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John Henry was a drum-set-less drummer and Four Peace band manager who enjoyed his days in the Kzoo band scene. Below are his recollections
I re-read your ‘istoricale revue this morning, and my brains are now falling out of my ears. I apologize in advance for the length of this; you’ll understand the setup when you hit the punchline.
Back from about 1977 until maybe 1983, my dad kept a boat in South Haven, Mi at the city marina. We’re talking from the time I was maybe 7, 8 until I was 12 or 13.
There weren’t a lot of kids or teenagers there, but there were a few. Mostly, there was a girl named Julie Twietmeier from Chicago who had a million older brothers and my rapt attention. Besides her, there was another girl named Amy Fish who was the “’friend’ in ‘her friend’s for you’” girl to this absolutely GORGEOUS (to my barely-approaching adolescence eye anyway) blonde chick who was maybe 3 years older than me. Pretty sure she was old enough to drive by the time I stopped going to the lake with my folks. However old she was, she definitely knew how to wear a bikini – that shit’s etched permanently on my inner eyeball.
The situation being what it was, we all kind of hung out together, the way that kids who are thrown together by virtue of being imprisoned by their parents do. Me, my little brother, Julie, her brothers, Amy, and this hot blonde, and this other guy named Darryl who was maybe 4, 5 years older than me and was the absolute stereotype of the late-70’s/early-80’s studmuffin, right down to the Camaro with t-tops, jean jacket, and fully-automatic 8-track tape deck WITH REVERSE.
The hot chick had a crush on him, predictably enough.
I had a visible crush on ol’ Julie – who was closest to my own age, I think she had a year on me – but the one I was REALLY hot and bothered for was the hot chick, the blonde. I can still close my eyes and see this girl – just knockout. Blonde, tan from head to toe, very yuppie princess/daughter of privilege type, but this was slightly before I’d grown self-conscious enough to pre-emptively reject all that before it could reject me. I’m sure to her I was mostly that little kid who occasionally acted like he had a puppy-dog crush on her, but she was a good enough sport about it that I never got my feelings hurt by the knowledge that she was way out of reach.
We used to sit around on Twiet’s houseboat boat and I’d pretend I didn’t know the older kids were smoking dope and making out. First place I ever heard “Riders On The Storm” by the Doors. Also, the first place I ever picked up a guitar. I wanted to learn to play it, because it seemed a lot cooler than violin, and I wanted that hot blonde chick to look at ME the way she looked at ol’ Darryl (or maybe it was one of the Twietmeier brothers) when *he* would play it. I couldn’t have been much older than 8 or 9 at this time, because it was only a little after I’d started playing drums and that was my 8th birthday.
In a very real way, you could say that this hot blondie was the reason I became a musician, or at least the reason I became serious about sticking with it. You could certainly lay a lot of the blame at her feet for my becoming an ardent heterosexual.
Her dad’s name was Bob. Her mom’s name was Cindy. As I recall, anyway. They had a sailboat.
It would be almost impossible for us to NOT have run in to each other on ‘the scene’ years later, and somehow I never heard her full name or made the connection. I seriously haven’t even *thought* about that name in close to a quarter-century.
And then I’m reading your historie – for about the third or fourth time – and ‘Kristy Kampsmith’ finally jumped out at me. I actually had to call my dad and make sure I didn’t have my head up my ass or wasn’t confusing her with some other girl that was a gf/live-in/groupie for me or one (or more lol) of the guys in bands I knew.
Obviously, if you have the slightest clue as to what she ended up doing with herself, or you know how to get in touch, it’d be hilarious. Not that anything other than a laugh would come of it here 30 years later, but still.
This makes the *third* person that I’ve known since childhood who was directly involved with the K’zoo music scene and somehow never managed to connect with me. Dave Hoekstra used to talk about “Joel from the Skate Zoo” all the time, and I’m pretty sure I even met him a couple of times, and had no idea that it was Joel Wick, who I’d gone to middle school with. I’ve already told you (probably far too often) about knowing Carla Wescott from string orchestra back in 6th grade, and possibly before (I can’t remember, honestly, if she came to the sessions at my elementary school or not). I had no idea she was her until she asked me if I was ME at a party over at X’sforI’s Rob’s house when she was dating him, and didn’t know she’d married Brent until I hooked up with TASM/Leons.com and started re-making connections. I suspect she either doesn’t remember me, or remembers that I was a weird little kid – I’ve not been able to get a ‘hello’ from her in the modern era in spite of having made several attempts (including a facebook invite a few months ago) – and is mildly creeped out by a misinterpretation of my interest in re-establishing some of the oldest connections in my life.
