Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another band, another time: Ten Ten

Kelly Miltier of the X-Raves fame recently posted a link to this video on Facebook. It caught my attention because Ten Ten used to play in the Triangle area of N.C. when I was in school there. I never got to see them, so this YouTube clip is my first exposure, twenty years after the fact.

Judging from this power ballad, Ten Ten was a melodic hard rock band -- sort of like a Southern version of The Cult.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


(The Offenders photo from MySpace)

Through the magic of MySpace (yes, some of us still spend time on ye olde MySpace) I learned tonight about The Offenders, a band from the 1980s that -- based on the few tracks I've heard so far -- seem to have been Richmond's answer to the Del Fuegos. That means they were a rootsy New Wave band that took its cues from the blues and R&B in the same way that bands like The Sonics and The Seeds did way back in the 1960s.

The group includes Terry Garland, who I'm familiar with as a fine acoustic blues man.

It looks like the band fizzled after the 1980s, but has been reuniting recently. I saw a Sept. 26 Canal Club date on the group's MySpace page.

Here's the group's posted bio:


The Offenders were a top local draw in central Virginia in the early 1980s. Terry Garland, Chris Link and Richard Cowles were members of the rock band "Bull" in the late seventies. They met songwriter/singer Bruce Olsen in Richmond during 1978 and became friends with him right from the start. Bruce did a few demo recordings with Chris and Richard in late 1978 and early 1979. The following year, they would become Offenders. In August of 1980, Bruce contacted Chris and Richard who were both currently out of the band scene. They began rehearsing some of Bruces' original tunes. The drinking age was 18, Watch Out..."10 songs and we play in a week!" Instant gradification. Immediate Relief! Knocked Off Of My Feet! Lovin the Time Away! They played a few times and the kids were lovin' it. "Life is good, we're sellin' it!" In October, Terry joined them on guitar and Dr. Payne became their manager and sound man. The Offenders were born. "Pulsate", a song from their 1st studio demo, appeared on XL-102's Statutory Rock album in early 1981. Offenders got a good push from regular radio air play and an increase in their audience was immediately seen. "Going Bananas"and "Hard Times" became regular show spots for The Offenders that summer. They recorded a 12 song album in Philadelphia during the Fall. They built an admirable following in the Richmond and Charlottesville areas during 1981. The Offenders saw a lot of audience excitement as their LP, "The Offenders Record"was issued in the Winter of 1982. They enjoyed large turnouts at their many Virginia College concerts that year and appeared on a Cox Cablevision video production recorded at The Kings Head Inn in Norfolk Virginia. 1982 was a great year for The Offenders and their popularity continued into 1983. Bruce opened a recording studio at The Floodzone in early 1983. Offenders played dates for the remainder of the year and paused after a final show at the Cellar Door in December. Bruce spent most of 1984 working in his studio. At the end of 1984 The Offenders got together and recorded fifteen new originals at Floodzone with the idea of releasing a second LP. The decision was made to play some more dates for the love of it. A second Offenders LP was never released but still the group played a dozen or more shows during the Spring and Summer of '85. They also made a trip to Hollywood in September and appeared on the TV show "Star Search". This marked the end of an era for The Offenders. In 1987, The Offenders played a reunion show at The Floodzone. After that, there was a 19 year absence by this band. In 2006, Bruce, Terry, Chris and Richard got together again after almost 20 years and discussed a renewed Offenders project. Offenders have done four reunion shows since 2007, the latest being February 15, 2009 at Canal Club. Still got room for the Offenders!


Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Name Game

(The Poly-Opto at The Blue Nile in Harrisonburg/ Hugh Fagan photo)

Thundercock, a rock band from Virginia Beach, is now called The Poly Opto, which means the band has gone from having a terrible name to having one that's just mildly bad.

