5/14/2007

Feast of Stephen Reunion

What a weekend!!!

On Friday, I went down to West Virginia for a 2-day media extravaganza consisting of the U.S. premiere of the AsturianUS documentary (I'm interviewed on the big screen!) and the 15-year reunion of my college band, The Feast of Stephen.

The movie was fantastic and very moving, and I hope it gets a DVD release here in the states so more people can see how the Asturian zinc workers came to West Virginia to begin a new life. It's a bittersweet story and one well worth telling. Kudos to the filmmaker, Luis Argeo, an Asturian himself who now lives and works in Madrid and is a hell of a nice guy.

But the real magic of the weekend for me was the FOS reunion. I really did not know what to expect after so many years. For one, I was really skeptical that all of the guys (there were 5 of us) would be able to clear their schedules to make it, but they all did. A minor miracle, to be sure.

It was a testament to these guys' wealth of talent that in less than three hours of practice -- after not playing together in the same room for fifteen years, mind you -- we had a list of seven songs that we could play as solidly as any band out there.

I think my friend Dave T. said it best when he said the whole evening was like being "in the best effing way-back machine ever." The memories came pouring back after the first notes we played. Honestly, it was like we had never been apart, with Rad and I locking in to weave guitar parts underpinned by Tommy and Dan's solid, popping grooves. As always, the icing was Bob's gritty vocals and lyrics, which give our songs the power to really move people. Even the enigmatic Fred showed up on the second night to bring his trademark percussion magic....

Granted, due to the short amount of rehearsal time we had, some of the more complicated numbers had to be left in the past (Forbidden Dance and Watch Me Plow were both a little too out there, alas), but the final set list was nothing to sneeze at:Gomec, Blue Turbin, Ward 7, Escape the Man, Tired of Sinking, Bankrobber, and Mystery Hole all made their appearances.

The highlight of the sessions for me was a totally unrehearsed, BLAZING rendition of No Vaccination on the second night when we were taping for an upcoming edition of Rudy Panucci's Radio Free Charleston podcast. It was simply crushing.

Throughout the weekend other long-lost faces from the past filtered through: the aforementioned Dave T., my childhood friend and great percussionist; Dave M., singer of the Mad Scientist Club and the engineer who produced the FOS recordings; Sean R., lead singer of StrawFyssh and my favorite songwriter; Spencer E., lead singer for Mother Nang and now in a WhistlePunk with Dan; it was a veritable who's who of musical giants from Charleston.

A special thanks goes out to Jerry F., who came both nights and to the movie too, and took some killer footage for us. I'll post that up as soon as I can this week.

All in all, a fantastic weekend. I won't soon forget it.

1 comment:

John Radcliff said...

Woop! Woop! It was a great time! Hope we can do it again!