want to find out what the big deal is, I recently unearthed a tape Fish sent me back in the day of an unreleased album recorded in '89 with Tom Ellett on drums. Plus I tacked on some demos from the Fishman era. Cover art with liner notes included in the zip. Grab it NOW! What are you waiting for? As good as the best Placemats albums.

And here's a vid from the aforementioned '88 NIU show, courtesy of ME!

Seriously. happy hunting alone is worth heading out for the shows this weekend. But WAIT! THERE'S MORE! The Service, Blatant Dissent, SubVerts, Ring 13, blackcandlelove, Dan of Smile! AND OTIS BALL & THE CHAINS! I haven't even started talking about my end of this pardukee. But check back on Monday. It's the final countdown!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bastard Son of Shake Appeal - WKDI 1988

Oh, to be so young and optimistic. My very first radio interview! And what better station than DeKalb's own WKDI? None better! In May of '88, my buddy Jim Moran asked me to appear on his show, Bastard Son of Shake Appeal. I had my record deal and I'd be off to Jersey at the end of the summer. I was a local personality and this was my Black and White Ball. So to speak.

We chatted about my future as a rock star, I played acoustic versions of many of the songs that would end up on my first album, as well as a tape of Charles Manson's Birthday live at Wesley Foundation and a home recording of an otherwise unheard song called Yes. A complete rip off of Big Star's Thirteen. And a sing-a-long version of Lion Sleeps Tonight with Jim and everyone who was at the station that afternoon.

Haven't listened to this tape since it was recorded. I had a lotta fun digitizin it. One more week and I'll be back home in DeKalb. I did an interview today for the Daily Chronicle promoting the big Otto's show on Sunday, August 23. It's just like starting over.

Sos grab the Bastard Son show hyah and I can't wait to see ya!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Well, I went out tonight. I know! Shocking! But I had a couple really good reasons. My buddy John's band was playing walking distance from the house. I've known John for a couple years now. He's the landlord of the rehearsal space SKFTB used for quite a while. (Reasonably priced rehearsal space in Jersey City! I can hook you up.)

I've never seen his band Wellbaby, so that was a pretty good reason. Plus they were going on at 10, according to the intranets. PLUS my Ibanez Digital Delay was in the space and I left a message he should bring it to the show. Cuz I'm gonna need it for the upcoming OB&C shows in Chicago and DeKalb August 22 & 23. You know all about those. Scroll down if you don't.

Sos anyways, stars in alignment and all. Zip in, zip out. See my buddy, grab a tap brew, get my delay, home before midnight. Right. No problem. Cept it was a rock show. So ... problems.

Soon as I arrive, I spy Hickman and his band out front. OK. Well, I knew the show wasn't gonna start at the scheduled 10 PM start time. Cuz it was a rock show. No duh, right? Plus, I got a text to voice message from him earlier saying they were starting at 11. (I don't have a cell phone. I hate em. I'm serial. Cereal? Hate em.)

So I showed up a little before 11. The intranets said they were the first of three bands. But now they were second. Awright. Buncha pals I haven't seen in a while, so I was OK hanging out. And the first band was OK. Reminded me of a lotta the bands I used to see in opening slots in the early 80's in Chicago. Kinda fun skronk garage ruckus.

And my old pal Billy Filo was there! Filo was the first guy to book SKFTB. Gave us a home at Uncle Joe's. We closed that place down. Literally. In the literal sense of the word. I'm serial.

OK. So first band played a fine 30 minute set. John and the boys started setting up to play. But the other band on the bill said they were next. I dunno where they came up with that. John's a nice guy. Way too nice. He demurred and let them go second. So now I'm cranky. Then they start playing. Now I'm REALLY cranky! Turns out they're a goddamn Weezer cover band. Christ.

So I head outside to bum some smokes and burn off the burn. But after 40 minutes, I have had enough. I ask the manager what the hell is going on. He shines me on. He's another old buddy, so I don't make a scene. But this is unacceptable. I gotta do something. So I walk through the crowd and stand in front of the band. No closer than the four people that are there to see them. For some reason, this is unacceptable to the band and the fans. Matter of fact, the bass player takes his bass off and walks over to me. Now I have two fans and the bass player yelling shit at me.

For the record, my hearing is shot. One on one, I'm fine. I'm not deaf, but in a crowd or a loud environment, I hear every third word under the best of circumstances. It was quite clear that I was being agrressed upon, but I honestly had no idea why these people were freaking out. I was not wearing a happy face, aggressively, but I had a beer in one hand and my digital delay in the other hand and I was not threating anyone physically. Just standing there looking pissed. Didn't say a word. (OK. Not entirely true. I yelled for Sweater Song once.)

