The F Word. An online column for Frank De Blase to pontificate, ruminate, placate, and salivate. We'll have reviews and previews, we'll discuss trends in local and national music scenes, and we'll try to do it as reverently as possible. Yup. Let's get started.
It’s fun at dinner parties, and it sure beats the hell out of license plate bingo on long car rides with the kids. We’re talkin’ about talking about your first time. Not your first time fumbling around with hooks and zippers at the drive-in. No, we’re talking about your first rock ‘n’ roll moment: your first show.
Whether it was in a corner dive bar or an arena, everyone has got a first time. Just pitch that question at your next social mixer or blind date, or while sitting next to a guy on the bus wearing a German helmet from World War I and talking to himself. You’ll see: people want to talk about their first time.
Folks get hung up, though, and don’t look past the who, the when, and the where. There are plenty of firsts; firsts beyond the firsts, I call them. I’ve got a pile myself.
My absolute first show was in 1982: The Police at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Those barroom Casanovas, The Fugitives, were the first local band I saw in an East Main Street dive bar called Shatzees, later renamed Richmond's. That experience made me wanna play in a local band in a dive bar. The Ramones' show at RIT in 1986 was my first time in the mosh pit, although we called it slam dancing in those days. Motorhead in 1996 was my first so-loud-I-couldn’t-hear-myself-talk-for-roughly-two-days show.
The first time I saw Ray Charles was the first time I saw Ray Charles. What else can I say? The same goes for James Brown and Link Wray.
Garage rockers The Chesterfield Kings were the first rock stars I knew who would talk to a greasy young kid backstage after the show. They are tied for that honor with the Colorblind James Experience. In 1986, The Blasters played Rumors — which is now Lux — and packed the joint so thoroughly that the crowd spilled into the street and continued dancing. It was my first time dancing in traffic.
Black August was playing an outdoor show in Brown’s Race the night I met my wife, 12 years ago, and there’s all kinds of firsts — and lasts — tied up in that one.
But the best first show that I cherish most is actually my brother Tommy’s first. He was 11 years old when I took him to see The Ramones at the UR Gordon Field House in 1994. Now he was familiar with the music, but he had never seen the spectacle of a huge audience and he’d never experienced something so majestic and thunderously loud. The look on his face was priceless.
What was your first?
I Scene It
That leads me to Suzi Willpower, a young lady who sings for Anonymous Willpower
as if her life depended on it — as if it was her first time. Anonymous Willpower was in fine form in front of a well-fed, Wednesday night Dinosaur BBQ crowd when I made the scene. The band dropped in a lot of that New Orleans, Professor Longhair boogie that they always do. Sometimes the power and bombast of the players drowns out those subtle and sweet sub rhythms, but you could hear it with all its casual big shuffle and easy swing. The crowd dug the racket and ate it up as if it were pulled pork — some for the first time.
Thursday night, Albany’s Lustre Kings
were rockin’ the joint with a couple of Bradley Brothers on stage. It always turns into a bottom-heavy, slap-happy, open jam when the Kings roll in to town. That’s because there is an unprecedented amount of dog house bass players here in Smugtown. Brian Williams, Hot Rod Mike, Big Mike, Jay Bird, Ron Hart, and Trevor Lake keep it low-down and thundering ... I’d like to see them on stage, all together, playing at the same time. It would no doubt sound like a herd of tap dancing elephants. Now that would be a first.
By the Way
The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival released its lineup and it’s pretty cool
, and with cats like Dmitri Matheny on the bill it’s gonna be positively frosty.
Keep an eye out for some upcoming stories, I’ve got brewing in CITY Newspaper, like interviews with The Hi-Risers, Anamon, and Sirens and Sailors.
And last but not least, we've got a new Fresh Cut by Soviet Dolls coming on Wednesday. Up now, you can dig the new video Fresh Cut from the Able Bodies. Click here to check it out.