Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Friday Night Riot with Frankie and His Fingers, and friends

I know most of you would be shocked to find this out, but there are some Friday nights when I'm at a loss for what to do. Sure, I mean of course I'm gonna go out a watch a band. That's a given. But I like to have a friend come with. As it turns out I'm also a last minute kind of guy. These two things don't always mesh well. Not everyone I know just waits by the phone for me to give them a buzz and grace them with my presence. And as sad as that is, sometimes it's nice to just go off on my own and not have to entertain, or worry if anyone else is having fun. I check the tubes to see who's playing out at IMAC tonight, and its a bunch of bands I've never heard of! Four Bands..... at least one has to have the stuff! And for $6 it's certainly worth a gamble. I check out the band's myspace pages for a audible appetizer. The First band to really set me off was Frankie and His Fingers. It's 8pm, the bands start at 9pm so I guess I better wash the taste of happy hour out of my mouth, and off my body. And I should change too. Damn going out is much more of an ordeal when you fall asleep after drinking through lunch.

Thirty minutes later, I'm clean, dressed, shaved and feeling like a new man. Definitely ready to rock it. Now I spend the next twenty minutes wandering around my house looking for my other Chuck Taylor All-star, like a defunct king of Iolcus. Of course it turns out to be in the last place I'd ever look..... on the television. Hell of a place to put your shoe after happy hour. With my second shoe, found and a touch of the weird feeling, I make a break for IMAC. After spending my last three Fridays hanging out here and shooting the bands, it's starting to really feel like home. They know what I drink, smiles and chit chat are exchanged friendly nods and wave fly across the room. Most excitingly they've started waiving my entry fee as a member of the press. Yes, I know! I said before that I'd rather the band get the money. I'm no hypocrite, it means I'm going to use that money to buy merch and EPs. I can always use a new tee shirt!

The first band, Binky Bianca, was just finishing up. I caught a few of their songs. If I had been a touch more conscious of the locale of my footwear I'd have caught their whole set. They had a great little country rock thing going on I snagged a video of them and a few pictures. Maybe its me, but it seems like there's a resurgence or Country influenced rock and roll taking back the smaller venues lately. I'll be the first to admit I'm much more in love with the past than I am the present, but it's bands like this that are really warming me up to today's music scene. FAHF set up. They played most if not all of their EP. Which is available for free download on their myspace page (Look under their blogs, well worth the price. I'd say you're losing money not picking these up). They rounded third and busted right into a cover of Bullet with Butterfly Wings by the Smashing Pumpkins, which was unconventional and really well executed. Frank(vox, guitar) was a consummate front man. Jumping about and rocking the stage. He used every inch of his space, and even some of Adam's (bass), who really grounded Frank's pleas and exclamations with solid backing. Samantha's work on the drum was classic rock with a great use of accents. She really went to work on the solos. And before I was quite ready for them to be finished...they pulled out with Hell Broke Loose.

The crowd was charged up as Eastern Anchors hit the stage. It was really hard to classify this band. They have a serious New Brunswick basement sound, and you can get a real feel for surf rock influence as well. I mean don't get me wrong it worked well. I felt like I was 22 hanging out in a Hamilton street basement. Anytime a band can bring me back to days of pounding my fist in a sweaty basement to post-hardcore music in hopes of meeting a cool girl or just moshing in areas that are far too tight to be slam-dancing in, that's a great thing. I got this great video of them rocking out to Tectonics. The sound is great. I'm starting to get a better idea for how to work the camera. Sometimes on the job training is the best kind. So they finished up their set to thundering applause and an anticipation for more kick to the teeth rock!

No Pasaran! Burst on to the stage. These three cats had more energy that this place could really handle. Eric Mason(vox, and guitar/bass) kicked into top gear right from the start with stage antics and serious motion. I didn't even mention his singing or playing which were beyond erratic and panicky. Romel Espinel (vox, guitar)kept a lower profile, but was no less kick ass, a perfect compliment to Eric's over the top hijinks. Tom Barrett (drums) ripped his kit a new one.
Inbetween Eric's manic vocals and Romel's more melodic backings they would bust out into an intrustmental episode. The whole thing was intense, punchy, and positively punk. I felt young again. Well younger than I am at least. And just like all those basement shows I used to frequent in my youth, I went home a sweaty drunken mess, alone, my ears ringing and my body bereft of all energy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Jen's Birthday Bash @ Kilkenny Alehouse .... I WON A DANCE CONTEST!

"It's the craziest phenomenon", he said to me, "The first time I played it live every guy in the room turned around and started howling along with me! Something about the song reaches a primal part of guys." Of course, we were talking after his set, and I was asking Deivito about the Werewolf song. Which is down at the bottom of the blog with a few other videos. I gotta admit, I was right there howling along with the rest of the guys! Rewind about two days prior: I saw he had posted a bulletin for a show in Newark at Kilkenny Ale house on Saturday the 21st. Plans were formulated to remove me from my job early that night, so I'd be able to make his set.

