Vertebrats reunion

The Vertebrats, one of the great original rock bands from the University of Illinois campus in Champaign-Urbana back in the early ’80s, reunited this past weekend to celebrate their 30th anniversary. I did a story for the “Eight Forty Eight” show on Chicago Public Radio WBEZ 91.5 FM about one of the more fascinating aspects of the Vertebrats — the fact that the band’s song “Left in the Dark” has been covered by at least nine other musical acts, including the Replacements, Uncle Tupelo and Courtney Love. You can stream or download that radio story on the WBEZ site. (And here is the article I wrote about the same topic for Pioneer Press in 2003.)

But there’s a lot more to the Vertebrats than that one song, as great as it is. The Vertebrats were together at a time (1979 to 1982) when it was much harder for bands to record their music and release it than it is today. As a result, it was quite a while before any of their songs came out on CD. A couple of decades after the Vertebrats were history, Parasol Records put out a collection of their studio tapes called source link Lowest prices for Generic and Brand drugs. Bonus 10 free pills, discounts and FREE SHIPPING. Cheapest drugs online - buy and save Acheter Viagra Par Telephone . Our online store has gathered all the best medical deals on the market. 24/7 Phone Support. Get Flagyl 500 Mg Online Order Cephalexin 500 For Dogs - no prescription needed, order Sildenafil (viagra) with discount 15% - low prices for all ED pills, support 245 | Best Price🔥 |. 2018 is 9 Best Erection Pills That Work! 100% Viagra Cvs Pharmacy ,It solves the problem for you quickly.. Check More » Propecia Uk Cheap Canadian Pharmacy, Guaranteed Quality without prescription! Buy Zovirax Ointment Online Australia Online! | Up to 20% Off🔥 |. What You are Looking Best pill? ☀☀☀ Cialis Online Ordering only uk ☀☀☀,Stop Searching About Best pill !. Buy Now » Title: Zithromax Over The Counter Canada - follow Author: http://innovativefallprotection.ca/zithromax-over-the-counter-canada source link A Thousand Day Dream and a compilation of live recordings, Continuous Shows. You can buy the CDs from Parasol. Listening to those old tapes, some of them recorded as demos, you wonder what the Vertebrats might have been able to accomplish if they’d stayed together and landed a record deal. Then again, maybe it’s better to have the band in a sort of treasured time capsule, specific to those few years.

The Vertebrats have reunited a few times, playing a show or two in Champaign and drawing a crowd of their faithful fans. Three of the original Vertebrats (Kenny Draznik, Matt Brandabur and Jimmy Wald) got together this past weekend, playing Oct. 2 at Cowboy Monkey and Oct. 3 at the High Dive. Bassist Roy Axford was unable to make it to the shows due to a death in his family, but two stalwart members of the Champaign music scene ably filled in: Mark Rubel on Oct. 2 and Paul Chastain on Oct. 3. And with original Vertebrats drummer Wald playing rhythm guitar now, John Richardson took over on drums.

The band sounded great both nights, playing a whole slew of catchy garage-rock anthems with a direct, unassuming attitude. Draznik delivered most of the lead vocals, sounding not all that different from the way he sounded years ago on those tapes, and Brandabur added the spiky guitar licks that gave those songs jolts of strange energy. A sizable group of Vertebrats fans danced almost nonstop near the stage — and at the end of the second show, a fair number of them got onto the stage. Vertebrats songs kept running through my head on Sunday after seeing these two shows. Don’t hold your breath for another chance to see the Vertebrats in concert, but do check out their recordings.

During the Oct. 2 show at Cowboy Monkey, three Champaign groups played short sets of a few songs each before the Vertebrats took the stage: Milktoast, the Outnumbered and the Dream Fakers. I especially would have liked to hear more songs from the Outnumbered, who played a reunion show on Memorial Day weekend, but this wasn’t really their night. As members of the band noted, they were finally getting a chance to play on the same bill with the Vertebrats, a band that broke up just around the time that the Outnumbered formed.

Photos of the Vertebrats, Milktoast, Outnumbered and Dream Fakers.

Champaign bands rock again

The 1980s were a great time to be a rock fan at the University of Illinois. I was already a big music fan when I arrived as a student there, but I had a lot to learn. (Hey, I still do!) Champaign was where I discovered how great it can be to watch local bands. It was an era of jangly guitars, when a lot of kids wanted to become the next R.E.M. (I’m talking about Murmur-era R.E.M.) Others clearly had spent a lot of time listening to records by the Mats, a.k.a. Replacements.

