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Bringing Columbus Musician Funding into Alignment with the Industry - by Andrew Choi

Here's an easy task for you to try out. Look at a major indie music publication's premieres and reviews for a week. Take each artist that is featured, and type the word "publicist" next to the artist name in a Google search. Keep track of the publication over a period of time, and you'll find that with indie music acts, almost without exception, the artists have hired one of only a handful of publicists. Run enough searches, and you'll have a pretty handy guide to who the top 6 American publicist agencies are for indie music. The reliance on publicists was recently highlighted by a major indie publication, who stated that for all intents and purposes, they did not listen to music that did not come from a label or publicist that they already trusted. This is all to say, as an indie musician who wants to "get your name out there", if you do not pay one of the major publicists - i.e., one of the ones that this publication trusts, you will fail.

I'm not here specifically to attack the state of music journalism - that's maybe a battle for another day. But I am here to present a proposal for Columbus musicians as to how to make sense of the music industry circa 2019. Over the past 5 years or so, I've talked with a number of Columbus musicians working on record releases, and the same patterns keep cropping up. Inevitably, I'll suggest that they find a publicist to work with. Inevitably, the musician doesn't have enough money to pay a major publicist for a record release. So they either try to work publicity for the record on their own, or they find some other publicist at a lower price - i.e., not one of the ones that our indie publication friend here "trusts". And inevitably, they don't get their record "out there" as well as they would like. In fact, there have been a few Columbus musicians over the past 5 years that have gotten some more significant media attention. And if you run a Google search, you'll find that there is a rather straightforward pattern that connects up to the list of major publicist agencies mentioned earlier. This is by no means a way of speaking ill of those musicians - many of them are musicians who I respect. The fact that you need to pay a good publicist to get your name out there isn't an issue with the musicians, but it is an issue about inequality. Because the fact of the matter is that many musicians don't have that kind of money to pay a publicist, and that fact shouldn't be the determining factor in why they were not able to get their name out there. And moreover, that fact shouldn't be the reason why many Columbus musicians who are marketable on a larger stage, aren't able to market themselves (and Columbus more broadly) to a bigger audience.

But what if there were a way to equalize that? The Greater Columbus Arts Council provides grants for marketing, found in their Grants & Services Guidelines. However, the marketing support appears to only go up to $1250. If you look at the pricing for some of these "trusted publicists", I would suggest that the lower-bound cost of these services is actually at least $1000-$2000 *per month*, where a record release requires at least a 3-month commitment. As such, it seems like this amount should be increased. (It appears that they could get around this by offering separate grants per member of a group - though this would not work for all music acts.  And the existence of a separate $2000 max grant for "bands" suggests that this isn't possible). Or at the very least, the guidance should be adjusted to make clear that any musician that is able to book a vetted publicist should be eligible for full subsidy through the grants program.  Relatedly the guidance states that "you are required to use Franklin County based vendors or suppliers or demonstrate a compelling need to use non-local services." If the money is to be used for a "trusted" publicist, it seems that this guidance would have to be adjusted.  The guidance is not in step with the music industry as it exists now.

For the guidance on grants for publicity, look at p. 23 ("2019 Pilot: Bands & Ensembles") and p. 29 ("Marketing Support") of the Greater Columbus Arts Council 2019 Grants & Services Guideline. http://www.gcac.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/2019-Grant-Guidelines-FINAL-w-Rubrics.pdf.

If I had the ability to set it up myself, I would suggest a $6000 upper limit, where the publicity is reserved only for full album releases of new material (not EPs), only for musicians who are currently living in Columbus, and only for vetted publicists that have a demonstrable record of publicity. The vetting requirement is important, because the whole idea is that Columbus is trying to actually market its musicians to the world, and it makes no sense to spend the money on people who have no record of doing that. The residence requirement seems important, because the idea is that this would be an actual enticement for musicians to stay in the city. These guidance suggestions also make it so that the city can limit the funds spent to where it has the most impact - full album releases. I would eliminate the current eligibility of expenses for design services, partly because I don't think you get much bang for your buck on that. (I.e., the bands that keep appearing in major publications all have the same publicists - they don't all have the same design services). There would be only a handful of releases that satisfy these guidelines every year, so this wouldn't be a very large expenditure by the city, given what else they've spent money on. As it happens, these publicists do not work with everyone who can pay for such services.