Carla, Joel, and I were all in the same hall ‘pod’ of classes at Portage North Middle School, though I don’t remember for *sure* if Carla was in my homeroom (we all switched classes as a group there, each pod had three classes that rotated across the three teachers), but I’m 100% certain Joel was.
F’n weird how things all come back around, innit?
Anyway, I don’t know if you get a kick out of these kinds of oddball connections and synchronicities, but if you do I’m sure this was a mildly entertaining read. If not, sorry for wasting your time. As always, thanks for the time and effort you put in reassembling my childhood and early adulthood on a semi-regular basis. Hope you enjoy the paper story that I finally got around to posting.
When I first found this place, or maybe when I first found TASMLab even, Ipromised a story of a gig in chicago and some enriched paper.
This is that story.
So Four Peace is doing their first gig in Chicago at a place called the "Dance Factory." Was an old utility or manufacturing floor or some crap where the main space was a dance club, but then they had this kind of side-room thing with a rollaway wooden door where they had live bands. The show had been co-booked by a guy named Ralph Wallace in Chicago who ran an outfit called ROMP, that later led to FP trading some gigs back and forth with Wickerman and Deep Blue Dream.
This was probably the strangest booking ever. The original bill was FP, something called Peacefrog, and a reggae band called "Dub Dis." We weren't sure if maybe Ralph hadn't bothered even listening to the tape we sent him, but it was a paid gig, and it was Chicago, so you know how that goes.
We all load up - the band, Opie (Dan J's drum fish), J. Peake (that huge dude that used to handle all Matt B's gear), me (I was playing some kind of manager/booking agent/general hanger-on for 4P at the time, as I was drumless - an unfortunately recurring theme for me), some females, and this cat who I will call B who used to take promo pix of a lot of the bands in the area (you guys know who I mean, I know you do. Copy shop), and we get in a truckin convoy and head for the Windy City.
We get there waaaay early with a UHaul full of gear, and Dave H. breaks out the grill he'd brought along and starts doing his thing (cooking steaks on the back of a UHaul, which a passing cop later made us VERY nervous about as he informed us that this was verboten) while Dan j steals a warning poster about rats that later became a permanent fixture on the sides of 4P's giant speakers. (Truly funny shit: I saw that *exact same poster* next to currently-engaged-in-a-hostile-takeover-of-illinois Rod Blajojevic on the AP news feed a couple of days ago). We do our thing, hang out, eat, smoke, blah de blah, we got nothing else to do but chill and wait for someone to unlock the bar so we can load in.
Someone, I don't even remember who, happened to be in possession of a quantity of chemically-enriched paper that night, and DaveH decided that this was going to be his first gig under the active influence of that particular substance. So we're already looking forward to an interesting evening - Dave wasn't exactly the most subtle of people to begin with. Before the paper even got involved, it got interesting as night fell and the place opened...
First, this "Peacefrog" outfit. We figured they were probably a Doors-y psychedelic band (amazing deductive skills, we musicians!) They were supposed to be second on the bill with 4P opening and the reggae guys headlining, shows up and it's ONE GUY with a little 10-inch gorilla amp who explained that a) he'd fired his band that day, b) he'd picked up some replacements by soliciting random strangers on the street while carrying said gorilla amp to the gig, and c) he was now billing himself as "The Beatles."
Okay, so now 4P is second on the bill, since nobody is interested in opening for a scruffy high school sophomore with a gorilla amp and the local skid row bum. Yes, he actually went on! With some random homeless guy screaming over the barely-audible screeching and noise of his teeny little amp, which wouldn't have mattered if it was 100 feet tall because the dude basically just stood there for about 40 minutes beating the shit out of his guitar without even pretending to try to actually involve things like tuning, melody, rhythm, tone, or really anything but white noise, atonality, and a lot of feedback.
I believe the homeless dude may have been screaming random Kierkegaard or Schopenhauer quotes over all of this.
In the original languages.
This was not shaping up to be the greatest of all possible touring experiences.
As soon as "The Beatles" hit the stage, Dave, B, and I headed out to my little blue 89 LeMans and added the flavor of enriched paper - VERY WELL enriched paper, I might add - to our tongues for dissolution. The rest of the band...had no idea. At all. None. And outside of a bit of herbality and some warmup brew (hence the nervousness of being confronted by Chicago's Finest in regards to Dave's impromptu display of culinary art), they were all stone sober.
