Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vomit Launch - Live at the Rokkhouse



Being located conveniently off of the Indiana Toll Road between Chicago and points east helped South Bend live up to the state motto of the "Crossroads of America." This meant that bands on tour who were visiting Chicago could stop by South Bend on their way to or from the Windy City.

In the Spring of 1992 I received a call from Teenbeat Records, who had just agreed to release Vomit Launch's Dogeared LP. Vomit Launch was a Chico, CA-based band that spent the late '80s and early '90s bouncing around obscure record labels. According to the band's official history, "The music climate was changing - post-Nirvana the big labels seemed to be coming in and picking up any stupid band with loud guitars - but Vomit Launch didn't fit that mold. Plus they still had this dumb band name."

The newest member of Teenbeat Records was playing a gig at the now-defunct Lounge Ax in Chicago and had an open date on the band's calendar. We had a few Vomit Launch records in the stacks at WFVI and I owned a copy of Exiled Sandwich. The Student Union Board at Notre Dame wasn't very friendly towards indie rock, so for expediency's sake, I invited the band to play a live show in the basement of the Rokkhouse at 919 South Bend Avenue. I don't even recall promoting the show with flyers. In the pre-Internet era, we probably relied on word-of-mouth.

On April 11, Oatmeal opened up for Vomit Launch, and if I remember correctly, it was probably the only live performance by the lo-fi pop band that consisted of me and fellow 1992 ND graduate Jim Doppke. The headliners put on a spirited show that evening and our basement was packed with students and locals alike. They crashed somewhere in the Northeast Neighborhood and the next morning, after a hearty breakfast of omelettes, Vomit Launch headed east to Pittsburgh. I recall that my housemate admitted he had a bit of a crush on the lead singer, Patricia Rowland.

--Jeff Jotz

P.S. The "It's Coming!" banner behind the stage was a banner promoting the Hoosier Lottery, which began in October 1989. I refuse to reveal the source of said banner ;-)



It was cold! The party was in a cool old 2 story house, and we made spaghetti and then hung out pre-party; everyone was really nice, and they had rad lights strung up and a stage built in the basement. One (?) of the housemates had a conflicting gig with his band, the Bucket Kickers, so they (the Bucket Kickers) walked off to their show. He was super cute. He was an artist. Yummy. Can't remember his name. Wish I did. I wanted to see the Bucket Kickers! But it wasn't meant to be. South Bend seemed pretty cool and music friendly. Decent radio station, smart people, etc. The party crowd was extremely enthusiastic and we had a good time. Sold lots of stuff, rock stars oh yes. Then we drove a long ways away and spent the night in the apartment of a nice young man. Left the next morning, still really cold.

--Patricia Rowland, Vomit Launch

Visit vomitlaunch.com for a complete band history, free mp3 downloads, and much more.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oatmeal - Rabbitcore Demo


Oatmeal pays homage to the site of the Rokkhouse, SB, IN, 1994. One of us was thinking about doing a concept album about the history of jorts.

Oatmeal: I Do Not Know What “Rabbitcore” Means

Oatmeal was Jim Doppke and Jeff Jotz getting together at Jeff’s urging in late 1991 or early 1992. (The directors of Oatmeal Holdings LLC have knowledge of only one photograph of Oatmeal (above), taken after the demise of Oatmeal the Band, Inc. Therefore, the rest of the article will be illustrated with public domain images courtesy of NASA.)

Jeff had definite ideas about how we should sound, and I tried to do them justice: 1. Basic love-rock sound. 2. Cool-sounding minimalist instrumentals. 3. Tight, cut-off endings. 4. Cover “Do Ya.” I wasn’t really sure I was versed enough in playing actual rock music to do any of this, having previously invested some time in affecting a singer-songwriter persona. But Jeff was excited about it, and I was excited about playing with Jeff, so I gave it a go.

And by “gave it a go,” I mean: mooched incessantly off the good will of others. I was not well-equipped for this experience in any real sense. Think of the person you knew who had the weirdest gear. What’d they have? A mauve left-handed Strat with Hello Kitty stickers all over it, including the fretboard? A nameless amp that somehow had wood paneling on it? The infamous “Eat Me” bass? Well, I had ‘em all beat. I owned a white Gibson Explorer knockoff totally legitimate copy with built-in buttons that would supposedly produce chorus, overdrive, and other effects, but that, when pressed, made the guitar sound approximately like this: SQAAAAAAAPHHHTHPHT. This glorious racket was enhanced by the sheer power of my 6.5-watt amp. As we were fond of saying, permission to rock: denied.

So I asked many people for permission to rock, and they granted it. At various times, I borrowed guitars from the extremely cool brainiac Marshall Armintor, as well as goes-without-saying-how-extremely-cool-he-is Ted Leo. I also borrowed four-track usage from TL as well as extremely-cool-like-the-other-side-of-the-extreme-pillow Joe Cannon. We rocked at the Rokkhouse, a place at which I did not live and paid no rent (though Jeff did). I borrowed amps, microphones, patch cords, picks, orange Fanta, spare change, and pocket lint from God-knows-who. I had my own guitar tuner, though, thank you very little. Overall, if I had been any less materially invested in this thing, I would have had to pay a cover to see us.

I then set about trying to write songs that I thought Jeff would like. I drew on our shared influences: Unrest (“Caustic”), Bob Mould (“Met Myself”), the Feelies (“Honorablesque,” “Bridge” [Jeff’s words!]), etc. The process was: 1. Knock around on guitar in room. 2. Play song for Jeff. 3. Play song with Jeff. 4. Jeff goes “Alright! Rad!” 5. Song finished. I’m lucky Jeff was as enthusiastic about the whole thing as he was. I also learned some covers at Jeff’s suggestion, like the Wooden Soldiers’ “Commercial Avenue” and the aforementioned “Do Ya,” but note the attention to detail on that last one. I probably could’ve learned how to play the real bridge instead of just improvising my own, but I had to wash my mullet that week (the Seinfeld look was very big back then, don’t let anybody tell you any different).


Jim’s mullet is met with icy silence at Club 23.
I’m also lucky that Jeff took it upon himself to make sure that we recorded ourselves, and that we got some gigs. I apparently couldn’t be bothered, as I was too busy with record collecting, literary parsing, mullet adjustment, and so forth. Gigs first, all two of them, both from 1992 I think:
  1. Club 23, possibly an open mic, possibly not. I remember playing our cover of Chisel’s “Swamp Fox/Spike” to some stirs of recognition in the crowd.
  2. Opening for indie-rock legends and all-around nice people Vomit Launch at the Rokkhouse. I remember wearing a thrift-store tee that said “Heart Throbbing” on it. That’s right, a thrift store tee in 1992, yeah, I was born this cool. Read it and weep, trendinistas. Though the real story here is that I paid for the shirt with my own money.

    I also remember playing our cover of “Who Painted Whistler’s Mother?” by the Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet (still a beloved favorite of mine, salaam to the Shadowy Men) at the VL show, and somebody from VL (Trish, the singer?) kindly praising our cover of The Feelies’ “Let’s Go.” Then, rather than brave the rigors of the Rokkhouse after the show, the VL folks stayed at my apartment. They were really funny and cool; they put up with my impetuous indie-rock self, and they made scrambled eggs for me the next morning. When I tell this story now, people seem surprised that I ate scrambled eggs prepared by people who called themselves “Vomit Launch,” but I didn’t blanch at it then and still don’t.
Recordings-wise, what you have here are songs (I think record industry people call them “tracks” or “slabs,” or, when drunk, “spuds”) we recorded at TL’s house in New Jersey in 1992. I made the trip out to NJ to visit Jeff after our graduation, and this is what we did on our holiday. And where on my diploma did it say that I had to grow up, get my own gear, and stop leeching like a medieval doctor? Nowhere!! Onward Moochapalooza!! (a very popular concept at the time which we were helping get off the ground, or at least that’s what we told 120 Minutes)

TL let me play his main Chisel guitar, and we used his drum kit as well. He recorded us on his 4-track, and he and his punk rock silver-spray-painted Stratocaster joined us on “Rokk-o-Medley.” (First one to name the song TL sings, and the original artist, wins a chance to enter a raffle in which the grand prize is a ticket for a drawing to win a cassette of Oatmeal’s other demo tape, the one recorded in the Rokkhouse basement on one microphone and featuring a cover of Toni Basil’s “Mickey.” [ed. note: winner will receive prize sometime within the next seventy-five years])


When we heard Ted play on the "Rokk-o-Medley" we said "my God... it's full of stars."
So yeah, TL was nails on guitar as usual, despite the silliness of the Medley, which I’ll claim as my idea. I had thought up perhaps an even less-advisable such medley when I was questing to be ND’s  the Sod Quad’s Flanner Tower’s answer to Elvis Costello  Billy Bragg John Wesley Harding. The old medley was in the key of A. When thinking of a similar concept for Oatmeal, I thought: since I’m in a band now, we should do songs in E. It had a certain logic to it at the time, which is more than I can say for the medley itself. But hearing it is still good for a larf, except that this version is marred by some snotty comments by me toward the end, which I have long since disavowed. Except that now they’re on the Internet and everything. Sorry, Jeff. You know I kid(ded) because I love.

Whenever I read this blog, I’m impressed with ND rockers’ dedication to their bands, even now. I wish I could say I showed that kind of dedication to Oatmeal, though I still do like our stuff a lot. Jeff’s game-for-anything drumming makes these songs for me, gives them the good nature and sense of fun that Jeff himself embodies. I also love to read, over and over, people’s expressions of thanks for the opportunity to have made music with their friends. I echo that sentiment wholeheartedly. As short-lived and small as Oatmeal was, it made a big impression on me, mostly because my good friend Jeff was having fun with it. And I was too, thanks to his infectious enthusiasm and sense of humor. I am forever glad that I got to experience them at close range, that he chose me to do this with him. And to cover “Do Ya.”

