Monday, August 18, 2014

Rhythm Alley Redux - 14 - June 1986

"This is a room with a view
See everything for what it is
We want to do what we want forever" - Let's Active, "Room With a View"

06 - Safehouse with Long Gone
07 - Gumbo Ya-Ya
12 - Rod Dash with Arsenic
13 - Suzie Saxon and the Anglos with the Montegoes
14 - Shakin’ Sherman and the Blazers
20 - Dakota Joe and Bullets of Blue
21 - Hege V with Regalion
25 - Dave Olney and the X-Rays
26 - Chris Stamey with the Dayroom Monitors
27 - Othermothers
28 - Glenn Phillips Band

Money woes weren’t the only issue we were facing.  I understand that some alcoholics develop coping mechanisms that they use to disguise their condition for a period of time until it becomes too obvious for others to ignore.  I think the same thing must be true of sleep deprivation as I’d managed to survive at work while falling asleep in my deskchair many afternoons, but that couldn’t last forever - and didn’t.  I’ve been an IT people manager for twenty years now (and a damn good one) and I give credit to my boss at the time for not just firing me without much notice.  Instead he gave me a choice - go find another job or get rid of the club.  We tried to pave the way for doing either or both but I suppose we were finally realizing that this situation was not going to be sustainable over the long haul, even if I was working closer to home.  Me not having a day job was clearly not an option as we were at best barely breaking even.  In the meantime, I tried to back away a little bit and let Jeannette and our friends take on a little more of the load while we decided what to do.

June started off with guitar wizard Terry McInturff’s Safehouse on Friday night, with Sonar providing the vocals.  Terry’s loaded a couple of their demos on Youtube - they had a really nice, dense rock sound and drew a pretty decent crowd.  Saturday night was what I assume was one of the last Gumbo Ya-Ya shows and they also drew a good number of folks for a June weekend.

The next weekend wasn’t quite so good - I wasn’t expecting sellouts but we needed to put more people in the club and I just hadn’t been able to schedule the kind of shows we needed in order to get ahead.  Looking back, while I was trying to get some different folks onto the calendar it wasn’t enough.  I really liked Rod Dash and I had looked forward to bringing Suzy Saxon and the Anglos down from Richmond for Friday but neither show did much to help us.

Suzie Saxon.jpg
Photo of the cover of Suzy Saxon’s album

Shakin’ Sherman and the Blazers rounded out the weekend and pulled in their crowd of regulars (thank goodness for the Blazers!) but even with them there was less beer consumption than usual.

The next weekend was a short one, with Dakota Joe and Bullets of Blue taking the stage on Friday.  Saturday was a long day, as it was the first time Hege V and the Bijous played the Alley and a crew from The Nashville Network was there to film it for a segment on George for the “Crook and Chase” show.  A year or so before when MTV’s “The Cutting Edge” came to town to film the local scene, they focused on The Brewery and the Cradle so this was the first time Rhythm Alley had a shot at some national exposure.

Hege V was just an awesome band.  There were a number of bands that made some noise outside of the Southeast from that period (see Fetchin’ Bones, the Connells, Flat Duo-Jets and later Southern Culture on the Skids, as well as others) but I don’t know that any band was more immediately ready for the big time than the Bijous.  Great band, great songwriting, George’s showmanship - all made for a good time.  There wasn’t a huge crowd (although not bad for a first date for a new band) but with all of the television and audio cables snaked across the floor, it was probably all that would have worked without someone getting hurt.  In the end, I think they used all of about 10 seconds of the show on “Crook and Chase” but the Rhythm Alley banner hanging at the back of the stage was in fact seen on national basic cable television, so there’s that.

Hege V.jpg
Photo of the cover of the House of Tears LP - a bit of a cheat as it didn’t come out until well after we sold the club.  Not sure why the photo came out so gray here.

I was able to extend the final weekend of June forward a bit, with Dave Olney and the X-Rays coming in on Wednesday night.  I think they’d mostly been playing for DR at the Cradle so they were probably one of the first bookings I got due to the Cradle being closed.  Dave had gone to school at UNC (and had been in a band with Bland Simpson, I found out later) before moving to Nashville and starting a very long career playing country-tinged barroom rock and roll.  It was a really good night for a summertime Wednesday, followed by a Chris Stamey show with (guess who!) the Dayroom Monitors on Thursday.  There was some kind of mix-up with Chris’ show - either I thought he was bringing a band but instead he played solo, or vice versa.  Regardless, I remember it was a really good show (wouldn’t expect anything less) and reasonably well attended.

I would have sworn that the Othermothers show was on a Saturday instead of a Friday.  I say that because I was there for the soundcheck (and Jeannette wasn’t) so it must have started quite late.  I remember that because it was the absolute worst soundcheck I’d ever heard.  The guys had been partying for multiple days (I have no idea who drove over to Chapel Hill from Greensboro but I’m relatively sure they shouldn’t have).  One of the guys (I won’t name names) became the only person I ever saw in the club fall backwards off their bar stool.  I was fully prepared for a complete disaster of a show and instead the guys got up and did one of the tightest, best, most professional sets I’d ever seen.  There were unfortunately not nearly as many people there to see it as there should have been but the folks that did show up drank heavily and were treated to a damn good show.

Photo of the cover of the Othermothers EP

We closed the month with a the steady turnout that Glenn Phillips always got (70-80 people).  This was one of the few shows that I didn’t work - actually Jeannette and I may have skipped town for the rest of the weekend to take a little break and figure out what we were going to do next.

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