The band's music is better than either name, though. Tough and aggro, but not brainless. A little jammy, but not too self-indulgent. I'm glad to see they're playing at The NorVa on July 3 with No Fault of Their Own and Oedipius Rex.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hi Skye

(MySpace photo of Skye Zentz)

The ukulele-loving songstress Skye Zentz is back in our general vicinity. Or at least she will be June 12 when she's scheduled to play The Boot along with Chris Merritt and SaidTheLion.

Skye has been on some sort of California adventure for the better part of the last 12 months. I haven't connected with her yet to hear some of the stories, but I bet the experiences will make her Boot show all the more entertaining.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Video Clam Jamming

A few months ago we were concerned about The Half Shell's future as a local music venue. Now, it looks like all is well. I saw the following posted on MySpace yesterday:

CLAMJAM TV, A Live Local Music Webcast.

Norfolk Entertainment (Norfuckers) & The Half Shell are in the mix of setting up and running an advertising sponsored website dedicated to live performances of local musicians and bands. The half Shell will host a weekly show where a band will be video interviewed, and then 2 songs from their performance will be video recorded and hosted on the website. The performance will also be live audio recorded to be synchronized with the video for quality purposes. We will be hosting 2-3 acts weekly having one of the bands featured on the web cast ( don't worry, if you are a supporting band you will get your featured night as well.) Start letting us know if you or your band is interested. You can contact "Big B" of Norfuckers or myself, Ben, here at the half shell page. Also if you are interested in advertising on the website let us know. This is our effort to spread and support local music, so spread the love and help us out!!

Ben @ The Half Shell


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dean's Silent Scream

"Black Postcards," the new memoir by ex-Galaxie 500 and Luna man Dean Wareham is a terrific read that gives great insights into the sub-pop rock world of the 1980s and 1990s. Wareham seems to be reliable narrator if only because he doesn't mind telling stories that make him less than heroic. The breakup of his marriage is detailed with almost cool detachment. You can tell he feels deeply about it, but the emotion doesn't seem to cloud his description of events.

Here's some of what I learned about Wareham by reading "Black Postcards"

1) He dislikes The Pixies
2) He really likes the drug Ecstasy
3) He really likes The Feelies
4) He really dislikes fans who come up to him after shows and want to talk about what distortion pedals he uses.

Anyone curious about what it would have been like to be on the rock club circuit in both America and Europe back in the '90s should give the book a read. "Black Postcards" makes a fine companion to Jen Trynin's "Everything I'm Cracked Up To Be" which also demystifies the underground rock experience.

OK, so what does "Black Postcards" have to do with music in and around Norfolk? Well, the book does mention Norfolk ... exactly once.

Recalling a gig he played at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia as an opener for Lou Reed, Wareham writes "The Electric Factory was pretty glamorous compared with some of the places Luna had played, like the Jewish Mother in Norfolk, Virginia, or Sudsy's in Cincinnati."

Ah, our fair city besmirched again. But I'm not sure if he really meant the Jewish Mother in Virginia Beach. While there was a Jew Mom in Norfolk for a time, I remember it as a reasonably classy joint.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Asthmatics Attack

(The Asthmatics/ Toggle Switch photo)

There's nothing more soul soothing than loud, tuneful rock songs played by a tight band that fires them off with spirit and verve.

Case in point, The Asthmatics (previously known as King and Caroline and Volcano Roll), an indie rock trio from Newport News that returned from a prolonged hiatus Thursday night at Marker 20 in Hampton.

My pal Joe Atkinson writes melodies that lodge deep in your cerebral cortex and make themselves at home there. And his lyrics -- on songs such as "Trigger of the Gun," "Button Up Shirt," and "Firecracker" -- effortlessly evade cliche. Why isn't this band a beloved local institution? Drummer problems, lethargy, frustration ... pretty much the usual list of symptoms encountered by bands that play original music in Hampton Roads, even more so on the Peninsula.

The band's long absence from the local live music scene made Thursday's short set all the sweeter.

Viva Les Asthmatics. Here's hoping they'll soon cough at a bar near you.