Dodge Street Grill
July 29, 2006
|We have this night written up twice, once by Blowfish and once by Ralph Fatello of the Vinny Band. We got most of the direct duplications out. It's all in the spirit of a generous evening. You can spot the common feeling of a special show in both stories.|
The minute we saw the Tribute to Alpo poster I knew where we would be on July 29.
Dodge Street has had some good bookings but this was a doozie. It's a chance to see the Boom Boom Band in a small room just like the old days. Dodge Street is the place the Nervous Eaters had a big return gig a few years back that was positively awesome. Did I see The Vinny Band listed? I did. When was the last time they played? Got to check that out. I have never seen a band as many times as The Classic Ruins and I love them every time. The crunch guitar, sandpaper voice and dry wit of Frank Rowe are my bread and butter. The Cover Girls, I don't know but we'll see.
We get a panic call from Rayboy. He doesn't have a ride. I saw him asking on the NOISE BORED and thought he was set, but it seems not. We pick him up at his studio. Now we know where to record Memories of a Groupie by Miss Lyn.
We have to admit to being very parochial. It's hard to get us out of Boston. Off we go anyway. Up Route 1A, through Lynn, etc what a horrible ride. We have Rayboy in the back. It took us about 57 ˝ Atlantics stories to get to Salem.
It was hot but not HHHHHHHHOOTTT outside.
Dodge Street has added new back room since we've been there for the band which doubles their space. Very nice.
One thing we've been told and I think it's true; these North Shore rockers like to liquor up. Sure enough between the rooms they set up a huge ice bucket with beer and jello shots; like you couldn't go ten feet further and get it from the bar. When I saw the jello shots I think; don't let Carmelita see these. (You know Legal Sea Foods started a trendy spot called LTK. They tried touch-screen drink ordering at the tables and waiters with portable wi-fi ordering devices. It failed. The Bucket 'o' Booze? That worked just fine.)
This Tribute to Alpo was put together by Lisa Connolly. It was a great idea. The money is going to the facility where Alpo worked for a while. It turns out that Lisa also has a band and that is The Cover Girls, the first band up. Lisa is the singer and a great front person she is. It's all 'cover' songs as you would think and it's all a good job from Sam and Dave to The Real Kids. The crowd gives them a great response and it is obvious that these are people who know what is going on and are going to make the night special. All night the audience continued to show the bands that they loved them and they loved being at this gig and all the bands responded in turn by giving some of their best performances.
That is really true of The Vinny Band. There is no way to figure out how Vinny will sound after all this time. One thing though, Ralph Fatello never does anything half-assed. Sure enough, this band sounds rehearsed. Loud and assured they immediately raise the bar. Everyone after this better have their act together. They do some of their signature tunes. They play Here's Where I Get Off which was the last song on their LP on Eat Records. It's got a massive riff they ride for 5 minutes. You want it to never end. I can't remember the Vinny Band being this good, I mean they are fantastic. The crowd is giving them a lot of return noise. Then they start the song that won't go away…The Ravioli . Ralph gets some girls on stage and teaches us how to do the dance and it's a big rockin' hoot.
Who could follow that? Well, Classic Ruins will follow or lead or whatever, they don't care, the Ruins just plug-n-play. Frank Rowe has lost a lot of weight but his head is still big. He looks like a PEZ dispenser. It's a great Ruins set. They play all the faves with the great lyrics and guitar riffs. Jeff Crane is doing a bang up job giving them extra punch. I overheard someone right after the set say, "Did you hear what that bass player was doing? " That's Carl he amazes every time.
The special treat of the set is the quest appearance of Real Kid himself Billy Borgiolli. They play The Boob with inspiration Bob Colby right in the room. On stage Frank Rowe says that Alpo once gave him a jab by saying, "You'll always be a bar band." Frank admits, "He was right, but it's not so bad."
Willie Loco and the Boom Boom Band come out and roar from the first note. They play Mass Ave, Pup Tune, Hair, Dirty Eddie…just everything good. They are playing hard. It's obvious at this point that we are at a very special gig. Hearing Willie like this is just like hearing him at Cantones. The people present tonight are getting a dose of Boston Rock circa 1978 and they seem to know it. They show it by their loud response.
The Nervous Eaters continue the perfect night with another inspiring set. Alan Hebditch and his brother are in this version of the Eaters. They play a glorious version of Last Chance. What is it about that song? The snap of the chords (playing off a suspended fourth, for you guitar fans) and their release give the song a unique character. They play 528 a newer song off their Eat This CD about the Rat where they roll call some of the old crowd. What a perfect song for the night. Hearing Talk to Loretta is heaven on earth. Take me now Lord, I'm ready.
Lisa Connolly who at this point has drunk the volume of Lake Superior in hard liquor and is careening around the room like a BB in a box car bumps into me and spills some golden juice on her arm. What to do? She wipes it on my shirt and pants with a great flourish and tops it off by grabbing my ass with gusto. I'm stunned yet strangely pleased. Lisa moves on to Terry Brenner who is busy drinking the volume of the lesser lakes.
The Eaters end and it's out to get some air. It has been very hot all night in the club but worth every drop of sweat. Everyone outside looks contented. I'm sure Alpo was looking down pleased with the wonderful music made in his honor.
