Sunday Afternoon Video Theft: The Renfields "Burning Revenge" acoustic @ Meadowbridge Hot Topic 10.28

If you're upset that you missed The Renfields at the Parrot, check out this conveniently found footage of Vincent, Set-Ramses and The Fiend performing "Burning Revenge" at the Meadowbridge Mall Hot Topic.

It's great for no other reason that this is the first time seeing Vincent playing guitar. There's also a clip for "New York Ripper" so check that out, but hopefully whoever filmed this (Cerial442?) uploads more.

Sucks that we missed them at the Parrot, but it's great to see 'em still keeping it undead.

Related: Renfields H-D article, CD Review: Stalk and Slash Splatterama Pt. 2


CD Review: "Bender"

CD: Bender
ARTIST: Hucklebuck

The cover of Hucklebuck’s debut CD Bender looks like it could’ve came from somewhere around the WVRockscene home front. Not that we have that many burlap sacks, but recently we seemed to be getting invaded by those Asian stink beetles or something.

The Sharpsburg, Maryland-based Americana five-piece, together since 2008, released their debut effort a month or two ago. A few native West Virginians comprise the band, which inhabits the poorly policed, mountainous border region between West Virginia and Maryland, where irregulars pass freely from state to state.

The 10-song CD features a few really good songs, like Jarod Brechbill’s “Better Late Than Never,” which sounds like something Tom Petty might play. The songwriting mainly seems to split up between guitarists Jonathan Helta and Brechbill, with fellow six-stringer Jon James writing “West of I-95” and bassist Danny Cumbo (who introduced the band to us over the net) penning “The More That I Chase You,” the band seems to have an organic songwriting process, having evolved out of a few guys hanging out jamming.

Influenced by acts ranging from Buck Owens and the man in black to CCR, Petty and even Wilco, the band has a roots music sound a lot of people will likely dig.

J.J. James’ song, “West of I-95” is a rollicking, jangly, twangy, Southern-sounding garage rock good time, as the band flees NYC, Boston and Philly for the mountains.

“I wanna see God’s country the way it was meant to be…Get in the interstate and stomp on that gas! Head West of I-95!”

There’s a killer solo and lyrics about pesky out-of-state drivers. “Sick of dodging asshole drivers, watchin’ out left and right/I wanna be somewhere I can be left alone tonight.”

Brechbill’s songs include “Time Capsule,” and hilarious, curse-laden, irreverent country, maybe the most awesomely named song of 2010, “Til the Tit Gets Stuck,” and “Good Stuff.”

“Time Capsule” has a pretty acoustic intro leading intro dreamy strumming about “shooting holes in the moon again,” a really pretty, sappy song, with soulful crooning from Brechbill.

Songs credited to Helta include “Early Bird,” “Old State Line” and the closing track, “I Got Friends.”

“Early Bird” sounds like Wilco, which is a good thing. “Old State Line” is a rockin’ good time, a standout track, as Helta sings:
I’m runnin’ round the old state line, never meant to leave you behind
Hopin’ that you’ll be my mate, hopin’ that it’s not too late
I’m runnin’ round the old state line
Cumbo’s song, “The More That I Chase You,” is swinging old school country and/or western, with bouncy bass and a plucky slide guitar sounding solo. He sounds like Alan Griffith.

The band is able to capture a great bar-based atmosphere on the backing vocals and various hooting and hollering. From the sing-along choruses on the songs to people who sound like they’re just hanging out drinking, rocking out with the band. Kudos to Todd Stotler at Echos Recording in Sharpsburg for a good job in the studio.

The switching up of the singers, the fact that they each seem to have good songs, the appealing sound, the regional pride in the songs, and the bar-based atmosphere Hucklebuck nails make this CD way better than we anticipated. A good time to be had, listening to these dudes. Definitely worth checking out and picking up.

Hucklebuck plays the Blue Moon Café in Shepherdstown tonite, Friday Oct. 29

RIYL: ‘85 Flood

mp3: “Good Stuff” by Hucklebuck

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Renfields Halloween @ the Parrot

Our good friends in the Transylvania-based pogo punk horror movie-themed outfit The Renfields return to Charleston Friday for a show at the Blue Parrot, as you can clearly see in the conveniently placed flyer above.

What you may not see, is that our good friend Dave Cantrell, formerly of The Concept, was murdered and re-animated as The Renfields bassist The Fiend. There's also s'posed to be a zombie walk before the show, somehwhere in Charleston. That should fit right in with The Renfields.

Also playing is Charleston's rockabilly band The Fabulous Bros. Steele, who, last we checked, had a bass player that helped rewire the electric in the WVRockscene home office. The Bros. Steele were also said to be recording out Fayetteville way this month.

