Monday, April 27, 2015

Buzzcocks in Baltimore: Many Happy Returns


Buzzcocks: The boys are back in town

Buzzcocks @ Baltimore Soundstage
w/The Residuels, Expert Alterations
April 18, 2015

Touring in support of their latest release, The Way (Pledge Music, 2014) - their ninth album over the course of a celebrated 40-year career (1976-81, 1989-present) and the first featuring new material since 2006's Flat-Pack Philosophy - Buzzcocks stopped in Baltimore on April 18 for their first show here in four years (though they did visit Washington, D.C.'s Black Cat just last September). This was a real treat because Baltimore was one of only three East Coast stops for the fab foursome, who played New York's Irving Plaza on April 16 and Asbury Park, NJ's Stone Pony on April 17, before closing out their tour at the Baltimore Soundstage. (I suspect Buzzcocks fanboy Dave Cawley is responsible for Charm City's inclusion on this brief tour, thanks to his overtures at the Black Cat club to Buzzcocks drummer Danny Farrant to "please come back to Baltimore.")

Banksy-inspired cover of Buzzcocks' "The Way" CD (2014)

They came, they rocked, and they conquered the crowd, among whom I spotted friends like Jim Moon, the ace rock photographer; Mike and Gail Maxwell; Donna Honneman and Larry Doering (enjoying a "Senior Rockers" night out); Sharon Rudolf (splitting her time between Buzzcocks and, next door at Ram's Head Live, The Ravens); Tim Finnerty (The Krudz); media maven Greg Brazeale and his pal Joe Maravi; model-scenester MaryAnne Tom; nouveau riche punk philanthropist Adolf Kowalski, vintage Fiat sportscar-lover Charlie Gatewood, and Ed Linton - all of Thee Katatonix fame; artist-rocker Alex Fine (Garage Sale, Thee Lexington Arrows, alexfine.com) and his lovely wife, who were on hand to sell AF's spectacular Buzzcocks posters (which Baltimore Soundstage used on their web site). Chick Veditz (of Chick's Legendary Records fame) was also rumored to be there, but I must have missed him.

Buzzcocks poster by Alex Fine (alexfine.com)

I had never been to the Baltimore Soundstage and didn't know what to expect. In fact, I don't know most local venues other than my familiars, the Ottobar (or "Ahh-toe bah" in Buzzcocks drummer Darry Farrant's patois) and the Metro Gallery, because I don't really like going to see live music save for a few select artists.

Machine-Gun Etiquette in Clubland
You see, though I used to play in bands and go to a lot of shows in my (wasted) youth, I am not what one would call a "rock guy." Truth be told, I'd rather be in the SkyBox Suite sipping Merlot than down rubbing elbows with the sweaty, beer-soaked drones that inhabit the mosh pit. Comfort appeals to me much more than Street Cred. Slam-dancing especially does not appeal to me, given my brittle build and knack for attracting spilled drinks all over my wardrobe (I only like rugby when it's on TV!). Besides, you have to wear earphones to hear anything (an irony seemingly lost on concert lovers - that one goes to hear loud, live music and ends up blocking most of it out!) and run the risk of getting a sore throat from screaming over the din of music to converse with your friends. And, in the old days, one had to also contend with drunken idiots burning your clothes with their ciggies - an "analog tobacco" problem solved by the emergence of e-cigarette "vaping."

Tonight was no exception to my exceptions. I literally couldn't understand one word said to me when I walked in and saw various friends and acquaintances at the show, who came up and made gestures while I feigned comprehension and smiled. In other words, it was kind of like being on the reference desk at the library fielding questions (and the occasional threat) from John (and Johanna) Q. Public. It didn't help that the Baltimore Soundstage - a cavernous (albeit comfortable) arena comparable to an urban cow palace (in fact, it reminded me of this year's StanStock Music Festival, which was held at the Timonium Fairgrounds Exhibition Hall) - was sonically challenged, with music bouncing and reverbing off the walls.

Opening Salvos
But, after I put my ear plugs in and my lobes adjusted to the din, I was pleasantly surprised by the sound of the opening band. They didn't suck! In fact, neither of the two opening bands sucked - a rarity at recent Buzzcocks shows stateside.


