THE MINUTEMENT SHOW AT MOTHER’S JUNCITION, KENT OHIO 1984 by tommy strange
Vince had already dealt with SST’s nasty booking agency. Rude, curt, even to us Midwest people. At least they did answer my call. But I couldn’t guarantee the high amount plus percentage. Then, a guarantee was logical but it had to be low, with a decent high percentage of door receipts.
At the time, nearly a hundred thousand people had lost union jobs in the area from 1976 to 1984. Us college kids were competing with ex-factory workers. My working class friends were out of the factory, or had never been there, and already service sector, or on relief. Factory workers had been making anywhere from $12 to $15 an hour, and now were competing for $3.35. It was not funny, nor was as a college town anything California people were aware of, or cared about. A very different world.
When I moved to SF and then later went to the first Gilman street meetings, I couldn’t believe how out of touch these ‘radicals’ were with the rest of the country. And how upper middle class they really were, while thinking they were ‘poor’ . I was a doctor’s son too, remember. And even complaining they had to deliver pizzas, or be a service sector worker. I didn’t go there much after, as you can figure. Just couldn’t connect. People dumpster diving cuz it was cool, or being a temporary bum was cool. But working a service sector job was beneath so many of them. Never got over that. There was no pride in ‘working’ unless it was for a lot of money. You know, people that can hold out for that.
So anyway, I’m dealing with these SST people that are enjoying a little boom over there, and their white parents are enjoying a huge property speculative boom, and I first tell SST, “ People are fucking poor here.”
So he says, we’re trying Cleveland. To this day I don’t know what Cleveland clubs turned the Minutemen down. It was 1984. So a month later they call me back.
And the owner of Mother’s Junction was so cool to say yes. I did it there rather than the usual punk venue of JB’s down for reasons. And the great guy at Mother’s Junction proved why. All the door money was correct and handed to the Minutemen. No funny backroom shit. I wish I remember his name. So Kent Ohio got over an hour and a half of the Minutemen.
Many of my friends were there. I was in a short lived band that opened up. I remember them non-stop going though all Double Nickels and more. Not one note wrong. The soundman did them perfect too. A small room with no bullshit. Everyone was agog. It was amazing. I’ve never seen a band in a room that small sound so new, fresh, perfect. Nor so exuberant.
Afterwards they stayed up most of the night talking with us. I gave Mike Watt my copy of the 2nd Richard Hell album. Didn’t really like it, and he said it was out of print at the time. Boom sold some wood toms to Hurley.
And D. Boon was for once even back then what I expected. A well read leftist. A humanist, that believed in all his lyrics. He even chastised Mike Watt for believing that the democrat party could be ‘reformed’ somehow. No doubt. That was 25 years ago. Uh huh.
Who knows if he would’ve turned into a meandering liberal with fame. He would have become famous. At least as in the ‘indie annoying’ way of say those bourgeois Sonic Youth people. But I doubt he would have turned into a democratic party liberal. There was a deep Zinn like faith in him then. And in the lyrics. He was straight out of the social movements are anatagonistic and demanding to the liberals, not their door mats, type of ideology. An anarchist socialist without calling himself that as far as I know. Like the world bottom up movements of today. Is D. Boon’s ghost picking and strumming over Chiapas now? If you believe in ghosts, I don’t, though still, please go look and tell me if you see it.
When he died, when I was in San Francisco, a roommate wanted to do a D. Boon memory party right away. I was enraged. I think I may have attacked him. I dunno. But I did succeed in my dictate that no Minutemen would be played for a long time in the house. I don’t think I played them that much even when my band Forethought with Chris and Hillary was obviously some type of Minutemen rip off, only not so obvious because my voice. We did like Firehose.
I couldn’t stand to hear his voice for years. I was too sad.
All I wanted to remember was that show and that night in Kent Ohio. I still think of him so often when I try to write a song. Never as good, but I attempt to be as inspired. Punk Rock saved my life, indeed. D. Boon was a reference point to pivot my life upon.
MY REPLACEMENTS STORY by tommy strange
I was in Ohio in bands from 79 to 84. Hootenany came out in 83. It’s hard to imagine now, but it sounded fresh and even punk, and intelligent. How can you say that with those song titles and lyrics? Times were different then. Abandon of top 40 mores while holding together for rocknroll riffs, with what sounded like worker passionate love songs, somehow to many of us wrongly could label any band ‘worker friendly’. We considered all these bands ‘underground’.
