0

Let’s go Underground!

July 15, 2009

photo

Jim with Speedqueen Underground

MUSIC PRESS RELEASE

Entertainment Blogger and much sought after mandolinist Jim Drake dusts off his garage band roots and sits in with Gorge punk rockers Speed Queen Underground for a special acoustic set tonight, July 3, at Everybody's Brewing in White Salmon. Taking the blogosphere to the next level, Drake will actually embed himself into the SQU band, and play a fine selection of covers, including REM, Cyndi Lauper, and of course, a "Thrilling" tribute to the man himself, Micheal J.

If Drake survives this grueling set of music, he'll eventually publish an edited version of his experiences online at www.hoodrivernews.com

If you don’t remember seeing that press release anywhere, don’t worry, you’re not losing your mind. You see, it all happened so fast, I didn’t have time to send it out to anyone. That’s the way it goes in the fast-paced rock-and-roll world. One minute, it was a normal day at work, and then, the next minute, I was trying to schedule myself into jamming a few songs with a hard-working local punk rock band SpeedQueen Underground.

So how did this happen? Well, when Jeff, from SQU, emailed me information on one of their shows, I checked out their website. It turns out that Matt Bynum had come onboard as their lead singer. Hmmm. Matt used to show up at our mile marker 6 gigs, all the time. We used to do this version of “Walking Cane” where different folks from the audience would come up and sing a verse. It was a really fun song, and Matt was usually one of those folks who came up to the mic. You could tell he really liked to sing and interact with the band.

And that got me thinking, SQU was one of those bands I kept hearing about, but overall, I really didn’t know. So, how can I turn this around, and find out more about this band, get them on my blog, and make it fun, all at the same time?

And then the answer hit me. It was so simple.

I’d need to play with this band.

Not, join-up as a full time member, per se, but just say, ‘Hey – could I bring my mandolin and jam with you guys for a few songs and write about the experience? It would be a really cool way to write a blog, don’t you think?’

I’ve been in bands around here for a long time. So I know all about the band practices, the band meetings, the band emails, the band scheduling conflicts, the band set lists, the band revised set lists, the band re-revised set lists, it goes on and on. And in the back of my mind, I’ve always wondered – do other bands go through the same things?

I decided it was time to find out.

So when SQU’s email came in, announcing a special rare acoustic show, I thought, well, here’s a perfect opportunity. Let’s give this a whirl.

So, what happened? Well, the short answer is, it worked! It’s funny, sometimes it just takes a small effort to let people know who you are, and the rest of it just falls into place. I kind of admit, when it comes to interacting with other musicians, I’m a little on the shy side. But when Jeff finally figured out who I was, I swear, in less than 4 hours, I had a practice time and location, songs, a set list, chords, style descriptions, advice on what gear to bring, and an invitation to jam with them at Everybody’s Brewing, to boot.

In fact, the band wanted to play REM’s Losing My Religion, which has a strummy mandolin part on it. So we would have to give that a try, for sure.

So, that very same evening, I head down to the secret practice spot. By golly, I say to myself as I’m heading down this huge flight of stairs, it is sort of “underground.” I wonder if that’s where the band name came from. Music sounds are booming out of the open doorway at the bottom of the stairs. OK, here we go.

SQU is in the middle of a song, but I can’t tell what it is. But it looks like your standard band-practice situation. You’ve got about 5 guys, with some sort of instrument, plugged into some sort of amplification device. It’s loud.

I break out my mandolin and start looking around for a place on the mixing board to plug it in. At first, we can’t get any sound, but after turning some knobs here and there, it finally kicks into gear. After a few quick hello’s and introductions, we’re off and running through some tunes. Jeff had sent me a setlist, so I chose two or three songs I thought would be able to get through. Mind you, we haven’t talked about arrangements, or chords, or song keys, or anything, really. Just start playing. You’ll get the hang of it.

I find out that SQU’s basic method of letting someone know how a song goes is this:

“This song as a lot of C and G in it. Can you put a solo here?”

