Gary “Walnuts” Swaggerty Tribute

Posted: August 17, 2019 in Rants

Walnuts holdin’ down the beat for N.I.L.8 at Hanger 9 in Carbondale IL on 1/31/98

Man.  What can I say?  This one stings.

This Thursday I received some news over lunch that knocked the wind right out of my sails. Our good friend, Gary “Walnuts” Swaggerty, had lost a long, tough fight against cancer.  I first met Gary at an N.I.L.8 show at the Atrium way back in 1996 or 1997.  It was his first show with the fellas after Lance Reynolds had left.  At that time, I had no idea that he was actually the original drummer for N.I.L.8.  Heck, I still remember he was wearing a FEAR shirt with the “I Don’t Care About You…Fuck You” image on the back.  I shared a few words with him and shortly after that, he hopped behind his drum kit and proceeded to blow me (and everyone else in attendance) away.  Gary had an amazing style and impressive stamina that brought a whole new feel to the songs I fell in love with years earlier.  Not to mention, his witty and hysterical banter between the rest of the fellas between (and during) songs left us in stitches!

Gary played with many local musicians over the years.  He held the beat down for local favorites like the Sukk Wholes, the Atomic Hellcats (Ohio), and more recently, the Wolf Crick Boys.  Aside from being a well loved and respected drummer among the Springfield music community, Gary was just a genuinely kind and good-natured soul.  A one-of-a-kind dude that had a way of making anyone who had the privilege of being in his company feel comfortable and valued.  A big fella with an even bigger heart.

I’ll always fondly hang onto the interactions I had with Gary over the years.  I never left a conversation with him without laughing at some point.  Even through his fight with cancer, he still managed to keep a positive attitude and continued to crack jokes.  I’m thankful for the time we all had with him and hope he’s finally at peace.

Rest well, Walnuts.  You’ll be missed dearly.

…and one last thing…

FUCK CANCER!!!

Park: Circa 2000

Holy shit…it’s been a WHILE since I’ve posted anything here!  Sorry for the extended absence, folks.  After losing my good buddy, John, back in November of 2017, I’ve had a lot of emotions to sort through, and up until now I just haven’t felt up to doing the whole archive thing.

Now that some time has passed and I’ve been able to do some healing, I’m feeling much better and have been thinking a lot about getting back into the groove (albeit slowly) of doing this thing again. I still have TONS of stuff that I want to get out there for y’all to enjoy! So…let’s get to it, shall we?

 

A HUGE thanks to James Dunseth for hangin’ onto this recording for the past nearly 20 years and for sharing it with us!!

 

What we’ve got here is a nice recording of our boys in Park performing at the now defunct Mound Cone Shop in Jacksonville, IL on September 16th, 2000.  James recorded this himself when the fellas came over to play an afternoon show on the deck outside of the ice cream shop along with another band that I know nothing about by the name of Until Then.  I’d say he did a pretty fine job! For a nearly 20 year-old recording, it sounds pretty damn good!  It was originally recorded to DAT and then later to CD-R, but those formats disappeared many years ago, so these digital files are all that still exist.

This is an especially cool recording because not only does it feature some early working versions of songs that would later make it onto ‘No Signal’ with different lyrics and arrangements, it also features a VERY early working version of “Kill Collapse” with a completely different arrangement than the final version that was later recorded during the ‘It Won’t Snow Where You’re Going’ sessions, and never officially released.  In addition to that, we also have some very early songs that weren’t heard live all that often like “Racing A Train” from the ‘Random & Scattered’ EP, and a even a tiny bit of “Lindsay” from ‘Scene 14’!!  There’s also a nice five-and-a-half minute instrumental jam towards the end of the set.  I asked Ladd about this since I couldn’t remember anything about it, and here’s what he said:

“(it) was just a bunch of parts we had that never went anywhere. We showed this to our producer and I think he shot it down as just a bunch of hodgepodge. It never had a name.”

Very cool to have preserved, nonetheless!

So…here ya go, everyone! A cool, “pre-No Signal era” (‘No Signal’ was released on October 9, 2001) live recording of Park in Jacksonville, IL!  Word is, Gabe Looker was in the crowd as well, who (as you probably know) later went on to play bass in Park for a while and is featured on ‘It Won’t Snow Where You’re Going’.

ENJOY!!