Thanks to everybody I mentioned, everybody I should’ve mentioned but didn’t, all our friends, all ND/SB rockers, the SBP90s guys for the time and care they put into this blog, and you for reading this.

--Jim Doppke

--------------------------


Oatmeal comes full circle.
All I'd like to add is that it was the early 1990s and minimalist low-fi bands like Beat Happening and Sebadoh were all the rage. So what better way to jump on the bandwagon then by creating a two-piece band comprised of electric guitar and 3/4 of a drum set? Actually, my old housemate John Dugan of Chisel fame was away for the second semester of his Junior year at the ND London program and he left us with an emasculated drum kit that lacked cymbals.

I've seen fellow Jerseyans The Feelies more times live than any other band, so naturally, a cover of "Let's Go" was appropriate for our live show. And "Commercial Avenue" was a cover by an obscure 1980s band from New Brunswick, NJ called the Wooden Soldiers. You can download the EP here. As for "Do Ya," it is still one of the most rockin' pop songs of all time, and I will never, ever get sick of hearing it. I celebrate Jeff Lynne's entire catalog.

Jim Doppke was a skilled songwriter due to being a Bruce Springsteen fan during his formative years, so I was always impressed with his song ideas. I don't really know what influence I had on him... perhaps I just made his tunesmithing more bizarre.

Our recording session in Ted Leo's Radium City in 1992 was held the same day as my grandfather's wake. Seventeen years later, I still feel guilty for rocking out in Ted's basement instead of standing solemnly at the funeral home that afternoon. My grandfather moonlighted as a lounge singer in Newark, NJ in the 1930s and 40s and perhaps he would have been proud that I was carrying on the Jotz musical genes.

--Jeff Jotz


listen/download:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

V/A - Incubus 1993: ND Music Compilation



LISTEN UP!
A new campus band CD is on the way

by Pete Dedman

"Somebody said the music was not good enough to play"
--"Green, Red, and Blue" by Brian, Colin, and Vince

Well, apparently somebody was sorely mistaken. Not only is good, original music being produced here at Notre Dame, but the music scene has developed, especially over the last year, into a rich and diverse assortment of bands ranging from punk to folk to jazz. Two years after the WVFI Jericho Sessions were released, a new CD [Incubus 1993], sponsored by S.U.B., is in the works, documenting the present campus music scene through the work of 16 bands playing their own original material.

The bands are as diverse as they are talented and have all played a major role in creating a vibrant music scene at ND. The CD will feature popular and established groups such as Dissfunktion, Chisel, The Sister Chain, Brian, Colin and Vince, Palace Laundry and Victoria’s Real Secret, as well as younger bands fast on the rise, including Grope For Luna, Bother and Bovine Solution. Rounding out the playlist will be Mr. Head, 2-10, the Porkchoppers, Emily Lord, Access Denied, XYZ Affair and a jazz group, Thee Accent. The CD, as of yet without a name (though an accompanying booklet has been designed by Peter J. Pultorak), is due out soon after spring break, according to co-producer Steve Sostak.

"There’ll be a final mixdown of all the songs on March 10. Then we’ll take the masters down to the Sony plant in Terre Haute, and, if all goes as planned, we’ll have it out a couple of weeks after break," Sostak said. Sostak, who is also the lead singer for Victoria’s Real Secret, has found the work as producer to be easier than expected. He added, "Most of the real work was already done by the end of last semester, thanks to [co-producer] Ryan Hallford," who is on a leave of absence this semester.

Hallford was also instrumental in the success of Acoustic Cafe, which has been taking place regularly in the LaFortune basement each Thursday night for over a year. Acoustic Cafe features an open-mike setting, which allows for musicians to experiment and try out new songs before a live audience. "Especially with Acoustic Cafe, Ryan’s been very instrumental in trying to push original music," he said.

Joe Cannon, lead singer and guitarist for Mr. Head, credits the recent success of an original music scene on campus to certain artistic fountainheads. "A few very original, talented and active musicians have sparked a large interest in creating original bands/music, especially among the younger students," Cannon said.

Ted Koterwas, assistant producer for the CD, is more specific in giving credit where it is due. "I think the success of Brian, Colin and Vince really opened up the way for original music being accepted more readily." Koterwas, who plays drums for Grope for Luna, added, "Joe Cannon has been something of a powerful original musical force as well."

The rising acceptance of original bands on campus has also been spurred on by the success of St. Mary’s Dalloway’s Coffeehouse. Each Wednesday and Saturday night, the Coffeehouse, charging little or no admission, had presented full-length shows by acts featured on the CD such as Brian, Colin and Vince, Chisel, Mr. Head, the Sister Chain, Grope for Luna and Bother, as well as brilliant performances by other bands such as emiLy, and most recently, Severinsen.

As opposed to Acoustic Cafe, Dalloway's is a forum for bands who have already proven themselves to perform in a full show setting, when an optimum number of people can be expected to come. On Saturday nights, while the rest of campus is partying themselves senseless, the Coffeehouse draws 100 people on average. "I’ve been pleasantly surprised by its success," remarked John Dugan, drummer for Chisel, whose performance at the Coffeehouse in January drew 175 people.

With such live successes, stated Dugan, "there‘s obviously enough interest out there for original music." Dugan hopes that the success of the new CD will result in organizations getting more cooperation from the Student Activity Council, in terms of being able to get smaller bands to play at Notre Dame, "so that our campus bands can get a chance to play with them. This will give these bands more exposure to playing live, as well as a chance to get their name passed around the larger music circuit," he said. Last fall Victoria’s Real Secret opened for They Might Be Giants and Chisel will open for Velocity Girl on March 31 in the LaFortune Ballroom.

For many, though, just the CD itself is a huge accomplishment. Everyone involved expects this compilation to enjoy more success than 1991’s Jericho Sessions. As Cannon described, "Yeah, this should be better. The idea behind this is campus bands. As a result, almost all the bands are very well-known. Jericho Sessions, on the other hand, was originally meant to be a sampler of acoustic acts, and there ended up being more of a hodge-podge of musicians just recording for the sake of contributing to the CD. At the same time, (former WVFI station manager) Kevin Flaherty’s work with The Jericho Sessions was indeed seminal."

"The Jericho Sessions certainly paved the way for what's going on with the current CD," concurred John Dugan.

Dugan, Cannon and other musicians who appeared on The Jericho Sessions, have agreed that the recording studios for this effort are far better facilities than those used on the last sampler. Most of the bands have been recording over the past two months at Miami St. Studios in town. The recording process gave several of the musicians their first opportunity to put down their music in a studio environment. Miami St. engineer John Nuner was very helpful in making the process rewarding for the more experienced bands as well as the "rookies."

"For the most part he [Nuner] took direction from the bands, and allowed them to come up with their own sound, the sound they wanted on the CD," said Cannon, who was quite pleased with Mr. Head’s recording of "Weather," their offering to the CD. Cannon also attributed the ease of recording to the fact that "an analog recording was made first, instead of recording directly to digital, so it was a more natural recording process." Mr. Head bassist Dave Holsinger, for whom the recording process was a first-time experience, found himself quite pleased with the outcome as well. "We heard some bands took 9 or 10 hours, so relatively, I found the whole process to be somewhat easier than I'd expected," said Holsinger.

As Bother bassist and Dalloway’s Coffeehouse manager Kelly Daugerdas attested, "It was a lot more work than expected, at times even tiresome, but by the end, we really felt exhilarated." The band is also elated at the success of their recording for the CD, "Kill the Popular Kids,” even before the CD has been released. Their explosive song has garnered enough airplay on WVFI to crack into the station’s weekly Top 20, and thereby warrant mention in the nationally distributed College Music Journal.

For other, older bands, the CD is a chance to document what may be swan songs, as members graduate or leave. For Brian, Colin and Vince, whose co-founder, Brian Muller, transferred to Boston University at the end of last semester, the CD is just that. Featuring the a capella intro, "Yahtzee," the band has recorded "Green, Red, and Blue" for the CD, with astonishing success. "The recording fortunately occurred at a peak for us as a band,” said guitarist Colin Clary. "‘Green, Red, and Blue' is a bit more serious than our other songs but it's really almost beautiful, and I don't use that word a lot; well, I do, I guess, but it was really good," he eloquently added. Later this spring, Clary says he will finish a CD of Brian, Colin and Vince’s last semester together. To be titled Bucket o’ Fun n' Stuff n' Yeah, the CD will feature at least 15 songs from the band.

Whether half the campus knows it or not, the music scene is alive and well at Notre Dame. A large amount of ignorance is due to the fact that many bands play at private parties rather than overcrowded bars, and some people just aren’t open-minded enough to pass up those bars for a show at the Coffeehouse on a Saturday evening. Nevertheless, the campus CD is for all to enjoy, so, as your spring break tans begin to fade, keep your eyes open for great original music that’s been under your noses all along.

-- from the March 4, 1993 edition of Scholastic, Notre Dame's student magazine. The musicians pictured in the article are members of Grope for Luna.

---------------

It's funny to have this Scholastic article come back to light. I was a little haunted by it in hindsight - and by hindsight I don't mean sixteen years down the road, I mean a month after it was published. That is, I rued not having spent more space presenting the featured bands in an in-depth way. Although to my mind, Chisel, Brian Colin & Vince and so many other of the acts were by that time household names, that familiarity may have only been present for hundreds of devoted fans on campus. This article was an opportunity to really introduce the excitement of the 'SB Power 90s' scene to the uninitiated thousands. I missed that opportunity a bit, but hopefully the music took care of my understated oversight!

