Rockafellas and Me, Part 5: The Shows Must Go On (and on, and on, and…)

Only a few more days until the Rockafellas Reunion and I keep remembering stuff. Here, then, are some more great shows I’ve dredged up from my admittedly spotty memory.

Hoodoo Gurus were a hugely popular band on the airwaves of WUSC, so when they played Rockafellas the place was packed. “Bittersweet,”
Leilani,” “Kamikaze Pilot,” they played them all, even their current MTV song of that particular time, “Good Times.” The Bangles sang backup on the recorded version, too bad they didn’t make the tour. The refrain is particularly fitting for the Rockafellas Reunion, however—“All the good times we’ve had, we’ll have again.”

Roger Manning was another WUSC-created phenomenon, and he’s played Columbia a few times over the years—first, however, at Rockafellas. His first album, on SST, is still his best, showcasing the anti-folk, punk blues acoustic music he helped create in New York City, along with Kirk Kelly, Cindy Lee Berryhill, and others in the 80s. All of his songs had “Blues” in the title, and most were numbered, too, like, “Train Blues #4,” or something like that. To this day, I couldn’t tell you the name of any of the songs on that debut, but I could probably still sing along with them.

The O’Kanes are kind of a lost name in country music circles, but they played Rockafellas on what I think was my 20th birthday. Their album, Tired Of the Runnin’, was pretty good, if a bit commercial, I thought, so I went to hear them that night. The duo consisted of Jamie O’Hara and Kieran Kane, an arranged marriage of sorts for two Nashville songwriters that worked for a few years. Kane, has gone on to more indie-country ways with his stake in the Dead Reckoning label and a string of albums with folks like Kevin Welch, O’Hara as far as I know is still writing songs in Music City.

I first saw and heard Angie Aparo at Rockafellas, on the back deck if I remember correctly. His 1997 album Out Of the Everywhere included a minimal, acoustic band, and that’s what he had with him the numerous times he played on the deck. His bald egghead look came later, back then Angie sported a pretty substantial goatee and usually a knit cap on his head. His percussion player had originally been in Edwin McCain’s first band, and if you ever find a copy of Edwin’s first demo tape, that guy’s on it. Angie was the kind of guy who inspired a rabid following, I still listen to that first album a lot.

Uncle Green was another Atlanta act that played Rockafellas a bunch. The first time I saw them was after they’d released their first DB Records album, the one with, “Chemical Way,” on it. They played a great cover of T Rex’s “Jeepster” that night, as I recall, but the funniest thing that happened was actually before the show, in the men’s room. I was tending to my business when someone else about to do the same came in, talking to his buddy about whether they were going to pay to see the band or head somewhere else. I said something complimentary about the band, I don’t remember what, and convinced them to stay for the show. Well, out of the ‘stall’ section of the mens room comes Matt, Uncle Green’s lead singer/guitarist, who had heard the whole exchange, and he thanked me for the plug and introduced himself. Later, he gave me a copy of their new LP, which I still have.

More to come….


3 thoughts on “Rockafellas and Me, Part 5: The Shows Must Go On (and on, and on, and…)

  1. You’ve made me think about more things I saw/did there. Alex Chilton, great show even if I was more of a metalhead. And, of course, the then infamous Gleet airband. I like to think we were the inspiration for GWAR, but we were in another state so its doubtful. I think BoA was everywhere, I still have their cassette. I know there were more, but my mind is weak and the body old.

    Have fun!

  2. How can you not mention House of Freaks? It’s a wonder the roof was still on the place after those guys got done.

    Concrete Blonde, School of Fish, and Dramarama were standouts for me.

  3. Hey I was a regular at Rockafellas from about ’95-’97 – does anyone remember the name of that ridiculously over the top shock/sex/rock group that used to play there? They had about a dozen people including a few S&M type mistresses who would have chastity belts sawn off with rotary saws and perform lewd acts on each other, often unsimulated and with nudity onstage. Pyrotechnics galore. LOUD. Anyone?

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