Thursday, February 17, 2011

The other day I received a notice from the company that hosts my old website. The message read…

Your domain name(s) will expire in 60 days.

Act now to avoid any disruption to email or website services and avoid losing your chosen name(s).The name(s) due for renewal are:Domain Name, Expiry, 2011-04-16

I had forgotten all about that website and went back to check it out. The website was created 6 or so years ago as a place to keep track of all the artwork I was doing, the press and projects I was involved with and all the shows I participated in. It’s interesting to look at all that older stuff. Every so often someone will ask me what “asbestossister” means and I’m always tempted to give them the whole story but usually I’ll just say “It’s nonsense”. Back in the late 90’s when I had to decide what to call my yahoo email address I went with “asbestossister”. From there I used it to participate in chat rooms and egroups, primarily with people from Saint Louis, and so I became associated with that handle. When it came time to name a website, I wanted to get something that ended with “.com” and I figured no one had ever used Plus, that’s how most people knew of me because of my yahoo email, so it seem to make sense to use it. And it worked well, but I won’t be renewing.

Looking at the website now it seems so primitive. It was designed by me and built by a friend named Rich Williams. Rich had played in a cool local band called Fly From August. Rich was a great help in building and maintaining the site. But Rich was extremely busy with his family, his music and a studio he built in Seattle. Eventually the website duties fell on another great friend, Ken Day who is, in every sense of the word, a Webmaster. He builds and maintains a number of websites including my current one.

By this point you may be asking, “Why are you writing all of this?”, for my own amusement.

Looking at all the old artwork, one painting in particular has caught my attention. The one pictured above, “The Black Keys at Mississippi Nights”. This painting means a lot to me. Not because I’m some big Black Keys fan, I can honestly take them or leave them, although I do love the story about them playing Lemmon’s sometime in 2004 to about 3 people. The next time they came through town they played the Pageant.

However, this painting represents the last show I saw at Mississippi Nights. It was December 2006 and my main purpose for attending the show was to see the opening band Dr. Dog. Earlier in the year I had attempted to book Dr. Dog at Radio Cherokee for a March show, but the deal fell through and my hopes of seeing them live were dashed. But then the band was picked up for the Black Keys tour and sure enough it arrived in Saint Louis on Dec 2 to a sold out crowd at Mississippi Nights.

Are you still reading?

My goal for the evening was to get a nice photograph of Dr. Dog for a future painting. At that time I knew Mississippi Nights would be closing in the near future but I had no idea that would be my last concert there. When the band started there was hardly anyone in front of the stage, I don’t think very many people had any idea who Dr. Dog were. Their set relied heavily on material from what I consider to be their best album, “Easy Beat”. I snapped as many photos as I could and did end up with a nice photo. After they played the keyboard player asked me about the photos and where I had heard of them. I told him I loved their album “Easy Beat” and I use the photos as reference for paintings. He then introduced me to the guitar player and said “He’s an artist”. The guitar player said “Oh, you should meet my friend Sean” and promptly introduced me to the guy standing next to him. Turns out Sean was Sean Moeller of Back then daytrotter wasn’t as well known as it is today but it was just as influential. So we start talking about music and photographs and paintings and Sean invites me to submit some stuff to daytrotter. Sure thing, why not? I ended up having two pieces used on the daytrotter site . At the time daytrotter was featuring many different artists with many different styles but they were about to transition into the powerhouse they are today and eventually decided to just have one main artist do all the artwork.

At some point in the evening a guy came up to me and asks me to take photos of The Black Keys. He told me he was running the lighting rig for the night and wanted to have photos of what it looked like. I said “sure”. By the time the Black Keys came on the place was packed and it took considerable effort to get some decent photos, the result is the painting above. I continued talking with the keyboard player of Dr. Dog (super nice guy) asking him about the tour and recording, especially about the “Easy Beat” album. He told me it was recorded in the basement of the house they all shared in Philadelphia. When he mentioned Philadelphia I asked him if he knew any of the Dead Milkmen, he said “no, but the house we’re sharing, where we recorded the album use to belong to the bass player of the Dead Milkmen”. I thought that was pretty cool.

Thinking about it now, Dr. Dog was my last show at Mississippi Nights and The Dead Milkmen was my first show.

Are you still reading?

Back when I was 14 or 15 years old I had some friends in college who began driving up to Saint Louis for shows at Mississippi Nights. This was around 1988 or 89. Being young and having no car, my time traveling to Saint Louis was limited but I did get up there on a regular basis, usually when an older friend drove up for skateboarding, however concerts were another story. The person responsible for my concerts at Mississippi Nights was my friend Tony. He collected the money, bought the tickets and drove. Tony and others had been going up for a while and then one day I was invited to tag along for a Dead Milkmen show. I was ecstatic. From then on out we went to as many shows as we could. I honestly can’t recall all the shows but some that stand out are the sold out Jane’s Addiction show, a couple Soundgarden shows (Tony got thrown out for climbing on the ceiling), Fishbone, Public Enemy, Ministry, The Screaming Trees etc. I did miss two important shows, Nirvana (Tony didn’t want to go) and Beastie Boys (everyone but me went, ugh). And I’ll always regret never seeing Uncle Tupelo. So around 93 or 94 everyone had moved away and I was traveling around so I didn’t get to visit Mississippi Nights too often. Then I moved to Saint Louis in 1997 and started up where I left off with The Black Crowes, The Strokes, Pavement, Willie Nelson, Cibo Matto, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Guided by Voices, etc and then finally The Black Keys and Dr. Dog.

Wow, amazing what an email notification can trigger.

Oh, I almost forgot. My friend Tony, he’s the one who came up with “asbestossister” in the first place. When he was a kid his father would have buddies over and when they’d get a little tipsy Tony would test them by telling them to say “Asbestos Sisters” three times. Of course it would come out all slurred and fuzzy and everyone would have a good laugh.

Now playing – Dr. Dog


Tony Renner said...

great reminiscences... and now i know the full story of asbestos sister... i sure couldn't say it once sober let alone three times tipsy...!

nice painting, too... have the black keys seen it...?

Dana Smith said...

I don't think they have Tony, or at least I've never sent it out or anything.

Hilary said...

Love the stories. And the painting. Glad you posted it, Dana!

and am delighted to know the origin of absestossister (I can barely type that. Let alone say it.)

matty lite said...

I was at that Dr. Dog show too, and it was my last Mississipi Nights concert as well. Awesome to hear the true tale of the name.

Dana Smith said...

It’s Matty Lite, the very person who turned me onto Dr. Dog in the first place.