--Pete Dedman, October 2009


Track Listing:
1. "Fish" - Victoria's Real Secret
2. "Dream Bar" - Chisel
3. "Angelina" - Emily Lord
4. "Kill The Popular Kids" - Bother
5. "Yahtzee/Green, Red And Blue" - Brian, Colin and Vince
6. "Follow Me" - Access Denied
7. "In The Crowd" - Grope For Luna
8. "Take Me To The Funktion" - Dissfunktion
9. "Peter Pan Syndrome" - XYZ Affair
10. "My Name Is Sky" - The Sister Chain
11. "Weather" - Mr. Head
12. "Smitherman" - 2-10
13. "I Don't Look Back" - Thee Accent
14. "Never Had The Time" - Palace Laundry
15. "Pyramid" - The Bovine Solution
16. "Punch The Clown" - The Porkchoppers

listen/download:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Potatomen - Live at Dalloway's



The Potatomen: Friends of the Bend

An Interview with Larry Livermore by Ted Liebler

It all started a couple of weeks before when I passed out flyers for WVFI’s upcoming Potatomen/cub band-a-rama at the Riverdales, Gaunt, Fastbacks show at the Lounge Ax in Chicago. Out of the blue and a few weeks later, Ben Weasel (of the Riverdales, Screeching Weasel) called WVFI requesting if they could play the show with their friends the Potatomen. I recall I had to go an early evening seminar at the Snite Museum on New Mexican pottery. Usually the Southwestern subject would have truly engaged me, but this night was hard to sit through as I was thinking about the possibilities of the 2nd Riverdales show ever! The day of the show finally arrived and I stopped by WVFI and Jim Jadwisiak and Ron Garcia were at the station. Jim said, “I have some good news and bad news for you Ted. The bad news is that Ben Weasel called and had to cancel because of problems with their van. The good news is that the station got the new Mr. T Experience EP today.” To a non-Buddhist trained mind, it was letdown city as I thought to myself there was simply no comparison and Ford Econoline Rent-A-Vans were surely easy to come by in Chicago. On a regular day, the arrival of a new MTX EP would have been exciting, but this would have been a major coup for WVFI to bring Ben Weasel to ND-or technically SMC. In those days before widespread internet use, word about the Riverdales’ cancellation traveled slower than the I-31 highway under construction.

That small and endearing coffee house known as Dalloway’s was packed by the time the Potatomen, all the way from Berkeley, went on that April 5th night. The Potatomen were so well received and reflected my current perspective that music can be complex thing that has the power to make the world simple again. Making their triumphant return to ND/SMC/South Bend/Michiana, the headliners cub played a joyful set that had almost the whole room dancing. The night hit its zenith when the Vancouver, BC band ripped out their Cars’ cover of "My Best Friend's Girl." At one point, I looked back beyond a room of smiles to the shadowy back corners and spotted a bunch of upset hardcore punks. The arrival of these hardcore punks (perhaps from the Chicago suburbs or maybe even Granger) to encounter two indie rock bands, the Potatomen and cub and no Ben Weasel made for quite the sideshow element. (However, if they were truly upset what were they doing hanging around for the entire show?) The night had it all: Harmony, Contrast, Balance, Unity, and Disorder as the Dalloway’s cash box was ripped off that night...

This edition of Friends of the Bend brings us the thoughts and reflections of Larry Livermore. Larry was the leader/lead singer of the Potatomen and co-founder of Lookout Records–the label which brought the world the sounds of Green Day, Screeching Weasel, the Mr. T Experience, the Queers and our own Ted Leo. The UC-Berkeley graduate is now living in Brooklyn, following his beloved Fulham Football club and writing his first novel.



TL: After the show, you made the very Hank Williams-esque statement that crisscrossing the country as a band was easy street or biscuits 'n' gravy or some such thing. At the time, I didn’t know if you were being facetious or serious or both.

LL: Ha! I don’t remember ever using either of those expressions in my life, but I very well might have said something like that, hopefully in a similar vernacular. I was probably being facetiously serious, in that up to that point, we hadn’t had any real problems on the tour, and it had indeed been as easy as dipping biscuits in gravy, or however the saying might go. But that’s easily explainable by the fact that the Notre Dame show was only the second one of the tour; it had been booked in an unfortunate format that required us to drive some 2,400 miles before playing our first show in Ann Arbor, Michigan. So although the three days it took us to make that drive were filled with some chagrin that we hadn’t had the foresight or aptitude to set up shows for ourselves along the way in, for example, Winnemucca or North Platte or even lovely Dubuque, we otherwise had a good old time listening to music, arguing among ourselves as to what was the best Smiths or Hank Williams song, and having a feet-up-on-the-dashboard look at this great country of ours. The trip back west was not quite so smooth, involving such things as blizzards, break-ins and fitful bursts of rancor and tears, but I’ll suppose you’ll ask more about that later on.

TL: Would you like to add any words here about life on the road as a band? I recall, from a Lookout ‘zine, you wrote about the trials of listening to a bandmate's New Order tape over and over again on one of the Potatomen's tours.

LL: And it looks as though I was right! I don’t, however, remember any specific incidents with a New Order tape, though that’s entirely possible. Ironically, New Order are now ranked high in the regular rotation on my iPod, being especially appropriate for gym workouts and running, but at the time, I would have found it a trial, and it’s quite possible that the bandmate in question might not have been with us for the long run. As noted above, the Smiths and Hank Williams maintained a stranglehold on the Potatomen van (known as Blimpo, by the way) stereo, along with occasional discursions into Morrissey solo records.

But yes, other trials: well, there was the time we had a raging argument that lasted from Berkeley to Portland, Oregon over the merits or lack thereof of facial hair, with the band being evenly divided on the subject. By the time we’d hit the far north of California, I (one of the antis) was being accused of wanting to put all bearded men into concentration camps, when in fact, all I’d said was that if you put a fence down the middle of the planet and put all the beardos on one side and all the clean-shavens on the other, a survey would demonstrate a better intellectual and moral climate on the clean-shaven side.

After we left Notre Dame on that particular trip, things went smoothly enough for a while, the roughest part being when we were required to attend a backyard barbecue in Minneapolis, where locals stood around in t-shirts and shorts despite the temperature hovering around 40 degrees (apparently this is what passes for summer in Minnesota). Two days later, we were stranded in a sudden blizzard near Bismarck, North Dakota (it was the first or second week of April, so I think we were entitled to a little indignation).

The worst episode of the tour, however (provided we’re not talking about the quality of some of our performances) came in Missoula, Montana, where someone broke out the front window of our van and ran off with all our clothes, my acoustic guitar, Patrick’s violin, and my brand new leather jacket, while we were on stage playing. Apparently it happens quite a bit in that deceptively small and innocent-looking town, but we were completely unprepared for it, and even more unprepared for having to make the rest of the trip with a sheet of plastic covering the window and the wind howling like a banshee at a volume that made arguments about the Smiths and Hank Williams not only impossible, but also more pointless than usual, because we could no longer hear the stereo either.




TL: I was under the impression that the band arrived in the late afternoon on an overcast day and really didn’t have time to wander the verdant campus. Still, any impressions of South Bend? It’s OK if you compare it to Eureka, CA or Westland, MI... Any comments on the Notre Dame music scene at the time? (Again, I realize you only encountered 6-7 hours worth of certain aspects of it.)

LL: We did get there fairly late in the afternoon, and it was gray, and we didn’t really have time to see much more than we saw from the van as we found our way to where we’d been instructed to show up. I honestly don’t remember who set up the show for us, but now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure it would have been cub’s booking agent, Margie, as she arranged the entire tour. Anyway, I don’t remember seeing much of South Bend apart from the campus, and not too much of that, which was kind of a disappointment for a Catholic boy who’d been filled with stories of Notre Dame for 12 years of elementary school and high school. Some of our teachers actually used to make us say a prayer for Notre Dame on Fridays during football season. It was as though they saw Notre Dame winning as a victory for all Catholics in much the same way JFK’s election was.

For what I saw of it, I was very impressed by the Notre Dame music scene. It was the kind of scene I occasionally encountered in smallish towns – Arcata, California was another one – that were located far enough from major population or cultural centers that people got together and made up their own entertainment rather than just wait for it to come to them, and the result tended to be more creative, quirky and eccentric than you’d typically encounter in one of the more conventional scenes. I’m thinking of both Krautmiser and Sweep The Leg Johnny in particular. Also, such scenes tend to be much more cooperative and supportive as opposed to the competitive and copycat tendencies one tends to encounter in the “big” towns.



TL: I remember that you told a group of us a story that a nun once told you, “One day, you’ll make it to Notre Dame” and how grateful you were to play at the University with the Potatomen.

LL: I highly doubt that any nun ever predicted that I would make it to Notre Dame; if anything it would have been the opposite: more along the lines of, “If you carry on the way you are, you’re not only never going to get to Notre Dame, you’ll be lucky to get anywhere apart from reform school.”

That being said, I was indeed very proud and grateful to finally make it to Notre Dame, even if it was under circumstances that I never would have imagined back in high school. If anything, I wished the nuns could have seen me, though I doubt they’d have been too impressed. One of them had also rejected me from the high school glee club because I “just didn’t have a voice made for singing.”

TL: You were generous enough to distribute your last major issue (#40) of Lookout that night. I remember friends and myself discussing your writing and perspectives for months. I know your life situation shifted in major ways at that time in your life, but did you foresee (#40) being that last major issue of Lookout?

