03 October 2008

the "new" guys

np: Greg Sage Straight Ahead side 2
nd: Trippel, again

We opened for The Wipers at Stache's in Columbus in summer of '87, B.E. (before Enk). The most thoroughly beautiful live guitar sound I have ever heard, including tripping balls seeing Sonic Youth circa Bad Moon Rising. He had some kinda of stereo setup involving several different sorts of amplifiers, but regardless of that... fingertips to spare. Like butter. I think Straight Ahead is my favorite record of his, even more than the Wipers' several greats. I just keep coming back to it. Shelf life is where it's at.

Personal circumstances (e.g.-"making rent") dictate that my post count probably won't be high in the short-term, but since everyone's asleep and I'm feeling loquacious I will address the long-standing matter of, "what about the rhythm section, now? what about the rhythm section?!?"

The "new" guys, who've been in our band for 14 or 15 years. If you condensed all the activity down to normal band-compressed time, it might be equivalent to the Burgess-Pick years. If you look at it that way, it's like The Roaring Third was a little monument with two long-running lineups on either end of it - one releasing everything, the other distilling it. Jesus did we rehearse like fuck between 1995 and 1997, but it was quite often exploratory, and the gigs... not much more than half a dozen, mostly locally. So we built, demolished, and rebuilt much of Dirty Moons to the extent we were able at that time. Not so much jamming as endless "minor changes." Man, was Enkler hating life. He just wanted to rock out.

np: Aura Noir The Merciless side 1

@ The Bluebird last weekend, pic courtesy of Mike Kole
Firstly, Mr. Steve Scariano, he of the night bus home. We first played in St. Louis in April, 1994 at Cicero's and Steve was one of the first people we met. He immediately got where we were coming from and regaled me with his tale of scoring an acetate of Big Star's Third when recording at Ardent in Memphis for an aborted Dave Branyan (Scruffs) solo LP. Steve is a lifer, he is what he is, and his bass action is always classy and in the pocket. Roll Away the Stone is his blog.
He's been playing in bands in St. Louis and back home in Champaign-Urbana since the KBD era, among them The Nancy Boys, The Singapores, The B-Lovers/Turning Curious, Pop The Balloon, The Dagos, Dumptruck, Adam Schmitt, Erik Voeks' Sandbox, Blown, The Love Experts, and Finn's Motel.

Enk & Patrick in Columbus, pic by Doug's sis Carol, I think
Mr. Patrick Hawley is one of the finest drummers I have witnessed in this life. Dirty Moons was not only a total analog-domain enterprise, but the mixes were manual as well. Meaning that the faders were not programmable, everything was on the fly, and with the side 3 tracks there had to be many hands on deck for the mixes, with yrs truly often blanking on a mute and then needing to start the whole thing over... Patrick was a rock in that process. He has often been integral to moving our arrangements and interpretations further outside and is an excellent foil in many respects. The highlight of any show for me is what crazy shit will go down between us in the intro for "Year of the Donk," among other spots. Patrick also hails from C-U, is the young one (erm, under 40) among us. He's played with lots of people, sometimes just in a recording situation, but a partial list would include Ballyhoo, Load, The What Gives, Pansy Division, Twiggy, Titanic Love Affair/Jay Bennett, Blown, Erik Voeks' Sandbox, Diamond Star Halo, Adam Schmitt, Love Experts, and Finn's Motel.

Both of these guys are world-class and it is an honor to play music with them. Sometimes I feel like we're a jazz band that plays rock, because the music really gets "played" - it's a living thing, we know where the song is, and anyone can play around the song as much as they like.

np: Freddie Roach Mo' Greens Please

Moving to St. Louis also coincided with a growing interest in jazz. Just before I'd left Cle, I'd wound up spending time at the House of Swing in South Euclid. The owner housed his records and memoribilia at the bar, non-reverentially, and they played sides of whatever as the house music. Before that I hadn't heard any jazz that I liked (child of the 70s, so Weather Report etc was my frame) but the HoS left me know there was good stuff out there. When I moved to StL, I was in the neighborhood of, and Scariano was employed by, what was to become one of the pre-eminent jazz LP dealers, Euclid Records. They sell all kinds of shit, but if you want crazy rare jazz, like autographed Sun Ra 45's that no-one knew existed, Joe Schwab is your man. I worked there for a year or two in the late 90s when my bread was especially lean, and Scariano is there to this day with a good spell at Vintage Vinyl as intermezzo. Point being, I really fucking lucked out and bought a bunch of choice LPs in questionable shape for a nice price. Both Steve and Patrick were hep to the jazz whether out or in, and expanded my horizons quite a bit. I owe both Andrew Hill and Art Tatum to both of them.

So Steve and Patrick are good partners, they're always there musically and good company to boot. And jeebus, do they have their own musical voices, but you should know that by now. I should also mention utility infielder Joe Thebeau, he of Finn's Motel, who's always at the ready to play guitars I'll record over, spot us a second live, offer good ideas, lend us his perfect pitch, play whatever silly ass percussion we ask, drive us around in his boogie van, put the guitars into my sometimes ridiculous tunings, and along with his lovely wife Gina, whore out their basement when we need four days straight of rehearsal. Joe is a very musical and talented cat, he's worth your ears.


steve scariano said...

Thanks Griff and right back at you. I've always been greatly honored to rock and hang with you and Enk.

Speaking of Andrew Hill, years after the fact I'm still blown away that we got to see him perform here in St. Louis a few years before he passed. Astonishing in that:
1. He bothered playing here at all.
2. He played a rock club, fer chrissakes.
3. Despite minimal rehearsal with a local rhythm section the afternoon of the show, Hill's performance that night was truly masterful and spellbinding.

He was definitely in a piano league of his own...

steve scariano said...

Yo Griff, a bit of biographical clarification about myself for the record here:
I was born and raised in St. Louis, MO and do not hail from Champaign-Urbana, though I spent six fascinating years ('81-'87) living there while playing in the bands The B-Lovers/Turning Curious and Pop The Balloon.