Central PA Living: Jerseytown Tavern

Snuggled into a northeastern corner of central PA, tiny little Jerseytown (pop. 184) is home to the Jerseytown Tavern, the (self-proclaimed) Bluegrass Capital of Columbia County.

The banner says so.

It’s true. The banner says so.

The Tavern is, basically, a house that’s been converted into a bar and restaurant, and from what I understand, the food is pretty good. Next time, we’ll go for dinner. Every Wednesday night, local musicians pile into this little road house and find a spot for themselves on their one small stage. With one condenser microphone between them. And they bust out some fiddlin’, banjo-in’, dobro-in’, guitar-in’, singin’, butt-shakin’, boot-scootin’ down-home bluegrass and old-school country.

What's that thing overhead..?

What’s that thing overhead..?

And they do it all surrounded by some of the strangest decor I have ever seen in a bar.

Look carefully over the guitarist’s head. That’s right. It’s a “hang in there” raccoon, painted onto the ceiling tile. Every other ceiling tile has some kind of adornment on it, like a chess board full of bizarre.

There’s this zebra.

Hey, buddy! Why the long face?

Hey, buddy! Why the long face? *nyuk nyuk*

And these floating space rabbits and bears. Are those rabbits wearing…is that lederhosen?

 

Wait until they bare their fangs. #TheHorror

Watch out, deer. We’re here to turn you into pants. #TheHorror

No, no lederhosen. They’re just wearing rompers. Boring floating space bunnies in rompers. But…why?

This one is my personal favorite. It’s former President Bill Clinton, playing saxophone.

Nice, uh...shorts. Bill.

Nice, uh…shorts. Bill.

The entire bar is covered in wood etchings. Dig the squirrel who guards my beer.

Thanks, Mr. Squirrel!

Thanks, Mr. Squirrel!

Bonus: They had some really good beers on tap.

And then…the wooden support post…there’s…uh…

Dreamy. Thanks to George for playing along!

Dreamy.
Thanks to George for playing along!

OK, OK, the decor is fun and quirky and all but, there’s the music, right? We went there for the music. What about that?

Because that is how we roll in central PA.

Sing it, Mary.

Oh, we’ll be back.

See you at the Jerseytown Tavern, everyone!

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The ’80s Pin Project: So Much Sexy

For an explanation of the 1980s Pin Project, go here.

Oh, the crosses one must bear.

Today’s random-pick-a-pin-out-of-the-box generator bemoans the difficulties of trying to cart around a burdensome amount of sexy.

Bow-chicka-wow wow.

Bow-chicka-wow wow.

You know, the funny thing is, I never really felt this way about myself, especially not when I was busy wearing pins. This would have made its way onto my jacket/purse/being in my late teens or maaaaaaybe early 20s (though, really, smart money says this was on me in my teenager-hood). During that time, I was plagued by vicious attacks of non-confidence. I felt chubby. I felt insecure. I felt like I needed external validation regarding my feminine pulchritude. (And don’t let my mother try and tell you any different!) Oy. If only I knew then what I know now.

I generally lean toward the practice of “fake it ’til you make it”; it’s what I did when I went to college (no, really, I am smart and belong here! That’s what I said, until I finally believed it). Thus it makes sense to me that I would have purchased something declaring my abundance of sexy, and worn it with a shirt that let me show off my breasts like they were trophies. It’s what happens when we begin to recognize our sexual power. And have breasts.

Now, I’m just pissed that I bought something that promotes such bad grammar and graphic design. Was that ellipsis really necessary? Right after the comma like that? Especially since the copy space couldn’t accommodate the third period in the ellipsis? And oh my word, what is up with the ridiculous porn font on the word “Sexy”? Ai, me! What was I thinking?

Clearly, in those days, my sense of taste was only in my mouth. Hooray for adulthood!

Mark my words, children: some day, you’ll get to a point where sexiness isn’t a top priority. Not that it won’t be nice, on those days when you’re feeling like you are on time and ready to rock. But in general, the day-to-day burden of sexy will be gone from your shoulders. And what a blessed relief that day will be.