LL: No, I had no idea at the time that #40 would be the last issue. On the contrary, I was quite pleased in that I felt I had broken new ground with that issue (first full color cover, much greater diversity of material, expanded size) and that I had passed the 10-year mark in publishing it. I was already writing articles for the next issue, including a tour journal that I was keeping, and to this day I have a computer file somewhere full of outlines and partially completed stories for what would have been Lookout #41. It’s just that things were getting a little crazy back in California with the rapid expansion of Lookout Records and the attendant complications brought on by that, and the work just kept getting put off and put off until one day I realized that it probably wasn’t ever going to happen. And once I left the record company, I lost the distribution network that had enabled me to get the magazine all over the country. It was a bit discouraging.

TL: 
I remember that people wanted the Potatomen and cub to stay longer in South Bend, but the band had to get to (West) Lafayette to record at Mass Giorgini’s Sonic Iguana to record that same night (the split EP with cub). Was West Lafayette the ending point of this tour?

LL: No, on the contrary, Ann Arbor and South Bend were the first two shows of the tour. We had one day off in Lafayette (West Lafayette, the home of Purdue, was just a few minutes walk away, but the studio itself, as well as Mass’s home, was located in Lafayette. From there we went on to Minneapolis. cub had a show in Chicago which we were not asked to play, so that night, the two bands played separate shows, and then we met up again in Fargo ND/Moorhead MN the following night for the rest of the tour out to the West Coast.



TL: Did the successful ND/SMC experience/show influence those Sonic Iguana recording sessions which resulted in the first Mint Records/Lookout label split 7”/CD? (The Beautiful & Damned by the Potatomen and The Day I Said Goodbye by cub.)

LL: I think we were all buzzing from the excitement and enjoyment, and that that did in fact help us to breeze through the Sonic Iguana session (only one; we had to do it in a hurry). Normally, Potatomen recording sessions were drawn-out ordeals, owing in large part to my perfectionism and nervousness that caused me to make an inordinate number of mistakes. But those three songs (our two songs plus a Buddy Holly cover for the CD version) were done in two or three takes at the most. In fact, we chose the Buddy Holly cover and learned to play it on the spot when we realized we should probably record a bonus track for the CD. While I do think that recording on the heels of a great show helped the mood considerably, we also had the advantage of working with the very talented – both on his instrument and behind the board – Mass Giorgini. Just having him in the band and as our recording engineer made us feel about ten times more professional than we ever had before.


MP3 download:
The Potatomen - "The Beautiful & Damned"
(from the Potatomen/cub split EP, The Beautiful & Damned/The Day I Said Goodbye)

see also:
The Potatomen @ larrylivermore.com
The Potatomen on MySpace
The Potatomen on last.fm

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Snowi Springs - Snowi Springs/Yam Soap



"This is dedicated to anyone who's ever picked up instruments, played and/or recorded a few songs then thought up a name then called themselves a band." -- Snowi Springs

Chris:
The snowy spring of 1993 begat Snowi Springs. Colin Clary, Ted Leo, Chris Norborg. St. Peter Street. Drums, bass, guitar, one mic. Tape running, all improv.

Ted:
So, I'm downloading the Snowi Springs as I type, and though I remember these recordings fondly, I have a conceptual issue to bring up (and I ask this with all good humor) - is it right that everything that everyone has ever done be made eternally available for anyone with an internet connection?  I mean, all of those different improv groups that happened - Snowi Springs, Sweet Mama of Guadeloupe, Oatmeal, Water, Ferry to Helsinki version of Chisel, etc. - like, I think that part of the reason they remain so special in my mind is because we were just doing it for us - no pressure, no goals or intent other than to have fun and create, and the amazing thing is that we came up with some amazing stuff, and probably, whether we knew it or not, grew as artists because of it.  I've become really bummed out on the instant gratification world and the entitlement that the yung'ns seem to fee they have to that access to instant gratification for all things at all times lately - it's one thing I dislike about YouTube - a show can never be about living in and experiencing and APPRECIATING the moment anymore - there's always someone taking video for tomorrow or later that night or years down the road.  I love Snowi Springs because I remember that weather and that house and that night, and I love that it happened.  And I have no problem sharing it with people, but I'm driven to deny universal access, not because I need to cling, but because I feel like it cheapens it a little.  Listen - I am MORE than willing to admit that I may be putting too much weight on these otherwise fun things, but does someone wanna try and talk me down from this ledge?

Listening to it right now... it's pretty great...  I'm on "Foil Belt" now... shit - I'm about to go completely back on everything I said above and say we should do a fucking reunion...

O.K.  Fuck that - this tape is AWESOME - "Alice & Roland??"  "WASHY??!?"  So good.  The world should have universal access to this.

Chris:
I live on that ledge. Not that I want to go back to the days of nothing but oral histories and whatnot -- long live John Lomax -- but, to my mind, we should have stopped with the crackly old silent Super 8 home movies. The advent of home video was not-a-so-good, in my opinion. Virtually every second of my younger cousins' childhoods are committed to video tape. Now every sight and sound is digitized, cataloged, reminisced over, commented upon, and widely disseminated. No more warm and charmingly fuzzy memories.

But whatevs. We were our own poor man's Lomaxes. And let us not forgot the core principle of Sudden Shame - that is, sudden shame. Not that it's all shameful. But some of it sure is! And it definitely has a certain 1993 Time Capsule feel to it, what with "Joe's Apartment" (MTV used to be so good) and the Koresh-inspired "ATF" (which I love, btw).

Colin:
Listening to it now-- I was often somewhere between huge smile, big cringe, and rueful and amused laughter! I think that there is something totally awesome and also something a little embarrassing about the recordings, but I agree with the idea of staying true to what the thing was about– the whole semi-spontaneous aspect of getting on an instrument, having to say what the name of the song was gonna be and then going for it.

"Dextro" sounds awesome (except for my wack singing, which ranks up there with "Long D Silver" and "When I Can" as some of my least awesome!). I love "ATF," "Foil Belt," "You Must Know How Beautiful You Are." As a document of what it was, I love it 100%.  "Bag of Gardetto's!"  "Rebus!"  Yow! The power of an upright, right in your hand!

I love living room bands, so much fun. Some of this cracks me up with its awesomeness. Sometimes I can tell I wanted the song to go on forever, other times I'm not sure what we were thinking. There were chance elements involved and we just went for it. Recording an album should feel this easy...

I never regret that we pressed the record button. I couldn't think of a better way to have spent those days.

listen/download:


see also:
Snowi Springs on MySpace

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Krautmiser - Last Show 6/3/1995

In the summer of 1995, Krautmiser went on tour through the Midwest. It culminated in a final show in Doug McEachern's basement in Pennsylvania, where all good things must come to an end. Amazingly, a video of the show survives, and even more amazingly, we're going to feature it here. Krautmiser aficionados may recognize the deep tracks "Daft Benefactor" and "Puck's Theme," previously thought lost forever.

On this tour, a Vietnam vet in Sandusky was close to starting a fight with us; in South Bend, we took all the couches, tables, chairs, indeed every stick of furniture, out of Jules and Jack's house and burned them in a midnight bonfire, causing the fire department to attempt to pay us a visit--a failed attempt, for Cripe Street was under construction; we enjoyed an enchanted evening with St. Louis' own Beatle Bob; and our roadie went AWOL from the Army.

Those are the true Krautmiser stories. Here is a fake Krautmiser story, which James wrote on tour and read aloud before Krautmiser's show at a coffeehouse in Kansas City.




Krautmiser didn't intend to go on tour in that humid summer of '95. The boys had decided to take time off from the music for a while and go prospecting for gold in the Ozarks. You may find it hard to imagine those dapper young men of leisure sweating in the afternoon sun as they toil with rock picks and chisels, but make no mistake: a gaggle of pale effete aesthetes Krautmiser is not. Although Krautmiser's streetfighting days were behind them, their pugilist's strength and endurance remained: indeed, the London Times, reported that not only was Krautmiser rumored to have participated incognito in shady prizefighting tournaments, but that drummer Jack Howard had actually killed a man in the ring—a revelation that scandalized a nation. Protective mothers forbade their daughters from attending Krautmiser shows, tut-tutting that "if those lads can't control themselves in the ring, how do you think they'll treat a young lady?"

In any case, as the rest of Krautmiser was panning for gold in the Arkansas River deep in the heart of the Ozarks, Jules Dingle, Krautmiser guitarist, struck the mother lode. "Gold! Gold! Gold, I tell you, boys, gold!" Jules bellowed from the side of the mountain as he rappelled down. Krautmiser's eyes opened wide at the sight of the vein Jules had uncovered in the side of the mountain. What a windfall! Finally, Krautmiser would have enough money to buy a moon rocket. This was a longtime dream of vocalist Dave McMahon's, and only reluctantly revealed after one too many white wine spritzers at a local saloon. "Daddy always said, son, you gotta be a moon man," Dave slurred as he swung his bottle around in a clumsy arc. "He always said I was his little moon man. Dad always said, son, you gotta go to the moon. Damnit!" Dave threw his bottle to the ground. "Who am I kidding? I'll never make it to the moon. I ain't nothin' but another chump in a suit. They don't let chumps on the moon, I hear! Oh, what's the use! I'll never be an astronaut! Pour me another drink there, Kennedy—I'm blubbering like a baby."

But now it looked like Dave's crying days were over. "Finally," muttered bassist James Kennedy as he swung his rock hammer into the mountain, "we won't have to listen to that sniveling buffoon weep into his pillow every night about his precious moon."

It took days for Krautmiser to mine the gold, but at the end of the week, all the ore was packed into Krautmiser's stagecoaches. It was only then that Krautmiser had their first fateful run-in with Old Man Grizzard—the self-proclaimed "Master of the Mountain" who headed his own obscure cult of renegade hillmen and unsavory ex-rangers.

"Varmints! Cotton-pickers! Carpetbaggin' scalawags!" spat the grizzled old prospector, waggling his rock pick accusingly in Krautmiser's direction. "That there's my gold you're totin', boys!"