Expert Alterations: Fashionable indie-pop

The jingly-jangly Expert Alterations, a local indie-pop trio, dressed and sounded great. One guy had a nice nest of hair that reminded me of a cross between Echo & The Bunnymen's Ian McCullough and the high-coiffed guy in the Jesus and Mary Chain. Their duds were polka-dot friendly and the drummer had his kit set up in the front of the stage, which you rarely see. (As a former drummer, I like to see that; though as a former suck-ass drummer, I preferred to sit as far back from the audience as possible - the better to dodge the tomatoes hurled my way!). They cite The Fall, TV Personalities and The Wedding Present as influences, which count as impressive references on anybody's Rock Resume.

Besides their retro-rock group influences, these guys also like retro-music formats. Both they and The Residuels had only cassette tapes of their music for sale, a trend I've noticed has replaced the previous fad of local groups releasing singles on vinyl (which seems to be almost passe now, except on Record Store Day). (I personally don't understand this trend - don't bands want people to be able to easily access their songs? Isn't a CD or .mp3 going to reach a wider audience than the select few who still have boom boxes and record players? What's next - 8-track releases? A 78 rpm revival?) But I quibble about technicalities...these guys are worth checking out on Facebook and at Bandcamp. (OK, if you purchase their cassette at Bandcamp, it includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC, and more. I still think it's easier to plop a CD in the car stereo or laptop, though!)

Philly's Residuels

The Residuels (photo by Adela Loconte for imposemagazine,com)

The Residuels were a hard-rocking trio whose lead singer-guitarist wore a black hat and reminded me of the pre-Delicious Pies Rodney from The Glenmont Popes.The Man in the Black Hat also wears cool t-shirts of retro West Coast punk bands like Crime and The Wipers. The bass player was a tall, sullen study hunched over his Fender bass with an inertia that seemed to cry "Oh, bother," while the energetic drummer had perfect hair that bobbed and weaved across his face like Ringo merrily banging away with The Fab Four. Even Alex Fine commented that the drummer's hair reminded him of the pompadour he created for his Buzzcocks Fine-art poster (which in turn was inspired by his own jet black mane). They too sold cassettes of their tunes, but I was most impressed by their Simpsonized t-shirts (as shown below).

Simpsons-style Residuels t-shirts

The Residuels sound - which they characterize as garage punk -was thick and heavy, like a Philly cheesesteak. Check 'em out at residuels.com, Bandcamp, and Facebook.

Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, or: Into the Heart of Darkness
Though I hung in the back for the opening acts (looking through Charlie Gatewood's car-porn pics of his '60s Fiat convertible on his cell phone), I moved up as the Buzzcocks set loomed. My beloved, Amy Linthicum, is a Front Row Seeker (I'm much more an "In the Back" fan), and that's where she and our companions Dave Cawley and (his beloved) Gina Houten had cut a path through the ground-level clusterfuck.


"I like to be where the action is!" says Amy Linthicum


A hyperactive Dave Cawley (is there any other kind?) bounced up and down in the heart of the crowd gatherered around the stage front, excitedly singing along with Billy Idol as the P.A. played selections from the first Generation X album ("They were great, kinda poppy like Buzzcocks, which is why the press slagged them," Dave explained), one hand holding his sweetie Gina, the other clutching a filled-to-the-brim Rum-and-Coke that swirled precariously 'round the rim but did not spill or splatter. I only knew Gen X's "Girls," "Dancing with Myself," and "Ready, Steady, Go," but Dave knew every word of every song. (Like every band Dave and I love, we agreed that Gen X were "criminally neglected," much like Dave's old bands The Lumpies, The Nu-Beats, and The Young Prufrock Alliance - alas, the YPA's sure-fire educational hit "Study Group" has still yet to be released, much less recorded, or even much less remembered!)

On her way to the front, Amy almost didn't recognize a long-haired, bespectacled Tim Finnerty who was at Baltimore Soundstage to represent Essex and the Greater Middle River Community. Tim explained he was merely growing his hair out to fit in at an upcoming Saxon "Hair Metal" show.

