Monday, June 28, 2010

Prattle for Missouri?

The Battle for Missouri was a bummer.

Leaf Humpy told me that Jesse Jeffers was sponsoring the event here in town but I wanted another crack at Jerry's Bait Shop even though I knew it would be a screwjob.

Jeffers and I go back to Halloween Havoc '07 at the LM Alcott Center in KCK. He and another jobber were supposed to back me up but started falling apart after song one. We exchanged flames on MySpace, Jeffers accusing me of shoddy musicianship, but unfortunately I have the video. The closer, "Do You Love Me", was a classic.

When I checked in after 2 PM on 6/27/10, Jeffers had one sob story after another. Two bands supposedly cancelled (after paying a $40 entry fee???) and left a gap between my set and the next group of over two hours. That doesn't give the judges the best comparison time, I figured. I got pretty nasty with ol' Southern Grace after that, and it got worse when he said there were no amps available. By then I was ready to hammer the little bastard but, as they say, the show must go on.

What followed next was another episode of my love/hate relationship with Mr. Machine. I've got one of the best crap tape Spoiler practices of all time in my truck right now, courtesy of Little Mac. I was backed into that corner by Big Mac (John Mc Guffin), who canceled out a week before showtime. The set was bitchin' at the house, but onstage, well...acoustics can be a stubborn animal sometimes. The first three songs were on the money but "Man Grenade" had a bad takeoff, and "Obamanation" almost didn't make the finish line. "Back From Iraq" had the Bait Shop crowd calling for an encore, but that wasn't going to amount to a pile of dog poo with Jeffers' judges.

The business end of the industry was what defeated me in NYC, and it's starting to burn me out here in KC. It gets harder and harder to give your best every night when you know the movers and shakers don't give a damn what the audience thinks. All you feel like doing at the end of the show is give a pencil-pusher a piledriver. Count your blessings, JJ.

Well, we've got the LPAT in Liberty next month, and I'm hoping the judges there will give us a fair shake. Even if they don't, we'll get another great video out of it.

I got $1,000 for the Ducky Boys' acetate a couple of years ago. Wonder what these Spoiler movies'll be worth...

...after the Obamanation?

Prolly not a plugged nickel, collapsed economy or not.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Broad Street Bullies?

I wonder whether someone at HBO corporate offices contemplated a form of artificial providence in coinciding the broadcast of the Flyers’ documentary with the 2009-10 NHL playoffs. Damned if they didn’t cause Flyermania to inspire the bottom-seeded Flyers to nearly win the Stanley Cup…and galvanize the Spoiler Empire in the process.

I was a kid when the Flyers last hoisted the Cup. Bobby Clarke, Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, Flyer captain Ed Van Impe…they were all featured on the “Broad Street Bullies” presentation, showing us how time had flown. Thirty-five years, who would’ve thought. It had been forty-nine years for the Black Hawks. When they interviewed Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Company, the general consensus was that they would have savored the moment far longer. They were kids themselves, and they thought the Cups and champagne would just keep on coming. It made me think of how the Spoiler thought we were destined for superstardom and never considered otherwise. It was the height of the Punk Revolution in NYC, and we just knew we would cure the country of Disco Fever. Who would’ve thought the Music Industry and MTV would synthesize it all into New Wave and wash us all away...thirty-five years ago

Who would’ve thought.

The apostle Paul wrote that the Greeks sought wisdom as the Jews looked for miracles. Doubtlessly the Flyer Nation and the Spoiler Empire watched for signs and wonders as the Bullies clawed their way to the Finals, only to lose it on a fluke goal that seemed to symbolize their post-season. Was it real, or Memorex? Was it all a dream, or a harbinger of bigger and better things to come? Is tomorrow only just a day away?

Signs and wonders…signs and wonders.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Shocked at Aftershock?

It was a classic Tale of the Tape, and helped me avoid another meltdown. Another one of those pay-per-play Battle of the Band events that I knew wasn't going to get us anywhere. I did it for the video, and thankfully so.

Local Phenomenon Productions set up this farce at the Aftershock in Shawnee KS. I knew this wasn't going to work well when I drove out last week and found no spots in town to put out flyers. When I got to the show, the screamo bands were mustering up and cornball picker Dave Wendler was setting up alongside me bragging that he was the only one on the bill getting paid. I got set up, did my sound check, and waited for the sound man to arrive a half hour late.

Johnny Mac canceled out, which left me alone with Mr. (Drum) Machine. Those things are great for practice but will twist your shorts onstage, largely because they're so hard to hear under combat conditions unless you've got them on a separate amp (mea culpa). I plowed through the metal set with difficulty but hit my stride with the thrash songs. Unfortunately the locals didn't seem to care for "Obamanation" and were set to cut me loose. I asked for the final five minutes of my half-hour set...big mistake. "Back From Iraq" fell apart like a house of cards.

The screamo bands were real supportive and even came by the truck as I was packing it in. I wasn't too good with the outcome so I decided to review the video when I got home. Surprise, surprise. My mic work was on the money and (for a change) I was delighted by the vox. The guitar was a tad fuzzy but Mr. Machine took a licking too. It was basically a shoot between me and Machine, and it cost me on "Iraq". The rest of the show, though...well, I ended up with a pretty good demo.

