to clarify.

In light of the fact that I’ve reconnected with Steve from cuppa joe this week, and he’s been reading the blog from scratch and making comments, I’ve sort of been reading along with him.

One of the things that I love about what this blog has evolved into is that some of the people who are the subjects of these stories are chiming in with their own recollections, observations, and memories.  That has lent so much more interesting information to the story.

But in reading this, I think maybe I might not have been descriptive enough about cuppa joe as a live band, which isn’t necessarily fair.

Footstone was a tight, powerful band.  Live, they were all business, trying their best to make you laugh and blow you away at the same time.  Their music was all about aggressive riffs, punchy guitars, and over-the-top vocals – and they needed to sound great, otherwise the music just wasn’t the same.

cuppa joe’s music was very different.  It was very personal, and very homemade.  When you listened to a cuppa joe song, you weren’t listening to three guys who wanted to blow you away – you were listening to three guys who were just putting it all out there, all vulnerable and open for you to see and hear what was going on in their minds.  They were singing about personal experiences in a way that exposed their emotions for all to see.

Here’s a Footstone lyric:

“I want a watermelon, 

a juicy watermelon.

I put it on my lap and everybody knows I’m having fun.”

Here’s a cuppa joe lyric.

“She’s so neat, I wish that I could take credit for her.

But I know that it’s nothing that I did, nothing that I said.”

So in reading some of these past entries I think in my haste to describe what was going on at a show, I was harsh on cuppa joe as a live band.  They weren’t a great live band in the way Footstone was a great live band.  Footstone could jump onstage and play for 45 minutes, and at the end you were exhausted, moving and dancing and yelling and laughing, knocked on your ass by a band that played most every note perfectly, that built up an unbelievable groove, and that played LOUD.  If they made a mistake, they’d call attention to it and make you laugh about it.

When you saw cuppa joe, that’s not what was important.  They’d make mistakes during their set, and every musical mistake was as much an illustration of their vulnerability as doug’s most personal lyrics.  If you really got into a cuppa joe show, you felt like the band was confiding in you, just putting their innermost thoughts out there for you to judge, and then sitting back and asking “So?  What did you think?”

When you saw Footstone live, you were seeing a band that was trying to entertain a roomful of people.  When you saw cuppa joe live, you were seeing a band that was quietly telling you a personal story.  A sour note or a missed beat in a cuppa joe show was entirely besides the point.

~ by Al on July 20, 2009.

3 Responses to “to clarify.”

  1. That’s nice of you to say, but I was taking your word for it on those early shows, which I don’t remember as well. I appreciate the explanation, be did have some shaky performances back then. We had over 80 songs in our repertoire (and we practiced them all at different points), had Rick replace Diz/Bob during that time, and we lived far enough away from each other and were busy enough with jobs that we weren’t able to get as tight as we’d have liked, though like I said, I think that improved in late ’94 and throughout ’95. But no excuses – the shows were what they were, and sometimes they were spotty. Thanks for clarifying, though – it’s got to be hard continuing the story as the “characters” continue to come on board, and you become aware they they/we are reading it. It’s great, though – I’m almost caught up to the present.

    • One of the things I’m aware of with respect to this blog is that it’s just my recollection of things, and my “side” of the story.

      Part of the reason I started it in the first place is that when I would talk about those days to other people who were part of the crew, there was very little about Dromedary that was part of their memory of those days. I felt like the Dromedary part of the story was becoming lost.

      But that knife cuts both ways, and I realize that sometimes I’m telling a story and making short cuts in places. So I say “cuppa joe wasn’t the best live band,” and don’t explain enough in detail – then I realize, somebody in cuppa joe is going to read this eventually, so I should probably be more clear about my meaning.

      I think when you get bands like Footstone and the Mommyheads, who were absolutely tight as could be onstage, it’s hard to compare those performances to cuppa joe. It would be like comparing the production of the first Spinanes record to the production of the first Guided By Voices. They’re both great records, but the Spinanes record just sounds better, from a production standpoint.

  2. Well, you laid out the ground rules – I think it’s obvious that you’re preserving your own story, and we’re all just part of it. I think that’s what everyone has to accept – I wouldn’t want you think of you changing what you were planning to write in the expectation that we’d be reading it. Still, though, thanks for the additional thoughts. It is cool to see everyone chiming in, and I’m sure more will be coming as time goes on and the blog gets “out there”.

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