"Just wait til you hear the Frozen Gentlemen" He wrote back after I told him I'd be there. From Thursday morning fast forward to Saturday Night 8pm. The Vernal Equinox! All the world was in balance and I was running from my bar to my home. Looked like it was gonna be a rock-a-billy scene and as I hadn't done laundry in a week I had one choice, the white western shirt! How was this shirt even still clean? I always wear this the day after I do wash. A sign from the rock gods, no doubt! I scarfed down half a pizza and darted for the train. I hadn't slept much, (you'd know that if you read my last post) but I was looking forward to seeing another show with a fervor that blasted me into clarity and consciousness. Who needs rest when thanks to modern science sleep is now optional? So, I made it to Newark without any trouble on the train, which is kind of odd for me. Like I said though, vernal equinox everything's going right! Time Check: 9:15pm Dammit I might miss his set. Hop the cab and three mins later I'm at the Kilkenny Ale House. I head up stairs and there's Deivito. I wasn't even late for the set! It was gonna start a little late! Perfect!

I was promptly introduced to Jen, who does the bookings for the bands at the KAH. It was her birthday tonight, so it was expected to be a really fun night. Everyone was dressed to the nines. I was really jonesin' for a beer, so I headed to the back and snagged one as the Mcmickle Bros. walked in! Awesome this was going to be an all-star cast sort of shindig!

So, the second floor of the Kilkenny Alehouse is set up like a VFW dance hall. It reminded me of my days of being a boy scout in troop 9 back in South Jersey. Wonder if I can remember any of that stuff still? A scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Honest, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent. Wow that was crazy I think I got it spot on! I'm at least ten of those still. That's not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Sorry...... So the KAH has a lot of room, This leads me to believe that there's a good chance that dancing will happen.

Deivito takes the stage tunes up and starts with a few traditional songs. As he comes to a simmer, (I should say his guitar comes to a simmer. You'd expect steam to be rolling off his fingers the way they spider up and down the neck.) the crowd warms up as well. There's still a bit of a distance from the stage and the crowd. He invites them to move in closer. The crowd complies, cordially. So he prefaces the next song by saying, "This is called the Werewolf song. It's a song that turns into a werewolf about halfway through. You probably know this song if you're a werewolf." I mean you kind of can't help but listen even if you're not a werewolf. And you must listen if you're not sure whether or not you are one! Curiosity got the better of me and it turns out that I am indeed a lycanthrope! At the end of the set a little bit of dancing happened but I could tell the crowd was just warming up.

If you've met me then you know I'm a skeptic, but I value the concept of my peers. So, I always get a little scared when a friend, especially one with a decent taste in music, tells me about a new band. I'm overly neurotic, so I worry about things like the "Too Much Coffee-man syndrome": Basically if someone tells me that something is good I'm apt to not believe them, because I'd rather be surprised and love it than surprised and disappointed. It's a classic defense mechanism. Yea Well WELCOME TO MY CRAZY BACKWARDS LITTLE MIND. It's cold and dark in here isn't it?

As it is, I'm still full of energy and ready to rock out as the Frozen Gentlemen addressed the crowd. Frozen Gentlemen are Mido Santantos - (vox/keys) Quan James (vox/guitar) Jackie Meyer (vox/bass) Hollywood Charter (drums). Keyboard isn't something you see everyday in a band! I'm anxious to see how this is gonna play out! They start up with a panic! If I had to explain this band, I'd tell you to listen to non hits the Bee Gees wrote (cause they were the better songs) and combine that with the Mega Man II OST (cause that was the best Mega Man game), They were OUTTSANE! Something so unconventional and so danceable......so we danced!

Deivito started it off. And soon it was 1976 and American Bandstand was having the Frozen Gentlemen on as special guests! I love to get out onto the dance floor/moshpit/skanking circle what have you. For some reason I can just never start it off. But once it gets going it's really hard to stop. And songs I would think when not dancing "How do I even dance to this?" Becomes "How could I NOT dance to this?" Maybe it was the girls maybe it was the camaraderie of the guys, I'm sure the five or six beers helped..... But the FGs really got the party kicking. And then it was over just as I was getting loose!

No need to worry as the Coppertones were next on the roster. I've been rocking shows since I was nineteen and I've come to expect a few things in my day. One of those things is that if a band has the word "tones" in their name they are most likely on the level! It turns out that again I was blown away! These cats were so boss you can find them chillin out at the end of world 8-4! Classic surf rock, I would have thought I was in a beach boys movie, hangin out with Presley and Brando! "All the twisters please come out to the dance floor." Came the call of Scott Fairgrieve (Vocals and Rhythm Guitar). Pete Quilla (lead Guitar) moved around Paul Ulinsky. Bass in way way that a surf board moves around a wave. Andrew Scala (drums) got my feet stomping and kickin'. I'd have recorded my favorite song (Jack the Ripper) but I was way too busy shakin' it down Chubby Checker style! In fact I was soo busy rockin out I didn't even realize I'd been entered into a dance competition. Which I won! I even have a tee-shirt to prove it. The night just keeps getting better!

