Today is my birthday, and I'm feeling bloody old. Also a little worse for the wear from all the rocking...Three months ago, I returned to Massachusetts for the "Tour of Route 9" with my old bands the Malarians and the Cheetahs. Last week, I went back again to do two more shows with the Malarians (see previous post). I wrote the following in July, but never published it. Here is part one of "My Massatucky Walkabout."
It was one month ago today that I made my return to the concert stage with a gig at the Sierra Grille in Northampton, Mass., which is located in the building that once housed the Bay State Hotel, where I used to book shows in the mid-'90s under the guise of my rock 'n roll alter-egomaniac Mal Thursday. For the proper historical context, check out Ken Maiuri's June 3rd piece in The Daily Hampshire Gazette:
Clubland: Local legend Mal Thursday returns to reanimate Valley
Although the tour was not a popular move at home (my marriage would be in much better shape had I kept it to just the four dates with the Malarians, or had not gone at all), it was something I had to do, and in spite of it all, I'm damn glad I did it.
I flew in on the afternoon of the first gig, a Cheetahs show with the Egos and Evil Bill at the Sierra Grille, former site of the Bay State Hotel, where I ruled the roost back in the salad days of the Northampton music scene circa the mid-'90s. It wasn't a total triumph, but it was good to be back. The next night, we played a barn-burner at Church of Boston on a bill with Lyres (sounding as good as they ever have, and I've witnessed dozens of their shows over the past quarter-century) and the Coffin Lids. Northampton band the Immolators were supposed to be on the bill as well, but Mike Dumont a/k/a Liv Damage got lost in traffic, despite the fact that the club is just a few blocks from Fenway Park. I drove back from the gig with Cheetah David Trenholm, and once we exited the Mass Pike, we navigated a spooky, foggy, winding route that was totally Ichabod Crane-like.
New England: it's centuries-old crazy.
I then had several days off, most of which were spent on my own without access to a car, the internet or cable TV. I had plenty of time for reflection, and to rehearse with the Malarians. I had pooh-poohed the idea of a reunion for many years, owing to the fact that founding member Slater Awan (Kent Garver) was dead. But I warmed to the idea over time, and we kicked serious ass. And miraculously, my voice held up.
Thanks to Ken Maiuri, Matthew Dube, Gary Carra, and Vincent Bator for writing up my return; Marc Solomon for providing shelter and sanity; the boys in the bands, with a special shout-out to Les LeBarge a/k/a Les Fillin, for learning 25 songs and rocking them thoroughly; and a host of others, not least Jeff Conolly, Tim Downie, Mark Sheehan, O'Brien Tomalin, our producer Sean Slade, Glenn Merrill-Skoloff, Dancing Larry, Andrea Newhouse, Meag Kennedy, the Immolators, the Egos, Evil Bill, and Peter "Spec" McHugh.
No thanks, and a special place in hell for the Malarians' opening act at Church, who have started a "Boycott the Malarians" Facebook page because they felt that should have received a bigger cut of the $130 that was to be split between the three bands. They were an awful, awful semi-pro '80s synth-drivel band made up of NBA employees. I think the horrible lead singer was their boss, and they were afraid to tell him that he looked like a spastic or that his songs were terrible. I did go slightly batshit on their lame asses, calling them "Kobe-enablers" and accusing them of being "in cahoots with the L.A. Rapers."
They did, however, generate some good one-liners:
"They make A-Ha sound like AC/DC."
"Like Missing Persons without Dale Bozzio or Flock of Seagulls with less balls."
"The Malarians may or may not have stolen their money, but they stole 45 minutes of my life."
"Music to eat a gun by."
Fuck 'em. I had a ball.