Sunday, April 12, 2015
GUEST POST: THE I 94 BARMAN DOWN UNDER
The call's gone out for the Barman to supply a guest post. I'm normally the shy and retiring type but, hell, it's an honour to be asked so why not?
By way of introduction I'll point out that the establishment I tend, the I-94 Bar , is a virtual pub that's been preaching rock and roll online for eight years. Some have made the mistake of thinking we're serving up beers somewhere off the Interstate outside the Motor City. Sadly not, although I do have a Rock-o-la jukebox and a physical bar at home. Our national base in Sydney, Australia. Being an e-zine with a network of correspondents all over the world makes it easier to manage the drunks.
The I-94 (see the I94 Blog HERE) is a freeway that I've traveled, but its real resonance for me is that's as a song by Radio Birdman, the band co-founded and driven by Ann Arborite Deniz Tek who re-located to Sydney as a medical student in 1974. From that band - which imported high-energy music of bands like (but not restricted to) the MC5 and the Stooges to Australia - came the concept of a parallel universe with twin bases in Sydney and Detroit.
Radio Birdman burned as an inspiration of mythical proportions in Australia, being seen by only a couple of thousand people in their first incarnation but leaving a near-indelible mark. After their first break-up in 1978, Sydney became infested with loud, aggressive and energetic guitar music. This phenomenon, that spawned a band in a pub on every inner-city street corner, was even labeled "the Detroit scene" by the local music press.
NEW RACE GOTTA KEEP MOVIN MP3
Detroit wasn't the only musical show in town but its influence was writ large - especially in Sydney and to a lesser Melbourne, which was an artier enclave to bands like the Birthday Party. You can't imagine the excitement when Iggy finally toured here in 1983, six years after a canceled run that would have had Radio Birdman as support band, not to mention the reformed Stooges' national tour in 2006.
Promoting all this high-energy music is the raison d'être of the I-94 Bar. We do it through interviews, live reviews and album write-ups. We were goaded into it by a Frenchman, Didier Georgieff, and his own Divine Rites Australian music website and mailing list , and a Texan writer Ken Shimamoto who's interviewed people like Machinegun, Ron Asheton, and Michael Davis.
It's parlayed into a record label (I-94 Bar Records ) and a couple of music podcasts (Drunk & Disorderly and Down And Out Down Under ).
But back to inspirations and I first clapped eyes on Machinegun Thompson in 1981 as a member of New Race, the scorching amalgam of Five, Stooges and Radio Birdman members assembled for a one-off Australian tour.
To say those shows and the resultant live album (The First And The Last) made an impression is an understatement. They also provided impetus for local record labels like Citadel to plant the seeds of Australian underground music in Europe, where it took root until grunge swept it away in the early 1990s.
Fast forward to 2004 and the fires still burned strongly enough in Australia to bring out the curious and the fanatical in more than respectable numbers to see DKT/MC5 when they toured Australia. I remember the first of two Sydney shows and the choice was between DKT/MC5 in a club that held 800 and a gig by the Who in a cold and sterile (and less than half-full) 12,000-seat indoor arena a few blocks away. No contest.
Now I didn't agree with the way the 100 Club re-animation of the surviving MC5 members occurred - the concept of a closed, invitation-only gig for a bunch of jeans manufacturer friends seemed exclusionist - and expressed misgivings in a piece of writing at the Bar. That didn't please everybody, but as the bigger picture emerged I recognized that it was a means to an end that enabled a more substantive reformation
That world tour was hitting its straps by the time it made it Down Under. The shows were a homage to the songs of the Five that had a lot of integrity at its core. It was a sense of local pride to see Deniz Tek and Radio Birdman/New Race singer Rob Younger on board (the latter sadly only for one song at the first Sydney show.) We didn't have Lisa Kekaula here for the Australian leg but that's life.
Anyway, I love MGT's blog and the way Machinegun is putting himself out there to old and new audiences, challenging and inspiring them. It's a reminder that we Gotta Keep Movin'. More power to Machinegun and blogmistress Retro Kimmer.
NEW RACE - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
featuring former members of Detroits finest
Ron Asheton...........[The Stooges]
Dennis Machinegun Thompson.......[MC5]
Deniz Tek.............[Radio Birdman]
Rob Younger...........[Radio Birdman]
Warwick Gilbert.......[Radio Birdman]
performing covers from their old bands and a great cover of Destroy all Monsters
'November 22, 1963', aswell as well as the new song 'Columbia'.
This, ladys and gentlemen, is a real treat.
Five tremendous musicians, all renowned and wellknown rockers, get together and
creates some serious magic.
04..Breaks My Heart
05..Looking At You
06..November 22, 1963
07..Alone In The Endzone
09..Gotta Keep Movin'