Monthly Archives: May 2007

Pusher men

These two songs are forever linked in my head, cued up to a certain time and place.

“Pusherman,” done by Curtis Mayfield for the “Superfly” soundtrack in 1972, hid its tough message under Mayfield’s falsetto and a solid soul/funk groove. The fantastic percussion subtly added some street cred.

It was a song you could play anywhere in the winter of 1972-73 and get away with it.

Not so “The Pusher” by Steppenwolf. Nothing subtle about their 1968 cover of this Hoyt Axton tune — growling, spitting out “God damn, The pusher/God damn, God damn, the pusher/I said God damn, God, God damn the pusher man.”

Found that out one night on the way to a junior varsity basketball game. Someone on the bus played the Steppenwolf cut a little too loudly, sending “God damns” raining all over the place.

“Hey!” the coach yelled from the front of the bus. “Enough!”

Enough for him, maybe, but not for us.

“Hey!” he yelled a little louder, a little more insistently. “I said enough, all right?”

I wish I could say someone had the presence of mind to follow it up with Curtis Mayfield, but all I remember is an awkward silence … then a few quiet laughs among the lads and another Steppenwolf song, the volume turned down just a tad.

So here, 34 years later, is that sequence, the way it should have been on the school bus to Shawano that night.

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“The Pusher,” Steppenwolf, from “Steppenwolf,” 1968. (Also on the “Easy Rider” soundtrack, of course.)

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“Pusherman,” Curtis Mayfield, from “Superfly” soundtrack, 1972.

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Another visit to Ray’s Corner

It’s been a while since we stopped by Ray’s Corner and checked out something from my dad’s collection.

Dad is 81. He has the apartment with the loud music.

Here at Ray’s Corner, the martinis are made of gin with the vermouth bottle held about a foot away.

So cool it, man, and enjoy …

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“Sway,” Dean Martin, 1954, from “Dino: The Essential Dean Martin,” a 2004 release.

If you dig this rumba-flavored tune, be sure to stop by ilovedinomartin, the blog faithfully maintained by our pallie Dino Martin Peters.

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“Gene’s Blues,” featuring Gene Krupa on drums, 1955, from “Krupa and Rich,” reissued in 1994.

Playing along with Krupa and Buddy Rich on this album are some of the biggest jazz stars of the day: Oscar Peterson on the piano, Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Eldridge on the horns, Illinois Jacquet on the sax, Herb Ellis on guitar and Ray Brown on bass. Oh, yeah, it swings.

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Sleepy Sunday, Vol. 13

Slowly but surely, we’re getting out the word about Sleepy LaBeef, the Human Jukebox, national treasure.

My old pal Meat wrote last week to commiserate about missing Sleepy live at the Krypto Music Lounge in Rockford, Ill. Sleepy played there the night after I saw him here in Green Bay.

Not only did Meat miss Sleepy, but Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick joined Sleepy for a set. Meat’s friends, who paid a mere $5 cover, said “it was pretty wonderful.” I would imagine so.

Wonder whether they paid tribute to the ailing Bo Diddley by covering one of his tunes.

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“Gunslinger,” Sleepy LaBeef, from “Nothin’ But The Truth,” 1987.

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A visit to Southside

My old pal Doug is a hardcore Springsteen fan. He’s traveled all over the Midwest to see Springsteen. Less so these days, but he’s paid his dues.

Yet for all these years, it’s been tough to hang with Doug when he’s deep into Springsteen. To be honest, I’m not really much of a Springsteen fan.

But we long ago came together and agreed on another member of the extended Springsteen family, another group from the Jersey shore.

The sound of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes was distinctive in 1977 and remains so today. It’s inspired by ’50s R&B and driven by a big horn section.

My favorite Southside album then and now is “This Time It’s For Real,” from 1977. These cuts are from that album. They’re written by Little Steven Van Zandt and some guy named Springsteen.

Guess I like a big sound — dig the majestic horns on “Love On The Wrong Side Of Town” and that out-of-nowhere jungle intro to “When You Dance” — more than a spare sound.

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“Love On The Wrong Side Of Town,” Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, from “This Time It’s For Real,” 1977.

“When You Dance,” Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, from “This Time It’s For Real,” 1977.

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Last call at the Stick

Get to be old enough, and they start closing all of your old haunts.

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Sneaky Pete’s, one of the clubs we frequented in Wausau, Wisconsin, in the mid-’70s, has long been this restaurant, Wausau Mine Company.

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It’s so named because it looks like a cave inside, as it did when it was Sneaky Pete’s. But I’ll never get used to being seated at a table on what used to be on the dance floor.

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The New Home Tavern in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where Phyllis served us hot beef sandwiches at lunch in the late ’70s, was torn down long ago to make way for a bank.

New Home was an ancient place where you took three or four steps down from street level to get into the bar. Look out the window, and you’d see only the feet of people walking along Graham Avenue. Under a low-slung ceiling, the walls and back bar were full of off-sale beers — including Walter’s Beer, the local brew — and liquors.

And now the Stick is gone.

Milt Dalebroux opened the Candlestick Lounge in downtown Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1962. After Milty retired (he just moved to the other side of the bar), his daughter Debby ran the place.

Back in the early ’80s, we’d play basketball at the Y after work, then walk across the bank parking lot and into the back door of the Stick for happy hour. Some nights, we had dinner there — beer, popcorn, veggies and dip, and beer.

The Stick was a sports bar before there were sports bars. A couple of TVs did the job. One night — this has to be 1985 — we went there after the Packers had played at home. The place was jam-packed, and one of the Packers’ players, Paul Coffman, was holding court behind the bar. I was wearing a Missouri football jersey that night, and Coffman had played at Kansas State, so of course he good-naturedly razzed me.

When Janet and I were married in 1987, the reception started at the Holiday Inn, but ended at the Stick. When we arrived, Debby broke out a bottle of champagne for us — a gracious gesture considering we were only occasional visitors and far from regulars.

But times change, kids arrive and old routines fade. In recent years, we gathered at the Stick only when old friends were back in town.

The Stick closed for good last weekend.

Now it’s just a pleasant memory from another time, like this:

“If You’ve Got the Time, We’ve Got the Beer,” Miller High Life commercial theme, 1971.

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Filed under May 2007, Sounds