Well, didn't take too long before some of my pals were pulling me away from the front. I had no idea why this escalated to such a hostile environment. Part of me wanted to stay up front just on principle. But I wasn't there to make a scene. I just wanted to see Wellbaby, get my delay and go home. So I let them pull me back. As I moved to the back, folks were smiling and giving me very happy looks of approval. I still had no idea why any of this was happening. Until the biggest grinner told me he had thrown an orange at the band while I was making my way to the front. The band and their roadies thought I had thrown the fruit. heh That splained a lot, Lucy.

So long/short, I was a hero for doing nuthin but walking to the front of the crowd for five minutes. And Wellbaby went on shortly after said incident. And I got my delay. Which I need for the shows in a couple weeks. You know about those? Anyways, Wellbaby was great. And I got some beer. And a couple smokes. And I went out. And my basil plants got watered with material that I understand is quite nutritious for planty material. (You might wanna wait until after a good couple rains before you accept my invitation for a homemade pesto dinner.)

And if you think that's a good story, you should really show up at Abbey Pub in Chicago Sat Aug 22 and Otto's in DeKalb Sun Aug 23. I'm cereal.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Abbie & Cynthia Show (WKDI 1986)

Hey! Heard about the big DeKalb reunion? Only 2 weeks away! It sure has me all nostalgic and such and such. Been digging through the archives. Finding a lot of fun stuff and digitizin digitizin. WELL, found a real find today! The Abbie and Cynthia Show! Anyone familiar with my album will recognize that name. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let us back up a bit.

It's fall 1986 and I'm living in Dekalb. Writing songs, recording demos, trying to put a band together. And working nights delivering pizza. Not a bad job for a young rocker. Days free, decent money and lotsa free pizza. But it does screw with a normal sleep schedule, if that's a concern. It wasn't for me. I loved late night/early morning radio. Larry King, before he got all tooled out, was my driving companion. And the Traveling Bozo schooled me on 50's country music as I drifted off to sleep. And there was always the NIU campus station, WKDI.

Well, one night I fell asleep to KDI and woke up to nutty nuttiness. How did a couple yammering coeds get in my apartment? Oh, right. It's the radio. Wait. This can't be radio. Oh yeah. College station. What the hell is this? And why aren't they playing music? They're just chatting about ... nothing. Yet strangely compelling.

Exactly one week later, I found myself going out of my way to catch the 6 AM Tuesday broadcast of my new favorite radio team. And it was immediately clear that I was their one and only fan. They begged for calls. Anyone. Just to let them know someone was out there. Musta been the third week I called in. Nuthin to say, just wanted to let em know someone was listening. And I was hooked.

Found myself calling in every week. They didn't know what to make of me. Why would anyone listen to their show? Christ, why was anyone even awake? But after a few weeks, I dragged my ass down to the studio with coffee and donuts. Pretty sure I scared the hell out of them. But they didn't kick me out.

It was clear that Cynthia was the instigator of this assault on the airwaves. More often than not, Abbie didn't even show and Cynthia was left all by her lonesome. Didn't really matter to me. She could handle herself just fine. Never at a loss for words. So what can a poor boy do, but record a theme song? Which I did. Unfortunately, by the time I finished the song, they had been pulled off the air. I never did find out why, but there was a nasty rumor about cart malfeasance. Probly never know for sure.

Anyways, a couple years later I was in Jersey and making an album. Why waste a good jingle? So I brought my demo to the studio, we dumped the 4 track master and I added new vocals. Bam. Easiest cut on the record.

And to wrap up our story, I went back to DeKalb for my big homecoming show in 1990. While I was in town, I was invited to an off campus party. Hanging around. Didn't know too many people. Out of nowhere, two unfamiliar hands covered my eyes. "Do you remember me?" I knew that voice. It was Cynthia! I'll be damned! Got to chat for awhile and invite her to the show. And that was the last I saw or heard of Abbie and Cynthia. Ladies, if you're out there, come join us at the big reunion shows.

And while you're at it, grab these airchecks I've carted around all these years. Play em at 6 AM for the optimum listening experience. Jingle finally included.

Or just enjoy this fine sample.

Monday, July 27, 2009

DEKALB ROCKS! Reunion Dekalb Sun Aug. 23

On Sunday, August 23, DEKALB ROCKS! Productions reunites The Service, happy hunting, Otis Ball & The Chains, Ring 13, Subverts and blackcandlelove and brings them back home. Otto's Nightclub (118 E. Lincoln Hwy., DeKalb, IL 60115), Dekalb's premier live music venue, will be hosting a night of Dekalb music and memories, featuring live performances and vintage videos beginning at 5 PM. Admission is $10, 21 and over.


happy hunting

happy hunting mp3 downloads available at their website.