Musicians should be aware of the funds ($1250) currently available to pay for publicity. (The fact that many weren't aware of these funds is surprising).  But they should also either seek to increase the maximum amount offered by the city, or get clarification from the city that more can be offered (say by offering multiple $1250 grants to different band members, similar to what they may have done in the past). Additionally there should be a push to ensure that the funds can be used for non-local or vetted services. As it stands, I think the guidance is out of step with the industry at this time, given that Columbus presumably has the goal of exporting the work of its best musicians.  Finally, there should be some clarification as to whether the Columbus Music Commission can be a source for such funds. If this can be confirmed, then musicians in the city should feel unencumbered by the prospect of releasing a record without having enough money to pay for a proper publicist. Columbus should also see an uptick in the recognition of its musicians in larger publications. And this is, I think, what people want in the end. How else could you advertise a music city to the world except by giving proper attention to the musicians in the city? - Andrew Choi

In his free time, the author performs as St. Lenox. St. Lenox’s most recent record, Ten Fables of Young Ambition and Passionate Love was placed on Best Albums lists at PopMatters and AllMusic for the year 2018. PopMatters calls St. Lenox "a Whitmanian ... full of wry observations about the people and places he encounters and his search for love that capture the old courage teacher's modern sensibility."  AllMusic credits St. Lenox with “some of the most unique and unconventionally thrilling pop music in the late 2010s.”

The Pencilstorm Mailbag: My Top Five Favorite Concerts - by Doug Leed

This was sent to us from Pencilstorm reader Doug Leed. You can join the discussion at pencilstormstory@gmail.com Take it away, Doug!

Nice list, Pete! (Click here for Pete’s List) I was at both the Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones shows that Pete wrote about (seeing them both for the first time) and agree that they were amazing shows. Haven’t seen ELO yet, but REALLY looking forward to the show this summer! My #1 has to be Lou Reed in Cincy on the New York album tour where I had a front row seat and Lou stood right in front of me shredding the solo for “The Original Wrapper.”

5) Pretenders with Iggy Pop 1986 - Cleveland / This was only the second concert that I went to (without my parents, although they sent a chaperone) and Iggy had just released Blah Blah Blah and the Pretenders had just released Get Close. My first girl rocker crush was Chrissie Hynde, so of course I was drooling in awe through most of their set. I wasn’t as familiar with Iggy at that time but I had Blah Blah Blah and really liked it, in particular the song “Shades.” At one point Iggy climbed on top of the PA speakers and started dancing/thrashing around. The PA speakers started wobbling and I thought that everything, including Iggy, was going to come crashing down but it didn’t. I had never seen anything like that in my life. (I was 17 at that point!)

4) Grateful Dead with Sting at Soldier Field, Chicago 1993 / I am a Deadhead and saw them at least 21 times while Jerry was still alive. While I could say that every one of their shows was in my best concerts list, this particular show stands out because during Sting’s set Jerry joined him on stage to perform the Police song “Tea in the Sahara.” Completely mesmerizing!

3) Sugar Cubes, PIL and New Order, not sure of the exact year (maybe 1988) or venue (maybe Blossom) / First of all, just that line- up in that time period warrants this show being on the list. Second of all, I feel like I had a connection with Bjork during the SC set. Some of you may be thinking, oh that happens to me at a lot of shows where I feel the artist is singing directly to me, but this was different. Bjork kept staring at me through most of the show, so much so that other concert goers around me kept saying “Dude, I think the singer is checking you out!”.

2) Paul Simon, Nutter Center, Dayton. OH, around 1990 / Paul was touring on the Rhythm of the Saints album and had the Brazilian percussionists on the album with him at the show. Part of my enjoyment of this show may have been how high I was after eating some pot brownies. I recall at a few points everyone was clapping indicating that the song was over and by the time I started to clap they were already playing the next song. “You Can Call Me Al” was still pretty huge at this point and after playing it everyone went CRAZY. Paul then said, “Oh, you guys like that one? Well then let’s play it again!” He then proceeded to play the entire song again making the audience go even CRAZIER.

1) Lou Reed as mentioned above.

*Note - it goes without saying that this list changes on a day to day basis! 


Talking Spaghetti with Joe Strummer - by Pat Dull

As I write this, I am listening to the first album I ever bought with my own money.  I bought London Calling by The Clash because I had read a tremendous review describing the opening title track as “too apocalyptic” for the other songs to follow.  Scooping up my meager paper-route and lawn-mowing earnings, I simply had to get that album.

