Two quick stories about tapes.


Yesterday morning, I went into my big-plastic-container-of-cassettes, in order to locate some music from A Perfect Fit. Found two tapes: the store-released “action-potential-fire” and a three-song demo from 1989. With those in-hand, I headed to KDHX, where staff engineer/producer Andy Coco taught me how to a dupe a cassette to CD, a process that wasn’t too hard, even for a technical bonehead. So, I’ve now got a nice APF disc to work into tomorrow’s “Silver Tray” show, but I’ve also got a bit of a problem. This problem: all those dozens of local cassettes sitting in the box. Ugh.

Now that I’m aware that I could dupe all those tapes onto CD, it’s going to become that “should do this summer” project that I absolutely don’t need. Ugh. And it’s not as if it’s just the local stuff that’s in there, calling out to me. I mean, anyone actively into music in the ’80s and ’90s surely has some oddity on cassette that they would want to hear in a better, more convenient format. All those Robyn Hitchcock, Chameleons and Shellyan Orphan tapes are pulling me down, down to the basement, where they’ve been patiently sitting in a box for the last decade. Ugh.


The same box of tapes yielded an unearthed “Red Tape,” a double-sided compilation of tracks from Mute Records and 4AD, compliments of Select. I’ve long since parted with October, 1990’s edition of Select Magazine, but the tape’s still a reminder that while finishing up grad school in London, during that exact month, I was listening to this cassette and almost nothing but this cassette. Actually, just side one, with the 4AD cuts. It’s funny to look at a tape and think about it absolutely turning you onto a whole scene, but the tracks on side one of “Red Tape” are still favorites.

They are: Cocteau Twins, “Pitch the Baby” (alt. version); Pale Saints, “Insubstantial”; Pixies, “Allison”; His Name is Alive, “Some and I”; Lush, “De-Luxe”; Ultra Vivid Scene, “Special One”; and Dead Can Dance, “Song of the Sybil.” Hello, tape. You’re the template for my falling in love with shoegaze. Thanks, tape. The sound system of my ’96 Corolla looks forward to getting to know you again.

Joe Longi, R.I.P.

A few weeks back, Angelo Ranzini walked into that wonderful nightclub, The Famous Bar. While enjoying a series of Bloody Mary’s with a friend, the conversation about great, old St. Louis bands came up, and maybe because Ranzini was in the bar, I determined that A Perfect Fit was the top St. Louis group that I’d love to see reunite for one show. Because I’ve been vaguely intimidated by Ranzini since I was about 17, for no particular, realistic reason, I passed on the opportunity to talk to him about my idea. After all, it was a quiet night at the Famous, he was in conversation with the bartenders and, hey, I’d probably come unglued just saying “hello.”

High-school-induced social anxiety disorder. My longest-running malady.

Anyway, I’ll go ahead and hang onto that notion of an A Perfect Fit reunion, though it’s now an impossibility, due to the death of drummer Joe Longi, who passed this weekend. In the modern way of things, I was first alerted to his death via text; it was then confirmed with some back-and-forth on Facebook instant messenger. It’s been years since I’ve seen Joe; gosh, could have been a decade since we really talked. But I remember him well, in my own, admittedly-dated fashion, as both the kit drummer of APF, and, later, as the percussionist of Funkabilly. Certainly, he did other things in life and his closer friends and family will remember a different, more current person; but I’ll be forever locked in on the younger Joe Longi, with his spiked hair, intense, on-stage facial expressions and sliced tee-shirts.

Back in high school and into college, I had a set of drums and played them with (essentially) one band, before letting go of the dream, at an early enough age to spare the embarrassment of getting cut after auditions, or dealing with the post-adolescent angst of band break-ups. And so musically illiterate! I never could figure out the worship of certain drummers. In the late-’80s, you couldn’t talk drumming or percussion without Fish, Larry Mullen Jr., Stewart Copeland, Bill Bruford, and Neil Peart coming up again-and-again.

My drum heroes lived on my block, like Jack Petracek of the Painkillers. Or they lived around the corner, like Peter Lang of Corporate Humour. Or they went to Webster U., like Richard Bach of the Stranded Lads. Or they played in the rock royalty of Webster Groves High School, like Jeff Herschel of the Urge, or Longi, with APF.

Joe had a special place within that sub-group thanks to his kit. He was the first drummer I can recall (though it might’ve been Peter Lang…?) to play an electronic set and he worked in eye-catching pieces like Roto Toms and Octobans. His kit just looked a bit more contemporary and cool than everyone else’s and that added to his appeal. When the Urge and APF would play VFW Halls and small, local clubs, I could’ve just watched the drummers, with Herschel’s left-handed set-up and Joe’s new wave kit always impressing; their taste in gear was just as sharp as their playing.

I can distinctly recall catching those two groups at my first “hall party,” at a VFW joint in some corner of St. Louis County. And, if faulty memory serves true, I seem to recall being very moved by the scene, this simple idea that kids from my high school were igniting other kids from my high school on a weekend night, with the vague notion that even more excitement was happening on the parking lot, or at post-show parties somewhere deep in Webster Park. Existing on, at best, the outer perimeter of any particular clique at WGHS, simply being at those hall parties was unbelievable, though, a much-needed release.