More Ring 13 music at their My Space page.


Subverts Independent Study EP available for download on this page.

Also appearing on the show will be blackcandlelove and Dan Chambers of Smile.

DEKALB ROCKS! Reunion Chicago Sat Aug. 22

On Saturday, August 22, DEKALB ROCKS! Productions reunites Blatant Dissent, happy hunting, Otis Ball & The Chains, Ring 13 and Subverts. The Abbey Pub (3420 W Grace, Chicago, IL 60618), Chicago's premier live music venue, will be hosting a night of Dekalb music and memories, featuring live performances and vintage videos beginning at 6 PM. Admission is $10 in advance, $12 at the door, 21 and over.


Download the Hold the Fat album. Link available on this page.

happy hunting

happy hunting mp3 downloads available at their website.



More Ring 13 music at their My Space page.


Subverts Independent Study EP available for download on this page.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ohio Loves Jenny Mae

Well, I am both pleased and embarrassed to say that my Summer Babes post has shattered all records hyah at the Otis Ball MP3 Club, thanks to Bela spreading the word.

In appreciation, here is a zip file of Jenny's Brownie's show from March 19, 1996, featuring a live version of the disco song, which I believe is called Disco Song, but that may have been a working title. If anyone can help me fill in titles from this show and/or musicians in the band, please post them in the comments.

NOW! Please return the favor. Not to me, to Jenny. There is no better way to tell a musician you love her and you want her back than by voting with your dollars. If you don't already own them, go download Jenny's albums. There's A Bar Around The Corner and Don't Wait Up For Me. Bela assures me there is a finished album in the can. Wanna hear it? Go show some love and maybe you'll get it.

Oh yeah. Also thanks to that knucklehead Chris DuVal at Columbus Live for the couple hits from his repost.

IMSA On the Brain

Illinois Math and Science Academy is a residential high school in Aurora, IL.. The best and the brightest from across the state have been attending since the school's opening in 1986. A friend of mine was hired that first year as a residential counselor and entertainment director. Which is how I ended up playing more shows at IMSA than any other venue in IL. By a long shot.

That first class of students brought in were sophomores and I played shows until I left for NJ in late '88. I even came back for one more show on the infamous Ballroom Blitz tour in April of '89, just before the charter class graduated. I made a number of friends that I still have to this day, including, but not limited to, my ol' pally and webmeister, Derek.

In honor of the big 20th IMSA charter class reunion this weekend, here are a buncha clips from some of the IMSA shows. Have a great party, everybody!

This clip is from the very first IMSA show and features not a Metallica song from the request bucket and a special IMSA jam.

The following clips feature Kissyfish and OB&C from the Blitz tour.

Here's a video produced and directed by one of the IMSA students, Dave Franklin. Filmed in NYC's Central Park. And probly featuring Friday Night Lights' Connie Britton.

And my favorite, the promotional video for Charles Manson's Birthday, filmed in an IMSA dorm and featuring the IMSA Boogie Krew.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer Babes or This One's For the Ladies

It seems like the last few summers, the songs I wanna spend the season with are all by ladies. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but there's something about summer that seems to get me going on a fox hunt. Actually, that's not even right. The songs I end up playing endlessly all seem to find me. A few years ago, I fell head over heels for Amy Winehouse's 'Back To Black' album. And I went looking for more. Well, come the summer, I found the Al Usher remix of Tears Dry On Their Own. Damn. Why did she have to go all crazy?

And last year I Otis-come-latlied my way into the Alex G remix of Paris Hilton's 'Screwed.' Hot.

Well, I've been digging through the boxes of old cassettes and digitizing all kindsa audio goodness. I recently came across a tape I put together years ago. When Pier Platters went under, (Yeah, I ain't forgot. We'll get back to that story. In due time. Don't rush me.) I figured I'd get an A&R job at one of the labels. Seemed a reasonable transition. A number of the A&R folks shopped at Pier and many would call us up and have us put packages of the hot unsigned bands together for them. I'd been doing it for free for years. So I put together a reel with a few of the bands I knew that had the goods.

Unfortunately, my timing was a little off. (Indie rock had worn out its welcome by that point.) But maybe not so unfortunately. Looking around these days, I'd say the major labels have worn out their welcome. But I digress.

Listening to that tape again, I found my '09 summer jams. First up, Jenny Mae. Straight outta Columbus, OH. She was hanging round with the likes of Gaunt, New Bomb Turks and The Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments. She released a split single with GBV, which is where I first heard her. Somehow, I managed to get hold of a demo tape with some unreleased tunes, which is where I found this disco rocker hiding out. It musta hitched a ride on a time machine from the summer of '79. Check it out.