Advice: Weighing In On Love

Dear Bartender & Priestess,

I’m a 20-something woman with a lot of interests. I hike, I’ve got some art projects going on, and I’m happy in my chosen career. When I look at myself on paper, I know I look good. So why do I believe that no man will love me unless I lose weight? I don’t date. I won’t even flirt until those twenty annoying pounds come off. Again, when I look at this on paper I know I’m way off base, completely illogical. But it’s how I feel and I can’t shake it. What can I do to get past this?

~~~The Bartender and The Priestess respond~~~

B: Oh, man. A body image issue. These things are tough.

I’m sure you’ve heard—or even made unto yourself—all the conventional arguments. But it’s only 20 pounds! You have so much to offer anyway! Honey, you don’t want to be with someone who only loves you for your body; beauty fades, look for the relationship that will remain! But you have such a pretty face!

Right? Am I right? I know I’m right, here. Because you’re not the first person to have body image issues. Please don’t misinterpret that as “We all struggle with this, get over it,” because it’s not what I mean. Rather my point is, you are not alone. I fight with myself over this every day, especially when it’s time to stare down the contents of my closet.

Every day, we are subjected to hundreds…perhaps thousands…of images of idealized womanhood. Emotional merit is given to those who achieve an idealized look, while those who do not look the part of the feminine ideal are left open to ridicule. We use weighted language (ha ha, no pun intended but maybe kind of a little) to describe our relationships with our…well, it’s really with our fat storage, isn’t it? We’re bad when we take the ice cream, because it will make our bellies grow. We’ve all heard that woman, the one with a beatified smile on her face, say, “Oh, no. I’ll pass on the cake, thanks. I’m being good today.”

Repeat after me: there is no moral virtue or downfall in cake. It’s just cake. (P: Cake? Cake is wonderful! Cake is so Cakey!) There is no good or bad in your weight. It’s just weight. And all this is an elaborate way of saying, we have, for the most part, allowed ourselves to be manipulated into thinking that there’s only one correct way of looking. That way is, of course, lean and strong (but you’re a woman, so not too strong) and fastidious in your eating (but not too fastidious, because sometimes a guy just wants to have a burger with his best girl) and curvy (but only in Barbie proportions, so invest in boob and butt implant surgery, will you?) There are as many right ways to be a woman as there are women on the planet. And, physical perfection is no guarantee of life-long happiness. Even Halle Berry has been cheated on.

By asking for help in getting past something, I’m presuming you mean that you want to climb over your self-imposed, 20-pound wall, because you hate the body standards American women are asked to adhere to, and resent that they’re something by which you feel that you must abide. I noticed that your question doesn’t include a statement like, “I’ve started a healthy eating program that should allow me to lose between 1 and 2 pounds per week, so I should achieve my target weight in about three months, give or take a week or two. What’s a good way to re-enter the singles scene at that time?” (Hint: bring body armor and Purell.) This tells me you’d like to focus on liking yourself more and shedding the notion that whether or not you’re lovable is tied to your dress size.

First thing: you need to realize that this 20-pound quantifier comes only, strictly, from you. There’s no weigh-in committee that only allows people with the “correct” height-to-weight ratio to date. So the obstacle in question, really, isn’t the weight.

P: Whoa, ok, Terri! But she’s right — let’s acknowledge that so many of us have felt this way at the same time we acknowledge that it’s codswallop. Neither Terri nor I are immune from this particular lie — but it’s a lie. And when it stops us from having a life that we want (and I don’t see anything in your post about actually getting the weight off…), then we either don’t want the life or we aren’t willing to do the one thing we think will make us worthy of the life we want (this is the codswallop part), then we’re wasting our lives. And what if you get the right guy, and then the weight sneaks back? Divorce? That doesn’t show a lot of trust in the partner. And do you think losing the weight means you will suddenly be secure in yourself? Nothing external really works… It’s like varnish. It wears off.