Though he loves comic books and Heavy Metal music, Tim Finnerty is no East Bawmer waterbilly - quite the opposite, in fact. He made quite a few astute observations about the Baltimore Soundstage audience, including my favorite: "What is it with all the studded vests here? I've never seen so many in one setting."


Studs have a vested interest in rock & roll

Sleeveless shirts and vests were certainly de rigueur for the The Stereotypical "I'm a Rock & Roller" Club Look (available for purchase at any Hot Topic store in any mall in America), all the better to show off the tattoo sleeves many attendees had. These, in turn, were complimented by studded belts and bracelet accessories, just in case anyone would mistake the wearer for a corporate salaryman.

When I told him that I was gonna shop for studded vests at Hot Topic, Tim insisted that a true rocker always takes a "virgin denim vest" and adds their own studs to it. It's what separates the poseurs from the real deal. 'Nuff said, I'm down with East Bawmer cred for studded threads!

Look What the Kats Dragged In
Later, I spotted Adolf Kowalski and Patti Jensen Vucci in the back of the stage floor, where they were joined by Adolf's Katatonix bandmates, Charlie Gatewood and Ed Linton, showing solidarity in arms (hey, he did buy their tickets, after all!). Adolf had seen Buzzcocks back in their 1979 heyday (yes, I'm still very jealous) when the lineup included drummer par excellence John Maher and bassist Steve "Paddy" Garvey.

Adolf, Charlie and Ed of Thee Katatonix

"Peek-a-boo, I see you," says Adolf K.


Setlists Going Steady:
At last, Buzzcocks - founding fathers Pete Shelley, Steve Diggle, and new boys Danny Farrant and Chris Remington - took the stage to a packed house and opened with "Boredom," the best-known song (along with "Orgasm Addict") from their 1977 self-produced EP Spiral Scratch. This signature tune dates from the days when Steve Diggle was the bass player and Howard Devoto sang, and still delights with its minimalist guitar solo (two notes repeated 66 times).








Of course, though we (Amy, me, Dave, Gina)  had staked out a primo spot just two rows back of the stage, we were soon invaded by beer-sloshing slam-dancers the minute the song started. I do not like them. (And yes, my jacket sleeve got soaked and I almost dropped my cell phone mid-photosnap!). I bid Amy adieu, exchanging places with Charlie Gatewood as I moved to the back of the pack to wait until things settled down, all  the better to see and hear the band without being crushed.

Charlie Gatewood protects Amy in the mosh pit

Tonight's set pretty much duplicated the one they played last September at DC's Black Cat, with the notable absence of Diggle's "When Love Turns Around" (from 1993's superlative Trade Test Transmissions) and Shelley's "Oh Shit!," and the addition of the great jam "Why Can't I Touch It?" (the group-written flip of the 1979 single "Everybody's Happy Nowadays). This existential lament should be the official theme song for every strip club in the world.

"Why Can't I Touch It?" B-side (United Artists, 2 March 1979)

In fact, other than Diggle's "Sick City Sometimes" (from 2003's Buzzcocks), all songs were pretty much taken from their hits collection Singles Going Steady (1979) and The Way, with the remainder filled out by selections from 1976's Spiral Scratch EP ("Boredom," "Orgasm Addict"), 1978's Another Music in a Different Kitchen ("Fast Cars," "Autonomy") and  Love Bites ("Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't 've)), 1980's A Different Kind of Tension ("You Say You Don't Love Me," "I Believe"), and Diggle's late 1980 single "Why She's a Girl From the Chainstore" (which Dave Cawley still insists is "the dumbest music video of all time!").

Buzzcocks setlist: Baltimore Soundstage, 4/18/2015

I enjoyed the selections, though I am still mystified why Diggle's "Third Dimension" continues to be selected, other than as a psychedelic guitar workout. It's an average tune that goes on way too long; I'd much rather have Shelley's new (and timely) social media song, "Virtually Real" included, or even Diggle's "Love Turns Around" return to the setlist. Likewise, Diggle's "Chasing Rainbows/Modern Times" may be a surefire rocker, but as Katatonix guitarist Charlie Gatewood so astutely pointed out (mere seconds after hearing it played for the first time), it's basically just a variation on The Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop," just with the trademark Buzzcocks buzzsaw guitars this time around.