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I bugged my parents to drive me to the Salem Mall in Dayton, Ohio and - once there - dashed immediately into Camelot Music.  I vividly remember London Calling being displayed majestically, six copies wide, upon the wall.  When I saw the cover, I was 100% certain it would be the greatest record I had ever heard.  When I learned it was a double-LP selling for the price of a single, I was even more certain than 100%.  

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Back home, I played the shit out of that record.  I had never heard anyone sing like Joe Strummer; it utterly floored me.  In a later interview, Joe claimed he was not a singer: “Sam Cooke – now that’s a singer.”  Whatever. I loved his voice, and I really loved London Calling.

My mom was not quite as smitten, however, and was constantly yelling “Turn that down!” up the stairs.  Fortunately, thanks to Joe’s unique enunciation (or maybe just because the sound was travelling through the floorboards) she never quite seemed to hear the lyrics.  To her, it was all just noise. That all changed, however, the day mom decided to snoop in my room while I was at school.

Snooping Mom lower left corner.

Snooping Mom lower left corner.

Although my room was suspiciously tidy when I got home, it did not seem openly violated.  We had dinner like normal people – we definitely had spaghetti – and afterward I went to play London Calling.  The records were on the turntable – double-stacked – and the album cover was on my bed.  Hunky dory.

I typically read album credits and lyrics while listening to records, so I started to scan my room for the two inner sleeves.  Those sleeves were printed with handwritten notes and lyrics, and were almost as important to me as the music itself. But they were not anywhere I looked – and I looked everywhere.  I flipped that room upside-down, but the sleeves simply were not to be found.

Eventually – and reluctantly – I asked mom if she had seen them.  Her response was a wickedly cold, calm, and cryptic, “You don’t need to know where those are.”

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I protested: “What? Why?!?”  “You don’t need trash like that,” she said.  I knew then that she had thrown them away, and I was pretty sure which lyrics had doomed the sleeves to the trash heap.  

While the lyrics on London Calling can be earthy – see “Lover’s Rock” for frank talk on erectile dysfunction – I didn’t feel particularly uncomfortable about any of them, except one.  If you’ve heard the album, you know the one: “He who fucks nuns will later join the church,” (from “Death or Glory”). On the other hand, however, my parents had raised me fiercely Protestant, and I was fairly certain Martin Luther would have approved of, If not this exact lyric, then at least the spirit of it.

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Further, I felt the first stirrings of independence mixed with righteous indignation: those sleeves were mine, and I had paid for them.  How dare she take them. I was nun-fucking mad.

I resolved to get the sleeves back somehow, and landed upon the rather obvious scheme of sneaking out of the house to salvage them from the trash.  To this day, I am surprised mom had no counter-offensive prepared. A rookie mistake for a mother of four.

That night, after everyone went to bed, I quietly snuck out of my small second story bedroom window, climbed down a nearby TV antenna, crept through the backyard to the garage and, in the dark, rummaged through the garbage cans.  I found the sleeves relatively quickly – they were on top of the pile, and had been angrily crumpled into two little balls of paper. Oh yeah, they were also freshly splotched with that evening’s spaghetti sauce. On the return trip to my room, I nearly fell off the TV antennae as I tried to silently climb back through the window. Back inside, I wiped the sleeves clean and pressed them between two large, heavy books.  After a few days, they were pretty flat and, although stained with spaghetti sauce, they resumed their rightful place inside London Calling, where they remain to this day.

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Almost 20 years later – on November 15, 1999, to be exact – I was in Columbus, Ohio, having moved there for school.  That night, Joe Strummer was in town playing at the Newport, in support of his solo LP, Rock, Art & the X-Ray Style.  I was going to the show, having won tickets that morning during a CD-101 radio contest: I had to sing Clash lyrics on the air over the phone.  (editor’s note: I REMEMBER this. I was listening to CD-101 that day when Pat won.) The show was great, of course, and I tried to meet Joe afterward by waiting around the back door of the venue. Unbelievably, I was the only person waiting.  A roadie popped his head out of the door and said “Don’t worry, Joe will come out this way, he always meets with fans.”  He popped out several more times, reassuring me each time. As I was the only person waiting, we actually spoke a bit, and I remember giving him some Twizzlers.  His name was Brian.

