Sunday, March 10, 2013

Show #95 February 23, 2013

This one goes out to Betsy and all the great bands from Providence, RI!!

Betsy- The Probers Mad At The World
Smash-Up- The Greenberry Woods Big Money Item
Give And Take- Throwback Suburbia Shot Glass Souvenir
Crime Scene- Kevin K The Best Of Kevin K - New York, New York
Tomorrow- Radio City Class of '77  
Princess Warrior- Big Dipper Crashes On The Platinum Planet 
If I Didn't Love You- Squeeze Argybargy
Flamingo- This Perfect Day Don't Smile
^Anywhere With You- Rubber Rodeo Anywhere With You 
Cha Cha- Tinted Windows Tinted Windows
New Girl- The Fingers On The Radio 
*I Wanna Be The Vice President- Delinquents It's Down To You 
*Make It The Same- The Mundanes Make It The Same 7"
*You Don't Know Me- The Nads The Nads Ep 
*Hyperactive- Hi-Beams Hyperactive 
*Streamline Heart- The Schemers The Living Room: A Compilation 
*Something Special- Big World The Living Room: A Compilation 
*Dream Girl- The Threats The Living Room: A Compilation
*Can't Remember Her Name- The Detectives The Living Room: A Compilation
*Gone- Plan 9 Dealing With The Dead
*Mom- Neutral Nation It's A Bash
*(When I) Touch You There- Coat Of Arms Roust! 
*My Blank Pages- Velvet Crush Teenage Symphonies To God 
Hangin- Free Energy Love Sign
Children Of The Revolution- T-Rex The Very Best Of T-Rex 
Drastic Change- Just Water The Riff
>Sweet Mary- Wadsworth Mansion Sweet Mary 
Mr. Sad- The True Loves I Was Accident 
Little Bit Frightening- The Wanderers Only Lovers Left Alive  
The Untitled- Rash Of Stabbings Shell Shocked Ride 

^Power Pop Peak:

*SacroSet:  Providence Rock and Roll 1979-1994

>Power Pop Prototype:  1971

Growing up in the suburbs usually means you are oriented toward one "urb" or city.  Both towns I grew up in Massachusetts, Brockton (until 5th grade) and Duxbury (through high school) are clearly suburbs of Boston.  We rooted for the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins and when someone said they were going "in town" it only meant Boston.  Even so, since both Brockton and Duxbury are in southeastern Massachusetts, we got many of the Providence, Rhode Island television and radio stations.  The A and P in Brockton used to give out bright yellow cardboard boxes featuring the logo for Channel 6, a station in New Bedford, Mass that serves the Providence market.  I think they were supposed to be in-car trash cans which is ironic because I have a vivid memory of a family car trip where beside me in the back seat my sister Sarah methodically tears a Channel 6 box apart, laughing maniacally as each yellow shred gets sucked out her open window.  I remember laughing a little too, though she was making me pretty anxious.  First, I knew my Dad was about to yell at us and I thought laughter would make me seem complicit.  Second, it shocked me she was littering!  I was very susceptible to all the anti-littering ads on TV.  Woodsy the owl was admittedly lame but who could resist the Indian with the tear in his eye?

But I digress, Providence Channels 6, 10 and 12 were a part of my television upbringing.  From an early age however I sensed an "otherness" about these stations.  Not that I paid that much attention, but to my young eyes, newscasts on Boston TV were pretty slick affairs with anchors that seemed kind of like game show hosts.  The news out of Providence was nowhere near as flashy and read by older, more serious people with Italian names that sounded hard to spell.  Interestingly, Providence and Boston radio stations sounded the same to me.  In fact, for my first few years in Duxbury, my favorite station was Providence's 92 PRO FM, which is still in the Top 40 format today.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, my first concert was Aerosmith with Nils Lofgren at the Providence Civic Center on October 31, 1977.  Thanks to the Celtics and Bruins' home games, Boston Garden couldn't hold a candle to the Civic Center when it came to rock concerts.  One of my all-time favorite shows was the following year:  Kiss at Providence Civic Center on February 2, 1978.