See? That's the kind of hardcore info you can only get at WVRockscene.

Related: Reposted H-D article on The Renfields

Whiskey Daredevils headline a Halloween Hootenanny

Fresh off the heels of a European tour, the Whiskey Daredevils are headed to Charleston to headline Halloween Hootenanny at The Empty Glass Saturday.

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Whiskey Daredevils singer Greg Miller said his band’s recent two-week European tour was a piece of cake. It was getting settled back in at home that was hard.

“The tough thing coming home is I wake up in the middle of the night for the first 10 days and wonder where I am,” he said. “I do a mental inventory and think, ‘OK, what hotel is this? Where is the bathroom? Wait, I think this is my house. That means I am in Cleveland. That’s right, I’m back in Cleveland.’”

Miller, whose cowpunk quartet headlines the Empty Glass Halloween Hootenanny Saturday, says the band was quite warmly welcomed across the pond.

“We seem to be really connecting with a group of great fans over there, and they are definitely enthusiastic about what we’re doing,” he said. “After the shows, we would usually go back to the merch table and talk to people that were interested in having stuff signed.”

The band toured Amsterdam, Belgium and Germany.

“To say we are ‘big’ in Europe is a stretch, but I can definitely say we’ve been growing a very loyal fan base,” Miller said. “We know when we play a show, there will be people in the club ready to have a good time.

“There is a good core group of people that hunger for real American rock ‘n roll, and that is what we provide. To see the smiles on their faces when we first kick in is a pretty good feeling.”

The fans aren’t the only ones in Europe who love the Daredevils and American rock. Miller says it’s a different culture there as far as support.

“Europe supports the arts, if you consider us ‘the arts,’ much more than the States. If we play a club in the United States for the first time, it’s not unusual to be greeted by surly employees, have a sound guy snarl at you through sound check and then have some [expletive] room to store your gear while you wander around looking for something to eat.

“When we go to Europe, we roll into the club for sound check and have a small plate of snacks and drinks to greet us. We’ll confer with the soundman to make sure everyone is comfortable with the stage sound. Then we’ll eat a meal cooked by the club or go to a local restaurant where the promoter will sit down and eat with us.

“After the show, we’ll go to the accommodations provided us by the club instead of driving around looking for a Red Roof Inn where we think our van might not get broken into. It’s a level of professionalism that would be great to see here frankly.”

On the tour was the band’s new guitarist, Gary Siperko, who joined last year. He’s also been there for the band’s two 2010 releases: “Introducing The Whiskey Daredevils,” their fifth album, and “The Golden Age of Country Punk,” which finds them getting back to their roots.

“Gary has been coming up with some really good stuff in that vein as he has embraced Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and other old country pickers,” Miller said. “With us, you know that we’ll do something that is not too far removed from American roots, but we’ll try to do it in our own way.

“I felt really interested in what unique things a timeless ‘American’ song had that other music didn’t. I wouldn’t say we wrote any timeless songs per se, but I think we captured a real feel on that record.”

Playing shows, whether in Northern Europe or Northern Ohio, and making music is what the Daredevils are all about for Miller

“I have a need to create songs and do these stupid little projects. It’s what keeps me sane,” he said. “Plus the rush of doing a really great live show is way better than spending your time in a softball league or entering a darts tournament on a weekend.”

Halloween Hootenanny
With Whiskey Daredevils and Beaver Knievel
WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: The Empty Glass 401 Elizabeth St.
COST: $6 with costume, $8 without
INFO: http://www.whiskeydaredevils.com/ or 304-345-3914

photo: Yves Maquinay


CD Review: "Pre-Emptive Skankery Sessions"

CD: Pre-Emptive Skankery Sessions
ARTIST: J Marinelli

It’s no surprise that J Marinelli, the Morgantown native and Lexington transplant, would release his Pre-Emptive Skankery Sessions exclusively on vinyl; you may recall he released his Stone Age Kicks cover collections on cassette.

It also won’t surprise anyone who’s followed Marinelli that Commodity Fetish Analogue is, in keeping with Marinelli’s DIY ethic, entirely his own label.

Longtime fans of Marinelli will recognize the songs on Skankery; retooled versions of songs you’ve heard on Pity The Party, Keep It Fake, heard him play live, or listened to over and over again on his MySpace page.

Fourteen songs, two sides, 29 minutes, one man, and one pre-emptive doctrine.

Marinelli brings his angry one-man band’s version of rockin’ stomp and swing back on Skankery. Soaked in reverb, echo and distortion, and armed with his kazoo and harmonica, Marinelli’s songs, likened in the past to English pub rock, are above all catchy as heck.

