Sometimes it’s not unusual like when an old friend who you thought you might have lost touch with writes you or leaves a comment; other times it’s someone looking for information about how to contact Jimmy Wong or information about teaching English in Korea.
Then there are those times when someone comes across your blog and sends you an email that really catches you off guard and surprises you.
Like the email I received a few months ago from David from the band David and the Happenings.
Talk about a trip down memory lane. The last time I saw David and his band was a party in Carbondale back in March 1981. I had gone to Carbondale with Chris Vasquez and Dave Scholle to pick up my stuff from my dorm room at Freeman Hall (I had “dropped out” of SIU a few weeks before) and ended up staying in Carbondale for a few days. While we were there, we caught The Romantics and The Rockats at Shryock Auditorium (The Rockats blew away The Romantics) and ended up going to a few parties were David and other people I knew from SIU were at.
I never really knew David (who was the brother of James Chance of James Chance and the Contortions fame) that well, but I had seen his band a number of times when I was attending SIU from the summer of 1980 to the spring of 1981. The first time I saw his band was at an outdoor concert at the beginning of the semester; then again later in the Student Center right before Thanksgiving. They were a pretty outrageous and tight-knit band known for David’s vocal stylings and stage presence, which might have reminded one of Iggy Pop. If you were into the New Wave or Alternative Rock Scene at SIU then you probably caught them playing one of their gigs around town.
When I had gone home for Thanksgiving in 1980 I hung out with Chris and one of his friends Colleen who was going to SIU at the same time I was and who also knew David and the band. Then, when I came home for the holidays again at Christmas, Chris, Colleen, Dawn (a friend of Colleen) and I went to Chicago to see David and the Happenings play at this punk rock club called The Space Place and another time at Tuts.
That Tuts gig was a bit of a downer because David’s band came on after Martha and the Muffins, a band that Chris and I really wanted to see. We pretty much screwed ourselves on missing the band by partying with Colleen and some of her friends too long before the concert (“Don’t worry, I know the bouncer there and I will be able to get you guys in,” Colleen said).Well, she knew the bouncer all right, but what she didn’t count on was the club following the fire code to a T. By the time we got there, the place was packed and they weren’t letting anyone else in (after Colleen had managed to talk her way inside). So, Chris, two other girls and myself ended up hanging out at this small blues bar until Martha and her muffins finished and we could finally enter Tuts.
The Space Place, on the other hand, was an interesting club and we had no problem getting in and seeing the band. The club itself, located somewhere on the North side of Chicago (if I am not mistaken) had been converted from an old warehouse. It was big and roomy and on the night we saw David and the Happenings and some other bands, it was packed.What I remember most about that night was the bouncers who looked liked professional wrestlers wearing white tee shirts with “security” scrawled on the front (which looked as though it had been hastily written with a black marker earlier in the evening).
A couple of skinheads showed up to cause trouble and these bouncers—standing around the stage—pounced on them and started beating the shit of them right in the middle of the dance floor as one of the bands played.Later that night, Chris and I went to a party where the band was and we stayed up all night. The next day, a Sunday, we went to Wax Trax Records on North Lincoln Avenue, the coolest and hippest record store in Chicago.
I think seeing David and the Happenings—then and when we saw them in Carbondale afew months later—really had an influence on Chris when he finally got around to putting his band together The Libido Boys in the summer of 1981. David and the Happenings was the kind of band that Chris wanted to have or be in; he wanted to have a really strong stage presence with a band that could back him up musically and who were not afraid to take chances. What Chris really needed to do was put a band together and get out of the Illinois Valley.
I would see David and the Happenings one more time, a month later in Chicago. Chris and I were trying to put something together to have the band play at Friday’s Saloon in Peru and were in contact with Pete Katsis, the manager of the band at the time. However, the owner of Friday’s wasn’t too keen on bringing a band in that he didn’t know too much about and never got around to returning phone calls. We had even made these posters of the band and put them all around town (We could have even made a little money off the gig being promoters and all—who knows where that could have led us?) to generate interest, but the owner backed down at the last minute.And that was the last time I had thought about the band until now when out of the blue I get this email from David.
Pretty cool how a one sentence blurb about his band on my blog could bring me back in time to Carbondale in 1980 when life was wild and interesting.
(Thanks for the pics David!)