DOWNLOAD .WAV VERSION HERE (ONE CONTINUOUS TRACK)

DOWNLOAD .MP3 VERSION HERE (ONE CONTINUOUS TRACK)

DOWNLOAD .WAV VERSION HERE (SPLIT INTO SEPARATE TRACKS)

DOWNLOAD .MP3 VERSION HERE (SPLIT INTO SEPARATE TRACKS)

 

…and because I know some of you reading this don’t have it, here’s the final studio recording of “Kill Collapse” from the ‘It Won’t Snow Where You’re Going’ sessions that was never officially released!!  This one you can just download from the Bandcamp thingy.

John Brillhart Tribute

Posted: November 12, 2017 in Rants

Hey, gang. I know, I know…I haven’t posted anything on here since April. 2017 has been kicking the living shit out of me. The events of last week has certainly been no exception. I’ll take some time here to explain.

Last Monday I walked out of work at 3:30PM with my good buddy, John Brillhart, just like we usually do. I told him goodbye in the parking lot, hopped in my car and drove home. Little did I know that would be the last time I’d ever see him. John drove up to Bloomington that evening to catch a show and was involved in a fatal car accident on the way home later that evening. When I got the news the next morning as I was getting ready for work, I froze in horror and disbelief. I didn’t know how to process that information. It didn’t seem real. It still doesn’t. He had just texted me from the show the night before after scoring a free ticket from a kind family in line in front of him. How in the world could this be true?

That morning, I chose to go in to work so I could deliver the news to my coworkers. When I got there, I popped into one of my superior’s office to break the news, but he had already heard from John’s brother, Mark. I stuck around long enough for my crew to meet and get the news from my bosses, and then I went home and sobbed pretty much all day. I couldn’t believe that one of my best friends was gone. More so, I thought about his family and his two girls. How could they even begin to handle this?

So…some of you reading this may think to yourself, “Why in the hell is Anthony bothering posting this on his music blog?” Well, for those of you who may not know, John was a local singer/songwriter in Springfield for at least the past 20 years, if not a little longer. In the late 90’s and into the early 2000’s he fronted the Springfield band, Gutterwater, along with Michael Sullivan, Keith Voegele, Lucky Patterson, and Chris Camp. From that point, John managed to find himself playing along with MANY local talents over the years in various other bands and more recently hosted open jams at several Springfield establishments including his most recent weekly residency at George Rank’s every Tuesday evening. John had a knack for writing simple, yet meaningful songs that stuck with you long after hearing them for the first time. His ability to paint such beautiful pictures and tell such wonderful stories with the simplest of words is something that seemed to come so naturally to him. …and he loved nothing more than sharing those stories through song with anyone willing to listen. If you ask any musician in town, you’d be hard pressed to find one that didn’t know and admire John. Not only was he a talented musician, he was just one hell of a nice guy. I don’t think John had any real enemies. His goofy and naturally jovial attitude made him hard not to love.

I’ll have some of John’s music to share with you all soon. It’s still a little hard for me to listen to some of his songs without getting all teary eyed. BUT…there’s some really great stuff that has been captured over the years, so as long as I have his family’s blessing, I’ll have those here for y’all here in the future.

So long, John. I can’t believe I’m saying goodbye to you this soon. I love ya, buddy.

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A BIG thanks goes out to Ben Jacob for lending me this cassette, and for Kent Salisbury for giving me permission to post this for you all!!

Hey, gang!  Sorry about the absence over the last 2 months.  Holy crap, has 2017 proven to be a pretty crazy-ass year so far on many levels!  Let’s kick this shit back into gear with a nice little gem from 1997…

Although this band wasn’t officially from Springfield, it featured an important Springfield music alumni, so why not include it here, right?  Right.  What we have here is an unreleased demo from the band, Jennifer.  Jennifer was from St. Louis, MO and is responsible for wrecking many eardrums for a few good years during the late 1990’s.  You’ll definitely recognize the vocals on this one as that’s ex-ingot vocalist, Kent Salisbury, with his sharp and unmistakable voice that adds a heavy level of ferocity to an already savage, instrumental attack.  Unfortunately, I never got around to seeing these dudes perform.  I can only imagine how intense those shows must have been!