As always, Jules Dingle was calm and cool and ready with his acid tongue. "By what rights, you locust-eating old coot? Out of our way, or we will be forced to strike you."

"Goddamned city boys—I'll keelhaul the lot of ya!" sputtered Old Man Grizzard. "I'll have you know that this is my land you're standing on—and I suggest you clear off in a hurry—sans that gold, of course!"

"Your land, huh?" Jack Howard asked skeptically. "Prove it."

"Why, I just happen to have the deed right here," said Old Man Grizzard. And out of the right breast pocket of his flannel shirt he produced a crumpled, yellowed legal document. "See here, boys, this mountain has belonged to me since eighteen-ought-four!"



James Kennedy scanned the document with a critical eye, bringing his encyclopaedic knowledge of nineteenth-century American colonial law to bear on it. "This is all well and good, Mr. Grizzard, but not only is this document improperly notarized, but it also has its basis in an archaic Missouri statute that was struck down by the Supreme Court's landmark 1837 Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge decision, in which then-Chief Justice Roger B. Taney established the policy of 'eminent domain.' In other words, this land belongs to no one—and therefore, the gold we mined belongs to us."

"Flamin' hootenannys of sweet Jesus! I own this land de facto!" snarled the ornery mountain man. Burly, gamey-smelling figures stepped out of the shadows, fingering the triggers of their muskets. Old Man Grizzard chuckled to himself. "You drop that gold right now, fellers—or I'll fill your behinds so full of lead that you'll never have to worry about atomic radiation again for the rest of your lives."

"Your deadly uranium is our morning tea," riposted Jack Howard airily. Rolling up his shirtsleeves, he turned to Krautmiser. "Boys! Shall we scrap a bit with these hillbillies for our hard-earned gold?"

Dave McMahon, tears brimming in his wide, innocent eyes, stepped forward. "I've never wanted anything in my life so much as a moon rocket," he said, voice cracking a little. He shook a tiny trembling fist. "I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get it. I say we fight, guys."

"Then it's settled," smirked James Kennedy as he finished changing into his purple-and-yellow spandex fighting gear, complete with glitter and lace ruffles. "Let's throw down, you inbred honkies—and let me teach you a new meaning of 'squatter's rights.'"



And so the brawl began. "Man, those gymkata lessons sure are coming in handy," muttered Jules Dingle as he delivered a roundhouse kick to Old Man Grizzard's chin from off the pommel horse, ending in a triple reverse flip and flawless recovery that brought the judges' table to their feet. "Gottinhimmel!" shouted the notoriously difficult-to-please German judges in exultant joy. "A new Mary Lou Retton for a new unified Fatherland!"

"Sorry, boys," said Dingle as he wiped his brow. "But my heart and my incomparable gymkata skills belong to the good ol' U. S. of A. Good luck in '96, guys—you'll need it."

Soon Krautmiser had dispatched all of the mountain men. Only Old Man Grizzard was left standing.

"Hogtied! Hornswaggled!" howled Old Man Grizzard impotently, jumping up and down in rage. "You done put some kinda hex on my boys or somethin'—this ain't right! Tain't natural!"

"Nothing magical about it at all," replied James Kennedy as he wiped blood and spittle from his hands with a pre-moistened lemon-scented towelette. "Just the usual skills one picks up when one has to fight one's way out of an Iranian prison with nothing but one's own bare knuckles and a first edition of Brideshead Revisited."

And so Krautmiser boarded their stagecoaches and left the Ozarks for good. But even as they pulled away from the mountains, they could still hear Old Man Grizzard's mad ravings:

"This ain't the end! No, not by a sight!" hollered the crusty codger. "I'll pursue you gold-heistin' varmints up and down this great land of ours—I'll strap on my magic nose and smell the roads for your droppings—I'll pursue you in the dead of night from city to city, soiling my own undergarments in the sheer thrill of the chase. O! Young Krautmisers! You have stolen gold from the wrong man. For as you can see, I am more than a man—I am a man who is even now wetting himself."

And so began Krautmiser's 1995 summer tour. Pursued by gold prospector Grizzard, Krautmiser flitted from St. Louis—to Oklahoma City—to Kansas City—to Chicago—to Sandusky—to South Bend—to Pittsburgh—to Philadelphia—to Newtown, PA—and finally to the moon, where Krautmiser had their lunar showdown with Old Man Grizzard in the barren wastes of the Sea of Tranquility.



A new addition to the Krautmiser cast: our roadie, the indefatigable Puck

Naturally, none of it could've been done without the help of Krautmiser's resourceful roadie Puck. Three cheers to Puck, who was always on hand with the right quip, riff, or farming implement to help Krautmiser out of a tight situation. Puck’s unparalleled beekeeping skills have saved Krautmiser from Dr. Hexagon's "flesh hive" more than once. An accomplished linguist, Puck once compiled a definitive Etruscan-to-English dictionary—essentially, the elusive "holy grail" of classical liguistics—during his off-hours on one of Krautmiser’s international tours. However, as soon as Puck completed the massive scholarly opus, he just as deliberately and soberly burned it, if only to spite the hidebound academic establishment that had jealously expelled him from their ranks so many bitter years ago. And, of course, every schoolchild knows that Krautmiser would be in Davy Jones’ locker at the bottom of the Challenger Deep had not Puck single-handedly outwitted the merciless Emperor Gionko and his cadre of pinochle-playing robots at their own game. The beloved tale was produced by Universal Studios as a full-length motion picture, starring Emmanuel Lewis as Puck, the Facts of Life girls as Krautmiser, and the 1985 Chicago Bears as the scheming yet fickle Emperor whose lust for potpourri spray and brass knickknacks was—ironically enough—his own undoing.

see also:
Krautmiser on MySpace

Monday, August 31, 2009

Ida + Babe The Blue Ox @ Clifford The Big Red House (Oct. 21, 1996)

So. A long time ago, a band called Ida released a 7" record with a song called "It's Not Alright" that I used to play over and over again on my radio show at WVFI. It was a simple song, repetitive, so unlike most of the math-rock and prog-rock I loved, but it stuck with me. So started a temporary love affair with that band's music, reaching its zenith with the song "Tellings" from I Know About You. I think I put that one on every mixtape (that's right, TAPE) I made in the mid-to-late 90s before CD burners became the norm.



Before that, I was introduced to this crazy little trio called Babe The Blue Ox. I'm pretty sure it was during a marathon here's-some-music-I-think-you'd-like session courtesy of Joe C. right at the end of freshman year. I was hooked from the opening minute of "Home" ("give me a house where/our home can live"). I played "Chicken Head Bone Sucker" on every single one of my radio shows for the next three years. Another song, "Waiting For Water To Boil," became (like Ida's "Tellings" above) a mixtape (yes, TAPE) regular.



Fast forward to the Fall of 1996. Jim M. is excited that he was able to convince Ida and Babe The Blue Ox to play at Notre Dame. For some reason, however, the usual venues for visiting bands (SMC's Dalloways Coffeehouse, the ballroom at LaFortune, let alone Stepan Center) were not available. What was available? Our basement. Max capacity? Oh probably around 50 audience members, plus the band, plus our washer and dryer. A perfect place for a band fresh off its major label (RCA) debut (Babe's People), don't you think?



There seemed to be an unusual amount of excitement leading up to the show. Recent grads who had settled back in Chicago or somewhere in Ohio were coming back into town to see these bands. It was to be this legendary house party event. Actually, it did not disappoint, and remains one of my favorite memories of my time in the South Bend Power Nineties music scene. Some highlights:



- an excellent potluck dinner the afternoon before the show
- talking with Hannah, the Babe drummer, about Notre Dame Football whilst she did her laundry in our basement
- Jim M. worried about Doug's probable reluctance to let us use his PA system for the show
- Doug graciously letting us use said PA, along with running the soundboard that evening
- the Ida singer trying to shush the crowd during a quiet segment of one of their songs



- Karla, the bassist for Beekeeper, playing with Ida
- the incredible Babe stompdown, especially the moment when the Ida drummer began dancing in front of Rose, the bassist
- Mike N., our housemate and grad student, coming home in the middle of the show and wondering what the heck was going on (it was our first show at the house, the first of many)
- talking to Tim, Babe guitarist, about their major label experience, in our kitchen after the show
- Finally, Jim M. paying the bands out of his own pocket, because we did not make enough money at the door, because most people gave lame excuses why they could not pay five bucks, but we're nice and let them in anyway. If you see Jim, and you attended this show, and you didn't pay - you owe him $5, plus, oh, 12 years worth of interest.




Thanks.

P.S. I am very happy to say that Ida is still around and Babe The Blue Ox recently reformed in NYC. Go see them.

Ida on MySpace
Ida on Last.fm
Babe The Blue Ox on MySpace
Babe The Blue Ox on Last.fm

Thursday, August 20, 2009

emiLy Live at Prufrock's - March 1996

Guess what, boys and girls? The South Bend Power 90s crew is now unleashing video on your unsuspecting eyes. Yes, the same technology that distilled mp3s from old audio cassettes is now pulling sound and images from dusty old VHS cartridges and stitching them into magical streams of 1s and 0s that let you relive the 90s right on your monitor.

Our very first offering is footage of emiLy playing at Prufrock's Coffeehouse in Lambertville, NJ. The show took place in March of 1996, at the beginning of our spring break tour which consisted of this night in Lambertville, a show in the back room of Blue Chair Records in Tampa, FL, and a house party in Gainesville, FL.

Part 1 of the video starts with a snippet of "Sap" and a quick glimpse of my parents' cat Cuddles, whose possible godhood we declared in the liner notes of engineering means i Like you. It then moves into "ayin" and "Tactical". Between the initial snippet and the two full songs, observant viewers will note that the suits we donned for the occasion disappeared. It was too hot to keep them on.