Part champion of the proletariat, part busker, all Appalachian punk rock hero, Marinelli’s lyrics cover his own cultural observations, from the music scene and punk rock fashionistas, to friends, and society as a whole.

Like on Stone Age Kicks Vol. I and II, Marinelli, on his songs, with his own music, from beginning to end and throughout, weaves his own narrative.

Opening with “Rebel Without Applause” and “Hey Pinkerton” gives Pre-Emptive Skankery a live set feel, as Marinelli always seems to play these songs back to back at the live shows.
“Too many nights of the sound of one hand clapping just for you/‘brace each new wave and count the days till the big corporate rescue
Here’s where we’d part company if company had once been made/Unmaligned, but so defined from your shoes up to your shades.”
Boom. Every time “Rebel Without Applause” starts, it means it’s time to get awesome.

The abrasiveness of “Rebel” gives way to the subdued “Pinkerton,” with more acerbic Marinelli lyrics, as he describes playing for the same one hand clapping, possibly some kind of thug life guy:
“Maybe all your patrons see
That you’re as fake as Fox TV
You ain’t outside of any
Norm, construct, or system”
I’ll always remember the first time I heard Marinelli play “She’s My Cheerwine” at the Empty Glass several years back. It’s a great song; the muted riffage, the pounding kick drum and snare, and Marinelli’s repetitive la-la-la’s had the song in my head, and kept it there long after the show was over. Marinelli ends the song in huge rock song drum roll fashion.

Two more obscure (obscure in the sense they are not on any previous CDs) Marinelli songs on the record, “Comrade K” and “The Ballad of Eddie Freedom” fill out side one and spell out where Marinelli is coming from. On “Comrade K,” singing through what sounds like a slicer or limiter or something, Marinelli sings of the Magic Town scene:
“Nobody here is hopeful, comrade
The kids are their own marketplace
Give me anyone (who) can make his or her own fun
by groping toward a brighter place”

“Have we all grown uptight on our scene's cellulite?
No patience -- no time for heroes?
Even duct tape and flyers, even gas-money kindness
Even rightness -- says me -- can be a selling point too
Even rightness -- says me -- can be a commodity too
Even rightness -- says me -- can be a spectacle too”
“Weak Enuff” used to be called “My Mythology” but like so many Marinelli songs, has undergone a slight tinkering, but it is a great version.

The revolutionary “Last Year’s Party” is one of the more somber, powerful songs on the record.
“Oh mindless child of Late Capitalism
Son of Post-modernity

Better dry your hand of Coors Light condensation
Grab a Molotov or three”
Side Two of the record kicks off with “No Kind of Fun,” and Marinelli’s cover of Slate Dump’s “Pop Bottle Pete and Beercan Bud,” really a swingin’ ditty.

Marinelli again exhorts his Magic Town cohorts to keep the scene alive on “Keep Morgantown Weird” and dials back on his “salty version” of “Pity the Party,” a sober look at fake acquaintances and fresh anecdotes.

The scene gets euthanized it seems on “Your Ethos (Is Like a Drug To Me),” with Marinelli pulling the plug.

The jewel of the record is the unplugged version of “Pomade Years” -- no drums, no caveman guitar, just Marinelli with a harmonica and his own voice, sans effects, singing about fakery.
“Your hype
is larger than life
delusional tripe
forcefed by the forces”

“That bring
your weakness to light
so afraid that you might
meet the you that we once knew”
Skankery is a great introductory collection of songs for people who may just be coming across Marinelli. There’s also something for longtime Marinelli fans. This is a record that I’ve been wanting to hear for like two years or something, and the wait was worth it.

Marinelli has made his own scene. In the form of a one-man band, with a kick, a snare, and a high-hat, his kazoo, harmonica and guitar, Marinelli is not just some novelty act; he is what punk rock is all about.

When so many acts seem contrived, relying on their own smoke and mirrors, Marinelli is one of the realest things going.

To borrow some lyrics from “Eddie Freedom,” J Marinelli is a true sound of liberty.

Online: Pre-Emptive Skankery Sessions on Bandcamp. Order the vinyl LP and receive a free download of Pre-Emptive Skankery Sessions.

Related: http://wvrockscene.blogspot.com/2010/02/lake-and-ocean-wj-marinelli-sound.html, When the man comes to town, Marinelli Does Morgantown, CD Review: Stone Age Kicks

PSS art: Eli Pollard


CD Review: "The Golden Age of Country Punk"

CD: The Golden Age of Country Punk
ARTIST: Whiskey Daredevils

Two Whiskey Daredevils reviews in the same calendar year is not too many for this here blog.