At some point during the night we stalled out for cake, sang Happy Birthday to Jen. And the McMickle Bros. set up. I don't have to tell you how great they were. Jen, Deivito, Carly, Lu, myself and several other hangers-on danced the night away right up until last call. Lu gave me a ride to the train, just as it pulled in, what great timing! Like I said before the planets and stars were aligned. Things just seem to always find a way of working out for the Rocker Tycoon!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Prison Pretty and America's Sweetheart team-up in Jersey City

Prison Pretty, y'know what just say it out loud... I'll wait. DO IT! Ok don't you feel like a creep? Good! Now that we have that out of the way, I first heard about these cats while talking to the lead singer and guitarist at my bar an undisclosed amount of time ago. I can't disclose the time because I barely remember it happening. Shen and I exchanged info while talking about local rock music. I found in my wallet a card that said "prison pretty" on it scrawled in barely legible handwriting. What did this mean? I thought. Did I write this? Was this a commentary on some girl I'd met the night before?

It turns out that I'd get these answers this Friday morning when I check out what was going on is town. Then I saw that Prison Pretty was playing later on at 8pm. I checked out their Myspace. Yes I still own a Myspace, Although I've recently decided to delete all my non music/band related friends because I'm sick of finding out about what your girlfriend thought about her toothpaste in a forty-five question survey titled aptly: Important PLEASE READ new pics. That bitch hasn't added any new pics in the past year....and yes to answer the question slowly forming in your brittle mind. I do stalk your girlfriend via Myspace and as much fun as that is, its time to move on. Isn't it? Where was I? Oh, Prison Pretty! So at first glance and listen the term Power pop is almost an understatement. I mean that in the best possible way. It's catchy up-beat and simple without being pedestrian. I dig it! I try to find out a little more about the band and that's when I see Shen is the Guitarist and Singer. Rad! The mystery is solved! So I gear up, charge up, suit up and bust a move on out!

After getting out to the venue, I'm waiting for the first band to show I grab a brew and chill. Then I decide I really haven't eaten anything today so I'll grab a snack as well. Mini-burgers, they went fast but they hit the spot as John D'angelo and his friend Joe took the stage. John and Joe teamed up for a blues interlude, a few covers and and some original music. John takes the guitar and vocals while Joe rocks the harmonica. I took some video of their performance, and some pics as well. After their set I chatted it up with Joe and John separately. Joe was on his way to see Gregg Allman's son's set in New York City. There was a chance that his father might show up. So he had to get movin'. This was John's first time playing in JC and he was anxious to feel out the scene. He was worried that the locals would be looking to hear cover band style music. I assured him that this wasn't some rt 130 South Jersey crowd on a Wednesday night. John's Band plays Manhattan a lot they're on vacation right now, so I plan to hear more from these fellas in the coming months.

Shen and Mary of Prison Pretty take the stage. Miss Mary (drums, backing vox) greets the crowd and Shen bursts into their first song. I've known Shen for a little over a year. He's a friend of my neighbor. In the time I've known him I think we've spoken about eight or nine times. I can't remember those talks off the top of my head, but my estimation of him was that he was a quiet indie kid. Indie? yes. Quiet?.... Not on your life! He rips on the guitar, kicks into overdrive and belts out the song in a style that's best described as Adam and his Package when soft and Violent Femmes when.....well violent. The song ends, Mary heckles him, after someone asks if that song was about his girlfriend. Mary tells the crowd "He doesn't have a girlfriend!" in a tone that my little sister would have used when I was thirteen. They really play off each other like Johnny Carson (Shen) and Ed Mcmann (Mary). And that's not even talking about their playing, just them messing with each other between songs! Like I was saying before it's really catchy, and I could totally see dancing to it at a larger venue. Give it a listen! It'll get your feet moving for sure.

So I hate to leave a show before the headliner comes out because there's normally a good reason for the last band to be the Main Attraction. Tonight was no exception! America's Sweetheart geared up and jumped onto the stage. Trish (drums/vox) shifted the band into gear as they started their first song. Paris (bass/vox) and Val (rhythm guitar/vox) filled out the sound which was a mixed of riot grrl, country rock and punk. Did I forget anyone? Heck Yes, I did! Chris (lead guitar/vox), grummets and all, rocked the ax with a revenge so keen you'd have though Death Adder had killed his dwarven brother. If you missed the Golden Ax reference don't worry it just means you're under thirty and/or you lack concept. If I were to say that this band brought the rock in tablet form like Moses to the people of the valley worshiping the golden calf only moments before they were all smited by God.... well you'd probably say "Interesting use of imagery" perhaps you'd put a smiley face on the top of the blog with exclamation points, followed saying "Wow Zac, it's unsettling about how much you used theology to describe rock bands." So I'm not gonna say that but you can infer that what I would have said would have been quite a lot like that.

