tom smith | make green bay weird | august 2015
I was shocked and saddened when I received the news that Green Bay music scene icon Darryl St. John passed away. I heard the news while watching Left Lane Cruiser at the Lyric Room. Taken by the moment, I announced his death on stage and persuaded Left Lane Cruiser to dedicate a song to him. Darryl St. John, one of Green Bay's most re-known lovers of blues-rock, would have appreciated the tune they rolled out in his honor. I myself found it very difficult to hold back tears hearing this news, not because of Darryl's historic position in the Green Bay music scene, but because he seriously was a thousand times the human being he was a musician; super husband, super father, and super, super nice guy.
The many times I talked music with him at the Exclusive Company were always an honor and a privilege. Darryl, as many of us know, had an unsurpassed passion for Led Zeppelin. Currently Led Zeppelin is in the midst of reissuing their catalog. With these reissues came many assorted promotional items to be given away with purchase. The items were quite extensive, and I made sure to put one of each aside for Darryl. Perhaps two months ago his wife, Marlene, came by the store and picked up a care package of promotional items for Darryl. Soon after, Darryl called me to thank me for these items, and as always, it was a joy to talk to him on the phone. I've known Darryl thirty years, and he's always been just the nicest guy to me, even when I was an eighteen year old who thought he knew everything. My fondest memories of seeing him were at Lefty's and on the campus of UWGB.
My condolences go out to all of his family, his many, many friends, and the entire Green Bay music scene. This man could play guitar, and I mean PLAY GUITAR. Darryl, you will always have a place in my heart and soul, and I will never be able to listen to Led Zeppelin again without thinking of you. Congratulations on your new drummer, John Bonham. One question: has Bonham gotten over Karen Carpenter being ranked higher as a drummer in that one poll that one year?
“Green Blah! The history of green bay punk rock the first ten years or so” is getting closer to being finished. This documentary is currently running a Kickstarter to raise funds for the completion of this project. Filmmakers James Baker and Chris Pretti have invested countless hours the five years on this movie. Please consider funding this project. This Kickstarter ends on August 9. If it weren't for the pioneers of Green Bay that this movie is about, I would not have been inspired or be in the position to help carry on the great tradition these punks started when it comes to promoting shows. I personally owe so much of who I am to the individuals who were the catalyst to the Green Bay punk scene. I also couldn't imagine living in Green Bay if these folks would not have taken matters in their own hands and forced Green Bay to be cool. No way we would have had the Concert Cafe without them.
There are two shows I want to mention that I really believe are can't miss live events for the month of August in Green Bay. August 5 at the Lyric Room; The Ghost Wolves from Austin, Texas make their third appearance in Green Bay. This wife/husband duo is like a cross between Link Wray and Johnny Winter. Also on this bill is Oshkosh's The Traveling Suitcase, whose drummer Nicole Rae (also singer) can give both Karen Carpenter and John Bonham a run for their money. Nicole hits the skins hard — let's just say that after their performance at the Exclusive Company on Record Store Day I discovered all these wood splinters in the area her drum kit was set up, and then I realized it was the sticks she was destroying while playing. Opening the show are Holly and the Nice Lions.
On August 25, James Leg will be returning to Green Bay to entertain us with his possessed organ playing and gravely, Lemmy/Tom Waits vocal stylings. Friends and fellow Deep Blues Fest Alums Purgatory Hill will be playing and the The Foamers? will be opening. This three-pronged assault is going down at Phat Headz.
