Obscure goodies

When discussing music from the past, Brian Repetto, a.k.a. the Dark Esquire and of Dumbwaiters/Insect Joy fame has always had a great knack for reminding us about what we forgot and making us aware of what we missed. He’s the guy to remind you that Simple Minds had much cooler stuff out there way way way before the Breakfast Club soundtrack. Likewise, he’s on top of what’s new and unusual — not just embracing weird for weird sake but keeping an ear on what’s appealing and challenging in good ways.

If you want to be privy to what Repetto is listening to these days, visit his new blog, Obscure Alternatives. Highly recommended.

Tampa Bay Band Photo Hall of Shame

I get inundated with ridiculous band photos all year long from earnest and often talented  musicians wanting to get their name out. Sometimes in their efforts to gain exposure they make some misguided decisions.

I think as a public service and excuse for a laugh we should award the best worst  local band pics we see.

If your band lands here, it’s all in good fun. We won’t judge you (wink!).

Please feel free to submit your favorites to juliegaristo@verizon.net.

Here are some:

Free Reign: Who told you to feel free to wear quasi-matching T-shirts … and how can you be so serious about it, too?

How’s that for some awkward patriotism?

Fort Myers’ DayMinus7 wants to kill you in the face …  but will size up your fashion choice first.

 

The members of St. Pete’s Stalwart have been instructed to stand a few feet apart.

Are they about to begin an aerobics class?

Fond farewells

   No end-of-the-decade retrospective would be complete without mentioning a few of the great individuals who touched our lives and, sadly for us, left our world. While I regret I cannot include all the late great musicians who made an impact, there are certainly three standouts: Jeff Wood, Mike O’Neill and Dave “Dave Rat” Anderson.

   Please read below and share in the reminiscences. E-mail any pictures or fliers you want to include here to juliegaristo@verizon.net or share your own stories in the comments below.

 … Let’s take a moment to raise a pint to them one more time.

Photo of Jeff Wood taken by Chris Zuppa of the St. Petersburg Times

         A great musician, confidant, maker of merry, defender of the underdog and owner of beloved basset hound Bubbles, my friend and neighbor Jeff Wood died at age 42 on Sept. 14, 2007, after a several-year-long battle with brain cancer. The former drummer of Nutrajet, Joe Popp’s band and other acts helped out in a pinch and looked after his friends.  

   As a musician, the rocker nicknamed “Woody” was a precise and propulsive skins man, a captain in the army of British Invasion rock.  

  “He was as loyal a bandmate as anybody could ask for and would follow me blindly into any crazy idea,” recalls Popp. “He wore a dress in Macbeth and boxing shorts for the Bruiser release party. He was an unbelievable drummer and could play three times as hard as any other drummer for a solid hour. The saddest part is he never got to play for a living – an honor he most certainly deserved.”

   An all-around force of nature, Jeff maintained a fierce exercise regimen. He never lagged behind in his employment, often working overtime at his shipping and receiving  job, and all the while providing the beats for several bands at a time.

    He left no question about his character, so big in size it didn’t seem to leave room for attitude or ego, and if you take into account the droves of musicians and fans who showed up to his memorial service – who still share stories about him over a beer – his spirit is still very much alive and among us.

   Ask a former neighbor of ours, Connor Halpern, 9, who, according to his mom Andrea Halpern, recently got in a conversation about the afterlife with his grandpa.

   “I believe in ghosts because I feel Uncle Jeff all the time,” Connor said. “He’s all around me.”

   For more Jeff Wood memories, visit http://www.joepopp.net/Jeff_Wood/Home.html.

Dave Rat Anderson with bartender Joanne Rivera in photo hanging at New World Brewery; by Julie Garisto

 

 

 

 

 

Dave “Dave Rat” Anderson – Another drummer beloved by the Tampa rock and punk scenes, a guy who also helped out on the spot and exuded a sweet soul — whose void makes hearts sink a little and leaves friends asking why — Dave Rat, did not have a reputation for picking fights, but found himself in the middle of a fatal one early morning Oct 24, 2004, at an event celebrating a reunion of friend John Kennedy’s former South Florida punk band, Nuclear Beer, at New World Brewery.

      Anderson, 34, was fatally stabbed while attempting to come between musician Dave Decker of Valrico and Christopher Bellamy of Gainesville.

   The friendly musician could be seen all around Seminole Heights and Ybor City, riding around on an orange scooter and never lacking for a smile for each person he greeted.

     “I’ll never forget Dave’s mischievous smile!” said friend Christina Petro. “He was the first true punk rocker I ever met.”

      Bellamy has since been convicted of second degree murder. Decker recovered from his injuries.

    “Dave Rat never met a stranger,” Kennedy said once in a story I wrote earlier this decade. “You always knew where you stood with him. He was a very special person and touched many people lives positively. We should all be so fortunate.”

Portrait of Mike O'Neill by Carrie Waite

   Mike O’Neill – A shock and heartbreak, the frontman for Monday Mornings, Nailbiters and Unrequited Loves committed suicide on July 17, 2006 at age 41, in a manner so publicized that I’d prefer you Google it than ask me to repeat it here.

   In the late ’90s, fresh out of North Pinellas and having landed gig at the area’s alt-weekly newspaper, Weekly Planet, I found myself in contact with new artists and musicians. My head was swimming.  It was exciting but  hard at times. I didn’t have the sense of shared history everyone else had, but with Mike that didn’t matter so much.

   Joe Popp, on the other hand, got to spend more time with O’Neill. “(He was) a great songwriter and a passionate talent,” said Popp. “I knew Mike for as long time. When I was in Dogs on Ice he gave us our first gig. He used to play extra notes in between chords, which is a trick I flat out stole from him. He was probably the only guy that was at the Hub as much as me. We used to joke about doing a rock musical together, in which he would star as me. He said we along with (Will) Quinlan were the class of ’65 and we would all one day live in a home for aging local musicians.”

    For Mike O’Neill, my lack of scene cred or whatever you call it didn’t matter. He made anyone feel welcome – an equal-oportunity defender and, well, offender. He was even-handed joking around at your expense; part of his charm. It almost seemed if he should have cigarette holder. So droll was he.

   Well read, astute, empathetic (yet unpredictably aloof) and sometimes a stream-consciousness rambler — whatever the moment, Mike came across as unflinchingly honest.

    He always called me out on my mistakes. (Mike, if you’re reading, I am sorry I used the word Americana once in an Unrequited Loves blurb. I think I got confused seeing you with Diviners’ Will Quinlan on those long benders at the Hub. It was a busy week.)

    Mike and I bonded many times over our tastes in music. We’d play the Kinks or Zombies and Nuggets garage rock CDs. He dated a couple of my friends. I dated a couple of his. Both recurrent situations made it awkward to bond at certain intervals.

   I wish I could have talked to him more. I now make a mental note now not to let snafus with mutual acquaintances keep me from a good conversation with someone I respect. Life is too short for such nonsense.

Band goodbyes

 

Home:  Home flew the coop just before this past decade began. The uncannily brainy-accessible band had established a huge following in Tampa Bay and decided to seek out new opportunities in New York. Some of those pursuits paid off. A short time later, Hope opened for Flaming Lips during the band’s European tour. Home returned home in 2000 to play a record-attended Screw Music Forever Showcase at the Orpheum with Dumbwaiters – probably the best local show of the past 10 years and have returned on a few more occasions. Home-comings are always huge and worth planning ahead to attend.

 

Tres Bien: During the fall of 2008, the Tampa Bay’s reality show finalists The Next Great American Band, decided to relocate up north to Pa. (See earlier entry for more details). When visiting our area, however, the energetic performers return to a local stage and go all out for at least one rousing British-Invasion/psychedelic popaganza.

 

Geri X: This month, Geri X performed her last show. The Bulgarian-born singer made quite a stir with her poetic, confessional lyrics and textured compositions.    She said: “I’m terrified of leaving. It’s so final. I’ll miss everything I built here, but sometimes the greatest things come out of confronting your biggest fears. So I hope to go to Atlanta and focus more on my music full time and not so much the stress of my regular day-job life. I don’t expect to be on MTV next month, or to become a millionaire. I just would like to make some more people happy and tour. That’s all. I’m not sure why I have to leave to do it but I feel like I have to. The day of the going away show was probably one of the worst days I’ve had this year but the night and the actual show as one of the best. So I seem to be compensating for my shortcomings (laughs).”

Another look back at ’09: Best new(ish) bands on the scene

Some have been around for a year or two, but 2009 saw these acts come into their own, playing the mainstays of the music scene. My personal favorites among many — and that’s saying a lot.

Sons of Hippies frontwoman Katherine Kelly; photo by Leigh Armstrong of tbt*

1. Sons of Hippies – Married duo Katherine Kelly and Jonas Canales break all the rules and bring back the rebelliousness of 80s punk and the idealism of 60s folk to paint their own stark and beautiful picture from jagged puzzles pieces of the past.

2. Stolen Idols – The soundtrack to a hep tiki party, Stolen Idols perform smooth lounge exotica with earthy percussion, inspired by tropical locales and composers Les Baxter and Martin Denny. Live,  torches often line the stage and the guys wear Hawaiian or guayabera shirts while bird sounds coo through the PA.

3. Beardsley – Pop eats itself and twists itself on a fork with mind-bending noodles. Wash it all down with sweet catchiness, evocative lyrics and a playful stage presence. Member Andy Craven talks about the silly and the regal. You could characterize Beardsley’s music in a similar manner.

4. The Sheaks – Timeless pop and rock ’n roll that’s at times pleasant, raucous and always infectious. The savvy players in this band sport a keen awareness of the backlashes and cravings of musical trends; I heard drummer Hunter Oswald can predict what you’re going to have for dinner next Saturday. 

5. Tie: Glasgow and Gentlemen, Please – Glasgow takes the best, dominant forces of the Tampa music scene, indie-pop atmospherics and folk, to create one crafty coalition of sounds. Gentlemen, Please performs otherworldly, intelligent and listenable pop brought home by Alastair St. Hill’s strong and intimate vocal; artistic challenge without the cringe.

Lots to look forward to in 10 …

I think 2009 became bogged down by holding patterns in many arenas of expression —  especially in music … especially local music.

My complaint about recent times: My head is worn out from nodding. Please — somebody — shake my booty again. Keep your black-frame glasses and geeky cool indie aesthetic. That’s quite all right by me. You don’t have to go total Usher on me. Just give me some intelligent lyrics, solid instrumentation and FAT BEATs. Thanks.

Other than that, band upstarts and new releases by established acts were slim on the local music front, but — thank goodness — things will pick up after the new year.

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s on the horizon. Let me know what I missed by way of commentsurations.

Fittingly disturbing and beautiful art by my buddy/painter superiore Oscar Beauchamp, to be used on King of Spain’s forthcoming EP, Peek.

1. King of Spain – Multi-instrumentalist Danny Wainright has joined Matt Slate to add rhythmic backbone and doubled-up atmospheric dynamics, hypnotic effects to the shimmering tunes of  our beloved Señor Slate. We look forward to more shows by the duo and the impending release of a new EP titled Peek

2. The Semis – also has a new album on the way, showcasing the onetime loud-but-arty garage band as more discerning and savvy masters of pretty (!) plus edgy pop. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised — and moved.

3. Beardsley - one of my favorite new skewed pop bands is set to release a  CD. I have no idea if they’re staying in the same direction, but knowing these smart, funny dudes, it won’t be boring.

4. Poetry ’n Lotion – Twisted mandolin-kissed and folksy-progressive cover band PnL has evolved nicely, adding their own compositions to a suite of classic reinventions of Zeppelin tunes and TV show themes, such as the Knight Rider song. New CD releases in January.

5. Florida Nite Heat —  More pyrotechnics in the sky, I hear. Hopefully this new band will offer something newer and more exciting in this vein since Tampa has almost as much of this type of thing as it has Americana. Word on the street is FNH won’t let us down. Says Matt E. Lee of Brokenmold promotions: “(FNH is) ephereal with melodic undertones; drums by Mes of Crate brothers, bass by Dre, a.k.a. Black Viking God  and Pocketchomper, a.k.a. Jensen on guitar. They do a slowed-down version of A-ha’s ‘Take on Me,’ and Jensen is a phenomenal guitar player.  He writes all the stuff and has a great tone/sound; he’s out of Jax and one of the premier up-and-coming artists in the bay area.”  See the new act perform Jan. 29 at New World Brewery with Patrick Baldwin and November Foxtrot Whiskey.

 

On Crystal Antlers, on blitzing

Crystal Anters, performing tonight at Crowbar in Ybor City.

Antlers this time of year usually conjure images of Canadian beasts schlepping Santa’s sleigh.

If we were to suss out indie rock’s Rudolph, we’d have to allocate that awesome misfit honor to Crystal Antlers from Long Beach: “fringe-psych explorers of the first order,” according to label Touch and Go‘s site. The swirly, oomphy band headlines a sweet-ass experimental type show at the Crowbar tonight.

So as you pop in on and escape from the ho-hum holiday parties, remember there is something interesting and fun to do in Tampa tonight.

Don’t show up too late though.  New locals Dafrebos get the Absinthe high on without the hangover, along with the likewise envelope pushing Audacity and Set and Setting

I would like to write more, but my computer is being a turd.

Hope to see you there.

An ‘Insane’ Jannus finale (maybe?)

 

    Walking through Downtown St. Pete to Jannus Landing Friday night, I felt like that down-on-his-luck movie character who stumbles on the dilapidated cinema palace of his youth; a rumpled newspaper skips by; a homeless man urinates on the boarded-up box office window; and above, a marquee spells out in mismatched letters a ridiculous adult film title like Bazooms from the Moon.

   Is this what would become of Downtown St. Pete’s outdoor concert venue? Reduced to low culture and an eventual demise. It certainly started to look like that kind of scenario to me.

    No urinating homeless men, but there were a hundreds of empty plastic soda bottles strewn by streams of vomit on the Second Street sidewalk.

   And this was before the Insane Clown Posse concert, what Jannus management announced as the last concert at the venerated venue.  

    I felt a twinge of melancholy and made a mental list of my favorite Jannus Landing memories:

  • Reggae and local “Nu-Rock” fests of the early ’80s
  • My first headliner concert, the Psychedelic Furs, 1983, age 14, where I looked like a little new wave knockout with poofy hair, Scotch-plaid miniskirt and fishnet stockings. I was excited beyond rationality. Not only was I about to see one of my favorite British bands – during their prime – but all the arty new wavers I admired from afar in the record store and teen club were all congregating in one place.
  • I also remembered interviewing the gracious Tonya Donnelly at the adjacent Club Detroit before the Belly/Radiohead concert. I waved a reticent but polite hello to Thom Yorke in the courtyard during the sound check. He looked haggard and put off a “don’t talk to me” vibe.
  • Then there was the Lemonheads, whose leads singer, Evan Dando, was an alternative heartthrob in the early ’90s. Former Times music critic Gina Vivinetto met him the day of their concert. The openly gay writer worked with me at the time as a copy clerk and came back to her shift all a-flutter, recounting her starry-eyed admission to him that she’d go straight to be his girlfriend. Later that night after a fantastic and energetic performance, the drummer gave a stick to my friend Brooke Becker, who attended the concert with us in her wheelchair, a short time after recovering from a coma and life-altering head injury.
  • I also felt a bit verklempt when I took my nephew Matthew to his first concert at age 15 in 2007 to see reggae legend Toots and the Maytals.
  • Also that year, I attended my favorite Jannus concert. It was on April 15, the eve of my birthday: Flaming Lips. I bobbed and weaved dreamily, hugging on my group of close friends as flowing steamers swayed from the big oak tree and big yellow balls bounced through the crowd, a visual spectacle that counterpointed one some of the most inventive and melodic rock music I ever heard.

  

    Thousands of  music lovers have their own special memories of Jannus and many have shaken their heads in disbelief that the lights might be going out on a beloved and historic outdoor entertainment venue, one that’s spanned three decades and generations of music lovers, simply because the owner John C. “Jack” Bodziak didn’t manage the books properly and was arrested in May for tax fraud charges.

    So, yes, the seedy, absurd and tragic have intertwined once again in Tampa Bay. Sometimes it seems like we have front row seats to some of the universe’s most senseless parlor tricks (e.g., this season’s Buccaneers).

   But Friday was ICP’s night. As day turned into night and hundreds of fans lined up to enter Jannus, some six police cars and cops and horses waited on the street, but no major incidents occurred before or immediately after the show.