The cover of the latest Daredevils CD really tells longtime fans of theirs all they need to know. While The Golden Age of Country Punk -- released back in August -- is certainly a fine and appropriate enough title, with the acoustic guitar sitting there, Daredevils: Unplugged could’ve worked, too.

The Cleveland-based cowpunkers are indeed more cow, less punk on this, their sixth studio release, a collection of some of your favorite songs of theirs. Some old, some new, a few covers, but all way more country than your punk band.

Joining Greg and Ken Miller, Gary Siperko and Leo P. Love are “The Ringers” -- Paul Kovac (banjo), Bill Lestock (fiddle), and fellow Cowslinger Bobby Latina on guitar -- adding an authentic, distinctly twangy country feel to the Daredevils songs.

For anyone who’s ever loved rockabilly -- the musical bridge between (or hybrid of) country and rock, and what the Daredevils and the Cowslingers rocked -- this CD is definitely something to get excited about.

“Ida Jane” opens Golden Age with a fiddle-fied version of Greg Miller’s ode to his wife’s boss. While the songs sound way more country than anything you may have heard on previous Daredevils records, there’s still the galloping, clip-clopping drums and triplet snare; a new twist on an old thing. Or maybe an old twist on the Daredevils musical output.

Miller finds himself reminiscing about his iconic, pain pill-popping hero on “The Day Evel Knievel Died,” years later. While the last Daredevils CD had Miller lamenting the fact that he “Never Saw Johnny Cash,” this song, a new one, apparently, is like nothing this reviewer has ever heard the Daredevils do.

Miller briefly abandons his Elvis-meets-Glenn Danzig vocal stylings for a more nasally, delicate voice. You’d think it was a guest vocalist, it sounds so different. Slight echo on the vocals is a nice touch.

The slow, somber-yet dreamy, minimalist song ambles up with plucky banjo, Ken’s bouncy bass, and near-haunting backing “oooh’s” underneath Miller’s pining.
“I remember when Evel died
Do you remember, when Evel died?”

“I got older, left my toys behind
Didn’t think about him much til the day he died
He looked so young staring out from the TV
What happened to him? What happened to me?”
Really the best song of the CD.

“Blue Eyes” is the Daredevils’ nod to Gram Parsons, cowpunk that fits right in with the Daredevils’ other songs.

Another new one -- “All Night Long” -- is more up-tempo, standard sounding Daredevils fare, something that you could hear on any of their previous records. But with the Ringers, and their waaay more country approach, like not much anything you’ve heard the Daredevils try.

“Lay Em Down” opens with pounding kick drum and what sounds like a big 12-string guitar sound. Big acoustic slide guitar sound under what Miller seems to find himself doing often in his songs, playing his hand to the best of his abilities, battling the devil. Cool song.

Even though you may have heard the rocked out version of “Jack Evans Wants His Lighter Back” the country version of the song will be a perfect theme song when you flee the police in a high speed chase in North Georgia, or somewhere in Texarkana or something. Seriously don’t run from the police. But you will be rocking out the banjo, and Latina’s electric guitar parts on the song.

And maybe this is a good opportunity to discuss the outsourcing of jobs to Mexico -- they took our jobs! Miller finds this out on the song, finding himself behind the counter at the downtown Taco Bell, thinking about Evans’ lighter and the days of his youth.

Paul Westerberg’s “If Only You Were Lonely” will have the ladies swooning and swaying at the bar, and possibly here is where some dude will throw a beer bottle at Miller. That seems like how it would happen. Nice electric solo by Latina.

The Golden Age closes with the guys looking back to their Cowslinger days, playing “Rabbit’s Foot.”

Miller sings, opening the song:
“Get some acid and a Willie Nelson tape/that wind it cut me to the bone. The dime is dropped, I had to make my escape/To the desert, half drunk, completely stoned. Never felt so alone.”
Haunting kind of guitar tones, perfect Route 66 kind of music maybe. Latina’s distorted, reverb-soaked guitar parts on the song really mirror what Siperko played on “Thicker Than Wine” on their last CD. But this time at least Miller is able to escape with $500 and his lucky rabbit’s foot -- not taking the rap for his friend’s cocaine, ending up in a Mexican prison!

So, even though time has passed from the days of The Cowslingers, up to the current Daredevils, it doesn’t seem like a whole lot has changed, musically or thematically, for these dudes.

Not only do they nicely redo a lot of songs their fans already love, the Daredevils, on Golden Age (released on their own Drink N Drive label) capture a real country music atmosphere on the recording.

After welcoming in new guitarist Siperko before recording Introducing The Whiskey Daredevils, this is a great change of pace CD for the Daredevils. With the Ringers, and the different take on songs, this is definitely a CD Daredevils fans will want to add to their collection.