So after the show I chatted it up with Chris and Trish, and during the talk we were subsequently invited to hang after hours with the club owner at another locale. So, we continued the conversation there. Now most of the time, a lot of you are reading this thinking, "Zac Clark, what a 'fly by the seat of your pants' kind of guy!" Well, its a fine line I walk between flying by the seat of my pants and just plain old being caught with my pants down." I say all that to say this: After all this video recording and picture taking I was both spent physically (ask any photographer, if you're doing the job right you really are working) and electronically. My batteries were dead! Just as well, I could just talk with the band without shoving a camcorder into their faces.

I started with Chris, I asked him about the shirt he was wearing. you'll have to look at the pics to see it. He told me he found it at a second hand shop saw it and new it had to be his. I asked him what it was like to be in a band with three girls, he just shook his head and smiled. So, after a while we talked about the first time he met Trish's dad. I vaguely recall that her pops was fishing for coconuts in trees off a balcony in Mexico.... no i didn't write that wrong, that's something that actually happens. Anyhow, they get their line stuck in a tree and as he was going to meet her dad, there's Chris IN THE TREE, trying to get the line out. I could only imagine this in the most cartoon and comical of ways. Talking with the band really made me feel like I was cool, cool in the same way the kid from Almost Famous felt. I'm not cool, Chris Isaak is cool. I'm just a guy with a camera and a pen.

So, then Trish asked me about what I do, I touch down on my wedding business, blog and bar tending. I mentioned I do a little bit of fashion from time to time. She told me that she was thinking about working on clothing for girl rockers. Functional clothes and accessories for female rockers. She stands up for a second and says, "No pockets.....where to I put my drum key?" We talked about GoGirlsNYC a resource for bands with at least one girl. As H2O once said ,"It's not just boys' fun!" There was so much happening and so many things we talked about, if I wrote it all down, I'd just dumb it down. Suffice it to say the Jersey Devil came up a few times. I looked at the time. Oh crap! It's 5 o'clock in the morning. I excused myself (If I get hit by the morning sun before I get to sleep something about it really just messes me up for the rest of the day. So I head home secure in the fact that I've made stronger bonds with friends and made some very cool new ones as well.

Zac Clark, 3/23/2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

One and the Nines' and McMickle Bros.' worlds collide at IMAC

This Friday I once again ventured out to I.M.A.C. to see the One and the Nines and McMickle Bros. play. The day started as most Fridays do for me.......around noon with the remains of what would have been a hangover washed away with some pepto and a lil bit of Knob Creek, my mouth tasting like something the cat dragged in and a vague recollection of deeds of the prior night. Damn! I was working last night how did this happen? As my memory slowly decompressed in the worst way it can from a black out. I noticed two things. Less importantly, the first being a sandwich that had been half eaten (man, I have to clean my room today), much more importantly I have a notice on my calendar that the McMickle Bros. were going to be playing in town tonight! I have to tell you I get a lot more excited when a band is playing in Jersey City, while my traveling exploits make great stories to write about, taking the train is a pain in the ass way to travel.

Eight hours later, I'm slightly more sober (by the way as I'm writing this I'm knee deep into the start of what looks to become a very drunk Sunday afternoon) definitely a lot cleaner and my room is starting to shape up a bit. I called up my friend Missy (and by called, yes I mean text messaged. For some unknown reason my cell phone wasn't using the voice or sound options) after a bit of back and forth and persuasion she agreed to meet me out.

I want to make an imperative point: I believe that bringing a friend to a show is not just vital for local music but essential to the very fiber of local music and the future of the music industry! It is especially important if we ever hope to be freed of monster corporate labels and the soulless music they produce. That said its a nice thing to do too!

I piddled around the house for a few more hours doing pretty much nothing in particular checked out the other bands playing and realized that the One and Nines were set to be there too! Awesome! Two bands I dig are playing! Suit up....Hmm it's cold out again. Will spring ever come to Jersey City? I mean it's cool to get all dressed up and wear all this wacky stuff, I have a lot of neat jackets, shoes and t-shirts. But all most folks get to see is the jackets because its SOOO FUCKING COLD OUT! So tonight its back to the classic T-shirt, Jeans, Track Jacket, Leather Jacket, Doc Martens and out the door I go. I took the walk over to I.M.A.C.