Like dutiful parents we round up Rayboy and we're off. There was less traffic going home and we were back in only 37 Atlantics stories. No repeats.
I do not know of the exact origin of this somber line; "You can't go home again", but we've all heard it a million times in our lives. Same with "You're living in the past". While they both may hold some merit , neither one would apply to what happened on Saturday July 29, 2006 because this night was a tribute to one of our own: Allen "ALPO" Paulino.
Allen was a North Shore boy turned punk bassist and vocalist in one of the area's best-known Rock bands, The Real Kids. As many of you now know, Allen passed away on February 7th of this year. It was a loss that shook the local Rock community to the core. Another casualty in a long line of untimely Boston Rock deaths, Alpo was gone forever, but his music inspired a handful of musicians to get together and create a night of Rock.
It would be here, on the North Shore where Alpo was born and raised. Where he started his early Rock career. The North Shore (and Beverly in particular) was to Boston, as Liverpool was to England. The North Shore produced many a successful rock band. But for the sake of time and space, I'll only name a few. The Nervous Eaters, The Real Kids, The Vinny Band, The Fools, The Dawgs, The Stompers and The Catalinas.
Cheryl Eagan Donovan started the night off with a glimpse of the upcoming documentary All Kindsa Girls. Seeing and hearing Alpo again was good for the soul. It was on one hand, a painful reminder of what we lost, while on the other, it was soothing to hear and see him again. Music and film lives on forever.
The first live act was Lisa Connelly's The Cover Girls. An all girl band that rocked Real Kids cover tunes. And Beverly (Ryal Side) girl Gay Hathaway was on the drums.
Next up was Vinny. Now, it's hard for me to write about my own band and be subjective and nonbiased. In fact, if anything, I'd be more inclined to be a bit harsher. But I must say, that it was a pleasure to play with my brother Johnny again in this format, doing these old songs. Johnny and I formed Vinny in 1976 and the broke broke up in 1986. It was difficult to take 10 years worth of original songs in a 15 minute set. But I think, judging by everyone's reaction, we rocked 'em. Thanks to the solid drumming from Lenny Dunn and our monster bass player Mike Dougwillo, Johnny and I felt right at home. We dedicated "Hijacker" to the late Jeff Wilkinson. Hell, we even pulled off an impromptu version of the dam Ravioli, complete with back-up singers The Vincettes.
Next up was one of my all time favorite local guitar players Frank Rowe and Classic Ruins. Frank's signature descending guitar chords are a trademark of his Classic Ruins sound and early year's Baby's Arm formula. His gravelly voice, coupled with his twisted tortured stance, brought me back to a time, that I had almost all but forgotten. At the end of the Ruins' set Billy Borgioli stepped up onto the stage as a Special Guest. Billy, one of the original Real Kids guitar players. They played "Do The Boob".
The room was filled with all kinds of faces from the past and present. Like
long time scenster, Bob
Colby for whom The Boob was written! The beautiful
Bristols were here. Kim, Michelle and Kelly
were all sparkling smiles. Do these girls ever age? My dear old friend
Ray Boy Fernandes. He was wearing a RAT
tee-shirt. Another old friend and ageless Icon, who I have not seen in years,
Paul "Blowfish" was there along with Miss Lyn.
Also in the crowd were guitarist Mike Quirk, Miss Lizzie Borden, the fabulous Carmelita, , Ed "Moose" Savage and Ken Kaiser of The Beachmasters, Carl Square of Mighty Ions fame. Was it historical? Hell yea it was. Was it significant? You bet yer ass it was.
I looked over at Artie Freedman, the ever diligent, unassuming documenter of our Rock & Roll lives. Artie had captured yet another bright moment in a series of shows, that ranged from the 1970's to the present.
Willie (Loco) Alexander & The Boom Boom Band were next. For the record, there could really be NO real Boston Rock scene without including this Big Daddy. Willie is such animated character. I see Willie being Willie, for another 30 plus years. And what can you say about Billy Loosigian? That man is a freaking monster on the guitar. From 1976 to 2006, Billy Loosigian was and still is, one of the best. Playing rhythm guitar was old friend Fritz Erickson.
The night ended with my all time favorite local band, The Nervous Eaters. Steve Cataldo and I logged a lot of hours together in the trenches of the local Rock scene. We were roommates for a while as well. Those were some of the fondest memories of my Rock and Roll life. Hearing the Eaters again brought it all back and it was a fitting end to this amazing night. Shit for Brains, Last Chance, Just Head, You Smell Like Fish, and Loretta are but a handful of tunes that Steve and company rocked through. Steve's brother Lou on the drums gave a stirring rendition of the scene's best drummer, the late Jeff Wilkinson. While one of the Eaters alumni, Alan Hedbitch on guitar and his brother Russ on bass, stood their ground and swung their mighty guitars in the waning light of the night.
Photo by Cory Fatello
Photo by Ralph Fatello
The last band
Allen ever played in was the Eaters, and that fact was not lost on any of us.
It was, like I said, a fitting end and tribute, to a dear friend, father, and husband. But most importantly, a ROCKER.
Alpo was, and is (somewhere), a Rocker, and this night was all about that. Long Live ALPO!
Faith, hope and love. It was all "Real" that night…Rest in Peace brother.