Since I don’t have a whole lot of information on these guys, and honestly only discovered them maybe 10 years ago by complete mistake when I picked up a split 7″ they did with Five Deadly Venoms, I turned to Kent to get some more history on the band.  Here’s what he had to say:

Jennifer, from St. Louis, MO was formed in 1996.  Members Eric Seaver (Guitar), Tom Delgado (Drums), Jason Dunn (Bass Guitar, Vox) and Kent Salisbury (Vox) (1997).  Jennifer plays a raucous brand of high energy rock-your-shoes-off rock n’ roll, that will leave you in a coma.  Louder than all hell, and grooving, the live show’s intensity was in the guitars, driving and leading with it’s
blistering heat. Enough said, the drums are the backbone freakshow, check your beats.  Bassline rolling and booming, its emphasis to expose the riff. Roaring, political, introspective vocal aesthetics highlight the loss of society, iniquity, power, and control.  Jennifer played shows in St. Louis: Cicero’s basement, Creepy Crawl, the Landing, Side Door and more.  The Jennifer
Demo was recorded in a basement studio in Tower Grove South.  Listen to the demo here, with Some Things Can’t Be Ignored!  Springfield, Illinois finest music chronology

– Kent Salisbury

So, there you have it, folks!  Stream the demo below and/or download it through one of the links.

ENJOY!!

DOWNLOAD .WAV VERSION HERE!

DOWNLOAD .MP3 VERSION HERE!

scan0001 scan0002 scan0003 scan0004 scan0005A special thank you goes out to good friend and fellow bandmate, Jason Perry, for his permission to post this for you all and for taking the time to share some anecdotes on this particular release.

Welcome to 2017 everyone!!  Taking into account our country’s current political climate, I simply can’t think of a more fitting post to start off the year.

What we have here is the final CD release by Springfield punk-rockers, Resident Genius, titled ‘You Can’t Blow Up A Social Relationship‘.  This final EP is the product of a long-time collaboration between the band and the now late American historian, and social activist, Howard Zinn.  Zinn is probably best known for his highly acclaimed and best-selling book, A People’s History of the United States.  If you haven’t already read this book, I highly recommend it!  The band had a few members float in and out over it’s lifespan (2002- early 2006), but three “core members” stayed consistent — Benjamin Hopper (drums/vocals), Jason Perry (guitar/vocals), and Chris Stroud (bass).  Other folks that were part of this band at one time or another were Nick Wasmer (keys), Trish Anderson (guitar/vocals) and Jay Vanselow (guitar/vocals).  This CD was released in 2005 by THICK Records out of Chicago, IL.  I’m not 100% sure if the label is still in operation or not.  Resident Genius played their final shows upon release of this EP, which I’d say was a strong note to end on.  A lot of time and effort was put into this release and I’d say that the end product is something that everyone involved can truly be proud of.  The statements made by both the band and Mr. Zinn on this split EP are short, yet powerful, and touch on issues that are just as important and relevant today as they were over a decade ago when this CD was originally released.  It’s like the old saying goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”  I hope that at some point in my lifetime I can throw on a record like this and the lyrical content be completely irrelevant to what’s currently going on in America.

For the rest of this post, I’m going to turn it over to Jason.

Benjamin Hopper and I came up with the idea long before Resident Genius had ever recorded anything at all – probably about three years before the split with Zinn was released.  Initially, I think Ben thought we would just release CD-Rs(!) and keep it really DIY.  With the exception of the Zinn split, that’s pretty much how we released everything…and we were fine with it.

Meanwhile, Zinn and I had formed a relationship via telephone and written communications that focused on my later-aborted Masters thesis on Josiah Warren.  Zinn was pretty generous with his time and, having heard the Bad Religion / Noam Chomsky split, I thought it would be cool to do something like that with Zinn, a personal hero, of sorts.  He was all for it.  During one of our conversations, he had to call me back as Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam was trying to reach him.  Funny.

As was the case with most Resident Genius songs, the songs on the split were largely written by myself, Ben, and our original bass player, Chris.  We started out the project as a band of five, but were whittled down to just two original members by the time it was released.  Anyway, generally speaking, I’d come in with an idea and Ben and/or Chris would accept it, suggest changes, or veto it outright.  Trish was pretty agreeable to whatever, as was Nick Wasmer, the keyboardist.  None of us knew what the hell we were doing but I look back on that band, and in this project, specifically, with fondness.  Since Ben and I were like-minded regarding the larger “vision” of the split, we didn’t really have any issues.

Ben was so much more than just a drummer for the band.  He offered plenty of good ideas for many of our songs along with working tirelessly to book shows, contact bands, schedule practice at various places, figure out band merch, etc.

