Chuck Ragan (ex-Hot Water Music, though if you’re reading this blog, ‘duh’
So, the four regular readers of this site may have noticed a prolonged absence for the past few months. Sorry about that. There’s no real reason except that my full time job hit its busy season post-Thanksgiving (and we’re not even retail!), I’m back in school and bit off a bit more than I can chew with two intensive writing courses, my wife’s having a tough go with her job so SupportiveHusband man has his duties, and on top of that I just started doing stand-up comedy and some event planning. Something had to give, and that thing I had to leave behind for awhile was the site and the podcast. I don’t think anyone wanted to read a few dozen “Today I ate a burrito, and put together a few training modules for my staff. Also, whenever Ice is onscreen during the new ‘American Gladiators’, it moves just a tiny bit, and I’m not entirely comfortable with myself at this moment. That said, I think we’re back up to speed, and this site should be updated on a much more consistent basis. The standup has gone pretty well so far. People laugh at all the right moments, no one’s pelted me with rotten fruit, and my bit about spinning of a new show from “To Catch A Predator” featuring pedophiles luring kids off playgrounds and into the trunks of ’89 honda Accords is going GANGBUSTERS! Much appreciation goes to Matt and Rob of the Laugh Track for giving me three straight months of shows. By the way, there is no better way to spend $5 the first Tuesday of the month. Word of mouth is catching on, and every show is attracting a higher level of comedian and larger turnout. Hopefully we’ll be sitting down with these two guys soon for a podcast. So, hopefully PFCC is back for good. There was the thought of changing this to “Minimum Rock & Roll”, but Chump Change has been the brand name, so to speak, for over a decade. Why change what kinda sorta works? Look for some new podcasts, reviews of Dead Mechanical’s, Cloak/Dagger’s, Lemuria’s and Ben Weasel’s latest works in the coming weeks, along with a post-Chilifest wrapup and hopefuly some exciting(!) news on events I’ve got lined up.And hey, if you missed me, drop me a welcome back comment so I know you care.
The latest podcast is up and running and you can get it by going to itunes and searching the above term or if you want a handy dandy even easier solution, you can click the banner to your right and you’re one click away from subscribing.
Due to the advanced technical nature of today’s modern recording equipment and the vagaries of technology, the expected Serious Geniuses interview will not be appearing this week. Apparently it’s really important to hit save before closing your notebook up. We’ll sit down with these boys again at a later date.
In it’s place we have a fairly awesome show dedicated to bringing you some of the best local bands in the area right now, as well as Baltimore’s fantastic Dead Mechanical. Remember that show I told you people you ought to check out, all the way back one entry ago. Yeah, it was pretty amazing. It was definitely one of those rare nights when any one of the four bands could have headlined. Besides Dead Mechanical we’re bringing you music from showmates The Perennials, along with tunes from Yoni Gordon and the Goods, The Steamy Bohemians, The Cold Beat, The Closet Fairies and the Young Leaves.
Barring calamity our next episode will be up in a week and will feature music and an interview with the reunited Scarce.
Saturday’s a cheap night out at the Abbey in Somerville; two bucks a band for four bands worth the price of admission on their own. Baltimore’s Sick Sick Birds play some anthemic punk with vocals that remind me a little bit of the Refused without the over the top political sloganeering and city mates Dead Mechanical bring an East Bay punk sound to the east coast. For some reason I have Swinging Utters/Stiff Little Fingers on my brain when I listen to their stuff. But wait there’s more! For one ultra low price you get the early nineties slacker core meets the Animas of Providence’s Reports (read the REVIEW HERE ) and all the hooks without the wimpish emasculation new wave of the Perennials (Though they do remind me a little of L7 (and I mean that I a good way…wait, is double parenthesis legal?) at times too).
Save your ducats, because the following night at O’Brien’s in Allston there’s another great to middling show. The Serious Geniuses are playing, and yeah, they’re a bunch of jerks with bad tattoos and glue on beards, but damn if they don’t sound like Small Brown Bike making sweet mouthsex with Archers of Loaf. The Cold Beat (members of Lock & Key, Movers and Shakers, the Call Up amongst others and no I’m not linking to all those bands) are playing one of their first shows and sound like early Radio 4. you know, before they started to sound asstastic. Anyways, I’m digging the few tunes I’ve heard so far. Rosetta brings what they call “metal for astronauts” to the table and the night’s rounded out by Jena Berlin and their blend post hardcore in the vein of Farside mixed with near mainstream rock and roll of Error: Type 11.