Let the golden age begin.

mp3: “The Day Evel Knievel Died” by Whiskey Daredevils

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Related -- CD Review: Introducing The Whiskey Daredevils, Introducing Greg Miller of The Whiskey Daredevils, Our first Q&A w/Miller

Side project sends Demon Beat, Fox Hunt members to Prison

Prison Book Club is a side project for most of its members. John Miller (left) is in The Fox Hunt, and Tucker Riggleman and Adam Meisterhans (middle) are in The Demon Beat. Jeff Birdsall is The Resonators’ ex-drummer.

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- John Miller and Tucker Riggleman’s friendship grew out of their mutual love of the Memphis-based alt-country band Lucero.

“I met John in 2005 at a Lucero show in D.C. through mutual friends,” Riggleman recalled. “We’ve kind of been stuck with each other ever since.”

The two currently share singing and songwriting duties in the Shepherdstown-based alt-country band Prison Book Club. They are joined on guitar by Demon Beat front man Adam Meisterhans and ex-Resonators drummer Jeff Birdsall. Riggleman also is in The Demon Beat, and Miller’s other group is The Fox Hunt.

Prison Book Club, which recently finished tracking the follow-up to its debut CD, “Required Reading,” plays The Empty Glass on Friday.

For Riggleman, who plays bass in The Demon Beat, finding the courage to write and sing his own songs grew partly out of his friendship with Miller.

“I was a pretty bad college student, so I’d spend a lot of nights staying up late, drinking and playing music with John. It really helped me come out of my shell as a writer, singer and performer,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to get drunk and sing to your friends than to try it out on strangers first.”

Prison Book Club started out as friends hanging out, jamming and getting ready to play a friend’s wedding. The original lineup was a trio consisting of Miller, Riggleman and Demon Beat drummer Jordan Hudkins.

“Tucker and I’d talked about playing in a band together to some extent for several years before,” Miller said, “but those were mostly during drunken nights of playing music together in his basement or apartments. It took a while to actually say, ‘Hell with it, let’s start a band.’”

Meisterhans showed up before the wedding gig and fit right in.

“I hinted that I might want to come downstairs and play some licks while they practiced for the wedding,” he said. “That turned into ‘Sure, I’m not doing anything that weekend. I’d love to play a wedding.’”

“The band didn’t really get started until Adam came in,” Miller said. “He made it all gel together.”

Prison Book Club is a side project for most of its members. It’s a different experience, especially for Riggleman and Meisterhans, whose roles are essentially reversed from their main group. In the Demon Beat, Meisterhans is the singer and songwriter; in PBC, it’s Riggleman (along with Miller).

“When I’m playing my songs, it’s very different,” Riggleman said. “Those are things that I wrote because I needed to get them off of my chest, so of course it’s more personal to me.”

“I really love playing with what’s already going on,” Meisterhans said. “Being in Prison Book Club allows me to solely act as a player and give a more or less outside perspective on arrangement and dynamics.”

The band has a new record due out in the spring. Meisterhans co
-engineered it with The Fox Hunt’s Ben Townsend.

“This record will, hopefully, support the notion that we aren’t your mother’s alt-country rockers,” Meisterhans said. “The songs are better. The parts are better. You can also tell that we’re serious on this one because I’m using a delay pedal.”

Although Prison Book Club is a side project and its members also must dedicate time to their other groups, Riggleman said he’s proud of what the band has accomplished so far. “I think we make the best of what time we do have together.”
Meisterhans said they’re doing it for the right reason: fun.

“I can’t imagine having more fun,” he said. “I could imagine more money, but not more fun.”

Prison Book Club, Billy Matheny and the Frustrations and Mike Withrow
WHEN: 10 p.m. Friday
WHERE: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St.
COST: $6
INFO: www.myspace.com/prisonbookclub or 304-345-3914

photo: Ashley Hoffman


1318 4th Ave. - An Aural History, Vol. 4

For my next two contributions to this blog, I will be counting down my 10 favorite shows featured at Drop Shop during its years of existence, 1995-1998.

(I’m also breaking with the previous entries’ format by including this playlist at the top of this blog so that you can sample some of the acts I mention below while you read, if you so desire.)

While hundreds of shows were held at the venue during its 2 ½ years of operation, I’ve attempted to highlight the 10 that hold the most significance for me personally.

I also felt this to be a model way to emphasize the achievements of those involved with Drop Shop, but I would also ask you to share which shows you deem as your favorites, not only from Drop Shop, but Gumby’s as well, in the comments section below.

In order to do this in the most economical way possible, I will be separating this entry into two parts, the first of which will include shows #10 through #6.