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After about half an hour, Brian came out again and said, quite sincerely, “Hey, I’m really sorry, but Joe got snagged by some radio people, and he went out the front door.”  Man, I was bummed. Joe was my hero, I had brought London Calling with me to get signed, and I had even made friends with Brian, but now I had to go home without meeting Joe Strummer.

Four days later, my roommate Eric asked me if I wanted to go to Cleveland to see Joe Strummer at the Odeon – he had free passes waiting at the box office.  Of course I wanted to go, so we piled into his brother’s car and drove two hours to Cleveland.

Once there, however, tragedy struck: the passes were not at the box office, and we had stupidly brought no money with us.  Supremely disappointed, we began to trudge back to the car for the long drive back to Columbus. Before we had walked 20 steps, however, I saw Brian, the roadie, walking up to the Odeon.  

I called out to him – “Brian!”  He turned around and recognized me – those Twizzlers had paid off!  I quickly explained what happened, and he just as quickly said not only would he get us four passes to the show, but he would also get us four backstage passes to meet Joe afterward!  

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True to his word, that is exactly what Brian did.  After the show, he escorted us backstage, ahead of everyone else – even radio contest-winners.  The band was sitting around toweling off, having been off-stage for only about 10 minutes or so.  There Joe was, not 10 feet away from me. When Brian introduced us, Joe immediately said “have a beer!”  Which, of course, we did.

I was shaking with excitement – here I was, having a beer with Joe Strummer!  Joe was sitting down, and I was standing next to him. He very kindly, very patiently, listened to me gush about his records, and he happily signed my copy of London Calling.  When he saw Mick Jones’ autograph already on the LP, he faux-angrily pointed to Mick’s autograph and said “wanker.”  Hilarious!

back cover with autograph.JPG

Joe was so generous with his time that I could not resist telling him about how I bought the record with my own money, how my mom had thrown away the inner sleeves, how I climbed out of the window to get them back, and how I then cleaned and re-flattened them.  I even pulled out the sleeves to show him the still-visible spaghetti stains. Again, he was so kind, so patient.

People often say, “Don’t meet your heroes.”  Not true. At the end of my breathless, five-minute re-telling of my life, Joe didn’t appear tired or bored, although he may have been both.  Instead, he smiled, looked me right in the eye, and said “That is the greatest story anyone has ever told me about the inner sleeves of one of my records.”  He didn’t have to say that, but he did. And I believed him. And I still believe him.

Pat Dull was born and lowered in Greenville, Ohio.  Back in the 1950's, his dad saw live shows by Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley.  Pat has never seen anything remotely as cool as that, but he does have a boyish curiosity that gets him into scrapes from time to time.

Joe Strummer.jpeg












We've Got Cool Gigs the Next Five Weekends - by Colin Gawel

Heads up, yo. I’ve got a bunch of different shows coming up this spring, so here is the run down. Hope you can catch one or all. Also, it’s always helpful to fire up Spotify playlists featuring: Watershed, Colin Gawel and The League Bowlers. Or all three.

Friday April 5th - I’ll be riding shotgun with Brian Phillips on the CD1025 Morning Show. Tune in or stream it at www.cd1025.com

Saturday, April 6th - Colin & The Bowlers at the CD1025 Big Room Bar. Two Sets. Free. Music 8-11 pm

Friday, April 12 - Watershed at Slim’s Downtown, Raleigh, NC. special guests: The Bleeding Hearts. Our pal and Slim’s owner Van Alston is throwing a big bash to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of this venerable establishment. To do something a little different in honor of the occasion, we plan on performing the set in chronological order. So if you want to hear some tunes from Twister, don’t be late.

Friday, April 19th - Colin & The Bowlers at Peaches Grill, Yellow Springs, OH. Do you know what is a tough gig to get? This one. I think I have booked the Mercury Lounge in NYC twice before I even got a response from Peaches. That’s because Yellow Springs is a gem of a town and I am personally very excited to finally have the opportunity to grace Peaches’ stage. Bowlers play all night so reserve a hotel room or rent a party bus and make a night of it.

Saturday, April 27 - The PBR 10K: Woodlands Backyard (NOT the tavern - 668 Grandview Ave). Join 1,200 of your best friends as they try to drink 10,000 PBR’s between noon and 6 pm outside Woodland’s Backyard. Bowlers play 3:30 - 5 pm. All proceeds benefit Directions for Youth & Families.

