the benefit show.

We had, at this stage, begun to lose hope that the CD would do well nationally.  We then turned our attention to the record release party, which was scheduled to occur at Live Tonight, a club on Washington Street in Hoboken, on March 19, 1993.  Live Tonight was a long, skinny bar that had once built a fairly decent reputation as a #2 club in the city (to Maxwell’s, of course), but that had fallen on some tough times and begun booking local bands and cover bands during the week.  

I had gone to high school with one of the guys who worked there, and he put me in touch with Michael Fresh, who was the booking guy.  Michael was kind enough to let us have the club on a Friday night, and also to make some recommendations as to how we could get ten bands on and off the stage in a reasonably well-ordered and quick manner.  

We made arrangements with the Center for Food Action in New Jersey to be the beneficiary of the night – all the proceeds from the door would go to benefit the charity.  To help move things quickly at the club, I planned to rent a bass cabinet from Long & McQuade, a music store in Parsippany, NJ for the night.

I then began the task of contacting each band, to make sure that they would be able to play that night.  Almost immediately, I hit a snag.  Planet Dread, one of the first bands I contacted, was unable to make the date.  I was disappointed, because their manager Brian had been one of the most easygoing, agreeable people I’d dealt with during the whole process.  He simply sent me a DAT and a signed agreement, and told me to do whatever I wanted.  

The band also had a pretty strong reputation for their live performances, and I had yet to see them, so I was disappointed not to have a band like that on the bill.

When I got to Rosary, I had a different kind of snag.  My intention was to have the most popular bands – Eternal Vision, Melting Hopefuls, and Oral Groove – play later in the night, ending the set with Godspeed.   The club had a drum kit that they used for nights when they had multiple bands, and they simply asked the drummers from each band to bring their own snare and cymbals – this way, it took a fraction of the time to set up each band’s drum kit, which enabled the club to keep down time between bands to a minimum.  However, Rosary informed me that their drummer refused to play a shared kit.

This is the same guy who had asked us if we had ever been in a real recording studio.  When I told Rich about the situation, he said “So, fuck them.  Have eight bands instead of nine.  Who needs them?”  Rich held a grudge.

I called Gary and explained the situation.  We had nine bands to play.  If we gave each band 30 minutes to play, that was four and a half hours of music.  If we gave each band 15 minutes to set up before their set, that was more than two hours for setup.  If we started the show at 9:00, it would be after 3AM before we were done.  The club had to stop serving alcohol at 1.  We needed to cut as many corners as possible.

“We’re asking each band to play a 20-minute set, and to get themselves set up in 15 minutes, max,” I explained. “We don’t have time to let each band bring their own drum kit.”

“He can get his kit set up in 15 minutes,” Gary said.  “But he won’t play a shared kit.  He’s very particular about his drums, and won’t play someone else’s.”

“Gary, if he’s going to play his own drum kit, that’s going to mess up the whole night.  We’ll have to break down the shared kit and set up his kit, then we’ll have to break up his kit and set up the shared kit again when your set is over.”

“That’s okay, we’ll just go on last,” Gary said.  “When the next-to-last band is done, we’ll break down the shared kit and set up our kit.  Then when we’re done, the night will be over.”

I really wanted Godspeed to close the show, but I didn’t want to hurt any feelings.  Gary was really proud of Rosary, and of all the people on the record, he was actually my friend before any of this started.  I didn’t want to let down a friend.  I agreed, reluctantly.  

“We’ll start moving our gear into the front of the club while the next-to-last band is playing,” Gary said.  “We won’t be disruptive.  We’ll just move it in quietly.  As soon as they’re done, we’ll get rolling.  The four of us can have the stage set up in no time, you’ll see.”

By this time, Sandy’s PR efforts for Dromedary were kicking into high gear.  Due to the tie-in with the Center for Food Action, we were getting little blurbs in all the local papers.  The Aquarian Weekly, which had finally changed its name from the East Coast Rocker, was being pretty friendly to us – particularly Bob Makin, who wrote the local music column Makin’ Waves.

One day I got home from work, and Sandy was grinning from ear-to-ear.  “I just did an interview,” she said.  

“With who?” I asked.

“Jim Testa,” she said.  I knew Jim’s name from his fanzine Jersey Beat.  “He writes for the Jersey Journal.  He’s doing a feature article about Dromedary, and about the benefit show.”

The Jersey Journal was a real newspaper – the regular newspaper that covered the Hudson County, NJ area.  It was Hoboken’s newspaper.  Jersey City’s newspaper.  It had a big circulation.  I had never met Jim before, but I knew the paper.

“He wants to talk to you, too.  He’s going to call later tonight.”

I sat by the phone and waited.  Eventually, Jim called.  He had received the CD I sent him at Jersey Beat, and thought the CD and the release party were relevant enough to warrant an article in the Journal.  We talked for a long time about the scene, about our plans for Dromedary, about the bands on the compilation.  Jim knew Melting Hopefuls, Oral Groove and Ya-Ne-Zniyoo very well, and he also knew Footstone.  He told me he was looking forward to hearing Godspeed and cuppa joe.

The fact that he mentioned those five bands wasn’t lost on me – I had gotten to the point where, when thinking about the compilation, it was those six bands that I considered to be the “meat” of the record.  Most other people did, too.

The article was slated to come out the day of the show.  It was going to be great promotion.  Considering that I was licking my wounds from the distribution/radio/shrink-wrapping debacle, I was primed for something good to happen.

Based on the high I was on after talking with Jim, I invited a few other local writers and media people to the show – Rich Masio, Bob Makin, a few others from The Aquarian, and some people from the local college newspapers.  

Sandy and I decided to throw a party after the party.  I think we both wanted to do it for the same reason – if the release party was a failure, we’d both be miserable and depressed, and would want to be surrounded by friends.  We invited our friends from college – all of them – and also invited Rich and Frank, our local friends, the guys from Ya-Ne-Zniyoo, Melting Hopefuls and Footstone.  We even prepped our neighbors by telling them we were going to be loud and late.  Then we crossed our fingers and waited for the big day.

~ by Al on January 24, 2009.

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