Sunday, April 1, 2012


In the mid 1990's, I had a side project band called 15 on the 15.  We were an unconventional trio - my friend JT played accordion, Patrick played banjo through a distortion pedal, and I "sang" through a delay pedal and played ukelele.  We butchered Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath tunes in front of anyone unfortunate enough to be around.  In order to assuage the stagefright and embarrassment, I was usually on LSD while we performed (something I do NOT recommend).  This is not our story.
One night, we played at this seedy rock club called Twister's on Grace Street in Richmond.  It was next door to a depressing strip club called the Red Light Inn.  The owner was this sleazy guy named Jerry who often wore track suits and always looked as if he'd just gotten out of a bathroom filled with cocaine and underage girls.  In my psilocybin haze I had forgotten to ask Jerry for 15 on the 15's meager earnings, so I went back the next night to collect.  After waiting for him by the door for what felt like an hour and a half, he finally came back with our cut - $18.50.  "Cut" is right.   There were at least 200 people there, at $5 a head.  Oh well, that's show biz.
The headlining band that night was called Claude Zircle.  They were an old glam metal band in the mid 90's.  The door was only $3, and I had recently come into some money, so I figured what the hey.  I ventured inside.
An air of despair hung thick inside the club.  It was completely empty.  There was Sarah, the bartender with the crooked teeth and the cleavage, and the soundguy.  Even Jerry disappeared - no doubt returning to whatever he was probably doing in the employee's bathroom.  The club was so empty that you could smell a faint waft of rancid urine wafting from the bathroom stalls, mingling with the odor of stale cigarette smoke from the night before.  I guess the guys from Claude Zircle hadn't showed up yet, or maybe they cancelled.
The band onstage at the time was called Lovestain, and they may have been one of the worst bands I've ever seen.  They all looked to have been in their mid to late 30's, with their mullets either balding or slightly grey.  The singer wore either leather or vinyl pants that looked like they didn't fit.  They tied a couple of bandanas around their mic stand for some reason, and their backdrop consisted of a worn-out looking bedsheet with the word "LOVESTAIN" hastily spray-painted on it.  Their instruments looked very pawn shop - and not in a cool vintage-y way.  The guitarist had a whammy bar that he overused and one of those awful Crate full-stacks that was almost taller than him.  The drummer wore a pair of headphones over his baseball cap for some reason.  It didn't seem to help, as he was barely able to hold a beat together.  I'm sure they had a bassist, but I have no memory of him.  The singer had kind of a beer gut and one of the songs consisted mostly of him making a bunch of sexual-sounding grunts.  It was gross, especially since I was the only person in the audience.
As odious as they were, my disdain for them was outweighed by my pity.  It just seemed so overwhelmingly sad.  Soldiers battling for a lost cause, that have been at it for so long that they didn't even know what they were fighting for any more.  Were they ever in better bands when they were in younger?  Bands that anyone cared about?  Were they once talented, but their creative spark had been eroded by years of rejection and/or substance abuse - or just years in general?  Would they later go home and have to lie to their wives or girlfriends about the "big gig"?  Worse yet, would they go home alone?  What kind of jobs did they have?
After their set, I felt so bad for them that I asked the guitarist if they had any merch for sale.  For $3, he sold me their demo.  3 songs on an unlabeled, normal bias 90 minute cassette tape, maybe 6 minutes of music.  I used the remaining 84 minutes of the tape to make a Blue Cheer mix.  I still listen to it sometimes when I want to feel better about myself.


  1. This is a thinly veiled David Didonato solo project. The vocals are a dead giveaway. Nice try, David.