These memories came back for me this past weekend, when Champaign hosted the “Play or Pose” reunion. The festivities included some unplugged performances on Saturday (May 23) and a rock show Sunday (May 24) at the Highdive featuring the Outnumbered, Lonely Trailer, Cowboy X and the Poster Children. Despite the terribly sad news everyone heard on Sunday afternoon — that Jay Bennett, former guitarist for Titanic Love Affair (and, yes, Wilco) had died — the concert was great, at moments even glorious. Was it appropriate to be having fun listening to music just after the death of a beloved local musician? Well, it did feel weird, but it also felt like the right way to honor his memory. The concert had actually already been dedicated to the memory of another fallen hero of the C-U music scene, Josh Gottheil, a young music booker who died from cancer at the age of 19 in 1989.

The Outnumbered were one of Champaign’s great bands of the mid-’80s, playing tuneful garage rock with a heavy ’60s vibe. They opened for the Replacements and Hüsker Dü and were on the Homestead label at the same time as Sonic Youth and Nick Cave. And they wrote and played some great tunes, including two of my faves, “Boy on a Roof” and “Feel So Sorry Now.” I challenge you not to sing along with that one once you’ve heard it, oh, once or twice. Guitarist-singer Jon Ginoli later formed the band Pansy Division, (a story he recounts in his new book Deflowered: My Life in Pansy Division, The Inside Story of the First Openly Gay Pop-Punk Band). Other members of the Outnumbered were Paul Budin, who has since become a good friend of mine, Tim McKeage, Jonno Peltz and Ken Golub. Those five (with Peltz playing drums most of the set and Golub drumming for one song) were all there Sunday night for a joyful set of their best songs. Ginoli and Budin beamed throughout the show, and Budin tossed out flowers as the set closed with “Cover Me With Flowers.”
Photos of the Outnumbered.

Lonely Trailer were one of the oddest bands in the C-U scene — really uncategorizable. There was a bit of punk in what they were doing it, but it was more like a dada version of country music mixed with jazz, rock, avant-garde… Oh, forget it. Whatever it was, it was idiosyncratic and riveting. All that wonderful weirdness came right back as the Lonely Trailer guys reunited onstage Sunday night, and a few of the group’s hard-core fans went wild, yelling out the names of their favorite songs. Drummer-singer Brian Reedy looked like he was going to topple out of his chair with laughter at a few points, he was having so much fun. (And Reedy also had a bunch of his quirky paintings on exhibit down the street at the Radio Maria restaurant.)
Photos of Lonely Trailer.

Cowboy X were up next, with a solid set of their melodic pop-rock. Definitely a more mainstream-sounding band than Lonely Trailer, but still enjoyable. I was wondering if they would do the cover that I remembered them doing back in the ’80s, and sure enough, they pulled it out: a rap-rock version of Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle.”
Photos of Cowboy X.

The final act of the night was the Poster Children. I did not follow these guys in their early days, but I’ve learned lately just how fun they are to see in concert. Unlike the other groups playing on Sunday, the Poster Children have been pretty active in recent years and they sounded tight and energetic as they rampaged through their songs. As always, bassist Rose Marshack was jumping around and shaking her hair like a maniac, despite the fact that, as her husband and Poster Children singer Rick Valentin phrased it, “she just pumped out a kid a few weeks ago.”
Photos of the Poster Children.

The concert prompted to look back at a mix CD I made several years ago with some of my favorite music from the ’80s Champaign scene: These bands, plus groups like Turning Curious, Weird Summer, the Nines, the Big Maybe, the B-Lovers and the Vertebrats. I do wish someone would put out a high-fidelity collection of the best songs by those bands and others.

Remembering Jay Bennett

I happened to be in Champaign-Urbana this weekend when a sad news story broke: the death of Jay Bennett, a remarkably talented musician I had interviewed several times over the past eight years. Bennett was best known for his role as lead guitarist, keyboardist, all-around studio whiz and occasional songwriter in Wilco, making an indelible mark on much of the band’s best records, including Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Summerteeth. He also recorded several solo records and one in collaboration with Edward Burch, the excellent The Palace at 4am (Part I).

But I first encountered Bennett back in the 1980s, when he was the lively guitarist for Titanic Love Affair, a hard-rock band on the University of Illinois campus. Here are some photos by David Ghent showing him in action, which I ran when I was an editor at the Daily Illini in 1988. Bennett’s fluid guitar playing impressed me at the time, and I was already hearing that he was talented at recording music.

