How to end up handcuffed backstage at a REO Speedwagon concert.

The Essential REO Speedwagon
The Essential REO Speedwagon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I need some kind of rock n roll diploma to hang by my computer to justify me as a blogger of rock music; so I will tell this story from 1982.

My taste in music is not always as good as I think- now or in the past

Case in point:

 I once was an REO Speedwagon fanatic.

I am not proud of this but I admit that I may still own the entire REO Speedwagon catalogue. (at least up until the incident in the title)…yes, even those obscure records before Kevin Cronin took over as lead singer-And it gets worse:

I proudly wore a R.E.O belt buckle that I bought at the county fair. Back in the good ol’ days when copyright infringement was not farmed out to Asian countries; we made quality fake stuff right here in the U.S.A!!

While my friends were listening to Pink Floyd and Kiss- I was way ahead of the curve on pure grain-fed Midwestern formula paint by numbers watered down blues. (In my defense- “You can tune a piano but you can’t tuna fish” is not a bad record)

And then R.E.O abandoned their  rock n’ roll roots and became the biggest pop/rock band in America with the release of Hi Infidelity.  

This was the biggest selling rock album in America In 1982.

And that is when I met my heroes in a bar…and ended up in handcuffs backstage at their sold-out show.

And you probably won’t believe this story.

I had connections that got me great seats to concerts at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in N.Y

On my list of shows that year was R.E.O Speedwagon.

I had planned to take a girl friend but that required finding a girl and having her remain in “active girl friend status” at the time of this show- I had two months to make this happen but as an awkward, nerdy and slightly weird young adult- fate was stacked against me- I had great seats and no date a couple days before the show. I sold my tickets to some happy couple for no profit.

Plus the band was a riot of popularity as mega stars and my infatuation with them was rapidly fading. I told myself they had sold-out.

On the night before the show I am sitting in a bar in downtown Saratoga Springs- It is 1am and the bar band is playing- there are maybe 12 of us in there and the owner of said establishment has stopped collecting the 2 dollar cover charge.

Who walks in but Kevin Cronin, Gary Richrath and one other dude from R.E.O (maybe the drummer?- I guess I need help from one of the other eleven in the bar that night to help me remember?)

They walk to the stage and rip into “Johnny Be Good” with a couple members of the bar band- They did play a couple more songs before departing and I remember slapping Kevin Cronin on the back and saying thanks as they walked out (BTW-he does not like that- just in case you get in range)

But how cool is the biggest band on the planet just going back and playing for fun?

I should have left it right there, but:

Night of the show I am hanging outside the gates at the Performing Arts Center because I have no tickets…some go jumping over the fence and I join them to sneak in.

A security guard chases me and I run away—I am fast but the guard is faster and tackles me in a spectacular dive which could have made the top ten on Sports Center. The crowd loved it!

I am handcuffed and put on a golf cart with other criminals to be processed. They do the processing backstage at the show—which is kind of ironic because that is closer than any of us dreamed of getting.

One scary dude handcuffed to a locker and is yelling obscenities and insults at me largely because I am dressed like a geek. I realize 3 things at that moment:

  1. I am a geek and even getting arrested with people does not automatically make me “cool” with those people.
  2. I am going to be calm and make good decisions from this point forward so that I don’t end up going to jail.
  3. Damn, that guard was fast! He must do a 4.1 time on the forty yard dash!

Thankfully- I was issued a ticket and released- It was a 50 dollar fine.

Soon after this I would get seriously in to more underground music.

And 30 years later I would start a blog.

Any questions?

How Nickelback Saved Rock Music

Nickelback (Photo credit: cjmod)

Rock dies and comes back all the time. Each generation shocks it back to new life. It will echo their frustration and pain; it will celebrate with them.

Yeah, yeah, yeah…that’s what I’d like to think but:

Nickelback was the greatest rock band in the worst era of rock music (the dreaded 0’s). They produced hit after hit and set the standard for commercial success while the music industry got derailed by the monster of file sharing. Like a sophisticated factory fishing vessel wiping out the last of the great whales, Nickelback harpooned and sliced their way to the top with mechanical precision. They took everything and reached a saturation point that made them the pinnacle of rock music.

Is that bad?

Every form of entertainment needs a good villain.

While the general average public was busy supporting their favorite band by buying tickets and CD’s and downloads-we serious types were doing way too much of thinking what good taste we had and not supporting quality music with our hard earned dollars. We can learn a lot from Nickelback fans.

It is simple and it works.

This band was formed for the sole purpose of making hits and making money. You have to respect them for getting away with it.

“Nickelback is prefabricated emotionless garbage, I need my music to live on the edge” -O.K fine, but isn’t it good to have a band that shows young people that even with limited talent and zero originality- you can still make a good living as a RockStar?

Someone needs to set the standard in order for all the haters to respond with stuff of their own.

And are they really that bad or are we just piling on? Admit it Rock Fans- if 5FDP does a version of “Follow you Home”…all the kids would love it.

Or if M83 all of a sudden were the biggest selling group in the world-All “serious music fans” would dismiss them as just “a bunch of over-important artsy monk-chanting mixed with atmospheric disco”.

So thank you Nickelback for helping me see that music for the masses has a place in this world.

I still can’t listen to you but thank you.

Concrete Blonde

Concrete Blonde for Monday song time and today we have two. I don’t want to say I love this band or this band is cool, but I do and they are. It makes me glad to know they are still out there and working on a Brazil tour as I write this. The first song is the big hit Joey. The second  is the first song I ever heard from this band  and was hooked right then “True” sums it all up- a word to describe them.  They have been a genuine alternative/underground/independent band the entire way. They give you all they have at live shows. I don’t know what else to say about them other than enjoy.

A little androgyny goes a long way.

New York Dolls (album)
New York Dolls (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am almost ready to do a Top 5 of Gender Blender Rock songs -but letting the years of music run through my brain, I hit a little stumble block.

As a fan, it is easy for me to go back to David Bowie and Spiders from Mars as the start of the androgyny soul train. I consider that record  the first popular push for the male/female alter ego.

Immediately- I hear that voice in my head going… “All the music critics will say  The New York Dolls were the first androgynous rock band“. In fact the critics will say that the New York Dolls were the first… (Hang on to your seats, here we go!), the first glam band, the first glitter band, the first metal band and even the first proto-punk band. Proto-punk?? They also invented stage diving when David Johansen (NY Dolls lead singer- I have heard some of his stuff) lost his wig and jumped in the crowd to retrieve it….and …and  a guy who played  triangle on their second record invented the Wham-O Frisbee!!

Music I never heard is supposed to be so influential? I have nothing against these guys but you would think that something of them would be played somewhere I listened at some time if they did in fact, start everything.  I am going to admit that I have never knowingly heard a song from this infamous N.Y.C band. I was not hip enough to be in to them at anytime and I am not going to Google my way around them now and take a crash course. I am not a music critic; I am just a fan of Rock music. That is not an excuse, it is just a fact- So get ready for the Androgyny Top 5 coming to the Cave soon…and No New York Dolls will be harmed (or referenced in any other way) in the making of this list.