Diggle's waiting, anticipating...

...in the Third Dimension

That said, Diggle's "Sick City Sometimes" and the new "People Are Strange Machines" were performance highlights, along with Shelley's "I Don't Mind," "You Say You Don't Love Me," and a spirited "Love You More."

Buzzcocks closed their set with Shelley's masterpiece "I Believe," the last great single from the Buzzcocks Golden Era" (1978-1980) - and my fave track from 1980's third (and last) original 'cocks album, A Different Kind of Tension.

"I Believe" (I.R.S. Records, 1980)

I "Keep on Believing" that "I Believe" is timeless and never dated, a great tune matched by thought-provoking lyrics ("It's the aim of existence to offer resistance to the flow of time"), including its coda, "I believe in, it's time to be leavin'." It was a great note on which to end A Different Kind of Tension, as well as tonight's regular set.

Pete Shelley states his case in "I Believe"

A fourth Buzzcocks album was in the works before Pete Shelley called it a day in 1981. Diggle, Maher, and Garvey carried on briefly minus Pete and recorded  Steve's "In the Back"; though it remained unreleased until 1988, when it turned up on the Diggle/Flag of Convenience (FOC) War on the Wireless Set collection, the new 'cocks (rightly) deemed it worthy of reconsideration and re-recording on The Way. Coming on the heels of the set-ending "I Believe," it was a fitting choice of first encore song.

Listen to F.O.C. play "In the Back."



This was followed by Diggle's "Harmony in My Head," an energetic workout in which Steve-o pulled out all the stops and got quite emotional.

Diggle hits a windmill power chord

Diggle sends a shout out from the harmony in his head

Then it was on  to three Shelley-penned encores: starting with "What Do I Get?";  followed by that hit-of-hits "Ever Fallen in Love"...




...before bringing the show full circle, back to its Spiral Scratch origins with the happiest of Happy Endings, "Orgasm Addict."

"Was it good for you too?!" Diggle asks, post-"Orgasm Addict"
 
Basking in the Afterglow

"The essence of being, these feelings I'm feeling, I just want them to last"

Afterwards, basking in the afterglow of another 'cocks show, friends caught up and compared notes on the evening's festivities. Amy, Gina, and MaryAnne Tom made a beeline to the vendor tables to snatch up their Buzzcocks posters, where Alex Fine exclaimed, "Steve Diggle is my guitar hero!"

Patti Vucci, Adolf K., MaryAnne Tom and Amy Linthicum

TSU alums Dave, Greg and MaryAnne outside Baltimore Soundstage

Dave, Greg, Joe and MaryAnne cavort outside

Greg Breazeale, Joe Maravi and MaryAnne Tom clinch outside

Some of us speculated on whether any future Buzzcocks shows would incorporate Steve Diggle or Pete Shelley solo material outside the 'cocks canon. I know Amy and I wouldn't mind hearing "Wallpaper World" or some other tunes from Diggle's Revolution of Sound band (whose ranks include Buzzcocks bassist - and long-time Diggle collaborator - Chris Remington); and I'm sure Dave Cawley wouldn't mind hearing Shelley's early solo hits "Homosapien" and "Telephone Operator." Oh, and Amy, Dave and I agreed that Buzzcocks should consider playing the entire A Different Kind of Tension album on their next tour, though Amy added that she thought of it first (ha!). Admittedly, singing the complex lyrics to the title song would be challenging, but it would rekindle memories of their last visit to Baltimore during 2010's "Another Bites Tour," in which they played their first two albums (Another Music in a Different Kitchen and Love Bites, both from 1978) in their entirety. We can only hope.




It was a fun and entertaining night, and fortuitous timing, as well - I can only imagine what havoc might have ensued had Buzzcocks played here the following Saturday, April 25, when Freddie Gray protesters brought downtown Baltimore to a standstill.

