Reconciliation Express
Volume 4 Book 4 of
Living in the Bonus Round
(Part 12)

Rehearsing "Franco Ate The Paperwork."

[ Book 4-3 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ] [ Pt6A-6B ] [ Pt 7 ]
[ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] -- [ Book 4-5 ]
August 9 - 24, 2005.
Big Voice, SF and Trout Supershow.
We have firmed up our plans to bring The Big Voice back to Rochester New York's Downtown Cabaret Theatre for eight performances. Beginning September 22nd and running through October 2, it will be good to be back in the neighborhood and to my "second home." Also debuting during the run will be Jimmy doing a staged reading of his brand new play about Zero Mostel called "Zero Hour." He has read about half of it to me and it's absolutely brilliant (in my not so humble opinion). He has captured Zero's personality so well. Zero loved to keep people off balance. This play really sounds like Zero.

I can't wait to hear it in front of an audience.

I was walking up to our apartment building this morning and saw a white pick-up truck pulling into our driveway. The back of the truck was filled with large cannisters of what looked like poison. You know, with the little rubber nozzle hoses hanging out? On the side of the truck was emblazed (in red) "Cat Pest Control."

The truck pulled to a stop in the, "Don't Park Here" slot that everyone uses when they've left something behind in their apartments and they don't want to go all the back into the garage.

A very attractive young Asian guy dressed in a neatly ironed blue jumpsuit then got out of the truck, picked up one of the metal cannisters and started into our building.

On the side and a large picture of a cat. I didn't know if it was supposed to be a dead cat or not, but the first thing that came into my mind was, "They're spraying for cats now?" I thought, "I'd better get up to the apartment and warn Jim to keep the cats safely inside."

Then I looked more closely at the truck and saw that he was spraying for BUGS, not CATS. "CAT" is the name of the pest control company, not the target of their executions. *whew*

The little rock and roll club, The Red Devil Lounge, was filled with people already listening to the hard charging alt/rock emanating from the tiny stage by the time Ken McPherson and I got there for the Preoccupied Pipers Trout Super Show CD launch party.

El Chupacabron.

The Preoccupied Pipers are the real thing. Once a year, they gather, these "old" high school friends, ex-bandmates, now professional musicians, and make a lightning appearance at a rock club, usually as part of the "International Pop Overthrow" series. (The reasons I'm there is because they've "adopted" me as a family member.)

[They are the scattered remnants of a legendary band called Lawsuit from Davis California, led by the late genius Paul Sykes. Lawsuit almost made it. They were huge in San Francisco and Northern California, but, as I understand it, their mix of big band, punk and pop never could quite find a place in the music industry's scheme of categorization ("You've got trumpets? Who ever heard of a horn section in a punk band? You don't even look punk. Get outta heah..."). So, once a year they go back home to Timber Trout Studios in Oakland, California which is run by former Lawsuit members songwriter/guitarist/producer KC Bowman and songwriter/drummer/guitarist Ned Sykes, Paul's brother. Their sister Jeri Sykes teaches composing and arranging at Berklee College of Music in Boston. She plays sax and flute.]
Our rehearsal earlier that day was to take place there at Timber Trout Studios.
Preoccupied Pipers Ned, Ish, Dave, Jeri, Joe.rehearsing The Trout Supershow at Timber Trout Studios.
Preoccupied Pipers Ned, Ish, Dave, Jeri, Joe.

I took the BART to Oakland from Ken's, where I was staying, exited, found the street but had forgotten the house number. Used my cell. I was on the wrong end of the block. KC's wife Eve found me. I walked into the backyard. They were casually sitting in circle on plastic chairs in the shade of a tree, drinking beer and laughing. They all yelled, STEEVE!" and they hugged me. (I saw the band when they played in L.A. one year). It was like seeing old friends.

A perfect summer day.

KC Bowman, Ish (Michael Ishizue)
KC Bowman, Ish.

To my right was the place: Timber Trout Studios. It has been built specifically to replicate the perfect environment for garage buttrock.

Ned Sykes
Ned Sykes.

The elaborate air conditioning system is designed to make it seem as if there's no A/C at all. Very post postmodern. Not only that, but by placing the studio in a genuine neighborhood, you had to keep the door while playing. This meant that you would need to take a break and sit in the yard and be human. It's a brilliant concept.

Steve Erickson and KC Bowman of Preoccupied Pipers
Steve Erickson and KC Bowman of Preoccupied Pipers.

In fact, for this once-a-year concert, Ish, another guitarist/bassist had flown in from Japan. A couple of guys had driven up from LA. Jeri Sykes, flute and sax, had flown in from Boston. (Ned Sykes is someone I've known privately for a few years now. We met cyberly through his mother, Bev Sykes, the Invulnerable Bloggist, who has never missed a day entering something on her blog.)

