Hey, you, Portlanders. You haven't forgotten about my big gig coming up, have you?
Thursday, March 26th. Two sets by yours truly at a very cool coffee shop in Sellwood called Twin Paradox. And it's free, for Pete's sake! Come and see me!
Dan Lancelot of Gloritone fame was kind enough to put up a MySpace page for an old band of ours called the Solemines. The band included Jim Gerke, Tim Anthonise, myself on bass, and Dan Lancelot manning the skins. We roamed Tempe circa 1990-91, and we played all the local haunts in those days: Long Wong's, the Sun Club, Chuy's (although I remember this being a tough nut to crack) and Anderson's Fifth Estate (strangely, the only one of the above-mentioned still around). We led off for a Flock of Seagulls at Anderson's once. (No, the dude didn't have the hair thing going on.) That was probably the most famous band we played with. We also played with the Sand Rubies (Sidewinders), but the gigs we most looked forward to were the ones where we led off for the Gin Blossoms.
These usually happened at the Sun Club. Dan would get with Laura Leiwen, then the Gin Blossoms' manager, and get us booked to lead off on a Friday or Saturday night for Tempe's greatest draw. These shows would have roughly 150 to 250 people in attendance, and there was nothing better than getting paid ($75 to lead off for the Gins) to play for people as they trickled in to see the headliner, hopefully turning a few on to our music, then staying all night and watching the Blossoms do their thing until 1 AM.
The thing about Blossoms shows that drove us crazy were the dancers.
No, not belly dancers. People who came to see bands because they wanted to dance.
I remember playing the Sun Club, leading off for the Gins. We did our thing onstage and watched the place fill up. By the end of our set, the place would be overflowing with people, except for the dance floor, a 10 by 20 foot rectangle right in front of us with nary a soul on it. Sometimes our girlfriends would take pity on us and shake their booties during a cover song or two, but the majority of folks didn't find the Solemines groove conducive to dancing. Go here and see if you agree.
Then, we'd clear our stuff off the stage, load out the side door and straight into our cars, come back in and inevitably, when the Blossoms hit their first note, the dance floor would fill instantly with well-lubricated and boogie-ready patrons.
We so wanted dancers of our own, but I suspect we knew that our groove wasn't lanky enough for big-time gestulating. It is what it is.
Still, a cool groove nonetheless. I loved the Solemines, and I love the way this music sounds, even today. Lancelot and Anthonise fueled the rhythm, some natural compliment between Lancelot's hi-hat playing and Anthonise's picking hand. Tim also had this amazing-sounding Fender Bassman amp and a vintage Stratocaster. I was Tim's roommate for much of our Solemines tenure, and I was always blown away by what he could do with a guitar. His style was fresher than most, kind of an American version of Johnny Marr, and his playing and tone more than anything fueled the songs we wrote together as a band.
Jim Gerke was and still is a unique and soulful singer. He could sell me the Brooklyn Bridge with his voice. Jim and I shared much of the lyric writing. There were song lyrics that just Jim wrote ("Never Pass Away") and ones just I wrote ("Wake me when it Rains") but most of them had lyrical contributions from both of us--or all of us. It was the only time in my life I've been in a band when all four members were songwriters. Everyone contributed, and no one got a big head. We were all pretty happy to be there.
Three of the four of us sang, too. I wish I'd sung--then I could say we all sang--but I was very happy writing lyrics and playing bad bass lines in an original rock band on Mill Avenue. I was the youngest of the four, and my bass playing--still heavily influenced by Geddy Lee--shows it much of the time.
So, come become a Solemines friend. You'll be glad you did.
One final note: I've discovered the name of my next project, Belching Pineapple.
I don't know what Belching Pineapple is, or what it will be, but it will be something, and that something will be so monumentally cool Katie Couric's gonna want to interview me.
Yours in laying down the law,
Buy Ghost Notes
Buy Songs from Memory
Buy Stuck Outside of Phoenix