In part 2, Joe introduces a quieter set of songs, "Finer Time" and "Fearless". Prufrock was getting complaints about the noise, so much of the set was a struggle to keep dynamics in check, especially on drums. At times I put a t-shirt over the snare drum. At other times I played parts meant for the ride cymbal on the floor tom, as it didn't ring so much. The hi-hat does tend to drown out the rest of the band at times, flooding the microphone on the camcorder Ted was using to tape the show.



Part 3 begins with "Tear in My Eye", a song unrecorded at the time, before progressing through "Talking God, Talking Girls," "Atoms Are A Boy's Best Friend," and "Trinity". We recorded the latter three songs (as well as "ayin" and "Sap") a month earlier for what became the riverrun CD. Check out the microphone jury rigged to what is definitely not a microphone stand!



The rest of the tour was a bit more eventful. We played with Grade and a bunch of grindcore bands in Tampa. We also played a crazy house party in Gainesville. Anyone who remembers anything about that show remembers more than me, as I made one too many trips to the gas station for 32's of OE800. Ah, youth.

Keep an eye on the SBP90s channel on YouTube for more videos in the future!

see also:
emiLy on MySpace
emiLy on last.fm

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sweep The Leg Johnny/Streganona - Split 7” + Bonus Track



It's a bass player face-off. It's a bass-off! Wil Freve (STLJ) and Mark Miyake (Streganona) go one-on-one to discuss this split 7", the camaraderie between the two bands, and of course, who's got the most game.

Wil: After leaving Notre Dame, Sweep The Leg Johnny quickly developed a friendship with an indie-rock band hailing from the University of Chicago: Streganona. In that first year in Chicago, Sweep and Streganona collaborated on a split 7” as well as played a vicious game of band vs. band pickup basketball (we kicked their ass).

Mark: The split 7” (The eSTaTe 003) was the first release from either band that was seriously intended for widespread distribution and was also the first release of the recording label wing of our Chicago and South Bend based music and art collective, The eSTaTe. Both bands were just starting to break into the North Side Chicago scene at this point, and this was intended as something of a calling card for both of us as we did so. Sweep spearheaded the project, asking us to record and release this with them and setting up our recording session in South Bend. We were greatly honored that they did so, as we had already developed a close friendship with them at this early point based on a great deal of love and respect for them as musicians and people. Sadly, however, Wil is right-- we did indeed remain extraordinarily intimidated by them on the basketball court.




TRACK 1: Sweep The Leg Johnny - “Similarities”
Wil: This song marks a bit of a departure for Steve’s saxophone playing, as it leaned towards the melodic element, and not just the rhythmic. I was disappointed with the stylistic pairing of the two songs on this 7” (by the way, if you haven’t listened to Streganona...please do—their music is much better than their basketball skills!). Although I’m a fan of both songs, they make for odd record-mates. I think Sweep should have paired a different song with Streganona’s “...Then I Had A Stroke”.

Mark: I love listening to this song, and it stands as a great record of both what Sweep was doing at the time and the musical direction in which they were heading. It’s also, I believe, their last recording with Wil and Jim, which is, of course, another reason that it represents a critical turning point for the band. When Matt and Scott replaced the rhythm section, the whole sound changed, as Matt played much darker and more straightforward bass lines (as well as adding another vocal element) and Scott played much busier and intense drum parts. These changes obviously marked a significant shift in the band’s sound, and even though Wil and Jim are playing on this track, you can hear the band already pulling a bit in that new direction. This song has a tight, clean, and heavy but intricate sound, and although Wil’s bass line is both representative of his style and a significant element of this song, this ultimately sounds more like the music the band would make after his departure than earlier songs of this era of the band’s songwriting.




TRACK 2: Streganona - “...Then I Had A Stroke”
Mark: We recorded this and two other songs on June 4th, 1995 with John Nuner at Miami Street Studios in South Bend. We intentionally recorded three very different sounding songs that day with the idea of then being able to choose what went best with the Sweep side of the 7”. But by the end of the session, we already knew that we’d be using this one because of the way it turned out in the studio, and because its darker, more sprawling nature (in comparison to the other two) seemed to be a better fit for STLJ’s emerging overall sound anyway. There’s a lot about this song that represents things we were trying out at the time as we were starting to close in on what would become our own more distinctive overall sound. Juxtaposing song parts with different feels, meters and tonal qualities, the two guitars pushing and pulling against and with each other over a steadier but still frequently shifting rhythm section presence, and the often surprisingly conventional overall song structure were all things consciously evident here that we kept refining and utilizing over the next few years. Personally, I was trying a lot of both old things (the style of the fingerstyle fills here sounds to me like something I might have done much earlier in my musical development) and new things (the big distorted bass chords that fill the verses and my attempts to control their expressiveness through their volume, sustain and coloring was pretty experimental for me at the time) in close proximity to each other in order to try to create something fresh and tasteful for me, the band, and the listeners. It took us all a while to figure out how to work things like this together into our cohesive band sound, but the basic building blocks are all here. This was also our last recording with Greg Heygood on drums, as he left us for an actual career (I guess some people consider building computer networks to be a more stable field of employment than punk rock...) just before we recorded How Do You Feel About Plastic? the following year. Greg had a very different style than our next drummer, Brett Norman, and although Brett’s drumming became a central feature of our sound in the following years, it’s always a real treat to listen to these older recordings and hear the original rhythm section as it sounded for so long through this initial phase of our existence. This didn’t end up being the best song we ever recorded, but it was definitely the best choice at the time and has, I think, stood up to the aging process fairly well and still sounds fun to listen to and to remember playing today.

Wil: What a cool friggin’ song “...Then I Had A Stroke” is. I always loved playing with Streganona (although this was tempered by a quiet anxiety that they might “out play” us). Not only was Streganona a great group of “U of C” guys, but they were very good at the style of music they played. I loved their signature, dueling guitars... sometimes sounding complimentary, and sometimes sounding hostile to one another. Streganona also used their dual vocals very effectively in their music. “...Then I Had A Stroke” is a great example of Aaron and Matt’s fine and expressive guitar work, as well as their ability to lay down the law and simply rock out. Matt screaming out, “My god... that wasn’t what I meant to do at all!” ranks up there with some of my favorite musical moments. Greg sets the stage with unapologetic drums, and Mark pushes all three of them with his driving bass lines. Please give this song a listen, as well as other Streganona songs (reviewed in previous blog posts)... you will not regret it!



BONUS TRACK: Streganona - "Angelico de Muerta"
Mark: This was one of the two “extra” songs we recorded at the Miami Street recording session, the other being “Encephalopod,” which ended up being released on How Do You Feel About Plastic? the following year. The reason that we never ended up releasing this song is pretty obvious- it’s a sort of fun, silly song that even we never took all that seriously. We intended it as a sort of change-of-pace B-side in case we ever needed anything like that or in case Sweep thought that it would be better to have a “fun” option for the 7”. This also includes some fine guest vocals by Steve Sostak-- Marlon Brando, eat your heart out…..

listen/download:



(the Bandcamp downloads contain the MP3s, scans of the Streganona postcard insert, 3 of the 4 STLJ basketball trading cards, a copy of the first eSTaTe newsletter, and more!)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Cuba Five - Last Show 3/13/1997


The Cuba Five played for about a year, from spring of 1996 to March 1997. Chris, the drummer, announced one weekend that he was moving back to Texas the following Friday. We rushed some practices, recorded an album, and played our final show at an impromptu party at the Green House. Obstruction made their debut as the opening band. Ron Garcia set up a four track and some microphones to record the whole affair, and we made a few copies of the recording to give out to friends. The cover photo featured Joe Cannon apparently passed out in a chair.

The performance itself gives you a good idea of an average set from a band back then -- a bit more frantic energy than the studio recordings, a smattering of applause at the end of each song, false starts, and the eternal struggle to keep guitars in tune. This being a Cuba Five show, there are questionable vocals and inane commentary between the songs, though the banter is mixed mercifully low, meaning you can gloss over it completely. Mike and Chris play a short improvised bit in the middle while the unruly guitar strings are brought back in line.


The final track, "At Long Last Arriving..." gets cut off as we hit the magic 46-minute mark and the tape simply ran out. This is unfortunate, as this song was generally the highlight of a Cuba Five show. So it goes. I suppose that means the small crowd that evening gets exclusive rights to that memory.



see also:
The Cuba Five on MySpace

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Water - Aliens Born to Human Parents



Water was a Chisel side project that recorded a 7-song demo in the summer of 1992 or 1993. The band was Jeff Jotz on drums, with John Dugan and Ted Leo both on guitars and vocals.

Over the span of a weekend, we recorded these songs in the basement of Ted Leo's parents' house in Bloomfield, NJ. I recall that Ted called his underground lair "Radium City," probably for the watchmaking factory nearby. "Looking Down at the Great Wall of China" eventually made its way to Chisel's 8 a.m. All Day. The kid groaning during "Crazy Dudes in Action!" is Ted's cousin, who is probably in his 20s now and incredibly embarrassed.

We never had any pictures taken of the recording, but below is a funny shot of John and Ted at their off-campus house from September 1992 that I took (Ted may be wearing a SB White Sox shirt).

Unfortunately, there were no liner notes for this demo cassette. In fact, the MP3s that I made from our recording were from a 2nd generation cassette. We just shared it amongst ourselves and it sat in a box for years until I was contacted by a TL/Rx junkie a few years ago.

