Saturday, January 17, 2009

Let the Jeers Begin

I'm not sure why I'm posting these, and I'm fairly certain I'll regret it. Maybe Patrick Madrid will stop by and be tempted to post some band photos of his own.

I was proposing to my current bandmate Chris that perhaps it would be fun to throw in an old Stryper song, and suggested this one. Michael Sweet, the vocalist, was something else. He's actually filling in for the late Brad Delp on ths current Boston revival tour. There aren't many people who could pull that off. Anyway, if you watch the clip, play it to the end and hear the last note he hits. Unbelievable. He had the same vocal coach as Geoff Tate from Queensrÿche, another unbelievably talented rock singer. (Yes, I am—or was—a long time Queensrÿche fan.)

Anyway, it got me thinking once again about my past career as a musician, and I pulled out some photos from those days. Before I came to my senses, I had scanned several of them in. Apparently, I still haven't come to my senses, because I'm now posting them for you all to see.

Here's a photo my friend Alan took at a local club that used to be called the Whiskey River. It was later remodelled and called the River, and then eventually sold to another owner, who transferred his club (The Emerald Club) there and renamed it the Emerald City club. It's a straight-friendly club... which means it's actually a gay club. Anyhow, that was not the case when this photo was taken. Here's the whole band, Targa, probably on a two-week stint after having been roaming the northwest for a few months. It was always great to come home and play locally. I'm the bass player, the guy with the faux snake-skin pants, Ibanez Destroyer bass, and the big hair. I could make really big hair back then. Not so much now.

(Last year, I had my friend Doug, the guitar player in this photo, repaint my bass for my daughter—a nice pink worthy of Hello Kitty. Yesterday, I heard her playing Crazy Train. While I don't want her listening to Ozzy regularly, that song brought back some memories. And yes, I went down and showed here where the tablature she found was a little off.)

I played with Targa (my fourth band, second pro band) after I left college following my third semester. Why did I leave college? Wanted to pursue my music career. I have to admit that studying music at University of Idaho sort of helped. They didn't seem to appreciate self-taught rock musicians all that much. (I actually played in a working band for my last year in high school. It was a bad place for anyone to be without a solid mentor, but it was a great way to make money.)

This next photo, also by my friend Alan, was taken a bit later (probably 87 or so). We had retrofitted our stage and added a lighted drum riser and large lighted sign. We had a light show of about 28 par 64s, rain lights, a fog machine. Back then, a nightclub act pretty much had to travel with its own light show and sound system. I don't think that's as much the case anymore. Some bands even had flash pots.

Anyway, you can't see any of that. This is just a shot of me. (I remember talking to a guy in an original band in a Shreveport bar. He said he'd cry if they had to play for one night for what we made in a week. It's hard to make a living as a musician in the northwest.)

UPDATE: My younger brother scanned some old promo shots. Here's one we had taken after we got out of the whole leather and spandex phase.

I'm the short guy in the middle. The shot was taken in the stairwell of one of the basement shops in the Belgravia building in Old Boise. This seemed to be an excellent place to take photos although the shadows might be a bit much here.

One of the guitar players (Doug) and I absconded to play in a second band (hoping to have two bands to play in). The others didn't like that and kicked us out. They bought Doug out but made me pay for my equipment, mostly because Doug had been with them from the beginning. And because I had been a bit of a flake. (I have to admit that my commitment in the band realm has not always been very good. It's easy to be a flake in that field. Or at least it was for me.)

Anyway, that band (and I won't even mention its absurd name) managed to record two very poppy songs and played a few very bad gigs. When the lead singer fell into a habit of begging off practice to hang out with his girlfriend, we fired him and hired another guitar player. We renamed this band Dash Riprock (I know, great name), and this was probably one of the best bands I have ever played with in terms of combined musical ability and stage performance. We did fairly well, but we only lasted a couple of years.

This photo was taken by a fan who followed us from Boise out to the NCO club at Mountain Home AFB. We had only played a few gigs, so I don't know how we had much of a fan base. However, we did seem to have a consistent following.

I have no idea what song I was singing here. I was playing a G&L bass that I had traded for my Rickenbacker 4001 (after it had been crushed in a Christmas-party accident and no longer had stock parts). Dash Riprock covered some great music (Rush, Living Color) and even did some pretty cool versions of Eleanor Rigby and Drift Away.

Here's a shot of Danny and me at the same gig. Notice that the stage isn't nearly as elaborate as the earlier shots. Part of this was because we were playing for a dance at the NCO club on the airbase at Mountain Home. They paid for music and didn't demand a stage show. A lot of the other clubs in Boise still did, but that became less and less important as the clubs stopped paying for week-long engagements. We used to have to travel with all of that. Now days, everyone seems to hire locally.

Danny is still one of the best and most tasteful guitar players I've ever played with. He can mimic anyone from Eddie Van Halen to Alex Leifson to Muddy Waters.

Notice the difference in stage dress. The Targa era was during the second phase of glam rock (the first being way before our time). By the time Dash Riprock rolled around, Guns 'n' Roses had slithered onto the scene, and Motley Crüe had gone from "shlock" to glam and back to biker togs. It was a confusing time to be a rocker. Anyway, by this time, the thing was to rip up your jeans and wear them over spandex or leather. My, we looked so tough, right down to our flabby biceps. (I think I was still under 150 back then.)

I left that band before I started my graduate work and married. They continued playing together for the most part. (Doug left and was replace by another Doug from the former competition, a local band called the Uninvited). They played together as Rumble Doll—not the same as the current band of that name—for several years, and I rejoined them around 1998. Even at that point, my disfunctional relationship with music was still influencing me in ways that don't promote band unity.

I've played with various former bandmates off and on since then. Right now, I'm playing in something completely different. After leaving the Lifeteen group at my church, the director of that group and I have put together something the focuses more on what we want to give to the Church. We've been playing regularly for the Treasure Valley Young Adult Ministry gatherings since last summer. Our next date is this Monday (1/19/2009) at the Perks of Life in Eagle. If you're local, please come on down.

I'm hoping my brother will send a scan of a promo shot that he has from the later Targa days. If he does, I'll post it post haste.
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