Dark's Corner

Beach Bash Dish – May 22nd, 2000

Good Monday to you O-Town and Everywhere Else–

It’s been so very good to get out and about these past couple of weeks, back into other clubs where things are taking place, going down. Where2groove.com had a big nasty throwdown at Barbarella last week. Guru Jim Muniz seemed a little taken aback by the astounding sardine-like turn-out. Lively sets by Gargamel! and Cider were highlights of the evening, which was spent running back and forth between there and Sapphire where Strobe 7 was performing. Nights like these, sandals are a bad choice.

By the by, the new Gargamel! disc “Touch My Fun” is all that and a rebate–it’s been a long time coming and it’s well worth the wait. Props to the boys for producing what is my pick for best album of 2000 thus far.

Also, talked to Boo Rhea of Von Ra and he’s recuperating nicely from his unfortunate car accident. He says that gigs are back in order–maybe not so much leaping about will take place.

So, I promised you Beach Bash Dish and so you shall have it. It all started back at The Hustler on March 31st. The Melbourne Beach club doesn’t look like much from the outside; it’s positioned in an unassuming strip mall in a quiet strip of A1A. Once inside, however, the place reveals itself to be a true rock ‘n’ roll club, mostly black wood with great attention to stage detail. A major lighting rig, a primo sound system, video screens and a stage with all sorts of goodies built into it. Paulie Gregg runs a specialty coffee stand in Melbourne Beach and is highly active in the east coast music community. What began as a small concert in front of his chai hut soon blossomed into a huge annual event which was increasingly becoming too much for this little friendly surfer man to handle without freaking out. After watching Mohave do its thing, he stepped to the stage and said, “I want you to do this show, it doesn’t pay–but it’s going to be big.” Poor as we are, the music means more than the money, so it was an instant booking which soon expanded to include a roster sporting Buck 32, Chad Jasmine, Freeflow Conspiracy and reggae band Emphasis. The venue: the Holiday Inn Oceanfront–a U-shaped party palace complete with beachside boardwalk and surfview. The large stage sits smack at the end of the pier, allowing for balcony viewing from the hotel itself. On the day of the event, May 7th, inclement weather toyed with the idea of ruining everything and then went away graciously, leaving a bright sunny afternoon and a moderate water temperature. The Sea Turtle Preservation Society had a table set up, all proceeds would go towards their efforts in protecting the little critters who are prone to being run over in the night by rampaging beach cruisers. Jam Magazine was also there, as was WA1A FM and a host of other sponsors that Paulie had gathered together for the benefit.

The day was beautiful, the drive over was pleasant. We were all dog-tired, having spent the previous 24 hours in a mad dash to finish the “Homegrown” CD’s. Printer problems, non-compatible software and an ever-ticking clock found us fagged and dragging into the Holiday Inn parking lot not far from the Hustler. Freeflow Conspiracy was sound checking as we began moving equipment into a storage shed behind the stage. Walking out onto the pier, I got a good look at the spread.

Aw, yeah.

An outdoor gig–that’s like jumping into a pile of leaves for a musician–being able to commune with the sun and sky while you play for folks who are soaking up the Vitamins in those rays–John Denver had a valid point about sunshine on the shoulders, it really does make you happy. Add to that the dramatic view from the boardwalk of the Atlantic surf crashing upon the beach, providing its own rhythm to everything. While enjoying the view, Paulie walked in, looking a little crazed, but he mentioned that two rooms had been set up for the Mohave crew and that we could check in at any time. Well hot damn, this never happens in Orlando I can tell you. It happened in Vegas twice, but never in Orlando. We hustled our asses up there so fast that the sand had completely left our shoes by the time we hit the sixth floor.

The rooms had wonderful sight lines, one with a view towards the inside of the U that formed the core of the resort. A pool twinkled below and scores of hotel guests lounged on their balconies, trying to decide what to do first. The other room had a breathtaking unobscured view of the coastline and what could pass as downtown Melbourne Beach. It also offered up a bird’s eye view of the stage. Sweetness. This would be the crash pad and the other place is the party crib, I thought.

But I was wrong, oh so wrong.

When Buck 32 showed up, there was much talk of acquiring beer and repairing away for some 4:20 action. As it turned out, Mohave was scheduled to go on after Freeflow Conspiracy at precisely 4:20. This was a source of much merriment right on up to the downbeat of our set. Mark, drummer for Buck 32, looked a little desperate to check into a room as the band hadn’t made arrangements yet. I offered him the key to one of our rooms so that he could shower and get ready for a night of mindless hedonism. Oh, and it turned out to be just that, friends. A celebration of the elements and of the fundamentals and of the purely mental and lots and lots of carnality. Too bad there were so many cops there. They seemed to multiply by the hour.