      The mostly white teens and adults in black head to toe, tanktops and black-and-white clown face – the signature look of the ICP ultimate fan, the Juggalo/Juggalette – remained in good spirits and didn’t get out of hand. They chanted “Faygo! Faygo!” in the tradition of Insane Clown Posse’s circus-like spraying of the inexpensive soda brand.

   Getting to the door involved navigating piles of litter (somewhere there was a crying Indian) and a friendly policeman helped me sidestep a puke puddle.

   Police presence was heavy, so black hip-hop fans: Don’t think you’re racially profiled. Anticipation of violence at what can be construed as some sort of rhyme-ish show is an equal opportunity reality.

   My hackles were up too. Having grown up in unincorporated Pinellas and pushed around by rough-and-tumble Latchkey kids, I felt like I was face to face with my childhood nemeses. Phrases like “meth-head convention” and “big night out for obese shut-ins” popped in my head. My inner jerk was in full force and was flinging inaudible insults left and right.

   I kept in mind though that the merry mayhem makers of ICP had acquired a loyal following through the years, the “Gathering of the Juggalos,” so I squelched the little smartass devil inside me and began chatting to the attendees.

   Every one I spoke to was pleasant and polite.

   The “love, hope and family” vibe that ICP espouses – by way of their moralistic-meets-highly offensive lyrics – seemed be in full force at the show that wasn’t the U2 concert.

   The mood was upbeat, though some fans conveyed sadness about the looming shutdown of Jannus.

   “I love this place,” said Chris Peoples, 37, of St. Petersburg, a thin, fit woman with a mohawk and tattoo of Elvira at the center of her chest. “I’ve seen the Genitortures here, plus Twizted, GWAR, Ministry.”

    Michael Brownwood, 29, of Brandon, attending his third ICP show, said his first concerts at Jannus were Rancid and the Descendents. 

    No mentions of U2, performing across the bay at Raymond James stadium, could be heard by ICP or openers Southwest SOL and Hed PE. ICP fans fought U2 concert traffic to come from Tampa and Pasco County to see ICP with nary a complaint. They drove from the south and west.

   Young Juggalo-costumed couple Justin Mullis, 21, of Crystal River and Julie Brengle, 21, of Lecanto waited in the back by Tamiami, getting some quiet time together while hordes of smelly and shirtless young men caused a ruckus by the stage.

   Hanging out back, a mom balanced a toddler in Juggalo face on the wooden handrail of the rear elevated deck. At the Tamiami, the bar at the back end of  Jannus, a Juggalo dad and daughter pair from Newcastle, England, showed off the best costumes of the night  – she in polk-dotted dress and striped stockings and he in green died hair, mock prison shirt and big red rubber nose.

   Plumes of marijuana smoke wafted nearby, smelling piquantly like what I can only imagine was high-grade chronic. People-watching for the first two-thirds of the night offered more entertainment than the lackluster openers, Southwest SOL (Dirty South hip-hop) and Hed PE (some kind of California nonsense). Sure the rhyming skills were there, but the mixes were lacking, the bass lines overly simplified and lyrics completely inane. Though ICP sprinkles in the shocking content (a la Eminem) and expletives, they don’t use them as a crutch. ICP had much better flow and more originality than the predictable hacks that microwaved the crowd. Much hotter than all three: the Apache summer heat that broiled the courtyard.

   The crowd packed in front to end. Beyond capacity? Don’t know. Considering the dubious machinations that have gone on behind the scenes, one can only wonder about issues like capacity, security checks (I witnessed none), insufficient Port-O-Lets, overpriced beverages and other tactics that have besmirched the glory of Jannus.

   I had lots of time to philosophize while being bored by Hed PE. The clown-face band (yes, how original) went from hardcore to hip-hop to reggae in such a by-the-numbers fashion, you’d think they were following a horror-core for dummies instruction manual.

   Jokes told in what was ostensibly a clowning style, were worse than what you’d hear from openers at Coconuts Comedy Club. The band’s front man (Jared Gomes) immaturely riffed on emo kids and said he loved his girlfriend because she watched the fight with him, cooked for him and swallowed. The crowd cheered. And then he said, “My wife doesn’t swallow.”

   ICP were an agonizing 30 minutes late to the stage, but was – to my surprise – worth the wait. What a spectacle. Sure it was no 360 setup with a sci-fi contraption at the center, but they came on strong with a stylishly splashy backdrop: the dark carnival, one of the band’s motifs. A sign bearing the band’s current LP title, Bang! Pow! Boom!

   Girls in red burlesque gowns sauntered downstage. Vivid red and teal stripes drew the eye to the back wall, where sideshow acts “Ape Boy” and “Many Faces” danced in cages. Clowns in glitter jumpsuits ran to and fro and around white barrels covered in shiny foil stickers. Those barrels held the Faygo for audience-spraying, which a roadie in zombie face would replenish throughout the show.

    After getting the crowd excited with the rousing and catchy Jack Jeckel and its “boom shaka boom shaka” chants, the energy dipped a bit, but the duo regained momentum for what was most definitely the best moment of the night, a fantastic performance of its cheesy 80s dance hit cover, Lets Go All the Way by Sly Fox. During the entertaining number, the glitter clowns tossed tons of confetti into the air and shot toy bazookas of soda to the crowd. The surreal reverie harked back to the Flaming Lips concert of ’07 – but with much less complexity and artistry.

   Toward the end of the concert, I spoke to Brandon Ready, 13, of Sarasota, who cheered when ICP announced it would start another series of apocalyptic joker cards, which so far have represented the bands albums. Brandon and his friends wore shirts bearing logos of the cards and showed them off.

   That kind of excitement reminded me what the collective, joyous experience of Jannus concerts is all about. No carelessness and corruption can take that away.

   Talk to concert-goers of all types, the sentiment is unanimous: the hope that someone, or a group of investors, comes along and keeps the tradition alive.

   And ICP, not so obnoxious after all. After the concert, the soda stash was revealed to be diet, so they were either looking out for setting a healthier example or didn’t want to get the crowd sticky. How considerate of them!

Gogol Bordello man goes Rio grand

Here are some highlights of my interview with Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hutz, which appeared in tbt* today. The band brings its Eastern European-folk punk-mishmash of styles and infectious reverie to the Ritz in Ybor City, Tampa, this Monday.

What’s new recording-wise; what’s on the horizon for Gogol Bordello?

   We’re working on new record with Rick Rubin. I think it’s too exciting to hold some of this material back, so we’ve already performed some of it. As you probably know, our music is biographical, so as we continue traveling – we’ve been spending a lot of time between Brazil and New York – my two main residences,  be prepared for outbreaks of gypsy punk rock samba. It kind of came full circle because there are a lot of Romani in Rio. It just amazes me everywhere I go, I wind up hanging with family. We all know the same songs, different dialect but essentially the same language.

   I was thinking of making another film (like the Pied Piper of Hutzovina), but in Brazil. There are amazing things that keep happening to me. I became quite fanatical about visiting samba schools, and every favela has its own samba school with completely different style. I’ve been going and invited to play with some of the bands. The tourist experience never did it for me. When there’s something really interesting and heart-stirring, I want to live it by getting it closer to it. … I’ve been really welcomed in Brazil in a lot of ways.

   So you know, when we’re playing Sao Paulo, it’s really good, but when we’re playing Rio, it’s like this is our guy! He wears the T-shirt of our town! It’s like a fucking homecoming.

 So how will you manage those syncopated, Afro-Latin beats?

    We have a new drummer, Oliver Charles. He has actually joined the band at the right time. He comes from a dynasty of drummers from Trinidad, which is a key and so essential for some of the new elements in our music. Oliver comes in with a full knowledge to break out the gypsy punk samba. It is out of this world. A lot of times I really can’t believe what I’m hearing. It’s too good to be f***ing true (laughs). Right now I cannot share the recordings with anybody. Live, I can’t hold back! We’re just too much on fire to play them!

 People are down and out in America now. Do you consider this tour a rescue mission of sorts?

   I certainly hope so. You’ve got to burn all the tension. You’ve got to take all the trash out of the soul. That’s our calling. That’s our job. Hopefully, it works for everybody.

Is it true that Manu Chau lured you to Brazil? 

   Manu is the guy who originally turned me on to Rio. Originally, I went to hang out with him a bit. I just fell in love with the place. This last carnival in February we ended up performing together in Pernambuco, which is in north Brazil. It’s becoming like this secret new hang. Aside from all its beauty and charms, it’s a real 24-hour city. When people say “New York City – 24-hour city,” I don’t know what they mean. They mean the subway, yeah. There really is nothing there as far as nightlife goes. It’s not the kind of nightlife I enjoy anyway.

Has your way of life changed since living in Rio?

    No. It’s become more like when I was 17. It’s in my blood. Nothing’s going to change it. I gotta go – I can’t be in a city that’s not happening throughout the night. Despite all its history, America there’s not a one place in the whole country with 24-hour open microphone for poetry and music going on which is well-attended and exciting, but in Rio they do. What the fuck! Where am I going to be? Where there’s places like this? Of course! Nightlife is not about going to a predictable night club. That doesn’t interest me. I like swirling groups of people that have some kind of special activity on their mind, whether they’re obsessed with graffiti or making a party on the beach, playing music together or going up to the jungle and doing God knows what.

     The fact that all that is happening is up until the sunrise, on a regular basis, that’s the way to go. Different regions of Brazil will inspire you with something different. That’s what I live for. Being in Rio has tripled my creativity. It’s actually helped me to see similarities with Eastern Europe, with the way people are more in touch with their inner warrior. People here (in the U.S.), their inner warrior is pretty solidly fucking asleep.

It was an Americana whirl, fulfilled promises

The Americana Fest at Skipper’s Saturday was a resounding success.

(Apologies  for the belated post. Your friendly writer here is battling an uprecedented case of malaise, insomnia and brain fog. That. …  Just. … Won’t. … Go. …  Away. … I’m fighting it though. Like Eugene Hutz says: “I’m in touch with my inner warrior.”)

So back on point: The  shindig at the Skipperdome was almost uncomfortably crowded, it was so well attended. There were the old school WMNF/Skipper’s boho types along with young rockers, college kids, 20- 30-something hipsters.

Very diverse but very white. Clorox white.

Oh, well, you can’t win ‘em all. The bands were in top form — though some faded in the background more than others.

Performing were Nine Volts from Cape Canaveral, Matt Butcher (Orlando), Roppongi’s Ace (Tampa), Mike Dunn & the Kings of New England (Winter Park), Black Finger (Lake Worth), Nervous Turkey (Tampa), Thomas Wynn & the Believers (Orlando), Have Gun Will Travel (Bradenton), Will Quinlan & the Diviners (Tampa), Ted Lukas & the Misled (Tampa) and Blue Mountain (Oxford, MS).

Ran into St. Pete’s queen of rootsy chanteuses, Rebekah Pulley. She and her main squeeze-bandmate, Rob Pastore, had just returned from a Northeastern tour.  She hadn’t made it home to shower yet. That’s loyalty, for ya’s.

She and the band played a gigantic and memorable house party in West Virginia and got to be on satellite radio while performing in New York. Ms. Pulley was aglow from the tour’s success and was ready hit the road again.

Thomas Wynn and the Believers got the daylight crowd pumped. I was on the fence about the band until I saw this soulful, tight-as-Rod-Stewart-pants performance because I’m not too keen on blues rock as a rule — unless it’s done really well (as with Roppongi’s Ace).

So, yeah, I’m of the faith now, you young sexy Wynn syblings.

Will Quinlan and the Diviners‘ set was short and sweet, reports my keyboardist pal Soraya: “We played a song called Calvary that included Josh H from HGWT and Olivia Wynn (and I believe those two sang on the last song I’m about to mention). For this set we had Danny Burke from HGWT on bass and featured Alex Spoto on violin on a song or two, as well as HGWT’s Josh Hernandez on viola on one song. We closed out with a cover of the Jackson Five’s I’ll Be There that was surprisingly well-received by the crowd.”

Matt Butcher, by the pound

 

butcher4

Photo by Charles Brewer III   

    Matthew Butcher, a soon-to-be 26-year-old singer, guitarist and harmonica player from Orlando, and longtime friend Dave Chmil used to be in the twangy pop band the Heathens, which disbanded in 2006.

   His current act, a group of close, simpatico musicians — Daniel Berry, drums; Matt Mendel; piano, organ and vocals; Dave Chmil, lead guitar and vocals; Gus Ramage, bass; Olivia Wynn, guest vocals; and Tom Cooper, guest pedal steel and vocals — has been performing for around a year with frequent visits to Tampa.

   Butcher cuts to the bone with a sinuous, earnest vocal, met with poignant lyrics, folk traditions and shimmering soft rock touches.  Like on Me and My Friends, his 2008 CD’s title track – a subdued sax gives way to the harmonica of On My Mind.

  Hear him at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday in a solo performance at the Americana Fest at Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa. $12, $15. (813) 971-0666. He and his full band open for the Avett Brothers at the Cuban Club in Ybor City on July 18. For more information on both shows, visit wmnf.org.

Below is the uncut interview used for tbt* Meet the Band profile for July 10:

When did your last band (the Heathens, right?) break up and when did this one form? The Heathens broke up in 2006. After that, I spent a good amount of time playing solo. I never really set out to form another band. When the time was right for me to make my first solo record I started asking some of my favorite musicians to play on it. We’ve just sort of carried on from there.

Congrats on getting the Avett Brothers opening slots in Orlando and Tampa. How did that come about? What are some of your favorite headliners you’ve opened for? Thank you! They are wonderful people and it really is an honor to be doing these shows with them. My band,  the Heathens, opened for them in 2005 and we struck up a friendship. We have kept in touch since and they have extended me numerous opportunities. I toured with them solo for a week, and last November the band and I opened for them two consecutive nights at the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn. It was an amazing experience! They really are great guys and so deserving of all their success. Their new record comes out in September. The little bit that I have heard is fantastic.

To my ears, your band balances catchy, sophisticated pop with rustic appeal, whereas some Americana bands can be too jammy and kinda dull. I think your vocal and a timeless quality make your music stand out. Are there any pitfalls you avoid as a band? Please explain why it works for you? Thanks so much! To me, the most important part is to be performing well written songs. I am not sure if I always achieve this, but it is what I am aiming for. Musically, we strive to leave a lot of space in the songs. I think sometimes  a composition can become drowned in music. I am definitely a fan of the less is more approach. Simplicity is often the most effective approach. Listen to the first four bars of Neil Young’s “Out on the Weekend” … Magic.

What are some qualities in your bandmates that lend to your chemistry? I feel very fortunate to be playing with such talented musicians. They are all extremely respectful of the material. Beyond the fact that they have great musical chops, they are incredibly mature players.  very one really listens to each other. We try to make our performances a musical conversation, not a bunch of guys talking over each other.

I read that your early 20s were a turbulent time, as they are for a lot of us. Did you draw a lot of inspiration from the thoughts and  feelings of that period for your current album? If so, what song do you feel encaspsulates it best and why? My early 20s were an interesting time, to say the least. I spent several years in an alcohol and drug induced stupor. It was fun, at first. But it’s not a party if it happens every night… Haha. I think that’s a Ben Gibbard lyric. Most of the songs from “Me and My Friends” were written during this time. The title track certainly captures the overall vibe of the time. Songwriting for me has always been a way for me to reflect on my life. During these dark times I was writing a lot about depression, loneliness, isolation. Not the most upbeat material, but it needed to get out. I like when Tom Yorke says, “Be constructive with your blues.” That’s good advice. I got sober in 2005 and things have been looking up since then. The next album is all about beautiful girls, fast cars, and big bags of money.

Is Matt Butcher your real name, and would you  could share a little about your family life growing up?
Yes, it is! Slightly ironic, as I work at at a vegetarian restaurant. I was born in England, and also lived in Amsterdam and Colorado Springs before moving to Orlando in 1999. My parents were Christian missionaries, so we moved around a lot. Neither of my parents are musicians, but my dad has a huge vinyl collection and was always playing music in the house. I was listening to great stuff at a young age … Van Morrison, The Jam, U2, Springsteen. Not a bad education.

Are any of your bandmates old friends? Some are. I have known Dave for about ten years. We went to high school together. He played in The Heathens for a while. I have known Gus for about five years, and the other guys I have come to know in the past few years. We are all good friends!