B: You need to dig in deep here and ask yourself, why do you think you’re unlovable? What planted that notion in your head? Was it a parent with body image issues? Did your mom cry when she looked in the mirror? Did your dad shake his head and mutter, “If only she could lose the baby fat…”. Did your high school dream boy react in horror when he found out you liked him? Do you have frenemies who tell you, “Yeah, you could be really cute. It’s too bad about your butt.” Is it thanks to the onslaught of women’s magazines and TV shows and advertisements and gossip and movie roles reinforcing body stereotypes? Because here’s the thing: none of that? Is actually real. They’re images manufactured on Madison Avenue, airbrushed and polished to a glossy shine. They’re your mother’s baggage, your friends’ insecurities, a boy caught in his own adolescent morass of what’s “right”. They’re words and ideas, that’s all. But these influences become a voice, the legion that speaks into the loop playing over and over in your head, telling you that you’ve got a problem.

P: At some level, it comes down to loving who we are and joyfully accepting that a partner will love us for all our fabulousness. You don’t want to offer yourself to a potentially fun partner with a damaged goods sign around your neck. Because if you think that, you’ll certainly be able to convince your partner that it’s true. And then you can prove to yourself that your fears were valid, as he runs screaming not from your avoir du poids but from your sense of being less than… but those fears? Groundless.

B: So drown that voice. Surround yourself with positive things, with positive people. If you have that friend who doesn’t make you feel quite-that-good about yourself, cut him or her off. If it’s someone you can’t readily cut off (like a relative), then throw the brakes on conversations you don’t like. Say, “Hey, family member, I appreciate your interest in me, but I’d rather talk about something other than my non-existent weight problem. Are you streaming anything good on Netflix right now?” Do things that make you feel good. Try a new means of expression in an art project. Learn to knit, or learn how to change the oil in your car. Stop reading books you don’t enjoy (you don’t have to finish them!). Join a gym. Not necessarily to embark on a weight loss plan (unless you want to), but to reconnect with your body. Recognize that you are strong, or graceful, or limber, or can run like the wind, or love to dance. Full disclosure: I also teach Zumba. I’ve seen a lot of people walk through the doors of my gym who are at odds with their bodies; not over their weight, mind you. A lot of people don’t “get” how the whole system goes together, they don’t know how to move in their own skin. Get to know yourself. And be kind to yourself. Affirmations can work. Remind yourself of your self-worth, all the time.

P: There may be reasons that my beloved and Terri’s beloved decide they don’t love us any more. Goodness knows we’re complicated enough, there could be a long list of good reasons that they saddle up and ride out — but in fact, both those very smart men love us for all our complexities and do the best to buoy us up in our insecurities. And they know what they’d miss if they left. It’s not about the weight.

That said, our weight is about our health. Are you healthy? Because if not? That’s a problem you don’t want to give your bf. And getting healthy in a gym? Great place to meet a guy.

Are you happy? Because a happy woman is her own best advertisement. Are you doing things you love to do and are going to have to let any guy who comes into your life know that he’s just going to be one of the wonderful things that make your life great.

Do you really want to meet someone? Or are you content obsessing about your weight? If you want the guy, there’s a therapist that would like to help you with your weight and health issues. But here, let’s let Terri take this one out… she’s all over this one.

B: Smash the assumption that you’re not lovable by taking stock of the people around you who do love you. Don’t dismiss the love that’s in your life because it’s not coming from a desired, imaginary person, and being directed toward a thinner, imaginary you. Magazines and TV and cultural memes are the projected products of other peoples’ inner lives, but they’re not real, and they’re not your life. Be present in your own life. That’s how you throw away twenty pounds worth of imaginary obstacle.

P: Leaving me no option to do anything but sit in the amen corner and holler, “Yes!”

