See up-and-coming Atlantic bands
They gather in garages, attics, basements; anywhere an amp can be plugged in and a drumkit set up. They are the citizens of...
The Wicked Hops; The Lucky Charms; Ed’s Jackhammer School;
Twilight Sentinel; Twinkle; Neon; Cold War; The Plastic Forks; Mark and the Moonlighters; Trainwreck; First Attempt; Probe; Ikabod Crane; Full Throttle; StereoVision; just a handful of bands from the garage band legion. As far as I know, only one of the performers in the bands listed above went on to stardom — so far.
Alan Doyle, who played with Great Big Sea for years and now, started out in Petty Harbour, NL, with the aptly named First Attempt. He remembers playing a few high
school dates and covering Judas Priest, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams and John Cougar - along with a few originals, like “Crazy for Loving You,” “a terrible song I wrote about a girl in Grade 10,” he says.
“First Attempt must have looked a lot like any other white fella, four-on-the-floor light and happy rock and roll band fronted by a peachy-fuzz mustached 15year-old trying to look like a 19year-old. In my imagination, though, we looked like Whitesnake,” Doyle says, adding that the goals of that first band were modest ones.
“The big deal for me, being from around the Bay, was to one day get a gig in Town,” he says.
Truth is, almost everyone probably lives only a degree of separation or so from a garage band member.
I played viola in a short-lived and horrible punk band called the Plastic Forks: pretty much my entire presence in the band was to occasionally step to the mike and make a random atonal shriek with the instrument. The rest of my responsibilities involved standing stock still, expressionless, or starting to pogo, for no discernible reason.
We managed to land at least one gig — I think, in fact, it was two, but I’m not completely sure — at Odin’s Eye, which turned, with the benefit of history, into Halifax’s archetypal punk bar.
At the time, it was anything but archetypal: up a narrow flight of stairs to the second floor and a dark stage. I don’t remember anything particular archetypal about our performance either. My clearest recollection?
It was dark, noisy, and smelled bad — and there seemed to be an ever-present and real possibility of electrocution from our patchedtogether and borrowed sound system.
We survived — our musical dreams did not. Still, the music lives on in all shapes and sizes, along with the special comfort of the people who simply like to play.
In basements, garages, there are those who hope for fame and those who love those fine few moments when an audience suddenly hushes, forgetting beers and conversations, and is suddenly one. I still end up at parties that turn musical, where I’m left dumbfounded and dumb-fingered by the musical skills of wildlife biologists, writers and retired professors, to name just a few.
Even Doyle doesn’t feel all that removed from the small-band scene, one he honestly expected he might have stayed in; “I come from a long line of excellent parttime musicians. I figured I’d be a school teacher and play gigs on the weekends. And would probably have been totally happy with that, too.”
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