(editor’s note: For our younger readers who have no idea what a pinboy is, ask your aged grandad in the nursing home, or Netflix & Chill with that 1984 Nicholas Cage/Sean Penn flick Racing With The Moon. Good movie.)
I guess I would have first witnessed the rock & roll assemblage that is The League Bowlers back in the 1990’s at The Library Bar just north of Lane Avenue on High Street. Colin may have to correct my faulty memory, but it seems to me they only used to play once a year – like maybe the night before Thanksgiving – and then later it seems I remember them opening for themselves at Watershed shows. That was back when Colin & Joe Oestreich both played guitar, Herb Schupp was on drums and Paul Beltz III on bass.
I can’t quite recall the first time I saw the “modern incarnation” of the band – the one that recorded Some Balls – that featured Colin, Dan Cochran, Mike Parks and Jim Johnson, but it might have been at a bar at Easton that also featured video games for the kiddies. I later became the de facto "road manager” of that band, and detailed the night they broke up onstage at the old Thirsty Ear on Third Avenue in Grandview. (You can read all about that night – one of the Top Ten Best in my career of being a roadie, by the way – here at my old blog, Growing Old With Rock & Roll: The Friday Night Massacre: The League Bowlers Roll a Gutterball and Break Up Onstage.)
A couple of weeks after that blog first appeared back in 2012, I was handling guitars & merch sales for Joe Peppercorn’s band The Whiles at a gig at the old Kobo on High Street. While we we were loading out gear at the end of the night Joe’s brother Matt and the other Whiles’ guitarist, Jake Remley, started asking me why I used Colin’s – and other people’s – real names in the League Bowlers blog, when it was obviously a fictional story.
“That wasn’t a fictional story, all of that happened just like I said,” I replied. “The band ACTUALLY BROKE UP ONSTAGE?!?” Matt asked incredulously. “Yes, I didn’t make up one word of that piece. It may have actually been WORSE than I wrote it.” Jake and Matt just looked at me in the dark, dumbfounded; I could tell they were trying to comprehend just HOW BAD things would have to get to have that happen to them. Those Whiles boys are WAY too nice to each other; deep down they really aren’t rockers, they’re folk-rock guys. (Although I did once witness a pretty good blow-up between the Peppercorn brothers just before a Comfest gig one Sunday afternoon in the 2000’s. It was hardly an Oasis level/Gallagher brothers or Kinks/Davies brothers slugfest, but it was an impressive sibling dust-up nonetheless.)
My other favorite League Bowlers memory was during a happy hour show at the Rumba Café. I was onstage handing Mike Parks a guitar when a discussion ensued about whether to debut the Bowler’s then brand-new cover of The Faces' “Maggie May” as the closer of the second set, or to save it for sometime in the third set. (It should be noted at this point that "Maggie May" was probably the most, let's say, challenging tune in the Bowler's repertoire.) That was when the future founder of Four String Brew – Mr. Dan Cochran – spoke up between swigs of the beer in his hand and said/slurred, “If we’re gonna play “Maggie May,” we better play it RIGHT NOW, because in two more songs’ time I am not gonna BE ABLE to play it.”
I don’t think I have ever seen a more honest – or more self-aware – moment from a musician onstage. Drink on, League Bowlers, drink on. – Ricki C. / 6/13/2016
The League Bowlers will be reuniting onstage at Comfest, at noon on Sunday, June 26th, on the Off Ramp Stage. I look for them to break up again right afterwards, so you might wanna catch the show, and the band, while you can.