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 Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY RUS­SELL WANGER­SKY

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.”

Rock on.

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