Sunday, December 9, 2012

1993: Vernon Howell's Revenge

In terms of luring talent, 1992 proved to be a successful year for Gumby's.

In addition to providing an outlet for such regional bands as Guru Lovechild, Electric Lullaby, Groovezilla, Rasta Rafiki and 10 Foot Pole, co-owner John Kerwood and booker Brian Barlow were also able to entice The Jesus Lizard, Afghan Whigs, The Mentors, Skankin' Pickle and Royal Trux, amongst others, to perform at the fabled club in 1992.

Kerwood and Barlow were quick to capitalize on this success by forging relationships with many of the artists that performed during that year and, as a result, this afforded them the opportunity to bring many back in 1993.

So, while the Branch Davidians were committing self-immolation in Waco, Texas, Gumby's was also on fire.

Among the bands that earned a return trip was New York's Drunken Boat, who appeared for a second time January 23, on the heels of its second album, 'See Ruby Falls', a record that became particularly popular with the Gumby's contingent.

The spring of 1993 brought the likes of Enormous Richard and Candy Says (April 9), The Phantoms and The Lie (April 23), Rusted Root and Rasta Rafiki (April 24), Black Cat Bone (April 25), and Antietam and Scrawl (April 30).

(Rasta Rafiki promo shot from the collection of Denton Anderson)

Morgantown, West Virginia's Rasta Rafiki, a reggae-influenced ensemble, would appear numerous times at 1318 4th Ave. over the next couple of years (including once more later that fall) and become a fan favorite, due in large part to the band's release 'Cousins', which would see the light of day in 1993 as well.

During that summer, Gumby's would host Glorium, El Santo and The Grifters (July 30), Jettison Charlie (August 24), Spider Foot (August 26), Born Cross Eyed (August 27) and Huntington's own Fuzzbucket (August 28).

Fuzzbucket was a four-piece band comprised of Tyler Massey, Alex Kendall, Joel Hatfield and Kevin Allison.

They were formed from the remnants of a band called Festus Rockefeller, which featured Massey and Kendall, and when Hatfield returned from Boston the three musicians began jamming together and performing a variety of cover songs, eventually leading to the formation of Buckethead.

Never ones to pigeonhole themselves musically, the members of Buckethead played an eclectic mix of punk, pop, ska, glam and psychedelic music that differed so much from their local peers that the band became an alternative to the alternative scene blossoming in Huntington.

(Kevin Allison, Joel Hatfield, Alex Kendall and Tyler Massey, Fuzzbucket)

In response to this, the members of Fuzzbucket (which they were now called) joked that they weren't an alternative, but mandatory.

The band added Allison to the group during the two years it took to record its debut album, 'Bucket Holiday', after he had moved next door to Fuzzbucket's rehearsal space and learned the band's songs practically though osmosis.

Fuzzbucket performed throughout the Tri-State area of West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, and, more or less, became the house band for The Calamity Café (a Huntington bar and restaurant) during its existence.

The band called it quits shortly after the release of 'Bucket Holiday' and its members went on to feature in such notable local bands as Bacon Hat, Wonderful Pills, The Heptanes, Milk Of Napalm and The Red Carpet Bombers.

To coincide with the beginning of Marshall University's fall semester, Gumby's upped the ante by booking acts like Hillbilly Frankenstein, Hasil Adkins (September 4), The New Duncan Imperials (September 9), BuBu Klan (September 18), Groovezilla (September 24), Electric Lullaby and Control Freak (September 25), and Zuzu's Petals (September 30).

(Hillbilly Frankenstein promo shot from the collection of Denton Anderson)

Hillbilly Frankenstein was an Athens, Georgia-based rockabilly revival band featuring Guadalcanal Diary guitarist Jeff Walls, and it performed September 3 (after having appeared September 25 of the previous year), in support of the band's album 'Hypnotica'.

In October, Born Cross Eyed (October 15), BuBu Klan (October 16), Groovezilla (October 29) and Rasta Rafiki (October 30) returned for their second 1993 appearances, and The Mentors (who appeared a year earlier in October 1992), Five-Eight (October 21) and Sunny Day Real Estate (October 23) also stopped by the club to perform.

The Lexington, Kentucky funk/metal quintet known as Groovezilla was comprised of vocalist St. Jerrod, guitarist Wendell, bassist Scott, saxophonist/vocalist Vee and drummer Chad, and released 1992's 'Search For Neverland' independently and 1994's self-titled via Mausoleum Records.

Much like Rasta Rafiki, Groovezilla would continue to be a presence at 1318 4th Ave. over the next three years.

In the fall of 1993, Gumby's brought Sugarsmack (November 4), Liquor Bike (November 6), Red Red Meat and The Econothugs (November 12), Wally Pleasant (November 13), and Die Monster Die and Control Freak (November 20) to perform at the club.

(Die Monster Die band shot, courtesy of Roadrunner Records)

Formed in Athens, Georgia, in the late-1980s', Die Monster Die was fronted by Alice Cohen and released its debut album, 'Chrome Molly', in 1993.

The band didn't find success until it relocated to New York City and landed a deal with Roadrunner Records, who would release its sophomore album, 'Withdrawal Method', in 1994.

Die Monster Die became one of Gumby's top draws in the years 1993-94, but it was the unwitting role the band played in the success of a then-unknown West Virginia act (that had made its Huntington debut in September 1993) for which the band would perhaps best be remembered. 

No comments:

Post a Comment