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Creeping Charlies Reunion

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Creeping Charlies Reunion

There's a lot of Joe-related news these days on the artistic front.  We're putting together a string of Lip Service West readings, including our participation in this year's Litquake festival in the city; publishing stories in middling e-journals at an alarming clip, about to assault the upper tier of print lit mags; in discussions with the networks about developing a pilot; looking for a new drummer for the Wandering Jews so we can get back in the studio and follow up our smash EP, Down on the Farm; and as always we are trying like hell to get our books published.  But perhaps the most interesting tidbit o' nugget comes from Barry B., who writes,

Joe, how much would it cost to get the Creeping Charlies back together to play at my company's offsite (we'd rent a house for half a dozen folks and their families, either Aug 19th or 20th)...?

A little context.  The Creeping Charlies was my band from 1992(ish) to 1995(ish), and I say "ish," because I can't fucking remember much from those days, except it coincided with the start of my drug problem, which progressed as the band did, and that we had one fan, Barry B.  

That might be a bit of an overstatement.  We were, after all, the house band for Hanno's, a seedy little joint in an alley in SOMA.  The Charlies were an oddity in my musical...journey(?), further clouded by the drugs and the mental problems, and the fact that I was in my early 20's, which after a lifetime of violent ups and downs, I can honestly say saw the most.  I had just moved 3,000 miles, was on my own, full of hate and piss and hellbent on crashing, burning, self-destructing, and all those good rock 'n' roll cliches.  Under it all, of course--the abrasiveness and malcontent, the bravado and declaration to drink life to the lees--was just a scared, fucked-up little suburban farmboy from CT, who was too hardheaded, broken, and, yes, stupid, to follow the clearly lit path.  Or in other words, I was slow to grow up.  

My life has followed pretty accurately this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald:

"The easiest way to get a reputation is go outside the fold, shout around for a few years as a violent atheist or a dangerous radical, and then crawl back to the shelter."

With less emphasis on the "dangerous" part and more on the "crawling," but that's quibbling, isn't it?

Anyway, the Creeping Charlies were in the midst of all this.  I sang, and the band was Dan on guitar, Matt on bass, and Gina on drums (later replaced by Da Weaz).  We recording a couple demos, Shot with a Chaser and I can't fucking remember.  Oh, yeah.  La Tristessa Durea.  I think that's how you spell it.  I'm too fucking lazy to Google it.  The never-ending sadness.  Which was Van Gogh's last words.  And, yes, I was the sort of lyricist who would quote the dying words of artists.

We weren't that bad, really.  We had moments where we were quite good.  Dan was (is) a terrific pop song writer (he shares a writing credit on the Counting Crows' "'Round Here"), and Matt was cut from the Kim Deal cloth of bassery, and Gina (when she wasn't discouraged) could do things on drums I never heard before or since (in a good shuffling dancing sort of way).  The problem was, by and large, that I tried to do way more than I can as a vocalist, going higher and higher, stretching the tenets of key.  The band was ultimately a series of square pegs, each member trying to fit into a different round hole. Dan and I had different ideas of what pop meant.  He was more Talking Heads.  I was Springsteen.  

There's a really cool live thing we did called "The Piano Sessions" that Dan might still have, and it's the one time I remember all these odd little elements and parts coming together.  

Anyway, like a crappy VH1 show, we're been asked to reunite.  

I am signing the cassette cover.  Dan?  Matt?  Gina?  

Although we might have to play the songs in a lower key.  I can't even try to hit some of those notes.  I'm a father now.


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