Friday, November 21, 2008

Detroit's Finest Rock Band...EVER!

In November of 1978 I had just turned 18. In Michigan at the time, an 18 year old could vote, get drafted, drive a car, and for a short time, purchase alcoholic beverages...legally! Yeah it was a short lived privilege. On November 12th, a friend and I ran into high school friends named Lee & Brad who invited us to see his band: The Cult Heroes at The Second Chance Bar in downtown Ann Arbor.

Since I had never owned a car, I had no I.D. to get in! I rode my bike on a cold November afternoon to the Secretary of State's office and got a "State I.D". The same thing that many irresponsible voters are too damn lazy to go get for themselves. The MI-Sec-State hooked me up within 20 minutes! And that was in the days of crusty-cantankerous old Richard Austin's management.

That night walkin' to the show, I saw the Poster tacked to a telephone pole:

The comic book collector in me snagged it and I have kept it, along with dozens of other 'promos' to this day. It started my obsession with music, bands and playing as a semi-pro musician.

The 'Chance as it was called, suffered from typically poor lighting, a scarred interior and that ever present smell of cigarettes and puke that occurs when gobs of booze is consumed by college kids. We got a decent seat and before long the Cult Heroes began. Punk Rock was the medium and it was unintelligible, fast and LOUD! Best of all, it had ATTITUDE! Some of the Heroes' songs were muddled, some were (still are) very good.

Ivan Kral's Movie: Blank Generation was an assembled jumble of interviews with Punk Rock's originators, several now classic music performances and a few moments of hilarity. Especially Dee Dee Ramone's struggle for words to describe the Ramones' amps & gear.

The top bill: Sonic's Rendezvous Band, was comprised of Fred 'Sonic' Smith (formerly of the MC5). Scott Morgan (the Rationals), Gary Rasmussen; (The Up) and Scott 'Rock' Ashton (Stooges). From the first song they were the LOUDEST, most intense and satisfying rock 'n' roll experience I have ever witnessed. The sound was unmistakable: it was Detroit. On a Monday night, the place was packed with fans and local celebrities from our own local and national punk underground. Taking in dozens of these shows through the years, I crossed paths with several musicians who became near idols not necessarily for their fame, but for their style, and what they gave to the craft and the art of rock 'n' roll. A few of them took the time to show this young guitarist how to play an MC5 or Stooges classic correctly.

Scott Ashton and Scott Morgan (pic by Sue Rynski)

Fred 'Sonic' Smith

Fred, Gary, Scott Morgan, Scott Ashton

Sonic's Rendezvous Band was truly a "had to be there" rock band. But I dug 'em...and I still do. To this guitar player; their attack was ferocious and true. It was a pure masculine blast of unapologetic Motor City Muscle. They were a great band that rocked every show and could make any top billing band sound marginal if Sonic's was the opening act. SRB wasn't just "from Detroit". They sounded like the Motor City. Sonic's Rendezvous Band's old-school rock style defied punk's new-rock rebellion and at the same time, brought the local punker movement into their fold to also enjoy national acclaim. The links below provide more info and yes, there is a recorded legacy. Check

The fidelity ain't the greatest, but if you turn it up, it's all there.

Wikipedia Sonic' SRB: The One That Got Away

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