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Little Steven's Battle of the Bands
April 4,2004 at The Roxy

2:00 pm, April 17 2004 Hyannis Ma.

   "We have a gig tonight." said the ear piece of my outdated wall phone. One thing I like about Jeff Conolly is that he always assumes that I know absolutely nothing about band stuff and the scheduling thereof. This is a good thing. I'm the kind of guy that can never have too much information. The truth is he told me about all the gigs just the other day on the phone. He also sent me an Email. "I know about the gig." I said dryly. "What time do we play?" I asked. "Between eight and nine, load in is three o'clock on and everyone has to be out of the place by ten thirty 'cus it turns into a glitzy disco or hip hop club." he said with his typical boyish enthusiasm. "OK man, thanks." "Oh, Danny wants to know if there is a backline." (I SO don't wanna lug my amp anywhere if I don't have to!) After a short pause he said; "We're supposed use our own stuff." (He may be bending the truth a little but his reasons are at the very least, honorable. I do so love the sound of my old amp.)

5:00 pm overcast Cape Cod 41 degrees F

Amp In A Camry.    I put my stuff in Mary Jo's Camry. My Fender amp's once perfect and shiny black naugahide ripped, dented and sticky with spilled drinks. Its once bright silver grillecloth stained and discolored. Apparently, like the rest of us aging rockers, it has also gained weight! "Gawd Mary Jo, I used to run up the stairs with this thing. I think I need a road crew! Or a fork lift!" "Aw baby, wouldn't that be nice." Jo said sweetly as she locked the front door. Locks of thick pretty blonde hair swirled around in the breeze.

7:00 pm Boston Massachusetts 52 degrees F

   The Roxy is located on Tremont Street in Boston directly across the street from the world famous Wang Center. With the new configuration of exits off the Expressway we probably passed by the correct one but opted for the Government Center exit. (which we knew would lead us to Tremont Street). Traffic was about what you would expect for a Saturday night: heavy but moving along. I knew I was at the right place when I saw Danny's dark sports car double parked in front, hatch back wide open and yellow hazard lights flashing exactly in time to Steve Earle's 'Fearless Heart' which was playing on our car stereo. I swung the Camry in front of it

    Jo stayed in the car while I wrestled my amp over a aged brick sidewalk to the front door. "Hey where's The Roxy?" I asked as I approached two uniformed doormen. "It's right here. Upstairs." the smaller of the two answered. "A lot of stairs." he added and nodded toward my amp. "You can roll it around to the elevator, c'mon I'll show ya." I followed him through the adjacent hotel lobby. Well dressed hotel guests eyed me warily as I rolled on by through the kitchen and into a small service elevator. The hotel staff seemed disinterested.
Bless me Father and these are my sins.    When the door opened on the second floor, there stood the legendary Boston rocker (and guitarist for The Downbeat Five) J.J. Rassler. One of the many spotlights in the club was framing him perfectly dead center. The rich velvet behind him was glowing ecumenically. "Father Rassler, will you hear my confession tonight?" I joked. He didn't seem to get it and gave me a funny grin so I moved on to "Good luck tonight, your gonna need it." "You got that right." he admitted.

   As fate would have it, the judges picked four really cool Boston rock outfits to compete in tonight's finals. The Rock City Crimewave, The Konks, Triple Thick and The Downbeat Five. The Lyres aren't competing tonight. We will play a set after the finalists do their thing. Personally I consider it an honor. Maybe Little Steven likes our band. A few years ago we played one of his sponsored gigs in New York City that included The Zombies and Richard and the Young Lions. I was pretty much floored by the fact that I was in the presence of such greatness. Peter Noone (Herman's Hermits) walked up to Jeff and congratulated him on a 'great set' two hours before we even played a note!!!
    At the end of the night Little Steven called me by my first name and asked me specific questions about Lyres songs which led me to believe he was somewhat aware of our presence here on the planet Earth. Also, when Bruce Springstein played at Fenway Park, he offered all of us Lyres and our guests backstage passes.

7:35 pm

A well balanced diet.
Yikes! $9.50 A POP!
Why is this man smiling?
    After circling the block about eight times looking for a parking space I finally broke down and coughed up the fifteen bucks for the privilege of parking right across the street. "That'll be nineteen dollars." said the cute young barmaid as she slid the two Black Russians across the bar. YIKES! Black Russians are $9.50 a pop! In a plastic cup! At this very moment I suddenly understand why I am the only person at the bar. Mercifully (after tough negotiations) Jeff had the management lay out a tub full of beers for us poor musicians. "Sometimes ya just gotta be aggressive." he said.

