Lyre, Lyre-- put yourself on fire! With Guest Blogger Stephanie Soltes

If you don't already know this, Stephanie Soltes is one of SE Wisconsin's prime experts on Garage Rock. (And if you read this blog at all, you know it's one of my favorite genres of music, period.) In addition to her graphic arts work and photography, she used to have a terrific garage show on WMSE and she can boast a huge collection of garage-based vinyl. She and I were among the many looking forward to a triple threat show this week featuring Boston's garage legends The Lyres. (The triple threat comes from the two excellent local supporting acts: The Grovelers and a welcome appearance from Ramma Lamma -- they haven't played out in awhile and they're missed). Suddenly, the Lyres midwestern tour was cancelled this week with maybe a three day notice. Stephanie has ties with Lyres founder and frontman Jeff Connelly: she got the scoop on this, and she also believes this might be an excellent opportunity. Goodness knows Milwaukee has plenty of talent that could do it. 

Here's Stephanie's report: 

Backstory on Jeff Connelly:
Jeff Connelly (of The Lyres and DMZ) has been making records since 1975 in the proto garage way, bringing about and keeping the "garage rock"sound alive well before it became a thing. The word garage rock wasn't really called that, it was just called "rock" but you know it when you hear it, it's a nod to the 1960's rock sound. He covers those records,and his own songs are written in that style,because that's the only style. He plays keyboard that used that farfisa sound...that you hear that's genuine stuck right in 1965 sound. He fell in love with those songs that used that sound. 

Godfather of garage wouldn't be a bad name for Connelly --and this was before Pebbles records released their compilations in the late 1970's, for bands to hear that sound that's become famous.If you heard these wonderful vintage garage songs, you'd understand...

Okay fast forward to 2017:  Jeff is 60 and been making records for some 42 years.

The first record DMZ: self titled DMZ produced by Flo & Eddie in 1975.  Jeff has an East coast band he works with,where he's originally from, and a Midwest band he works with occasionally and when possible. Then when there's time off he does some shows, he works with these different bands/people depending on the location of possible shows.

This guitarist from Peoria, IL. set up these shows for a short 1 solid week of midwest shows, so Jeff got time off of work using it as a medical leave of absence, where he could take more time off. It was all set to go. He had plane tickets to meet the midwestern band and play the shows. 
The guitarist then scrapped the plan according to Jeff because he didn't A) know how to communicate with Jeff, by calling him on the phone and B) Guitarists didn't want "this hanging over his head" that Jeff would even resign this current job, so he could fulfill these dates, because he said "he wouldn't be able to enjoy himself doing shows" knowing Jeff had to go to such lengths to quit a job, to just do a tour. 

Jeff told him the job didn't matter.anyway. He was able to wiggle out of work for a week, as a scheme of medical leave, and his supervisor made it work, so he could keep his job, and still do the tour. Come back to this newer job. Also his job was nice enough to advance him some pay to acquire the flight to Peoria, IL.

Okay. Now the "diva guitarist" kind of ruined the whole midwest tour. Jeff was going to fly in and rehearse shows in Peoria and then go on from there for these shows throughout the Midwest. For us!Selfish guitarist.

Well, a certain show planned for Chicago had a famous guest player - Ray Graffia Jr. from The New Colony Six, who Jeff really wanted to work with. The Lyres would back Ray and do a few New Colony 6 songs, that Jeff really loves. Plus there was going to be shows in Milwaukee, Rock City, and other places. So a total of  4 to 6 shows scrapped at the last minute, and Jeff's airfare was lost.

The opportunity: Basically what now needs to happen because of the diva guitarist/drama queen, is Jeff needs to have a NEW midwest band: a three piece guitar, bass, drums: a serious Lyres friendly band with rehearsal space, and a means to get to and from gigs and have basic booking skills to do a mini tour when it is possible. Depending on time people can get off work and do this. But these people have to have normal/decent communication skills and not set up and scrap plans. So you have to communicate with Jeff to set up shows, and make this work. It doesn't seem like rocket science.

It doesn't seem like such hard work, if you already do shows as a working band, and are serious about working with "a legend"(not his words. Mine. He doesn't talk or act like that.) And he's not a diva, or difficult to work with. I never heard of any serious problems about Jeff doing shows anywhere/anyhow/anytime. I mean: it's his passion. Quit the whining and let's play.

He's worked with so many people and labels, he doesn't seem like a drama queen, this can happen very easily. It can still happen, or it can be re-loaded for 2018.

He's been on these record labels: Ace of Hearts Records, Sire, Norton Records, Taang! Records, and a million small labels for singles like New Rose, Sounds Interesting Records, Get Hip Records, and many more.

Some of the "floating" and longtime Lyres band members are long time players from other bands:The Real Kids, The Zanies, The A-Bones, Yo La Tengo, and of course DMZ.
There's real potential to have a killer touring band for dotted shows here and there. It could be a great weekend gig/job for the right people. There could be possible weekend gigs that are larger shows (including several other famous bands) doing a 3 day garage fest! There's always these type of things happening in the world of garage music. These things can happen easily and Jeff should be part of them, and so should a decent working band of players that are cool to work with. Please just no BS or "diva attitude" drama queens though. Let's rock the fucking house. Let's get on with the show.


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