48 hours later, Buzzcocks returned to New York on Monday, April 20, to perform two songs on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Both were Pete Shelley songs (hope Diggle wasn't miffed!): "Keep On Believing" from their latest CD, The Way (Pledge Music, 2014), and the timeless classic "Ever Fallen in Love" from Love Bites (United Artists, 1978).

Watch Buzzcocks play "Don't Stop Believing" on Late Night with Seth Meyer.


Watch Buzzcocks play "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)" on Late Night with Seth Meyer.


And with that, Buzzcocks bid the States farewell, crossing the pond to continue touring the UK the whole merry month of May. Alas, their next American visit isn't until July 2015, and then only a lone gig in Portland.

***

Related Links:
Buzzcocks @ Black Cat, 9-4-2014 (Accelerated Decrepitude)
Diggle Solo Career: "Digging Da Diggle" (Accelerated Decrepitude)

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Sayonara, Uzuhi!

We bid adieu to your sweet lovely ongaku!

United We Smile: Uzuhi's Final US Tour

"We are UZUHI! We play Music! We want to make you Happy!"

I am so glad that Amy Linthicum and I were able to say sayonara to NYC-based Japanese rock band Uzuhi ("oo-zoo-hee," the name means "sun" in Japanese) on their "United We Smile" Farewell US Tour, which stopped at Baltimore's Charm City Art Space (1731 Maryland Avenue) last night. The tour marks the end of Uzuhi's 10-year run playing music stateside with various lineups since forming in the Big Apple in the fall of 2004.

Uzuhi always take a picture of the audience at their shows; here's a shot showing the large turnout (pretty good for a Wednesday night!) at last night's gig, where they headlined a 4-band lineup that also included Dead End Lane, Clockbreaker, and The Street Parade:


Uzuhi singer Gosha took this photo of the audience at Charm City Art Space after their final Baltimore appearance on January 28, 2014

Singer Gosha (Takeyoshi Gosha Oba, a Curly Howard of Three Stooges clone) and keyboard-playing wife Tsubasa (Tsubasa Matsuda, who joined in 2007) had a baby and are returning to Tokyo on the "Island of Sushi" to carry on. Here's wishing them a great life back in Tokyo, where Tsubasa promises to keep making music while new dad Gosha will bring home the bacon (or sashimi) as a Salaryman.

Baby Uzuhi

As a musical concept, Uzuhi mixes punk-pop energy with unabashed sentimentality, a formula that successfully engages diverse and disparate people with its simple message: Smile, dance and be happy. It works - even the slam dancers last night were a respectful & happy lot. Uzuhi also believe that music has no borders, being able to transcend cultural and geographic differences to unite all people - especially young people who have not yet grown old and cynical (celebrated in songs like "This Is Our Generation" and "The Braves") - the world over with life's simple pleasures, which include love, dancing, eating, kids, and so on. Lyrically, their songs are not deep, but then a band that hopes for global appeal, regardless of language and beyond borders, must keep its message simple (as in their tune "S.O.S. - Simplicity of Satisfaction"). In a nutshell, that zeitgeist is "just do it," "go for it," "live your dream." As Gosha confided to the Charm City Art Space audience, he initially disappointed his father when  he told him he wanted to come to the US and be a "rock star." But, he added, he got to live his dream, playing countless American cities and meeting and connecting "with all you out there, and making you smile."

At their best, Uzuhi channel the anthemic punk energy of Japan's Blue Hearts and the J-Pop cuteness of a Puffy or Shonen Knife. Keyboardist Tsubasa Matsuda is the glue that holds together the band's sound (which they call "Positive Pop Punk" and "Japanese Energetic Punk Rock for This Generation"), one hand playing the melody while another works the bass lines that anchor the pop-punk beat. Not that the other players - drummer Yukiyoshi Kurata and blue-haired guitar shredder A-Key (Takaaki Ando, who also plays guitar in Shinsei and bass in Harlots Vice) - aren't aces on their respective instruments. The original drummer (Shu) and guitar player have long since departed (the drummer returned to his native Miyagi Prefecture in Japan following the Fukajima earthquake-tsunami disaster of 2011), with Tsubasa and Gosha remaining the core (and spirit) of the band.