--Jeff Jotz



In my mind, part of what made this stuff so fun and amazing was the fact that for this flash of time, when we were all doing these one-off, one day, mostly improv "bands," we weren't thinking of posterity at ALL. We were just truly enjoying the moment, and probably taking some pleasure in the fact that we KNEW this was just "a moment." It was an absurd and heady and energizing thought to think that we could flick this stuff off the wrist and come out with some pretty embarrassing inside jokes, sure, but also some pretty damn great songs. But ultimately, it was just for the pleasure of things as potentially deep as feeling completely "present" and amazed at our own emerging abilities, or as simple as imitating Beat Happening (as in "Patio by the Pool," if my memory serves me).

--Ted Leo


Most of these songs were improvised on the spot or jammed on once before recording. It's somewhere between a brilliant afternoon of inspiration and the end of western culture as we know it.

--John Dugan


listen/download:


see also:
Water on MySpace

Thursday, July 23, 2009

SBP90s blog featured in Notre Dame Magazine

In case you hadn't yet heard, the SBP90s blog has been featured in the Summer 2009 edition of Notre Dame Magazine, one of the nation's top university magazines. We are honored to have been included within it's pages, and welcome new readers who may have discovered our blog via this channel. It's a nice writeup... "rakish charm" indeed! If you've lapsed on your alumni donation and didn't get your copy in the mail, you can still head over to their website and read the online version of the article:

"Saving the music" - Notre Dame Magazine, Summer 2009

And speaking of press, the SBP90s blog also recently received a nice little plug over at the Musical Family Tree, the Indiana MP3 Archive and Online Community. They've got a pretty expansive archival endeavor going on, with some familiar SB faces already included. Check 'em out!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Go-Lightly's - Demo Recordings



We've already shared much of the story of The Go-Lightly's in a previous SBP90s blog post. However, there is an important piece of their musical history that was almost entirely forgotten about, that is until just a few months ago. We are thrilled to be able to share this missing chapter with you here today.

Back in 1998, Andy, Kristi, and Zoe–collectively known as The Go-Lightly's–went into the studio with local South Bend recording giant Hardcore Ron Garcia to put some songs to tape. They spent a day laying down tracks for their first and only demo recording, seven songs in all. At the end of the session, the band went home, the 8-track recorder was turned off, and the raw, unmixed tape was labeled and put in a cassette case... where it would sit untouched and sadly neglected for many, many years.



Fast forward to 2009. HC Ron has moved to Houston, and would, on occasion, make the couple hour jaunt to visit us at SBP90s Blog Central here in Austin. At some point, it came up in blog-related discussions that yes, he had in fact recorded The Go-Lightly's in the studio, still had the tape, but had no immediate recollection of how finished the songs were. Most importantly, he couldn't recall if they ever had a chance to record the vocal parts, which obviously would be crucial to salvaging a satisfying end-product.

For my part, I had no idea that these recordings even existed, as I wasn't in South Bend at the time, and none of the band members had ever brought it up. I think after all these years-- they had nearly forgotten about it themselves! So, I was very excited to hear about this, and anxious to see what state the songs were in.



When we finally got things set up for the mixdown session, and pressed "play," we were relieved to hear that there were indeed vocal tracks, from both Kristi and Zoe (actually, Ron had confirmed this in Houston beforehand, so as not to haul everything to Austin in vain). We were also pumped to hear how good it sounded! Andy's drums, Kristi's bass, Zoe's keys... it was all coming together. We spent the next few hours fine tuning each of the seven songs, and processing them straight into the computer for superior sound quality. We also included an eighth track -- an alternate and charmingly-botched take of "Time of the Season" that had all us cracking up with each listen.

So now, loyal reader, we are pleased to present you with a South Bend Power 90s world premier exclusive, 11 years in the making... the long-lost Go-Lightly's demo recordings!

listen/download:


see also:
The Go-Lightly's on MySpace

Thursday, July 9, 2009

decaf - P.R.A./Nervous Fingerfood EP

There were 2 songs that never made it onto decaf's Self-Titled Cassette EP when we recorded at Miami Street Studios. I believe these songs did not make the cut because of the mistakes made in our "one take" guerrilla style of recording. Ironically, these were 2 of the most liked songs we played... just ask Alisha.

"P.R.A." - This was the very first song that Mike and I wrote while studying architecture in Rome. This is the song that started the "you whistle & I'll play guitar" style of writing that we endorsed while living there - mostly because we could not afford 2 guitars. For some reason I think I was heavily influenced by Screeching Weasel at this time. When we brought this song back to the states and played it for Rob, he immediately came up with the tongue-in-cheek title of "punk rock anthem." Mike and I traded guitar and bass duties for this one.

"Nervous Fingerfood" - This is one of the songs that Mike wrote while we were living in The Box. Mike asked Ricardo to name the song and he blurted out "Nervous Fingerfood" - don't even try to look for a reason... because there is none.

Thanks for listening again - we'll be posting some live decaf material soon. I actually stumbled upon another show we recorded at Dalloway's that I never knew I had - some good stuff coming up. Oh, and thanks to Julie for the cover photography again!

--Brian

listen/download:


see also:
decaf on MySpace

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Sister Chain



The History of The Sister Chain*


It all began in 1971 - 1972, when we were born.

Then a bunch of stuff happened.

And eventually, The Sister Chain (TSC) emerged on the Saint Mary’s/Notre Dame music scene in the fall of 1991.

The group, an acoustic-based, all-female ensemble, was made up of the following: Kate (née Beck) Clark on vocals/guitar, Michelle Godwin on vocals/bongos, Erin Hardin on vocals/guitar, Erin (née Grefenstette) Henninger on vocals/percussion, Meghan (née King) Johnson on vocals/guitar, and Maureen (née Richerson) Parlier on vocals/keys (however, we all switched up instruments a bit depending on what we felt compelled to do). Mo Richerson left the group after the first year or so, so you will note that any later recordings don’t have any keys/synth in them.

TSC often invited other guest musicians to play with us from time to time, too—to mix things up/fill up the sound/have a good time, etc., e.g. Mike Dumbra on electric guitar and Kris “Bonch” Bonitatibus with the sticks (both of ND Earl’s Court fame), as well as a guy from ND named Dave, whose last name totally escapes me at the moment – sorry DAVE!!! (BTW: Dave was the one who helped me to splice in recordings of my then 4 year old niece singing some of her own original tunes on the debut The Sister Chain tape, which was recorded live at Dalloway’s on Sept. 9, 1992. Also BTW, we had 2 lovable co-managers, Mary “MB” (née Barger) Dirksen and Bridget McCourt, who faithfully dubbed and sold said cassette tapes for $5 piece. And a final point of interest: MB and Bridget also established a checking account in the name of The Sister Chain, which I—I must admit it—thought was pretty cool. Seeing our band name on checks made us feel totally legit. ;-)

Anywho: one of TSC’s proudest, most historical moments was when we served as the entertainment for the grand opening of the original Dalloway’s Coffeehouse on SMC’s campus. We have a recording somewhere from that venue (cassette, of course), where the Dalloway’s founder, the fabulous Margaret “Peggy” Abood introduces us as “Sister Chain.” And then you hear her being corrected by quiet-as-a-mouse Ms. Hardin (what would you expect from a woman from New Orleans?), gently insisting that it’s THE Sister Chain, not simply Sister Chain (so don’t you ever forget it! ;-)

We had the great joy and honor of playing with many great musicians (some of whom are mentioned above) during that heyday of the SMC/ND music scene, and took much pride in being the only SMC “band” at the time (maybe first ever?). Hey, we even got 3rd place at Battle of the Bands one year at ND (much to the chagrin of many, I’m sure. lol!) Another funny thing: we actually co-headlined with Chisel at Dalloway’s once, do you remember that guys? Below is the flyer to prove it (mocked up by yours truly).



So back to the she-story (hhh!): All of The Sister Chain gals attended SMC, and all of them spent the year of 1990–91 studying abroad in Ireland together, with the exception of Kate Beck Clark. While in Ireland, Michelle Godwin, Erin Hardin, Erin Grefenstette Henninger, and Meghan King Johnson spent countless hours hanging around at their homesteads singing and playing guitar, often joined by lots of locals (lots of traditional Irish songs, classic folk songs, Indigo Girls, and originals going on). We also provided the music at mass regularly at St. Patrick’s College (Maynooth), where we attended, along with Seanie from Co. Sligo. (Props Sean, wherever you are! ;-)

Upon returning from Ireland, during the summer of ’91, Meg & Kate (both from Pittsburgh) got together regularly and started cranking out some tunes, with the intent to perform at SMC/ND upon returning there in the fall. Kate had a history of being in bands since high school (The Happy Accidents) and also during our freshman year of college (Ed’s Painting Company). She and Meg also enjoyed time together during high school and college choir (geeks! ;-) Kate was (is) an accomplished pianist, and also had a regular gig as an accompanist at church on Sundays at SMC. (Hmmm... so it seems we owe a lot to The Church for keeping us in practice...). Anywho: Meghan started learning guitar in the sixth grade, and after leaving it alone for awhile, started dedicating herself more seriously to it the summer after her senior year of high school (kudos to Ben Means for giving me lessons, again, wherever you are ;-).

Upon returning to SMC’s campus in the fall of ’91, Kate & Meg found out that Michelle, Erin & Erin were intending to put a group together themselves. So, we said: “What the heck? Let’s all do it together.” (Yeah – that’s pretty much verbatim. Lol!) And alas, THE Sister Chain was born. (We invited Maureen to join in knowing that she was also an accomplished musician and singer.)



