As I get older, the fog of the passing years decends more and more rapidly, further enshrouding from view everything it touches. So it is always a delight when someone or something comes along to fan the fog away, if only for a moment. Such is the case with one Brendan DeVallance, a fellow traveller from the early Phoenix punk rock scene.
Recently, Mr. DeVallance notified me of his intention of opening a wing on his site devoted to the old days. He asked for a glowing remembrance of his group the Junior Chemists, and I was happy to comply. You'll find it here, along with plenty of photos and audio clips. If -- like me -- you're one of the six or seven folks still alive from back then, Brendan's pages are sure to take you back.
Along with his other group the Advo-Cats, Brendan started the Junior Chemists in the summer of 1980, around the same time as the Kirkwoods and I debuted the Meat Puppets. (I still have a tape of their very first gig.) And though I can find evidence that our two groups only ever played together once, that show remains clear in my memory.
Happily, Brendan had the presence of mind to bring his camera on that occasion, and took one of the few photos in existance of the Meat Puppets performing during their first year. It's a cute one too. Since it was a Christmas show, you can see streamers and decorations against the walls. All three of us are babies -- there's just no other way to describe us. We're just barely out of short pants.
Staged in Phoenix's premiere dive of the day, the gig brought together not only the cream of punk revellers, but also some guys from our neighborhood. Though some of them were no strangers to the scene, one of two had yet to get their feet wet. Just the same, they were game to come along for the novelty. It made for an interesting contrast to have Curt's geeky high school chums calling out for Yes and King Crimson covers admid the baleful stares of such local stalwarts as Marcy Murder and Charlie Monoxide.
The photo also captures us using our original gear -- with one exception. Absent from the scene is Curt's beautiful black Les Paul. Not long before this gig, he left it in the back of his truck one night while visiting friends. It didn't stay back there for long. Its replacement, the Gibson you see in the picture, was flat piece of plank with little sustain and a brittle, unpleasant sound. It afforded Curt none of the majesty and mystery of the Les Paul, and proved to be a thorn in our side for as long as it remained in service.
Henceforth, we learned how important our instruments were to our sound, and to take good care of them. Well, some of us did.