Friday, November 1, 2013

Centro-matic at Off Broadway

Earlier this year I met Karl Haglund through Twitter. Vintage Vinyl had tweeted about an artist showing paintings and prints of guitars at their store and it peaked my interested. I went to the show and introduced myself to Karl and bought a print of Jay Farrar’s guitar. After that meeting, Karl and I have stayed in contact through email and Facebook. He’s just like me. He’s entering middle age, married, has two kids (boy and girl), plays guitar/drums and has a severe addiction to painting. Karl use to live in St. Louis but no he resides in Iowa with his family and sells his paintings and prints of his paintings to a growing list of clients. One day he emailed me saying his favorite band, Centro-matic was playing St. Louis and he was making the trek down to see them and asked if I’d like to join him. Sure, I would be happy to go along. He also mentioned he’d like to do a trade of paintings. He brought down a beautiful painting of J. Mascis’ guitar and traded me a piece I had done on the building of the former location of the American Folk Museum that was located in New York City before it had to move.
We hung out in my studio for a bit and he mentioned how he’d love a painting of Centro-matic performing from me. We worked out a deal and I decided to take my camera along to the show to snap some photos for reference. Before we left we had a few beers, then we arrived early at Off Broadway but Paul was working the door and he could see we were harmless so he let us in a little early into the courtyard and we had a few more beers. It was really great to hang out and talk with someone like Karl. He’s pretty much in the same boat as me when it comes to what he’s trying to accomplish and balancing that all out with family life. We talked, we drank and before we knew it, it was dark and the first band was opening. Half-Knots is a local STL band that has connections to the Undertow label and they started the night off with a terrific set featuring Chris Grabau on guitar. A few more beers later and it was time for Centro-matic. I’ve always been a fan of Centro-matic but this was my first time seeing them live and they were phenomenal. It’s always amazing to see musicians who are roughing it on the road play a top notch set even with technical issues (apparently the bass drum pedal stopped working and a replacement had to be found). I snapped a few photos and was finally happy with a shot of all 4 members.
After the show Karl talked with various members of the band, he had brought a print for one of them and he already knew Will Johnson (front man for Centro-matic) from collecting Will’s art and vice versa. While Karl was busy with Will, I was at the merch table giving a sob story about only having 7 dollars in cash, but the band was more than willing to cut me a break and sell me a vinyl record. With my new purchased bounty I wandered over to Karl and Will. Karl introduced me as “The artist” to Will and I tried not to show I was in awe of him. I mentioned to him that we had a common acquaintance and Will knew who I was talking about. He asked how he was doing and how I knew him. I told him we were in our first band together. Will asked the name of the band and I looked him square in the eyes and said “From Sikeston, MO, the Bearded Clam Wonder”. He said, “Oh?” and had a semi-confused look on his face. Even though I was telling the truth, I knew I had gone too far and better make a respectable retreat. I told him how fantastic the band sounded and wish him well on his travels.
We all piled into Karl’s friend’s car and they drove me back home. That very same night Billy Bragg was playing at the Old Rock House to a sold out crowd. Earlier in the day he had done an in store appearance at Vintage Vinyl and while there he saw Karl’s prints of guitars and loved them. When Karl got home from that STL trip he had an email waiting for him from Billy Bragg asking him to paint his guitar.
now playing - Centro-matic