Sunday, April 28, 2013

Why Be Something, That You're Not

Why Be Something, That You're Not (Detroit Hardcore 1979-1985) by Tony Rettman

A few weeks ago, I bought this book from Amazon.  I then proceeded to read it over a weekend.  It is 239 pages, but a really quick read.  Prior to reading the book, I did not know a lot about the Detroit Hardcore punk scene outside of The Meatmen and Negative Approach.

The book evolves from the introduction of The Fix through to The Necros and finally to the bands mentioned above.  It was an interesting read about how Tesco Vee of The Meatmen played an influential role in the creation of the scene prior to starting his own band.

I was surprised to learn about how fragmented the scene was due to the slight difference in age (maybe 4-5 years).  Bands like DOA and Black Flag get mentions for their influence on helping create contacts nationwide for bands like The Fix and The Necros to setup their own tours.  It was also interesting to read about how The Fix and The Necros, while different in age, both faced similar struggles upon their return back to the Detroit area after their nationwide tours.  Neither band recognized the bands, style of music, and the change in culture of the scene that they in their own way helped to developed which led to the eventual break up of each band.

There were also interesting stories about venues each faction of the scene created for local bands to have a place to play.  Reading about the different fanzines created by this scene - Touch and Go, Burp!, Inside View - and their influence in spreading the word of local hardcore bands across the globe.  There was also an interesting relationship created between The Necros and New Jersey's Misfits and WDC's Minor Threat.

The book had lots of photos of shows, flyers from the scene, as well as, a brief listing of local shows and information on the local bands.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about the influence the Detroit scene had on the spread of hardcore punk across the globe.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dropkick Murphys - House of Blues, Boston - 2013-03-17

A few minutes prior to buying the VIP ticket package, I bought the tickets for the Dropkick Murphys St Pat's Day show at the House of Blues.  At the time, they only way to get the tix for that show was to buy the combo package with tix for the TD Garden and the HoB shows.  I ended up giving my cousin Jody and his girlfriend my extra set of ticket for the TD Garden show.

The sound at this show was so much better than at the TD Garden.  The setlist was pretty different too.

1.Cadence to Arms 
2.The Boys Are Back 
3.The Fighting 69th 
5.Barroom Hero 
6.Amazing Grace 
7.A Few Good Men 
8.Pipebomb on Landsowne 
9.Prisoner's Song 
10.Jimmy Collins' Wake 
11.Captain Kelly's Kitchen 
13.Worker's Song 
14.The Wild Rover 
15.The Dirty Glass 
16.Bastards on Parade 
17.God Willing 
18.Rose Tattoo 
19.On the Attack 
20.The Battle Rages On 
21.Don't Tear Us Apart 
22.Out of Our Heads 
23.Dirty Water (The Standells cover)
24.I'm Shipping Up to Boston (played instrumental with crowd singing vocals)
25.End of the Night 
26.Skinhead on the MBTA 
27.Alcohol (Gang Green cover) (Scruffy Wallace on Vocals)

Somewhere in the mix, they played a cover of Cock Sparrer's "Watch Your Back" which was the second best highlight of the night for me.  The first highlight was when the band brought 4 members of the military force that killed Osama Bin Laden on stage prior to singing "Forever".  I thought I was at a WWF event as the crowd broke into a USA chant!

I had never seen the band play "Dirty Water" live and that was a treat.  It was also great to hear them play "End of the Night" and let the women on stage.  We left after that song which is very unfortunate as I would have really like to have heard them cover "Alcohol".

"End of the Night" was the great way to end the night and cap off the weekend.  We beat the crowd to the cabs, and headed back to the hotel exhausted.


Dropkick Murphys - Boston TD Garden - 2013-03-15

Back on Black Friday, I purchased a VIP package for Wendy and me to go see the Dropkick Murphys at TD Garden in Boston on St Pat's weekend.  It turns out that there were about 300 people that had the VIP package which was a little more than I expected but still a relatively select group.

We arrived at TD Garden at about 3pm to wait to check in, and then waited about another 30 minutes before the festivities started.  As part of the package, we were able to go to the soundcheck.  The band played 5 songs for us.