Is the name Revolvers in any way related to the Beatles’ album? If not, what inspired the name and when did it become a part of our band name? Partially, I’ve always loved that album. Our piano player, Matt, is a big Beatles fan so I knew he would love it. I love the aesthetic of the word! It is more inspired by the idea that the line-up can change if and when it needs to. It’s a revolving door.

This is a silly question. You don’t have to answer it, but you
might have fun with it:  You’re from Orlando, the land of theme parks. If your band had its own theme park, like Dolly Parton has Dollywood, what would it have the others don’t?
I am so glad you asked this, because I came up with the best idea the other day. I want to  open an amusement park where theme park rides go to retire. Imagine, for a small fee you can experience Captain Eo, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, The Back to the Future Ride and many more! It would be cheap and run-down, but that’s all part of the charm… I’d call it.. YesterdayLand! Okay, the name needs work. But I think the idea is solid gold.

Heat, love and high fidelity

june 020

Last weekend involved music shows in Orlando and Tampa in one weekend. Considering my low key mood these past few months, this double-header presented a challenge — but was well worth the time.

Friday night Tampa Bay music enthusiasts of many ages and predilections had the privilege to see Brent and Darren Rademaker reunite at New World Brewery.

A nice size crowd showed up for the event despite the seamy, soupy weather. Sweat poured from every pour. Potpourris of B.O. infused the air.  The temperature (at night!) had no breeze to buffer it and came with a heat index of around 100 or so.

The two accomplished musicians made up for the discomfort with their harmonious acoustic set.  

Originally from Tampa, the bros achieved success in various nationally recognized indie bands in California — including Brent’s stint in Beachwood Sparks and Darren’s in the Tyde. They both first came to popularity in the alternative late 80s group, A New Personality.

Brent and Darren  performed tunes from their bands, a great cover of  Jan and Dean California Lullaby and even a sweet version of Jimmy Buffett‘s “Come Monday.”

After the Rademakers’ gig, I went to the bar to order a bottle of water to rehydrate. Promoter Jack Spatafora was in that popular, familar spot by the bar galley, under the pic of beloved bartender Joanne Rivera and late-great Tampa nice guy Dave “Rat” Anderson .

Jack said the funniest, truest thing regarding the Rademakers’ cover of Buffett:

“That was so punk rock. That had to be the most punk rock thing I’ve ever seen here.”

Spatafora went on to say that he really enjoyed working with Rademaker and they saw eye to eye when it came to their discerning, non-hipster-swaying musical tastes.

Palantine‘s Vinnie Cosentino and Scott Becker (visiting from Portland) visited the show after a rehearsal dinner for bandmate Brian Johnson‘s wedding. (Congrats, Brian!)

Cosentino and Jeff Fox are releasing their new band Therapeutic Chokehold‘s new CD in the coming weeks and the ever prolific Cosentino is working on another Palantine CD. He was very enthusiastic about it, especially the cover art he designed himself, which he joyfully described as ridiculous.

Back to the stuff on stage: Openers were pretty solid. I like Junkyard Kings, but please tell me why these nice and talented fellas don’t keep my attention.

Maybe rootsy bands are so plentiful in Central Florida that they have to have some special oopmph or originality to make an impression nowadays?

For example, you have Orlando bluesy rockers Thomas Wynn and the Believers, who bust out stage presence, tight skills and unbelievably great co-ed vocals (even if a tad heavy handed at times).

Better yet, you have Have Gun, Will Travel’s dynamic and  infectious vocal by way of smart and empathetic singer Matt Burke.  HGWT has a way with songcraft and never gets to jammy or boring.  They know how to have fun on stage and connect with the crowd. They convey balance: they love what they do without self-indulgence, which, sadly, is a pitfall of too many bluesy, Americana performances.

Or maybe we’re reaching the saturation point?

Did I say that?

On the other side of the spectrum was Philip Pietri and the Manatees, who performed after the Rademakers (please see previous entry for more info).

Pietri had a sweet echo effect on his vocal and even brandished a clarinet for one song. The sound was textured and poppy, recalling mellow new wave hits from Joe Jackson, Haircut 100 and Roxy Music.

The downside: The drunken New World chatter nearly drowned out Pietri’s subdued and atmospheric pop.

This never happens at a smallish Social show, something I’ll get to later.

Our evening of karaoke was followed by a festive karaoke jam session at the Corner Club. I couldn’t think of anything to balls to the wall, shocking and rocking, so I went with an all-time fave: “I’m Only Sleeping” by the Beatles.

Saturday was a day to decompress. Bonding time with my roomie Tim. Visited Yoko’s for sushi and redeemed a gift cerftifcate from Frank the Librarian at Vinyl Fever. Bought the new John Vanderslice and Phoenix CDs, plus the latest Grizzly Bear for a friend whose birthday was Monday.

Wasn’t expecting to see anyone I knew and lo and behold, Tampa musicians Keith Ulrey and Brian Repetto were working the counter. It was like a weird High-Fidelity-hometown clashing of paradigms.

Repetto scoffed at me trading a Blonde Redhead CD. I jokingly said he must be in training to be a condescending record store clerk.

Ulrey shared that his promotions company, New Granada, has some cool shows booked this summer and that he’s really into the great food at the reincarnated Karma Pub, formerly Kelly’s Pub. I sampled some myself, and he is right on about how great it is. Ulrey said he’s working with owner Anna Stracey to strategize shows that work with the venue’s strengths and acoustic challenges.

Still feeling tired but mustering energy, I attended the John Vanderslice/The Tallest Man on Earth show at the Social in Orlando on Sunday night. 

Kristian Matsson, the height-challenged Swedish singer who amusingly goes by the name The Tallest Man on Earth had the entire joint rapt in attention with just his voice and acoustic guitar. The crowd was so still and quiet, you could hear glasses rattling at the bar.

Back to what I was saying before — no Tampa venue is ever, I mean EVER that quiet for a mellow act. Not sure if it’s testimony to Matsson’s charisma and vocal awesomeness or some strange geographical quandary — or that Tampa is chock full of  impolite alcoholics. I think it’s all of the above. I saw Yo La Tengo at the Social and at the Twilight (now defunct, formerly the Rubb). Take one guess at which one had drunken bimbos chattering in my ear while Georgia sang a soft, pretty tune. Grr.

Matsson and Vanderslice drew a small crowd to the Orlando bar — fortunate for us but stupefying nonetheless.

Vanderslice and his band played admirably well despite being down a musician. He shared that bassist Jamie Riotto had a stomach bug incident that caused them to stop alongside I-75. The poor fellow was back at the hotel.

Curly top synth and keyboard whiz Ian Bjornstad more than made up for the lack of bass with some percussive tricks along with twinkly and angelic sounds from his analog keyboard and synth combo. I think it was a Yamaha/Source combo. Friend Soraya from the Diviners was salivating and wanted us to hatch a plan to sneak ‘em out to the car.

In my humble opinion, Vanderslice is one of the most underrated performers and producers around. He has a mellifluous yet off kilter singing style. His music is the perfect marriage between the complex and visceral, challenging your ear with unpredictability but rewarding it with timeless pop.

Not to mention, he’s a fan-fucking-tastic producer. His San Francisco studio Tiny Telephone is behind such notables as Death Cab for Cutie.

Vanderslices’ band descended onto the floor for an intimate but rousing finale of the tune Keep the Dream Alive. It was indeed magical.

june 046

Philip Pietri, uncut

 

Philip

Here’s the initial version of my interview with Philip Pietri. He’s performing tonight with Brent and Darren Rademaker (of A New Personality, Tyde, Further and Beachwood Sparks) and Junkyard Kings at New World Brewery in Ybor city.

 

1. When did you start this performance project and are you releasing a CD this year? If not, what have you released so far?

My band playing this Friday (Philip Pietri & the Manatees) is a little project I started late last year for fun.  I play guitar and sing. Josh Price plays Bass. Preston Beebe plays drums. There were, like, three albums that I could not stop listening to at the time that kind of helped inspire the sound we had (and still have) going. They were Claudine Longet’s “Sugar Me”, Joe Jackson’s “Night and Day” and Lambchop’s “Nixon”. It’s an interesting mix of genre’s but I wanted to give the experimental and ambient thing a break and have some fun. We did our first recordings in a basement last Sunday that we’re going to have available on Friday. It’s only 6 songs but you gotta start somewhere, right?

I am working on an ambient album as well that will probably be released in a year or two, depending on how crazy life gets.

I’m also working on some hip hop material, which I’ll preview on Friday.

 
2. What instruments and devices do you play?
For my solo recordings I usually use anything that can make noise. In the past that has included styrofoam cups, pen caps, silverware, glass bottles, wind chimes, coins, glockenspiel, clarinet, saxaphone, guitar, drums and probably a million other things. This new band I’m fronting all I have to worry about is guitaring and singing.
 3. Do you have a background of singing or playing music before starting this? What is your musical experience?
I’ve played Tampa’s bar scene for 7 years in different bands ranging from rock to experimental…nothing anyone really cared about until my other band Pielos came out and started a mild stir…and even that is a love it or hate it thing. When I first started playing experimental music solo it was a matter of playing to a crowd who knew they were attending an experimental music show. Jack Spatafora gave Pielos a chance to bring that free improvised wall of noise to a broader audience by booking Pielos at some of the bigger venues. Some people have liked it, some haven’t and some have actually thrown up during a set (literally). Point being, as mentioned before, I wanted to create some more pleasing memories…like people actually enjoying and relating to what is being performed and that is why I started playing these new ‘conventional’ tunes.
 
4. Am I correct that you work as a physical fitness trainer at Lifestyles? It’s a job that doesn’t go with the stereotype of the experimental musician. In what ways do you feel like you defy musician/artist stereotypes, if at all?
I’m not sure where you heard that but yer close! I was a graphic designer and photographer for their corporate office for a few years until they LAID ME OFF A FEW WEEKS AGO…sorry. However, I most certainly defy the stereotypes. I am just like any other guy you’d see walking down the street. I don’t have an awesome beard and psychedelic drugs don’t inspire my creative works. I think the struggle of the modern everyman in itself has the emotional and psychological impact to fuel new and exciting forms of expression.
 
 
5. Are you originally from Tampa? If not, where did you grow up?
I was born and raised here. I love it and I plan on dying here.
 
 
6. What are some experiences that have inspired you while writing your lyrics and song titles? Your music sounds dream-like. Do you approach your words with the same aesthetic?
There is such a wide range of emotions that we experience every single day. Being a creative person I’ve been able to capture and isolate them as they have occurred throughout my life and express them by whatever means felt right, whether it be in a song, painting or a string of words.
 
 
7. I saw that you did some work with Aaronsarsutzki. Would you tell me about that and any other collaborations?
Aaron is an incredibly talented guy. I really enjoyed collaborating with him. I remember towards the end of our set the noise just kind of fizzled into silence but that did not stop the performance…it just kept going. The moment was suspended in silence that lasted a good 5 of minutes until we felt that there was a natural end to the piece. It was a big moment and the feeling was unforgettable.

My favorite collabs are with my close friends. Pielos is a big collaboration between friends of mine who played in 4 seperate bands (some of them I’ve known my whole life). It started as these improvised recording sessions where we would just completely lose ourselves locked away in a room. We have hours and hours of recorded material. We never really intended it to be something we did in public but it happened anyway.
 

 
8. Do your performances involve a multimedia presentation? Please tell us about what you use on stage, how much is preplanned and improvised.
Nah. Just sounds. What you see on stage is me making an idiot out of myself.
 
 
9. I guess you are aware that your last name means “rocks” in Italian. Pretty cool. Did you add that on or is that your birth name?
I’m well aware of that. It’s in the blood. Such a cool last name, right? It’s too bad people pronounce it Pee Tree.
 
 
10. Where in the world — anywhere — would you stage a performance and who would be on the bill with you?
The moon. With Prince.
I mean, seriously – how rad would that be?
 

A classic Tampa night

Friday night was not tightly planned but included an itinerary:

1. Brent Rademaker at Friday Extra concert, Lowry Park

2. Grand opening party of Karma Bar, featuring D’Visitors

 3. Cumshotte reunion at Brass Mug.

I arrived too late to enjoy the dreamy pop of Beachwood Sparks’ Rademaker but got to say hello to him, wife Kate, chihuahua Starsky and the Kelly sisters (former high school friends). He shared that the show was a little surreal but fun. He performed with Joe Lala, a Tampa native who made his name as a member of the Byrds, Manassas and Blues Image.

 “(Lala) was thee go-to percussion cat for three decades,” Rademaker says, “playing with everyone from Neil Young to Ringo Starr.”

Rademaker played a cover of Wake Up Little Suzy to the elderly folks down front and accidentally dropped an F bomb when a string broke.

“I got lost in the spirit of the Burrito Bros’ version of the Everly Bros’ classic,” he says,  “and probably channeled a bit of Gram’s nastier side. Oh well! ALL IN GOOD FUN and for the love of tampa and music.”

A more ill-suited match-up couldn’t have been made that night. Rademaker was followed by a giant brassy wedding-style band, jamming Gloria Estefan, Chicago and Stevie Wonder medleys. 

My companion for the evening, Diviners’ Soraya, and I were approached by a Sexagenerian tantalizingly opening a can of tuna. He shared that it renergized him for boogeying. Lucky us: He invited us to join him.

Who says there are no available men in Tampa?

After being accosted by the third close-talking hippie, we split for the new Karma Bar, fka Kelly’s Pub. Former co-owner Kelly’s took over the space with a friend/business partner to open the reincarnated Karma Bar.

Art from Artcore adorned the walls and Mediterranean-jazzy nosh nourished between beverages. Speaking of which, still the same nifty beer/ale specials can be enjoyed.

Really missed the giant Pete Townshend poster, I have to say.

 D’Visitors performed a spirited set of world beat flava while the place filled with customers all ages.

So, yeah, food = still no smoking.

But the food is mighty good. Nice balance of healthy and decadent.

After, Karma Bar, we headed to Brass Mug. THE MUG! to witness the reunion of Cumshotte (pronounced coomshottay). Accent on E.  Soraya’s friends were in the band that played its last show in 2004.

It’s weird when your friends a generation younger are having reunions. Does that make me a granny?

But the revamped threesome brought aggrolicious grindcore with wacky song titles and stage props. There was a 12-piece drum kit, for starters.  Frontman Bill Demerest conceived a macho douchebag persona by ripping off his blue Oxford shirt to reveal a white T-shirt with suspenders. He also performed bicep curls and cleaved a log on stage.

Demerest then proceeded to get highbrow on the joint by busting out his TS Eliot anthology and read lines from The Wasteland, The Hallow Men and the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock to a tune called TSOEliot. 

The whole thing came to raucous finale with the Root Beer Enthusiast,  added by a ribald, quite literal interpretation of self-dousing. Friends enthusiastically cheered, waving fists in the front row. 

What a wait beforehand though. Mannnnnnnnn.

The band before (forever to remain nameless) was painfully loud and seriously intense, but I enjoyed one dude up front, whose fluffy and long brunette wavy locks made for a majestic hairwhip. It was like looking at billowy fields of wheat in Kansas during a tornado — but in slo-mo.

The band left a token of their performance: a pitcher of vomit on the drum riser.

So, yeah, sticky floor plus question mark equal a typical night at the Mug.

 

The Semis go shopping!

matt_billy_semis

The Semis’ guitarist Matt, left, and frontman Billy, looking like they’re in a special frame of mind.

 

 

Major label bands have riders. Locals have grocery lists.

I semi-jokingly asked the Semis to provide their shopping list during a silly Facebook conversation, and to my surprise, Billy Summer (lead vocals, guitar) and Matt Simmons (guitar) obliged. You’ll find this list chock full of necessities — and perversities (is that even a word?).

By the way, the Semis play this Friday with Doll Parts at the “Ever-lovin'” Emerald, as Summer so sweetly coined it. Cover is a measley 3 bucks.

One of the worlds most sought after secrets is The Semis pre-show shopping list. While some items shall now and forever be closely-guarded secrets, here is a short list of items that are required for a successful night of face melting, some of which can be obtained at local supermarkets, others may require trips to farmers markets, asian gift shops, or bodegas.

 

Fish oil, sublingual B-12, Multivitamin – its important to have the essential nutrients covered on a show day, as part of the pre-show ritual includes substantial fasting.