We run through Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” And now, we’re on to the classic punk rock song – Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” SQU’s arrangement of this tune is slightly different from the original, but since I never played the original – it doesn’t bother me too much.

I bet these guys would get a kick out of knowing that I saw Cyndi Lauper, probably back in the late 80’s, at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City. I remember that when Cyndi told us who was in her band, it turned out her brother played guitar. She opened for The Kinks (a band that I’ve probably seen 10 times, but that’s another story.)

(That’s me on the right, onstage with SQU at Everybody’s Brewing, July 3)

The bridge to this song is giving me trouble. Was that a B minor? For me, when it comes to trying to figure out what chord someone is playing, I’m in trouble, especially if someone plays an alternate chord shape (which, in SQU, someone is playing an alternate chord shape every 1.24 seconds). I mean, I can read the basic ones, and sometimes get the shapes right up the neck, but for me, it’s best to have stuff written down.

Yes, after some analysis, and consulting with other band members, there was a consensus that this song did go to a B minor. I try to commit that to memory.

So, remember when I said that I was wondering if bands go through the same kinds of issues all my bands did?. Well, here’s a case in point: Craig, the drummer, did make the suggestion that since no one in the band had played this particular song before (we were about to try the REM song), that it would be a great idea if we practiced the song, since the gig was, in fact, tomorrow. And I thought to myself, “My god, this IS just like a regular band practice!” Leave it to at least one band member to come up with the common sense approach.

After about 3 tries, the song gets approved and placed on the setlist. It’s that easy.

Next, the fellow on my left, Brian Nelson, tried out a few of his tunes. It turns out Brian is visiting friends in the band, and happens to be sitting in, too. I’m pretty sure he ran through some Pearl Jam tunes (Better Man?). Lots of E and A. It turns out that Brian has an interesting story about his job, so go ahead and read all the emails at the end of the blog entry!

As I’m wrapping up to go home, Craig asks if someone could actually print out an extra copy of a setlist. “Yes,” I say to myself, “a band member needs an actual copy of an actual setlist for gig tomorrow.”

This fully supports my General Setlist Theory of Bands, and I’m glad I was able to witness this event that has probably been occurring in bands for thousands of years. I mean, when the very first band was created, they probably carved out their setlist on a rock, or clay tablet. But of course, a natural disaster came along and buried or washed the setlist away, so not all band members had a copy of it anymore,………………

Read Jim’s email with SQU here:

Hi Jim,

That sounds great!

The other guitarist was Brian Nelson. Brian used to work with me at Sagetech Corporation, but left a couple of years ago when he was offered a year-long posting at McMurdo Station, America's chief science facility in Antarctica. Brian is going to deploy this fall for another 6-month stint in Antarctica at another station on the opposite side of the continent from McMurdo. Right now he is just working part time for Sagetech and vacationing until he leaves in mid-August to prepare for Antarctica.

I should also mention that we were short 1 member who was out of town - our lead guitarist Ken Thornton.

Band lineup -

Matt Bynum - vocals & trombone

Jeff Lemley - guitar and bass

Jim Matthias - guitar and bass

Craig Spaeth - drums

Ken Thornton - lead guitar

Next gig is tentatively Friday, August 7th, at the Neon Cruise in downtown The Dalles, but that is still in the works.

Jeff - thanks! that was fun, glad everyone liked it. Yeah, i'd love to hear the brass ring song and play what I can. I'll try to hit a practice end of july/early aug.

I'm still working on my blog write up, but it should be up soon.

Hey what was the name of the other guitarist who joined in with the pearl jam songs?

Jim Drake

Hood River News

541-386-1234

JDrake@HoodRiverNews.com

www.hoodrivernews.com

http://www.hoodrivernews.com/Entertainment_Blog.htm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Jeffrey Lemley [mailto:jeffreylemley@hotmail.com]

Sent: Wednesday, July 08, 2009 3:39 PM

To: Drake Jim

Subject: RE: SpeedQueen Underground Shows this Weekend.