So, without further ado…


(Wednesday, September 24, 1997)

This show was not one of particular interest and I wasn’t even present for three-fourths of it, but an important moment in the history of 1318 4th Avenue would occur on this night.

In fact, on this same night, Priority One Productions (Allen Dean’s business venture for talent booking) was hosting George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars at Huntington’s Civic Center and Quiet Riot performed simultaneously at the Wild Dawg Saloon.

My friends and I actually spent the bulk of that evening reliving the glory days of hair metal by taking in Quiet Riot, while I walked the short distance across the street to periodically check in on the Clinton show.

It was a given that everyone would reconvene at Drop Shop later that night after George Clinton’s performance had concluded, and my friends and I arrived midway through Shootyz Groove’s set.

It was only mere moments later that Dean and a host of others showed up, with none other than George Clinton himself in tow.

Those of who were lucky enough to have been there, which, if memory serves me correctly, was probably no more than 25 people, witnessed Dr. Funkenstein leisurely walk through the venue, make his way to the stage and join Shootyz Groove for an impromptu number.

Trust me when I say that the expression on the faces of each of the band’s members would have been worth the price of admission alone, that is, if I had paid one.


(Saturday, November 30, 1996)

Strangely enough, I recall very little of The Smooths, who headlined this show.

The draw for me was that this was to be the last show for Huntington’s Cretin Hop, as two-thirds (vocalist/guitarist Brian Lusher and drummer Mark Harlan) of the band would soon relocate to Nashville, Tennessee.

By this point, I had been a fan of the band formerly known as Electric Lullaby for quite some time, actually since the release of their first album, ‘Kindred to the Snake,’ some four years earlier.

In many ways it was that album which had initially sparked my interest in local music and, by the time this show occurred, I had developed a musical kinship with the band’s bassist, Russ Fox. (The fact that both of us were Bob Mould fans only made it inevitable.)

My fondest memory of Cretin Hop’s performance that evening, which drew equally from that debut album as well as their latest release, ‘High on Gas,’ transpired near the end of the band’s set.

A friend of mine, whom was well aware of my affinity for the band, suggested to Lusher that they dedicate the first track (“One Man’s Island”) from their debut album to me and, like clockwork, they did.

I don’t know who was more animated during that singular performance – Fox, who appeared highly amused that a solitary song could generate such excitement from one person, or me.


(Friday, February 7, 1997)

This show marked the return of Dave Angstrom to 1318 4th Avenue after a brief hiatus.

Angstrom had been absent from the venue since the collapse of his previous band, Control Freak, and this was to be the Huntington debut of his new outfit, Supafuzz.

Although second on the bill, Supafuzz, in what would be customary of every one of their performances that I attended, exhibited an energy and enthusiasm that bands performing in venues 20 times the size of Drop Shop would do well to match.

The band’s set list pulled from their as-yet-to-be-released debut album, ‘Pretty Blank Page,’ and featured soon-to-be crowd favorites such as “Superstar,” “Push” and “Mr. Policeman,” amongst many others.

Although Supafuzz would go on to perform multiple times at the venue, this performance would be unrivaled in intensity as they clearly had something to prove, and that something made a lasting impact but, more importantly, earned them a wealth of staunch supporters in the years to come.

The pleasant surprise about this show, however, was my introduction to the New York three-piece known as Speed McQueen.

The band would be releasing their full-length, self-titled album the following Tuesday, February 11, and celebrated its release with this appearance at Drop Shop.

Speed McQueen combined an equal love of power-pop and punk to form an ideal musical brew that effortlessly complemented the riotous onslaught by Supafuzz.

It was an auspicious debut of two bands that would soon become venue favorites.


(Wednesday, June 17, 1998)

Many people will recognize this show as the final one at Drop Shop, and that alone earns it merit on this list.

The mere fact that the former Alice in Chains guitarist had the distinction of being the last to perform at the venue left many in attendance (and some even to this day) scratching their heads.

With a band that also featured Alice in Chains drummer Sean Kinney, former Queensrÿche guitarist Chris DeGarmo and Fishbone bassist John Norwood Fisher, it begged the question, “how could this possibly be a venue’s final show when it had to be financially successful in the first place to book it?”

Unfortunately, to many, that’s a question that still remains unanswered.

Cantrell was touring in support of his recently released solo debut, ‘Boggy Depot,’ of which his set heavily favored, but he did manage to mix in such Alice in Chains standards as “No Excuses” and “Got Me Wrong.”

Regrettably, I spent the entire duration of this show in the sound booth doing lights for all three bands, one of which, Zeke, was none too appreciative of my skills, or lack thereof.

The after-party more than made up for the evening’s uncomfortable moments and even included Drop Shop bouncers John Dempsey and Robert Farley power-bombing an inebriated yours truly through two strategically placed pieces of plywood.