200
Vermont Original Bag Balm –  absolutely necessary for soothing the various callouses, sores, and abrasions associated with rock and roll.
575 grams of high quality Royal Jelly – known for its natural antibiotic properties, much needed in the houses of disease where rock music is consumed.
12 6oz bottles of siberian Ginseng extract – Forget Red Bull. This is the business.

horny-Goat-weed
24 capsules of horny goat weed – The name says it all.
1 large bottle of Goya-brand manzanilla olives – They’re delicious and go well in Martinis.
1 case of Fiji bottled water  – other brands of bottled water taste hard.
An assortment of gossip mags, including US, Star, OK, and People. – knowledge of all major celebrity gossip is a must before a show. You never know who might show up!

Other needed items may include, but are not limited to, spoons, straws, brillo, tobacco rolling papers, baking powder, isopropyl rubbing alcohol, hair dye (various colors), dog treats, pregnancy tests, catfish, wire clothes hangers, cigs, and wigs.

 

Will, unfiltered

By Julie Garisto

Below is a transcript of an interview with Will Quinlan on Feb. 19, 2009, conducted when I was gathering information for tbt* Ultimate Local Band profile I did on his band Will Quinlan and the Diviners, which ran in tbt* on March 20.

 

will

I’ve noticed you’ve gotten some recognition on a nation level. What’s the feedback you’ve been getting on the CD?

 

Initially when we sent our record to the Americana Radio Network we did pretty well.  Early December tied for No. 1 for most adds to playlists. It’s been pretty steady since then; been getting pretty consistent airplay. Funny, it’s been mostly in Europe, in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. More plays and CD sales over there than over here. … I wish I could go over there. I may just have to get over there by myself.

 

The reviews that have come back have been really good. Americana UK, a Web site and network in England that pretty much covers all Europe. … I’ve been really happy with the feedback. It’s been really great.

 

Anything specific you remember people telling you about the record touching them a certain way?

 

For one, I’m glad to see the main thrust of the record is coming through to people. It’s easy for them to not only see what it’s about as far as the concept of it being mostly about my mother’s life, her passing, my relating to all that, the fallout from that. … In some of the reviews, they mentioned – It’s hard for me to quote them because I feel like I’m blowing my own horn – but they just have been really complimentary in how they describe how the songs are written, how it’s a difficult subject to write about and not sound maudlin or depressing. One guy, whose snippet I used in a press sheet, said the vocals were the equivalent of the Thousand-Yard Stare, the famous World War II photo from the Vietnam War. He said something about the song (Remember the Beatitudes) had plaintive, expressive vocals and how it reminded him of the photo. It struck me how he related it to the subject matter of the song. I liked that descriptive idea. It acknowledges certain emotional connection. To me, it’s flattering and it makes me feel good to know that the expressed emotion is getting across. That’s a big weight songwriters take. I don’t write things too literally. I smear things a bit, make them slightly vague. That’s always been my style. I prefer the aesthetic of suggestion – something a little ghostly, a little cloudy, instead of something hard and cut in stone.

 

The mood comes through first …

 

Exactly. It’s more about the mood. Read some of the lyrics and it’s obvious what it’s about here and there, but in general, the vibe is suggestive.

 

So you feel like you’ve reached another level of support and popularity?

 

Yes, I think so. Since I’ve been unable to get out on the road, it’s been mostly through online outlets, MySpace and whatnot. I’m starting to feel if I could get out on the road, I could do all right.

 

So you’ve been chomping at the bit to go on tour?

 

Oh, yeah. I’ve always been. Part of it has been that my father’s health was shaky up until the last year. He had prostate cancer and some other issues, and his wife left him in the middle of all that. She tried to take a bunch of money of him. It was horrible. So now it’s a problem I deal with and worry about because I’m pretty much all he’s got, and I’m his support network. But at the same time I have to struggle to try and balance that with moving forward.

 

Do you feel like your personal struggles help you grow as an artist?

 

They have. Have you ever watched that show Northern Exposure? Do you remember the cranky old lady Ruth who lived alone? She was really wise, cranky and brilliant. She had a son who was a musician and another son who was a straitlaced CPA, middle-of-the-road white-bread achiever. The other son was a musician who was always. … She came back from visiting him and was talking about her son and said that artists needed obstacles for their art to develop. You don’t develop certain sensibilities unless you have difficult circumstances.

 

Do you feel like your ability to cope with those difficult circumstances has changed over the years?

 

I cope a lot better now than I used to. All the crap, the fallout of my mom passing away, the way I dealt with it in the first two years was unfortunate. I shut down. I indulged in a lot of self-indulgent and self-destructive behavior, giving into the emotional swings. I was pretty volatile. At the same time, I got really numb and started internalize a lot of stuff. Stress-related illnesses blew up on me in both ’03 and 04. Having gone through that, I’m much better able to deal with it all now.

 

So you have balance now?

 

Yeah, part of what got things rolling with the Diviners was my finally realizing from the illnesses and suppressed emotions that came up that I needed to get back to writing and playing. It was a catharsis. It sounds kinda clichéd but everybody needs that kind of thing. For me, it’s music. I realized that it’s not something I do because I want certain attention, it’s because I need it. Plus, I love it. Having objectives is something you have to prioritize things. … If anything that I’ve been glad about too, since this last record came out, is that the feedback I’ve gotten has made me feel good about the fact that people understand why I’m doing. That’s very gratifying in its own way – to have people like what you do and understand why do it and respect you for it. I struggled for a lot of years to get back the respect that I had lost.

 

I didn’t think you lost respect.

 

Well, I felt like I did.

 

Maybe within the inner circles, with musicians?

 

I was the clichéd narcissistic, self-destructive artist from the late ’90s up through the early 2000s. There was a part of me, that other part of your consciousness, that sits back and watches what you do. It’s awareness on a deeper level of why you’re doing certain things that you don’t necessarily want to admit to yourself. It’s hard to acknowledge that because people repress those things, why they’re doing certain things.

 

Or they pretend like they don’t care.

 

Yeah, sometimes that’s a crutch. And I did that for a long time. It was an unhappy balance. Part of it was I was just what I was. I was indulgent, a self-destructive, pugilistic drunkard. I’m surprised I didn’t get into much more trouble than I did. I was lucky, very lucky. I think that a lot of people understood and were cool to me when it wouldn’t have been unreasonable for them not to be cool to me.

 

Did you feed off your friends and your loved ones as far as the good vibes they gave you, the recognition? Is that been something that pulled yourself up?

 

Yeah. I became aware of it. I was shut off to a lot of things. It became one of those unfortunate double-edged kind of issues. You have to go through that kind of crap to know what you were missing or neglecting. It’s unfortunate but that’s how we learn sometimes.

 

So you’re in a pretty good place now?

 

Yeah, much better.

 

You have a girlfriend; are you dating anyone?

 

I’m dating – sparsely. When it comes to that, I’ve been so wrapped up in the last year with working that it’s been hard for me to take time and it’s hard to find individuals who can understand that. In the past when I had steady girlfriends, my last one was four years ago, it was difficult for her and girlfriends I had before that, to realize that the music is not more important but as important. I’m sure it’s difficult for anyone, male or female, to date an artist. Whatever medium that might be it’s more than a career but a passion for what you do. It’s difficult for some people. They feel like they’re competing. If you have someone who doesn’t understand that dynamic, then it’s not going to work out

 

You have a day job you have to go to that’s not music-related?

 

Fortunately right now I don’t, but I may have to in the future. I have some savings and some income from my family’s mineral rights from tracks in Texas, my mother’s family. It helps me scrape by.

 

Better to live like that than a job that takes you away.

 

I’ve been in a place the past two years where I don’t feel like I need to do that. That’s why I’ve been so manically invested in working – I’ve been working on three projects right now. I have a tendency to procrastinate and be a little lazy, so I have to poke myself.

 

How do you find it within yourself to motivate yourself to do all that?

 

It’s about self-awareness. Some people come to it quicker. I know 24-year-olds who are so self-aware and on the ball.

 

Do you ever feel like the ideas are coming from different directions and you have to find a way to filter them out and narrow them down to a few central ideas?

 

Yeah, that’s tricky sometimes. Like I said, I have three projects right now, and for me sometimes it’s difficult for me to figure out where to split it up. I’m working on a semi-solo project that’s going to be a companion piece to Navasota. I wrote all these alternate versions of several of those songs, and some of them are actually original versions, and they changed to become what appeared on the record, and so I was going through notebooks of all this stuff, ideas and song notes and whatnot.

   I have my own way of mapping songs out. Remember those outlines you’d have to write in English class, in high school? It’s kind of like that. There’s that and there’s the next Diviners record and a side project, the Holy Slow Train record, which has been pushed back and is due to come out in June.

 

So your current lineup still consists of all the folks listed on your MySpace page?

 

Yeah.

 

Any guest players, plans for the new Diviners CD? Where are you going to record it?

 

At the moment, it’ll be just kind of doing the same as had done on Navasota where it was split 50-50 or 60-40 between my house and doing it over at Steve Connelly’s Zen studio in St. Petersburg. We do some of the recording over there and when it’s all done, we do all the mixing and mastering over there. Steve’s great. I’ve known him for a long time, since before I played out. He’s got a great ear for what I do and the way I write. He has a very empathetic ear and response. I could start to describe an idea or a concept for a song and before I’m done, and he’s like, ‘I got it.’ He gets the sonic aesthetic I’m going for – that rangy, dusty sound, organic.

 

Let’s go back to your previous work.

 

Pagan Saints had its embryonic spasms in the early 90s… we were called the Pagans briefly. We were a duo. We found out that the Pagans were a Thai punk band. They had the name and we got a letter from them to let go of the name. That turned into Pagan Saints – the name was coined when were a duo – and went through several revolving lineups. Officially, the beginning was – I’ve settled on 1993, through October 2003, when I pulled the plug on it. I should have done it earlier but it was hard for me to tell what to do at the time.

 

Like being stuck in a dysfunctional marriage?

 

Kinda. I mean, it was hard for me to admit to myself. It was March 03 when we got invited to go to Austin (for South by Southwest) with BAAMO, the first year they put on the Tampa Bay showcase, but the whole band couldn’t do it. At the time, Mark Bustin was playing guitar with us, so Mark and I went. While we were out there, going around to see all these great bands, I realized we were not as good. I mean, we were good but we hadn’t worked hard enough, and it was then that the Pagan Saints bubble burst for me, but I couldn’t acknowledge it. It was this kind of inertia I didn’t feel until months later. I felt it but on a subconscious level, and I didn’t want to admit it. So, we drug things on through the summer of 03 and we played the SMA conference in St. Pete, at the State Theater. When I walked onstage that night, I knew – it clicked – it was a couple days after that I told everybody, ‘That’s it.’ It’s unfortunate it took me several months.

 

That seemed to coincide with the end of the period, for lack of a better phrase, of your lost years.

 

Yeah, my mom passed in 2000. From 2000 to 2003, it was shaky. We had some good moments in there, and there was good stuff we recorded at Panda Studios with George Harris, but I kept dragging my feet and I didn’t know why. The material was good. I still regret not finishing that record. There was just something in me I couldn’t acknowledge.

 

After that, did you feel like you were starting from scratch or were you already delving into your solo material?

 

Part of what took me so long (to work on the solo material) was I was terrified of not having my band. That’s all I had for 10 years – technically a little more than that. I started getting horrible stomach disorders from that and all the other stuff I had been repressing for 2 and a half- 3 years. What’s funny, it was the beginning of October 2000 when we had my mother’s funeral and three years later to the day that I finally ended Pagan Saints.

 

How do people interpret the religious iconography on the Navasota record?

 

Some people think when they lightly listen to it and see the song titles, like the sacred heart on the cover record – which symbolizes my mother, but that’s another tangent – they see me as a religious person. I am not. I have somewhat of a mild obsession with what could be called the mysticism of Catholicism before it got warped. I grew up Catholic, but now I’m more of a secular humanist pagan, a mash-up of all those things. There was an element of Christian mysticism there before it was killed by the church. For me, the problem was with the structure, the hierarchy of the church, which contradicted all the teachings they professed to have this great faith in.

 

 

In my early-to-late teens I started noticing all the contradictions, and I couldn’t stand it and I got away from it. … I think people feel like it’s like opening a big can of worms. They don’t want responsibility for heavy things. They want to put it in the hands of that mother or father figure who’s going to take care of us. It’s a holdover from childhood. … Being Irish-Catholic there’s that guilt. It hangs over you like a black cloud blasting out lightning bolts all the time. We mentioned the Beatitudes earlier. Part of the concept of Remember the Beatitudes came from a debate I had with a really uptight coworker, who was what you could call a new charismatic evangelical Christian. They try and act open outwardly but beneath that there’s this thin veneer of tight-clenching hatred of anything that isn’t what they are. I debated and argued with this person all the time. It got pretty heated. I was almost yelling at him. I started going into this spiel about the Beatitudes – ‘What about the meek shall inherit the earth, blessed are the poor and it’s harder for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven?’ I said you people never remember things like that. You just gloss it over and the concept stuck with me. I think I said verbatim ‘Remember the Beatitudes? Or ‘What about the Sermon on the Mount?’ They were talking about all this fire and brimstone, strict conformity. … Jesus was the premier socialist, the complete socialist hippie. If he were alive today, he’d probably be thrown in jail.

 

What was the other personal connection with the song title, with regard to the relatives who died in Vietnam?

 

One was a cousin, one was my brother. They both were like older brothers. They went away when I was 7 and they both were gone before I was 8. The title (in relation to the memory) had to do with a concept of the charity, the truth, the core, the seed about what Christianity is supposed to be about – about accepting and giving. That applies, and that concept came to me in a fated, indirect way. They were the core issues that were contradicted by all these negative horrible things – the push, the brainwashing that got us into that war. It was all tied together in that respect.  The propaganda that got us into that war was the same as the propaganda that got us into Iraq. All these politicians and leaders that got us into Vietnam and Iraq profess to be Christians but if they were truly devout and followed those basic core concepts of what Christianity really is, they wouldn’t be pushing anyone into war. They wouldn’t be pushing for war anywhere anytime. Once again, it’s that contradiction I came back to with “Remember the Beatitudes.”

 

All these realizations seem to have led up to progression in the caliber of your performance. There’s just this sense of a connection you have with the audience now, something resonating on another level, the cohesion of the band and a beauty you’re bringing to the music, I think.

 

Wow. That’s cool. For me, it’s hard to have that kind of objectivity. At times, I sense something that I like, something that feels good. Definitely in the last couple, few years I’ve become more confident in performing on stage. In past reviews, there would be a mention of how I was static and I would just stand there and hug the mic and didn’t move around much. It’s not about jumping around like a wild ape. I’ve seen people stand stock still and bang on their guitar, and it’s amazing. I think there’s room for all of that within one set.

 

Do you feel like you have a certain confidence in your instincts now?

 

Once again, it’s a balance of taking into consideration how people judge things or perceive me and not worrying about that, pushing past it. I still get a little nervous before we play. Specifically speaking of that set at the State Theater (Geri X CD Release Show, Jan. 17), there was a kind of – I hate to use flowery terms – but a kind of joyful abandonment that hits you at some point when you’re on stage and you know it’s going well. I can see it in the crowd and literally feel it. You get high off the crowd. That hits you and you give more and it becomes this continuous feedback and it gets stronger and stronger. The last song we did was a preview to the Holy Slow Train material. It’s called Emmanuel (The Western Line). A bit more – and I am loath to use certain terms more –

indie rock, folk rock. The country elements are pretty much not there. A friend of mentioned that it’s kind of like the Decemberists meets Iron and Wine meets the Shins with My Morning Jacket and something else thrown in there that’s kind of ragged. Maybe Neil Young’s electric stuff. It’s more of a mishmash of progressive indie rock stuff. I’m reluctant to use the term indie rock but it points to an aesthetic people recognize.

 

You’ve always drawn from early bluegrass, folk forms, the kind of music that germinated into what we have now. Is there anything recently you’ve gotten into that’s inspired you in your songwriting?

 

I listen to all kinds of stuff, everything from old bluegrass stuff like you mentioned – Bill Monroe and the Carter Family and stuff like that, up through the Americana stuff like Uncle Tupelo and, of course, Neil Young. If I were forced to choose a favorite artist, it would be Neil Young. There are always rock stars and pop. I’m always surprised that people don’t hear the pop in my music. They hear stuff that I don’t hear at first because it’s different from the perspectives. It’s related to what they know. It’s hard for me to be outside the material. I’m so close to it, but to me, there’s a strong use of melody, which I love and it comes out naturally. Yeah, so there are pop influences in there – Elton John, ELO. … I had a fling with Metallica in the ’80s and I listen to classical music, too.