Unfortunately these 'battles' are about a half-step up from the open mics around town. The only real advantage is that it's a semi-legit gig which lets you use the club's name for your promos, plus you have more say as to volume control and set length. Other than that, if the owner or booker's not on site, you're a snowball in hell.

Funny thing, the whole experience kinda got me back on track. I'm wanting to get back out there and show people what we REALLY got. Our next one's set for the Buffalo Bar on 6/10.

Let the audience beware!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Line Jumped Again?

Well, I really didn't feel like going out today.

Johnny Mac canceled out, which should've sufficed, but I wasn't good with the fact we haven't been out all month. After all, this may be our last season. I decided to go anyway, even though my wrist is still messed up after the hockey game two weeks ago. I've got 345 back up on the squat rack but only 200 on the bench because of it. Well, damn the torpedoes, I decided to check out Howell's Bar and Grill on 5/16/10. Randy Patton gave us a fair shake last time and I had new songs to try out.

Forty-five minutes after signup time, the Pattons finally let the jammers step up. Only their guitarist, a Rufus T. Firefly (from the Devil's Rejects) lookalike, penalized me for having to get my guitar from the truck. Wait 'til next set...well, let's try hell freezing over.

I'm not that much of a prima donna, but, geez, it's not like people get paid for these things. You're putting out gas and beer money, putting your name on the line, have no idea what kind of crowd you're up against, and don't even know if the house band is going to work with you. Plus it's been raining all day and traffic in Gladstone's congested on Sunday, to say the least. You'd think you could at least do your three-and-out. Zero-and-out really bites.

Why bother. Well, like I said, maybe this is our last season, and we need to go out with our heads held high. Cream rises to the top, and *if* we are as phenomenal as we think we are, someone somewhere will take notice. It's what I told Terri and CJ, and even though they lost faith and left...if I go...

No one's left.

Monday, May 3, 2010

No Showz?

For the first time since I started my random acts of Spoilermania, I bailed out of an open mic spot...not one, but two.

Problem was, both the Czar Bar and Crosstown Station in KCMO advertised open mics at 6 PM tonight (Monday night), and only Czar Bar was open. Unfortunately the emcee showed up a half hour late and bumped it down to 7:30. Upon finding out Crosstown hadn't even opened, I decided to call it a day (especially since I forgot to bring my tape, no benefit).

It's just symptomatic of the plague that's destroying the music scene here in KC: complacency and defeatism. The club owners are so worried about making rent that they sink their hopes on friends, family and relatives who only book amongst themselves and won't let ambitious new acts get a shot. As a result, the bookers embarrass themselves week after week and ultimately begin arriving late or no-showing until the owners pull the plug on the entire operation. Either that or they endure the cancer of hangers-on and barflies showing at their dead man walking shows until, again, they opt for the lethal injection.

I know I'm swimming against the tide but I, like the clubs, have no choice but to fight or die. If only they realize we're both in a desperate spot. Give me the chance to save you, fool, what do you have to lose that you're not going to lose anyway?

I've got Aftershock in Shawnee KS on 5/27. I may have First Friday at Crossroads on 5/7. I may have every chance I need in the next few weeks...but without the backup I need I'll ultimately have nothing. Musicians, bookers, club owners...are you out there?

The SPOILER is the need you want, the want you need. Catch it while you can...ain't no one gonna miss you when you're gone.

I know that better than anyone.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Return of the Iceman?

Well, I finally went out to the Independence Events Center today and gave my fading ice hockey career another jump start.

Considering the fact that it was only my second time on skates in two years (my last game was at Pepsi Ice Center in Overland Park KS in May 2008), it wasn't the worst of times. I played a solid defense, made some slick passes, only made one bonehead giveaway, and scored an empty-net goal with no time remaining. Still, I thought being about twenty pounds lighter would've made a difference. WRONG! Get out on that track and do some laps, big man.

Back in high school I was a neighborhood legend but I didn't have the size to take a shot at the minor leagues. The band, then wrestling, eclipsed my hockey dream until 2007. I had this fantastic delusion of making a comeback to see if I had anything left. Unfortunately I chose the Waukonis hockey league as a re-entry point and, frankly, I got screwed over every step of the way. Joe Lynch, who was one of my first 'friends' at the rink (and happened to be chummy with four-time Stanley Cup-winning NY Islander and 1990 Olympic hockey gold medalist Ken Morrow) turned out to be a lying snake in the grass. He ended up being the one to get me kicked out of the league, sinking my last hope of being 'discovered'.

So why go back? Well, why lift weights, why play rock and roll? Even better: why wake up tomorrow? If you can, you might as well. If you don't you may as well start digging your own grave. When your dreams die, you die.

And this NYC Sewer Rat isn't dead yet.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Iron Man?

Back to the weights again.