Do it.

Do it.

Check out the original post here!

Find out more about The Bartender and The Priestess here!

Got a question? Email us at bartenderpriestess (at) gmail (dot) com. Non-spambot humans, remove spaces and add appropriate punctuation to send email.

The ’80s Pin Project: The Thompson Twins

For an explanation of the 1980s Pin Project, go here.

In a weird way, for me, The Thompson Twins define what made the 1980s music scene so…outlandishly 1980s. They wrote synth-fueled, harmony-laden poppy new wave, and… They wore zany clothes! They had absolutely frigging enormous hair! They lacked eyebrows! (Well, two of them did.)

Yes, really. Eyebrows. The Thompson Twins were a trio (of course: ZANY!) of unrelated folks (two of whom eventually married) (and are now divorced) who, at one point, were painfully poor. They wanted to do *something* unexpected with their eyes, to make the band more of a visual standout, but colored contacts cost money. Shaving, however, was (practically) free, et voila! Two of the three non-family twins engaged in regular eyebrow maintenance, and the look* for a band was born.

Kooky bunch of eyebrow shavers.

Kooky bunch of eyebrow shavers.

*as long as you add giant duck-billed hats, yards of baggy satin jackets and a treasure chest’s worth of ersatz pearls to that look.

I totally loved the album Into The Gap. I still have it, it still makes its way onto my turntable every now and again. It had their biggest hits on it, most notably the song “Doctor! Doctor!”. Don’t worry. I’ll include the video for that song, soon enough, but first! We discuss the Twins.

Also, please note: I know they released other albums besides Into The Gap. But I didn’t really care about those albums, except for a select song or two. Sorry, The Thompson Twins. It’s not personal.

Everybody I knew liked The Thompson Twins (or at least, grudgingly admitted they did not hate said Twins and if you knew my friends you’d realize that NEVER happens), and owned their very own copy of Into The Gap. It was a ginormous seller. Sold a bajillion copies world-wide. Generated a Thompson Twins world tour. Heavy video rotation on MTV! Caused young men to take an inordinate interest in long, skinny rat tails! And created a side business of swanky shwag, like the very pin I have pictured above. It was GREAT! In 1984-85 The Thompson Twins were riding high and yet….

And yet, they never got away from their supremely ’80s sound, which stopped being interesting by the end of the ’80s, and the group disbanded in 1993. I still have Into The Gap on vinyl, but I could never quite make the move to get it on CD, or leapfrog over physical media and get a digital copy. I could do that, I suppose (she said, with an unconvincing attempt at enthusiasm in her voice).

But the thing is, they are SO completely 1980s, it feels almost anachronistic of me to play them in any other media, which doesn’t necessarily happen for every artist in my collection. I have no problem with Katrina and the Waves in my iPod. How else am I supposed to bop around to my own private music collection that feeds right into my earbuds? But for the Twins…I don’t know. Digitizing their music feels wrong, somehow.

Maybe if I had a cassette I could play on a Sony Walkman…maybe that would feel more authentic to me. Right on, Thompson Twins! Right? Kind of? Know what I mean? Sort of? Hang on a minute, while I switch my cassingle and adjust my awkwardly-sized, generally inconvenient and kind of sweaty mini-headphones.

Truth: This is the exact model of Walkman that I used to own.

Truth: This is the exact model of Walkman that I used to own. Image from outsidethebeltway.com

Hahahahahaha! I said “cassingle”. Moving on.

I love The Thompson Twins, but they are my 1980s music equivalent of Han Solo frozen in a block of carbonite. Kind of grandiose and almost mythical, but ultimately, stuck pretty tight in one spot.

Nope. Not going anywhere. Image from jeditemplearchives.com

Nope. Not going anywhere.
Image from jeditemplearchives.com

Nothing about them progressed. Nothing about them moved forward. Putting a Thompson Twins album on to play is a great way to get an aural photograph of the ’80s scene. But it wouldn’t work in a Zumba class. Kudos to the Twins for not slipping into the nostalgia trap and trotting their old chestnuts out for a reunion tour. Stay in the carbonite, beloved Twins, where we can worship you at a distance and bedazzle your music in the glossy, soft-focus sheen of memory.

