Tuesday, January 03, 2006

House of Freaks

A million hearts a million minds
Have lived and died in 40 years
Pray for yourself and for your memories
And be thankful we've had 40 years
-- Bryan Harvey from "40 Years"
Bryan Harvey (left) and Johnny Hott were House of Freaks.
Art: A detail from the House of Freaks' "Monkey on a Chain Gang"
album cover.
It was in 1986 at the Jade Elephant that I first saw and heard what became the House of Freaks. At that time I already knew both Bryan Harvey and Johnny Hott, from their previous musical endeavors. SLANT was then a handbill-style periodical, in the midst of fighting the City’s anti-handbill laws. The Jade was one of SLANT's early advertisers, so I ran ads for the bar touting "Bryan and Johnny live at the Jade," or something like that. The name House of Freaks came later.

However, I liked their two-man act right away and went on to do what I could to encourage/support what they were doing. All that existed in a time in which you probably have to be over 40 now to remember. Hell, some of us are pushing 60, these days.

Thinking of those two guys, stubbornly resisting everyone who told them to get a third player -- because a duo can’t be a band! -- takes me back to that rambunctious time on West Grace Street, when it was the main strip for live music and nightlife in Richmond. In the early- to mid-80s the Shockoe Bottom club scene was still in its formative stages. Watching Johnny sob on television last night, as he tried to tell a newsman the story of finding his longtime friend's home engulfed in smoke on Sunday afternoon, tore my heart out.

As I contemplate the memorial ceremony at the Unitarian Church in a couple of hours, and who might be there, names of people, bands, and places flash through my raw nerves and into mind -- they are listed below in no particular order. Twenty, twenty-five years ago the Fan District still had a thriving hell-bent-for-leather, artsy music scene in which there was probably no more talented an individual operating than Bryan Harvey. Certainly, there was no nicer guy.

The Dads, Throttle, Michel’s, Benny’s, Orthotonics, Hard Times, The Bowties, Beex, The Village, Offenders, Megatonz, Chuck Wrenn, The Pass, Death Piggy, Millionaires, R.A.W., Red Cross, Prevaricators, Casablanca, Rockitz, Barriers, Shake & the Drakes, Main Street Grill, Grace Place, New Horizons, Chelf’s, Biograph Theatre, The Insinuations, I Remember Reality Review, Plan 9, Bopcats, Good Humor Band, Single Bullet Theory, Theories of the Old School, Shafer Court, The Pass, Lamour, 1708, The Clubhouse, Domino’s Doghouse, Faded Rose, J.W. Rayle, Toronados, Insect Surfers, Soble's, Gatsby's, X-Dux, Tom and Marty Band, Boys and Girls Grow Up, Cha Cha Palace, The Good Guys, Texas-Wisconsin Border Cafe, The Rage, The Jade Elephant, Hababas, The Back Door, Non Dairy Screamers, Color Radio, Floodzone, Joe Sheets, Don' Ax Me... Bitch!, Page Wilson, "Z," Steve Payne, AAE, The Copa, Rick Stanley, Bruce Olsen, 353-ROCK, House of Freaks...

Feel free to send in suggestions, as I'm sure I've left plenty of names out.


Anonymous said...

Don's Hot Nuts
The Pyramid Club
The Bus Stop

I have the original Jade Elephant sign in my garage. Man, it's been a long time.

Joe said...

Bill Blue Band
Charlottesville Blues Allstars
The Sliders

Hoyt said...

The Heavy Elvis Experience
Capital City Barn Dance at the Dogttown Lounge

Anonymous said...

The Yacht Club
Public Art
Monday Week
Going Bananas