So Dave has intentionally timed this such that the enrichment will make itself known to his cerebellum right around the time "The Beatles" are packing their crap and getting the hell out of the way (one nice thing: the changeover from 'them' to us was about 3 minutes). About an hour after "The Beatles" have stormed the stage, Four Peace takes over and puts on a very good, solid show of musicality and mashed-potato-and-peanut-butter grungy thickness (I stole that mashed potato line from a reviewer in the GR zine, Music Revue?, in their review of 4P's demo).
Dave...is having a transcendent experience, and by this point so are B and I. I've always wondered how B's photos differed from what he THOUGHT he was seeing, but I digress. Dave's doing his thing, the band's doing theirs. By the time the sets done, the enriched among us are definitely seeing happy trails.
Chicago being what it is, the bar didn't open til about 11pm, and 4p didn't go on until around 12:30am. They managed to pull a pretty nice chunk of the dance club in over their set - had maybe 350 or 400 folks in a space about half the size of soda by the time they were done, lots of applause and can-i-have-your-autograph and sold a few tapes and fiddled with a bit of the local fauna that tended toward femaleness. They went long, for a 2nd act, maybe 105 minutes or so.
So 105 minutes later we loaded out of that place in all of about three minutes (major fast for the huge amount of gear 4P was carrying at the time).
Gig's over, everyone wants to go get fooked one way or the other, so we start to do that. Most every stays behind in Chicago to hang with RompRalph, the dude who had set this abomination of a gig up.
B has to get back home, and Dave and I were both deep in relationships at the time, so we decide to head back to the 'zoo. Yes, I was driving. No, it wasn't real smart, since all three of us were very much on a long trip at this point, and I don't mean the ride to Chicago. Not my finest moment, but what the hell - everyone knows you're invincible when you're 21.
We pile in my little POS LeMans and manage to find the Skyway and head back in the general direction of Mittenland. There's a little of this sort of liquid fermented beverage and a little of that sort of mood elevating herbality and there might have been something refined to keep the sleep away involved as well, I don't even remember for sure anymore.
So we're cruising along and BSing back and forth and having a nice permagrin vacation and listening to the board tape at full volume and generally doing what hippie musician types do at 3:30 AM after a gig in the big city. Nothing else on the road. We're on 94, tooling along about 70 or so and I'm not even watching the road as I'm yapping back and forth with Dave in the passenger seat and B in the back seat (hey, man, eye contact is just common courtesy when you're talking to someone, ya know?), havin a good ol' time.
I'm lookin at Dave, saying something of little to no importance (but it seemed remarkably profound at the time), and suddenly I see his face go white as a sheet. Now, those of you who remember Dave might guess, correctly, that this was quite the feat, given that what little of his face wasn't covered with that thick beard was of a quite ruddy complexion.
His eyes get even bigger than they already were.
His mouth drops open so far I thought he was gonna let loose with one of those shrieks only dogs can hear, the ones that sounded like Donald Sutherland in the last frame of "The Body Snatchers" that he used to drop in to their cover of "Mountain Song" and a few other tuns.
His jaw starts working up and down, he's stammering.
" Ab..ab...abb...um...John. John. JOHN!!"
He points out the windshield, at which point I figure what the hell, I'm driving so I may as well look, right? We're on a huuuuge bridge, I think it goes over the Chicago River, on the east side of town heading in to Gary, I'm sure you know the one I mean. It's pitch black outside. There's nothing else on the road but us, anywhere. No streetlights, no signs, no nothing, just the lines on the road, the pavement, the bridge rails, and us. 70 miles an hour and smooth sailing all the way ba...
Wait a minute. Why do the lines in the road, the bridge rails, and the PAVEMENT STOP RIGHT IN FRONT OF US?
I slam on the brakes. We all three shriek like four year old girls with a new puppy. I'm trying to figure out how the hell I missed all the signs that SURELY must have warned us that this bridge was under repair and COMPLETELY GONE HALFWAY ACROSS THE DAMN THING.
I close my eyes and feel the car fall out from underneath me as we all plummet over the edge and begin falling to our certain death hundreds of feet below in the shipyards of East Chicago....
...and then open them and realize that the bridge had been newly-paved, starting at just the right point mid-bridge, and no lines had been painted on it and the reflectors and other traffic accoutrements had not yet been re-installed. This combination, in addition to the lack of street lights and the merrily hallucniatory chemicals making their way through our synapses, conspired to give the impression - to all three of us - that the road simply ended about 50 feet from the point where I'd turned to look at it.
After we all changed our pants and wiped ourselves, we had a good laugh and drove back the rest of the way home, and that was the last time I drove under the influence of much of anything. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time any of the three of us has discussed this event publicly.
And that's my little story. Happy new year, Zoolanders!
Noooo. Totally different person. Guess it's bio time...