That huge mistake aside, wherein a raucous band on an indie label in the Midwest (twintone) would somehow represent our own lives, you would still think that a band after having made two great albums would want to play their great rocknroll songs to strangers.
Johnny Tiegel had made a guarantee of at least $300 ($900 today) plus a percentage at JB’s down in Kent Ohio. Doesn’t sound like much, but actually in an area that just experienced the complete shut down of almost all manufacturing, as minimum wage jobs were being competed for by ex factory workers, times were tight for all. Kent State by the way, was one of the cheapest schools in the state then. It was, if any university can be called such in the USA, a working class kids college. Even the art school types, or graphic designers (a job that could make real money before the computer age) were very much middle and lower class.
A fact that made me love the mix of people at JB’s, Mothers’ Junction, and our many parties, where us ‘punks’ mixed with new wavers, old hippies, and somewhat was gay friendly.
I don’t remember anyone except maybe some Cleveland people, even having Sorry Mom…so us hardcore bald guys were really just waiting for the great abandon and beauty of Hootenany.
I mean really, while our bands were imitating discharge or black flag, we also had parties where Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, and James Brown played. That was normal in Ohio. A Pere Ubu record would be played as much as the B 52’s. Then maybe an ‘environment record’ of ocean sounds and we would start smashing things. Or just throw acrylic paint around. Many people were Be Bop know it alls. Others hated the band Television. It was all mixed.
They showed up, and we immediately offered them a place to stay as we always did to any band. The drummer just sneered at me, “We don’t sleep with fucking cats.”
That kinda set the tone.
They were drunk and didn’t play one song straight off one of the best albums ever. They said stupid white trash things to us. They thought it was ‘funny’ to start and stop Kiss songs etc. Like it was ‘offending us’. Uh, most of us had that album. We didn’t like it anymore. We were waiting for you to play YOUR album. They took their money and left and went to their hotel rooms.
In a drunken stupor, with not one song played from any of their albums. The joke was on us. Har. Har. $700 for the gift, from mostly poor ohio working class folk. ($1800 today)
As the popularity of that great record spread so fast, the NY Rocker did a cover story on them. The band moaned how hard touring was (while they were already making twice what so many other good indie bands were getting), and that one of the worst shows was some place in Ohio, where a “bunch of skinheads” hated them, and that is the reason they won’t play punk rock anymore….or hate dive bars…or something to that effect. This myth of the JBs show is repeated in that ‘This Band Could be Your Life’ book. There were about 10 of us bald hardcore punk rockers. And we wanted to hear the cool songs. We didn’t even know they did the Sorry Ma album….The rest was the usual JB’s crowd. All really good people. This was 1983, or 84. A crowd that would have went nuts over the pop songs and the slop songs. A crowd that loved the Kansas Embarrassment and the LA Unknowns. A crowd that bowed down to the Minutement shortly after. Many of us had seen Pere Ubu in the early days. Pretty astute, not only politically for our age, but very much musically. We played the Raincoats at parties, along with Discharge.
No respect to us as paying fans. You were assholes. You were getting famous, and in front of some city working class people and struggling college kids, you could not even get it together to play your songs. You thought you were being ‘edgy’ by playing Kiss songs. Nope, you were just drunk idiots. Stupid white reactionary trash. There I said. It. And then they repeated this made up story for years to cover that they spit in the face of fans that wanted to just hear you play one of the greatest sloppiest and beautiful rocknroll records of all time.
Songs are still great. But I think all the members sucked afterwards, cuz they were idiots. And being an idiot narcissist means you can’t expand the gift you have as you get older. You just fall down and mumble when you burn out on one fuse. You can’t light another fuse….if the whole world revolves around you. Pfft. Out.
Took the money, couldn’t play, left, and then still said we were the assholes. Their onstage comments were real choice too. Just rednecks that got lucky over their rocknroll chemistry. It happens. So remember, that genius of a riff and melody in no way means that person has any sensibility or humanity. They could be Joe the Plumber with a guitar. Shouldn’t be surprised.