Uzuhi keyboardist Tsubasa bonds with Amy Linthicum at Charm City Art Space

Gosha's voice will never be compared to Freddie Mercury's, but like the Queen frontman, he is a charismatic stage presence, one whose humor and joie de vivre cannot be denied. He's a fun and energetic guy, one who will suddenly jump off stage to dance with the crowd and grab fans to come onstage and sing with the band. As I said before, physically he reminds me of Curly Howard of Three Stooges fame (especially since he shaved off all his hair), frenetically scooting across the stage with whoops and hollers and always willing to play the clown. Resistance to Gosha's energy is futile. He's a force of positive vibes to be reckoned with!


Send in the Clowns: Me, Gosha & Chris Schatz @ Ottobar, September 2010


Tsubasa, Gosha & official mascot Peach Matsuda @ Sakura Matsuri festival


Amy loves what she calls Uzuhi's "broken but heartfelt English," as evidenced in song titles like "Sweet Lovely Chocolate Smile" and "Dear My Honki Friends." And new songs like "Kids Are the Future" from newbie parents Gosha and Tsubasa are almost embarrassingly innocent and wholesome for a band inspired by the Sex Pistols and punk rock - but then that's what makes these guys and gal so appealing. They are unabashedly positive and friendly in a jaded age of cynicism and irony. Or, as (half-Asian) Amy says, "It's a Japanese thing to be kinda corny about that sort of thing." (No wonder Japan is the land of kawaii, or saccharine-sweet "cuteness.")

Amy and I first discovered Uzuhi when they played the April 10, 2010 Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) in Washington, D.C.and have been fans ever since. We liked them so much, we caught them when they came to Baltimore for the first time (a great show with Peelander-Z) at the Ottobar in September 2010, as well as their return appearance at DC's 2011 Sakura Matsuri (alas, we missed them there in 2014 thanks to a bathroom malfunction!).

We will miss seeing Uzuhi, who leave behind two CDs worth checking out,  2008's self-titled Uzuhi (containing their best - and most complex - composition, "The Braves") and 2009's Ongaku (it means "music" in Japanese). Most of the set performed at Charm City Art Space came from Ongaku (theme song "Uzuhi," "This Is Our Generation," "S.O.S. - Simplicity of Satisfaction," "Pura Vida!," "Sweet Lovely Chocolate Smile").

Related Links:
Uzuhi @ 2010 Sakura Matsuri
Uzuhi @ 2011 Sakura Matsuri
Uzuhi/Peelander-Z @ Ottobar (a Flickr set)
Uzuhi on Facebook
Uzuhi on Bandcamp
Uzuhi on MySpace
Uzuhi on Twitter

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Of Chick, Coddies & Camaraderie

Reflections on Chick's Legendary Retirement Party
Saturday, January 17, 2015
The Ottobar

Chick Veditz went out with a bang at The Ottobar with help from The Yachtsmen, Chelsea Graveyard, Garage Sale & The Stents

Harry "Chick" Veditz's retirement party last Saturday night at The Ottobar was a textbook example of how to say goodbye to the working life with a BANG!, not a whimper. Four fantastic bands - The Yachtsmen, Chelsea Graveyard and The Screams at Midnight, Garage Sale, and The Stents - provided a rockin' musical backdrop to what was not just one man's farewell to the 9-to-5 rat race but a reunion of all his friends past, present - and future.


The Yachtsmen took Ottobar landlubbers on a smooth-sailing Sea Cruise

Chelsea Graveyard: Steptoe, Fernando and new guy Professor Henri Van Lingenfelder

Yes, in addition to all the old rockers (you know who you are!) in the audience who gathered to pay homage to the man who ran Chick's Legendary Records in its two Mount Washington locations between 1978-1992, there were some youngbloods (including a few 20something hipster chicks decked out in all their clubland finery - and I'm sure their red heels did not go unnoticed by Chelsea Graveyard frontman Steptoe T. Magnificent, author of the randy chestnut "Red Shoes") scattered throughout the teeming throng - and not just kids there with their parents (like Rachel Milstein, who lent her familial support to Chelsea Graveyard guitarist Stevie Squeegee).

