Friday 27 February @ 12:08:57
by Tom Hallet
DOLDRUMS: 1. a) Low spirits; dull, gloomy, listless feeling. (b) Sluggishness, or complete inactivity; stagnation. - Webster’s New World Dictionary
Ah, late February, early March. There’s always been something about this gray, half-lit time of year that either inspires the hell outta artists, musicians, and the like, or sends them scurrying for their basements, bottles, and binges.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “People who can’t believe we have an audience are always curious about who they are. Maybe half the crowd who shows up are REAL fans: noise buffs, death rockers, Yuppies who’ve never heard a Sonic Youth record but know who Lydia Lunch is, rock writers, fanzine moguls, and sexual misfits, each and every one of them dressed in black. ”
SONG OF THE WEEK: “I’m The Face”
I can’t begin to tell ya’ll how many February days I’ve spent pining, mooning, moaning and groaning over in the past couple of decades, but I’m betting most of you know exactly what I mean, anyway.
So what can a poor boy (or gal) to do, ‘cept to sing for a rock n’ roll band? Or, in my case, write about one. And that’s another funny (well, not really funny funny, but strange funny, ya dig) thing, too. Just when it seems I’m reaching the lowest of the doldrums (that point that can—and sometimes does—lead to REDRUM), something always comes along at the last minute and diverts my attention from such destructive nonsense.
In late February, 1983, a friend and I were sitting around our dorm room at Bemidji State University (BSU, yep, you got it), complaining to each other that we were the only kids we knew who weren’t going to spring break in Daytona Beach, Florida. My reason for not going was simple—I’d been living on my own since I was 16, and absolutely could not afford a week’s vacation in sun-land. Besides, I had my job at Bonanza Steak House washing dishes, and who in their right mind would ditch a wonderful employment opportunity like that just to go get wasted and hang out with gorgeous, half-naked co-eds, anyway? My buddy’s excuse was a bit more complicated. Turns out he had a little problem with partying (he couldn’t stop once he started), so his folks had turned down his request to hit Daytona.
As we sat dejectedly listening to Black Sabbath and Eddie Money tunes (hmm—our choice in music couldn’t have had anything to do with our depressed moods, could it have?), we were visited by Mr. Case, our resident supplier of all things pharmaceutical, chemical, and potable. Mr. Case was a diminutive, well-dressed young man who sported gigantic horn-rimmed glasses, a smart haircut, and spit-shined shoes. He carried a large black briefcase with him everywhere he went (hence the monicker, Mr. Case—we had no idea what his actual name was), and though he looked every bit the candidate for a job with Donald Trump, he was single-handedly responsible for more on-campus acid trips than Timothy Leary, Owsley, and Sandoz labs combined.
Wellsir, after Mr. Case’s little visit to our room, our moods changed drastically. We cracked open a couple of cold ones, rolled a couple of fatties, and downed a couple healthy slabs of green pyramid each. An hour or so later, we’d hit full stride, and the insanity kicked in full-force. I remember bits and pieces of what happened next, strange, blurred images of us throwing our absent roomies’ Barry Manilow and Air Supply record albums out of the open window like Frisbees, yipping like brain-damaged hyenas as each one made a slick, black gash in the white snow three floors below.
The campus was pretty much empty, with the exception of a couple scholarly types, over-worked professors, and janitors, but we somehow managed to piss off the few people walking by outside (it couldn’t have been “Two Tickets To Paradise” playing on TEN over my pal’s Bogen speakers, ya know), and before long there were loud, angry knocks at the door.
Working feverishly, we proceeded to drain our roomies’ waterbed out the window, where the h2o immediately froze in front of the dorm entrance. After watching six or seven schlumps slip and fall on their ass (all the while howling like stoned banshees), we busted out of the room and headed for the bus depot. I don’t remember anything from that point until about twelve hours later, when I awoke on a Greyhound bus that was pulling into Chicago.
Apparently, we’d drained my pal’s savings account, bought two one-way tickets to Daytona, and were on our merry ways to see all our buddies at spring break. Whoo hoo! Smart move, eh? Well, I won’t bore you with the idiotic details of what happened once we got there (you’ll have to wait for the book! Ha!), but suffice to say that our adventure had only just begun.
There’s no point, or moral, or lesson to this little tale (as usual), I simply used it as an example of one way these deadly winter doldrums can be eased. Perhaps it’s a bit radical for most of you, unless you happen to be sitting in a dumpy dorm room up at BSU, pissed that you can’t hit spring break this year. I only hope, for your sake, that you have a reliable Mr. Case on your floor.