It's 8:15 and the doors open at 8, so I assumed the bands would be warming up or something like that. It was much more like it's something like that. Ghost Town: population Zac Clark, Rocker Tycoon! I sat down for a bit, grabbed a Budweiser and chilled out. Paracusia was setting up....(they were the first band). They started up, played a few songs the place started to fill in. By the end of their set there was a sizable crowd in the place and I wasn't feeling like such a loner anymore. They finished up their final song. And this is the first time I've EVER seen this from a Non-Headlining band....THE CROWD WANTED MORE. "One More Song!" came a shout from the back! Soon the entire crowd was yelling it. What were they to do? Well, Of course they played another song! It really makes my heart warm up when the crowd has that much love for a band! After the show I got a chance to talk with a few of the guys from Paracusia. I asked them about the encore. They were just as surprised as I was, it was their first encore! Mark my words it won't be their last! I shot a few of them and snagged some video for you to check out!

Took another Bud and Missy showed up. Next up was Kiwi the Child a side Project of the One and Nines' Bassist (Alex Tyshkov) and Vocalist (Vera Sousa). My only question I'd asked myself upon first hearing about K.t.C. would have been, "With such a distinctive sounding band, why did you feel the need for a side project?" In my experience with bands the side project band is almost always a watered down version of the original band or some kind of in-joke or cover band. It's obvious that sideshow buffoonery was about the last thing I could use to describe K.t.C.. TOTALLY DIFFERENT SOUND! If One and the Nines are Wilson Pickett meets Roy Orbison with the vocal style of Patty Labelle then Kiwi the Child is Bradley Nowell and Gwen Stefani (pre-solo career, of course) with the Wailers backing it all up. Actually HOLD IT! That's not fair! Both of these bands have their own distinct sound, comparing them to other widely known acts is only one of two ways I know to give you a clue of what they sound like. The other much more complete way is for you to see their videos. That tells the real story. I can chatter all day and night about what I think a band sounds like or what their influences are but the real proof is in the pudding...... pudding brought to you via Youtube!

So after K.t.C.'s set The rest of the One and Nines stepped up to the plate. I had been so busy taking pictures and chatting with various bands that I had totally neglected my beer. Missy let me know, with a disapproving shake of the head as she ordered another. I was not to be out drank during a show, or out classed as it were. I took down my now hose water warm 12oz and promptly ordered another.

So as I was saying, The One and Nines were on! I've seen them play about 4-5 times now. Its a funny thing becoming a "music writer" does to you. You start to really listen to the bands and you really analyze what they sound like, the nuances of each song, what the bands trying to convey. I guess what I'm trying to say is the last few times I've hear them play I must not have been paying enough attention or maybe I was too shit-faced to realize. Fuck, these guys really bring it to the table. Vera channels this sort of Motown Diva Vibe that's so genuine you wouldn't think that sound could come out of a white girl. Will Hansen (Keys) busts out a sound that is some where between blues and western switching from piano to organ, and back again. Jeff Marino (guitar) strums and plays tangentially to Alex's bass while they both support Vera vocally. Did I mention there was a sax player? Barami Waspe might as well been born with that brass in his mouth the way he made it whine! Ken Walz (drums) pounds out beats that work like a glue to hold it all together. The whole thing is rather genius to me. I have to admit I can barely play the guitar and my bass skills are rudimentary at the very best. So, when I see a band that really puts together the big picture so seamlessly, it gives me goosebumps! They finished up their set. Of Course the crowd wasn't just gonna let them get away that easy! "ENCORE! PLAY ONE MORE!" With a veritable riot on their hands otherwise they really had no choice but to Rock out a little longer! Who was I to complain? NOBODY! (that's right haters I beat you to it!)

So I guzzled down another beer, had a shot of Jameson and I settled in for The Headliners: The McMickle Brothers! Change gear really quick, reader! The One and the Nines as I said pulled together a styled polished sound with Six members all working together to create something that, while is complex, comes off unpretentious and very planned, sort of like a musical equivalent to 2001: A space Odyssey. Things like this can be achieved with a Six Shooter Band or with the Double Barrel variety, of which the McMickle Bros. are. Matt's (vox, guitar) distinctive red mop top serves as a sort of trademark of the band. Sam (vox,Drums) although reserved and generally content to let Matt do the talking bursts with noise and charisma once the music starts up. I was almost too busy tapping my feet and bobbing my head to take pics and video of these cats. I certainly didn't let that stop me though! As they finished up their last song Missy and I realized it was 1:15am! CRAZY! As the Romans say, "Tempus Fugit!" Of course The McMickles were called to play a final song! Matt announces to the crowd, "This isn't our song, but it belongs to us now!" I'll leave you in suspense to see that one! Whats Even Better Is they Are Playing Again this Tuesday at Lucky 7 Tavern in Jersey City! Its a Free show! You're Losing money by not showing up!

After the show was over, we spoke with the owner of the venue, Steve. We discussed the local music scene in town and how great New Brunswick had been for it in the mid-nineties. Touched on topics like the Melody Bar and Matt Pinfield, and before I knew it was time to get going. What a kick-ass night! I hope you enjoy it half as much as I did collecting for you.

There's a lot in store this coming week. I'm revamping my blog schedule, and maybe even bringing on a guest writer or two! The Rocker Tycoon is franchising!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Honah Lee At the I.M.A.C.