Local bands like the ones mentioned above changed my life; far, far, far more than the Beatles, or Zeppelin, or Pink Floyd, or R.E.M., or Fishbone, or any of the college radio bands that served as gateways to the world of rock’n’roll for so many teens of my era. The local bands were the ones that hooked me, for good.

Thanks, Joe Longi, for playing a role in all that.

Owe you one.

Night Ranger

It’s consistently funny how you wind up dissecting time. And what strikes you as a meaningful passage of it. A year ago, I distinctly remember being completely, unironically excited about seeing Night Ranger at the Rib America Festival, that celebration of over-eating, over-priced BBQ and over-the-hill classic rockers. As the night drew near, I recruited a friend equally open to experiences and we headed down to Soldier’s Memorial, a light rain alternating with a medium rain. By that point in the evening, the gates were open and the cover was waived, a nice touch.

With the rain falling, the band was delaying the start of the show and so it was time to people-watch. The under-umbrella Night Ranger fans didn’t disappoint. If nothing else, there was always the joy of spotting slightly-tattered, stretched-over-bellies concert tees. “Look, there’s a Nektar!” “Ooh, nice Dream Theater!” It was a fun game, but started to wear as the rain alternated in severity and the band stayed tucked away, dry in their bus. The PA guy steadily announced that they’d be out any minute, which resulted in hearty “woooo!” the first time; that response waned after multiple, broken promises.

Eventually, the band came out and struck all the right poses. Jack Blades worked the stage like an experienced hair metal frontman and his bandmates (seemingly all original, save for a ringer on keyboards) followed suit. A couple songs in, the crowd forgave them the long delay and three or four songs in, the group felt comfortable enough to mix in a new track (yawn) alongside the old hits. And did you know the band penned the theme song to the Michael J. Fox film, “The Secret of My Succe$s”? Well, they did. And they played it.

Whether it was the fifth, or sixth, song I don’t recall (hey, it’s been a YEAR), but the during that cut, the skies opened up again and rain fell sideways. Heavy, drenching rain that came with these quick warning signs: nearby lightning, a rush of very cold wind, then that distinct sound of a curtain of rain about to hit you.

Folks, if you’ve never seen Night Ranger get rained-out mid-show, it’s something you’ll want to see. The band, without so much as a “thank you, St. Louis!” placed their instruments on-stage and disappeared behind banks of lights and Marshall amps. They were there, they were gone. Several classics remained to be played, but… not for the fans of Rib America ’08. And with those fans now drowning in the cloudburst, who could blame them?

Well, folks, they’re back. Night Ranger. At Rib America. Friday, 9 p.m. Can’t make it this year and that’s a shame, but I’ll always have ’08 and the promise of what could’ve been, lighters held aloft, “When You Close Your Eyes” played at 10, multiple Bang Tango t-shirts in close proximity.

Ah, time. You trickster.

(If memory serves correct, that night slowly became morning and an NBA journeyman was spotted at a Washington Park nightclub named after a publishing titan, but that may have all been a dream, and is certainly a story being saved for another day…)

Rocket 88 : Tuesday : 7-10 a.m.

Planning an interesting personal experiment this coming Tuesday, as Darren Snow’s asked me to fill-in for him on his long-running KDHX morning show, “Rocket 88.” The show airs from 7 – 10 a.m., a timeframe with which I’m only intimately familiar with, in part. Specifically, the latter part. Living close to the station, though, I figure that a 6:47 alarm and some fast-actin’ green tea should have have me on the decks by 7:01, no problem. Sure.

Actually, I’m thinking that I might need to spend a bit more time prepping the show than the normal, let’s say, “Silver Tray.”

Plan on dipping into that historical curiosity of trip-hop-pop. To wit, the following cut by Dubstar, “Stars,” a fave of the era and something I’d want to listen to at (GULP!) 7:13 a.m.

Wish me luck. Enjoy this in the meantime, you easy lovers.

Methuselah Says

Ah, the pranks of age. On Thursday, I reached down for my fitness center pass, of all things, only to jam something in my back. The sensation of doing something really wrong was right there: bam! After suffering through some stationary bike riding and and my last regularly-scheduled class of term, I locked up on the walk to the parking garage. As in becoming completely, stock-still frozen and unable to move. Unbelievable. After a trip to the doc and a subsequent ER visit, I’m now enjoying a steady diet of diazepam and hydrochodone and am readying myself for an afternoon of coaching soccer. Which will be done from a chair.

Missed this weekend, already: hanging out with a friend on Thursday; an acupuncture session, a radio show, a DJ gig and a documentary shoot, all on Friday; and a door shift on Saturday. Tricked my way through a house party spin on Saturday night (much fun, with Cherokee Street’s bustle as a background), but have been otherwise too busy trying to stand up to attempt much of anything else, even as money’s flying out of my pocket.

I’ll punch up some “May’s 13” notes as soon as I have a slight bit less anger toward the world. ‘Til then, don’t take your good health for granted, seriously.

Someone should’ve warned me about these things…