 

Has your ability to collaborate, your chemistry with others on stage gotten better than in previous years?

 

Yeah, I’m more relaxed. It’s not such a heavy thing as it used to be. At times, I could be a little too heavy or intense for some people.

 

You’ve been more open to absorbing everyone else’s input?

 

I don’t get a lot of it. This is tricky to explain. The individuals I work with now, they came into the band with an understanding – they’re all great people, open, very aware and sharp – they see that I’m writing the songs and I’m directing it, and that’s cool with them and they accept that dynamic. Some bands are like that and some are true total democracy. I used to have a much more difficult time talking about that dynamic, but I do now because I understand and I accept it and I don’t worry about it. I trust it. If I’m true in what I’m doing and I’m honest, and I feel that I am. It’s not about my pride or ego, it’s about what’s best for the song. It’s really a blessing for me to have people around who get it. Some people understand that and can work with it and some people have a problem with it because they want to be in control and see me as being in control. Technically, it’s not about that. It’s about the fact that there’s a group, and there’s a leader, and it just happens to be me. This is my thing. I’m moving forward and I’ve been very fortunate in having over the years, with one or two rare exceptions, people who’ve come on board who got it and came to me and offered their services, especially with all the turnover I’ve had. I still call it the Pagan Curse, a constant rotating door. It always seemed like it wasn’t meant to be. We’d get rolling and the wheels would fall off, somebody would have to leave town. That would happen all the time. But there was always someone there waiting, willing to offer their services. There was a stretch in the mid 90s up until the last incarnation of Pagan Saints, somebody couldn’t play anymore, and within a week I’d be getting phone calls from people saying, ‘I’ve heard you need somebody.’ So on one hand there was a curse and on the other hand there was always somebody there who was really fit and a great person I got along willing to come in and take somebody’s place.

 

You said without misgivings that you are the leader. Was there a time when that Catholic guilt crept in and made it difficult for you to say that? I would think that when you were younger you had some discomfort or anxiety with that.

 

I did. For the longest time, a time in the beginning when it was Will Quinlan and the Pagan Saints. I was so self-conscious about that. I dropped my name because I was so uncomfortable with my name out front. I felt that way until just a little over a year ago. It was December of 07, when I decided to put my name out front, just as we were mixing and getting the record done and getting it out. … Over time, I became comfortable with it.

 

Do you feel like the Pagan Curse is gone?

 

(Laughs) It’s somewhat diminished a bit. A good part of that was me, not letting it have such weight, acknowledging it for what it was and letting it disperse. It’s going away, and I don’t think it’s completely gone. We’re not on the road. If we were, I’d say flat out the curse is gone, but there’s still part of me that’s tense and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

 

Would it be possible for some of your bandmates who have day jobs to take time off to tour?

 

Even take a hiatus, a sabbatical, so to speak. None of them, with exception of Soraya, our keyboard player, none us has a day job now. But she has a really cool boss. I was at a gig and her boss came out to see us and I met him, and I kinda joked with him and asked, ‘Are you going to have a problem when I take her away from you for six months?’ He kinda laughed and said, ‘We’ll work something out.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reciprocation time, folks

 

WMNF is a hard-working mother who toils around the clock to keep Tampa Bay fed and bathed with enlightenment and entertainment, making up for the ways that all of  the other radio stations fall short in taking care of us.

And like our moms, 88.5 FM never seems to get the respect and generosity she deserves but keeps at it, growing and coming up with new fun concert events, armed by the trusty aid of tireless unpaid volunteers who help to bring us an impeccable variety of music styles, public affairs and news.

With Spring Marathon Drive in full effect, it’s time to scrape up some extra cash — your Starbucks, beer money, the bills you use to buy magazines that never get read — and donate a little sumpin’ to this great local institution we’re so blessed to have in the Tampa Bay area. The minimum is only $25 and if you want to donate more, the station can arrange to withdraw from your debit/credit card in installments. Plus, they send you nifty presents like CDs and concert tickets as a token of their appreciation.

Note, also, that if you don’t have the cash in your account now, you can elect to be billed.

With dwindling funds going to cultural nonprofits, it’s really up to us to keep WMNF alive.

Wouldn’t you be sad not to have the Friday night soul party with the D-O-C and all his shout-outs to the bruthas in lockdown?

Or not be able to hear the latest hipster indie pop on Saturday afternoons with Scott Imrich or Grand National Champions Kamran Mir and Alastair St. Hill on Monday late nights; lose touch with local bluegrass hero  Tom Henderson;  miss out on rare Motown hits from Jeff Stewart; or obscure mod-British Invasion nuggets from Laura Taylor; JoEllen’s Schilke Art in Your Ear? The 60s show? Or not get the gentle workweek nudge from the rootsy-twangy Americana monday morning show?

People, the list goes on — that’s just a small sampling of WMNF brings us. We get some of the best news and education shows, from Fresh Air to Counterspin to the scientific explorations of Michio Kaku.

Heck, WMNF News Director Rob Lorei  is one of the smartest newsmen in America and he’s  in our own back yard. He’s a quietly charismatic speaker and listener, measured, objective and knowledgeable while expressing passion about the things that are universally right and wrong. He could easily host Meet the Press or an evening news show. Lucky for us, he never broke the big time in the national mainstream press.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to lose this great programming, and it would make the DJs of the shows above (for schedule, see https://wmnf.org/schedule) feel great to get a donation and shout out from you during one of their shows.

Visit https://wmnf.org/give today.

Great contest opportunity from Largo friend and music producer

This is from Barb Morrison, a genius musician, high school friend and top-notch producer in Brooklyn. She asked me to pass this along to band friends …

  

ENTER THE “WRITE A SONG WITH SUPER BUDDHA” CONTEST NOW !! GOLD RECORD producers and TOP 5 BILLBOARD dance chart writers SUPER BUDDHA are holding a NATIONAL SEARCH for new talent. How would you like to win a songwriting session with the team that has worked with GRAMMY-nominated, MULTIPLATINUM and NUMBER ONE songwriters such as DEBBIE HARRY, SCISSOR SISTERS, RUFUS WAINWRIGHT, FRANZ FERDNINAND, ANTONY & THE JOHNSONS, LILY ALLEN and BLONDIE ? Send all entries to:

http://www.myspace.com/superbuddha

YOU MUST HAVE A MYSPACE PAGE TO ENTER ! Contest will be judged by the songs on the artist’s myspace page. ( please label all entries “CONTEST ENTRY” to be eligible) The lucky winner will collaborate with SUPER BUDDHA on a song at their DELUXE NYC RECORDING STUDIO ! * Winner must be available on the dates chosen by super buddha to be eligible for the studio sessions. In the event that the chosen winner is not available, the grand prize will be forfeited to the 1st runner up. * Winner is responsible for all travel, food and lodging expenses during the songwriting sessions. * All artists and their families previously affliated with super buddha will not be eligible for entry. * All entries must be received by april 13th 2009 * Winner will be announced by april 27th 2009 GOOD LUCK !

Palantine, Lush Progress and Greymarket headline another great State showcase

 

palantine

Palantine, from left, are Brian Johnson, Vinnie Cosentino and Jeff Fox.

Feb 20 @ The State Theatre – 8 p.m.
All Ages
$11

by Julie Garisto

   Make plans in advance because next Friday, Feb. 20, Palantine, Lush Progress and Greymarket will play alongside some formidable acts in another top-notch locals-only showcase at the State Theatre.

   Two major reasons to go: to encourage a major venue outside a bar to promote local music and to help local bands land opening slots for national and international headliners by showing evidence of their popularity.

   Many might know that Palantine is among the Tampa Bay bands and artists who rock my personal hall of fame.

   The trio, formed from ashes of Lukali, brings the ampage and sing-along choruses — a sound that marries brains and brawn, melody and mayhem. It’s hard to find a band that rocks so strong and is so catchy and listenable. Palantine is that band.

   Palantine tunes are songs you can move to; they get stuck in your brain. Though there is a distinct evolution in sound across the band’s three LPs, certain stylistic consistencies remain intact. Fans of late 80s- early 90s indie-alternative stuff like Bleach-era Nirvana, early Foo Fighters, Dinosaur Jr. plus proto-metal, garage and British Invasion will especially dig the band named after the senator in Taxi Driver.

   Their recent LP, Melee, offers forth a crisp and even production that expertly balances hi and lo fi. Be sure to pick up a copy at the show.

lush-progress1

   Lush Progress was chosen as a tbt* Ultimate Local Band in 2007.  The academic and accomplished musicians are nice guys who don’t take themselves too seriously. What I especially love about LP is their ability to expand outside precious-boy indie confines, splaying big sounds and dynamics, going from soft to loud, creatively and adventurously, not unlike greats like Pink Floyd, the Beatles and Flaming Lips, who elevated their status to supergroup without sacrificing artistic integrity and experimentation.

   I like how in their promo photo none of them are bearded. How original these days!

   I almost left out Greymarket. Haven’t seen this gifted young duo in a while. So much sound comes from this little band: They’re bold, melodic and dynamic with neato effects and textures that make for epic sweep.

   I will have to check in on Spellbinder, Magic Shoppe (love that spelling!) and Drew Street Mary to let you know about them

mark-21

   I asked State co-owner, Mark Assiff, for some words on the venue’s commitment to promoting music and here’s what he had to say:

   “When we took over the State in ‘Dec 07, it was obvious that the local music scene had been snubbed out of their favorite venue.

   Some of this had to do with the local bands, and some was the fault of the State.

After researching the issue we determined that bands were not taking the initiative to market themselves properly, have strong allegiances with other bands, and realize the difference between playing a venue vs. playing a bar. They are two different animals.  

   That being said, revenues went south.  On the flip side, the venue was not being fair to local bookings by constantly changing local dates in order to accommodate national bookings. Also the local fan base was not coming out to support live music this could have been for any number of reasons some legit some not. But when playing a venue all reasons are pertinent nobody comes to a venue as a regular, it is destination driven the clicker always starts at zero.
      Because of these factors the local shows became more and more obsolete. After a while, the State just stopped booking locals and concentrated strictly on nationals.
     Fast forward. We started to reach out to the local musicians soon after ownership changed hands. We were interested in diverse, organized monthly local showcases. 

   Soon afterwords a 6 month series started with the Loaf that brought in several promoters, each providing a different monthly original showcase sponsored by Budweiser. Along the way we also started a continuous series with a syndicated radio host featuring original local bands called Local Lockdown.

   Currently we have three to five  local events per month. From these shows we place deserving bands on as openers for national acts. This has really worked out well for everyone involved.  We now feel we have a working model that ensures a strong local presence at the State for as long as all involved keep supporting our local bands.

   The key is support.”

Mogul Street Reserve news

Dispatch from the band:
Tune in to Stage Front Radio on 1490am tonight at 11 because we’re the night’s guests! We’re going to shoot the shit with the hosts and play a few songs LIVE on the air! I believe they allow listeners to call in and ask questions so feel free to take advantage and roast us on the air!
 
Here’s the tbt* Meet the Band interview to help you get acquainted:

Dukes of Hillsborough have some wild schemes cooked up …

Here is a slightly longer version of the Dukes of Hillsborough profile that ran in tbt* Friday, Feb. 6.

dukes-of-hillsborough

Meet Dukes of Hillsborough by Julie Garisto

 

   Duke boys: Jeff Brawer, vocals and guitar; Travis Malloy, bass; and Phil Stanwick, drums. 

 

   Punk rock royalty: Formed in Tampa in 2001, the Dukes have a no-nonsense and sensible reputation that precedes them, known for their laid-back friendliness off stage and professionalism at gigs. Mention the Dukes to just about any Tampa musician and you get this gaze of idolatry, like you’re name-dropping saints or pre-Steroid baseball heroes. Plus they have a goofy sense of humor.

 

   Their sound: The trio’s high-octane blend of rock, blues and metal is so distilled and deftly combined, it’s impossible to discern what comes from where.

 

   Pastimes: Making up wild hoaxes and titles with twisted puns. They also like eating lunch at Rick’s on the River, where Brawer and Malloy answered questions for tbt* during Super Bowl weekend. Here are some tidbits discussed amid the hubbub of Steelers fans:

 

   They have a long-distance bromance: Drummer Phil Stanwick moved to Atlanta a year and a half ago to be with his girlfriend. He comes down to play gigs, but more sporadically and less often than the once-a-week grind of previous days.

  Says Malloy, half jokingly: “It’s a good thing that Phil was the one to move. Phil’s stubborn. If he says we’ll keep playing, we’ll keep playing. If it were either of us (pointing to himself and Brawer), we would have called it off!”

 

   Brawer’s got a side project: The newish Tampa band Regular Size People Fight.

 

   Malloy’s side project: His 2-year-old son, Hank.

 

   New CD due end of February: Tinnitus Starter Kit

 

   Brawer’s idea for album art: “We were going to put Hank between two giant speakers and crank it to 10,” he explains, “but I don’t think Jamie (Malloy’s wife) will go along with that.”

 

   Scheme No. 1: “We took out a life insurance policy on Phil,” Brawer says.

  

   Stanwick: (By phone) “They keep telling me that we’re going to have a picnic with food and beer. All I have to do is dig a hole, they say.”

 

   Malloy’s retail scheme: University of Florida football shirts that read “Gator Done.” He claims that he already printed 200 and tried to sell them at a UF home game but got a cease and desist order because he didn’t have a license.

 

   New song title: The Gator Done Fiasco.

  

   Older song title: Axes of Evil

 

   Daytime jobs: Stanwick works at a warehouse, Brawer is a warehouse manager and Malloy is an engineer.

 

   Not all fun and games: Brawer, who writes all the lyrics, says he brings aspects of his personal life into his songs, but he shies away from going into detail. “The lyrics on most of the new songs fall somewhat in line with what they have been in the past. There is some personal stuff in there,” Brawer says, “but they are mostly about living
the way we do through all the ups and downs, not asking for much and trying to be content with our lives. There are a couple of songs that veer off that path.”

 

   What else is different? “We’re trying to sound a little more melodic, believe it or not,” Brawer says with a laugh.

 

   What does Phil miss about Tampa? “I miss my friends, the music scene. The scene here is tough to get into.  … I miss living around the corner from good food; I miss the Taco Bus. You can’t get a good burrito here.”

 

   Hear them: Friday 10 p.m. with VaginaSore Jr. and Porch Fire at the Emerald Bar in downtown St. Petersburg ($3) and Saturday at 7 p.m. with Safety, Moose Masseuse and Steady State at the Transitions Art Gallery, Skatepark of Tampa ($7, all ages welcome).

Rebekah and Ronny get Sirius action during the Super Bowl

flickr.com/photos/dekkerd/)

Ronny and Rebekah in a recent duet (credit: flickr.com/photos/dekkerd/)

 

With the Super Bowl being hiked in our hometown, it seems fitting that Tampa rockers would get spotlighted.

In a perfect world that would be expected.

Since it’s far from being even halfway perfect, I’m proud and excited to announce that Ronny Elliott and Rebekah Pulley, two of our area’s shining stars, are going to be performing live on Dave Marsh’s Sunday radio show (live from the Super Bowl).

Dave Marsh’s radio show on Sirius XM Radio, Kick Out the Jams (on SIRIUS Left/146). 

The co-founder of Creem magazine, Marsh wrote for various publications such as Newsday, The Village Voice, and Rolling Stone, and also edited Rock and Roll Confidential, a newsletter about rock music and social issues. He’s considered Bruce Springsteen’s quasi-official biographer, with a total of four books published.

Skylight on the horizon, seeking drummer and vocalist

Those of you who got a sweet taste of new band Petrograd in Transit in ’08 and are wondering what happened to these promising gents, don’t fret. They may have broken up but they’re re-forming into a dynamic, soothing and soaring rock outfit called Our Skylight Assembly.

The band slickly (but not too slickly) manages the unwieldy balance of sophistication and passion. If you like 80s music, you’ll become enamored with keyboardist Josh Harrington’s pretty, Kraftwerky melodies. Music on one song was mastered byJason Martin of Starflyer 59.

Word is they’re seeking a drummer and vocalist. Let me know if you want to be put in contact with the band.

