Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Magic City

Where to start?  I guess with Anne Tkach who I’ve known the longest.  First met her as a fan of the late great Nadine.  She played bass in this well respected group and they got some good national and international attention during their time together.  But like all things the band eventually ended.  My first clue to this was back in 2004 when I was representing 3wk.com at SXSW and Nadine were slated to perform.  I showed up hoping to talk with Anne but was met by the guitar player, Steve and told the band would be doing an acoustic set.  He didn’t say the group had disbanded but you could tell something was up.  Disappointed, I left to catch Grand Ulena who were also playing the festival.

The next group I knew of her playing in was The Good Griefs and what a powerhouse trio that was.  This band also featured Larry Bulawsky on guitar and vocals.  But that band ended also.  I believe the next thing was Bad Folk and that was another great band Anne played drums in.  I was rather close with this band (due to Anne and Tim Rakel) and produced artwork for two of their releases.  The first was a drawing of historical people like Eisenhower, MacArthur and Harry S. Truman for a 45.  The cover turned out nice and was printed by Firecracker Press.  The second was a painting for their full-length CD.  Unfortunately the album, which is excellent, was never released.

I’m sure there are some other groups or collectives she participated in but the next things I know of is the wonderful Rough Shop, the charming Skekses and Magic City.  Magic City features Anne on bass, Larry (mentioned above) on guitar/vocals, Adam Hesed on farfisa organ , JJ Hamon as utility man and Sam Meyer on drums. 

Sam I have known of since his days with In Media Res.  I say “know of” because I didn’t actually know him.  Didn’t really meet him until later but everyone knew he was/is one of the best drummers in town.  Sam and I share a common unbreakable bond.  We were both in a band, although not at the same time, with Jason Rook.  I got to know Sam well when he started playing drums with the Wormwood Scrubs, Jason and Larissa Rook’s (she was known as Larissa Dalle at the time) band.  I had been their drummer for awhile but ended up leaving after marrying Angel.  Sam continued on with them and did some tours, including a stint in England with Gringo Star.  Eventually Jason and Larissa got married and now have a child of their own, so the Wormwood Scrubs kind of went on hiatus.  Sam started up with Magic City (whose great debut album was recorded by Jason Rook) and he also plays with the excellent Demonlover.  It’s strange, Sam and I never really hung out that much before but nowadays when we see each other out, we have a pretty good time.  He’s moving to Kentucky soon and I will surely miss him. 

I first became aware of Adam Hesed one night when I wandered into Mangia and saw an incredible 6 piece band playing some great music.  The band was called The Deserters and Adam played farfisa organ.  The band blew me away that night but like so many awesome local bands they didn’t last.  While Adam was in Bad Folk I got to know him pretty well and that’s continued on to this day.  I’ll get together with him and Anne every so often and just talk about whatever is going on. 

When I first met JJ he arrived with a  group of musicians (which included Anne and Adam) who were scheduled to perform at an art show I was putting on at Fort Gondo.  Little did I know at that time the level of musicianship JJ possessed.  He walked into the gallery and I handed him a stack of cut out imitation 20 dollar bills and asked him to spread them on the floor.  He looked at me kind of funny but went ahead and did as requested.  Of course JJ is well known for playing in the now defunct band Theodore.  Since then he’s played with just about everyone in town and continues to be an in-demand instrumentalist.  His current regular bands include Magic City and Demonlover. 

And then there’s Larry, the front man of the band.  Again I knew of Larry before I actually knew him.  I’d admire his guitar playing from afar during his Good Grief days.  I’d watch him and think why isn’t he world famous?  Larry’s genius didn’t really hit me though until a few years ago when I ran into him at a Black Diamond Heavies gig.  The show was at Tom Huck’s print studio located on Vandeventer.  Bob Reuter’s Alley Ghost was opening the show and at the end of their set I went to the bar to get a beer.  The bar was located in the next room and I saw Larry sitting at a table.  He was with Virginia Hunter so I went over to say hello.  Virginia is a film maker and I’m still in awe of a film she was involved with called “Carny”.  I started talking with Virginia and noticed Larry was just doodling away on a scrap piece of paper.  I didn’t pay much attention but then I could tell that he was so focused on what he was doing he didn’t even realize I was there.  Finally he looked up and showed me what he was drawing.  I couldn’t believe it.  He had drawn a picture of Bob singing and playing in the next room.  I knew exactly what it was as soon as I saw it.  I had just come from where Bob was playing and recognized it immediately.  It was amazing.  Larry had sat there and drawn all of this from memory while it was going on.

Collectively these individuals make up Magic City and it’s a pretty great band.  I’m thankful for knowing them all.

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