For fans of country, bluegrasss and folk the Abbey Lounge throws tier monthly “Dear John Letter Lounge hosted by Bread & Roses’ morgan coe. He’ll be spinning olde timey country and blegrass music, and if he gets tipsy he may accidentally spin a man of war record on 78rpm. They’ll also be live music with fiddle, banjo and mandolin playing a mix of americana roots music and gospel tunes. It starts at 7pm and there’s no cover charge.
And since we’re all going to be broke after those two nights how about we kick off the week with a FREE event. Monday the 15th is the premier of DANCE YOUR ASS at Plough and Stars in Cambridge. a bunch of non-DJ’s are going to play punk, pop punk, post punk, ska punk and punky brewster theme song mashups in hopes of getting folks to awkwardly shake it on the dance floor. It’s going to rule. And because you’re all so broke the first person who comes up to me (look for the chubby dude with a beard and 1975 style Red Sox cap) and says, “Care to get me a drink Butterfly? (Hey, I liked Death Proof. Eat it.) Will be a proud winner of a beer from me.
Oh and the next night the Lawrence Arms and American Steel are playing Harper’s Ferry. I plan on being both broke and tired, but you people should go and let me know how it was.
Towards the end of their set, singer/guitarist Chick Graning deadpanned to the crowd “We got lost getting here to the show. We took a wrong turn about eleven years ago”.
Background. Scarce was the first band I fell in love with my freshman year of college. The open for Fugazi about two weeks into my freshman year, and I got to drink my first college beer with the program directors of our campus station beforehand. Scarce blew me away with their set of razor sharp power pop and overall absolute command of the stage. From that point on I was hooked. the release of a new single was cause for giddy celebration. I hosted a graveyard shift Saturday night radio show, and would play both sides back to back just so I could record it on the board and play it back on my cassette Walkman endlessly as I made my way around the campus during the week. Even as I transformed into a shaved head uberpunk that devoured every word of Maximum Rock and Roll as gospel, including their anti major label stance, I wanted Scarce to sell a million records. And they seemed to on the brink of becoming the hugest band in the world. Then it went south. Graning fell victim to a brain aneurysm, and as he recovered, Scarce’s label offered minimal support, for the band and the individuals (the whole story can be found in much in bassist Joyce Raskin’s new book Achin’ to Be, available here. End of story, right? Just another near miss in the dog-eat-dog music biz.
Nope. Buoyed by the book and not quite ready to close out the last chapter, Scarce has reunited. Unlike a lot of one off reunion gigs, this looks to be the real deal, with more shows soon and an album to be recorded in the near future, kicking things off with a show at TT’s in Cambridge.
All I can say is it sure as hell didn’t sound like eleven years had passed between shows. Playing to a packed room, Scarce served a reminder that some folks are just born to be rock stars. It took a couple songs for Graning’s raspy voice to break in, but the stage was his from the get-go. Some people are just born to front a band, and Graning is one of the rare few that can command a room’s attention with understated charisma. There’s no histrionics and carefully orchestrated emotional “outbursts” pr pandering to the audience. It’s in the simple nods of a head or casually flicking wave of an arm acknowledging the cheers of the crowd that serves notice that yep, this is exactly where the band belongs. It was obvious even to those crammed in the back of the club how much they enjoyed a return to the spotlight, and how much chemistry Raskin and Graning have on stage. The catalog dates back close to fifteen (!) years at this point, but Scarce’s brand of thumping early nineties guitar driven alternative rock. After blistering through the first few songs, including a spirited rendition of the high octane punish “Hope“, starring Raskin in the lead vocal role. The highlight of the evening came midway through the set with the midtempo-cum-howler Crimea River.Softly strummed and near whisper verses ruminating on long distance relationships give way to unabashed guitar mayhem over a pounded rhythm section. To say that Raskin “played bass guitar” would qualify as an understatement. Exorcising the frustration knowing this is what should have been all along, Raskin stomped wildly across the stage, her legs kicking in every direction as her feet stamped the stage, hair pinwheeling wildly about her face while never skipping a beat. After closing out their main set with two of their earliest A-sides, the opposite side of the coin jaunty sing along “Days Like This” followed by the abrasive noise fest of “All Sideways“, Scarce came back up for a pair of encores, closing the affair out with a sloppy and joyous rendition of AC/DC’s “Shook Me All Night Long”. I don’t think a single patron, witnessing some of their fondest show memories from yesteryear while gleefully awaiting what’s up the band’s sleeve next could argue for a minute weren’t shaken indeed.