Postcards from Uncle Muddy

It's the end of December now, we're been faced with the illusion of winter for over a month. It's finally quiet around here. The Christmas time crazies have made their way home, and possibly even to work for a few short days before the New year comes bringing a fresh round of crazies. Many of us, despite work have had the sense to continue drinking, saving detox for 'next year'. I'm eying the remnants of a 40 of Southern Comfort, baptizing some ice, and enjoying. There's the glimmer of what could be snow is in the air, I love winter. From inside my house, or warm car. Anything in between, and I'm miserable. The beer were served from the back of a pickup truck as gear was loaded out. Loose gatherings of people were spread out. Dave Azzolini from the Golden Dogs turned to me "You from around here?" Catching me with a mouthful of beer, I nodded. "My wife and I are from Thunder Bay." There's an understanding between anyone from remote towns, or for any place. Now situated in Toronto, the Golden Dogs are set to play with Joel Plaskett on New Year's in Halifax. "This place is great, we got fed, it was tough finding the place, but that's ok." "Just don't ever ask anyone in Kenora for directions." The first band arrived, The Junction. Hailing from Brampton, Ontario they backed in their van. "Is this the Rideout?" they asked, somewhat exasperated. "Yes." They almost fell out of the van. "We got the wrong directions, we saw the 'Golden Dogs' driving around." The Meligrove Band arrived last. All in good time. The Rideout is a community club with a rink. You can cram over 100 people in. There's no stage. The band is eye- level with you. The sound is great considering the venue. If you know the right people you can hang out in the kitchen, the closest thing to backstage there is. The Golden Dogs, The Junction and the Meligrove band were touring together in a quick jaunt across Canada. November 5th was not cold enough to produce ice, let alone much snow. So, we sat in the penalty box across the rink from the clubhouse, sharing joints quietly as the bands ate dinner and got set up. I had prepared myself with a flask of southern to hoard quietly. "Only about 15 more to go" Matt Chapeskie accents this by dropping his cd onto the table. The empty clubhouse echoes. The lead vocalist/guitarist for the Quietophobics is busy making cd's for the merch table. Burning them off with a laptop, and cutting out covers. His home produced "Steal your heart then Home" a record he released a year ago independently. The sound crew is tech-ing, listening for feedback, tweaking. Someone stands in front of the mike and tells the raunchiest jokes imaginable. Then, moves onto the next microphone with a new joke. Matt's group are from Kenora, and are helping put on the show. They have been building a steady audience over the past year or so, and are in the midst of recording their first record. Tables are moved and then moved back, setting up merch tables for all the bands. Soon enough, three of the girlfriends arrived ready to cook food for almost 30 people. "There's food inside?" Darcy exclaimed. "Pizza, Salad, and my Baba made perogies." Ken beamed. Darcy was from the Meligrove Band. Ken Perchuk was the sound crew. As handshakes were handed out by Mike, Andrew and Jay, Darcy demonstrated his perogy dance. It had been the same response as everyone pulled up. A look of surprise and shock. There's food. You could see the joy drag across their faces, like kids at Christmas... ...I sit back to read over this, lighting a cigarette, pot smoke still gently lingering. Something over the past year has been troubling however. When did records begin being 'dropped' and not 'released'. I remember when bands 'dropped into' record stores, so I don't care for 'records dropping in stores'. This may just be me. Who knows, enough money on the table I could sell a few scruples, and use 'drop' in my articles. At the same time, I am aware of the male G spot, that does not mean I'll search it out... somethings are fully-completely dirty. Most kids had hushed slightly as the Meligrove Band set up... The Golden Dogs, and The Junction were new acts here. This was the second visit from the Meligrove band, and you could feel the buzz in the room... mind you, I'd blame the Southern. By the time the first chord was rung, people were ready to explode. If you've seen them before, all you can do is anticipate, if you haven't seen them yet, get on it. Jay Nunes switched up to piano to lead the band into tracks from their latest album "Planets Conspire"... an eclectic mix of piano driven rock, at times recalling the best moments of Queen's 'A night at the opera'. As Andrew Scott rolled around the floor in 'Electric Rock God Agony', everyone ate it up. Behind the kit or not Darcy Rego is hilarious... he has natural stage presence that is a mere translation of who he is off stage. If you meet the Meligrove Band, Darcy will surely be your first friend. As things were loaded out the door, Brett from the Quietophobics and Darcy spent the time singing 80's TV show themes. 