This winter, I’m employing different means to break up the winter dd’s. My acid days are long over (eh—maybe shrooms once in awhile, after all, they are completely natural), and when I travel, I choose to bring a cushion for my ass and a good book, instead of condoms and Eddie Money cassettes. But music still plays a big part in helping me over that huge, dark hump that comes between New Year’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, so I’m happy to announce that I’ve found such a record, and right here in the Twin Cities, too. So, before I launch into another twenty-minute rant about my completely useless, drugged-out youth, let’s check it out....
Paralysis E.P. (2004)
The Players: Amanda- vocs/Ian- guitar/Kris- guitar/Eric- bass/Joe- drums
The last thing I thought would help me outta my winter doldrums this year was a hard rock album. I mean, I still dig old Sabbath, White Zombie, and Pantera cuts when the timing is right, but I’m by no means a “shredder” anymore. Shit, the last heavy metal album I bought was probably a copy of Sabbath’s Volume 4 to replace the one I wore out, so I’m by no means an expert—or even a credible fan of—today’s modern hard rock.
That being said, I can still suss a genuine, ass-kickin’ rocker of a record when I hear one, and local outfit Gingerjake have created just that with their debut EP, Paralysis. The first thing ya notice that separates these cats (and kitty) from their commercialized, cookie-cutter contemporaries (please don’t make me even say the names—no, no, noooo!!), is that they employ a musically-savvy, serious female vocalist. This isn’t ha-ha funny psuedo-punk-metal with some scuzzed out junkie hag screeching for shock value. And it’s not the over-emotive, gutteral poo you hear pimply fourteen-year-old boys blasting while they stick firecrackers up a dog’s ass, either.
Gingerjake vocalist Amanda live in action at the Lab in St. Paul.
It’s clear right up front that the band uses each member’s unique and eclectic musical tastes like a finely-tuned aural weapon, and that combo gels into a sound that’s so patently their own that I hesitate to compare ‘em to anybody. They are what they are, and guitarist Ian’s tenure as doorman at St. Paul’s home of musical eclecticism, The Turf Club, surely hasn’t hurt them either.
Gingerjake lays down biting, savage, honest metal with what can only be called an inviting edge, courtesy of vocalist Amanda, from-the-gut musicianship, and superior production techniques. But don’t take that to mean they cut any corners or soften their music in any way—these folks are writing, singing, and playing some of the tightest hard rock I’ve heard in a coon’s age, and from the reactions of their steadily-growing fan base, I’m not the only one who’s found a satisfactory solution to my winter doldrums this year. The band played X-Fest last year, and recently won the 93X Cage Match contest, beating out scads of their local compadres, many of who have been around a lot longer and, presumably, are more well known than they are.
Like I said, I’m no expert on all things hard rock these days, but man, once I throw this disc in the player, I’m transported to a different level—a level where I don’t need acid, or mindless adventures, or needless destruction to soothe the savage beast in my head. I can crank ‘er up on the headphones, kick back, and put my feet up. Gingerjake does all the work for me, and I’m glad. I’m too old to mosh anywhere but inside my skull, and thanks to this E.P., my brain hasn’t stopped bouncing, swishing, and bopping long enough to realize that sucky ole February is almost over!! Yay!! Thanks, gang!
As for the rest of you down-and-out, seasonally-afflicted music nuts, my best advice is to zip over to http://www.gingerjake.com and check out the band’s website. There, you’ll find info on the E.P., lots of pics, the band’s accomplishments and ambitions, and updates on their forthcoming gigs. They recently played Lexington, Kentucky, and have a whole shit-load of shows scheduled for the next few months. The E.P. release party is set for Sat., Mar. 6, at the Quest in Minneapolis. Check it out! Me, I’m goin’ back to my tattered copy of National Lampoon’s Truly Sick And Utterly Morally Bankrupt Jokes, Volume 2, and a nice cup of hot tea. I’ll see ya after spring break, ya knuckleheads!! That’s it for me this week, girlz an’ boyz. Until we meet again—make yer own damn news.
If you have local music news/gigs/CD reviews you’d like to see listed in this column, or you’re that long-lost roomie who’s still wondering what the hell happened to his Barry Manilow vinyl collection, send replies to: TMygunn777@aol.com.