Here’s the video for “Doctor! Doctor!” which–quite sensibly–embodies everything that was happening in the 1980s video era. Big hair, moody lighting, superimposed giant piano-playing hands, harlequin masks, raggedy clothing, purple gloves, expansive hand gestures, inexplicable shots of fringe-drenched figure skaters…I never could make heads or tails of it and yet…

And yet, this video is frigging awesome.

Advice: What’s a Party Without Booze?

The Question: Recently, I decided to host an afternoon open house for my whole family; siblings, spouses, nieces, nephews. Open the door at noon, say final goodbyes by 4, eat something from the buffet table. No one was leaving my house hungry, I can promise you that. This is something I almost never do, maybe once every four or five years. We don’t see each other often, not as a large group, anyway. There are issues among us, and one of them is alcohol.

It plagues my family, deep.

Three of my six siblings have had a long-time struggle with alcohol addiction; one of them died from it just two years ago (she was only 59) and the other two are in recovery, after a pair of DUIs each. Alcohol addiction has passed down generationally in my family, too; several of my nieces and nephews now face the same struggle, though their problems have not crossed legal boundaries. Yet. In light of all of this, I opted not to serve alcohol at my brunch. I never said the attendees couldn’t bring their own (and one nephew brought beer for himself), but I wasn’t going to provide any, and I asked my husband of 22 years, who has watched all of this happen in my family, to not drink that day, either. And this caused a fight between me and my husband.

No, it's your fault, you big palooka.

No, it’s your fault, you big palooka.

 

My husband thought it was “unfair” to deny cocktails to the other guests at the open house. He likes to enjoy a glass of wine, particularly when my family is around. He thought it was unreasonable of me to level demands on the rest of the attendees because only two of them couldn’t drink. And he feels that since my brothers—the ones in recovery—will have to learn how to be around alcohol, I was coddling them with my decision. What do you think? Was I being unfair to my other guests with my decision?

The Bartender and the Priestess Respond:

Priestess: Wow! Barkeep? I’ll have two aspirin along with the club soda! ! There’s a lot going on here, and none of it easy. Let’s start with the simple: Hospitality. Here’s what Google has to say about that: “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” This is not to be confused with the hospitality industry, which means supplying what people want for a price. So, no, providing a warm welcome and good food at your house is a lovely bit of hospitality. You don’t owe anyone alcohol. I disagree with the original notion that you’re denying anyone anything by inviting them to your house for a party, even if alcohol is not served. So that’s the easiest part of the question dealt with. And staying simple, doesn’t anyone know how to use google to figure out some great drinks that are non-alcoholic? You’re not the only people in this boat, you know. Terri, how are you calling this…

 

Bartender: I feel like I should be all, “Step aside, people. I’m a professional, let me handle this.” But this is a situation that’s painfully fraught. Annie, my dear, I can’t do this without you.

First, let me make this ABUNDANTLY clear: if a person—any person—wants to host an event and not serve alcohol, that’s perfectly fine. Much like they can choose not to serve shrimp salad, or quiche. It’s just a thing, it doesn’t define an event. At least, it shouldn’t. I know that as far as parties and hosting go, it’s generally what’s socially expected. It’s also expected that people control themselves around it, which the letter writer’s family has proven they cannot do. But even without the tragic family history, it’s OK to not serve alcohol.

And clearly, the letter writer did not “deny” people their right to drink. She didn’t take away the six pack her nephew brought. She just chose not to provide it. Her house, her family, her right. I am completely in support of her decision to host her own family at her house as she sees most fit.

 