From the balcony, Rachel Milstein kept a close watch on her dad (white shirt) in Chelsea Graveyard

There was a huge turnout for Chick's Retirement Party at The Ottobar

It was great to see a Who's Who of vintage local musicians, music fans, and music critics on hand for the festive occasion, including: Skunkpuppies bassist, the Outrageous Gyro J. Scope (aka Ed Barker), his little bro Ronnie Barker, George Wilcox, former City Paper scribes Michael Anft and Michael Yockel (Mr. Yockel having a "quiet" night out away from his Mr. Mom duties at home with his indefatigable twin baby boys, Castor & Pollux, er, I mean, Tex & Miner)...


Open Mike Night with Anft and Yockel

...yet another CP alumnus (and, like Chick, yet another record store alumnus) Jim Maher, Mindi Siegel (Buck Subtle & The Little Planets), Cindy Borchardt (The Beaters, The Monuments), Rod Misey (former WCVT-Towson U. New Wave DJ '77-'90, whose current WVUD-Delaware U. podcasts are essential listening) , honey-sweet award-winning Maryland apiatrix Beth Sherring (there to cheer on her hubby, new Chelsea Graveyard bassist Professor Henri Van Lingerfelder)...

Professor Henri Van Linglefelder prepares his notes for Chelsea Graveyard


...Sharon Rudolph, Mike & Gail Maxwell, and three-quarters of The Slickee Boys - Kim Kane, Marshall Keith, and (Yachtsmen bassist) Mark Noone - in attendance. It was strange to see former Slickee Boys vocalist Noone sharing vocals with the other Yachtsmen, but reassuring to see him belt out the Slickees classic "You Gotta Tell Me Why" (a highlight of an impressive set). The Yachtsmen's caps, blazers and khakis evoked the sartorial spirit of their inspiration, millionaire Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's Island, but the coup de grace of their show was the placement of two martini glasses on a barstool. Very swank, Yachtsmen!


The Yachtsmen: Maximum martini rock & roll

"A long long time ago The Slickee Boys played at Harry Chick Veditz's record store in Baltimore. It was a hot summer day. But just as we set up a thunderstorm rolled in. Most of the people that were there to see us ran for their cars and split. But we squeezed into the store wherever we could fit. A few people stayed around to see us and peruse the records. Even with the rain it was still hot. But a fun memory." - Marshall Keith


Mark Noone of The Yachtsmen

Chick knows all too well the unifying power of rock & roll, regardless of era. Besides paying homage to his fave bands of the past - The Yachtsmen being a trio featuring Mark Noone of Chick's all-time favorite retro-psych-garage rockers, The Slickee Boys, and Chelsea Graveyard being an oldies hit parade of various Dave Wilcox-led Marble Bar ensembles (Poobah, Rockhard Peter, The Alcoholics, Problem Pets) over the years -  Chick has never closed his lobes to new exciting sounds around town. Case in point, Chick has only recently discovered and become a devoted fan of groups like Garage Sale and The Stents.


Garage Sale

The Stents


I only regret that I could only stay to catch The Yachtsmen (who, in addition to having great outfits, are great musicians to boot!)  and Chelsea Graveyard (who never sounded better!), missing Garage Sale (who have now been performing for - gasp!- 20 years!) and The Stents because my beloved Amy had to get up for work the next day. (Oh well, we will catch The Stents when they strike next, with The Idle Gossip, February 7 at Stoneleigh Duckpin Lanes in Rodgers Forge.)


Oy to the world! Suburban House Deli's menu includes a Basic Yiddish Dictionary

But Chick has also discovered the great unifying power of "Coddies," the codfish and potato delicacy (served on saltine crackers with a mustard topping - and often without any codfish!) that was a  common after-school snack in 1950s and 1960s Baltimore. They were easily the highlight of the food spread - catered by Suburban House Deli - on offer Saturday night, even spurring Chick to suggest that The Coddies would make an excellent band name. I heartily concur!

Coddies, crackers and mustard!