The State of Massachusetts (which they did not play at any of their 3 concerts that weekend - only for us :) )
The Dirty Glass (with one of the Parkington Sisters)
Barroom Hero (they let someone from the crowd sing it)
Kiss Me I'm Shitfaced (Ken was trying out the acoustics while he walked the rink)
I don't remember the 5th tune.

After the soundcheck, we waited in the Legends Room at the arena for about 20 minutes before the band was ready for the meet and greet photoshoot.  Al Barr said he liked my t-shirt.

We then took the subway out near Fenway Park to McGreevy's which is owned by singer/bass player, Ken Casey.  The VIP folks had the bar to ourselves with free drinks and appetizers.  What are the odds we run into a couple from Mississippi who lived just south of Memphis within 10 minutes of where we used to live.  We stuck around for about an hour, and then took the subway back to the TD Garden for the show.

When we arrived at the Garden, Old Man Markley was just finishing up their set which is unfortunate because I wanted to see them.  We did get to see the Mahones and they did finish the set with my favorite tune of their's "Drunken Lazy Bastard".

Black 47 played next.  It was a snoozefest.  I was happy when it ended.

Then the Dropkick Murphys hit the stage and the place went nuts.  It was their first time playing TD Garden.  The security guards and police were a bit antsy.  They were throwing out all slamdancers and crowd surfers.  The band wasn't happy about it, but those were the rules.  After they mentioned it the second time to the audience, it seemed to slow down quite a bit.  The set list covered most of their catalog, and they played a lot of songs from their newest release Signed and Sealed in Blood.  They were also not permitted to allow the women on stage for "Kiss Me I'm Shitfaced" so Ken went into the crowd to sing it.

1.Cadence to Arms 
2.The Boys Are Back 
4.Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya 
5.Prisoner's Song 
6.Fields of Athenry 
7.Homeward Bound 
8.Your Spirit's Alive 
9.Out On The Town 
10.Citizen C.I.A. 
11.Jimmy Collins' Wake 
12.Worker's Song (Acoustic)
13.The Battle Rages On 
14.The Dirty Glass (with Nora Parkington)
15.Going Out In Style 
16.My Hero 
17.Out of Our Heads 
18.The Warrior's Code 
19.Rose Tattoo 
20.The Irish Rover 
21.Barroom Hero 
22.I'm Shipping Up to Boston (played instrumental, crowd sang vocals)
23.Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced 
24.T.N.T.(AC/DC cover)

After the show, we had to walk around the arena to go pick up our Dropkick Murphys engraved flask and a tour poster signed by all of the members of the band.

It was quite a long day, but very memorable.  I am glad we got the VIP package and we had a great time.  There are more pictures of our trip here.

Monday, April 8, 2013


Commando - The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone

Last night, I cracked open this 175 page book for a brief read in an effort to tire the eyes so I could fall asleep.  I ended up finishing the book it was such a good read.

Johnny's story starts out talking about his love for baseball, his hatred for going to school, his late teen life of violence, a brief stint working as a steamfitter, and then his life in the Ramones.

There were a few things that I did not know about the Ramones that I learned in this book.  I didn't realize that Tommy Ramone was the driving force in getting the band started.  It was Tommy who kept on telling Johnny and Dee Dee to start a band.  Johnny loved music and didn't think he could play as good as the bands he was going to see every week until he saw the New York Dolls.

It was interesting to read about Johnny's concern about "the uniform" that the band wore and how it was created over time.  I didn't know that Johnny married Joey's former girlfriend after courting her for years while she was still dating Joey.  They were afraid to start dating because they felt Joey would break up the band.

Johnny had a goal to put $1 million in the bank and then retire.  He achieved his goal, and then began earning enough $ from royalties that he didn't need to spend his savings.  Interesting that he had thoughts that there may have been reunion shows or releases of the new song here or there for compilation releases.  He put an end to those dreams when Joey died, and wouldn't play with another singer.  Then, he was hit hard by the death of Dee Dee.  Lastly, his own battle with cancer that he was unable to beat for the 3rd time.  Ultimately, he finished this book knowing he would not live to see it published.

This was a great read for anyone remotely interested in learning more about the Ramones through the straight forward stories of the originator of the 3 chord punk rock guitar player.