Buck 32 ended up getting The Room. A one-bedroom jobber with private sleeping area, living room, wet-bar and balcony enough for a busload of people. Being on the third floor corner of the building facing the stage, it was the primo spot to view the show, which ran on time thanks to John Leach of Brevard Live Magazine. The man also known as Moe Cooter of Glitterhick called our “party room” at exactly quarter till four.

“Yes sir, this John Leach, just letting you know that Freeflow Conspiracy is going to be wrapping up their set and you guys are on at, ah, four….twenty,” he puts odd pauses into his sentences, not like a Captain Kirk thing, but it makes you pay attention. He went on softly, “so you should start thinkin’ about it.” Mikey, our bass player, began choking on the hogleg that we were burning through. John knew what time it was and so did we.

“Right on man, we’re there,” I said and hung up. “We gotta git?” inquired Mikey, to which I quickly nodded and took another swat off of the joint. We scooted down to where McGyver had begun arranging drum stands. He never smokes before a gig, which is probably a good thing, since he’s the principal time keeper. It does not help when your main source of rhythm is snockered, some folks can handle it and some can’t. He can’t. And if you’re reading this man, think back to Jack Daniels and Denny’s. Heh.

We went on at 4:20. We finished at 5:00.

The Buck 32 guys had been making quite the ruckus from their third floor balcony seats and the boardwalk was beginning to fill with people, most of which had laid out on the wooden planks during our set and sunbathed while we played. There was a coterie of Corona fisters gathered around a bar towards the middle of the pier, chairs facing the stage, heads bobbing to the music. With the sun still out and more music to come, we happily struck our set-up, stuck it into trunks of cars and were met by Wes off-stage. Buck 32 was up next and they had been watching from the room. Now it was our turn. “Room 323,” said the blue-eyed lead singer/guitarist. “There’s beer and turkey up there.”

There was more than beer and turkey up there.

Now, my girlfriend Chinesa, who was controversially appropriated from someone in another band, is one of those gregarious people that finds the nucleus of any given situation and somehow manages to work her way into it. Like a modern day Lucy, and I’m Ricky, always trying to find a way to keep Lucy out of The Club. Actually, it’s not quite like that–she’s more like Mohave’s Yoko, and I mean that in the kindest way possible.

Anyway, she gets naked. Like Kim Basinger in “Blind Date”, when you gets the drink in her, the inhibitions go flying and so does the clothing. A girl after my own heart, though I’ve limited my primal displays of nekkidity to the stage. She doesn’t smoke pot, which is probably just as well–Jah knows what she’d be up into at that juncture. But safe to say as the night progressed and more and more people began to show up, arriving from jobs and other distractions, the sobriety quotient in room 323 was, on the average, low.

Meanwhile, the pastel sky gave way to a darkened azure and the glow lamps began to cast a twilight over the boardwalk. The Chad Jasmine Project was on-stage, spilling their weird jazz/industrial rock over the audience in waves. By this point, Paulie seemed to relax a little. The public had embraced his mad promotional blitz and responded by showing up in waves. A smile stretched across his face as a group of folks danced their way through a tune. “I’m glad you’re havin’ a good time man,” he said. Truth of the matter was, all of the bands had found their way up to room 323 and had spent time just hanging out, talking about what they love to do and why they do it and how hard it is to do it in such a clusterfuck of a commercial world. There were no egos or projected images of importance among the groups. Everyone had waived any payout, instead donating their time to the cause of the seaturtles. The Chad Jasmine band had driven three hours down from Jacksonville just to attend the event. The Holiday Inn put them up too.

There was a hippie-fied sense of love in the room and all over the pier throughout the evening-especially when Emphasis hit the stage and began jamming the dance hall rhythms. The place erupted in dance, and the balconies filled.

