Live Wire

by Tim "Major Mit" Greiner

Hello again, faithful flippers of the Baltimore/DC area's best rock pages. Don't worry if this month's Livewire byline appears somewhat amiss. You may have noticed Sue Hodges' mention last month that this column will be penned by a new author starting with this issue. Well, guess what -- I'm it! And in return for teh chance to delve deep into the gold mine of local talent, Sue will return in May from one much-needed month of vacation to cover the national-breaking bands and keep you informed of the latest industry news.

Like always, Livewire will continue to promote the local scene, featuring area musicians and industry events. I invite and encourage the inevitable onslaught of promo kits coming my way. I wouldn't have taken the column if local music was not prodigiously important to me. Enough of all that -- let's kick this thing off!

The biggest story of the month deserves first bidding. When I learned of the demise of Painter's Mill in the early hours of March 18, I was shocked. I was appalled. I was saddened. Not only did we lose a fine area venue to a four-alarm fire, but we almost had to scrap one of the most important entertainment events of the last several years. Namely, the 98 Rock 14th Birthday Party Concert.

Somehow, the promotional staff and stage crews managed to haul the rigging and what-nots to Hammerjacks, at Louie's invitation, and piece the entire show together in little more than half a day. Gargantuan cheers go out to promoter Don Wehner; Louie Principio and Steve Kicus from Hammerjacks; Nelson, Child's Play, Facedancer, the Ravyns and their crews; and especially 98 Rock and Russ Mottla for inviting us to join the celebration in spite of unbelievable last minute chaos.

This party was not just to commemorate the anniversary of the nation's best rock 'n' roll radio station (voted so by The Gavin Report), it was also a USO fundraiser, entitled Operation Homefront, for the 90,000 plus families of Baltimore's Desert Storm soldiers. So here's to all of you, from the listener who came up with the idea, to the promoters, crews, club staff, and people who made it out; your efforts and support only prove that when the cause is great, people can pull it together against any odds. If you missed the show, then you may want to skip the next few paragraphs. Having missed out on such a colossal performance can be depressing.

After the pre-show festivities, Nelson warmed up the audience with a short acoustic set. The blond twins' super hits "After The Rain" and "More Than Ever" had the girlies on their knees for more.

The Ravyns followed Nelson with a set that made me wonder why this band only does reunion gigs. Keyboardist/vocalist Kyf Brewer, guitarist/vocalist Rob Fahey, guitarist David Bell, bassist Lee Townsend and drummer Timmy Steele were in prime form for the event, achieving note for note perfection during "Raised On Radio" and "Don't Leave Me This Way." We'll have something for you on Kyf's current project, Company Of Wolves, in the near future. Let's just say that the man was all a buzz that night about their latest material.

Facedancer pumped up the nostalgia level a few more notches with a second blazing reunion set, which included the obligatory "Red Shoes" and cover of the Beatles' "Happy Birthday" in tribute to the guests of honor. So where are the Ravyns and Facedancer now? Well, be patient and we may just give you the full story.

Who better to wind up this brew-ha-ha than the latest Charm City sensation, Child's Play? Calm, cool and simply chilllin' describes the band's backstage presence. Their set was as energetic and well-received as ever, the audience raising their Budweisers as an accolade to the band. It seems this town may never weary of these four masters of the hair whips. Fine with me.

So once again; congratulations, 98 Rock; farewell, Painter's Mill; good luck, Operation Homefront.

In other news, 97 Underground will be changing its name soon. Very soon. As of this month, the hardest sounds available over the airwaves will be moving up the dial to 103.1, and their frequency isn't the only thing on the way up. The new station comes equipped with a much larger transmitter than they previously used, so now we won't have to climb onto our roofs with our transistor radios to hear true metal FM. Way to go 97. . .er, um. . .Underground 103.1!

Now we turn our attention to the second-biggest show of the month: the ROX showcase at The Rage on St. Patty's Day, of course! The party rocked in high style for the many who came out to witness four of the area's local leaders in action, and Baltimore County's cable program, Rock Live, was there to catch it all on film. Ragady Ann fired the first shots, and though they went on late and had to work with a blown cabinet, their energy shone through.

