Friday, November 6, 2009

Popeye Has a Nightlife

A few years back when I was playing goalie for one of my work teams in Boulder, Colorado we made a point of taking our games a bit too seriously at times because playing hard is a part of hockey, yet we knew we weren't going anywhere in the sport. It wasn't as if one day a scout for the Avalanche would pop up in the stands with a contract, but we loved our time on the ice nevertheless.

We never drew big crowds, and often the "crowds" that attended the games were supportive family members and friends. What is a beer league game if you don't have somebody's kid around to fish out a puck from behind the soda machine when the ref runs out? I still remember an old girlfriend of mine who would show up and knit, and throw out a compliment or two after the game, "I thought it was nice when you stopped that shot at the end of the second period" or "are goalies supposed to punch people?"

Whenever I'm playing sports I always seem to have a song stuck in my head. In cross country in high school I would inevitably get Beethoven on a loop because it would go along with my pace. For me in hockey it is always something faster and harder, and AC/DC fits the bill most of the time. But as I get a bit older and more settled I've started to like music that doesn't make me want to throw bottles.

My best friend since the age of one, Ron Marschall has lived in Phoenix for the last ten or so years, and the band he is in, Tierra Del Fuego (Ron and his friends Brock Ruggles, Matt Wiser, and James Pyper, with some help from Jeff "Jelly" Livingston), is one of those local-type bands which is excellent, yet never for whatever reason gets the recognition they deserve. Brock writes the songs, Ron hits the skins, Matt plays the best pedal steel this side of the Mississippi, and James makes Bryan Setzer look like just another guy with a pompadour.

Over the past few years TDF has been rocking out the country swing at small beer houses and the occasional outdoor event. They always draw a crowd although the numbers aren't large, but everyone has a good time. Especially when they changed the lyrics of a song the last time I was there because I mentioned in passing that I thought the lyric sounded like this or that, and I was wrong. They did this for me before I left for Korea. It was a great going away gift: "Popeye has a nightlife..."

Fortunately the guys are pretty good natured about their station as a band. In a conversation a few weeks back I asked Ron what he would name a Tierra Del Fuego anthology someday, and without flinching he said "Why Bother?" They are doing what they like to do, and that is point of living.

Lately "The Legend of Neckbeard" by TDF has been buzzing around in my lobes, and has provided my step with a good hop. According to Ron it is Matt's song. It is upbeat and has some great pedal steel, and if they ever get it onto their next album I'm going to run it into the ground. I miss the band and their music. Korea could learn something from these guys.

Here in Korea there is a glut of terrible boy and girl bands. SHINee, Big Bang, Abracadabra, the list goes on. They all sing, they all dance, there are always a minimum of nine of them on the stage at one time and they are all plastic, and commercial, and stink... but with sparkle! The music gets into your head and rumbles around like a ball of razor blades until nothing is left but high pitched squealing. For the love of a band without some pencil-thin, bleached blond guy trying to keep it real and act hardcore while pirouetting!

Fortunately these days I have "Neckbeard" to shelter my mind from the idiocy when it isn't thinking about pucks or kick saves or girlfriends in the stands knitting.

Check out Tierra Del Fuego HERE, and drop 'em a line, I'm sure Ron and the crew wouldn't mind sending a cheap CD your way.