Ah, to be young, dumb and careless again, and besides, the venue was “officially” closed by that point, never to open again.


(Friday, February 28, 1997)

I was the music columnist for the Huntington Herald-Dispatch for almost the entire period in which Drop Shop was opened.

One of the obvious perks of the job was receiving promotional copies of CD’s each day I checked my mailbox at the office, and none was as exciting as when I obtained an advance copy of Morgantown’s Karma to Burn’s debut album in the fall of 1996.

I would have to wait, however, until this show, the band’s album release party, before I could hear the bulk of it performed live.

One interesting aspect of this show was that the band’s performance featured vocalist J. Jarosz for a few songs (as had the album), much to the chagrin of Huntington loyalists, who had grown accustomed to Karma to Burn’s trademark instrumental interplay.

Fortunately, the band, which by then included former Chum drummer Chuck Nicholas, opted for an instrumental-heavy set and would eventually sack Jarosz before leaving to tour Europe just three months later.

Although the band had, essentially, been strong-armed into hiring Jarosz by their record label, Roadrunner, this decision would lead to the label parting ways with the Karma to Burn later in the year.

It’s also worth noting that opening act LIKEHELL was fronted by Nick Eldorado, who would later guest on Queens of the Stone Age’s ‘Rated R’ album, and appear on Volumes 7 and 8 of The Desert Sessions.

You can expect the second part of this blog to appear in the coming days.


1318 4th Ave. - An Aural History, Vol. 3

Welcome to the third volume of the “1318 4th Ave.” series.

While I certainly hope you’ve enjoyed the previous two editions on this site, this volume is a particularly noteworthy one, as it represents the period when Gumby’s ceased to exist and Drop Shop took up residence at 1318 4th Avenue in Huntington.

By late 1994, Gumby’s had suffered a succession of setbacks, the most prominent of which involved the physical integrity of the building itself, which would, ultimately, lead to its closure in early 1995.

As a result, the building would sit vacant for the first half of that year, until local businessman Allen Dean (of Mycroft’s) and his partners would purchase it and begin renovations that summer.

While Dean’s involvement with this undertaking may have generated some skepticism amongst the Gumby’s faithful, those concerns were soon laid to rest when it was decided that many of that venue’s staff would be retained for his new venture.

Perhaps the most important of those former Gumby’s employees to stay on with Drop Shop was Erik Raines, whom Dean would designate as booker, and would be responsible for continuing the tradition of live music that had been a staple of the previous venue.

Raines wasted no time in his new position and helped to establish Drop Shop’s intentions early on by recruiting Chum and Kent, Ohio’s Disengage to perform on the venue’s opening night in October 1995.

In his first six months alone, Raines would also be responsible for bringing bands such as Machine Head, Eyehategod and Morbid Angel (all of whom are featured on this volume) to Huntington for performances at Drop Shop.

Gumby’s holdovers such as Groovezilla and The Electric Hellfire Club would also continue to be featured at 1318 4th Ave., and new relationships would be forged with acts like Stuck Mojo, who would develop an affinity for Drop Shop and make multiple appearances at the venue over the course of the next 2 ½ years.

Although Dean and Raines initially approached hosting live music with caution during the venue’s first couple of months, by March 1996, Drop Shop was featuring bands four times per week.

(It is also worth mentioning that on a snowy February 1996 night, in a move that would foreshadow Drop Shop’s weekly Monday retro nights, Raines even brought in 80’s synth-pop act A Flock Of Seagulls for a performance at the venue.)

The decision to feature live music so frequently, and the public’s overwhelmingly positive response to it, would eventually enable Dean and Raines’ ambitious desire to feature nationally-recognized acts at larger area venues such as the Huntington Civic Center and Ritter Park Amphitheatre.

Before that would become a reality, however, Raines would first have to develop Drop Shop as a reputable live music venue, a goal he would soon begin to accomplish with some of the bands featured on this playlist.

--- email Justin at:


1318 4th Ave. - An Aural History, Vol. 2

Because of the overwhelming guilt I’ve felt for my lack of recent contributions, I decided to prematurely unleash the second volume in the “1318 4th Ave.” series for the readers of this blog site.

I would like to clarify, however, that these playlists merely feature a sample of the bands and artists that performed at either Gumby’s and/or Drop Shop during the years 1990 to 1998, and is not meant to be all-inclusive.

What I have decided to do is present these playlists chronologically, to some degree, in the order in which the artists appeared at either venue.

With that said, quite obviously, the previous volume featured those whom performed at Gumby’s during the years 1991-1993.

This next volume picks up where that one left off, literally, as the first band featured, Control Freak, actually served as support to the previous volume’s last act, Die Monster Die, in November 1993.

