Tag Archives: KISS

Stop chasing the ghosts

Greenville show 2016

That really isn’t advice for you, though feel free to take it if so inclined.

It’s a reminder for me to do a better job of thinking through which shows to pop for, and why.

As this summer began, I had tickets for a Joan Jett/Lynyrd Skynyrd double bill at a big outdoor festival in July and a KISS show at the arena across town in August. Sounded great at first. Turned out differently.

I’d seen Joan Jett twice before. Each time, she was the headliner in a small venue. This time, she was the opening act at that outdoor festival. Different vibe. That’s her, somewhere on that tiny stage just to the left of center in the photo above. Those were my sight lines. You get the idea.

Not surprisingly, a crowd getting primed to see Skynyrd is not necessarily one that will warm to Joan Jett’s occasionally LGBTQ-friendly stylings. They roared for the first three songs and the last four songs — all the hits — then listened politely (as Wisconsin crowds are wont to do) to the 10 songs in the middle that they really didn’t know or dig.

Given that, and the realization that this Skynyrd show would not be better than two I’d already seen — Leon Wilkeson and Billy Powell were still alive and performing then —  I left after Jett’s show and before Skynyrd took the stage.

A month later, when it turned out that we were leaving for a trip at 4 a.m. on the morning after the KISS show, I started rethinking that one, too.

As with Skynyrd, I came to the realization that this KISS show would not be better than the one I saw 16 years ago, when all four original members were part of the, ahem, KISS Farewell Tour.

So I sold my ticket to a friend, who gave it to another friend, which is the best part of this story. The guy who wound up with the ticket is a huge KISS fan who had never seen KISS. By all accounts, he had a great time at the show. Which is cool. Which makes me feel better about it all.

Maybe it’s just karma. After all, this vaguely lost summer followed a tremendous spring in which we saw Bruce Springsteen, the Smithereens, Martha Davis and the Motels, Pat Benatar, David Lindley, the Alan Parsons Live Project and the James Hunter Six. Save for Benatar and Lindley, we’d never seen any of them.

When I did see Lindley for that second time, he played the one song I wanted to hear. A song he didn’t play the first time we saw him.

david lindley el rayo-x live lp

“Mercury Blues,” David Lindley and El Rayo-X, from “El Rayo Live,” 1983. Recorded live at Little Bavaria in Del Mar, California, on Friday, June 18, 1982.

After seeing Lindley in 2013, we eagerly got tickets to see him when he came around again last year. But we wound up moving my dad into assisted living that weekend, and we wound up eating those tickets. Perhaps getting to hear “Mercury Blues” this time was karma, too? Who knows?

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Filed under August 2016, Sounds

Roto’s van

You may have heard something about it being a little nippy up here in our part of the Midwest. However, I’ll leave that to my colleagues JB and Whiteray, who blogged about it this week.

maratrophy76It also was pretty cold in our part of Wisconsin about this time in 1976.

We piled into Roto’s van and drove to a little town about 10 miles west of ours to play in a basketball tournament. Our team was a bunch of guys from the two-year University of Wisconsin campus in Wausau, our hometown. (We took the consolation title, thank you.)

Our buddy Roto — so nicknamed because his dad had the local Roto-Rooter business — was one of the craziest guys I ever met. He would do anything anytime, say anything anytime and seemingly never think or worry about the consequences. Roto and I remain friends, and after 33 years he has only slightly mellowed.

Time — and all the beer and whiskey we drank that weekend — have left it a bit of a hazy mystery, but I know Roto was there, I was there and our buddy Joe was there.  Quite possibly the late, great Wildo, too.

We had Roto’s van, which was modestly tricked out with carpeting in the style of the day. Roto’s van also had an 8-track tape player at the heart of its stereo system. I recall one — and only one — tape from that wild weekend. We played it loud, played it often and sang along to it. I suspect there was some headbanging involved. You’ll see why.


“Deuce,” “Strutter,” “Got To Choose,” “Hotter Than Hell” and “Firehouse,” KISS, from “Alive!” 1975. It’s Side 1 of the great double live album recorded mostly in Detroit but also in Wildwood, New Jersey, and Davenport, Iowa. It runs 17:59.

This is the way I ripped my old vinyl. One long take. There’s no point in listening to it any other way.

When we listened so long ago, there was a distinct clack between each of the sides. You know the clack. It may have been the 8-track player. It may have our heads hitting the side of the van as we passed out.

I can still hear Roto reminding us that he was “hhhhhott-ah than hell” during the tournament. Doubtful.

I can still hear Roto, Joe and Wildo cheering Paul Stanley during the intro to “Cold Gin” on Side 3: “All right, I got a little question for all you. I wanna know! How many people here like to take the taste of alcohol?”

At that time, we did. A hazy memory, but a good one.


Filed under January 2009, Sounds