Last weekend I took the trip to Trenton to see Cryptkeeper Five. While I was there I met up with the fellas from Honah Lee. Due to time and my lack of ability to sleep in seedy train stations, I didn't get a chance to catch them play. NO WORRIES FRIENDS! This week I caught back up with Honah Lee at I.M.A.C.(Iron Monkey Automata Chino) in Jersey city! That's not where the Rocker Tycoon's day began though!

Now, if we want to get technical (for the sake of being technical, I suppose we will) I was barbacking at 12am when friday actually started. The proper start of my day came the next day around 1pm, when the incessant ringing of my phone woke me from my ritual 12 hour friday slumber. Figuring it was my mom, who always assumes that if I don't pick up the phone each time she calls that I'm in a gutter somewhere, I guiltily searched my pants for the phone. (Note: My mom works in guilt-trips the way other artists work in oils or clay, it's her true medium. I'm sure yours does as well.) However it turns out that it was my friend Steven. The text said, "The world will scream up and shout save us." Oh that's right! I think to myself as my phone goes off, again for Steven, "And I will say NO!" THE WATCHMEN MOVIE IS TODAY! We make plans to go see it at 3:30pm. I shower, shave, charge batteries, clean lenses, Y'know the normal stuff you do at 2pm when you wake up. I head off to the theatre, watch the Watchmen and check the time: 6:30pm. I walk back to downtown Jersey City, hit my place, grabbed my gear and right back out the I.M.A.C.

Seems that I got there a bit early, Which was fine it gave me a chance to check out the place. IMAC opened about three months ago in Jersey City. They are one of the only venues in town that can have shows after 11pm. In a town that is very thirsty for a local music scene, or any music scene for that matter, it has become a beacon of hope for changes soon to come. The stage is slightly raised from the floor. This is ideal in my opinion. You get to be close enough to the band without looking up their nostrils, which is important when you're taking pictures. It also puts them just high enough to be seen by the folks in the rear. The bar sits next to the stage. During the show I found that they do a combination of bar and cocktail waitress service. Again ideal if you're rocking out, they bring the drinks to you in a crowded bar. I have to say the bathroom situation was much to be desired though. There was only one and the line was always three deep. ProTip: I used the bathroom next door at Iron Monkey. I don't know if this was kosher and I frankly couldn't be bothered to give a damn. They own both buildings, I say its cool to use the john in either one.

Enough about the venue, it was adequate. After a bit of a look around and a few drinks at IM proper. I meet up with Honah Lee, and got this interview before the show. Right after the interview, we all decide its best to go in and have a few drinks before the set. Conversations happened and we really hit it off, talking about comics, music we dig, stuff like that. It was beyond question that theses lads had some serious concept.

First Crooked Looks went on. Crooked Looks is Rick Smith and Colin Schiller. Hard to really categorize this band. Dance Music for punks? or Punk Rock for dancers. I'm not sure but this is a fact. They had a serious energy! Dick's Vocals and Colin's backing vocal and drums drove the electronic support music into a real panic. Then they pulled it all together with Well Enough Alone, a song that was reminiscent of Chubby Checker's Let's Twist Again. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing twisted merry-go-round they created! I'll be in touch with them soon for another much closer look.

After Crooked Looks finished up my new friends took the stage. Honah Lee is Tim (vox,guitar) Justin (lead guitar), Jim (bass) and Anthony (drums). They broke out with Sobored....So bored. Tim picked up the crowd with the plea "Take me somewhere...anywhere! Just as long as it's not here!" Justin punctuated Jim's Bass. And Anthony kept a solid beat that got me bobbin' my head. I should note Anthony is definitely the band's class clown. We discussed his love for West Highland Terriers and by love I mean fanaticism. While certainly not a direct quote he expressed how they were the ultimate breed of dog and that anyone who believed otherwise would suffer the consequences.

I think aside from hangin out and getting to know the band the real break through came just before their set when one of the guy received a phone call that confirmed a sober ride home. After this we all started drinking heavily. this trend continued until at least 3am for me. And I last remember seeing the band out all the way across town. Fellas if you're reading this......i think i may need to buy another t-shirt......oh no I still have the last one. Some chick definitely made it unwearable! Good times were had by all, good times were had by all!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jamie Rae at Lucky 7 Tavern

On the train today, I ran into an old friend from a past life. We bullshitted about how we've been doing and such. Of course he asked me how I was doing! People I knew still give a shit about me! In retrospect, I feel like I hogged up the whole convo talking about this blog, and then I realized I hadn't posted since late Monday! If you haven't read that post it's one of my best give it a look. I'll wait......OK? So tonight's post comes to you from a too hot kitchen in the Depths of Jersey's finest dive bar.

"But, Rocker Tycoon,"You say with those puppy dog eyes, "You promised us another music post this week!" I promised no such thing.....And I'm giving you a music post you needy jerk! It's just gonna be shorter and with a little less chit chat between me and the bands. Screw you! I got drunk instead, sue me!