Last Sons of Krypton/Rev. Norb and the Onions
“Split Lips” EP
Timebomb Rating: 11 of 13
There are some things in life you just don't expect to see, such as the Cubs winning a World Series, Don Rickles replacing Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show,” or new material from Last Sons of Krypton. Incredibly, 18 years after their last release, Last Sons of Krypton have a split EP with Rev. Norb and the Onions. These bands share a guitarist in Brad X. What was the catalyst for the return of the Last Sons of Krypton? Contrary to rumors on the street, it was not due to a jail break from a secret rock and roll Wisconsin prison, just members of the band realizing later in life that hey, frak it, we can make more tunes. The legendary and infamous Last Sons of Krypton never got their due in the 1990s, so hopefully this new material will shine a light on their under looked body of work. No evidence of two decades going by with “Shit Fits,” which is classic killer. LSOK, not unlike Teengenerate and Angry Samoans joining forces to win a recording contract with Rip Off Records. “Identity Trap” has the rat-a-tat-tat-tat drumbeat of an early New Bomb Turks song with a blazing flash of guitar that blinds my eyes. “Elvis Was An Alien” is a script come alive in song for a B movie where Elvis returns and wreaks havoc on the cities of the U.S. “Too Many Good Times,” another very strong track that validates LSOK recording new material. I have seen the reformed LSOK play live and they could be better than ever (the amazing crowd response also supports this theory).
The Rev. Norb and the Onions side starts out with “50 Bucks,” an upbeat, in your face punk garage ditty. “Thingf***er” is even faster, and more punk than garage. “Tomorrow or Tomorrow Night” is one of my favorites in their live show, and I'm very glad to hear it on record.
The Mountain Goats
“Beat The Champ”
Timebomb Rating: 12 of 13
This is what John Darniellle, leader of the Mountain Goats, has to say about this album: “Beat the Champ is about professional wrestling, which was an avenue of escape for me when I was a kid. Wrestling was low-budget working-class entertainment back then, strictly UHF material. It was cheap theater. You had to bring your imagination to the proceedings and you got paid back double. I wrote these songs to re-immerse myself in the blood and fire of the visions that spoke to me as a child, and to see what more there might be in them now that I'm grown.”
Trust me, the fact that this album is about professional wrestling is why I listened to it. The Mountain Goats have a number of albums, but I can honestly say I don't remember listening to any of them. A band name like the Mountain Goats made me think they would have had a more rural sound. I love this album, and let me tell you, I smell what the Mountain Goats are cooking. My favorite song on the album is “The Legend of Chavo Guerrero.” For younger wrestling fans, I want to point out that this song is about Chavo Guerrero Sr., who some of you might know as “Chavo Classic,” not to be confused with his son Chavo Guerrero Jr. My favorite line in the song is, “I hated all of Chavo's enemies, I would pray nightly for their death.” The Mountain Goats have a sound that's a hybrid of They Might Be Giants and the Dead Milkmen. This song is about the exploits of Chavo Guerrero and the singer's devotion to him, but then suddenly they do this sneaky, brilliant move and turn it into a song of a relationship betrayal with this line, “He was my hero when I was a kid, you let me down but Chavo never once did.” My second favorite track is “Foreign Object,” and how can you not love a song with the line “I will personally stab you in the eye with a foreign object.”
When the subject of foreign objects comes up, I always flash back to when Ted Turner owned TBS and made a decree that none of his television programs were allowed to use the word “foreign,” and it was to be replaced by the word “international.” Many Saturday afternoons I would find it hilarious beyond belief to hear Jim Ross when calling a match, proclaim, “Oh my God! He just hit him with an international object!” Another sloberknocker of a track is “Chocked Out.” I also fancy “Stabbed to Death Outside San Juan” a song about the murder of Hardcore legend Bruiser Brody. Get this album and give your stereo a chair shot. Since we are on the subject of Wrestling, I must note the passing of Dusty Rhodes a man who along with Harley Race and Ric Flair gave the NWA Heavy Weight Championship new levels of prestige. I also must say I was upset and outraged that John Cena defeated Kevin Owens at the recent WWE Battleground event. So disappointed to see the incredible momentum Owens had being stopped by the same old tired shtick of Cena. One last note I guess, Hulkamania can die.
Live long, and bionic elbow.
Since 1984, when he first began selling records at Galaxy of Sound inside the Port Plaza Mall, Tom Smith has been part of the Green Bay music scene. Promoting his first show 1986 and hitting his stride with the Concert Café (1995-2001), Smith continues to promote shows in Green Bay. He first honed his journalistic chops while serving as a student DJ at WGBW, interviewing such icons as Motörhead and the Ramones. Today you can find him championing live music and managing The Exclusive Company in Green Bay.