Actually, it wasn't really Ringo Starr, it was "Ringo Starr circa 1964," and those three impostor blokes behind him were supposed to be the rest of The Beatles from that era, but they didn't quite live up to that indelible image. It seemed taking the stage nightly to screaming throngs of thirty-somethings had gone to the heads of these knock-offs, and the four had taken on the attitude of The Beatles. Not the happy-go-lucky, first-time-across-the-pond 'tude the original Fab Four exuded in the early '60s, either, but more like the "I'm gonna 'unknowingly' steal 'He's So Fine' and call it 'My Sweet Lord'" attitude George Harrison pioneered in the 1970s.
Luckily Josh Hunt and the organizers of The Bottleneck's Beatles Tribute Night (Saturday, July 15; $5) didn't invite the players from "1964 as The Beatles" and their self-righteous attitudes, but they kept things interesting by harvesting some locals who have been known to get a little surly. The evening gets under way with Scott Martz, followed by Cruse (like Tom), then The Anniversary and Palindromes pal around in their side project, The Electricites, before the Palindromes do their own set, followed by Arthur Dodge, The Electron Volts, and those naughty, naughty Hefners.
"It wasn't hard to find bands that wanted to do it," Hunt says of this group's love for all things British, "and actually this has been easier to put together than any of the other ones."
That's because some of those other cover/tribute nights have focused on such bands as Guns N' Roses and AC/DC, whose catalog of coverable songs is severely lacking after eliminating their radio hits. But not so with The Beatles. They even give you different epochs to choose from, so if you are opposed to mind expansion you can stick with anything before 1967. Or if you're like me and love a well-placed sitar, there's a whole truckload of acid-induced material.
"We're kind of leaving it up to everyone, and they're all picking from their own little niche," Hunt replies when pressed whether there were limits to how saccharine or trippy a band could be. "But no one gets the same song twice, and once you e-mail me your list, you have those songs and no one else can do them."
Don't worry, fans, there'll still be plenty of Oasis' influence to go around. Hunt estimates 20 songs from The Hefners, 10 from Dodge, and more than 100 over the course of the evening. Take that, 1964 Beatles!
"The rule with the tributes is doors at 8 p.m., don't be late," adds Hunt, and don't hold your breath for a Grateful Dead cover night, either. "We just want to do bands that are great that no one ever does tributes to, or people don't cover.
"We'll probably end up doing a Police cover sometime, and maybe a Smiths tribute in the near future, if we could find someone brave enough to try and sing like Morrissey." Please don't.
Talk to the Hand
The mainstream media would have you believe that most 16-year-olds are either into Limp Rock and pro wrestling or boy bands and the WB, but for every 1.7 million teens who fawn over Eminem there are a few like Rich Restivo. Even though Restivo just recently turned 16, his priorities have been not getting a license to drive but getting the word out about the Stand Against the Hand benefit concert he is staging at El Torreon on Saturday, July 15, for New House, a battered women's shelter.
"I went up there (to New House) with some other guys through Rockhurst (High) community service," Restivo says. "After working there, I really liked it and thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to throw a show with some of my favorite bands, donating the proceeds because they're kind of low on funds. It's good to help them out."
Indeed, and more than a few bands thought it sounded like a decent idea too. The Sloppy Popsicles, The Controlled, The Split Infinitives, Lost Pride, Annie On My Mind, and Tanka Ray all agreed to donate their time and considerable services. According to the market-wise Restivo, finding the acts wasn't hard. "I just picked the bands that best portrayed the punk scene in Kansas City," he says. "Since I wanted a lot of people to come out, I picked bands I thought the community liked the most" -- and one is the punk ska ensemble The Sloppy Popsicles, of which he just happens to be a member.
The community outside those who visit El Torreon might consider the notion of a kindhearted punk-rocker about as feasible as a self-effacing tennis pro or humble golf champion. Yet like Starbucks, they're everywhere.
"The group of people I hang out with is against violence," says Restivo. "But a lot of people think that punk rockers, the majority of them, are violent and love to fight. Not everyone is like that." Just look at The Controlled, a politically motivated band from Kansas City that makes mincemeat out of its targets in such songs as "Tax Dollars" and "Injustice for One, Injustice for All." "The Controlled bring up concerns that a lot of other bands don't deal with," Restivo says of today's modern rockers. "It's just like, 'What's your music trying to do?'"
