Rememberies 2018

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Hello world, I see you’re looking lovely as usual. It is winter in Chicago and feeble flecks of frozen fluids freely fall from on high. At least they were the last time I was out of doors. I spent another year living in Max’s basement coming up with songs to amuse the masses. And what a select masses they were! There’s so much to dive into and so many gaps in my memory so this shall be an interesting Rememberies indeed.


Twenty-Eighteen began the exact same way that Twenty-Seventeen ended, which is to say in Chicago, at Thalia Hall, where the venerable Today’s Hits had opened for the esteemed Twin Peaks at the inscrutable Thalia Hall. A belle of a way to ring in a year. The month of January saw 1 Slushy show at Cole’s with local heartthrobs American Breakfast, lots of games of billards with Sammy and Old Boy, and a steady building out of my VHS collection thanks to Bric-A-Brac Records and the Unique Thrift store. Be kind, Rewind forever.


The month of love, arms and amour. Good friend of Slushy Tyler asked us to play a Valentine’a Day ball at a Milwaukee Ave night club called the East Room, and so we did. In the tradition of East Room shows past, this band was comprised of three-quarters of a baker’s dozen lonely hearts who looked fine and played more finely the most saccharine-soaked old timey tunes we could manage. I wore a suit and lost my keys. Bye keys, miss you! Later we returned to Cole’s for a naw-inspiring set.


Way back when the world was young and all of us a little bit younger, I saw a band called the Cowboys. Now don’t let the name fool you, these are art students playing rock music, nothing Cool Ranch about it. These buckaroos spent some time opening up for Nobunny and we all enjoyed each other’s company, and then their singer said he wanted to move up to Chicago and he SO moved to Chicago that he moved into the same building as me (and, as long time readers will recall, Max). Well, this here was a band that all lived in the same house together for years and to make a short story long, the band dynamics shifted to the point where as they were planning a tour to Austin, TX, for the Southy-By-Southwest music festival, they found themselves in need of a guitar player, and being that I lived to close to Keith, I was chosen to be that six-string strangler. So that’s what happened in March. It was fun. Also met up with Justin and Sammy and Cher in Austin and played some Nobunny shows although they had to play some of them without me. That stunk! For me at least. And turns out wouldn’t be the last time. But we did do some Nobunny shows together at the end of March and into…


April as we approached Nobunny’s rebirthday which also happens to be Easter. So we did a loop-de-loop around through Canada to Brooklyn and back through, I dunno, maybe Cleveland? Yeah that was nice, I love traveling with those knuckleheads. Then we came back to Chicago and Slushy got to play with punk legend and turns out he’s really a nice guy Wreckless Eric. Maybe some day we’ll make a record together! Also around this time James Swanberg booked a gig at the Hideout and gave them the name of a band that didn’t exist and then roped Sammy and Max Schott and me into being that band. Yes indeed, James Swanberg’s Shitty Beatles was a bright flash in a dank pan over the warm months of 2018. As they say in the biz, So long folks! Also, towards the middle of April, the Lemons released their 2nd masterpiece, “At Home”, a delightful house party collection of ditties with many pals contributing background talking sounds and general hullabaloo. Goons made some great artwork for it and Scott whipped up a beautiful batch of tapes. On the Tripp imprint, of course.


Somewhere around this time I started working on a new Slushy album, which turned out to be FUN CUNUMDRUM. As the weather finally turned nicely, I was spending more and more time holed up staring at my Tascam 4 track (RIP), playing guitars and shakers and synthesizers and layering sounds upon sounds. I did it all once then did it all twice and finished about an hour before my birthday. Then I buzzed all my hair off! WOAH! Then we flew to NYC and did a NOBUNNY show and I had a miserable time but didn’t tell anyone that. No matter! No Slushy shows but I did start teaching Sammy all the new songs on bass so that was even better. Plus I drove from Bloomington to Omaha during which the ol’ van crossed 200,000 miles. I was trying to sell the van so I could buy Sammy’s mom’s VW Bug convertible but that didn’t work out and I still have the van. Hi van!


June is the month that I started washing dishes at a hipster restaurant, according to the woman who serves slices around the corner. But the coffee and soda are free and there’s lots of shenanigans and I hadn’t worked in food service in 13 years so it was a welcome change of pace. Bric-A-Brac records turned 5 years old and Brent came into town so we did a Classic Slushy performance at the shop and then again later that night at Cole’s. We even did some of the brand new Fun Cunumdrum tunes and they sounded pretty dang good!


Everyone flew out to Oakland at the end of June except for me, so I had the city to myself. Washing dishes and selling records and Nobunny did a last-minute set at the Burger Boogaloo but I wasn’t there for it but I heard good things. Keith has the same birthday as America so I met him at the Whirlaway. It rained but that didn’t stop the fireworks from going off, just stopped me from seeing them. A few days later Keith and I went down to Bloomington and the 5 Cowboys went into Russian Recordings recorded for a week and the results were great! Watch out for “The Bottom of a Rotten Flower” taking the world by storm in 2019. It was a hot and long summer and Shimby mastered the new Slushy album and Keith Herzik did the artwork and I sent it off to Scott and ordered 250 copies and eventually they showed up even though there was a week where I was worried they’d been stolen and looked in dumpsters around the neighborhood for them to no avail, obviously, because they did in fact end up showing up on my stoop. Did a three-piece show at the Slippery Slope one night that was almost a solo show because Sammy and Justin both showed up within minutes of us starting, one on either side.