Priestess: The question of whether you and your husband can have a party without alcohol seems to be in play. Is the husband willing to talk about his need to lubricate the party? Especially, if it’s a party that happens very infrequently. And what you needed, it seems to me is support in a very hard circumstance. As a person who spends a lot of time doing ritual and celebration with people, if there’s anything that interferes with people’s ability to be present it’s alcohol. It sounds like you not only needed to control the event (the ever so infrequent event), so that people weren’t tempted, so that they behaved well, you also needed to be backed up here. You have a brother who died from alcohol related issues. That’s huge. And even if you’re skittish and a bit rigid about it (and I’m not saying you are)? So what? You’re his wife, who needed him.

 

Bartender: Did we answer what the letter writer thought was the actual question? Because what I really want to talk about is this husband. I’m kind of worried about him. I think he might have alcohol issues of his own.

I keep circling back around to the words “unfair” and “deny”. Unfair and deny. Alcohol. It’s unfair to deny me booze. When someone reaches that point at the bar, that’s when I cut them off. “It’s not fair because I want it” tells me that person has crossed the line from reasonable adult control to childish, id-based petulance. It’s taken on emotional precedence in the user’s mind. I feel like hubs is putting way too much emotional weight on the presence of booze. And, conversely, he’s not putting enough emotional weight on the struggles his wife and her family face. How many of her relatives have to die young before he accepts that, for them, alcohol isn’t all fun and games? There’s an unsettling lack of compassion here, for her, from him. Wasn’t he there when she buried her one sibling? Didn’t he see that affect her? Doesn’t the husband get that her decision actually has nothing to do with him and everything to do with his wife’s pain?

 

Priestess: What I don’t see in your husband’s conversation is the “honey, how is this for you? How can I help?” If this is a normal part of your pattern, then you may want to look at changing it? But since you’re both commenting on things it sounds like you work fairly easily together. Does he know how you feel beneath all the rational stuff about your family’s drinking problems? Do you know how you feel? What kind of counseling have you done about this? It’s hard as hell if you’re the sober one in a family full of people who are consumed by alcohol. And sober or no, alcohol affects everyone in the family.

 

Bartender: Of course, if the wife’s brothers are now in recovery, that’s where they will be for the rest of their lives and it can’t be expected that they’ll be sheltered from booze forever. They’re going to have to learn how to function around that, and in this one respect the husband is correct. However. Two years isn’t that long of a time in terms of getting past the untimely death of a loved one — from the very thing you want to serve at your party.

And, family holds a special place for people. I don’t mean that in terms of familial love. I mean, they’re really good at setting off emotional triggers. How many times have any of us been at a booze-soaked family event and thought, “You know…this is why I drink.” How many times have TV shows or movies used the sight-gag where a person is at a family event and swallows an entire glass of scotch in order to deal? A lot of the coping behavior we exercise in adulthood, we start learning in childhood, thanks to the interactions with our families. I don’t think it’s a bad thing for the letter writer to not endorse the sort of behavior that’s been demonstrably harmful to her family. Again: she is not Carrie Nation, breaking kegs of beer in the street so nobody can have any. She’s just not providing the thing that she feels is an emotional and physical detriment.

I mean, if one sibling had died of lung cancer and the other two were in chemo, would the husband insist everyone smoke inside because he wants it that way? Or would you be putting out large bowls of cigarettes and inviting people to take a few?

Is he willing to help or only willing to complain?

 

Priestess: You don’t ever say how the party went… Was it a good time? And if it was a good time, does that give you both some leeway to have more of the same? And before you do that are you willing to do just the wee-ist bit of work to figure out where you stand in this family of self destructive people — with a husband who is no where near as supportive as you need in these very painful moments. And if he’s unable to be supportive because of his own alcohol issues, don’t you want to know that the issue isn’t the party, but, once again, alcohol. And if that’s the case what do you need to do?

And to answer the question, can a party be a party without booze?? Betcha by golly, yeah.

