Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hey, baby! It's the 4th of July!

Here's a clip from one of my favorite shows. A frat party at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ from March 2, 1990. We played three hours and had a great time. And I have never performed with that much alcohol in my system before or since. This clip is right before the big Charles Manson's Birthday finale, which went 30 minutes. Which is the longest version of Chuck ever performed. To date. A record I look forward to breaking some day. Perhaps at Otto's in Dekalb this August 23rd. You just never know what personal record I'll break at any given show.

Anyways, every once in a while, we'd switch things up for fun. I always really liked this X song. And I guess it was actually a recent hit for them at the time. Great song from a great album. As you will see, I play bass so Rich Grula can play guitar and sing. Chris Butler stayed on the drum stool. The crowd continued drinking.

So from all of me hyah at Otis Ball, happy Fourth of July to you and yers.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

516 First St, DeKalb, IL. 60115

Well, folks, it is official. I am very happy to announce the first Otis Ball & The Chains shows in 7 years. (Or something like that.) I'm coming home and I'm getting the band back together. And not just any ol' Chains, but the very first Chains! Mark yer calendars. Sat, August 22nd in Chicago and Sun August 23rd back in Dekalb at Otto's! Both appearance are a part of the big Dekalb Rocks Reunion. My buddy Tom Rose, who created the Dekalb Rocks Facebook group, has pulled the trigger on a weekend long event reuniting many of the great 80's Dekalb bands. happy hunting will be joining us, as will a great many more surprise attractions. I'll have plenty more information on this EVENT as we get closer.

Ah, Dekalb. Old days, good times I remember. After my three year tour of Illinois colleges and universities, I realized the music theory/composition major I was pursuing was not gonna get me not nowhere. Cept in deeper debt. I figured it was time to get some job and start rocking. Killer was studying up at NIU and I spent many a weekend visiting him the previous year. I always had a great time in Dekalb and my bass player was there. Bing, bang, bong.

Killer had been in the dorms the previous year. And his floor was just about all music students and a swell buncha swells they were. Dean, Free, WEZ-L and Doug are just a few that come to mind. Since I was moving to Dekalb, we figured we were gonna need a band house. Luckily, the Dekalb economy was propped up by band house developers. It didn't take very long at all to find 516 First St. And Doug, who just happened to be a drummer, was in. I think we each paid $90 a month. Utilities included.

We weren't in that house much longer than a year, but what a year it was! And that house is where Otis Ball & The Chains was born. We didn't play out that year, but we played in plenty! Lots of weekend jams with Doug, or occasionally WEZ-L, on drums and a few goofy parties. Which were captured for posterity, thanks to the camcorder I stole from my Pop when I left home. Here's a short reel featuring a few highlights, including a smoking Green Acres from Uncle Tiny Tim, back when he was but a nephew!

516 is also where I wrote and recorded a number of the songs that would make up the OB repertoire, including Walk On Water, Love You Til I Don't and Charles Manson's Birthday. And also a few that didn't make the trip to the future. Hot Day was the very first Otis Ball song ever broadcast on the radio. Tom Ellett debuted it on WKDI's Local Patrol. And I still remember sitting in 516 with Killer, waiting by the radio to hear that very first broadcast.

So just for fun, I put together a Hot Day video with some of that 516 footage. And it goes a little something like this.

Dekalb, I'm coming to see ya! Pretty yerself up all nice and put on that dress you know I like! Cuz I'm bringing Killer and Doug with me and we are gonna party like it's 1985!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

DeKalb's Calling

The last time I saw Dekalb was almost two decades ago. OK, that's not totally true. I've been back a couple times to visit. But the last time I ROCKED Dekalb was almost two decades ago. March 22nd, 1990 to be exact. I was on the road promoting the album and we had a triumphant show at Diversions on the NIU campus. It was me, Grula and Butler. Not to forget our roadie and former Dekalber, NE.

That show rinsed a whole lotta bad taste outta my mouth. You see, the previous return show was the Blitz, which is recounted extensively on an earlier post and in depth at Colicky Baby Records and Tapes. Not that this visit didn't have its own trials, but the details escape me. I do remember Butler cursing an NIU alumni in such a precise fashion that I am sorry I didn't get it on tape, for I cannot begin to replicate it. (Chris, if you can recall the details of this, I would love to have my memory jogged.)