As Chick posted on Facebook the next day:
"Once again The Coddies were the #1 food item people were talking about. Some new band should call themselves The Coddies - then again, maybe not." - Chick Veditz
 Watch the Levy brothers reminisce about eating coddies below:


Baltimore brothers remember coddies from American Food Roots on Vimeo.


 Chick continued his shout-out thanks to attendees and performers alike:
And of course; the four bands- The Yachtsmen, Chelsea Graveyard and the Screams at Midnight, Garage Sale, and The Stents- you all were incredible. You all gained a lot of new fans. I can't thank everyone enough. For those of you who had to leave and could not see The Stents, they will be Playing at the Stoneleigh Bowling Lanes on Saturday February 7th with the Idle Gossip opening. Some rock and bowl. I will be there so come on out. - Chick Veditz

Bowling with Stents is good for your health!

Besides Chick's retirement from work and strife, it was also a night that saw Dave "Dr. D" Zidek retire from his 10-year tour of duty with Chelsea Graveyard. Dr. D handed the four-stringed reigns over to Professor Henri Van Lingerfelder at the close of Chelsea Graveyard's set, as the Z-man is now set to gig full-time with The Harlan County Kings.


Chelsea Graveyard bid adieu to bassist Dave Zidek (far right)

Dave Zidek: "Hey, now that I'm retired, I can watch Chelsea Graveyard from the audience!"

Head bowed, a vaclempt Steptoe reflects on Dave Zidek's departure from Chelsea Graveyard

Chick not only provided a night of free booze, food and music, but also dished out custom t-shirts to the performers.

"If any of you are wondering who made the two T-shirts shown in other posts they were done by Adam Turkel of Altamont Records. He is based in Florida but is from Pikesville. The first party shirt was loosely designed by me and then Adam did his artistic magic and you see how it turned out. It was 90% Adam and 10% me if that. - Chick Veditz

Adam Turkel-designed t-shirt commemorating Chick's August 31, 2014 Ottobar party

The other shirt was from a poster from that show that was on the Stents site. I really like it so I had some made for The Stents and Garage Sale.

Chick gave The Stents and Garage Sale got t-shirts of this classic poster

Go on the Altamont web site and you can see all the great items they have. Adam started  hanging out at my stored when he was about 10 and was working for me when he was in high school. Besides being a great artist he is a really good musician as well and is in a band down in Florida. Thanks for the great shirts Adam; everyone loved them" -ChickVeditz

(FYI, besides his Chick's Legendary Records and t-shirt design connection, Adam Turkel used to play in the local band The Beatings. Check out his '90s Baltimore rock days recollections in the Sleazegrinder book Gigs From Hell: True Stories from Rock and Roll’s Frontline.)


Stents buttons: "Bargain-priced Beauties"!


And speaking of those Stents posters, they are truly awesome. I don't know who their designer is (perhaps bassist Scott Sugiuchi, he of Hidden Volume Records), but everything they produce - be it buttons, 45 rpm record sleeves, stickers, whatever - is hip from toe to tip! I'd buy their records even if I didn't like the music, just for the art and design. The influence of vintage retro clip art and the design aesthetics of record labels like Norton, Estrus and Blue (labels where everything from the design to the recording was/is part of the whole package) is unmistakeable. And that's another thing they share with the like-minded power-garage-surf-pop & sounds-that-jangle souls in Garage Sale, whose guitarist Alex Fine is responsible for some of the "Finest" graphic designs in the Land of Pleasant Living (and drummer Skizz Cyzyk is no slouch either when it comes to boss fliers).

"Maximum Rock & Bowl!": Yet another collectable Stents poster

Thanks again to Chick, his lovely wife Arlene (who tirelessly runs around greeting everyone and making sure everything runs smoothly), and everyone who made his retirement party a blast! But the last word must, by rights, go to Chick himself - the man of the moment who made the occasion so special:
Once again THANK YOU< THANK YOU< THANK YOU to everyone involved who made the party such a good time and a success-especially the weather."-Chick Veditz



Related Links:
Chick's Legendary Retirement Party (Flickr set)

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