In June 2001, when Wilco was finishing up Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, I interviewed him for the first time. We sat on the back porch of his house in Arlington Heights, Illinois, with birds singing in the background. Click here for an extended version of the article I wrote, including a Q&A. I had no inkling that Jeff Tweedy would ask Bennett to leave the band a few months later, but that is in fact what happened. I was stunned at the time. Bennett had contributed so much to Wilco’s music, it seemed impossible he would be fired. You can read all about what happened from multiple angles in Greg Kot’s book Learning How to Die. I later came to realize that Bennett was a genius whose obsessive work habits might just drive some people a little crazy. But I never lost faith in his musical abilities.

At that first interview, I was struck by how much Bennett seemed like a combination of rock-star dude, philosophical intellectual and VCR repairman. In April 2002, as Bennett and Burch released Palace, I interviewed him again. The Q&A is so long it’s in two parts: Part 1 is mostly about The Palace at 4am (Part I). Part 2 is mostly about Bennett leaving Wilco.

A year after that, I spent a couple of hours at Bennett’s recording studio in Chicago, focusing more on his production techniques and gear for a story in Tape Op magazine.

I’m posting a 13-minute podcast here with selections from those three interviews. What you hear is a few minutes of Jay talking in 2001 about collaborating with Tweedy in Wilco; Jay explaining what happened when he left the band; Jay in his Pieholden Suite studio, where the great young musician David Vandervelde was hanging out at the time; and then some additional thoughts from that 2002 interview. Click here to download my podcast featuring Jay Bennett in his own words. (My apologies for the spotty audio quality in some segments.)

The last time I wrote about Bennett was at the end of 2004, when he was releasing a solo album called The Beloved Enemy. He had also seemed upbeat whenever I’d interviewed him, but lately, I’d been hearing alarming reports that he seemed depressed or intoxicated at some live performances. One fan was concerned enough to post a question on the message board of Bennett’s record label, Undertow Music: “Is Jay OK? Seriously.”

“The answer to ‘Am I OK?’ is a resounding ‘Yes,'” Bennett said when I asked him about this. “I am going through a divorce. … I certainly had my issues with drinking.” He also acknowledged having used drugs, though he said he didn’t currently have a problem with substance abuse.

“Most of my adult life, I’ve been a drinker. And I’ve dabbled in everything else that most rockers have done. Was it to the point that it interfered with my life? I don’t think so,” he said. “I’ve had my share of rock ‘n’ roll excess, where it was impeding my judgment here and there … I had friends express concern about me. At various times in my life, I was self-medicating. I have an anxiety disorder. I’ve been though seven therapists in five or six years. I’ve finally found one who clicks. It works.”

When he first answered his phone that time, Bennett was in the middle of a therapy session. He said he also viewed his latest records as a kind of therapy. “This record is a way to get rid of some of that pain by expressing it,” he said. “Drugs and alcohol were a way to deal with that same pain.”

Bennett, who had moved to Urbana, made news just a few weeks ago when he filed a lawsuit seeking royalties from Wilco. He’d also posted a note on myspace saying he was in need of a hip replacement. It sounded like he was facing some serious health problems.

Strangely enough, the reason I was in Champaign this weekend was for the Play or Pose reunion event featuring local rock bands of the 1980s: the Outnumbered, Lonely Trailer, Cowboy X and the Poster Children. (I’ll blog more about that later.) At an open-mike event on Saturday, a number of people asked, “Where’s Jay?” — hoping he would attend, even if he did not perform. His former bandmates from Titanic Love Affair were there in the bar, and one of his ex-Wilco mates, Leroy Bach, performed a beautiful set of three songs. But Jay was nowhere to be found.

The next day, the word came via Twitter and Facebook messages from Undertow Music that he had died in his sleep the night before. Sunday night’s concert at the Highdive went on, and it had some of those great moments when you feel the triumphant power of music, but the evening also had a shadow hanging over it. At a few points, the musicians on stage asked audience members to lift their drinks to Bennett’s memory. Steve Tyska of Cowboy X said, “Champaign was a very important place to him, and he was very important to Champaign.”

Back when I interviewed Jay in 2002 about leaving Wilco and recording Palace, we spoke for more than two hours, and my mini-Disc recorder ran out of space just minutes before we concluded. And so, alas, I failed to get a recording of his final remarks that evening. I scribbled them down as quickly as I could. Here is what he said:

“There’s a basic human urge to be understood. I could be accused of trying too hard to be understood… When in reality, only the people closest to you understand you… I do like the idea of putting the whole transcript [of this interview] on the Internet, right down to my last words, which are: Peace, love and understanding to the world, including my ex-bandmates.”