What Restivo and people like Rachel Eftink and Joyce Manning, along with the other bands and behind-the-scenes players, are trying to do with their music is help people who need it most -- and people who care more about the effort and results than the musical genre of choice.
I Got the Gin 'n' Juice
For a band that's been around for almost four years and released two 7-inches to date, Tanka Ray doesn't get a lot of lip service in the local music scene. Maybe that's because its street-punk stylings are meant to be enjoyed only by those in the know, but bassist Jimmy Fitzner would likely blame himself.
"I basically suck at booking," says the youth gone wild, who started the outfit when he was only 14. "We play too much in Kansas City. I mean I love Kansas City, I love everything about it, but people think they can always come see us next week." And they can, as long as they live in the Kansas City metro area, but try to catch Tanka Ray in Lawrence and you'll run into another folly of Fitzner's youth.
"I was real young and kind of impressionable when we started this band," says Fitzner. "So when people would say, 'Lawrence -- oh, you guys will never play there, it's like Hollywood.' I would be like, 'All right, I'm not going to fuck with it.' So we've played everywhere else and still never tried Lawrence, but that'll change soon."
As age and experience catch up with Tanka Ray, the priorities have changed too -- sort of. Printing a few hundred 7-inches to sell to your friends isn't enough anymore, so the boys have decided to try their hand at recording a full-length. The project will kick off in the basement studio of fellow band Annie On My Mind. Playing with all your friends in front of all your other friends doesn't get the job done, either, so Tanka Ray will leave later in the early winter for its first prolonged road trip -- while Fitzner continues to improve his booking skills. But, according to the bassist, Tanka Ray has already learned one valuable lesson from the road: "We lose a lot of money and have a lot of fun, so I guess we're prepared for that part." But by playing the upcoming Stand Against the Hand benefit, they've turned this into a positive at home.
"We're actually going to be out of town and are coming back for this show. We just met this guy, Rich Restivo, because he comes to all our shows -- he's just this 16-year-old kid with a really good heart who's putting on a benefit for that battered women's shelter.... All the bands playing are really good friends of ours that we've been playing with since we started this band four years ago, so of course we just said, 'Yeah.'" Ahh, some things never change.
No, That's Firewater
"We couldn't taste the alcohol in the margaritas, even though there was plenty in there, so we took tequila shots after every one," says The Blackwater's Brent Kinder of his Sunday afternoon hangover's origin. Fans can rest easy, though -- there is still plenty of time for the band to heal in order to play its unprecedented three gigs in one week -- July 17 at Pauly's, July 19 at the Granada, and July 21 at The Pub.
Still, it's that Granada show that's been causing the most headaches, other than the tequila. "We were originally supposed to open for Shallow," Kinder explains. "Then I saw Julie and Jason (Shields) at The Cure show in St. Louis and told them we were playing together. They were like, 'No, we're not; we don't even exist anymore. There is no such thing as Shallow.'"
Thankfully, The Blackwater's old friends in Aerialuxe and Haloshifter were there to fill the nonexistent shoes of Shallow. This also provides those groups with prime Internet exposure; the show is being simulcast through the Digital Club Network, another fact of which Kinder wasn't immediately made aware.
"They just asked us if we wanted to play a local show on Wednesday night, and we said sure, but they didn't say anything about this Webcast thing at first." Not that The Blackwater's members care. Kinder's unofficial stance on Napster goes like this: "Those bands are making music and making a living selling it, and someone is giving it away, so they think they're not making any money. But they're already rich, so who cares?" Exactly. But when Kinder is asked if The Blackwater (not already rich) was getting paid extra for their Web time, he seems interested in the idea.
If you can't catch any of these shows or the Webcast, seeing The Blackwater over the next few months might become tricky. The recently purchased home studio equipment means it's time to go underground again and record the group's follow-up to Whores, a record Kinder says fell under the local radar because -- unlike its debut, Train, Man, Drunk -- Whores "didn't have a Lazer single." While I wouldn't look for a single off this project to land on The Lazer, either, Kinder is confident that recording in the relaxed (and most important, cheap) confines of a home will breed a better product than the two prior studio efforts where some songs were written on the fly. As for pulling off the task of production, much like last-minute gigs, Kinder says The Blackwater will get by with a little help from their friends. "I'm sure we'll have plenty of people we know from studios around here who want to stop by and mix some tracks with us."
Send local music information to Robert Bishop or J.J. Hensley at email@example.com.