Here. It's good for what ails ya.

Here. It’s good for what ails ya.

Got a question? Drop us a line at bartender priestess @ gmail .com (human non spam-bots, please remove spaces) and you may see it answered here on this very page!

Many thanks to Deb Slade for her Phantastic Photo, of the gracious and lovely models Marjorie and George.

And thanks to the good people of the Lewisburg Hotel for allowing us to shoot photos there.

See the original post at Sacred Village!

The ’80s Pin Project: Katrina and the Waves

For an explanation of the 1980s Pin Project, go here.

There were plenty of female, pop-oriented performers who staked a claim on the 1980s music scene. Madonna is, of course, the biggie, the trailblazer, the trendsetter. Lots of pretty, blonde-ish, mostly forgettable singers danced along in Madge’s footsteps, ones like Stacey Q and Taylor Dayne. There was the sugar-sweet teen bop of Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, and infectious bubble gum from bands like The Go-Gos and The Bangles. Every one of these musicians were fun and dance-friendly, but (with the possible exception of The Bangles, and of course La Madge) suffered for the want of an individual musical fingerprint. 

I hate to sound like I’m being mean to The Go-Gos–God knows I enjoy “Our Lips Are Sealed” as much as the next guy–but they hardly broke new ground. And I feel for Debbie Gibson, because she seems like a nice person and I think she really tries in her music. But. Ahem. I digress.

In the midst of the vast array of ’80s-era, shellacked-hair and fishnets-bedecked chick pop, Katrina and the Waves came on the scene. What? Who? Driving drums? Great guitar hooks? Punchy horns? Where in the hell did this fit in?

wp_20150521_09_40_34_pro-001

RAWK!

Fronted by American-born Army brat Katrina Leskanich, Katrina and the Waves were a UK-based power pop band whose self-titled US debut album was full of well-crafted songs and Katrina’s soaringly huge voice. Was the album dance-able? Sure. But their music also flat-out rocked. Imagine if you took Joan Jett‘s energy and party-ready attitude and and stuck it in a blender with Southside Johnny, the frontman for New Jersey’s greatest rock & roll bar band ever, and then threw in some serious high-fives for good measure.

That? Hell yeah! That’s what I’m talking about.

I ~~~loved~~~ Katrina and the Waves’s first album. The fact is, I still do. I think it’s strong and holds up against time and changing musical sensibilities. And there wasn’t really anyone else doing pure, good-time rock and roll with a strong female taking the lead. At least, not like Katrina & Co., and not like the rock-pop fusion they put out on their debut album. There was Lone Justice, I suppose, though they were more country-folk-rock. The Pretenders clung to their punk roots; believe me, I’m not saying that’s bad. I’m just saying Katrina’s sound was different. As for performers like Pat Benatar…full disclosure. Pat Benatar has always been a little too strident for my liking. I wish her well, as I appreciate what she’s done, but if I never hear another Pat Benatar song again my life will be just fine.

I saw Katrina and the Waves way back in the day, opening for Don Henley at the Garden State Arts Center. (Yes, I saw an inordinate amount of shows at the GSAC. Moving on.) For those of you who know my reactionary dislike of The Eagles and might be surprised that I would go and see their drummer’s solo concert, let me explain: I had not yet worked in bars enough to have heard everything off The Eagles’ Greatest Hits, over and over again, sung loudly and off-key, late at night, by a thousand different patrons, from New Jersey to Boston, to Texas, and back again. Simply put, I hadn’t been taken to my Eagles limit. And I still stand behind Henley’s solo work. But it’s true, these days, I am like The Dude from The Big Lebowski.

It’s unfortunate that Katrina’s follow-up album bombed and the band sort of disappeared off the US music scene after that. I still have a copy of the second album–I think I kept it out of first-album loyalty–but I haven’t listened to it in years. They are not the first band ever to fall victim to the sophomore slump.

Is it possible that the song “Walking on Sunshine” has been out for thirty years? And that I’ve had this pin for thirty years? And that I’m…and yet, I remain 29, I’m not sure how that works. Good lord, time has a way of moving past a person, doesn’t it?

Anyway. Here is Katrina and the Waves, and the glorious “Walking on Sunshine”. I defy you all not to get up and dance.