Friday, May 3rd - Terry Anderson and The Olympic Ass Kickin’ Team w/ special guests The League Bowlers at Ace of Cups. Terry Anderson is my favorite songwriter. The OAK Team is my favorite rock n roll band. DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. That is all.

Concert Review: KISS / The End of The Road / Live in Pittsburgh, March 20, 2019 - by Jeremy Porter

My history with KISS started around the age of 9 years old with KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park and the HBO special. I was all in. Double Platinum and Alive! were my first two KISS albums. I was an Ace guy, but loved Gene, and Paul and Peter after that. I lost interest when Unmasked came out, briefly bought back in for Lick It Up, saw them a couple times in the ‘80s out of sheer convenience, then checked out again until Unplugged aired. Since then the old stuff has again been in regular rotation. I married a girl who grew up on “God of Thunder” and (in) “Detroit Rock City.” I regretted missing the reunion with Ace and Peter, especially the first show in Tiger Stadium, but I didn't lose any sleep over it. I had better things to do with my time and money. As members came and went, money kept coming in, YouTube evidence of Paul's deteriorating voice or his artificial ways of masking it surfaced, and the announcement that this it - THE END OF THE ROAD – was made, I was indifferent, if not mildly annoyed. Still, those early records were in rotation.

Detroit was a huge city for KISS, second only to New York, and maybe even equal. The city embraced them early and often, and it was Alive!, recorded (*cough*) at Detroit's Cobo Hall, that broke them. The morning of the Detroit show my wife was in a funk, tickets pulled up on StubHub, looking for someone to be her partner in crime for the concert. Hell, she was even willing to spring for the tickets. I couldn't go, and her friends didn't exactly rally behind her with Starchild grease paint on, so she missed out. The subject came up again a couple times over the next week & a half as she moped around the house humming classic tracks and asking me which album they were on. Until this past Friday night. An hour earlier it wasn't even on the table, but now we had tickets and a hotel room walking distance from the arena. In the morning we would leave for Pittsburgh. If I'm being honest, I was kinda dragged to the show, but when I clicked “Purchase” on the tickets I made the decision to approach it with an open mind, and regardless of my gripes, have fun. By the time we started pre-gaming I was legitimately pretty excited. 

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The PPG Arena is your standard, modern hockey arena I suppose. Long lines to get in, but a pretty smooth operation. If you put the work in you can find a decent whiskey in a plastic Penguins cup, and there's no shortage of merch-booths and food for every palette. We walked down to our seats, about 12 rows back on the Gene-side. Tickets said 7:30 pm. We'd heard about a painter who did a short bit to open the show, but the ushers were talking about a 30-minute film that would start at 7:45, then KISS at 8:30. There was no painter and no film, just a looping 2-minute video commercial for the KISS KRUISE.  At 8:45, 75 minutes after the advertised show time, the lights went down. Mildly annoyed that we could have used that hour-fifteen in a few other ways, we stood up to “YOU WANTED THE BEST YOU GOT THE BEST!”  This was it.

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They went into “Detroit Rock City” and it was pretty clear from the start that this wasn't your average concert. We could feel the heat from the pyrotechnics and the band was clearly fired up too. I quickly took out my ear plugs and realized that it wasn't that loud at all and sounded better without. We were loving the set-list as we got “Shout it Out Loud” and “Deuce,” but the stinker “Say Yeah” four songs in was the perfect opportunity to get a drink.  I made it back for most of “I Love it Loud” and stayed put for the rest of the set. Highlights for me were “100,000 Years,” “Dr. Love,” and “Let Me Go, Rock 'N' Roll.” The encore included an unnecessary “Beth,” with Eric Singer playing a sequined piano that would have made Liberace blush, followed by an unexpected “Do You Love Me?” before they wrapped it up with “Rock and Roll All Night.”

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It was possibly the least boring show I've ever seen: an explosion here, a laser show there, platforms elevating and Paul flying out to the second stage for “Love Gun” and “I Was Made for Loving You,” not to mention the blood-spitting, fire-breathing, tongue-wagging antics of The Demon. The guitar solo (mostly stolen from Ace's Alive II “Shock Me” solo) and the drum solo (largely lifted from Peter's Alive! “100,000 Years” solo) were a bit cliche, but whaddya expect? Somehow we survived into the next tunes. 

