Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Tag: Water Street

Picture of the Day: Friday’s Saloon, 1998

It doesn’t look like it did in its heyday, but for this to work you have to close your eyes and think back to 1980. Close your eyes and think of some song from 30 years ago, maybe it’s “Life Begins at the Hop,” “My Little Red Book” “Turning Japanese,” “Message in a Bottle” “Bionic Man” — can you see it now, can you feel the excitement. Do you have your two bucks out to give to Big Al standing inside the door? Move through the crowd, the electric night loud all around. Still can’t picture it? Close your eyes harder, and concentrate. Can you see Bob Noxious on stage singing “Gloria?” Not even Jim Morrison or Sid Vicious could have belted out the song the way he did. Look, there’s Chris V. Corky, Dave S. Tommy V. and Buzzy, Beth and Bruce, Mary Jo, Sue D. the two Becky’s. Goose is in the back chatting up Mike L. Can you see it yet? There’s Kelly N. Lisa S. and Debbie C. Jeff B.’s behind the bar and some of Big Al’s friends. Some of the boys from Longshot, playing down the street have stopped in. Wait for it. Yeah, that’s “Telstar.”

Break out the Tele or the 12-string Rickenbacher Al. Dick keep that steady back beat and tell the ladies to work off those lasagna legs. Sometimes when Al was changing guitars you and Al Schupp and Bodine would play a little jazz, “and now some jazz from Sergio Mendez and Brasil 66”– and then you guys would break into “Starry Eyes.”

It’s the best I could do.

(and if I omitted any names, I am sorry.)

The Libido Boys — Rock and Roll Angst from the early 80’s

The last time I was back in the States and hanging out with my best friend Chris Vasquez, I wondered—when I looked at the small recording studio he had put together in his bedroom—what would have happened if The Libido Boys had that kind of equipment?

For one year—from the summer of 1981 to the summer of 1982—The Libido Boys, a band formed by Chris burst on the Illinois Valley music scene and then disappeared. Back then the local music scene had been revitalized and energized by bands like The Jerks and Longshot (both bands comprised of former Buckacre members) and Chris’ band tapped into some of that energy. Although they were quite talented, what they might have lacked musically, they made up for it with their raw energy and enthusiasm.

They had a lot of that when they started playing that’s for sure.

I’ll never forget one night at Murphy’s on Water Street in Peru, Illinois when the boys were playing–one of those times when the only people in the bar were the band’s girlfriends. Those were some tough times for the boys–trying to carve out a piece of the local music scene for themselves at a time when The Jerks and Longshot had pretty much all the pie for themselves, but that never dissuaded Chris, Tony, Goose, and Rayjo even though they had to play for the door.

On this night at Murphy’s, there were a few people who were already in the bar, and they were not too keen on having to cough up the two bucks for cover charge. And when the boys started to play their repertoire of Ramones, Sex Pistols, and The Cure covers, they were far less keen on paying those two dollars. One drunken patron, who obviously knew a little about the alternative music scene started yelling about how it was “ant this” and “ant that” and how the “ants were going to take over the world.” Maybe he was tripping on acid or something because the boys did not play any Ant Music; of course,  “Antmusic” was on the break tape, so maybe that’s where he got confused.

At one point during the night, some of those not-too-friendly bar patrons had about enough of Havana Affairs and Jeanie, Jeanie, and Jeanie and decided to take matters into their hands, as well as a few beer bottles, which they lobbed at the stage and the boys. I don’t recall anyone getting hurt by the flying bottles; not that we didn’t like the sound of breaking glass mind you, as long as it wasn’t a bottle breaking on our heads or instruments. The band stopped playing, some words were yelled, and the band started playing again and another bottle crashes on stage. Well, that got the boys all riled up, and they leaped off the stage, just itching for a fight.

Well, there would be no fight that night, but instead, when the band started playing again, they launched into a raunchy, loud–screaming loud, grinding guitar sound loud, the soundboard buried in red loud–version of “Pretty Vacant” with Tony Innis on snarling, ala Johnny Rotten-style vocals–that deafened anyone in a 100 yard radius of the bar. The owner, Randy Murphy ran over to me where I was running sound and told me, no not told me, but screamed for me to “Turn it down Sparks!”

It was too late for that. Chris, Tony, and Greg had already turned up their amps on stage–not the Spinal Tap 11, but the usual 10, but loud enough that would make a squadron of B-52’s taking off pale in comparison. There was nothing I could do from where I was at behind the board.

I wonder if that was the night we were kicked out of Murphy’s for good?

© 2020 Jeffrey Miller

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