See you at the next pin!

 

The ’80s Pin Project: Hooters, #1

If you’re wondering what in the heck this “Pin Project” thing is, please go here, then meet me back at this blog. ‘kay? ‘kay!

The pin that I pulled out of my little box of treasures (dumped into a bag, reaching in blind….”You certainly are being random, aren’t you?” asked George), was a pin–first in what will surely be a series–for the band The Hooters.

Oh my word, how I loved The Hooters.

hooters1

Not to be confused with a certain wings-and-boobs-centric “family” restaurant.

What wasn’t to love? The Hooters of the 1980s were a five-piece power pop band out of Philadelphia. They were cute! They were dance-y! They were color-coded!

Cute, and harmless. What's not to love? Image from the80sman.com

Cute, and harmless.
Image from the80sman.com

The boys were all razor-cheeked and hairsprayed, and appropriately collared and slouchy. They made (make, actually, as they’re still together) music that fuses pop, ska, folk, and reggae. In the early-to-mid-1980s, this meant they created a decidedly different sound that stood out from the pop-synth ’80s electronic boom. Often their songs were flavored with unexpected instruments. They made a lot of use of the mandolin, which at the time was generally used by art-rock bands like Jethro Tull, or easy-breezy twee-folk like that given unto us by Seals and Crofts. The other instrument that set The Hooters apart from the ’80s power-pop pack was…

A melodica.

A what?

firemel

A melodica. Image from buttonbox.com

 

A melodica. Maybe you know it better by its nickname.

A hooter.

(Side note to Hooters fans who call themselves “Melodicans”. Stop that. You are not “Melodicans”, and you need to get over yourselves. You are Hooter Heads. Deal with it.)

Indeed, The Hooters named themselves after an oversized harmonica and took early-1980s Philadelphia by storm. They broke nationally in 1985, after signing with Columbia Records and producing the album Nervous Night. It’s a well-constructed album full of pop hooks and great harmonies. It’s an album I will stand behind to this day. Mostly. With one caveat.

It is entirely true that on every Hooters album, there is one song that I find unilaterally unlistenable. Dreadful. I find myself asking if their producers were on crack when they let this song through, or maybe their producer has some kind of terrible secret about the band and makes them perform one abysmal song per album, one that is atonal and completely lacking in style, or hook, or musical sensibilities. On Nervous Night it’s their cover of Love’s “She Comes In Colors” (note: watch the Love video at your own risk; NSFW or kids). I love all the rest of the album, but that song, their cover? It makes me want to burst my own eardrums. We can talk about their other albums’ misery songs, “Hard Rockin’ Summer” and “Mr. Big Baboon”, another time. And I digress.

One of the highlights of my misspent youth was an invitation I received from a friend to accompany him to a listening party, celebrating the 1989 release of The Hooters’ album Zig Zag. Swoon! Do I want to go listen to the new Hooters album and meet the band in the process? Swoon! HELL YES! Here’s a little photographic evidence of me and swoony blond Rob, hooter-playing Hooter and scalawag, who asked the friend I went there with if I was single.

Please note: my suspenders? Are paisley.

Please note: we had matching poofy hair volume.

Eagle-eyed readers: yes, my suspenders were paisley. I blush at the sight of that acid-washed jacket. And I wish I’d known my collar was turning upward. But I digress.

As I was not single at the time, that ended my potential for dating said Hooter. In one of the least-expected coincidences I can imagine, I discovered that two different women I have become friends with over the last bunch of years were also hit on by swoony Rob. I will say this for him: I know these ladies. He’s got good taste.

Ahhh. The Hooters. Everyone I know, knows who they are. Most people have disavowed fandom of them; they’re not cool any more, they’re not color-coded, they haven’t really changed their hair and that’s kind of weird. (OK, I’ll grant that retaining ’80s hair is an unwise business decision in terms of staying pop-relevant.) It’s too bad, because their music is still fun. 1980s nostalgia isn’t always a bad thing. Not when the music is great. Imma leave you with “And We Danced”. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be be-bopping at the union hall.

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