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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday Night Fever -Boston Bands #4

As I mentioned before, my friend David and I often did more than go to rock shows in Boston in the 80s- we promoted a few small all-ages shows and did road work for a few bands (and then David would go on to manage a Boston band called 'Busted Statues', and Minneapolis's Husker Du). Being a roadie for a local band was a lot of fun- and you usually got comped or deeply discounted on your food and beer as well by the clubs. Doing road work also provided some of the more memorable experiences I had.

The thing to remember about local bands is that most band members have full-time day jobs. Back then most of them seemed to work in liquor stores and copy centers. Copy centers, at least in Boston, tended to attract artsy types, and liquor stores gave employee discounts...

A friend of mine and Dave's from high school named Gary landed a spot in a band called the 'Volcano Suns', which had been formed by Peter Prescott when Mission of Burma broke up, so we saw the 'Suns' quite a bit. One weekend we acted as roadies and took them down to Hoboken, New Jersey. Dave, Gary and I drove down around mid-day to set up, and the rest of the band was going to follow in late afternoon, because one of the members couldn't get off work 'till then.

Hoboken, in the early 80s, resembled something from a science fiction movie about Earth after a thermo-nuclear war. It was just miles and miles of grey, boarded up warehouses and buildings. And then, right in the middle, they had rehabbed Main Street with brick sidewalks and old-fashioned iron lamp-posts and black-painted iron gates and scrubbed brick, and it all looked like a movie set. The club they were playing at was on that street (which made us feel better), in a nice brick building with an Italian restaurant attached.

We got there in the late afternoon, unloaded and set up the equipment, had a nice free dinner in the Italian restaurant, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And then, just as we were getting ready to start calling the State Police in three states and the owner was about ready to burst an artery, the band finally arrived, just a few minutes before they were scheduled to go on.

The story, as told to us later, was that when the band member who was driving went to the spot where he had parked his car all he found was a crushed bumper and some broken glass. Some helpful folks at a gas station across the street cheered him up further by informing him that yes, the station wagon parked there had gotten crushed by a big-ass truck and had been towed away by the police to a garage. A trip to the garage found the car bent but drivable, at least with the bumpers duct-taped back on and some rope holding the doors closed, so they took off for New Jersey.

Such is the glamorous life of rock n' roll...

The show that night kicked ass, by the way, with an enthusiastic, large crowd. Unfortunately I couldn't find any Volcano Suns videos, but Gary and another Suns member also played in a band called 'Big Dipper', which I did find a video for, so it gives you some idea what was going on. Gary's the one in the striped shirt-

4 comments:

Mike said...

I've had a lot of friends that were in local bands. Some still are.

I have to tell you that from what I've seen, there is absolutely nothing glamorous about it.

Except for the getting laid part. That was pretty cool.

Colonel Colonel said...

I had a few friends who were band managers- when they took their bands on the road, their overnight "plans" included a friend's room for themselves, and sending all the band members home with local girls...

unfortunately such plans never seemed to apply to us roadies.

Malach the Merciless said...

Damn, no Volcano Suns!

Hungry Mother said...

Hoboken is some hard core Jersey. I was born not far from there. I like the Sinatra/Kerouac/Edward Abbey axis of Hoboken. It makes the place mystical.