A new way for Tampa Bay bands to get their music out

A dispatch from local scene hero Marshall Dickson:

These are truly interesting times in the music business.  The spirit of The Wild West is back, and the playing field is leveled.

iTunes, Amazon, “InsertNameOfYourFavoriteRecordStoreHere.com” and other digital means of media distribution, are the new frontier.
I’ve assembled a gateway to this digital marketplace for smaller labels and bands who are having difficulty getting in on their own, and am putting finishing details on one to expand physical product in the virtual marketplace of eTail (electronic retail), which offers consumers so many more choices of titles than any brick and mortar record store could ever possibly carry.
If you know any bands, artists or labels looking for a foot in the distribution door, please forward them this message and send them my way.
Thank you.
 
  
audio,

Marshall Dickson

What is your take on local music?

Our relationship with music is as personal and unique as our relationship with our spouses — or God, for that matter. No two people approach it the same way. There’s no right number of records, band biographies, trivia,  name-dropping or snobbery that elevates any one music lover above another. 

More heart, passion and intense thought might go into one song on repeat on a lonely heart’s car stereo than an overly excited DJ downloading thousands of mp3s. Then again, maybe not. Who’s to say? 

The soul-satisfying love of syncopated sounds is the great equalizer and it commands respect.

Heck, maybe that’s what they call God. You never know …

I’m not saying folks shouldn’t be discerning. It’s good to have standards and not blithely and blindly fall under the commands of  media marketeers.

Here, I try to balance accessibility and good taste. I want to support the scene but I want to give a little tough love now and then when need be.

Maybe it’s my unmet maternal urges at play.  Heck, most of the bands are young enough to be my offspring.

And what other role can I play? I’ll never be one of the cool kids. I’m not a musician. I’m not a hottie waiting to hook up. I’ve got a man I love and a sorta stepson at home. Really, I’m just this dorky lady who loves to ramble on about the things that float her boat.

What I’d like to do is help people find local music, help local musicians find audiences and other musicians, and new ways to get their music out.

Let me know what I can do in this regard.

Do you feel out of the loop? Is there something missing that if it were provided, would get you out to more shows? Is there something we could all do to help each other. Is there something more we could do to promote local bands? Let me know what you think …

Who needs a national headliner, anyway?

1-20-09-030

(grainy) photo of Geri X, by Julie Garisto (some more amateur pics at the bottom)

Geri X’s CD release party, with Will Quinlan and the Diviners; Have Gun, Will Travel; and the Beauvilles offered bay area music lovers the real deal concert experience without the Ticketmaster prices and Steroid buffoons in yellow shirts.

Getting out to the show was a challenge. I had been ill for some five weeks with a nasty bout of bronchitis. I was very ill at Christmastime and relapsed after New Year’s.

I’ve hesitated to go out for a big night out since the beginning of December — just little bits here and there.

Once I arrived at the State show I was glad I went. I felt a warm, friendly vibe — as comforting as chamomile tea.  My friend who met me there showed up late and I didn’t care.

The crowd wasn’t scene-heavy at all. The lobby and theater were filled with people all ages. You see, I hang with the Tampa folks and the St. Pete folks, and from what I saw, there was a distillation of both, plus a hundred or more faces I’ve never seen before. I saw 18-year-olds MySpacing on their phone during the Beauvilles show. I saw 50-ish dudes in baseball caps you’d usually bump into at Hooters. 

Creative Loafing editor/writer and former colleague Eric Snider greeted me with a smile at the bar and was thrilled at the turnout. He had gone out on a limb to write a cover story on Geri X. Cover stories on local musicians are virtually unheard of in the newspaper biz. Unless someone’s been maimed, has a rare terminal disease, got signed or is headlining the Warped Tour, it’s difficult to get the green light on an in-depth feature, let alone a cover feature, of local music artists.

It’s really a misconception that people are not curious about local musicians. I think if anything, people want to know who the celebrities are in their own back yards, so they can point them out in restaurants and tell their friends they met them.

Anyway, back to show.

All four acts were superstars, in my book. They played their hearts out, conducted themselves professionally and were just a few minutes behind schedule, a miracle of time management at local music gigs, an observation of Snider’s, too, in his Creative Loafing blog.

Will Quinlan opened the show with his haunting roots-rock ballads and rockers.  His ensemble’s subtle patchwork of rock instruments and old-fashioned strings filled the space with soulfully intricate and passionate folk rock. Quinlan poured a lot of soul searching and heartbreak into his current CD, Navasota. Partially for this reason, his performances of the album’s tunes have resonated more passionately and honestly than in past instances I’ve seen him.

The sound was killer.  Come to think of it, “sound” and “killer” are two words I don’t normally use in a sentence when referring to the State. Cheers to the new ownership. 

The setup did justice to Quinlan on acoustic & electric guitars, harmonica and lead vocals; Scott Anderson’s swoon-worthy lap steel and electric accompaniments; former Sugar Oak Soraya Zaumeyer’s pretty harmonies and keyboards;  Brian Lane’s infectiously thumping upright bass; and Jesse Martin’s meaty beats.

Didn’t spot Diviner Alex Spoto, also of Roppongi’s Ace, on fiddle. Turns out his clutch gave out on the way to the show. Damn.

Beauvilles brought a different appeal but were equally stunning. The shiny light show, from white to black to soft colors, succinctly showcased the band’s big rock presence.

Their rock was voluminous and powerful. If I could encapsulate the Beauvilles sound, it’s what Coldplay would sound like if they didn’t put me to sleep. Let’s just say it’s Coldplay with some ass in it!

And boy what a performance. Frontman Shawn Kyle was like a shampoo commercial in action. If I had a nickel for every hair whip, I’d buy myself a vacation to Europe.

I don’t say that to diminish the power of his showmanship. Kyle is over the top but that’s how he rolls. He’s honestly so. He’s a Rock Star with capital letters.  Kyle’s passionately unique, egoistic, moody, expressive and an animated guy both on and off the stage. He’s dazzling to watch but sometimes too much of a world unto himself. While it’s jaw-dropping and rock-star-tastic to watch Kyle throw guitars around, he could stand to connect with the audience, like taking time to make eye contact with his bandmates and audience. It seemed his eyes were closed the whole time.

The band that had no trouble reaching and grabbing everyone in their midst, the band that took my breath away: Have Gun, Will Travel.

I could totally picture the guys on an Austin City Limits stage, playing to thousands. Their rootsy but poppy rock has an unmistakeably universal approach, meaning they don’t fall on Americana cliches.

I didn’t realize how grabby they are — both literally and metaphorically.  I didn’t get all that while listening to the band’s CD, Casting Shadows Tall As Giants, which is great, one of the best of the year,  but doesn’t translate their visceral power on stage.

Live, HGWT killed it. The audience was roused, clapping and singing along to Blessing and a Curse and its indelible chant. The rousing, Mexican Western-tinged number had the entire audience up and moving.

Frontman Burke strides a balance between modesty and all-out showmanship. He made use of the entire stage and shook hands with audience members, but he wasn’t the only showstopper. 

Sidled up to Burke in a theatrical bromance was viola player Joshua Hernandez, who ran around, got cozy, got raucous and ended the show with a signature slam on the crash cymbal with his bow.

Right after the stupendous spectacle, I passed my friend and former coworker Scott Harrell on the way out to the lobby. I greeted him but was semi-speechless. All I could muster was, “That was some shit.”

He parrotted back, somewhat quizzically, “That was some shit!”

Turns out he didn’t see the performance. He was just on his way in after hanging out outside, debating the sorry state of America with Snider.

Geri X came on with no announcement but a warm audience reception. She seemed genuinely pleased to play to a packed house, flanked by the gorgeous slideshow presentation of Sonshine Ward. Ward says she typed in keywords like Civil War Era, black and white, old photographs, etc. and looked up forest, birds and architecture to find the others. They were images she thought went well with the words of Geri X’s songs.

Onstage, Geri X is understated but enchanting. She has a voice that reaches inside you. It’s young but knowing, naked but protective. Her subtle rasp and dynamic range offers the fragility of Fiona Apple meets the sexy toughness of Kim Deal.

Yes, the stage presence thing could use some beefing up, like Snider remarked, but she’s young, and her introspective tunes might look stilted if gussied up Kate Bush-style. Geri X plus jazz hands. Don’t see it.

Backing up Ms. X were two stellar players, her official band — Matt Bennett, also of Win Win Winter, on drums and boyfriend Greg Roteik on bass.

All in all, the bands were all great. The successful all-locals night was a love fest.

Attending was Ryan Wendell Bauer, who was awestruck by the show’s success, the talent and good vibes. 

The experimental-comedic musician described the whole thing as “heartening.”

Heartening, indeed.

Into the Night and it feels right

 

into-the-night2

 

Put a young, enterprising group of blues and roots rockers in the studio with producer/local rock poobah on high Steve Connelly. The end product: An exceptional new CD,  Into the Night, by Roppongi’s Ace.

And what comes inside that pretty package? Crystalline strums, gently seering harmonicas by bassist Jesse Norton, soft vibratos and quiet spaces between. 

Max Norton’s beats anchor the whole shebang, but I personally would have preferred a more pronounced mic placement on his skilled percussion. He’s soulfully tight and the CD would benefit from more  showcasing. That’s my preference anyway. If it were up to me, I’d ask Spoon how they do it, which is pretty much my blanket rule for all non-tribal and non-marching band drum recording.

For the most part,  the new album refreshes with its happy and functional marriage between talent and tech. It’s got feisty variety — some serenading, some hootin’ and hollerin’. 

Alex Spoto — guitar, singer and hooter (or is it hootiner? hootinator?) — has a voice beyond his underclassman-at-Brown years. It’s sweet and raspy, not too precious and not at all overwrought. He just says what he’s thinking and feeling. From track 3, “Found,” to crowd pleaser, “So it Goes,” Spoto goes from heartfelt sweetheart to barn-burning bastard. The lyrics, likewise, depart from a reflective and poignant place to irreverent honesty.

With lines like “Lord, please give me patience to be kind till we have it all figured out,” in “What You Expected,” you don’t expect the singer to have spent a relatively short time getting knocked around on this Earth. Well, that’s all relative, anyway.  

Kudos to these boys with talent and wisdom beyond their years.

Wait. … Please forget I said that, Roppongi’s Ace. I wouldn’t want it going to your pretty little heads and compromising all that earnest striving and inspiration.

Rock for a cure to Parkinson’s

Do we need a reason to rock? Heck no, but if justifications are required, there’s no bigger one than A Reason to Rock 2.
A Reason to Rock 2!, on Jan. 10 at Jannus Landing, benefits Parkinson’s Disease Foundation in honor of  Stephanie Levick’s father. She presents the benefit event each year to raise funds and awareness for the degenerative disease of the nervous system.
 The line up this year features The Prospect, Soulfound, Radio Reset and The Chris McCarty Band.
“We’re very excited,” Stephanie says.  “We plan on doubling our attendance this year!” 
Another reason to come out and support — Jonathan from headliner Soulfound has been enduring seizure-related health problems. He  and his band mates could use an extra helping of  local love and encouragement.
For more information, call Stephanie at 727-251-6898. 

Ditchflowers bloom in early show at new Gasoline Alley

 

I’ve been badgering all you Tampa Bay musicians and proprietors about trying new things to get a broader fan base. Here’s something mucho convenient and accessible, in Pinellas for a change and at a good time.

First off, a hearty hooray for the bay area’s rockin’-melodic kickers of much ass, the Ditchflowers.

The band goes on  on at 8 p.m. Dec. 20 (tomorrow) at the new, ostensibly improved, Gasoline Alley, now relocated to Pinellas Park.

I would love to go to the show, but I’ll have to see how badly my latest bout of persistent coughing and wheezing is annoying me by tomorrow. If I do manage a recovery and ride, I’ll fill you in on the venue and stuff.

Let me say, 8 p.m. is an excellent time to begin a show. I know this all sounds stodgy, but hear me out: It’s late enough to grab a nice dinner beforehand, early enough to do something else or turn in early.

Well, enough about all that — here are the details from Ditchflower Ed Woltil:

The Ditchflowers play an early set (8 p.m.), followed by Paul Sisemore’s (formerly of Sugarspoon) groovy new band (appropriately dubbed Sisemore), with the incomparable Wes Dearth closing out the night. This is a special night of music and marks our last local appearance of 2008, so we hope to see you there.

‘Tis the season and we’re all busy, but lately we’ve been turning our
attention back to recording in an effort to complete our follow-up
(release date some time in 2009) to the acclaimed Carried Away CD
(release date some time back through the mists of time). In the meantime, you can get your hands on one new track, Love the Conqueror, chosen for the next BAAMO compilation CD (projected street date of March 31, 2009).

For all you “Ditchdiggers,” here’s  a  snippet of the transcript from our Meet the Band interview:

Brian: We started rekindling our friendship. It was at the Beatles tribute show (at Skipper’s Smokehouse). I was playing with Barely Pink.

I wanted Ed to join the band, but I think he was being coy at the time.

I’m not sure

JG: Like when you’re dating and you’re waiting for the other person to make the first move?

E: Should I call them? No, they should call me? … It’s kind of a moot point. They broke up a month later anyway.

Brian: We broke up because you didn’t join the band. There was no point in going on anymore.

Ed: You know what? It’s not very calculated. We’re just doing what we want to do.

 

Brian: All the stuff we listened to all of our lives, it’s just an amalgamation of all those things.

 

Brian: I started out imitating what was happening at the moment in the 80s, and then I started to learn songcraft from there. There was a certain point after Parade and Factory, it’s been all about trying to write better songs. It’s been that way for the past 15 years.  And I think I’ve always just had a love for pop music, power pop and good rock stuff, and I love good songwriting. When Ed and I got together, that’s what it was all about – writing good songs.

 

Ed: It’s true. I have a daughter in college and a daughter in high school and a lot of them, like my daughter’s boyfriend is into Bob Marley, Bob Dylan – all the Bobs.

 

JG: A lot of the younger bands on MySpace list their influences. They say the Beatles and Bob Dylan.  

 

Ed: I have a love-hate relationship with Todd Rundgren.

 

Ed: When we were writing these songs, we were exploring our feelings. Not to sound cliché, but it was heartfelt. I just write about things that are on my mind.

 

Brian: Maybe it’s getting all the bad music out of us first!

Ed. It’s been purged!

Brian: I have to say we’ve learned a lot over the years. Ed’s always been brilliant to me. I’ve known Ed since the late 80s. He was great back then, and he’s even better now. I have to say we’ve gotten better over the years, which, I guess is the way it’s supposed to be. You learn and grow and have new experiences – more you can pull from and write about.

 

Ed: It’s all hypothetical to me. We haven’t gotten rich and famous.

Brian: Yet!

Ed: Sting is a billionaire. Maybe somehow that waters it down.

 

 

Yule be rockin’ at New World

Good times were had when Scrog played the New World Christmas show in 2005.

By Julie Garisto

 

New Granada‘s Annual Xmas Night Extravaganza

Featuring Hankshaw, Davey von Bohlen, Jarvik 7 and King of Spain

9 p.m. Thursday

 

New World Brewery

1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City

21 and older only, $8

(813) 248-4969

 

   When the last present is regifted and the fruitcake has been secretly chucked this Christmas Day, a hearty contingent of Tampa folks will gussy up in their new clothes and head out for a local music show, decompressing with old-friend cheer and imported beer.

    Yes, that’s right: a rock show on Christmas. 

    This Thursday night reputed Tampa Bay and national acts will entertain music lovers at New World Brewery in Ybor City.

   For many, catching acts like Hankshaw, Davey Von Bohlen, King of Spain and Jarvik 7 is not only a Christmas night tradition; it’s therapy.

   Keith Ulrey, promoter and label manager of New Granada Presents, has been putting on well-attended Christmas night rock shows over the past two decades.

    These events typically feature a popular band from back in the day (Hankshaw), top-notch current acts (King of Spain and Jarvik 7, our local band profile this week) and occasionally a prominent national recording artist (Davey Von Bohlen). 

   “To be honest, I’m not sure why I became so attached to this tradition,” says Ulrey. “I participated in the first one at the Ritz in 1993. The next year, my band was going on a short tour and releasing a record, we used Christmas Night 1994 as the tour kick-off/record release show at Blue Chair Music. So, after that people started asking me about the next year’s show, and the next, etc. It just became my thing to do, New Granada’s tradition.” 
   According to Ulrey, venues have included the Ritz, Blue Chair Music, Gallery Film House (behind Blue chair), the Green Room, Tarantula Records and New World Brewery, where the event has been put on since 2004.
   “Most years, the Christmas Night show is a simple affair, cool friendly bands doing their thing for their friends,” adds Ulrey. “But, sometimes I like to try things to make each show unique and/or special.”