The weights. They've given me the edge throughout my life, ever since I was a 98-pound weakling in fifth grade at St. Paul's School in Brooklyn NY. I convinced my Mom to buy me my first 110-pound set for my thirteenth birthday; that was the recommended age to start because Joe Weider said so. I was so weak I could barely carry the bar, my Mom and my friend Kenny had to carry the box of plates. They helped me evolve into a 147-pound wolverine through high school, and I eventually became a 185-pound Broadway Turk Superstar throughout my NYC rock career with the Spoiler and the Ducky Boys.

When I left NYC for Texas, all I took with me was my love for lifting. I got back into it and was amazed to discover there was life (and size) beyond the Big Apple, pumping myself up to 240 (with a 400-lb bench press and a 500-lb squat) to pursue my childhood dream of pro wrestling. I toiled in the minor leagues for four years before hanging it up and putting the plates away. Seven years later, I made a comeback at Kuk Sool Won on the road to a martial arts degree. It ended in Independence MO where I tore my arms up, the left one at Universal Hapkido and the right one at the Cave, a submission fighting school (you think I would've taken the hint). In between I managed to find closure with my dreams of ice hockey in Gladstone MO. I was a glacier on the ice, I wrecked enough guys to get kicked out of the league.

So why go back now? defines me. That big bad wrestling persona was Broadway Turk before he ever set foot in a wrestling ring. It makes the SPOILER what it is, it gives me the edge and the self-confidence to get up on there and say, this is our stage, we own it, it's our spotlight until we're done. We play hard, driving, physical rock and roll, and one look at us tells you we can do it...before we play one note.

Lifting weights is the most challenging form of exercise there is. In other sports, when you get tired you can stop. When you got 500 pounds of metal on your shoulders, if you give up you are a dead man. It tests your skill, your nerve, your desire, your character. Whenever I look in the mirror and question the reflection, I head downstairs to the basement where the bench and the rack await.

So, if this is the end of my career, I can't think of a better way to go out. Rock hard and feeling mean. They may not be sorry, but they won't dare laugh until I'm long gone.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bait Shop Blues?

We survived the Battle of the Bands on Sunday April 25th.

There were a lot of mixed emotions for me, it was like ‘in with the old and out with the new’. Terri Thunders and Cowtown Joe left the band just before the show. Terri is pretty much a workaholic and wasn’t going to lose a paycheck over a non-paying gig. Joe wanted more creative control than I could afford to give. My newest drummer, John Farrell, and our titular manager, Greg Wood, were no-shows. My co-promoter of our defunct IWA (Independence Wrestling Association), “Mad Max” Anderson and his wife Dorothy showed up to give us moral support and make sure we got our video. My old drummer John Mc Guffin, who played on our Canned Heat video, came in and saved the day onstage.

Strangely enough, only two things really stuck in my mind. I repented for saying the f-word in front of the younger audience. I also felt like we got outmuscled by Operation Fear, a screamo band out of St. Joseph. Of course, they couldn’t get over in front of 95% of the audiences we play, and it was five against two. Still, it’s that Spoiler pride. I don’t like us coming up second best at anything, not even screamo. But, once again we’ve proved we’re the best band out there. Yet once again, I don’t know where we’re going next. There’s no guarantee that John Mac is coming back, and it may well be me and my new drum machine against the world again. Still, we’ve got the new songs on My Space, and they’re screaming at me not to be buried alive. They’re just too good to be threw, as they say.

I’m taking the week off (or so I’m thinking) to recharge my batteries, hit the weights, wait for my new grunge pedal to come in, and tinker with some new recordings. I know I’m nearing the end of my journey and I just want to go out in style, but you just never know where the Lord is going to take you along the long and winding road. Hell, you just want to get there with your head held high and your dignity intact.

At Jerry’s Bait Shop, we had nothing to be ashamed of.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Metal Machine Massacre?

This is the night before one of the biggest shows in SPOILER history. Tomorrow afternoon at 4 PM at Jerry's Bait Shop in Lee's Summit may be the end of the beginning...or the beginning of the end.

Despite having written some of the best songs in franchise history as of late, recruiting members and finding gigs has been highly unsuccessful. Narrowing the gap has necessitated the use of a drum machine, which has tightened up the sound but serves to emphasize the lack of support. The great Broadway Turk Superstar has become a one-man band, doing the guitar/vox, putting on a show, working the mic between songs, a one-legged man at a butt-kicking contest.

The Bait Shop is hosting Gorilla Productions' second Battle of the Bands in KCMO. The Turk strapped it on with Terri Thunders (keys) in December and they more than held their own. Only it was an alternative band competing against a lineup of metal bands, swimming against the tide. This time Superstar wrote a metal set that's down to kill. Only the SPOILER hasn't done a metal show in over thirty (!) years. They're concerned, they're nervous...but they're poised and ready.

Should this attack fail, the writing may be on the wall. Alternative is not catching fire in Kansas City, and the old guard blues and classic rock venues are drying up. The NYC Sewer Rat has been hitting it hard since last fall but the naysayers and the barren playing field are taking its toll. The music is too good to give up on but everything has its limits.Has the SPOILER reached its limit? On April 25, 2010...we shall see.