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Entry date: 7-21-2023 – A few more random things – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


I’m not an expert on Tony Bennett. I did go see him once with Rhondi and it was great. I forget why, but we didn’t stay for the whole show. I kind of regret it now, but what can you do? God speed, Mr. Bennett. Thanks for seemingly being one of the good ones.


On the way to Maine, we listened to a bunch of SmartLess episodes. One of them was about Paul Anka and I think I wrote a little bit about that show. Anyway, I think of it now because Anka mentioned that Tony Bennett was one of the good guys during the interview and how he could really sing. Of course, Anka is spot on here.


Someday people will be even more nostalgic, I think, about guys like Bennett, Anka, and Sinatra. What will the AI overlords create then? New movies and music by them, maybe. Maybe they will all come back as women, too.


Weird thoughts on a Friday.


*****


Yesterday was the ten year anniversary of Hollywood Alley closing. I tried to remember the first time I went there. I think it was to see Trunk Federation play and maybe it was when they played with Archers of Loaf there. Either way, I was pretty hooked on the Alley as soon as I got a chance to soak up the vibe.


I was a little late to the game with the Alley. It was a good spot for local and national music before I started going there. When a lot of my peers began hanging out there, I was not in a band and not drinking, so going to a bar in Mesa when I lived at 19th Avenue and Northern was not big on my agenda.


Since Trunk Federation was playing there a bit and I got hip to what my ol’ buddy, Steve, was doing with Medical Records, all that changed. I had many good and interesting times at the Alley and I miss it.


It was my favorite place to play music in town, that’s for sure. Ross, the owner’s son and main man to all the bands in town, was and is a wonderful dude. I just love the guy. He always took as good of care of us as he could and that will never be forgotten.


I reached out to him about a show in July of 1995. Hillbilly had been gigging out for a little over a year at that point and I guess I figured we were ready to build a little east valley fanbase. We were given August 9 as a day to play, which was a Wednesday. There was a decent crowd there, I guess, and because it was the day Jerry Garcia died, I told all my friends who were coming to say their name was Jerry Garcia and they were on the guest list.


What I didn’t know was that my future friend and bandmate, Casey, was working the door that night and got his name from what is maybe the Dead’s most famous song, “Casey Jones.” I wonder how many people think that song is called “Truckin’”?


Casey was bummed out by my little joke. I took it a bit further and changed a lot of the lyrics that night to be about Garcia’s death. It offended a few other people, too, but that was one of the things Hillbilly was good at in those days. We aimed to please.


I was sad, though, about Garcia dying. I liked going to Dead shows a lot and had become quite a fan of his (and the band’s) music. I’ve always grabbed onto opportunities to run a good (or bad) joke into the ground, so that night was no different. I guess history shows that we didn’t burn any bridges as we ended up playing there a ton of times.


I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite Alley show I either played or attended. There were so many. After Fun Bob and I became friends, he put us on so many great shows. When Pinky started up, we played there a ton, too. The Father Figures played there a good handful of times, as well, and I even did a few one off shows, too.


Eric and CG and I did a show as a band called Buck Farkley. We played covers and some Hillbilly songs with me on guitar instead of bass. That was a great time. Shane and I did a two-piece version of Hillbilly there at least once, too, called Selling TVs to the Blind. I’m still a fan of that band name.


I don’t know how many times I played as a member of Blanche Davidian there, too, but it was always fun. Those songs were a blast to play. My hat will always be off to those guys as both musicians and just good dudes.


We did a few events there over the years, too. Again, I am so thankful to Ross and Fun Bob for being cool to hosting some of my crazy ideas. One of which was the Thrash of the Titans show that ended up giving birth to Bro-Loaf. My band that night, Naughty Little Squirrel Fuckers, was super fun and it was a blast to play with my friends in that one. All of which, I might add, are still rocking in some killer bands.


There was also Bourbon Witch...oh my. That's another story for another day.


Ross Rocks, of course, was amazing. We raised a bunch of dough for Ross after his first big stroke and it was fantastic to see how the community came together to support him. I think I did four sets that day, but that wasn’t the only time I did that. I even played a solo set there once and my Dad and Doug were both there for that.


Enough about me, though. If you remember the Alley, you will remember the comfortable, welcoming vibe, and killer food, too. It really did have the whole package. A great bar with a nice selection of beer for the time (for any time, really), and if it still existed, I bet the Alley would have a great selection of draft beer.


I loved going there early, loading in gear, and getting some food and a Rolling Rock before getting ready to rock. Their pizza was always great, but they also had wonderful breakfasts, too.


It was my playground and I miss it.


See you tomorrow.



A little Blanche activity.


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