  He cites as examples the 2005 show, a “massive reunion of ’90s Tampa bands” – Scrog, Pohgoh, Tomorrow, My Own America – who got together to raise money for charity.

    “Last year we brought the mysterious Blackwoods Orchestra in from New Orleans. And this year, Hankshaw – who holds the record for playing the most Christmas Night shows – maybe five? – will be playing their first show in a couple years.  (The band has) re-worked, re-imagined and is re-visiting songs from their earlier releases on No Idea/Doghouse.”  
   In the late ’90s Hankshaw, named for Sissy Hankshaw in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, attracted big enthusiastic crowds to its bay area shows and the band toured with Gainesville emo progenitors Hot Water Music. The quartet evolved from a fierce indie power pop band to a more eclectic showstopper, tossing funk, psychedelic, disco, glam and other genres into the mix.

   After Hankshaw released the raved CD, King Kandy in 2004, co-frontmen Milton Chapman and Harold Hasselback moved to Atlanta, but efforts to keep the band going fizzled out as Chapman signed on with up-and-comers the Hiss – which, sadly, disbanded this year.

   Late last year Hasselback moved back to the bay area while Chapman remained with his family in Atlanta.

   Hasselback recruited original bandmates, drummer John Gatto and guitarist Brian Roberts, plus bassist Chris Deininger of Pohgoh, to play classic Hankshaw tunes plus new songs that hark back to the band’s more energetic power-pop beginnings.

    Along with the trumped-up Hankshaw reunion, a lot of buzz surrounds what Ulrey calls “the special, one-off solo performance” of Davey von Bohlen. The performer from Milwaukee got acclaim in underground circles as the leader/member of emo-pioneers Capn’ Jazz and The Promise Ring (both on Jade Tree Records). His latest band Maritime has a more subdued appeal but gets loads of indie love.

   Why did the busy musician consent to playing a Tampa Christmas show?

   “Davey has relatives in the area and has agreed to play this show to be a part of Tampa’s tradition,” Ulrey explains.

    Also at the show, King of Spain will be joined on stage by Gabe Loewenberg, of  Blast and The Detergents, in a special set that will consist of new material, as well as a few old ones reworked for the collaboration.

   Roberts of Hankshaw says he recalls Ulrey’s Christmas shows fondly. He has either played in or attended a majority of them.

  Shows at Blue Chair were a lot of fun,” Roberts says. “Ybor wasn’t like it is now, and you never knew what you were going to run into. One night around Halloween we stumbled into a guy who thought he was a Ninja. He wasn’t really dangerous, just generally goofy.”

     Now a member of local bands Rec Center and Murder Suicide Pact, Roberts has several musician friends in the scene and looks forward to the next installment of the Christmas show tradition.

    You run into a lot of people you haven’t seen in years, people who don’t have things to do Christmas night, moved out of town and are back visiting their family, old friends, high school friends, friends from the mid ’90s. It’s a great time to play catch-up with everyone.”

Fluid rhymes and stellar beats

Check out some of Tampa’s best at this event:

It’s a little jammy, but me likey

 

Hip Abduction, I’m happy to say, sound especially groovalicous on their latest CD.

The rhythms slither and sway more demurely than a Shakira spasm but are plenty seductive.

The internationally flavored act (that may or may not be named after exercise equipment) includes David New on vocals and guitar; Chris Powers on bass;  Andrew Kilmartin on drums; Patrick Hernly on drums, pan and congas; Matt Gawlik on sax, keys and flute; and Kevin Clark on trumpet, flugelhorn.

They just put out a 5-song EP that’s  crisply recorded and smoothly executed.

For me, the horns work best. They add a magically sweet swirl through the funky reggae and African-inspired beats.

I was unsure I’d like it. I get the heebie-jeebies from a lot of “eclectic” bands and I myself feel that funk, reggae and blues are best in their original pure states, not watered down and repackaged by white boys wearing shell necklaces. 

Not that I’m characterizing Hip Abduction that way. It’s just a stereotype that too often rings true.

For me there are exceptions, I like white reggae sometimes, like The Police and The (English) Beat. Some blue-eyed soul,  too, like Hall and Oates and Van Morrison, but for the most part, I say leave the reggae in Jamaica, the funk in New Orleans and blues in Mississippi.

Though there are a few trademark jam band identifiers on “Move” —  like resemblances to Sublime and lyrics with a patently freespirited vibe — it’s overall a pleasant listen and wholly hip-notic.

What’s more is the band puts on a hell of a booty-shaking show. Folks don’t stay still at a Hip Abduction show. 

Even Shakira would dig it, and that bitch’s hips don’t lie!

Recession-proof our local music entertainment, please

I’m glad to see more venues (restaurants, cafes, clubs and other places) getting in on original live music entertainment. Some are conducive to bands, some not so much.

Some places should stick to acoustic shows (like Tre Amici at the Bunker) and some don’t feel right for loud, aggressive bands (Kelly’s Pub).

The latest to give local music a whirl, Czar night club in Ybor has been putting on early Saturday night shows, before their big dancing shenanigans.

I went to a great early evening show there, featuring the esteemed Palentine and Urbane Cowboys. 

The cocktails were paltry and overpriced, the sound system is cranked too loudly, with annoying dance music between bands, and patrons must pay a $5 cover change and for parking on top of all that.  My boyfriend and I left $40 poorer after 1 1/2 hours of music, and we were still sobriety-test sober. 

Did the management at Czar get the memo that people are busted broke?

Do Ybor clubs have to find every way possible to make going to see live bands as challenging as possible? Lord knows, it’s too easy to get people out to shows!

Sarcasm aside, live music can work when it’s done right. New World has been successful at it for some time now. I think Crowbar’s got a nice setup — good sound setup, great sight lines. You can rock out and still hold a conversation and have the option of lounging inside or outside.

Maybe we should suggest some other venues. Here’s a wish list:

– Sunday brunch at Rick’s on the River with live ORIGINAL music. Really, the place needs younger, fresher and more original local bands at all times. 

– Tampa Theatre local live music night

– Saturday-Sunday afternoon shows at parks, like Lowry Park Bandshell in Tampa, Gaslight Park downtown and Williams Park in St. Petersburg and Largo Central Park.

I think overall people regard local live music as loud, unpolished and noisy. That’s why there’s this wholesale acceptance of cover bands at beach bars — people think they’re “professional,” and they do tend to be tight players.

I myself would love to hear Have Gun, Will Travel at a waterfront/beachfront place like the Undertow. 

Let’s call our favorite beach bars and request live original bands, why don’t we?

Perception is key here. Bands, owners, you can’t alienate non-rocker-scenesters the second they walk into a place. There should be a sense of wonder and curiosity, not people covering their ears and running for the exit.

Hundreds of our bands rise to the occasion with their playing and showmanship. Some newer bands need some time to polish up and should play to their learning curve, but people shouldn’t fault them for that.

I spent a week in Austin for ACL in September, and its 6th Street party district had live original bands playing for free in bars as the rule — not the exception. Some people got into it, some didn’t, but it was embraced, accepted and didn’t interfere with the good time of those there just to hang.

Let’s start a task force.

Objective No. 1: We take a field trip to Texas’ capital and take notes on why they’re getting it right. Any volunteers? 

Hey, Paul Wilborn, you got room in your budget for this?

Christmas comeback

Christmas night, for some, means the anticlimax of a hectic holiday or the disturbing realization that your loved ones are still and always be seriously fucked.

For others, it means a memorable show at New World Brewery. 

Typically, some band from back in the day reunites and a million people show up.  

Well, this year seems to be no exception. Hankshaw is back. They’re performing with Jarvik 7.

Hankshaw defies categorization. They are a band of many moods and spectra of rock. You can wear them with a shiny vest. You can cuddle them with them on the couch. You can throw them up against the wall. Do with Hankshaw what you will.

Many remember them as a local favorite, so the show will probably sell out.

News from Ed, live karaoke and welcome back, Crash

Good to know that we geezers over 30 can stay viable and badass in the scene.

Some of the scene’s most beloved vets are doing great things this fall.

First off, awesome news from Ed Lowery. He’s drumming for the Boozers, from Tampa, who’s playing the day before Thanksgiving at Kelly’s Pub (Shawn Watkins production). Good oi/punk featuring  Joe Prince of Flat Stanley/Joey Sunshine Band, Dusty from NE legends The Barons/Road to Ruin, John McCrawden and the Fags, plus Max McGreggor, who’s got “no previous bands but local punk a rock persona,” Ed says. 

“We just recorded six songs and have a potential record deal with a street punk label in Germany called Neck Records,” he says. “We are playing Kelly’s Pub day the before Thanksgiving and hosting that punk, oi, ska fest at the Emerald Dec. 20. It’s good stuff! Very fun and energetic; very 70s punk/80s hardcore … check us out on MySpace.”

I’ll be interviewing ‘em in the Friday, Nov. 21 tbt*.

I’m giddy with anticipation about seeing Ray Davies at Tampa Theatre Nov. 28. After the show, I’ll be heading to Crowbar for the live rock karaoke shindig at Crowbar. Thanks to Rancid Polecats for putting that on!

Crash Mitchell has moved back to the ATL, but he comes home to bless us his with teddy bear love and witticisms. He and his five will be playing with Flat Stanley and your mom’s favorite band, Mega Smegma.

For now, I’ve gots to attend to my daily constitution.

Back on the Sound Check (for a li’l while)

Hey, Sound Check writer Carole Giambalvo will be on her honeymoon, so I will be responsible for the tbt* concert picks column Nov. 14, 21 and 28.

If you have a gig anytime, from Nov. 14 to Dec. 4, I’m your gal. E-mail me at juliegaristo@verizon.net.

I used to write the column but gave it up to Carole after I left the Times staff for a full-time position at another company. Demands from my other job had to take priority.

I have since been laid off (them are the breaks) and my previous part-time position was eliminated. Its budgeted slice of the tbt* pie was served to the re-hire of a beloved and accomplished Times editor who left on maternity leave.

So, if you’re new to this party, I’m a freelancer and need freelance jobs — why I’m agreeing to write my old column again.

I’m happy to do it. Maybe it will get me out to some more shows again?

Hope it won’t feel completely like deja vu Fall 2007, same line-ups, venues, themes, boobityboop.

Here’s to surprises on this assignment.

Knowing the Tampa music scene, I probably will probably get one somewhere down the line.

Who loves ya, babies?

Hmm, shirtless even ...

Hmm, shirtless even ...

Rockin’ by daylight and twilight

In July, I posted a blog about what the music scene needs to provide more variety and reach more people, and I’m happy to report that one of the items on my wishlist has been addressed by some enterprising folks in the Tampa Bay music scene.

The call for “afternoon, earlier shows on the weekends at non-bar venues as well as drinkin’ spots,” has been answered by both New World Brewery and Crowbar.

Early shows are great for people who keep early work hours, parents and others who can no longer do the late-night party thing. 

Sunday events unfortunately been a conflict for me recently as I’m usually with my boyfriend and his son at that time. I think our schedule is changing soon and I should be able to make it to these new laid-back gigs.

Here’s the poster advertising New World’s Sunset Sundays:

Scott Harrell’s next Kinder, Gentler Sunday, a mini In the Raw acoustic showcase, is on Sunday, Nov. 23, at Crowbar. Next show features Matt Burke of Have Gun, Will Travel and George Daher.

Aw, Sheaks!

Nothing gets me out of the doldrums like a new and exciting Tampa Bay band. It’s like the print-and-paper aroma of a new CD as you open it (or, for you snobby purists out there, taking your fingernail along the opening of a vinyl album).  

Hearing the Sheaks’ new songs, recorded in the past few months and up on their Myspace, were like opiates for me during a crappy time, and I want to thank Hunter Oswald and Eric Napier for inviting me into their practice space/studio at Hunter’s house. It was a pleasantly cozy respite from a hellaciously rainy night.

Hunter asked me as many questions as I asked them, even challenging me to come up with my favorite Police song, which I still can’t determine (Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic? Can’t Stand Losing You? When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around? Aggh!)

Based in St. Pete, the guys play loud, tight, prettily (sometimes) and get you by the collar with snappy hooks — and their special style of rock doesn’t smack of a million cliches.

From what I could tell — and I hope I’m not being overly optimistic again — these musicians have the modesty, meticulous hard work and lively, fun musicianship that make up a truly great band. 

Fans of British Invasion rock, Guided by Voices, Pavement and a million other things will dig ‘em.

And, Sheaks, I hope people book you crazy busy in the coming months and don’t prove me wrong! ;-)

Here are a couple of photos from my interview with them.

Hunter Oswald

Eric Napier

Lyrics to we Can Be Free

Hunter as taskmaster

Two reasons to thank God it’s Friday

Jarvik 7 @ New World Brewery

 

Combining breathtaking atmospherics, accessible melodies and guitar prowess, Jarvik 7 has emerged as one of Tampa’s most appealingly innovative bands. Mat Bowman and Co. don’t play out often, so make some time to catch their set. It includes mood-setting film projections by Mark Thompson and new guitarist Dennis Weinrich, replacing Brad Richardson (second from right). 

 

Say happy birthday to Gary Dizon of Rancid Polecats

(The band plays Kelly’s Pub tonight)

 

Considered by many to be merely a party band that performs awesome covers of 80s songs, one of Tampa’s longest-running bands is back in the studio, exceeding expectations of the unitiated.

Here’s an e-mail from local scene hero, helper-outer Gary Dizon:

“We started to record 4 years ago at a horrible studio in Sarasota and the 13 + songs we recorded there were shelved due to dishonest nature of the studio.

We started to record again during since that time period and have
changed as a band. The band has had so many more members and things
have been solidified as the 4 piece for the past 3 years that it has
made the band tighter and also we’ve tried to expand with different
ways to maximize a song within 4 instruments and 3 vocals. (Tommy
doesn’t sing, doesn’t want to sing, and refuses to sing.)

We’re trying to have a new album that reflects all the stuff that
makes us a band and we’ve really changed sonically. The division of
roles has been blurred, where it isn’t always one person singing, and
there is a trade off between what someone may do in the band.

We do have the benefit of having Mike, our old keyboard player come in
for the studio stuff and Rick our old drummer come in for additional
parts in the studio too…

Jerry is doing more guitar solos and I am singing more versus prior..we try to balance it out and have the interplay where one person isn’t always singing.. the band is trying ot have more dynamics and we’re going to have samples again.

The songs have changed where we are also trying ot have more refined craft instead of just doing weird things that we have a tendency for.

We recorded two songs in Hitmakers studio with Bill Mason and it will just be the start of the new album. Tentatively, we are scheduled to record with Steve Seachrist and there will be songs that range from country to ska and other genres and it will be something diverse.”

A very good time, indeed

They came. They rocked. They conquered.

The Clearwater band Tres Bien (French for very good) has earned more national exposure than most Tampa Bay bands in recent history. They got to sixth place (out of 60 acts) on the Fox reality show competition, The Next Great American Band. They tour the eastern seaboard with unusual success and earned a 2008 ultimate local band ranking from tbt*.

This past summer, Mikey “B” Bostinto, Cody Wilson, Ryan Metcalf and Michael Crowe, went to Williamsport, Pa., to record their new LP, Meet Your Maker. The town, where Bostinto’s relatives live, felt so much like home to the four just guys just over 20, they decided to relocate there.

Before they leave, they’re going to play a big show with Win Win Winter and Mumpsy at the State Theatre. Doors are 8 p.m. $6 for 21 and older, $7 for the youngins.

I was fortunate to get to visit them at Mikey’s workplace, Pickles Plus, after hours. He and the others talk about how he’s going to miss that place, their new home in Pennsylvania and a fantasy involving Lil’ Wayne and Stephen Malkmus.

Here’s are some excerpts from my recent interview with the fine fellas.

You’re moving to where you recorded the CD, Williamsport, Pa., right?

Mikey: The Little League World Series capital of the world!

What about it made you want to go back?

Mikey: It’s a very cozy town. It helps that I have family up there. So every time we toured we made our way up to Williamsport, took three days off, just relax in the town or in the woods and take a load off. It’s a centralized location. We want to move to New York and Philly, but it’s too expensive. Everybody does it. It would be like jumping into a shark tank.

Ryan: The drive from here to Gainesville is the same as the drive from there to New York City.

Mikey: You find a kind of support in small towns. Eventually, within the next five to 10 years, St. Pete-Tampa-Clearwater’s going to be a booming a metropolis at this rate, but when we were on Next Great American Band, I remember we had so much support from here. Restaurants were putting up banners and all this stuff.