City Fixx followed with simply the best, most explosive set I have ever seen this band perform. Apparently, the Fixxsters are getting psyched for their late April tape shopping venture to Los Angeles, because they erupted in a rock 'n' roll supernova that night. I'm looking forward to getting an earful of the new tape, due out early this month. The band seems poised and ready for the competition. Good luck out west, City Fixx.

It was a special night for peking OPERA, it being their record release party and less than two weeks before their showcasing debut at the Cat Club in New York City. The band's bluesy, homestyle live performance has not let me down yet, and neither did it let The Rage patrons down. With peking OPERA's musical prowess and constantly improving image, there is little doubt that their Cat Club date will be a huge success.

By the time we got around to the headline act, Psychoboy, the showcase was running way behind schedule; but we forged ahead undaunted, and it was well worth the wait. Psychoboy packed what is a normally high-energy performance into little over half the standard time slot, projucing a maelstrom of funk-laden, original jams that had the Sunday night-sized crowd dancing furiously until they dropped like flies in a gas chamber. All right, all right, so I was the only one who almost passed out from metal bebop exhaustion.

Thanks you out to Ragady Ann, City Fixx, peking OPERA, Psychoboy, Steve and The Rage and all of you who came to the showcase. Don't miss our next showcase, which will be held in May at The Rage, and another one every month. Label representatives will be present at all of The Rage shows, so get your band involved!

Snydly Crunch are making a comeback! Guitarist Mike Ricketts has informed me that the band, having spent the last two years in hiding, has scrapped most of the cover material and put together a slew of new Snydly originals. They are also working with a new vocalist, and judging by Mike's enthusiasm, the new sounds are hot. You can catch the first Snydly Crunch show in far too long at the Paragon on Friday, April 26.

Rogues Choir are currently seeking the perfect drummer to provide the thunder behind the band's newfound fervor. According to Michael Skinsacos, the band's guitarist, Rogues Choir have regrouped in intensity minus their old skins basher and are itching to get back in the action. If you have what it takes to pound it out with Rogues Choir, contact Mike Skinsacos at <number removed>.

Rumors are spreading that Problem Child are calling quits. While the band is currently undergoing some transitions, I cannot confirm the rumors. Ronny Eckers and new member Vince DePaul (Crack the Sky) have begun to gel as a serious songwriting team, and Ronny has promised to relay the details of the band's transformation as they occur. So stay tuned and stay informed.

Lord Tracy, who simply scorched at Hammers on March 1, are coming back around to The Rage on Saturday, April 6. The show is sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft and ROX Magazine, so don't miss these kings of the nighttime cowboys.

Don't forget -- The Music Business Forum is just around the corner. MBF 6 takes place Saturday, May 11 and Sunday, May 12 at the Washington Marriott Hotel. Bring the whole band to check out discussions and workshops in essential topics such as publicity and entertainment law. Our own Sue Hodges will be speaking Saturday on Metalmania: Hard Rock Dominating the `90s, and I will be on hand to support the cause and talk with the bands. If you would like registration information for this extremely important event, call <number removed>.

Another outlet for live rock closes its doors. The Network had its final show on Saturday, March 30 with Vaudeville and Lost Angels, thus ending 15 years of local and national music at the Pasedena club. According to Network employee, Barbara Kunkel, the building will reopen as A.L. Gators in mid-April. So long, Network! We'll miss you.

The people have spoken. We all know the well-publicized controversy concerning the dance music played at Hammerjacks between shows. It seems that this issue has come full circle. At the sold out Lynch Mob concert on March 29, the crowd voiced their objections to the intermission entertainment by shaking the rafters with a chorus of "F*ck the sh*t!" The management answered by cranking out Extreme's "Get the Funk Out."

Sometimes you see the strangest things . . . As my friends and I were exiting The Depot (yes, we check out ALL the local venues) on March 16, we witnessed the demolition of a Suzuki Samurai as it was hit from the side and then flipped over into a parked car. I would like to recognize the quick-thinking individual who, when the car's door would not open, had the presence of mind to smash the window with his elbow and help us pull the driver and passenger free. To the driver of the white Honda who apparently caused to accident and then fled the scene, I hope the gavel comes down hard and heavy on you.

Welp, that's it for my first shot at Livewire. How'd I do? Let me know what's going on with your band. Please send two copies of all material: <address removed>. These are exciting times for Baltimore area music and we are proud to be a part of it. So until next month, see ya' later, babe, I'm goin' out with the boys.