When I got back up to what had now been ordained as Party Central, there were hotel towels tucked all around the bottom of the door, but it barely contained the skunkified tendrils of smoke that drifted out into the hallway. Once inside, the din increased tenfold, with folks standing around, chatting, slumping on the sofa or standing around the wet bar bantering loudly. Two lesbians practiced karate holds and Chinesa, well-she had herself a few more and was attempting to pull me into the private room. “Honey-people here, we have a room.” She looked at me balefully and asked me to promise that we wouldn’t spend the rest of the evening sitting around in room 323 with a bunch of passed-out musicians, friends of the band and groupies, some of which had wandered up from the boardwalk and were sitting with wide, glassy eyes, taking in all of the merriment. A large glass bowl, blown with all kinds of intricate swirls of colors, was being passed around. It had just gotten to me when there was a loud rap on the door. There are certain kinds of knocks. One might say, “hey-we’re back with the beer,” while another might say, “hey you guys, let me in, I want a piece o’ that” but then there’s the Knock Of Authority that says, “what the FUCK is going on in there!?”

That’s what kind of knock that was and we all knew it.

Someone who happened to be by the door opened it and a buzz quickly traveled back to me; security in the room. Shit! Talk about being handed a hot potato, I looked around for a good stashing point for the pipe and unwisely chose to place it under the big blue chair that I was sinking into. It was still in plain view when the bald-headed black man walked around the corner. I crossed my legs in what I hoped looked like a casual move and tried to look at something other than the radio piece that he had stuck in his ear.

I hoped to God that Chinesa was dressed and not about to run into the room with her tits hanging out going, “Sorry! Couldn’t suppress the urge much longer, but aren’t they nice?”

The guard walked in, bulldozed his way to the center of the room and did one of those sweeping, scope-the-entire-place scans of the room, like the Terminator. “I smell pot,” he said with a frown. Ah, shit. There’s the headline-“BENEFIT BANDS ARRESTED IN MASS MARIJUANA RAID.” Hell, you could smell that bud from the elevator, why were we surprised? The guard turned and looked at Wes. “Whatever,” he said. The room exhaled as a collective and the two friends shook hands. Motherfucker. Everyone temporarily forgot about the pipe and shuffled themselves into other locations. Time passed, it seemed that no-one got ill. In fact, the crowd thinned out considerably by 10:00 p.m. when Emphasis finished its set and bid a good night to everybody. The remaining Sherrif’s whisked away most of the revelers, leaving hotel guests dazed and scattered on the chaise lounges and benches around the boardwalk. Couples strolled upon the beach in bright patches of light spilling from the spot lamps. There was rumor of a jam to take place, but it never materialized-though Buck 32’s John Delta and I did a little guitar/dulcimer noodling before I grabbed my saucy girlfriend and lugged her out towards the beach.

We ran into Paulie, who was busy winding things down and ready to join in the party. “There are a few people left up there, but a lot of folks had to work in the morning,” I told him. He seemed kind of frustrated, but was determined to partake of the fun after all of the running about this day had entailed for him. “I’m going to get some beer, I’ll be back,” he said. “Enjoy the beach,” he called out, backpedaling and then hurrying down towards the hotel entrance. We smiled at him-he had put a lot of heart and soul into the event, treated everyone with massive respect and had been rewarded with a good showing. Life should work like that all the time.

That would be a good place to end this story of the Little Benefit That Did, but of course, there was foreshadowing of nudity, which was shamefully used to sell this story last week. The funny thing is, Chinesa isn’t above using a little sex to sell an idea, a statement, a product or a story, which sounds worse than it actually is. So after consulting with her first, it was deemed okay to reveal the true ending of our evening.

Bear, one of the Buck 32 roadies, brought some beer down to the beach after everyone had disappeared. We stared at the moon and slowly tied one on, eventually ending up in the hot tub long after the posted hours of operation. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day-we were spoiled now, playing inside a smoky club would not seem the same after this freewheeling, good-timing, fellowship that took place on one of the best Sundays in the world. It represented quite a lot, about the symbiosis of promoters, businesses and entertainers to create change and elicit response, more than just the empty chant of “let us entertain you.” I often ask people, “if you were to die tomorrow, how would you live today?” Would you do all the things that you wanted to do? Would it go the way that you wanted it to go? This day was one of those days, a rare gem of an experience that actually gave you hope for the future. Then I dared Chinesa to drop her top and she let them flop out in front of Bear, who was sadly without woman and just didn’t need the additional frustation.

We called it a night.

But not before running, streaking through the hallways of the Holiday Inn, naked as the day we were born. Stopping in front of the mirror by the elevator and embracing in the utter silliness and frivolity of the moment. Times like those that cap off a moment in time, you can taste them in your dreams forever; it reminds us just how good life can be sometimes.


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