Gigs to remember. Gigs to forget. Pt.1.

Slow computer. Whirring fan. Got good news about the music – MTV might (read: is contractually allowed to) use my music for their myriad of youth-related programming. So I heard about that, and not 5 minutes later I see a friend of mine on the FB and ask him about some collaboration in the future. His words were “I dunno. You’re kind of a dick.”  It’s been 13 years and not a phone call? I’d love to know what I did, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about people leaving my life (and lots of people have), it’s that there’s nothing I can do but hand them their hat as they walk out the door. It sucks. I’ll miss the guy.

The worst thing about getting bullied was the fact that I thought I was the only one. But my friends from the high school I attended (even my personal “Fonz”, Rick Angle) have assured me this is not so, and for that, I feel comfort. So thank you everyone.

I have played music in one form or another all my life. So I was thinking about all the various line-ups and styles of music I’ve done (which is not to say I won’t be doing it more in the future) and thought I would list, for you good people, some of my more memorable gigs, good and bad.

1. “Mist” – Northwood Elementary Talent Show – May, 1977

Paul Miller, Jerome Lis, Paul Rinedoller

We had been practicing for 6 months, various songs I knew by ear, but they knew by sheet music. We had messed around with 50’s music, various hits of the days gone by like “Joy To The World” and “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing”, a severely truncated version of Edgar Winters’ “Frankenstein” which I had never actually heard before. We just played the one riff over and over, amid shouts of “Frankenstein!!”. All the rides and weekly rehearsals, and we finally had ourselves a “gig”.  The Northwood Elementary Talent Show/Concert.  Trial and error had left us with the informed decision to go with the crowd-pleasers:  “Takin’ Care of Business”, “Tonight’s The Night”, and, I think, “Rock’n Me”.

I was scared shitless. My first performance in front of real people, and the memories are sort of fuzzy. I do remember buying a snare drum ON THE WAY to the gig because we didn’t have one. Also, a nice stand for it. Why would I have done that? Was I playing drums? I know I used to play drums for the band.   There was a program, I remember, but I do recall that we were forced to drop “Tonight’s The Night” because some people were offended by it’s lyrical content. We substituted it with…something else. What’s that? You want to hear my very first band’s version of “Bohemian Rhapsody”? This was The Space Riders (1976), the same people as Mist. You want to hear me on drums and obnoxious backing vocals? Ok, you sadistic mo-fo.

The Space Riders – Bohemian Rhapsody

2.  “Second Age” – West Seneca West Junior High – May 1978

Randy Ball, Joe Chemin

The SECOND performance in front of live people, equally as terrifying, with a new cast of characters and again, an auditorium full of people. I spend the whole performance looking at the drummer, who’s admonishments of “Stop looking at me!” were misheard by me as “Look at me some more!!” Instead of the AM radio hits of the day, we played lots of Nugent. Lots and lots. Randy was the only kid I knew with a real Les Paul. He was 13! And amazingly adept at lead guitar. This was my time with the cool kids. Definitely a step up from the people I had played with before, social prestige-wise. I played my old Hait guitar as a bass, with the treble knob turned down. Maybe Randy can chime in with some memories of this show.

3. “The City Victims” – Mercy Fair Lawn Fete (correction needed) – September 1979

Paul Rinedoller, Dan Lewis

This was a great little band with a fairly poor live music history, mostly because we were just happy creating things with each other. When the time came to play live, for the first time in front of a big audience, it was in front of children and nuns.  Without real guidance of any kind from anyone, we blindly “booked” this gig in the hopes that we could rock the South Buffalo unwashed with our uncompromising rhythms and hard-nosed lyrics. There were two things that sort of ruined this illusion as soon as we took the stage.  The first was that our guitar player had become entangled in a life and death struggle with a derelict gang of satanic bees, perhaps attracted to his cheap cologne. Or maybe it was expensive. Whatever the price, there was lots of it.  There’s no need for cologne when you’re 15 and playing for nuns and children. More egregious was the second thing: My new equipment. I had worked all summer trying to earn enough money to pay some of our family’s delinquent utility bills and get the car repaired along with the….eh, I saved for a new guitar and an amplifier (a Fender Twin) with way too much power for me to handle or even understand. That, combined with my freshly oiled (!) Morley Power Wah Fuzz (if someone were to invent a time machine, and let me in it, I would go back and tell the younger me that the difference between “fuzz” and “distortion” is important, and never oil the foot pedal of a Morley Power Wah Fuzz) made the first song so loud and shrill that almost the very first note sent everyone running for the tent.

So in a few short moments we had alienated our audience, and nature.  Our confidence shaken, we went back to the rehearsal space (my bedroom) not to be seen for another 3 years.



5 thoughts on “Gigs to remember. Gigs to forget. Pt.1.

  1. Debi wagner says:

    OK, this one made me laugh out loud. You are a gifted writer of prose, not just music!

  2. jeff d says:

    the cover of Bohemian rhapsody reminds me of Joe’s garage.”A coupla quarts of beer,would fix it so the intonation,would not offend your ears”

  3. You’re just jealous.

  4. jeff d says:

    na,not jealous,it would be like wishing I had a 65′ Vette,never having a drivers license.But you guys mocked me out when I played you guys a tape from my first band,Remember the name?Rebel,Ha Ha.

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