Olds And News In The Avenues — Celebrating 004
Once upon a time, in the City of Salt, there was a drag strip known as State Street. From WWII until almost the end of the XX Century, when the authorities made cruising illegal, the young and not-so-young drove their cars along this twenty-mile roadway in the middle of the valley for the pleasure of meeting one another. They would socialize in the parks, on the lawns of the schools, in the parking lots of restaurants, the eateries themselves, and if they were 21 or older, duck into the numerous taverns along the route. There is a lot more to tell, but this essay is about a place towards the north end named Hole In The Wall Saloon, and a band known as Double-Oh Four, who played there, and all the way along that entire stretch of road into Utah County, beyond the south end, during the early 1980’s.
Elliot Case and the band recorded a 45 RPM single and one cassette-only album (State of Affairs) before the band broke up. The technical quality of their work was outstanding — so much so that original saxophonist Phil Miller and DJ John Reese collaborated together to produce a 17 song collection of 004’s music on CD this year, and named it State of Affairs.
Regular readers of this blog know some of this stuff already, since I’ve been promoting this project like crazy, but this post is mainly about the CD release party held in The Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake City a few Sundays ago.
I was on a mixed working vacation, and an Avenues Party was EXACTLY the thing I needed to re-introduce me to the untamed individualists who had given vibrancy to this city over the years. Quite a few of the people there had worked at KRCL-FM, the great community radio station. Since I’d written the liner notes, they gave me a brief moment of air time with 004’s guitarist / engineer Scott Simons and John Reese the evening before on that station’s venerable Smile Jamaica program, with Montana native Robert Nelson playing Reggae Music, and punctuating his show with cuts from the band’s Reggae-heavy CD.
Our hosts were Greg, Trice, and Nikole. For some reason some other photographers joined the party early on, and a trickle of people turned into a flood as the beautiful afternoon progressed.
Frank Zappa’s band played a Reggae version of Ravel’s Bolero over the sound system, in amongst the Dub Reggae and other World Music. After buying CDs in the dining room, and getting drinks in the kitchen, the back garden was EXACTLY the place to be — to eat and converse, while waiting for former members of 004 to arrive.
There were plenty of kids and canines running around too, and even more showed up with other guests.
KRCL-FM started in the late 1970’s in a tiny studio above the Blue Mouse Theater and Gallery — once a screening room for Fox and Paramount pictures, then a revival cinema, then long-time home of the Rocky Horror Show on weekend midnights, along with International and Art Movies.
The radio station once relied on the legendary Cosmic Aeroplane next door to loan them selections from their used record bins, but after a few moves around Salt Lake, they ended up with their own music library and building — near the airport, thanks to former development director Sandy Terry, who is now reportedly in the Far East. (BTW — I also met former KRCL volunteer co-ordinator Donna Land Maldonado at another event a few evenings later. She was at the station for three decades!)
Greg was once involved in Salt Lake City’s alternative cinema scene — for awhile, he owned both the Blue Mouse and an “Art House” called Cinema In Your Face (don’t ask) that also put on concerts by the likes of Jonathan Richmann. The guests of honor arrived later in the afternoon — working members of 004, who hadn’t seen each other for years.
I had been an ultra-minor character in 004’s social milieu — I worked a regular job, went to tech school, yet found time to do some artwork inspired by their scene. Perhaps I seemed like an emissary from the over-30 contingent of their fan base. John and his friend Bret represented the under-21’s. Whenever the band played at the Utah Arts Festival, or an all-ages concert at the University, THOUSANDS of people came to dance, but those kinds of shows were rare, and the divide between drinking-age and under-age audiences was a big factor in 004’s struggles to pay their bills, despite a killer performance schedule.
I stayed in touch with Scott over the years — especially because he later worked at the Cosmic Aeroplane and Weller’s Bookstore. I saw Phil backing ace vocalist Liz Draper, another beautiful trio of singers known as the Sha’ Girls, and caught him once with a proto-Grunge band named Boxcar Kids. I had a fabulous time catching up, although it was impossible to talk about even a fraction of what we’d done over the years.
To Absent Friends:
Doug moved to Southern California, but he played a few excellent concerts in Salt Lake with an uptempo Dance band called Temple of Rhythm. The last time I heard of Terri she was living in San Francisco. I saw fellow tech Elaine Matsui there, and took her and her husband to Bill Blackbeard’s comic art museum near Golden Gate Park with me.
Wanda passed away in 1997, and the State of Affairs CD is dedicated to her memory. Below is a photo of her in the revolutionary San Francisco group Four Non Blondes circa 1994, along with my cyber-pal Shaunna Hall, who now plays with George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars (Just about Wanda’s favorite band.)
This seems like a good place to stop.
Check out my very personal review of Double-Oh Four’s CD State of Affairs HERE !
Check Out the Nightlife Section !