Tuesday, August 20, 2013

99 Bottles! Banned from the pubs....of Colorado Springs

      When I was 16 I was only 2 years into my adventure of being a punk fan. I wandered from the punk rock norm of Black Flag and the Ramones to find a genre called "Oi punk". This genre encompassed everything a young man loves: violence, drinking, sports, and girls. I started off with Sham 69 and Cockney Rejects and moved to the more underground Los Fastidios and Die Commandantes.

   I eventually hung up my bracers, grew my hair back out and returned to the normal life of being in the Air Force and Rockabilly. My body couldn't handle the Oi lifestyle anymore until I found myself at the foot of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. There I attended my first big show, The Skatalites. At the pre-show mixer at the local scooter store I met Mario, a skinhead around my age infatuated with skinhead culture much like I was. We exchanged the normal Manchester United vs. Arsenal insults, then Irish versus Italians, and then of course Rocakabilly vs. Skin.

   This would become a great friendship with Mario and soon to be Zeb whom is in the band "99 bottles". I was thoroughly impressed with their drunken antics and After listening to their title track "99 bottles" you will be quickly singing along with their Oi punk mission statement.references to skinhead culture. I was contacted by their drummer, Sebastian, to review the band. I am now listening to some of their recordings and this is what I think:

  • Lyrics: Their song-writing includes the normal subjects of boots, beer, and tattoos but not in a campy attempt to recreate the legacy of the 70's. They have the abruptness of the Boston hardcore scene. Their title track "99 bottles" is a singing along with the Oi punk mission statement.
  • Musicality: This is not your latest guitar nerd, Clapton release, or your 3 chord, soccer chant, oi punk. This is something reminiscent of the Black Flag's album Loose Nut. The punk hardcore guitar work of Zeb and Mike takes over your body and leaves you wanting to punch walls and kick over trash cans. Sebastian's high-hat and snare combo backs everything up while being noticeably on cue but not over-powering. 99 Bottles is a dream for fans of oi punk and hardcore alike.
  • Live: This is not only a great band to see but to drink pints with before and after. This is an important part of this genre. Mario's lead vocals and movement across the stage is amazingly Rollins-esque. Not some fly-by-night Oi band, these guys have played shows with the legendary Peter and the Test Tube Babies and Denver's premier punk band Bad Engrish. If you're in the Western front area or see a poster in your hometown, I highly suggest seeing 99 Bottles.
Overall 99 bottles is a great punk band that steps outside the norm just enough to be enjoyable. Please give them a like and buy one their splits or compilations.

Monday, August 19, 2013

   I come to this first post in sadness. I was informed today that my middle school music teacher had passed. Without him I would not be writing this very blog. This is because Mr. Scott introduced me to so much of the music that would define me.

   I guess there is actually no better way to start this blog than the story of me and Mr. Doug Scott. It was my first week of middle school that I would meet him.

   My first week of middle school started with me glaring at my schedule and seeing that I would have gym the last hour of the day. As much as I loved sports, I was terrified by the fact that I would be forced to change in a room of 100 other judgmental boys and forced to compete against them in ancient Roman fashion.

   At this time I was on about 5 foot tall and weighed about 100 lbs. I was no Mean Joe Green. But the first day of gym the teacher addressed us and then uttered the sentence "But if you are more interestedin music...".My heart stopped I though to myself "Yes! I love music! I'm small like Prince and will some have a head big enough to fit my over-sized facial features. Yes! Music". The gym teacher finished his sentence "you can take band and/or orchestra". We were given the option of taking one and reporting to gym on alternating days or taking both and not having to do gym at all. I chose the later of the choices.

   The next day I reported to orchestra class and sat down in the back. I was nervous looking around and seeing kids with their own instruments and bragging of already having musical abilities. Soon enough an average sized man would walk in with a rather goofy step and introduce himself as Mr. Scott. He explained what the class would be like. Everyday we would come in and listen to a selection of music and then get our instruments and play. He informed us the school had plenty of instruments we could use and we did not need experience to take part.

   He then began to list off the instruments we could play: violin, viola, cello, and bass. I quietly thought about the decision. I couldn't play bass because the instrument was twice my size, the cello seemed like I would be trapped sitting under an instrument, and the viola seemed like a cheap version of the violin. Ah yes, the violin. I was always told growing up how both my Great-grandfathers played the violin (both were named Roy strangely). The violin was small, high pitched, and un-elegant when played by a 11 year old. This reminded me of myself. I chose the violin and headed home to inform my displeased parents.

   The next day was band. The first day of band Mr. Scott would go over the same schpiel and then list of the instruments we could choose from. He picked up each of these instruments and played them for us. This choice was much more difficult but when he got to the trombone I was sold. I had alays seen this instrument on my grandfathers records. I did not yet know who these gentlemen on the records were but they seemed to be the leaders of their bands. These gentlemen became know to me as Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey: two of my biggest heroes.

Throughout the next few weeks I would become acquainted with these instruments and soon enough convince my mother to buy me a violin. I never realized this but I was horrible at the violin but I was pretty decent at the trombone. Playing the instruments was never my favorite part of class. My favorite part was the daily selection of music Mr. Scott would play for us at the beginning of class.

   At the beginning of class Mr. Scott would tell us the story of an artist and how they influenced music. These were stories of people who never stood the chance of succeeding and then become the front-runners of their genres. It was here that I learned of Robert Johnson, The Yardbirds, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, The Kinks, and many more artist that would help to define me as the punk rock roots guy I now am now.

   My middle school years were sad and lonely. Not many friends due to the fact I was so weird but luckily Mr. Scott was there to assure me it would be better and that being weird was ok. He often referred to me as "funky Peterson" This was not mocking or degrading but more praising my independence from the crowd of Harry Potter lovers and hip-hop metal heads. I would have easily became these people if I hadnt had someone in my corner rooting for my strangeness.

   Today I was sitting with my girlfriend on her lunch break talking about me starting a music blog. In the middle of my conversation with her my phone began to get texts and calls. I glimpsed at one of the texts and read that Mr. Scott had passed. I sat quietly for a second and thought about what this meant. At first it meant the death of music itself to me but decided I must pass on his legacy somehow. That is this blog.