Saturday, September 15, 2007

Um, Waterwings?

Okay, I completely screwed up and forgot to write about All You Can Eat this week. Next week, I promise.

As I finalize Ghost Notes and Songs from Memory over the next few months, I’m going to blog regularly on the Refreshments.

So, this unnamed band was off and running, coming off a successful first gig and looking to broaden its horizons.

Blush had recently procured the job of booking bands at Gibson’s, the refurbished Chuy’s, on Mill, a medium-sized club that sported a ridiculously high stage and elongated floor, and we proceeded to exploit his new position. We started leading off for bands at Gibson’s, Wong’s and elsewhere, and we made a point to do something wacky every time. I remember going to Kmart and buying waterwings, which were worn by all of us onstage, and another time buying little girls’ Easter hats. (I think the Easter bonnet gig was at Edsel’s Attic, which was a club right above the Spaghetti Company on Mill.) I remember Dusty looking particularly fetching in his bonnet, and Blush wearing his on top of his trademark black hat. Once, at Wong’s, we bought a helium balloon machine and I sat onstage, drunk as a sailor, blowing up balloon after balloon for a half hour before our set. We swore on our seventeenth gig (why seventeen, I don’t know) we would all wear evening gowns. By the time we arrived at our seventeenth gig, everyone conveniently forgot about it. The gimmick had run its course.

This all sounds dorky in retrospect, but it was fun at the time.

Once the ice was broken, we just kept playing, three, four, five nights a week, doing our best not to take ourselves too seriously, hamming it up, having fun, and writing songs. This era brought tunes like “Mekong,” “Wanted,” “Dolly,” “Broken Record,” “Buy American,” “Los Angeles,” “Professor,” “Appreciate,” and I think we started working in “Una Soda.” (Again, an old Mortals song we co-oped.)

So, when did things start to change from our friends and girlfriends dancing and cheering us on to something else, something bigger, something more potentially scene-changing?

I’ll always remember a gig at Wong’s, rocking out “Suckerpunch,” when someone stepped on a cord and Roger’s microphone went out. We all looked at each other, like all bands do at these times, wondering what to do. That’s when we heard it.

The crowd had picked up the lyrics. “Baby I was never cool enough/To get a job at a record store.” They were singing, yelling the words to “Suckerpunch” right back at us while we played. There we were, a local band for all of a couple of months, leading off around town, no CD to sell, but people already knew the words to our songs. Goosebumps rose on the back of my neck. This was getting good.



Detective Fork said...

Thank you for writing all these entries about Refreshments history. There's stuff I've always wondered about or heard whispers about, so it's nice to finally hear the story. I guess there's less people interested in hearing the background of The Refreshments then, say, people who wants to watch the torrid history of Van Halen on VH1's "Behind the Music," but I'm always interested in hearing more about my favorite band, as short-lived as it was. What's really cool is the wide-eyed optimism that comes across from those days, and the fun you guys had and passed on to the audience. The first time you heard the crowd singing the lyrics had to indeed be a breath-taking moment. I can see why you're getting back into music.

But dammit, I still wanna hear or at least see the lyrics to "My Penis." :-D

MisterJ said...

That is an awesome story.

Joanna said...

I am so glad I found your blogs about The Refreshments. It is so interesting to hear what went on with the band before I starting going to see you guys! Over 11 years later and 1700 hundred miles away from Tempe, I have been swept up in nostalgia, pulling out my old Refreshments CDs and souvenirs. FFB&B plays constantly in my car. Thanks!

Art Edwards said...

Glad you're all diggin' it. More to come.


Anonymous said...

Love it! Thank you!

Josh Robinson said...

These little stories your writing are totally cool! It is always interesting to hear about the story of how one of your favorite bands "came to be". I remember the first time I saw you guys in Atlanta at the Cotton Club; Roger got mad at some guy in the crowd for smoking cloves and was ready to fight him, you played with your bass behind your head, PH had a big eagle or somthing on his bass drum. . . and I think Brian sang Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic (but that might have been a different time). It was a great night, and just amazing to feel the vibe that you guys created when you played songs like Mekong to a bunch of people that were probably hearing it for the first time. . .

I'm finishing Stuck Outside of Phonix right now, btw. Good luck getting the next one published.