downsouth - 7/10/2018 at 02:15 AM
Fretsman's post about Matisyahu got me off the rocker to post this. Frets, glad ya took the chance to go see & experience something unknown and different, in the long song of "music".
The Rock*A*Teens - at Elsewhere, in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY, Fri 7/13; doors at 6:30pm. with Joseph War and Nighthawk.
So, way back when, i become buddies with some guys i was working alongside at a crappy warehouse job, back in fall 1989. They were in ramshackle bands around Atlanta, so it was fun to hang with them and go see their shows every couple weeks. Two of them, Chris Lopez (guitar) & Alan Page (drums) played in The Opal Foxx Quartet, led by the one and only Benjamin. Holy smokes, the "quartet" was anywhere from 6 to 12 people, including the wonderful Deacon Lunchbox on vox & missile. A wondrous CLANG them boys would make, and Benjamin would be leading them all with his dragshow. People say he sounded like Tom Waits, but man, it was so much further beyond what ol' Tom laid down. Ben truly lived it, on stage, and off, and the boys would play on, as he went off on a tangent ramble of poetry. They hailed from Cabbagetown, GA, just across the Marta tracks from Little Five Points, and far seedier than the seedy L5P. 711 Wylie St was nuts back then. We attended all 3 of OFQ's legendary run of consecutive weekly Sunday Brunch shows early '90 at the L5P Pub. Madness.
Chris & Alan also played in Dirt, which became Seersucker. If you can find a copy of Dirt's "SheMale Sugar **** / Drill the Minx" cd or Seersucker's Pushing Rope cd, you are in for a helluva treat in loudfastrocknoise, pre-dating the grunge that was to come. Chris came into Dirt on bass, sometime after Alan had replaced the drummer. When John Forbes left for Chicago, Dirt became Seersucker. Chris is the singer & guit for Seersucker's album, and Alan pounds the crap outta that tiny kit he had. It is indeed a looked over classic. it just builds and builds and builds. Dirt opened for Sonic Youth at Center Stage on the Goo / Dirty Boots tour in '90. Chris wrote the songs and got out front with his guitar & vox.
Both bands gigs' are always well attended at the Point, Masquerade, L5P Pub, Georgia Theatre, The Clermont, Athens Downstairs (heee! seeing 10 people somehow on that tiny "stage" was a riot, and Michael Stipe just jamming away behind us... The other band i'll mention is the wonderful Jody Grind, fronted by the vocal talents of Kelly Hogan. Talk about a hootenanny, and way before their time as well with the jazz, and torch songs with the Cabbagetown CLANG in the mix. Always great bands on the bills with each of them as they were all friends.
Then the little world of funn comes shattering down. In the early morning of Easter Sunday 1992, a drunk driver crosses the median and collides head on with the cargo van the Jody Grind was driving back to Atlanta in, on I-65 near Montgomery, AL. In the days before cell phones, the word had gotten out to people that the Jody Grind van was in an accident, and they'd all died. Chris Lopez was sitting outside the bandhouse that Sunday, when up walks Kelly Hogan. Lopez thinks he's seeing a ghost... Kelly had stayed the night with a friend in the town of the gig, and wasn't in the van She didn't yet know about the accident... Deacon Lunchbox (Tim Ruttenbur), Robert Hayes, & Rob Clayton all died in the accident. There wass one helluva parade in L5P for them. Kelly leaves the music behind for awhile. My friend Alan Page OD's in front of the bandhouse while i'm living in Colorado for a couple years. Opal Foxx Quarter disbands, and Benjamin is playing more with his jazz ensemble, Smoke. Another whole post could be dedicated to that band's incredible CLANG as well. Benjamin is another musician who played up until the end, giving his all one last time NYE 98, and passing at the end of Jan from his illness.
When i get back from CO in fall of '95, i catch back up w/ Chris, as his new band The Rock*A*Teens are playing around town, and putting on some great shows. He'd persuaded Kelly to join, and play "guitar" and sing a bit of back up, but it got her out there again, and him as well. (Kelly's "guitar" was this 4 stringed beat up instrument that was in an open tuning, and she could play a bit like a bass. There was no bass, just 3 guits, and photographer Chris Verene pounding the crap outta the drums (with Alan's old mallets i later learn). Lopez has written some great songs, and lyrics with all kinds of twists & word play. They put out several great albums, and tour, but never to the success they should have. Check out the albums "baby A Little Rain Must Fall & Golden Time.
I saw almost every R*A*T's show in ATL, thru their ending in the early 2000-01. The lyrics & CLANG they make is ingrained in me membranes from the repeated shows, and countless spins of their cd's (anybody here relate to that with another band ?). My now wife was along for the ride as well, and it's just something that grabs hold and won't let go. Several years ago she had to take the cd's outta her car because she would leave one in there for a couple weeks listening over and over and over.
I was out of town when they played here in April but got to see them a couple years ago when they got back together, something i never thought i'd see / hear / feel again LIVE!!! They just released another record, and are going to tour behind it, so i will again get to hear / see / feel the CLANG!!!
What this all is about is just a glimpse into my little world, and that perhaps, if someone is an adventurous type, who is near Brooklyn this Fri, you might go see for yourself what all this jumble i've tried to convey is all about. it's a ragged glory, soaked in reverb, with a huge dose of southern gothic lyrics & imagery, with the Cabbagetown CLANG.
Tell Chris that Denny from Atlanta sent ya! He'll give ya a big smile!
(sorry for the ramble, but since this place is sorta slow these days, thought i'd post some memories about my friends, and those that have gone before us).
[Edited on 7/10/2018 by downsouth]