Jeri Sykes Marta Watson Sykes.
Jeri and Marta.

Jimmy Cool, Preoccupied Pipers
Jimmy Cool.

The rehearsals were exciting in that little room. I sat on the couch facing the band with my video camera. The SOUND in that room. Oh, my god. It was like getting a private concert. Then when we rehearsed -- oh, right. The point of me being there was that we were going to perform "Franco Ate The Paperwork." Now, this is a song I wrote with Ned which KC produced, and is included on the Trout Supershow CD.

K.C. BowmanMarta Watson Sykes
Musical genius provocateur KC Bowman & Marta Watson Sykes.
Preoccupied PipersThe CD release party was being held, again this year, as a part of the "International Pop Overthrow" concert series. We were to go on last. The bands immediately before us were a mix of what seemed like drunken sailors all the way to tight, young power pop bands with tight sets. One had come down from Portland Oregon, another was a signed rock band originally from San Franciso. They actually had three or four groupies screaming from the front wearing t-shirts that said, "I love dirty rock stars" or "Groupies for Life," swooning over the handsome lead singer dressed in french cuffs and a hooded sweat shirt that looked like a coat.

It was about midnight when we went on. The tiny stage could barely hold our horn section. Saxes, trumpets, flutes as well as KC on guitar, Ish on bass, Marta and Ish singing both leads and back-up Ned behind them on the drums, also singing. Ken took his camera and was shooting them from one angle and I took the other, shooting the band, standing on a landing just to the side.

When it was time for me to go on, I could just drop my camera on the stage and barrel up to the mic. Which I did. And "Franco Ate The Paperwork" made its live debut.

Preoccupied Pipers
Jeri, Chupacabron, Steve, Dave, Ned (drums), Marta, KC, feet.
Do I look like I belong?
And we totally kicked ass. I did well, I think, except the song was going so fast and there were so many words, that I kinda lost them at the end and had to fake it. But, hey, that's rock and roll too, I suppose.

[Link to Trout Super Show double CD set].

The next day, Saturday, Ken and I went down to the Castro and began taking video for his upcoming blog.  Ken has an incisive view of the news which is highly informed by experience on the streets during the AIDS crisis of the 80s/early 90s. We've also been talking about the Harvey Milk Memorial that is supposed to go in Congressional Cemetary. But all of this is for another day.

[Preouccupied Pipers Trout Super Show, is the budget-priced double CD -- "We here at Timber Trout Inc. have found a way to double the *quantity* of music, while marginally increasing the *quality* of music... It's the 39-cents-extra-to-supersize-it theory." All of the tunes are recorded in the legendary Timber Trout Studios in Oakland, California. Timber Trout studios is featured here in a video blog called "Franco Ate The Paperwork". KC was the one playing bass with the bouncing baby on his back..]
Here is the editor's front page review at Not Lame Records (
About  Preoccupied Pipers - The Trout Supershow (2 CD`s)

A true power pop tour-de-force, listen up, please. Preoccupied Pipers is K.C. Bowman`s band and he`s been a long time favorite here but "The Trout Supershow" stuns and surprises me. Shouldn`t as I`ve always expected Bowman to deliver a record like this and now that it`s arrived it`s time to revel in its ambitious pop glory. As should you. This is a 2 CD Magnum Opus, what the band calls their "Tusk", their "White Album". Or "Frampton Christ Superstar Comes Alive". What I call it is 42 songs, 90 minutes of downright awesome pop music that will challenge(nicely, easily) and convince that this release shows a way that `power pop` still has some room to surprise and evolve to something beyond the formula we are all so familiar with.

The following influences can be spotted: XTC, Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, Phish, Devo, Beatles, The Muppets, Stevie Wonder, The Mommyheads, The Partridge Family, AC/DC, Schoolhouse Rock. While led by Bowman, Preoccupied Pipers is a Northern California deconstructionist collective that has 18 members coming and going to get all the material here in front of eyes and ears. This 2 CD set is not a compilation album; Rather, The Trout Supershow was conceived as a pop album in the guise of a television variety show (The Muppet Show? Donny & Marie? Laugh-In?). Painfully straightforward Beatlesque pop pastiches contrast with Beaker-on-Shrooms cacophonic vignettes. Play spot-the-influence and win valuable cash prizes, or set CD player to "random" and play it at subversively low volumes while you sort your socks. All we know is that this just spectacular and truly, truly Extremely Highly Recommended!

[ Book 4-3 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6A-6B ] [ Pt 7 ]
[ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] -- [ Book 4-5 ]

© 1996-2005 by Steve Schalchlin.
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