Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Tunes at the Tower

A Friends of the Roland Water Tower event
June 4, 2011
Music by Garage Sale and Howard Markman

Thanks to a fortuitous stop at the 41st Street Dunkin' Donuts (after a delicious meal at the new Asian restaurant next door, Yama Sushi) a few weeks ago, Amy and I saw a flyer for "Tunes at the Tower." We were glad we did, because we immediately noticed that the bands playing outdoors that day were our friends in Garage Sale (Dave Cawley, Skizz Cyzyk, John Irvine and Dave McDonough) and Howard Markman. Sponsored by "Friends of the Roland Water Tower," a group that includes our friends Greg Dohler and Cindy France, it was an event organized to help preserve and renovate the Roland Water Tower.

Located between Roland Avenue and Evans Chapel Road near the northernmost point of West University Parkway, the tower was built in 1905 to provide water to Hampden and other neighborhoods in the vicinity (it provided that service until 1930). The stone, brick and terra cotta structure looks down on a grassy square that once afforded stunning views of the city, but in recent times the tower has fallen into disrepair and is now enclosed by wire fences to insure safety for passersby. Thanks to Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, working the with Friends of the Water Tower, it recently gained "Historic Building" status. But as Mary Pat said on Saturday, "Now the real work begins to decide what to do with it - and how to go about it."

Stop playing with your balls, boys - it's the Law!

But quite honestly, we were there on Saturday to see our friends, support local music and enjoy a beautiful spring afternoon outdoors in the sunshine. Although Amy was disappointed that she was stymied yet again by a lack of crepes-on-offer-as-promised at a festival event (the crepe vendor took ill and was replaced at the last-minute by wood-cooked pizza vendor Red Zebra) - she previously missed out on buying the last crepe at the Seton Hill French Festival - she kept her composure and held her appetite in check until later in the day at Towson's Thai One On (where Dave Cawley ordered his beloved "Dave's Drunken Duck" special - after being assured by the waitress that it contained ABSOLUTELY NO CILANTRO). And, necessity being the mother of invention, down the street an enterprising neighborhood boy had set up shop selling lemonade for a nickle. The local community comes together at times like this!

"Oh, I coulda had a V-8!" whines Amy, still recovering from the dearth of crepes on offer. In background, Mink Stole seems to have experienced the same epiphany.

But if good rockin' music be the food of historic preservation and renovation, play on I say! Play on! Following are pics of the respective troubadors, Garage Sale and Howard Markman (accompanied by keyboardist Glen Workman).

Garage Sale

I hadn't seen Garage Sale in ages and had forgotten just how good they are. Dave Cawley said they haven't practiced very much, yet they sounded as sharp and clicking as ever. Maybe it has to do with the fact that most of the group keep active playing in multiple ensembles, from Skizz and John Irvine playing in The Jennifers to Dave McDonough's sideband The Millbillies - not to mention Skizz's other "other" bands like The Go-Pills and the not-quite-active-but-not-quite-dead Awkward Sounds of Scott & Skizz and Blister Freak Circus. Yet, when I asked Skizz if he went to see the Brit surf band The Barracudas the night before at Hampden's Golden West Cafe, he said, "No one asked us. People forget we're a surf band."

Chick and Arlene Veditz gave the thumbs-up to Garage Sale

Yet, when I talked to Barracudas fan Chick Veditz (he of Mount Washington's legendary gone-but-not-forgotten Chick's Legendary Records fame) - who had never seen Garage Sale before - he could only respond, "These guys are great. They would have been a natural opening for the Barracudas."

"Mommy, make them stop!" screams a local music critic after hearing Garage Sale's sound check

C'mon Baltimore: must your well run dry before you start to miss your water? Like the Roland Water Tower, Garage Sale is a neglected local treasure.

"Strange," muses Dave Cawley, "these guys look very familar. Could it be my former backing band Garage Sale? Haven't seen those fine fellows in years!"

Dave Cawley thinks: "Hey, I just noticed we're all wearing the same shirts - what are the chances of that happening again?"

"It's been so long since we bonded, Skizz" gushes Big Dave Cawley to the little drummer boy

"I'm ready anytime for my In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida drum solo," Skizz reminds the band. "Just give me the signal!"

"I'm still ready, anytime, for that solo" Skizz reminds the boys

Getting Mighty Crowded: "Guys," Dave Cawley cautions. "You're really starting to crowd my big head - little space, puleeze!"

"What a great day! Let's drink to me, shall we?" Dave Cawley toasts the crowd

Lovely Ladies 'Laxin: Eleanor Lewis and Jenny Keith take poetic license outside the Water Tower

Power Players mingle inside the Roland Water Tower's VIP Lounge

It really was a Dog Day Afternoon!

Santa's Little Helper says: "I'm ready for my close-up now, Mr. DeMille!"

Dave Cawley and Amy Linthicum: shameless Greyhound Groupies

Howard Markman and Glen Workman

"Hi, we're ready to do our Loggins & Messina set now," journeyman singer-songwriter-guitarist Howard Markman joked as he introduced himself and keyboardist Glen Workman (who also gigs around the tri-state area with Crack the Sky - perhaps you've heard of them?). "I'm sorry, but we don't have matching shirts or a drummer, but we'll try to entertain you - or at least not offend you."

Mission accomplished on both counts, as Howard played a number of tunes from his exhaustive back catalog, including many from his latest album, Welcome to Smalltimore. And much of Smaltimore's glitterati were here on this fine day (Joe Manfre, Teresa Dugan, Rob from Monsters in the Surf, Greg Dohler, Cindy France, Eleanor Lewis, Jenny Keith, Chris "Batworth" Ciatti, Chick and Arlene Veditz, Mink Stole and so on "Et cetera, et cetera" as Yul Brenner's King of Siam would say)!

Watch "Welcome to Smalltimore."

He was ably assisted on vocals by Glen Workman, who can really hit those high notes on the harmonies. Howard has a lot of history in this town; I can remember seeing his Deadhead band Milton Freewater (later just "Freewater") back in the '70s, back before Howard discovered punk and New Wave and all sorts of other new musics to color his musical palette, influences he wears on his sleeve to this day. But I still hear a lot of the old sounds there, as well. They're ingrained. It's all good!

The workmanlike Glen Workman (he knows Howard Markman!)

Howard Markman and Glen Workman: coming soon to Club 66!

Howard: "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Glen Workman!"

Glen: "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Howard Markman!"

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Anonymous skizz said...

Great post, Tom. Just to be clear, the reason I wasn't at the Barracudas show was because I couldn't afford to go. My "No one asked us. People forget we're a surf band" comment was more in regards to how Garage Sale is rarely asked to play on surf bills in our own hometown.

11:26 AM  

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