Back at Lucky 7 Tavern for songwriter Tuesdays. I caught a pretty thing by the name of Jamie Rae. I was mixing it up with James Dower (the cat that books the bands for Lucky 7's), talking about the next few Saturday Night Rock event. The bar just about empty and in strolled Jamie Rae wellington boots and all. Of course, I hadn't really prepared for the night as I hadn't seen a list of who was playing..... as such I only had my sidearm (LG DARE). So I got some video of her act. The bar really packed it in as she continued!

I've come to a point now where I feel the need to actually hear and know about the bands for a few hours so I can find out a little about them. This way I ask questions that inform everyone about the performer(s). I hate to give you the same tired cookiecutter questions anyone could give you. I won't be winning any awards in the near future for face to face interviewing, but I still think it's important to get out there with a purpose and not just churn out crap for every band I see. So no live interview this time. That said, we had a little chat after her set and we made it apparent that this wouldn't be the last time we'd cross swords. The sound quality on these isn't too bad. Sadly you can't really get an idea of how her beautiful voice matches her demeanor and smile as well. Next time, people, (I KNOW I KNOW) I'll bring my camera! What do you want I'll write it ten times.

I will not forget my camera when I go out to see a band.I will not forget my camera when I go out to see a band.I will not forget my camera when I go out to see a band.I will not forget my camera when I go out to see a band.I will not forget my camera when I go out to see a band.I will not forget my camera when I go out to see a band.I will not forget my camera when I go out to see a band.I will not forget my camera when I go out to see a band.I will not forget my camera when I go out to see a band.I will not forget my camera when I go out to see a band.

Yes I copy and pasted that! Cuz I'm a dirty cheater! and a Scoundrel! In fact, I didn't even double space in between copy and pasting!

Monday, March 2, 2009

At the Mill Hill with the Cryptkeeper Five

On the P.A.T.H. (the first leg of my journey to see the Cryptkeeper Five) I gripped the middle pole and dug down for the ensuing commute. I'm not one to nit pick other people's train riding etiquette,(I mean, I didn't invent PATH surfing I just made it sexy again!) but this fellow decides to lean on the pole and my hand! Now I'm a stubborn bastard myself, so I decided I wasn't gonna move. So, he wasn't moving and I wasn't moving and there we were. Both of us locked in some kind of battle of wills. Finally, he moves away! I think I've won. Then with a new fervor he leans back onto my hand. Of course I'm too much of a gentleman to just speak up. I let go and and accept my defeat, a broken shell of a man. Time is 9:00pm.

Right! So I get onto the NJ TRANSIT north line from Newark to Trenton. The conductor scratches across the speaker some gibberish that I vaguely made out as English. Apparently there's a train stuck in front of us, and for the rest of the ride the passengers will have to get out using the stairs. Just one door to get in and out! WTF! Time Check: 9:25. For once in my life I'm early for something. It'll take about twenty mins to get to Trenton by my estimation. CK5 doesn't go on until 11:15. So no worries there.

This is about the time when I realize that The North Line is alot like Dante's Inferno. With Purgatory being Newark and Heaven,I guess, as New York City. The sexy electronic voice tones in, "This stop New Brunswick. Please check around you for all loose items and baggage upon leaving the train." All the lecturers and alcoholics line up in a precession to their perspective circle of the Hell that is North Jersey. After about twenty mins of marching, the train lurches forward. 9:45, No prob still fine. Princeton: Liars and Prophets. Another 10mins, at least they were getting faster. 9:55. Hamilton: Sinners of Wrath and Sorcerors?! (IDK man, gimme a goddamn break! There's a theme here. Just follow it!) At 10:05 I rolled into Trenton with the real deviants and mutineers. Trenton station on a Friday night is really no joke. Call me crazy, but the quack of the odd duck is apparent all about the place. As I'm waiting for my rendezvous, I see the whole sideshow. I think as I traversed the platform the greatest of these was a trannie applying make up in the station. Right there in plain site. I mean hey I'm all for the alternative lifestyle, but come on sister, making the "transformation" in public is a bit slapdash don't you think? I phone my friend Dan Chung, whom I had conspired to meet for the show earlier that night.

Dan pulls up and we get to the Mill Hill. At first glance the Mill Hill is a corner bar, that on the inside looks much like a saloon should. We never ventured into the top level though. The venue itself is located in the Basement. Cover was $5. Which was more than acceptable.

Let me take this moment to say that I never ask to be put on a list or any of that nonsense. This is local music, if you can't pay the five bucks to support the scene, I say go back home. This used to bother the crap out of me when I worked shows. A band shows up to a basement show with a guest roster the size of a spoiled nine year old's wish list to Santa. BANDS: It's your duty to make sure people come to the shows and pay that is why you were booked! Tell 'em to ante up! Ok, that rant is over. Sorry. Someone needs to say it! I had to step up.

