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WITH SOME 500 PERFORMANCES under our belts, one might think we're getting just a little carried away with ourselves. To right the reckless list of the party barge was the grounding ballast of the noble dissent -- the newspaper critics whose job it was to blow the foam off our mugs by praising our comic ingenuity, stage presence and energy level, but unable to categorize our post-moderne vaudeville show any other way, tagged us with the inevitable moniker "Nostalgia merchants", no matter how fast, how skilled or how far off the track we drove those chopped, blocked, re-painted musical vehicles that we had stolen. Well, it was the was horse we rode in on, but by now we were as different from Sha Na Na as Flipper is from that fish that starred in Jaws.

Under constant self-imposed pressure to come up with original comedy material, the Glass Packs show in mid-1974 began to resemble the format that we perform today; more scripted vignettes that showcased the acting talents of Bob Sarlatte, the writing and stage direction of Gary Murphy and Larry Strawther, the other worldly courage of the Mighty Quinn, the singing and drumming of Mike Moore, the guitar work of Rob Birsinger and the giant Cajones of bassman Bruce He's-So-Fine Lopez. While we still continued to use familiar AM Radio hits as the binding to this magazine, the featured articles were becoming more diverse. (E.g. the Mighty Quinn played late night TV host Sid Hartha, a cigar chomping Hari Krishna hawking yak hair incense to the tune of "Boogaloo Down Broadway")

As a result, the coeds-pouring-milk-shake-tins-full-of-beer parties gave way to a more sophisticated debauchery - velvet roped, maitre'd tipping, gorgeous hat check girl swanky night clubs -- and we don't mean the likes of Sunnyvale's Oddessey Room where they handed out actual wooden nickels on ladies night as free drink chits or the Bayside turtle races at Zack's in Sausalito which we watched each Tuesday night from the upstairs stage of the Boathouse next door. (We did play everywhere with electricity -- including a legendary performance at Mel's Bowl in Redwood City with Carter the Hypnotist).

No, Phase III began in mid-1974 with a one-night stand in Santa Rosa, opening for the Pointer Sisters, quickly followed by a three week gig in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia at "The Cave" -- an 800 seat paper mache' cavern with a rock formation balcony above a series of cozy cave-like candle-lit booths with hanging plaster stalactites -- home away from Vegas to the Mitzi Gaynors, Tony Bennetts, Vic Damones and other late 50's mid-60's top line acts who worked out their kinks before a crowd of Canadians before heading Southwest for the Desert Inn. The Cave was a place not unlike San Francisco's Bimbo's 365 Club with a perimeter of private Lincoln booths overhead and the aforementioned stalactites for good measure. .

It was, however, with some apprehension that the Glass Packs returned to the Cave in 1974 as this same Cave was the site of our first and only Blimpcrash, a 1973 opening night debacle of disastrous proportions that was chronicled in the only vicious review that we ever endured, one so negative it was positive like the way heat can be so hot its cold. Don Stanley, the music critic from the Vancouver Sun, hated us in the same way the Hatfields hated the McCoys. If you never been harpooned, it goes something like this . . .

The 1973 opening night began with a temporary roadie dropping our tuned guitars on his way downstairs from our dressing room to set them on the stands in front of our amps right before we went on stage. Fearful of the consequences of full disclosure to the cocky Glass Packs awaiting their usual warm embrace, Gomo (his real name), the roadie, said nothing and let us go on stage believing that our guitars were as we last touched them.

The opening number, "Rama Lama Ding Dong" began a capella with the sole tonal guidance of a single note from the only properly tuned instrument on the stage -- the half-ton grand piano that Gomo, our soon to be former roadie, couldn't lift and therefore couldn't drop. We're four bars into the singing, and so far so good. Then like a thunder clap our voices were joined by the dissonance of the dropped out of tune guitars causing the crowd to dive for cover as the sound of Armageddon exploded from the stage, a sound more industrial than musical. By design, our show was on wheels so there was no stopping the bus, no chance to adequately re-tune, and the heat of the spotlight found us squirming for the next hour like the Beagle Boys dodging in and out of the hot glare of the prison search light. Busted.


  © 2005 Butch Whacks & the Glass Packs