Trash Fest: Waste Management, Indeed
I suppose I could write in major detail what went on, but if a picture tells a thousand words, then just think how many words 150 pictures tell! So just click over to that set and get a gander at what went on. I'll run down history and brief lineup here.
Trash Fest has been going on, in one form or another, for 23 or so years. They don't have an exact number because there were a few iffy years there, and they don't know whether or not to count them. Paul "The Fly" Lawson and Darrell "The Brains" Martin have lovingly kept it going after its headbirth from Voot Warnings, and every year cast a different flavor on the proceedings.
They used to really sit down and have meetings, plan publicity, and make it a major project. Then one fine year, they both realized that what was going to happen would happen, and no amount of planning would make it better or worse. Actually, they didn't plan that either. THey just didn't have time to get all that involved, and lo and behold, it was still a successful event and they actually made money. Big lesson learned: trash fest is about minimal effort, and given that they both were getting lives, minimal effort seemed just fine. (Also lesson learned, during those "lost years" you have to put in some effort.) They used to even decide on a "theme" but that would get lost in the shuffle. Every year, Trash Fest would develop its own unique flavor that would produce several volumes of stories to tell over cheap beers for years to come, but what exactly that flavor was could never be predicted. Its like making a soup with whatever about-to-be-disposed of vegetables were in the crisper: unpredictable and unduplicable.
And those stories get told in the early hours of the evening, as Fly readies whatever bar (this year it was hoisted upon the newly remodeled Points East Pub) he managed to talk into hosting trash fest: he arrives with hefty bags full of trash, some of it recycled from previous years (there was the year at Quarters when he heartbrokenly reported: "Those assholes actually threw away all the best trash!") such as a purloined stop sign, the remains of some tacky holiday decor, and special for this year, posters and yard signs from the recent vicious election. Trash, like its purveyors, comes and goes, but Fly and The Brains remain a constant.
Eric Griswold production that generally consists of some messed up synthesizer work, a guitar, and Griswold, "Mr. Milwaukee Burning Man" himself. Halfway into the set, they degnerated into some romantic-sounding jazz number (well, musically -- verbally was another story altogether) that brought out a couple of normal-looking people who perhaps thought it would be romantic and whatever to begin a slow dance/erzatz makeout session on the garbage-strewn dance floor. Massive speculation ensued.
Next, synthesizer mavens Grant Ricther and Rex Probe (yes, to my knowledge, that's his real name, he didn't get it off of the "Enter your high school street adress here and we'll tell you your porn star name" generator) provided us with the trashiest free-form jazz I could ever hope to hear as "Hovercraft Full of Eels." There was a third guy on soprano sax whose name I didn't catch. Of course there was a guy on sax. It wouldn't be at trashy jazz combo without a sax. Oh, and no synthesizers in sight. Richter was all appropriately decked out for the look as well: goatee, inquisitive glasses, freshly smoked-in beret, cigarette dangling from mouth.
Residents got really drunk one night and couldn't find their regular instruments.
If Voot Warnings is the godfather of Trashfest, then Mark Shurilla is the inbred cousin who actually reads the newspaper, this time showing up with his longtime trash band, The Electric Assholes, and this year topping the tastelessness of Warnings' "Konerak Simpaphasone Orchestra" of many years back with the timely "Frank Jude" (to the tune, of course, of the Beatles' song). Yes, people were politically correctly shaking their heads in disbelief to cover up the fact that they were laughing their asses off. (Me, too. I admit it.) And of course they ran through their standards, "Blitzkrieg over Kenosha" "Assholes -- What Are they Good For" and just for fun, a nice long jam over Jonathan Richman's "Roadrunner". They went over their 20 minutes, but then again, that was OK with Fly as the whole evening was, for once, running way ahead of schedule.
Paul Setser brought up his newest find for the next act, Eat The Mystery. Mostly cabaret, but with a huge dollop of punk attitude, they're fronted by "Angie" (need to get her full name) who looks and reminds you of a young Exene Cervenka, but with a cross of French and German chanteuse to her. A trombone and baritone add frosting to Setser's keyboards (is there anything that guy cannot do with a keyboard?) and I was rapt while she labored through "Alcohol" and "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" with appropriate worldweariness, updated with tattoos, that 70s punk attitude that seemed to flavor everything tonight, and the cutest pair of red shoes I ever saw. Oh, and was the rendition of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" frighteningly incestual or what? Setser also took center stage for a grand beer hall singalong with the chorus, "... waitin' for the gin to hit me!"
Finally, the posted lineup ended with The Lumbershop Quartet (uh, a quartet is FOUR people, guys, there were only three of yas) with a Tribute to Don Henley. "No, he hasn't met his demise, but he will be dead someday and then these tributes will be a dime a dozen" they warned us in advance. Boy Howdy steps on stage looking like he's ready for prom in a full white tuxedo, breaks out his saw and bow, and starts wailing away, while BJ tinkles away on the intro to "Hotel California" on a ukelele, and Heather, who actually dragged a very nice and expensive looking cello manages to keep a straight face. Boy Howdy hits his music stand, the lyric sheets fall, and panic ensues. BJ quickly imrpovises "..please bring me my wine...bitch" to a tsunami of giggles from me and the other person in the crowd who actually likes to write about music as much as play it. Marla from the Electric Assholes to the rescue: of course she knows the entire fucking Don Henley songbook from memory, and helped them appropriately butcher "Take It To The Limit" and of course, "Desperado." So I guess they did morph into a quartet. Sorry for the earlier lashing, guys. (although I was disappointed there was no Dirty Laundry, as St. Veronica is the Patron Saint of Laundry Workers, you know).
Cream City Suds, "Whispering" Jeff Platt? Earlier in the evening, Whispering Jeff had won a "Loud-off", easily beating out Mr Slot Car guy, Bush, (as well as your humble narrator) and I guess the prize was fronting this "band." Dan Mullen managed to horn in on the drums by the end of the set, the baritone player from Eat the Mystery had managed to get on stage, Jorin managed to play the bass while wearing both a daisy-encrusted hat AND a rubbermaid bucket over his head, Fly managed to play the guitar using his pint glass full of beer as a slide and get through the night even though a severe case of laryngitis had him sounding like one of Farmer Vincent's victims, Frank managed to get about five minutes on the drums before Mullen took over, and Whispering Jeff managed to not get himself killed by the drunken angry mob he so desperately tried to incite. All in all, a well-managed evening.