Now, I was saying, upon entering the Basement of the Mill Hill I'm greeted with a huge Sign that reads in black and white, "MILL HILL BASEMENT, Underground Music, Underground." Clever. I'd say that the place itself could hold something like 50-60 people if packed in like a sardine can. I give the Singer (Johnny) a text to let him know I'm here. As Dan and I are waxing Intellectual about the overall vibe of the place, Johnny comes over greets us warmly and I recant how I found out about the band. He introduces us to the rest of the guys as well. Jay West on Bass, Jimmy Ray Guitar and Vocals, D.T. Graves on Drums and Ceilidh "Blue" Madigan or Mr. "M" on the Sax and Vocals. It's a weird thing meeting a band you dig and actually having a normal conversation with them. It's hard to explain, I'm always afraid that I'm going to come of as this crazed groupie, worshipping the very ground they walk on. Somehow my dignity holds true and I manage to play it cool. The conversation ranged from the ride down to the venue itself. I explain myself (The RockerTycoon) to the fellas and grab a Hop Devil from the very cute very friendly bartender. I should mention the first band (Super Consumers) is just getting finished setting up, and sound testing. I give my equipment a test and loosen up to take a few shots.

As I go back for my bag to switch lenses I run into Tim from Honah Lee. I'll Be interviewing Honah Lee in my next blog they'll be at the IMAC in Jersey City on Friday. We exchange hellos as Super Consumers start up. I excuse myself and get to work. It's been a little while since I've shot a band in a basement so getting light and exposure down is going to take a test. I say all that to say this, I like shooting bands other than just the one I came to see, some times you get something pretty cool and you almost always make a new friend here or there. I'm actually quite proud of this shot of the Super Consumers' Lead Singer. They play what seems like a limited sized set 6-7 songs I think. They threw in a cover of that Cranberries song "Zombie"! I always dug that song, and not just for the muted horror reference. They finish up we chat for a few as CK5 sets up and I let them know what I'm about. Hopefully this won't be the last time you hear from those cats at Rocker Tycoon.

I decide thanks to my trusty mini tripod that I can just tape the whole show while I'm shooting. Which is great because it's hard to rock out and video at the same time. About three songs in Johnny gives the a nod and they kick right into Incorruptible: The Death of Hope II. I'm pysched! I turn to Dan, I can tell he likes what he hears (this is within 5 hours of introducing him to the band). Johnny asks Blue if hes having a good time, Blue shouts out that he loves it, he could write a love song about it! Johnny Explains its a new one from their upcoming album record D.T. starts it up..... and they once again explode into rock! Meanwhile Jimmy Ray, Johnny, Blue and Jay all trade off vocals. Jimmy Ray and Jay throw some "OOOOOOHHHHH WOAHS!" out there and this continues for what really doesn't seem longer enough.

Flashback to talking with the band right before the set; Jay and I were talking and I confessed that I was really hoping to hear "The Desperate Man......the Deadweight", which had been a real anthem of mine since first hearing about the band while in North Carolina summer of 2005. Ian Harker a long time friend and rock confidant hit me up via the Myspace and told me about the band. That song was on their page and it really endeared me to their sound. Flashforward; four and a half years later and Jay lets me know in hushed tones that I won't be disappointed! RAD!

Johnny informs a very charged crowd that they only have time for 3 more songs. I have to admit I was getting a little nervous about Jay's promise. I'm not gonna leave you in suspense, the last three songs did include my request! They finished the set to a thundering of applause, yipping and hollering, I supplied my effort for the fanfare as well. This is what its all about, five guys sweating it out to rock N roll in a basement in Trenton!

The guys, Dan and I retired to the upper section of the Mill Hill (heh, how about that I was up there at one point!). I got this wonderful conversation on video between myself and CK5! It's 12 mins longer and the focus gets dodgy in the middle for a sec, but the message being conveyed is well worth your time. It's some of my best work yet. The pictures certainly are without a doubt!
OH man! I almost forgot.....so we finished the interview I look at the time and it's 12:50! "So what!" You say to me in a tone that could only serve as punctuation to your ignorance to the NJ Transit North Line Schedule! Well, good reader, the Train leaves at 1:02am! THE LAST TRAIN! The 3:10 to Yuma, if you will. Dan puts the pedal to the metal as we get into the Danmobil, his Honda Element. RED LIGHT....12:55......Green light! RED LIGHT! 12:59. Dan looks ready to run it. I wave him off that notion, as I consider myself a man of chance, running the light would be like stacking the deck! Arriving at the station briskly at 1:03. I tumble down the stairs just in time to hear the chime of the closing doors. Like the defunct Indiana Jones I am, I dive into the doors and they close behind me. Of course the conductor looks at me quizzically and says "Nice dive, I would have opened the doors back up man." The train rolls out. "Sure you would, man, sure you would!"

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