But I am here to praise Dekalb, not to bury it. For wheels are in motion. Or so I understand. I don't know anything. Just some unsubstantiated rumors. I guess. Who am I to say? Not like I know anything bout nuthin. Nope. Clueless over hyah. Nuthin to tell nobuddy. Nope. Nuthin.

But just because I'm in the mood, here's some mp3s from that 1990 show. Not the whole show. Choice bits. Cuz I'm a tease. Yup. What I am.

And here is some vintage footage of the show, courtesy of my pal Marie's PixelVision camera. Featuring Killer on backup vox for Walk On Water and Tom Long, WEZ-L, Greg Dunlap and Susan Vincent as the Buddha Singers.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Gypsy At Thirteen

Today my dog Gypsy turns 13. I guess. Almost 13 years ago, I decided it was time for me to get a dog. I talked to a couple of the local animal welfare groups before I went hunting. They recommended the local shelter because it was a nightmare and any animal rescued from that hell hole was truly a mitzvah. They gave me one very useful bit of advice. In NJ, shelters are required to hold a dog for 7 days, so if a dog is lost, the owner has a reasonable amount of time to find and claim it. However, they can euthanize it at any time. They suggested if I found a dog I liked and it wasn't available for release that I return daily until it became available so they would be aware that there was a waiting home.

So in late August of 1996, I walked down to the pound. I don't think it was technically a pound, but it surely wasn't a shelter. It wasn't very large. Maybe 100 dogs. I spent about 30 minutes looking, but I didn't find what I was looking for. I really wanted my dog, so I checked them all again. Still nothing. I was going to be living with this animal for a long time and I wasn't going to settle. But I couldn't bring myself to leave. I was standing in the puppy room frozen. And that's when she found me.

I don't know how I missed her. But this apparent shepherd mix in a crate against the wall saw me starting to leave and made her presence known! I still don't know how I missed her! Because she was exactly what I went looking for. I asked if we could remove her from the crate and she was so happy! We played for a few minutes and I said I would take her! I was told she just arrived and they couldn't release her for a week. My heart sank, but I was prepared. OK. Well, I'll be back tomorrow. And for the next week, I woke up early so I could walk back and visit her before I left for work. On one visit, she rolled over and I discovered she had a penis! What? I didn't want a male dog and I was positive she was a female. meh Turned out she had a brother. That was heartbreaking. But I couldn't take two dogs.

Finally, on September 4th, 1996, I woke up early and arrived at the shelter as they were opening and I sprung my dog! I still remember that walk home. I was so happy and so proud and so was she. I think we both almost burst. And so, while I don't know her true birthday, she was right around three months old when I found her. We decided that three months prior to that date would be her birthday. And we celebrate it every year. As we are today.

And here's one of my all-time favorite stories. August 6, 1993. I was on the road with They Might Be Giants. We were in Fox Island, WA for a big radio station sponsored show the next day. (Bremerton's Endfest) I was in my hotel room on a rare night off, catching up on some paperwork and relaxing, when suddenly there came a tapping. It was the road crew. "Hey, Otis! We're going to a strip club! You coming?" Yes. I was coming.

We drove a little ways out of town to a small building tucked off the highway. The Doll House. It looked like it must have been an old sailor bar, barely converted with a small wooden stage. When we walked in, we must have doubled the attendance. And we were all flush with per diems!

So we were pleased to find ring side seating for the evenings entertainment. One lady would take her turn on the stage and the others would mingle while waiting for their turn in the spotlight. One of them took the seat next to mine and introduced herself. She turned out to be a pleasant conversationalist and we chatted most of the night. After a while she confided in me that she was working under an assumed name. "Gypsy's not my real name. My real name is Lisa Marie, but there were already two Lisa Marie's working here, so I had to pick a new name."

And so to you Lisa Marie, wherever you are, SAAAAAAA-LUTE!

And to my little baby girl, my punkin sammich, my #1 #1, happy birthday, sweetie! Your daddy loves you very much!

Monday, June 1, 2009

On the Air! WBGU '90

Here's a fun radio show. My good buddy Derek booked an OB& C show at Bowling Green U in Ohio, which turned out to tbe the first stop on the winter '90 tour. I stopped by his WBGU radio show the next day with my acoustic guitar, our roadie and a disposable lighter in tow. Needless to say, hilarity ensued. Buncha covers, some exclusive to this show, a couple requests and a whole lot of goof. Great time, nutty show. Have at it!