Now this is what I’m talking about. I only booked 3 shows the entire year and they were pretty abysmal from an outside perspective but luckily I don’t have one of those and I thought they were great. My family doesn’t do things like take vacations together but somehow we did exactly that this year, renting a lake house in Maine for a week and kayaking and swimming and eating ice cream and playing card games and drawing and cooking and laughing. ‘Twas quite nice. I drove out and played shows to split up the drives and camped and nearly adopted a possibly stray dog and ate at a diner in Punxatawney and let me tell you about the stars in Maine, there are more than you can even start to see and even in between the stars are more stars and smears of color like my face after a peanut butter and jelly. The Lemons reunited for the Scummer Slammer and played 1 new song. Then I made shirts with Jen and Nick and Bobby was there too, and we did a Cole’s show and then flew to Europe and ohhhhh buddy was that a time and a half and there’s so much to get into, from the shores to Nazare to full moon of Bergamo and the blues cafe in Barcelona and cetera and cetera. Why come home?


Well most of September was also Europe. Hi Marco! Hi Diego! Hi Franz! Hi everyone else! People in Europe are super friendly, especially if you’re there on a tour, and they make you food and offer a place to sleep and you can get coffee just about anywhere and just spend an afternoon at a sidewalk cafe, which I did as often as I could. Originally I planned to not come back but then I wasn’t in charge of buying my own plane ticket home so I had one and had no other plans and came back and caught a strep on the way and so spent a week in bed drinking tea til I got better then made up some songs and played them at Reed’s and no one liked them but there were only a few people there anyway. Ayane came to town and we all went up to Madison for Turkey Fest. That was neat.


This must have been about the time of the Bric-A-Brac Basement Blow-out Bonanza, which was the sale of the century and if you missed it you really missed it. Played at the Burlington, then flew out to California for some Nobunny shows with Cher and let me tell you all about the Bob Baker Puppet Theatre, it’s quite magickal and wonderous and stupenderific and it’s where Peter Pan would go to feel like a kid. Then we came back and played Thalia Hall for Halloween proper and I was Harpo Marx and honked a horn a lot.


Cher flew back with us and brought her laptop and telephone mic and that can only mean TWOMPSAX so we packed up my van and drove all over the Midwest trying to be weird but only being welcome. Got to stay with Jimi and Allison then I drove to Omaha to surprise my sister for her birthday and came back to Chicago and made a lot of food and then ate it and that’s pretty much it


This one just happened! Started with Gymshorts in town and we played together here and in Fort Wayne and then later the Lemons played here and in Lexington and the Cowboys played here and I joined Cam’s Family Jam Band and I guess that’s about it! Happy New Year!

Show Me The Shows!

Played a whole bunch, let’s try to guess:

  • Slushy: 35
  • Nobunny: 31
  • The Lemons: 3
  • The Cowboys: 36
  • Shitty Beatles: 6
  • Cam’s Jams: 1

Maybe I’m forgetting a band or two but that’s 111 shows by my count. More than the previous year and in fewer bands! Not too shabby!

Predictions Revisited

How well did I predict 2018? Let’s take a look at the snake marks in the sand.

  • Never Stop Playing: Well I joined the Cowboys, started the Shitty Beatles, toured a bunch. Even the Lemons played some shows! Exemplary execution. A+
  • Squeeze the Juice: Made up a lot of dumb songs this year! Some were even dumber than others. Didn’t leave too many crumbs on the plate either. A+.
  • Open the Mics: No I didn’t do any stand up comedy, no I don’t mind. I didn’t even go to that many comedy nights, nor did I think up too many jokes. Maybe I’ll be funny some other time. Gonna give this one an Incomplete.
  • Learn some Skills: No I guess I’m as incompetent and useless as ever. On the other hand I did get a job washing dishes and cutting vegetables in a professional restaurant so at least I’m more relatable. Incomplete.
  • TV or Not TV: Turns out not TV. Incomplete.
  • Clean House: I did clean the house quite a few times and it was looking nice for a while but I’ve been in hard recording session mode lately and the place is definitely looking lived in. Time to get back at it! B+.

Well, the grades speak for themselves. When I apply myself I do well but I’m just as likely to ignore the tasks I have when they don’t align with what I feel like doing. Same thing has been written on my report cards since 2nd grade so I guess you can’t teach dogs tricks. Roll over, Beethoven.

What’s In Store?

We’ve almost made it through the whole post following the same format as always, no sense in breaking tradition now so let’s make some vague and hopefully self-fulfilling prophecies for 2019!

  • Count on Country: Been scheming with the inscrutable Jason Steady about becoming singing cowboys (as opposed to Cowboys) with matching spangly jumpsuits and pizzazz. Let’s see how far that mule can carry us.
  • Milk, Milk, Lemonade: I like writing songs but I most like writing songs with Mr. E aka John Lemon. Might as well write and record as many songs as we can together and get the gang together and make a new Lemons album! With any luck we’ll be releasing something this year but if not look out next year!
  • Feeling Continental: So far in my career I’ve toured on 3 continents. How many more will I get to see? Let’s hope at least 1 more this year.
  • Get a Band: Slushy has been me plus a random pick-up of pals since… Pretty much the beginning. Is it time for me to have a permanent line-up? Maybe! Who will that consist of? Oh Lordy I don’t know at this moment, if you think you have what it takes let me know!
  • Lots of bands!: A few years ago it seemed I was playing out two, three, four times a week in a bevy of bands. Now it’s two, three times a month if I’m busy. I guess that touring lifestyle made it difficult to commit to local bands but that lack of bands has led to less touring in a cruel irony of fate. So maybe it’s time to be in 10-20 bands again? Dunno!

Okay I guess 5 predictions is enough to go forward. Now let’s count the days until I look back and remember writing this.

That’s all for this year! It’s now the middle of February but I’m going to edit the post date so it looks like I was really on top of getting this post out to you, dear readers. Until next time, I remain,