The lights are low, cymbals are swelling and the open guitar and bass notes roar like thunder. Rick Cautela, the Rock and Roll Reverend, steps up to the mic, arms spread as if to embrace the entire audience. “Coluuumbuuus, Ooohiooo! Are we ready for a good time tonight?” The crowd roars as he introduces the return of Shock Tu to the Columbus stage. And yes, we were ready for a good time.
It’s been at least 25 years since the line up of Timmy Owings, Ricky Soga, Jimmy Miller and Ric Martelino last played together. And this past Saturday night at the Lazy Chameleon in Powell, you’d think they’d never stopped. For those that are unfamiliar with Shock Tu, they were one of Columbus’s premier hard-rockin’ bands of the late 80’s and early 90’s. They also spent some time in Texas, which helped to broaden their appeal. This line-up was the final one before the band went their separate ways. In fact, last year the Lazy Chameleon hosted the reunion of Shock Tu with former singer Joey C. Jones and drummer Ken Koudelka. I attended that show as well, but that wasn’t my Shock Tu.
Back in the mid 90’s when I was just 17, I saw a long-haired blonde guy walk into the grocery store where I worked. I walked up to him and said, “So are you in a band?” That guy was Timmy Owings and he’s been one of my best friends ever since. I can remember the first time that I saw Shock Tu at the Alrosa Villa, the Columbus club owned by the aforementioned Rock and Roll Reverend. Being that I was only 17, Timmy got me in into the show and it was at that show that I met the other guys in the band. I’ve built friendships with Ricky Soga and Jimmy Miller over the years and Ric Martelino, who I haven’t known as well, has always been very cool when I would run into him.
Around that time, Shock Tu released a cassette of songs that were staples of the band’s set back then. And it was from that batch of songs that most of their reunion set was built. Songs that after 25 years, I was still able to sing along to, while standing right in the front pumping my fist. I even shared a shot of tequila with Mr. Soga.
There’s far less hair now than there was then. The guys in the band are older and have dropped the Y's from their names. But the music is as powerful now as it was then. Shock Tu was the first local band that I ever saw. They truly helped inspire me to one day become part of the local music scene myself.