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There's a lot you can say about and against KISS, and in my book it's mostly valid, but you can't say these guys are phoning it in. They came out on their game and didn't stop until it was over. At 67 years old, Paul Stanley is as good a front-man as there is, and even though his raspy, hoarse, between-song banter didn't exactly match the healthy, vibrant signing we heard through the mains, he deserves a nod for the work he put in. Gene was great - I've said for years that he's an under-rated bassist and singer. And other than the fact that they're hired guns wearing the makeup of members long belittled and forgotten by the bosses, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer are top-notch musicians who not only held their own, but added some youth and excitement onstage.  

It was nearly midnight by the time we got out of there. As we walked back up Liberty Street toward our hotel I had to admit that it was a damn good time and I was really glad I went. It was everything KISS said it would be, and it was nothing they said it wouldn't. No political rants, not even any cussing from the stage, just a super high-energy show, a whole bunch of great songs, a celebration of one hell of a run, and an arena full of satisfied customers. I might just have to go back for the next Farewell tour.

 

Pittsburgh Set List:

Detroit Rock City
Shout It Out Loud
Deuce
Say Yeah
I Love It Loud
Heaven's on Fire
War Machine (Gene breathes fire)
Lick It Up
Calling Dr. Love
100,000 Years (with drum solo)
Cold Gin (with Tommy Thayer guitar solo )
God of Thunder (with bass solo)
Psycho Circus
Let Me Go, Rock 'N' Roll
Love Gun
I Was Made for Lovin' You
Black Diamond
Encore:
Beth
Do You Love Me
Rock and Roll All Nite

 Jeremy Porter lives near Detroit and fronts the rock and roll band Jeremy Porter And The Tucos - www.thetucos.com

Follow them on Facebook to read his road blog about their adventures on the dive-bar circuit -
www.facebook.com/jeremyportermusic 


Twitter: @jeremyportermi | Instagram: @onetogive | www.rockandrollrestrooms.com

 

Motley Crue "The Dirt" Review - by Kevin Montavon

Motley Crue "The Dirt”

As I type this, I am viewing the Netflix biopic on Mötley Crüe, The Dirt for the FIFTH time. As they say, only God can judge me. I will fully admit that even by my sometimes obsessive standards, that's excessive. Even more so because as recently as last Friday, when I hit play on the Netflix app on my phone to watch it for the first time, I was convinced that this movie was going to SUCK. Like, I thought it was going to be really really bad. How bad you ask? Well, have you ever seen the made-for-VH1 biopic Hysteria? The one about Def Leppard? The one with Anthony Michael Hall as Mutt Lange? Yeah, THAT bad. So to say my expectations were set low is an understatement. The Dirt crushed those expectations and left them in the dust.

First, some backstory: my history with Mötley Crüe starts at the age of thirteen. I was a Catholic school kid with an ear for music that set my religion teachers' Spidy-senses a'tingling – Ozzy, Kiss, AC/DC, Van Halen – but The Crüe was something new..something even more “risky.” I had read about the band in Hit Parader magazine for several months, maybe a year or more, and their bass player Nikki Sixx seemed like an interesting character. I hadn't heard any of their actual music however, because I grew up in a place where the latest Heavy Metal records weren't so easy to come by. Usually, it involved a 20-minute car ride to the “big city” of Portsmouth, Ohio, and a trip to the one record store there, which was called The Record Shop. But then one day I walked into our local Rink's department store, went to the music section, and saw a BLACK album, with an even BLACKER pentagram emblazed on the front, with a small red Mötley Crüe logo above it, and the words “Shout At The Devil” below.

I can't remember what album I went there to buy that day, but I only had money for one purchase, and I left with the Crüe. I took it home and played it, and the music blew me away as much as the album cover did. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that my first hearing of The Beatles song "Helter Skelter" was through the cover version on this album. Over the next few months Mötley Crüe leaped to the top of my favorite bands list, along with the other bands I've mentioned already. They took the Van Halen “LA vibe” and combined it with forbidden Satanic imagery and a seemingly obsessive need to fulfill every rock band cliché in the book. They were everything I wanted to be when I grew up! That's right. My biggest dream as a teenager was to jump on a bus when I turned eighteen, and head to Hollywood to start a band – a dream that was pretty much envisioned in the video for Guns 'N' Roses' “Welcome To The Jungle” years later. But Mötley Crüe had already done all that, and I worshiped them for it.