Chris, on the other hand, pretty much poo-pooed the split idea from the start and very much gave the impression that the whole project was a waste of time and spent most of his time, in general, creating havoc or being obstructionist.  Whether that was intentional or not, you’d have to ask him.  Oh man, he really was not comfortable with being associated with someone like Howard Zinn.  That’s not to say Chris was some raving conservative lunatic, but he constantly questioned the wisdom of the project from the get-go.  To be fair, ultimately, it was Chris and I who sifted through the hours of Zinn tapes that Roger Leisner from Radio Free Maine sent to us.  To be fair again, some of these songs have Chris’s stamp on them.  He did contribute to the music, as he did with a sizeable portion of the Resident Genius songbook.

That brings us to an important point. Chris probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his artistic input as it was often overshadowed by embarrassing displays of showboating onstage, purposely antagonizing fellow band members, dismissing songs that had any keyboards on them, etc.  I’m not going to lie:  he was difficult to be around.  He knows my feelings on this and they haven’t softened even a decade later.  The incessant arguments between Chris and me, Chris and Ben, Chris and Trish….jeez…see the common denominator there?  It just came to an ugly head and Chris was unceremoniously forced out before the Zinn split even hit the streets in October 2005.  Still, when you have four or five..um..strong, clashing personalities, a decent song here or there will come out.

Also, Joe Tury, who recorded 99% of Resident Genius songs, was absolutely invaluable to the band.  He was a suggestion box, auxiliary musician, mediator, taskmaster, engineer, producer, abuser – often all at the same time.  Without him, I’m afraid we never would have been able to record a single note of music.  We really are indebted to him.

I think we sent it to Zak Einstein of Chicago’s Thick Records – just on a whim.  Thick had a ton of great bands and a couple local Springfield connections.  Surprisingly, he agreed to release it.  Zak had some questionable business practices and that was also voiced by other artists on the label.  Ended up being a not so great experience being on that label but that’s a story for another time.

…and Jason’s thoughts on the songs…

 

“Everything I Had I Gave” –  The intent was to keep the song acoustic.  That didn’t happen, but there is acoustic guitar throughout.  We hadn’t done anything like that before and it felt good.  No bridge or chorus to speak of – that was the case with a lot of Resident Genius songs.  A number of local musicians didn’t understand that and thought we purposely didn’t know how to write “proper” songs.  We didn’t really, but I think it works.  It’s a song about Zinn based on a couple things he told me during our phone conversation.  A little, quick, humble ode to him.  Fitting way to start off the EP.

“Dear Mr. President” –  Probably our one and only attempt at writing an accessible pop song.  Riff was lifted from whatever that classical song is called – Canon in D?  I don’t know.

“Army of One” –  Inspired, in part, by those ridiculous “Become an Army of One” commercials.

“Dover Air Force Base” – Loosely based on this story http://archive.vva.org/archive/TheVeteran/2001_09/mortuary.htm.  I found it utterly fascinating and it was a colossal fuck up on the government’s part.  I think I had heard a couple songs from NOFX’s ‘The War on Errorism’ while writing this song.  I liked how they smacked a cello sounding thing right in the middle of “Franco Un-American“.  I thought, “Hey, let’s a get a real cello and smack it in the middle of one of our songs.”  I think it worked.  We had Abby Eddy from the Illinois Symphony come in.  I’ll never forget the horrified look on her face when she showed up at the Timmys practice place in Williamsville, IL (which doubled as Joe Tury’s Red Room Recordings).  The door opens and Trish and Chris are screaming at each other, hands flailing about and everything.  She just had this look of, “What the hell did I just walk into?”

“Needles” –  Every time we played this song live, Ben and I just couldn’t get the intro right.  We always hated when this song came up in the set list.  Hands down, the weakest song on the EP.  Probably should have slipped something else in it’s place.  Whatevs.

“Distortion, Massachusetts” –  This took forever to put together.  I had suggested we have Robbie Kording from The Timmys or Chris Yeager from the Gunga Dins swing by and record some vocal parts for this.  Chris (our Chris) was against the idea of what he thought was becoming a parade of outsiders coming to participate.  If memory serves, we couldn’t get a hold of Yeager so we asked Jeff Williams from NIL8.  I purposely left the section of the song open for him to do what he felt would further the song.  I think Jeff wrote it on the spot at the recording place and was in and out in less than an hour.

So…there ya go, folks!  Thanks again, Jason, for taking the time to share all of this great information about this recording with us!

ENJOY!!

DOWNLOAD .WAV VERSION HERE!

DOWNLOAD .MP3 VERSION HERE!