Ryan: It’s funny ’cause all of the other bands (on the reality show) are from L.A., New York, Nashville, Chicago and then Clearwater!

Mikey: We showed them the articles we were getting back home, and one of the bands showed us one that was the size of a business card. They were just another band from Nashville. So many people get overlooked in a big city. It’s just another reason to pick a small town.

Cody: We’re definitely going to miss it here.

Mikey: We’ll be down Christmas, on tour January, February, March.

Cody: The Northeast is more our marketplace. We’re more of a Northeast-sounding band.

Ryan: Yeah, we do really well in Detroit.

Cody: There’s a big rock ‘n’ roll scene in Detroit. We always do awesome there. Our first show there was sold out to 1,300 people. No offense to Tampa. Americana is bigger down here.

Crowe: The problem is that Tampa just markets to itself. Not that many people look at it.

It’s more isolated here …

Mikey: Just enough to be overlooked. Now that I’m old enough to go out to Ybor, I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of artists and creative people in Ybor. It’s really a bittersweet thing. We’ve been down here since were 15 years old. … Our resources are within an arms’ reach up there instead of being thousands of miles away.

Are you going to live in the house where you recorded?

Mikey: No, where we recorded was this place off my aunt and uncle’s house. It was a little cabin my uncle built for him and his hunting buddies. It’s beautiful, solid wood, two stories, tall ceilings and it sounds so good in there. Out house won’t sound as good.

Crowe: Maybe better?

Mikey: We don’t know. We haven’t checked it out yet.

Crowe: We can record in the basement.

So, you’re renting house up there?

Mikey: We’re buying it.

You’re splitting it four ways?
Mikey: Pretty much. It’s four bedroom/three baths.

Cody: You’d pay a lot of money for a house like that here.

Ryan: It’s by a huge cemetery too.

Cody: (makes scared face). My room is in the basement!

Maybe you’ll live on the old part of the cemetery that got built over!

Cody: Nooo!

Crowe: Don’t talk about that!

Did you get the solitude you wanted when you went up to Williamsport to record?

Mikey: Definitely, when you don’t have Internet or cell phone reception, girlfriends. Being up there was just us four guys and our equipment. It was a really good chance to focus on us and the music we were making at the moment.

Cody: You could walk 15 minutes and see a deer. We could bring a rifle, but we don’t kill animals. We’re babies when it comes to that. (Points to Ryan) He’s a vegetarian. But it’s fun to shoot guns. I can see why people do it to relieve stress.

Mikey: Dammit, Cody, it’s B to a D! Pow! Pow! Pow!

I listened to a few tracks from the new album. It’s got a fuller sound.

Crowe: Ryan picked up trumpet again, and that was amazing.

Ryan: That was on three tracks, right? And Gary Arturio, our buddy from the Hatch, from the TV show, he took a train in and played violin on three songs.

Cody: I sing on two of those three tracks.

Mikey: We’re going to keep a listing a couple of more tracks and couple more videos from us recording on our MySpace leading up to the show.

Ryan: There’s a track called Strange Sleep. When you hear it, you’re going to be like –

All the guys together: What! This is Tres bien?

Mikey: About halfway through the song, you’re going to have a big lump in your chest and want to release every emotion in your body.

Crowe: I’m really excited about diversifying.

Ryan: Note to any movie in production: This song would be great for a very dramatic climax in the story.

Crowe: At 1 minute and 19 seconds. It’s a very short song. It’s right in the middle of the record, like an intermission.

Metcalf: It goes for the super-dramatic crescendo.

I still can hear that core ’60s backbone in the record.

Mikey: It’s always going to sound like us, but we’re maturing as songwriters. Of course, you get influenced by things as you get older. You have new experiences.

You were really young when you wrote the songs on Captured in Colour?

Cody: We were 18 when we wrote them and released the record when were 19, 20. … I find myself to be a liberal guy, but when it comes to songs and listening to music, I used to be so conservative.

Ryan: We’d get so concerned over every little thing we did.

Cody: But I found myself loosening up and getting out there.

Crowe: We didn’t want to release anything we couldn’t do live, but we got over that. There are so many great songs out there that have never been played live.

Ryan: We can play more than half the record live.

When did the decision happen?

Ryan: We planned on moving two years ago.

Mikey: We were going to move to New York and thought Philly would be cheaper. On Captured in Colour, there’s a track called Nosebleed City about moving to New York.

Crowe: It started when Island Records were looking at us while we were on tour. They said, “You have a lot of energy but you have some songwriting to do, that we needed more hooks.” It was like we wanted to be that band in New York City. We wanted to be the Strokes, but we grew into ourselves and realized that’s not us. … They were trying to shape our songwriting and change us and they didn’t even sign us.

Cody: It’s okay. The major labels aren’t doing so great anyway. … The most money Island spent on us was buying us a Motown records compilation. Which I have to admit was pretty cool.

Mikey: And they got us the Ghostface Killah record when it came out.

Cody: They said, (affecting snooty voice) “We want you to be somewhere between those two.”

Mikey: Yo, word up to Ghostface! My dog.

Cody: The guy who does our art, Glenn Cunningham, he’s a huge Lil Wayne fan.
It’s best to listen to him inebriated. It’s comical. What, you just turned into a tiger and you’re wearing a jumpsuit. That’s how gangster I am? It’s just kind of out there and bizarre and people get into it. Stephen Malkmus (of Pavement) and Lil’ Wayne should work together.

Crowe: That would be a weird collabo.

Cody: That would be a great collabo.

What new stuff are you guys into?

Crowe: We were really big into Mando Diao until their new record came out, but it’s pretty good.

Cody: They’re huge in Europe but they get nothing over here. They’re on their fourth record now. It’s so strange but we’ve followed them the whole time and saw their quality go down and their fan base go up.

Crowe: Isn’t it always like that?

Ryan: Is that what (the song) Oi Oi is about?

Cody: Oi Oi pretty much kills punk rock.

Mikey: I’ve been finding bands that broke up but never got a chance to make it, like Sovus Radio from Atlanta.

You do a weird time thing with Oi Oi. It has a different flow.Ryan: The time signature is kind of weird.

Mikey: It’s 6/4. Then it goes to a waltz thing.

Crowe: We had to convince ourselves to release that song.

Cody: It’s a fun song to play. The angular stuff in it correlates with the feeling of the lyrics, trying to fit in and trying to be an oddball out. … You can look deep into anything or you can take it for face value.

Mikey: Or it’s the next Coke commercial song!

The weird contradiction of punk is that there’s a standard to it. There are standard-bearers, like the Ramones, but the whole thing about punk was to say fuck the standard-bearers.
Crowe: Yeah, exactly.

Cody: That’s what Oi Oi is about.

Ryan: We’re not a bandwagon band. That’s why we decided to go to Williamsport, to find a place to be ourselves.

Cody: Still close enough to do what we need to do – actually, more central.

I think when you’re younger you have preconceived notions of what you’re going to be like, the themes, the look, but you realize that’s not even real. You just settle into your skin and who you are and become comfortable with that.

Ryan: It’s so lame that it’s funny, but if I don’t see Cody one day, he’ll be like ‘I haven’t seen you in so long – how’ve you been?’ And you’re all happy and then you realize it’s just been one day. People are like, ‘Are you going to be okay living together?’ Are you kidding? In LA, we didn’t have individual rooms. We were fine. I shacked up with Crowe and these two (Mikey and Cody) who I like to call the snorers …

You guys grew up together as friends, right?

Cody: Oh, yeah. We all went to high school together.

Ryan: Mikey was in my hardcore band.

Cody: The first time I ever played anything live was in the (Clearwater High) high school auditorium was with you guys.

Crowe: Aw!

Mikey: That pop-punk band that we made?

Cody: Red Light Taxi and Rookie – it was a play off all the pop-punk to make fun of all the kids I went to school with, which was pretty lame.

Ryan: There were actually good songs.

Cody: I actually enjoyed it.

You guys have a community of musicians here that you’ll miss, right? Like the guys in Win Win Winter?
Cody: They’re our bar buddies.

Crowe: I’ve known (Brian) Schanck (guitarist for Win Win Winter) since I was 3.

Beardsley, unshaven

 

Meet Beardsley by Julie Garisto

 

It’s been a while since a cerebral indie pop band has grabbed my attention. I’m hoping Beardsley will become a mainstay at the Tampa/Ybor music venues. They bring the melodic majesty of Beatles and Beach Boys to eccentric song structures. It’s kind of like when member Andy Craven talks about the silly and the regal. You could characterize Beardsley’s music in a similar manner.

 

The guys who range in age between early 20s and early 30s agreed to let me find more out about them and will be the featured tbt* band on Oct. 17.

 

The line-up: Jason Kushner, vocals and guitars; Louis Kern, bass; Andrew Craven, keyboards and synthesizers; Brian Berry, guitar, vocals and lap steel; Ricky Delgado, guitar, percussion; and Ben Hudland, drums.  Kern, Craven and Berry answer questions.

 

CD: Fighting Strangers in the Alps, 2008

 

What’s the album title about?

 

Kern: (album title) It’s a reference to the Big Lebowski, as it was aired on TBS and censored. Like so many of the great lines in the movie, there’s a line that says, “You never f*** a stranger in the a**.” It’s Walter saying this to a kid he thought stole his money or something like that, and they edited it, and it came off as, “You never fight a stranger in the alps.”

 

And the song, The Ballad of Doobie Keebler?

 

Craven: It’s from NewsRadio. It’s when they think Mr. James is D.B. Cooper, and they sent Matthew to find out and when he asks, he mispronounces it as Doobie Keebler. So I wrote a song about D.B. Cooper but I called it the Ballad of Doobie Keebler.

 

Do you guys share songwriting duties?

 

Kern: The songwriting material is mostly you two (to Craven and Berry) and then Jason Kushner, who’s in Philadelphia right now.

 

Berry: He’s working on his second documentary.

 

Craven: He just won a student award at local film festival. I think it was called Docs in the Sunshine. He made a documentary called Post-War Florida, which is terrific. It’s about World War II veterans who somehow all settled in this area. On the record, it’s me, him and Brian, but we all write separately. Each song is typically written by one person and that person will sing it.

 

Kinda like Beatles-style?

 

Craven: Yeah but now we’ve gotten smarter and pawn off the vocals on whoever can sing it better, depending on the song!

 

Berry: Everyone but Ben, at some point, has sung lead on a song.

 

Craven: You could say it’s a Beatles dynamic. You could also say it’s a group of people that can’t really make a decision.

 

When did you form?

 

Craven: Christmas 2004. We used to practice at Ian’s, our old drummer’s, house. It was one of our first practices. We managed to blow out a transformer in the street and set it on fire, which then set the lot on fire. The fire department came out.

 

You really, literally blew it up!

 

Kern: I’d like to think it was my overdrive bass pedal. I put on this weird effect and all the ampage went up.

 

Berry: Rudy, Ian and Jason were in a band, and Andy and I were in a band. Ian went to one of our shows, looking for a keyboard player for his band.

 

Craven: I just happened to play keyboards at that one show.

 

Berry: He was bass player before that. So, Ian asked him to play. I was living with Andy. I think he played a show. He told them that I could play lap steel, but I just had a lap steel. We were going for the alternative-country thing, which we don’t do anymore at all, so I played one show with my guitar and that’s how I joined.

 

Craven: Ricky joined under similar artificial circumstances. When Brian joined, we have a multi-instrumentalist. He’ll play guitar and other things. Now he primarily plays guitar. When Ricky joined, he’d play percussion and other things. Now he just plays guitar.

 

I haven’t seen you on any Tampa bills.

 

Craven: We played Masquerade a couple of times before it shut down – that gives you an idea of how far back this goes. We played the Orpheum. We were under a different name for a long time – Magnetic North.

 

Berry: We found out there was another Magnetic North from New Jersey. So we got a little write-up in (a local publication) that reviewed the wrong MySpace Music profile. So they said we sounded like Incubus, but we don’t sound like Incubus. In order to avoid any confusion, we made sure we had a name nobody else had. There were two or three things named Magnetic North, including a rap group from California, which is hilariously awful.

 

Where did you come up with the name Beardsley?

 

Craven: It’s actually my fault. If you’ve ever seen Lolita the Stanley Kubrick film adapted from the novel, Beardsley is the name of the college that Professor Humbert goes to teach at. I go that sounds like such a stately name, such a regal name. I’ve also loved the absurd mixed with a fancy name … the way I love calling little kids sir or ma’am.”

 

 

Berry. We definitely want to play more. It’s been hard because we worked on the record on and off for years. Our former drummer Ian, his brother recorded the drum tracks, most of them. Andy and I had some basic recording set up and we did the rest of the album ourselves, and while not going to school or working. With as many people in the band as we had and trying to get our schedules to jibe, it took, like, two years to get the whole thing together. We used a digital/audio workstation. Andy would work on a song, I would work on a song and then we took it to MorriSound Studio to have it mastered.

 

Who did the artwork?

 

Kern: It’s actually a photograph that my girlfriend, Susan, took. And then we just sort of form-fitted it. Jason and I organized the collage inside. It’s of a painting I did that’s half-finished, and she arranged the peacock feather in front of the picture. We really liked the aesthetic of it.

 

It’s got a warmth to it. There’s a brightness to the sound that I think kind of matches the cover.

 

Craven: Listen to the record! You’ll hear some dark stuff.

 

Oh, no, I think you have good use of both light and dark. What are some upcoming shows you have planned?

 

 

Berry: We’re playing with the Semis, and we’re playing with the Modern Skirts, an Athens band….. All of us in the band have made the mistake of living in Orlando at some point. Being in Clearwater, most of the action takes place in Tampa, in Ybor. In Orlando, more of the bands have some similarity or camaraderie. Whereas all of our shows – I’m not trying to degrade what they’re doing – but they’re heavier than we are. So because we’re not outright rock, people would give us the bird during our entire show. That happened during a gig at the Masquerade, and then we played at Emerald. I was on stage and I could hear them say, ‘This fucking sucks.’ We made contact with one band that was sort of similar, that really liked us, and they wound up screwing us over. They booked us a bunch of gigs that fell through. One of the clubs closed and they failed to tell us.”

 

Craven:  Remember the Junction in Clearwater? It was a pretty good venue the short time it was around. We got a gig there and then we showed up for a show and realized the place had closed a week before.

 

What’s your stage presence like?

 

Kern: I’m pretty stoic on stage.

 

Berry: I’m the most animated on stage. One time we played at Gasoline Alley. I jumped and landed on the side of my foot. I’m pretty sure I broke my foot during the show! It was so painful and swollen, like it was broken.

 

Berry: Our style is heavier now. We have a new EP coming out in November. It’s called More Music, More Music. The plan is to do a couple of EPs, stream them online and then package them together later as an LP. … You’ll find that 80 percent of the stuff we do live is stuff that’s not on the record.

 

Kern: Except for Moved to New York, Magnetic North.

 

Berry: We also do Kirsten.

 

Craven: We played at Barnes and Noble once for a book signing, for Stephanie Myers. I never want to repeat that again! Her stuff is like younger chick lit. We were told it was Romeo and Juliet meets Vampires. Andy, Jason, Louie and Ricky at one point and our former drummer used to work at Barnes and Noble. Management wanted us to play. What are you going to say when your boss says that? … Nearly all of us worked at Barnes and Noble at one point.

 

Kern: I worked there for one day. It was a strange situation. I think they thought they had more room on their payroll than they actually did. They let me train, said I did a good job. I called the next week for my hours and I had no hours!

 

About the drummer …

 

Craven: Ben has a history. Read on our bio. He’s from a smaller town in Massachusetts near where I’m from. He had an actual career before moving down here. He used to be on YepRoc records (who’s signed artists Robyn Hitchock and Nick Lowe). He was in Jake Brennan and His Gentlemen. They were pretty big in Boston for a little while. He moved down here to live with his girlfriend. It gave confidence to have someone like him like our music and want to play with us. … We tried out drummers of all different skills

 

Craven: And manners! Skills and manners — that’s what makes up a good band. We all went to finishing school!

 

Berry: He adds a little weight. He’s a little heavier and extremely skilled.

 

What national acts have you played with?

 

Craven: We played with the High Strung, on Park the Band, Dr. Dog’s label. We bugged them at length about working with Bob Pollard.

 

Berry: They called him Bobby, which I thought was cool.