I leave for Atlanta tomorrow to finish Songs from Memory, so I'm publishing this blog a day early. Enjoy!
As I finalize Ghost Notes and Songs from Memory over the next few months, I’m going to blog regularly on the Refreshments.
I seem to recall, during this early period of the band, roughly the spring of 1994, a lot of experimenting with different venues. We went out of our way to book less obvious places to play. I don’t remember if this was because we were trying to set ourselves apart from the Mill Avenue scene or because we genuinely were curious about these off-Mill venues. Probably a little of both. I remember playing a dance club called Phrogg’s on Apache, and the Improv comedy clubs in both Tempe and San Diego. The results of these experimentations were usually unsuccessful, sometimes worse than that.
The exception was the Yucca Tap Room.
Dusty was the instigator of getting the Refreshments in at the Yucca. He somehow became aware of this little club on Southern Avenue supposedly famous for serving bloody marys at eight in the morning. Dusty insisted we all go over there after practice one Sunday night to check it out.
We all liked the place. It had wood paneling on the inside, which is good for sound, and a comfortable, neighborhood vibe. There was a dart game, and a shuffleboard game along the back wall. There was no band playing while we were there, but I think the normal Sunday night act, a cover band, hadn’t started yet. No bands from the Mill Avenue scene played there.
I think what I most liked about the Yucca was that it was different. The Blossoms and Dead Hot could lay claim to Wong’s and the Sun Club and Chuy’s, but this club could be associated with the Refreshments in some way, maybe even becoming the official unofficial home-away-from-home for the band and its fans.
The deal was simple. The Refreshments would play every Sunday night at the Yucca. There would be no advertising. To help entice otherwise responsible people out to a smoky club on Sunday night, there would be no cover charge. It became a special intimate show for those who knew about it and were foolish enough to ruin their Mondays at work for a good time on Sunday night.
Sunday nights at the Yucca rocked. We played our asses off, and people came and drank and danced and sang along. (In 1994 there was still a culture of dancing in Tempe, which would quickly change as clubs got too crowded for anyone to dance.) The Yucca became another piece in this thing we were unknowingly building, this subculture of people who were finding fun and validation at these gigs featuring this new band, singing along, dancing their asses off.