Oh the name, you ask? Yes, everyone wants to know where our name came from. ;-) Well, of course, we thought it would be cool to have something that represented the sisterhood of all of us being from Saint Mary’s. We were also a bit into the neo-hippie-Grateful Dead thing at the time; you know: the imagery of people running around with daisy chains, calling each other “sister” and “brother” and stuff like that. (Yeah: hokey to the core, I know.) Anyways: I was big on calling the group “Sister Betty,” in honor of the nun who organized the church music at SMC that Kate and I were doing at the time, though Kate was afraid Sr. B might take it the wrong way (though Sr. B later confessed that she would have been honored ;-). At any rate, we obviously compromised, threw it all together, and The Sister Chain was named. You know how compromise is: everybody gets a little bit of what they want, but no one really gets what they want – lol. At any rate, it worked well enough. That could probably be the theme of our entire history together, now that I think of it – somehow, despite, all of our differences, we made it all work.

OK, I am philosophizing now, but it really was special. Anyone who has ever been in a band or ensemble or group of some kind knows how special it is when a group somehow comes together and manages to hang together. It was tough after we all graduated, because life threw us apart, as is natural upon graduation. We knew it was likely that we wouldn’t all be playing much together again, if at all, after playing several shows and venues for two solid years. While at SMC, we had pretty regular gigs at Dalloway’s, and then on top of that, played anywhere and everywhere else that we could – every kind of benefit (MLK Day, Women’s Day, whatever), every house party invite, every special event (@ both SMC and ND alike, e.g. Hogstock, Battle of the Bands, the SU, etc.), and then of course came that magical moment when were able to move on to and to start playing pretty regularly at the infamous House of Moe (aka Club 23). Talk about good times, good music, and good friends. We pretty much adopted that place (in addition to Dalloway’s) as our home. So, if there was a theme to our closing, it could probably be summed up as “bittersweet,” which fittingly was a Big Head Todd and the Monsters cover song that we often did.

Speaking of songs, we did do a lot of originals, but also a lot of cover songs, too – all with our own personal stamp of course. We did both originals, and original versions of cover songs, largely because of our own musical limitations! Seriously: we never pretended to be musical virtuosos: we just liked to get together, and sing, and have a good time, and provide some enjoyment for other folks, too, while we were at it.

I’m pretty sure that our first official, original Sister Chain** song was “I’d Do Anything,” followed closely by “Night is Blue.” Michelle G wrote the lyrics to “I’d Do Anything” while we were in Ireland. I distinctly remember being in the basement of LeMans Hall at SMC one night, early in the fall of ’91, sitting around in a circle toying around with how we would put the words to music. I tried to roughly imitate what some musical friends of ours in Ireland had done with it one night while playing around (shout out to our Miss Judgment friends! ;-). Then we started throwing in harmonies on the chorus (our “unique” vocal arrangements was probably our forte). Then Mo Richerson threw in a cool synth intro at the beginning. Then, I’m pretty sure that the lights went out, but we kept singing anyways. When the lights came back on, another SMC-er, someone whom we didn’t know, walked in, totally flabbergasted, and said something to the effect of: “Is that you guys singing? Is that your song? You guys sound awesome.” It was a good source of encouragement. Do you girls remember that the way I do?



Incidentally: LeMans had some spaces with some good acoustics, which helped, I must admit. In addition to the LeMans basement, we also practiced frequently in the LeMans Chapel, which is somewhere up on the 3rd or 4th floor. I don’t know if this is the case now, but at the time, it wasn’t utilized very frequently for official functions, but the door was always open. And it was (still is?) a gorgeous, dark-wood, double-floor chapel – I think there might even be a full pipe organ in there? There’s definitely a balcony. So, like I said: good acoustics. It was in that very chapel that we auditioned to be included on the SMC/ND music compilation CD (remember that Ryan?). We were pretty excited to be included on that CD; our first (and now that I think of it, only!) CD recording, professional studio, publicity photos, etc. Funny thing: CDs were really just starting to come out at that time, so this was a big deal all around. ;-)

Some of the other mainstays in our “originals” repertoire (in addition to “Night is Blue,” like I already mentioned) included: “September Song,” “Seamus & Shoelaces,” “My Name Is Sky” (which is on the ND/SMC Incubus compilation CD), “Sunset,” “I Remember,” “The Green Grass Turned Blue,” and “Ceres.” There were lots more though. In fact, Mike Dumbra, whom I mentioned earlier, recently sent me mp3s of virtually all of our original songs. So if you want copies, hit me up.

Some of our other mainstay cover songs (in addition to “Bittersweet,” which I already mentioned) included: “Black Boys on Mopeds” (Sinead O’Connor), “Mother” (Pink Floyd), “This One Goes Out to the One” (REM), “Walk on the Ocean” (Toad the Wet Sprocket – whom we hung out with after they did a show at ND’s SU, which was very cool ;-), and John Denver’s “Jet Plane.” We also threw in some traditionals from time to time, like “Red Is the Rose” (Irish traditional) and “Scarborough Fair.” So yeah: it pretty much ran the gamut; we were interested in all kinds of music. If there was a song that struck our fancy for one reason or another, we figured out how we could play it and make it our own. Good times, for sure.



But alas, as I mentioned, graduation and our impending end was inevitable. Here’s how it all shook out—that is, if my memory serves me correctly (God, I’m getting old – please pardon me folks if I get any of this wrong – I know that I will be duly corrected ;-) :

After graduation, Meg & Kate went back to Pittsburgh, continuing to perform as a duo, and eventually, looking to expand their sound, joined up with some other folks, including Tom Emmerling, the drummer of ND’s Palace Laundry, who is also a Pittsburgh native. We christened ourselves “Dolorous” (naming your band after a female was popular in those days; see “emiLy”). After about a year or so, Meg left the group to get married and go to Japan to teach English, which is right about when “Dolorous” took off, after re-naming themselves “Bitter Delores” and adding some other members. Bitter Delores became pretty big on the Pittsburgh scene, and stayed that way for awhile. After several years, that group also met its end. Kate is now happily married, still in Pittsburgh, and I think, now has her master’s in music education. At any rate, I know that she is still doing music in one form or another. We (meaning myself, Meghan, & Kate), have even played out together a couple of times over the last couple of years – doing both old stuff & new – primarily in the Morgantown, WV area (WVU music scene). This is primarily because I, Meghan, have been living in West Virginia for about 10 years now.

Oh, what am I doing you ask? ;-) Well, whilst in Japan, I continued to play and write music, even gave a few lessons. Upon returning, I spent four years in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, continuing to hone my skills – even took some guitar lessons in Dinkytown (cultural area of the University of MN), where a young Robert Zimmerman happened to hang out awhile back. My husband and I moved to Mpls-St. Paul largely because of the great, grassroots arts scene (which we were both familiar with), and while there, I expanded my “performing” to include acting as well, which I have continued to do, along with my music. Suffice it to stay, I’m still playing out. I have a MySpace Music page as well as a Facebook music page if anyone’s interested in checking it out. In fact, in addition to some of my more recent, independent stuff, I think I’ve also posted a song or two from my Sister Chain days that I penned there as well.



Let’s see... the other girls... I know Erin Grefensette (now Henninger) went to Ann Arbor, MI for a little while after graduating, along with Kate Beck Clark and Bridget McCourt, at some point. I think part of what prompted that move was also the music scene that was there. (Probably they were following the lead of ND’s Sea of Words, with whom we used to hang out with/play music with quite a bit as well). I already told you about Kate BC’s present day happenings... so on to Erin GH: she is now in Denver, CO primarily involved with being a mother to her beautiful little girl, Marlo, and living the good life with her über successful husband (you know lots of globe-trotting... nice, eh? ;-) We’ve all lost track of Bridget McC, one of our trusty managers. (Bridget, if you’re out there reading this somewhere, look us up, girl!). Our other manager, MB, is back in her home state of OH, also very involved with being a parent.

Michelle G also ended up in Michigan, her home state, after graduation, though not in Ann Arbor. She’s out in Denver, CO now as well, raising her two fine sons, doing some counseling, and happily married.

Erin Hardin went back to her home town of New Orleans, spent some time in TX, and recently relocated back to NOLA. I think she’s done some teaching over the years, but I’m pretty sure her main focus at this point is her family, which includes her lovely hub, Bob, twin boys (Walker & Murphy), and adorable little Lola, whom they adopted about a year ago from China. I’m pretty sure a little boy named Bennet will be joining them from China soon, too.



Dang, I didn’t intend to make this so long – but, I guess it’s because The Sister Chain was definitely a big and extremely positive part of my time at Saint Mary’s. I hope that we helped to have a positive impact on others in the ND/SMC/SB scene at the time as well. I think we did, based on the various responses that we received.

In closing, thanks Ted, for the opportunity to reflect on those years and those good times, and for working to preserve those good times for the future—and I’m not just talking about The Sister Chain, of course—I’m referring to all of the great bands, the great people, that came together during those years to make that scene what it was.

If I missed anything (ha!), or if anyone wants to know anything more, feel free to look me up.

All the best!

And keep on rockin’ all!

Respectfully Submitted,
Meghan King Johnson, 6/24/2009

P.S. I have to give a shout-out to some of our fabulous friends who faithfully supported us during our Sister Chain years, people like: Christine Makarewizc, Joanne Gatti, Liz Quinlan, Lisa Philips, Lisa (Claussen) Kommers, Anne Delaney, Molly (McDonald) Peets, Missy (Arnett) Caudill, Melinda “Max” Tierney, Grant Johnson, and Mike Goodwin. And of course, all the musicians that I mentioned above, and some. I’m sure I’ve left some people out, which I’m sorry about, but dang! It’s late! And this thing needs to wrap! So, if I left out your name, I’m sorry—but please know that if you ever came to one of our shows, bought any of our tapes, or even took the time to read this long-winded memoir of sorts, we are grateful, and you are special. :-)

* intentional capital “T.” You’ll find out why when you read the article. ;-)
** it’s OK to leave out the “The” sometimes, just not on official documents, or when Erin Hardin’s around. ;-)

listen/download:


see also:
The Sister Chain on MySpace