And I got one more for you. My ol' pal Odes. She started with the band Love Child, an underrated pop/noise trio from NYC. After Love Child, she struck out on her own. Her first release was a delightful single for the Merge label, Meltway, recorded at Hoboken's late, lamented Snacktime Studios, featuring Yo La Tengo's James McNew on bass. She followed that up with the excellent Me and My Big Mouth EP, also on Merge. Odes slipped me a tape of a song from the tail end of Love Child that I don't believe ever saw the light of day. Until now. I am very pleased to present to the world, Erotomania.

Crank em up and have yerself a merry little summer!

Goldman Sachs posted a quarterly profit of $3.44 billion!

Wanna know how they did it?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

COHO! or That Blowed Up Real Good

It's 1979, OK? Disco cross the USA. Don't misunderestimate me. I was a chubby lil disco fool from the afternoon I saw Saturday Night Fever in '77. A weekend matinee at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, IL. Tony fuckin' Manero. You bet. I had the soundtrack 8-track on endless loop.

Steve Dahl came to the Chicago radio market in February '78. I still remember the full page ads in the Sunday Trib and Sun Times announcing his arrival. It listed his many "sidekicks" with brief bios. This was right around the time I had discovered the magic of radio. Back when radio actually was magic. And I was hip-no-tized.

Well, after a brief 10 months at WDAI, the previously rock station went disco. All hot mixes, brief mic breaks. That wasn't what Dahl signed up for, so he handed in his resignation. But he was not out of work for long. In March of '79, he landed at The Loop.

Oh, The Loop. I was a high school freshman and The Loop was THE rock and roll station. For all you young uns, back in the day, DJs actually played the songs they wanted to play. Sure, there were program directors and music directors, but the jocks weren't working from playlists. And the star jocks were free to fly. (Shout out to Sky Daniels!)

Well, Dahl had the morning shift. 6 - 10 AM, I believe. And I would say his show was 70% talking to his listeners, minus commercials, doing monologues about what was on his mind, "bits" with his characters (which were all Dahl), and taking calls. The Dahlmeister was almost exactly 10 years my senior, but he understood the 15 year old mind. Probly better than he understood his contemporaries. (And I am sure that still holds true today.) He very quickly added The Loop's overnight jock, Garry Meier, as his sidekick. And they were off and running. Dahl was still angry at his former bosses at WDAI. And he wasn't afraid to speak his mind on the air. He never missed an opportunity to lambast the music that forced his resignation. Steve and Gar had a daily bit where they would play a disco record for a little bit, "critique" it, then SCRATCH the needle across the vinyl and blow it up with the appropriate sound effects.

So let's cut to the chase. Early on in their Loop stint, they were always looking for ways to promote the show. Chicago was a competitive radio market. As well as a competitive sports market. The White Sox were in a slump. Long/short, Mike Veeck, the son of Sox owner Bill Veeck and also the head of Sox promotions, called up The Loop and asked if Dahl would want to host a night at Comiskey Park. Bring a disco record and get in for 98 cents, 98 being The Loop's FM radio home. It was a double header. In between games, Dahl would blow up the disco records. I imagine persuasion was not necessary to arrange this.

And so it came to pass that on July 12, 1979, 30 years ago today, Steve Dahl and the White Sox hosted Disco Demolition night. The Sox were used to about 10% capacity of the 50,000+ stadium. It became very clear, very early, that they would do a little better that evening. As a matter of fact, the attendance was so brisk, that early in the evening, the ticket takers stopped accepting the disco records. Which meant that a number of very rowdy, very drunk and very high rock and roll fans were in the stadium with potentially lethal frisbees. (copyright Whammo)

Honestly, I can't do the rest of the story justice. I will tell you that I was at home, watching the whole evening unfold on Channel 44. I was never a sports fan, nor was my family. I had no real desire to go to Comiskey that night, but I was very excited to monitor the action on TV. And I got far more entertainment than anyone could have expected. It is at this point that I would IMPLORE you to watch the following reel of news coverage of the evening.

I can't imagine any Chicagoans around at the time will ever forget that night. An excellent documentary was released on DVD for the 25th anniversary and I highly recommend the purchase. I have shown it to some of my east coast pals who were not aware of the event and they bought their own copies. There is far too much to this story than I could possibly cover in a blog post.

And so, it is on this 30th anniversary of an event that so many will never forget, I raise a toast in a SAH-LOOT to Mr. Dahl and Mr. Meier. Today we are all COHOS!!!!