…and just for the hell of it, here’s a copy of Jeff William’s handwritten notes for his part on “Distortion Massachusetts”.

distortion-notes

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Happy Holidays, gang!  My apologies for the silence on here the past couple of months.  As the years wear on, it seems that I get less and less free time to work on this thing, but I didn’t want to leave y’all empty handed in December like I did last year, so here goes the final post of 2016!

I had been searching for this CD for a LONG time before I stumbled upon one at a reasonable price on Amazon a few years back.  If you recall, back in February of 2014, I posted the Blue Meanies – ‘Grandma Shampoo/Dickory Dock’ 7″ for your consumption.  That 7″ featured 2 songs from the Meanies’ performance at Hangar 9 in Carbondale, IL on February 1, 1992.  This CD is most, if not all, of that very same performance.  It was self-released by the fellas on their own NO Record Co. label in 1992, under the title “Peace Love Groove”.  I’m pretty sure this isn’t the full show, as it only features 8 songs.  I guess it could have been.  I dunno.  In any case, if live recordings of the Blue Meanies aren’t hard enough to come by as it is, this particular performance is extra special, in my opinion, considering how early it is in their career.  Their overall sound here is slightly different than the “psycho-ska” we all came to love starting with their first proper studio full-length, “Kiss Your Ass Goodbye” in 1995.  Yes, you get songs like “Grandma Shampoo”, “It Doesn’t Matter” and one of my personal favorites, “Aquarium Bong” which were all featured on that album, but also some of the first Meanies’ songs ever written like, “Nude Ain’t Crude”, which was on their self-released demo cassette from 1991 bearing the same name.  That may have been their first ever release.  Again, I’m not sure.  These earlier songs, especially “Brother Free”, take on more of a “funky, groovy” feel.  ‘Peace Love Groove’ is great because you can actually hear how this began to evolve into their later, more aggressive, trademark sound which incorporated these elements along with ska and punk rock.  You know…the Blue Meanies that used to fuckin’ DESTROY the all-ages Atrium shows with N.I.L.8 back in the mid-1990’s.  Man…those shows were great!!

So, here ya go folks, early LIVE Blue Meanies in all their glory!!

ENJOY!!

DOWNLOAD .WAV VERSION HERE!

DOWNLOAD .MP3 VERSION HERE!

Thanks for a great 2016, folks!!  It’s certainly been one helluva great and busy year!!  PLENTY of great stuff coming your way in 2017!!

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Hey, folks!  Just a little quickie for ya today!  This is not local to Springfield, but some of you reading this may have spent some time in Carbondale, IL, like myself, and spent a little time at the Lost Cross House. 

As some of you reading this may or may not know, the Lost Cross just celebrated their 30 year (whoa!) anniversary last weekend in Carbondale, IL.  The Lost Cross is one of the oldest punk houses in the country.  It’s served as a practice space and venue for TONS of bands over the years, a hangout for punks young and old, as well as a place to call home for some.  During my short time in Carbondale, I admittedly never made it to a show there.  I had only managed to finally locate the joint towards the end of my last semester of school there.  It was late on a Friday night, and after losing some of my buddies to house parties that I didn’t really care to go to, I started to make my way back home, weaving through some unfamiliar neighborhoods, and noticed some punks hanging around an old house.  I walked up and said, “Hey!”, and that was it.  I was welcome.  I found my way into the basement, but nothing was really going on that night.  Just some folks hangin’ out and listenin’ to tunes.  I met some really cool people though, and had some great conversations that night.  I remember walking back to my dorm at the end of the evening thinking to myself, “Damn…I REALLY wish I would have found this place as soon as I moved down here!”  I had heard about it prior to going to school there, and spent some time wandering the town looking for it, but struck out consistently.  I even asked locals about it, but no one ever seemed to give me good directions.  It was nice to finally find a place like this away from home.  It felt comfortable and familiar being among like-minded folks.

Even though I never got the opportunity to catch a show at the Lost Cross, I did attend many shows at places like Hanger 9 and Copper Dragon, so I got to see some of the locals perform from time to time.  Some of which are featured on this comp that I am posting for you all to enjoy today!  I picked this up at Plaza Records in Carbondale during one of my visits shortly after leaving from school.  Either late 90’s or early 2000’s.  It got heavy rotation in my CD player for quite a while, as many of these bands left the same impression on me as some of my local favorites from back home.

I could go on and on about this stuff, but I’ll let the CD do the talking.  Good times back then.  Good times.

ENJOY!!

…and you can just download this for free from Bandcamp, if you want to!