Chris Wing has always marched to the beat of a different drummer so it was no surprise to me that he showed up to play at Gallery Lombardi last week wearing a Connie Francis T- Shirt. Wing, and his bandmates in Sharon Tate's Baby, have always pushed the boundaries of taste, style, and decorum, and 30 years or so after they first performed it should be no surprise that their odd perspective on life hasn't changed that much.
Arriving at the Gallery Lombardi to celebrate the launch of their Radical Nautical art show, I made just in time to catch Adrienne Anemone's acoustic set. Starting late after a brief, light rain that seemed to do nothing more than increase the sweltering temperatures, her set was relatively short and I only caught glimpses as I prepped my video gear for STB, who were to follow her. Originally from Brooklyn, now based in Austin and part of the Tunahelpers, Adrienne was an obvious choice for a nautical themed avant garde art show just based on name alone, and accompanied on guitar by a cellist and a banjo player, she has an interesting folk sound. Less classical than say Rasputina, but in that same vein, kind of goth, kind of east village, far far from the mainstream.
Adrienne Anemone at Gallery Lombardi - more photos... photo by jeff barringer - staff photographer
And that brings us back to STB. Sharon Tate's Baby is part of what the Hun's percussionist referred to as the "Asshole Rock" scene, populated primarily by outcast Texas white trash punk skateboarders. This scene was best epitomized by the most successful band to emerge from that scene, The Butthole Surfers. Nothing was off limits, there were no boundaries, songs about drug abuse, harassment by the cops, political diatribes, and frank sexual themes abounded in the music. I remember the first time I saw the Butthole Surfers at Club Foot in 1981 Gibby was onstage abusing himself with a staple gun to the face while singing (badly) and wearing a T-Shirt with a picture of a gay cowboy sporting a massive erection. I still have one of Gibby's staples from that show somewhere in a box in my attic. The songs were fast, loud, quickly written, and poorly performed. Good times.
So, back to Sharon Tate's Baby. Back in the day I was one of those outcast Texas white trash punk skateboarders, roadrash on my left hand still a daily reminder, and I first saw STB at Raul's before it closed. Back then their name alone was shocking and was often referred to as STB in "polite" company and in the local press. Things didn't get much better when STB disbanded and most of the members started a new band called Jerry's Kids, a name only marginally less offensive. Still, they were fave's of the skateboard crowd. I moved away from Austin in the mid-eighties and lost track of the bands and the scene. Some friends moved, others died, some grew up, some didn't. One of the bands that I lost track of was STB.
Brian Curley of Sharon Tate's Baby - more photos... photo by jeff barringer - staff photographer
I honestly hadn't thought of them since the 80's, and then one Christmas party at Ann Mary Carney's house 2 years ago she showed me a photocopied booklet containing a myriad of music posters from the scene back in the day. It had been assembled by Chris Wing of STB who I was surprised to find was still local. Swiping his email address from Ann Mary, Chris and I started corresponding. Last fall, after the untimely death of The Big Boy's front man Randy "Biscuit" Turner, he told me of his plans to re-unite STB/Jerry's Kids for a Raul's reunion show in Biscuit's honor. For a first time back playing together the show was ok but you could tell they still had some work to remove the rust. Still, it was great to see all these people I hadn't seen in years and hear songs I hadn't heard since leaving for college.
On Thursday last week Brian Curley, bass player for STB invited me out for another reunion show, at the Radical Nautical art show. Brian had some pieces in the exhibit, and somehow the band got talked into playing. Chris and the band had spent the last 10 months practicing and it really paid off. Except for the gray hair and the late 40's paunch, there was nary a difference between the band I saw as a kid and the band I saw at the show. Songs like "Drugs Will Kill Me" and "Bored Stiff" sounded tight and clean. Dedicating "Human Trash" to Dick Cheney was a natural. Chris spent more time in he audience than in front of it, and by the end of the set we were all wringing in sweat and exhausted. After the show Chris, Brian and some of the other band members and I wandered off together to re-hydrate and grab a burger.
I am glad to see the guys in Sharon Tate's Baby back in action and look forward to catching their set at Trophy's on September 21st. If you wanna hear some old school skating music, adjust your trucks, put a band-aid on that road rash and come on out and join us.