After Consultation With A Blind Fashion Maven
Oh, this one is a treasure. My assumption is that is was right around 1997, which would be the very height of the Tar Hut years and also the height of my alt-country music obsession. I do feel like I have to clarify this – not commercial country music like you hear on the radio, but alt-country. You see, back in the 1990’s there was a movement of sorts where many young bands were getting inspired by the Gram Parsons-Byrds-Uncle Tupelo thing and playing a lot of rootsy rock. It was an interesting movement, mostly because there were so many bands doing it, but nobody was successful at it, as we proved easily at Tar Hut. Anyway, this picture was taken at my parents house in Lancaster, MA. Myself and a group of friends from Rounder Records (where I worked) all took a trek out to my parents house one weekend to just hang out, swim in the pool, grill and have some beers. If I remember correctly, my sister took this picture, but I can’t 100% sure about that. I only know this – I was at the height of my cowboy hat-wearing days and the Buddy Holly glasses were a mainstay for most of the decade. I wore that hat quite a few places, too. I was also a bit heavier in this picture – probably still working off that college weight, but not doing a great job at it, evidenced by the beer in my hand. I wonder what kind of beer that is?
In the background there is my 1986 Subaru GL, the one that took me 11,000+ miles across the country over a seven week span in 1995. It was a good car. Got me back and forth to Kent State a few times and it was in that car where I set my personal record for fastest drive from Kent, OH to Lancaster, MA – 9 hours and 42 minutes. At the end of it’s life there were also some humorous moments, such as the period of time where, if I beeped the horn, the whole car would occasionally just shut down. Turned out to be a fuse issue. Finally, you can barely make out (in the very top right corner) the bottom power line of what was about 8 power lines right next to our house. We had an enormous power-line structure (kinda like this) about 30 feet next to our house. I’m still waiting for the sudden, inescapable and permanent brain damage to come……
Extra credit to anyone who knows the subject line (without Googling).
Last night I got an email from my very, very good friend and former Tar Hut Records buisness partner, Dave Klug. As you know by now, there were three of us and we all brought our own lovable eccentricities to the company. Dave’s email really had me laughing at some of the more amusing moments when we were running the label. Here’s his email, more or less verbatim. I added some descriptors here and there for those of you unfamiliar with our artists. I also removed a name or two here and there to protect the innoc………guilty.
Last night I was trying to get a good night’s sleep here in Sacramento and for well over an hour kept cracking up hard thinking back on classic moments in Tar Hut history. It drove me nuts…laying here alone laughing out loud. Fun for the whole family!
Classic Moments in Tar Hut Records History (order is random, sort of ):
[name removed] gets laid by Tar Hut groupie from Austin at SXSW, possibly within days of her getting laid by Anders Thomsen, [lead singer of Tar Hut band The Ex-Husbands], who’d slept with more women on the road than Wilt The Stilt. Nevertheless, it is confirmed that indeed she’d previously slept with Thomsen.
Jeff and I shit together — face to face in opposite stalls — in an Austin bar bathroom after eating raw hamburger at Hut’s Burgers (oh, the irony). We laugh as hard as anyone could ever laugh. Jeff leaves the bathroom a minute before a crowd of guys enter, all thinking that I’m the solo napalm ass shifter.
Jeff makes last minute deadline for flyer ad for the Ex-Husbands at a Nashville live music showcase by scribbling a stick drawing of a cowboy holding a cow over his head [Jeff note – I think it was a horse and it was ClipArt I pulled from MS Word, not a drawing]. The caption was something about “It Ain’t Heavy. It’s Heavy Western!!!” I’m the only one from Tar Hut present for the club manager to speak to about the matter.
Jim Joe Greedy of Angry Johnny & Killbillies blows up Eric “Roscoe” Ambel’s primo bass amp at their first Lakeside Lounge gig in NYC. A riot ensues.
Jeff and I tell the Ex-Husbands, after witnessing their first performance at SXSW, that we’re not ready to sign them and “have to see them perform again.”
The Ex-Husbands, on their 79th tour of Lombard, Illinois, [where Dave lives] stay at my house for an unprecedented 5 days. I write frantic emails to Jeff and Leo, all the time increasingly losing my mind.
I turn on Georgia [Dave’s wife] to Angry Johnny’s first rough-rough demo of “Hankenstein” [their first album] during a long trip from Lombard to Wisconsin’s Rhinelander. She spits. A month later she’s willing to let me start a record company to finance her favorite band.
We sorta sign Tommy Womack. But we sorta had to then tell him that we didn’t.
At Liberty Lunch in Austin, TX one SXSW after the Backsliders’ show: Leo, “That band was FUCKING GREAT!” Jeff and me, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” [Jason & The Scorchers were up next]
Leo and I each take out $25K from our 401Ks in last ditch efforts to save the label and the planet.
Leo and I pay Jeff less than minimum wage to run the label.
I swing a business trip into a road trip with the Ex-Husbands, following them from Nashville to Birmingham. After the Birmingham show at 2:00am, I tell the band I have to drive to Atlanta that night to make a meeting first thing in the morning. I promptly return to the downtown Birmingham hotel that I originally came from, ditching the band.
In lieu of a Lonesome Brothersperformance [another Tar Hut band], the Ray Mason Band finally comes to Chicago and plays the now famous Hideout [Ray is a member of the Lonesome Brothers. Five people attend the show. All five know the band members.
Yeah, some of these are clearly “you had to be there” type moments, but I needed to get them down on blog-paper for when I’m 50 and need to see it.