Hey Jim,

Everybody had a really good time playing with you the other night. Hopefully, we can get together again sometime. That was a lot of fun, and we received a lot of positive feedback from the few folks that were in attendance.

I think that Craig, our drummer, had mentioned to you that we might be interested in working up a mandolin part for one of our more mellow tunes called Brass Ring. Perhaps when we get around to recording it, you might be interested in contributing on that?

Thanks again Jim! I don't think we are practicing this week, but we'll probably be back to Thursday nights at Matt's place under Ground (pun intended) next week.

Jeff

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: JDrake@HoodRiverNews.com

To: jeffreylemley@hotmail.com

Date: Thu, 2 Jul 2009 15:31:36 -0700

Subject: RE: SpeedQueen Underground Shows this Weekend.

jeff, thanks! ok lets go with billie and time after time.

I'll actually be in HR tonight for dinner, so I'll try to stop by.

you're right, the REM stuff would rock!

Jim Drake

Hood River News

541-386-1234

JDrake@HoodRiverNews.com

www.hoodrivernews.com

http://www.hoodrivernews.com/Entertainment_Blog.htm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Jeffrey Lemley [mailto:jeffreylemley@hotmail.com]

Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 3:07 PM

To: Drake Jim

Subject: RE: SpeedQueen Underground Shows this Weekend.

Hi Jim,

Now I just realised who you are. Just never knew your last name. I can't count the number of times I've seen you play.

We are going to be playing Billie jean in Em and A (full step down from the recorded version). Easier to play and sing.

Everybody Knows is Cohen, but the version we play is far from it. And I would be hard pressed to figure out where to put the mandolin.

Time After Time is Lauper, and that would sound cool with a mando solo in the middle. We play that song primarily in C and G. The solo would be in C & G as well. The pre-chorus bridge is G, A, F#, and D. The chorus is D, E, C & G. It is quite a bit different than the original arrangement, but it flows well. And we play it fairly lightly and mellow during the versus and solo section, and just rock the chorus.

Boy, if we just had time to practice it, I know the band would love to do Losing My Religion with a mando.

You can check out some of our recorded works on our website at www.speedqueenunderground.com

Or at www.myspace.com/speedqueenunderground

We will be practicing tonight at Matt Bynum's place from 7 PM to 10 PM or so. He lives in Hood River. You'll be able to hear us from Oak Street.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: JDrake@HoodRiverNews.com

To: jeffreylemley@hotmail.com

Date: Thu, 2 Jul 2009 14:49:59 -0700

Subject: RE: SpeedQueen Underground Shows this Weekend.

Jeff, thanks for getting back to me....

I played elect. guitar/mando in mile marker 6 for about 4 years (alt-country-roots rock). Currently it's all acoustic folk/bluegrass with the Kate Meloy Trio. (Before that, it was All Night Station, which was alt-country but more acoustic.)

I could bring an amp (mesa express 25), which should be loud enough to compete, but I usually plug into the PA with a direct box.

I'd like to try Billie jean (jackson), Everybody Knows (cohen? Don Henley?) and Time After Time (Lauper??) . Am I thinking of the right songs here?

If that's ok, please send some chords along. If you have any band mp3's of these, let me know.

and you guys would start around 8 or 9?

Jim Drake

Hood River News

541-386-1234

JDrake@HoodRiverNews.com

www.hoodrivernews.com

http://www.hoodrivernews.com/Entertainment_Blog.htm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Jeffrey Lemley [mailto:jeffreylemley@hotmail.com]

Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 2:00 PM

To: Drake Jim

Subject: RE: SpeedQueen Underground Shows this Weekend.

Interesting.... what kind of music do you play on a regular basis? Most of what we play is either alt rock originals, alt rock and punk rock covers, and just other covers that we turn into punk rock songs.

Here is a list of what we will be playing tomorrow night. If there is something on the list that you think you can contribute to, then I'll run it by the boys.