When I got into Punk Rock I stopped going to arena rock shows for a few years and didn't make it back to Providence until 1983 on the fateful night that my friend Jim and I went to see The Damned.  I loved the band's new album Strawberries and had never seen them before.  For some reason Boston wasn't on the tour so I borrowed my mom's Chevy Chevette and Jim and I headed down to The Living Room. In its first incarnation the club was located in easily accessible downtown Providence. In 1981, to make way for a federal building, The Living Room moved to the industrial west side, occupying part of something called "the bubble complex" due to its skylights and exterior bubble out front below the sign.  If you pulled back about 50 more feet in the photo you'd be in the Providence River.  On a map it looks like The Living Room is a straight shot off Route 95 but thanks to a convoluted clover leaf, the aforementioned river and the club's hidden location in the midst of much taller factory buildings, I got lost each and every time I drove there- that first time with Jim being the worst.  True to form, I insisted we leave three hours early saying- "we'll get a bite to eat near the club," ignorant to the fact that it was located in an Escher-like barren industrial hellscape.  Jim and I drove around and around that night, finally seeing The Living Room lit up against a now pitch black backdrop, only to realize that we were on the WRONG SIDE of the freaking river!  We contemplated swimming for it, but even in the dark that water seemed nasty.  It sounded thick and syrupy, making me wonder if its inky depths were the inspiration for some of Providence writer HP Lovecraft's monsters like Cthulhu or Yog-Sothoth.

We got to the club moments before opening act Rash Of Stabbings took the stage.  One look at their teased out nu-wave mullets and I was ready to right them off but boy was I wrong- that band was fierce!  Bob Hymers guitar filled every nook and cranny of the room, kind of a hybrid between The Edge's ethereal echoes and Husker Du-era Bob Mould's sonic onslaught.  There were lots of spaces in Rash of Stabbings' songs but then everything would come together and it was powerful.  Carlotta Christy was still their lead singer that first night I saw them opening up for The Damned.  Years later I was dating a Rhode Island girl named Laura who had worked coat check at The Living Room.  She told that Carlotta had been swept off her feet and not just out of the band, but out of the United States by, of all people, 70's British pop star David Essex of "Rock On" fame.  They were together until 2008 and I just read on the Interweb that Essex is getting married again- to a girl 26 years younger (they guy is consistent, I'll give him that). 

After Carlotta left Rash of Stabbings Bob Hymers took over lead vocals which in my opinion was a change for the better.  It always seemed like the group was on the cusp of getting signed to a major label but nothing ever came of it.  Part of the problem may be that from a marketing standpoint the name "Rash Of Stabbings" was too hard for the labels to get their heads around.  The band tried switching to just "Rash" for a while but it didn't take and as near as I can tell they called it quits sometime in the early 90's.

As we were circling west Providence looking for the Living Room that night back in 1983, Jim and I talked about how nice it was to be seeing a show outside Boston.  We had seen too many shows marred by the moshing, stage diving showboats of the Boston hardcore scene. These guys would often grab the microphone out of a singer's hand and scream along, usually getting the words wrong.  I would always feel bad for the real singers, most of whom tried to take it in stride but were, like myself, probably thinking "get these douche bags off my stage!"  The worst offender was already in Boston's most infamous hardcore band- how much stage time did this guy need?!?  Anyway, it's all cool during Rash of Stabbings but when The Damned take the stage this same guy and about ten of his friends bum rush the stage.  The Damned were good sports and despite all the "Boston Crew" douche baggery it was an amazing show.

When I started dating Laura in the mid-80's we'd often go down to Providence to see bands.  She still had connections at The Living Room- this one bouncer named Rich would always let us in for free (she told me that Rich had once gotten a blowy from a groupie in exchange for letting her backstage to see King Diamond- how awesome is that?)  I remember seeing Rash of Stabbings a few more times- slightly awkward since Laura had dated the drummer- along with Neutral Nation, Boneyard and a bunch of touring bands.  We'd also go to Club Babyhead where we saw Coat of Arms and Plan 9, who had five guitar players- FIVE!  One of the great things about those Providence trips was that during the day Laura took me over to Thayer Street near Brown University which had a couple of amazing record stores- the best being Tom's Tracks.  I bought a lot of great records at Tom's during those years, including The Mundane's single and Coat of Arms cassette I played on tonight's show.  Allston, Mass institution In Your Ear Records had store on Thayer Street as well.  After Laura and I broke up I took Jaime on a Providence excursion where we stopped off at In Your Ear, bought Velvet Crush's Ash and Earth single from drummer Ric Menck who was working behind the counter, then saw he and his bandmates rock mightily that night at Babyhead.  Jaime and I became friends when I was dating Laura and the two of them got along pretty well.  In fact I think the three of us went to see Dramarama at The Living Room one night- or maybe it was Soul Asylum.  There's no doubt that Laura was a guest at our wedding.  In any case, like Kenmore Square in Boston, Thayer Street has become a soulless corporate husk of its former self.  I'm glad I got to see it in the good old days.  I will always be grateful to Laura for showing me around Providence, RI. 

p.s.  Big thanks go out to the great Ed Slota for helping me out with some music for this show.

You can download this week's ALL KINDSA GIRLS below (right click and "Save Link As," if download stops you may need to pause and un-pause)
Hour 1
Hour 2