'Family Matters' I think was one of the top songs, but a graceful attempt at the 'Degrassi' theme was made. In a serious aside Darcy remarks; "When I'm not on the road, I'm ready to go, but once I'm out, I'm already homesick... I miss my dogs." This was only their second stop. The Quietophobics are a quirky act... a five piece that has enough instruments to back up Frank Zappa. The bands stage presence is unorthodox to say the least... Matt Chapeskie, the soft spoken front man, makes quips back and forth with Mike the Keyboard player, generally depreciating each other, the humor is rarely missed. Mike switches up instruments nearly every song, from piano, to glockenspiel, harmonica and mandolin. In an aside he tells me that they left stuff at home, "an accordion, auto harp, banjo, and my 70's Roland synth..." Cody Puls who does double duty here on guitar as well as the local metal act Last Day Fading gets his chance to shine on an extended solo break as Drex the drummer pulls the intensity higher. Mike and Matt end the song screaming lyrics in broken harmonies. Brett Hager the bass player with the curly red hair and amazing falsetto introduces the last song, the only cover tune in their repertoire... "this is a Daniel Johnston song, and also a Kiss song" They do a medley of Johnston's 'Livin' life' which merges seamlessly into Kiss' 'God gave Rock and Roll to you'. As Dave stomps around the stage, you could almost imagine small cities beneath his feet. He claims the stage like Godzilla, stomping on cars and breathing fire over to keyboardist/vocalist Jessica Grassia. "The Saints go marching in" is bringing the crowd in closer with it's intensity. What had started with a simple kick drum pattern, met with a marching band bass line, is now in full swing, voices from the crowd are screaming the refrain along. Dave's nursing a sore throat, which you would never even notice from where I'm sitting. The Golden Dogs energetic cover of '1985' threatens to tear the place apart. They wrap with a gentle number "Wheel of Fortune" from their latest cd 'Big Eye Little Eye'. Dave and Jess caring for the vocals like what they really are... their offspring. I think some of the Northern Ontario came out of Dave when he arrived, he was charmed by the venue, and by the food. "This place is great, it's the perfect size, amazing food, I love it. Awesome little spot." In order to recharge after the two sets, I notice my penalty box has been claimed... I simply walk towards the residential area, joint in hand, trading tokes with shots of Southern. Nobody was around to hassle me, just a stray dog who decided to follow. The venue starts to hum and growl, as the Junction take the stage. When I got back they were into their first number. A deranged looking 14 year old approaches me, cigarette that he doesn't really inhale from flapping in his lips. "Dude, dude... you got any beer? I'll pay four bucks a beer... that's good man." "Sorry man." No beer, true. "Damn it I just want to get DRUNK!! This place should be licensed..." This amuses and I retort "But dude, then you wouldn't be able to get in..." "I guess..." I left him to ponder this. Over my shoulder I hear "Dudes, you got any beer??" By the time Brent had his Rickenbacher tuned up I was sold. I love those guitars, synonomous with the beatles, Tom Petty, and used when Jeff Martin wants to rip off U2... but let's no go there. We're here. And here is watching the Junction. Their tight stage show is market by precise pop movements, not dances, no, but musical movements. At times Brent recalls John Lennon, partially in look, also in song. They seemed to have robbed all the best musical influences available, there is an element of emo, while they retain pop sensibilities. The savvy sing along at the beginning of 'Components of Four' is a great indication. I followed behind Ken with a speaker in my hands, while he carted the mixer into the truck. With a casual glance in either direction, "Fuck it" Ken blurted "the kids are gone." He opened the tonneau cover to reveal three unopened cases of beer. The bands quickly congregated, dispersing into small pockets of conversation outside the hall and into the street. This being a residential area, I knew there was a time limit before the police arrived. It was like a prom party, except no one was vomiting. Soon enough (three beer later) the neighbours began looking out their windows. As I wrapped my conversation with Dave, I spied an overweight man perched on his deck eying us suspiciously... Sure, there was about 30 of us, drinking in the street. One derisive eye was enough for me to call it. "Let's roll folks." ...As for now, I've got the Golden Dogs' 'Big Eye little Eye' screaming from my itunes... I've just poured another tall glass of Red Wine, and am listening to '1985' yet again. I am eyeing my couch, and the First Season of Saturday Night Live on DVD. The wind has picked up a bit, and there's some snow blowing... perfect time to settle in.

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Past Issues of Uncle Muddy:



May - June

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