The ghosts of 1986

We get letters: Someone who signed his name “Jeebs the Boy Faced Dog” faxed in a letter, incensed because No Depression magazine co-editor Peter Blackstock, whom I quoted in the May 1 Arts&culture piece “Train kept a-rollin’,” claimed 1986 wasn’t quite the banner year for music around these parts. “Sorry,” Jeebs wrote, “but I never saw you downtown during the ’80s, but for those who were around, it was a time splodin [sic] with music.” He went on to list Iggy Pop, the Plastics, the Clash, James Brown, Flipper, P.i.L., the Blasters, Frank Zappa, the Dead Kennedys, Archie Shepp, Miles Davis, Airto Moreira and Lora Purim, the Mutants, the Butthole Surfers, the Cramps and Thin White Rope.

One problem: Blackstock was talking about local bands, and specifically those coming from the amplified Carter Family tradition that his magazine specializes in covering. Aside from Thin White Rope of Davis, which often played mutant Johnny Cash music, and the mutant rockabilly Cramps—if you count that Lux Interior and Poison Ivy Rorschach once lived above the Moxie restaurant and former Fluff ’n’ Fold Laundromat around the corner from Weatherstone in Midtown—the acts Jeebs mentioned were just passing through. (I remember all those shows because I lived here then. But, as I’m a vertically challenged 4 feet 9 inches tall, he probably didn’t see me.)

But the 1980s were a time for some pretty special bands, especially the ones who took country singer George Jones, who once got a DUI for driving his sit-down lawnmower to the liquor store after someone confiscated his car keys, to heart. Those include the late, great Cactus Liquors from here and the Replacements from Minneapolis, who got themselves arrested in 1986 after an infamous UC Davis Coffeehouse gig where they were so messed up that the only one standing was the late guitarist Bob Stinson, trousers around his ankles, playing the riff from “Smoke on the Water” over and over as best he could.

But I digress. The past has a way of coming back because people still like to play music. Casualty Park may be more early 1990s than 1980s, but its music seems rooted in more of a 1980s electronic aesthetic. The duo of Martin Birke and Aaron Kinney has returned for the 21st century and has three shows lined up. Thursday, May 8, the Park plays Old Ironsides at 1901 10th Street with Umbravox (featuring Sean Hayashi) and SN&R’s very own Christian Kiefer; the show starts at 8 p.m., and the cover is $6. On Saturday, May 17, the duo will play Luna’s Café, 1414 16th Street, with Microsphere. It starts at 9 p.m., and the cover’s $5. And on Saturday, June 7, Casualty Park will play the Fox & Goose, 1001 R Street. The show starts at 9 p.m.; call the club for cover. How’s that for a return?