8:00 pm

    I'm not familiar with the first band, The Rock City Crime Wave, but they played a decent set. Sort of Garage Rockabilly.
It was immediately apparent that the high end sound system was going to work against us garage bands. Equalized for a dance deejay it clearly was not appropriate. Much too loud (so loud in fact that it was difficult to talk to anybody.) I soon got hoarse shouting into peoples ears, and due to the fact that it was this complicated monster 24 channel deal, we were all enslaved by a stranger's idea of what we should sound like.
Considering the amount of people attending this thing, I think The Middle East downstairs would have been a much better venue. There were actually a lot of people there but the Roxy is so huge that it seemed empty. This is not a good thing. Mary Jo rated the bathroom "A plus".

MaryJo and Dan Mc Cormack
Mary Jo and Dan Mc Cormack
Rick Harte Springa and Friend
Springa and Friend
   The Konks scrambled onstage and performed an exciting, tight set. Their stand up drummer was pounding out the beat right up front between the two guitarists. I liked them. Those crazy Konks. They didn't take themselves too seriously and were obviously having fun. Danny, Mary Jo, and I watched them from the balcony where you could escape the oppressive volume of the sound system. We ambled downstairs between acts to schmooze with some of the Boston rock people.
I couldn't resist taking a picture of Paul Murphy and Howie Ferguson, two of the greatest drummers ever to wield a 5B. Howie (who has decided to try his hand at playing bass) asked me if I used flat wound or round wound strings. "Round wound. Flat wound are just a little too dead." I advised. We bumped into perennial cutie Nancy Neon. She insisted I take two pictures of her in case one didn't come out good. (They both came out good Nancy.) Producer Rick Harte was also in attendance. I couldn't help but notice that his hair is almost completely gray. Laura Markley was looking sweet as ever in shiny black boots and long denim skirt. Billy Borgioli looked very distinguished in long hair and neatly trimmed Van Dyke.
Paul Murphy and Howie Ferguson
Paul Murphy and Howie Ferguson
Nancy Neon Borgioli and Bruce Hammil
Billy Borgioli and Bruce Hammil
    Triple Thick played a memorable set of affable dance songs. It was (In my humble opinion) the best set of the night. They really connected well and you could hear the words. It seemed like the sound man was starting to get it together. I thought they would win. The Downbeat Five also played very well. Personally, I thought they were mixed totally wrong (I couldn't hear Jen) therefore lessening their chances of winning tonight.

Like 60's man.

   We,(The Lyres) had to hurry to get set up. As I moved my Fender into position the stage manager asked me if we would be using the bass amp provided by the club. (Dammit! I knew I didn't have to bring my amp!) I was cursing Jeff under my breath as I tuned up. Jeff kicked off the set with I Want to Help You Ann. Bikini clad go-go dancers (all painted up like Goldie Hawn in the sixties television show Laugh In) surrounded us.
    The stage sound was not bad at all until Jeff asked for a little bit more organ in the monitors. From that moment on, all anyone could hear was Vox Continental screaming through the wedges at volume twelve. I mean it was ridiculous and I was absolutely disgusted. I kept thinking that someone will surely figure out that the organ is blowing everyone's ears out up here and turn the damn thing down. Was it sabotage?

Downbeat 5
Downbeat 5
Triple Thick
Triple Thick

    Time was running out and after a few short words the winners were announced. The Konks ran up onstage to collect their goodies. New Gibson amps and Flying Vee guitars were quickly passed out and everyone had five minutes to vacate the premises. We literally ran out of the place.

10:30 pm

    "Well, gorgeous, we're all dressed up and everything, lets go to The Abbey." I said to Mary Jo. "Ya OK, great!" She squeaked. Excited at the prospect of visiting the old familiar bar again.

10:40 pm

   The Abbey Lounge, Somerville Ma. "NO! Say it aint so! This cannot be! Are we in the right place honey?!" I said to Jo as we entered a completely foreign environment. The place is completely different and still under construction. I'm not sure I like it but just to be fair I will reserve judgment until the renovations are completed. After waiting in line Mary Jo rated the ladies room; small but clean. It was good to get a decent cocktail at a reasonable price. I hope THAT never changes. All in all it was a fun night in Boston. Good friends and good music. Long may it be so. RC

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Copyright © 2004 Rick Corracio. All rights reserved.