I rode the Crüe train hard throughout High School, but by the time college rolled around, I was starting to dig into more “serious” music like Thrash Metal and Alternative Rock. I finally gave up on them musically after the Girls, Girls, Girls album, in no small part due to bands like the opening act for my first Crüe concert, Anthrax. That show, at the legendary Buckeye Lake Music Center (so legendary that it was once called Legend Valley) was one of my first experiences being part of a festival size audience. The Crüe, Whitesnake, and Anthrax packed 50,000 people onto that hillside, and every single one of them rocked their asses off throughout the day. It was the greatest thing I had ever been a part of. I had recently cut my hair for a job, and I made a vow that day to grow it back out again, this time for real and not in the mullet style I had worn before the cut.

I saw the GGG tour an additional time (no Anthrax this time), and I would see the band a few more times over the years, including their “Carnival Of Sins” tour, and their Farewell Tour (note: as of this writing they are one of the only bands to stay retired after a Farewell Tour), but I really was barely even a casual fan anymore. I may have paid attention to their press, and that's it. Due to a string of bad decisions made by various band members, it became almost as much fun to bag on them as it was to have once been a hardcore fan. For better or worse, they had a long-term appeal, where it was fun to love them, and it was fun to hate them. But in the end, no one can really take away the massive success the band achieved through years of hard work and by just sticking around. They carved their spot on Rock Mountain, and they did it their way.

When the band released their best-selling “autobiography” (probably as much fiction as fact) called The Dirt over a decade ago, the chatter began immediately about the eventual movie adaptation. Through the years various directors, producers, and actors have been attached to the project. It became somewhat of a lasting meme that the movie would never get made, and if it did, it wouldn't be any good. Fast forward to 2019. The movie did get made. And what a treat it turned out to be.

The film adaptation turns out to be a somewhat generic, but sort of timeless rock & roll story of four misfits who somehow find each other and end up creating something huge, sometimes in spite of themselves. Throw in a healthy dose of 1980's movie tropes like “The Party Film,” “The Buddy Flick,” and yes, even “The After School Special,” and you end up with a movie that captured the period in a fun time-capsule sort of way, paying homage to many of the pop-culture elements that made that decade so much fun to begin with. The casting is outstanding, especially Machine Gun Kelly's performance as Tommy Lee. I don't know if Mick Mars in real life is anything like the way that Iwan Rheon (of HBO's Game Of Thrones fame) portrays him, but if he is, then he's my new favorite rock star (cranky old men unite!).

And the actor playing Vince Neil reminded me so much of a local singer that I used to go see on a regular basis that it was somewhat distracting. But even in that, what was entertaining to me is that I witnessed club shows involving said local singer that strongly resembled the band's early club show in the movie. Just another element that triggered memories of my own musical experiences in the 80's. I think more than anything, that is what I loved about the movie. It really does “take me back.” All this is not to say that the movie is just a big Feelgood film...ahem. It's plenty serious at times, even if it falls into the aforementioned After School Special territory. And it's most definitely NOT safe for kids. Especially if you as a parent haven't had “the talk” with them. The sex, drugs, and rock & roll quotient is off the charts in this movie.

There are valid criticisms that I have seen leveled at the movie. The timeline is off (cue Bohemian Rhapsody comparisons), there's a ton of the story left out, some characters are missing or are caricatures of their real-life selves, the drug use and promiscuous sex is glorified and played for laughs at times. But how else do you tell the story of this band? With a Netflix series? Interesting premise, but in the end I think that may have been too much of a gamble for the network. Based on the attention that the movie has received, I think the producers are vindicated in their choice to make it a standard two-hour film. And regardless, none of the criticisms have spoiled my enjoyment of the movie. In fact, I think in the long run this movie is going to be seen as a stroke of genius. No, I'm not saying it is Citizen Kane, but it's the right movie for the right band. You want to know what my biggest issue is? It's that the inevitable Van Halen biopic, which I have been waiting for my whole life, is going to look tame - or worse - like a knock-off of The Dirt. I will go even further and say that any band with an “LA Story” to tell is going to have their biopic measured against this one.

I guess in the end I'm still a Homer for The Crüe.

Google: Kevin Montavon Pencilstorm - for cool results.