Also, moving forward, I will attempt to offer my take on some of the artists featured on each particular playlist, while including the dates when they performed.

Lexington’s Control Freak, whom I had the privilege of seeing live just once (and still have the t-shirt hanging in my closet to prove it), was a short-lived band led by former Black Cat Bone guitarist/vocalist Dave Angstrom and also featured Guru Lovechild drummer Chuck Nicholas, as well as bassist/vocalist Will Pieratt and guitarist Elwood, both of Abusement Park (who will be featured on volume three).

Stranglmartin was a contemporary of both Black Cat Bone and Control Freak, and fronted by David Butler, who also owned and operated The Wrocklage, a Lexington venue that served as inspiration for Gumby’s. The band also appeared at the same show I witnessed with Control Freak, but also performed at Gumby’s in February 1994.

The band that can lay claim to having appeared most frequently at Gumby’s and Drop Shop would, undoubtedly, be Huntington’s Chum, with 18 documented performances. I have written extensively about Chum and, at the band’s behest, penned their biography some time ago. That bio can be found at the following link: http://www.facebook.com/?sk=2361831622#!/group.php?gid=372007439759&v=info

Huntington’s Fuzzbucket was also a short-lived union of guitarist/vocalist Kevin Allison (later of The Heptanes and Red Carpet Bombers), bassist/vocalist Joel Hatfield, drummer Alex Kendall (also a member of The Heptanes) and guitarist/vocalist Tyler Massey. The band appeared at Gumby’s in April 1994, but had some of their most memorable performances at Calamity Café.

West Virginia’s adopted sons Clutch made their inaugural jaunt to Huntington when they performed at Gumby’s in July 1994. Although the band would perform nearly a dozen more shows in town in the years that followed, the reckless self-abandon on display at that initial performance has often been cited as their best.

Many people like to lay claim to the fact that they were at the original Woodstock when, in fact, they were not. If one such Huntington show has earned a similar distinction it would have to be the August 1994 Gumby’s performance by Kyuss. For the record, no, I was not there. Truthfully, I wasn’t even a fan of the band at the time. Like so many others, it took a few years to convince this hard-headed listener of their importance. A wise man once said “regrets, I’ve had a few.”

Morgantown’s Karma To Burn was still trying to find its identity when they first appeared at Gumby’s in February 1994, but they had already established their now-instantly recognizable instrumental prowess when they opened for Kyuss. The band would later credit Gumby’s and Huntington as an integral component to their eventual, worldwide success.

The remaining artists on this volume and their history with Gumby’s:

  • Brainiac performed with Huntington’s Electric Lullaby in February 1994.
  • Craw appeared with Torque and The Econothugs in April 1994.
  • Ed Hall headlined a show which also featured Chum in April 1994.
  • Black Market Flowers and Dandelion performed in May 1994.
  • Eek-A-Mouse also appeared in May 1994.
  • Crowbar, with support from Verga and Chum, performed in May 1994.
  • Sam Black Church opened the Clutch show in July 1994.
  • Souls At Zero headlined the venue in July 1994.
  • Christian Death and The Electric Hellfire Club appeared together in August 1994.
  • Buzzov*en topped a bill which included The Melts and Chum in August 1994.

--- email Justin at:


1318 4th Ave. - An Aural History, Vol. 1

I apologize for the time it has taken to contribute my second installment in this series, but I can assure you it was due to circumstances beyond my control.

It is the opinion of this writer that not everyone is as willing to speak about or is as nostalgic as yours truly when discussing days gone by.

As I had mentioned in my previous offering to this site, my intention with these entires is to remind those of you whom are old enough to remember and, perhaps, educate those who were not, about Huntington's early days when it was attempting to define itself as a musically viable city.

The contributions of people like John Kerwood, Brian Barlow, Erik Raines and Russ Fox cannot be overstated in the city's musical development and evolution.

All four were instrumental in Huntington's rise from the once-overlooked touring stop to an eventual necessity for regional recognition. (Kerwood and Barlow operating Gumby's, and Raines and Fox programming WMUL 88.1.)

What better way to honor their contributions than to let their musical accomplishments speak for themselves?

This is the first volume in a series that I've entitled "1318 4th Ave. - An Aural History."

These playlists will be highlighting the acts that performed at the venues located at that address in Huntington during the early-to-mid 1990's, beginning with those whom first graced the stage at Gumby's.

This first volume begins with the legendary Hasil Adkins, whose first documented performance at the venue occurred Thursday, March 21, 1991, and concludes with perennial favorites Die Monster Die.

Trust me, there's plenty more where this came from, so stay tuned.

--- email Justin at: