Ten years & Ten Thousand Beers
In rebuilding Axiompiercing.com, I came across a lot of history that I had written on the site. It's been a long trip down memory lane to be honest. Some great, some, well I'm glad are burried in the fading past. Lots of lost friends and forgotten times and for the most part bitter sweet.
The one that had stood out most in my mind is where I was Februay 1st, 1997. That day marks a lot of changes and a true beginning of where I was going to go and where the bricks of my life's road were forged. You see, that was the day that Shawn took control of Safari. All of us involve had one thing soundly, front and center in our minds. One focus, one goal and we were a gang. That was to make live music happen in Des Moines again. That night began with the first true national band I ever promoted, Murphy's Law.
What followed was 8 months of loaded, drunken, burning hot, killer shows. Then it happened, Shawn sold the bar. So back to square one again. It was good timing, I guess, cause shortly after that I found out I would be a father. So the idea was to quit and if things would have turned out as I had them planned in my mind, it would have been prefect. Before I started doing shows, no one was doing all ages shows. By November of 1997 there was a hand full of venues that had opened their doors to all ages. Also it seemed that Safari would keep going without me. The Have Nots were long over and nothing else seemed to keep my attention band wise. That's a strange place to be. It seemed as if I was full ready to simply walk away completely satified and the idea of rolling over for some much need sleep, was like a dream come true.
By spring, after losing the girl and getting poked with enough sticks by enough people, I was back in it. There is just so many phone calls from great bands or agents you can get till you are sucked back in. This is despite, that voice in your head telling you that this is by far not the place you should be. You know there's something about hitting your late 20s and still being active in something you discovered in your teens that on one side makes you feel like you are going to stay young forever. The downside is it makes you wonder if there will ever come a point where it will be worth it. Now what's worth it changes from day to day but still, I was raised to believe that if you give something your heart and soul that you will be rewarded. It holds true for the most part but experiences and friends are hard to cash in for hard cash.
Why do it? That's the question I've asked myself time and time again and just about everyone I know has asked at one point. Usually right after a 20 minute bitch fit about working on a show I believed in, for 2 months, spent from 1pm till 3am in the bar wheeling and dealing with the bands, the club, the road managers, etc... Listened to kids bitch about how much it cost to get in. Countless calls from "friends" wanting to get on the guest list. Being handed countless demos of bands that I have no interest in. Getting untold amounts of unwanted and unrequested advice from everyone that thinks they know something but have never done a thing. Only to, at the end of the night walk away with nothing or next to nothing.
Here's why, two reasons.
1.) The feeling you get after 10 phone calls between booking agents, the venue and the money and knowing that you just did something no one else could or would bother doing. You made the deal that is going to bring that band that no one and I mean no one, not even yourself, thought would ever play Des Moines. You just pulled together that show that you used to dream about when you wasted countless hours with no scene, no bands, nothing but a few close friends, a record and conversation.
2.) The way your hair stands up on the back of your neck when it the moment hits you. That moment when you are standing in the crowd, watching the band and the kids around you and it dawns on you that you have done something that has effected everyone in that room. Nothing like it in the world and too often it made up for the long hours, loss of income and stress.
So, I lumbered along, countless shows, thousands of demos of bands you never wanted to hear in the first place, and nights where the only thing keeping me there was countless pints of Guinness. But damn it, there were nights when the world burned. Bands that destroyed everything that came before, tore down your beliefs and gave birth to a new you. Rare as they may have been, every pounding headed, endless ring ear day after was worth it. You know I've set through 5 times as many shitty bands then great ones or even ok ones and it just makes the great ones shine even brighter.
1998 brought another set of owners and the name change to Hairy Mary's. I remember the night that I found out that the Jake was planning on bailing on the club and we told Jeff about it. I often wonder what would have happened if I would have just gone home instead of going to GTs. To be completely honest in the months leading up to them buying it, I had been working on lining up people to invest in a new club. It never really got to the point of going ahead and when Jeff, John and Brad bought the club it seemed pointless. The old feeling was back. Things were going to change, they were going to get better.
They did there is no way around that but by the summer of 2000 I had had enough. It seemed like every time, I started to pull back and try to quit, I'd get that phone call from a band or an agent that would pull me back in. In fact, this went on well into 2001. A lot had changed for me. The biggest being the time I was spending with my son Quinn. It made every thing else seem, well, not worth it. So I put a bullet in it and ended for good, at least I thought I did. Things would go on without me. Gus was in place and there was a great deal more venues and promoters then there had been in 97. I knew that those that were there in 97 had lit a fire that was going to keep burning long after we were all gone.
Best of all, I could listen to whatever music I wanted to. I think I spent the first 6 months of my break not listening to anything. Just talk radio, for the first time in 15 years my day didn't begin and end with music. It was so releaving to rediscover that love for music and be a pure fan again. That may sound strange but it was the way it was.
So jump ahead to 2004, I had gotten to the point where I rarely even went to Mary's. There was a lot of reasons, things had changed, the music had changed and the people had changed. Add to that, the girl I was dating at the time refused to go there. You know it was strange but for a while there I got my live music fix the same way I did in my youth. By going elsewhere. Mostly to Omaha, where my friend Sophia was doing shows at the Ranch Bowl. I think I saw maybe 10 or 15 shows the whole year of 2004. There just wasn't that many coming to town that was worth getting out of the house for. Of course, that itch began. You know that itch to see a band. To see someone play live and give it their all. So that maybe why I was there that night. I remember the band wasn't really that great and I was more into what was on TV.
So I'm sitting there and Jeff and I start talking. He asked me to come back and do a few shows. Well within a few weeks, I had the Misfits and Exploited show on the books and was at it full bore again. It was good to be back. Different but none the less good. I mean who couldn't have a good time when Jimmy from Murphy's Law comes walking in the door and you haven't seen each other in over 6 years and says, "What are you still doing here!! Give me a hug." Meeting up with old friends like Kerry and Dwayne from the Bombs. Having Agent Orange play my birthday. It was a great year or so.
So here I'm sitting at Mary's on Feb 1, 2007 and it dawns on me it's been 10 years. We did a toast to it but none of the people that were there when it all started were there. Paul's in LA. Shawn's working on the endless list of projects, Lanny is almost 9 to 5 now. I'm not sure where Joey Hollywood was, more than likely working at the post office. Everyone else is either lost to time or gone forever. I've began pulling back with promoting shows in June cause I felt there was a change in the wind. Hairy Mary's is up for sale and once again the cities oldest live venue's future is in question. At this point I'm not booking any shows until I know for sure.
Some would say the club's time has come and go. It's time for a change but I have to say that room has been a clubhouse and a symbol of punk and rock n roll and live music in Des Moines. It's lost will not only impact the lives of those that still hunger for live music but those that haven't yet discovered it. I guess it would be easy to start promoting shows at other venues but there wouldn't be that spirit and drive of the gang that drove that place.
I guess I will see you all at the wake or the birth.