Note: Even though we bill the show as acoustic, it really means that we are playing acoustic guitars through Marshall amplifiers. Do you have a mandolin amp so you can keep up?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: JDrake@HoodRiverNews.com

To: jeffreylemley@hotmail.com

Date: Thu, 2 Jul 2009 09:52:35 -0700

Subject: RE: SpeedQueen Underground Shows this Weekend.

no problem!

say, I've been meaning to get you guys on my entertainment blog, and, since you guys are doing an acoustic set, I was thinking that a fun way to write about the band would be for me to actually jam with you guys on one or two songs friday night at everybody's.

can you make room for a mandolin on an 'easy' tune?

Jim Drake

Hood River News

541-386-1234

JDrake@HoodRiverNews.com

www.hoodrivernews.com

http://www.hoodrivernews.com/Entertainment_Blog.htm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Jeffrey Lemley [mailto:jeffreylemley@hotmail.com]

Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 9:37 AM

To: Drake Jim

Subject: RE: SpeedQueen Underground Shows this Weekend.

Hi Jim,

Saw the post in the Entertainment Update. Thanks for the quick work!!

Jeff Lemley

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: JDrake@HoodRiverNews.com

To: jeffreylemley@hotmail.com

Date: Mon, 29 Jun 2009 09:25:12 -0700

Subject: RE: SpeedQueen Underground Shows this Weekend.

thanks jeff, we'll sure try.

Jim Drake

Hood River News

541-386-1234

JDrake@HoodRiverNews.com

www.hoodrivernews.com

http://www.hoodrivernews.com/Entertainment_Blog.htm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Jeffrey Lemley [mailto:jeffreylemley@hotmail.com]

Sent: Monday, June 29, 2009 9:07 AM

To: Drake Jim

Subject: RE: SpeedQueen Underground Shows this Weekend.

Importance: High

Hi Jim,

I don't know if it is too late to get this onto the website this week. It is kinda a last minute show.

"Speedqueen Underground will be playing an acoustic pop punk show at Everybody's Brewing in White Salmon at 8 PM on Friday, July 3rd. Come and enjoy the easy listening sounds of some of your favorite punked-up covers and originals performed acoustically! Everybody's Brewing - 151 E Jewett Blvd, White Salmon. www.speedqueenunderground.com"

Thanks Jim!

Jeff Lemley

Speedqueen Underground

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: JDrake@HoodRiverNews.com

To: jeffreylemley@hotmail.com

Date: Tue, 26 May 2009 11:27:17 -0700

Subject: RE: SpeedQueen Underground Shows this Weekend.

thanks Jeff, Mike of everybodys sent some info in, but this is the first one from you I've seen.

Jim Drake

Hood River News

541-386-1234

JDrake@HoodRiverNews.com

www.hoodrivernews.com

http://www.hoodrivernews.com/Entertainment_Blog.htm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Jeffrey Lemley [mailto:jeffreylemley@hotmail.com]

Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 9:37 AM

To: Drake Jim

Subject: SpeedQueen Underground Shows this Weekend.

Hi Jim,

Don't know if my emails are getting through to you from my other account. I don't know if it is too late now to get anything on the website or in the paper. See info below.

Thanks!

Jeff Lemley

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Jeff Lemley

Sent: Friday, May 15, 2009 7:14 AM

To: 'Drake Jim'

Subject: RE: Entertainment Announcement

Hi Jim,

Could you please throw this into the paper?

SpeedQueen Underground is playing a double-header of sensibly danceable alternative punk this weekend in The Gorge. Friday night SQU plays at 9:30 PM at The Vault, located at 209 East 2nd Street in The Dalles. The next night, the rock continues at Everybody’s Brewing at 151 East Jewett Blvd in White Salmon. Music starts at 9 PM. www.speedqueenunderground.com

Thanks Jim!

Jeff Lemley

Speedqueen Underground

White Salmon, WA 98672

(509) 493-8484

lem@sagetechcorp.com

Comments

Comments are subject to moderator review and may not appear immediately on the site. A user's first several comments must be manually approved by a moderator.

Please read our commenting policy before posting.

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment