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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Onward, through the night

It has been a full year since I lost my friend Evan Chronister to an accident. I have written plenty about what he meant to me when he was alive (this piece and this piece sum up everything pretty well) and I have certainly not shied away from talking about him to friends, family, and co-workers during these past twelve months.

This is how I've processed the grief, which I accept is an ongoing matter. And I think a part of this process is sharing what life has been like without him in the physical sense.

When I go to record stores these days and see a vinyl record reissue, I remember the caution he told me, as well as many others: the record label is ripping you off! Many reissues of classic albums simply ported over a CD mastering to vinyl, thus making it not an actual vinyl mastering. He could tell in the sound quality, and while I took his advice seriously, I have yet to do a side-by-side comparison. The guy cared about music listening as much as the music itself.

Only a couple of days after his death, my housemate Joel and I inherited a lot of vinyl LPs from his massive collection. From Ghost to Hawkwind to Saxon to Rainbow to Rush, I have tried to give these records as much love as he did. I identify myself as a music enthusiast, and my vinyl collection continues to show that as I have Goblin next to Andrew Gold, Mastodon next to Johnny Mathis, and Blue Oyster Cult next to the Born Free soundtrack. I don't show my collection to impress people. It's more to show how scatterbrained my taste in music is.

Evan never gave me hell about liking what I liked, which was refreshing. I was so used to being chastised for liking Black Flag, Rush, and ABBA. He recognized the passion to find music you love, no matter how hip or un-hip the artist was. That's an idea I've really tried to stress to impressionable music fans I know.

For many years, I would fear making musical recommendations to people. Too often, I'd praise something that people found to be the opposite of praise-worthy. These days, I'm happy to recommend bands to people that are curious. It's not an invitation to the Cool Kids club; it's an educated guess based on musical preferences.

I have a cousin who's in college now. He's into all kinds of music and is open to recommendations. I decided to make an ongoing Spotify playlist for him that I update weekly. I don't fear him disliking something I put on the mix. I'm simply happy to interact with somebody who likes to seek out things he's never heard before.

Over the summer, I talked to my cousin about seeing concerts. He lives in an isolated college town where a lot of country acts hit, but certainly not a regular stop for any other genre of music. I suggested he ask around with friends who play music if they know of any performances that happen in the smallest, non-traditional places, like coffee shops and garages. Apparently he's all about the local scene now, and I'm happy to hear about how much he loves it.

It's highly doubtful I'd be inclined to roll the dice and make suggestions if it weren't for Evan. Now I find recommendations to be an enjoyable activity.

I learned a lot from Evan and I certainly miss him, but I'm glad I did know him and many people who knew him well. The memories of my time with him will not fade away. I must continue the life I want to live, and I hope those who knew him do, too.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Iwrestledabearonce


Once again, another band trailer robbery has happened in North Texas. This time, the trailer belonged to Iwrestledabearonce, an emerging schizoid metal band. It was stolen when it was parked in a church parking lot in Denton on North Bell Street just for a night a couple of weeks ago. A drum kit, all of their merchandise, road cases and speaker cabinets were stolen on September 20. It was estimated at a $20,000 loss.

Yesterday, a GoFundMe page was set up to recoup some of the money they lost in the theft, with an initial goal of $7,500. They set their initial goal to fulfill their upcoming U.S. tour dates starting at the end of this month, but additional funds are gladly accepted. (The funds already raised were close to $5,000 by last night.)

The band’s bassist, Michael “Ricky” Martin, lives across the street from the church where the trailer was stolen, and had thought of Denton as a safe place where you don’t have to worry about a theft of this magnitude. After filing the report to police, there have been no leads from police or friends of the band.

This is not the absolute worst thing that has happened to this band, but it is definitely yet another setback. They changed singers a few years ago at a critical period in their career, and when they all lived in a house in Birmingham, all of their personal possessions were stolen while they were on tour. While this loss is big, it certainly is not a reason to cancel any future tour dates or call it quits as a band.

“We’d much rather go into debt ourselves just to keep going, at least to see if we could eventually recoup just from becoming a bigger and better band,” Martin says. “We don’t make much money, but we continue to do what we do because we love doing it. We love playing in front of people and we love to inspire people. We do this because it’s awesome to do. It’s awesome to travel the world and do what you like to do.”

Not only have friends and fans of the band helped out already, the band’s label, Artery, has already extended help with merch and plane tickets. “I’m really surprised with how many people have helped,” he says. “It’s crazy how lots of people are responding and helping us out. It really encourages us to get better and play more.”

The white trailer has a pretty noticeable thing on the back: a smiley-face created out of reflective tape. “It would be ironic to see it now,” Martin says with a laugh.

Here is the list of all the stolen items:
CDs, LPs, hoodies, hats
Two PPC Orange 4x12 cabinets
Two white road cases containing the orange cabs
One Hartke 8x10 hydrive bass cab
Gretsch renown maple 5-piece drum kit with mounting hardware
Gretsch renown maple natural finish custom snare drum
Iron Cobra HH905N kick pedals
Accompanying Gibraltar hardware
Complete set of SKB drum cases/cymbal cases
14" Zildjian new beat hats
2 x 18" A Zildjian custom medium crash
2 x 18" A Zildjian custom crash
19" K Zildjian China
19" hybrid K Zildjian custom crash
2 x 8" K Zildjian splash
8" A Zildjian custom splash
2 x 19" hybrid K Zildjian custom China
2 x 18" Oriental Zildjian China
22" Zildjian K Custom Dark Ride
16" Zildjian A Custom Reso Crash
A wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man (production piece)
Band tent


If you see anything or have any leads, contact the band via their Facebook page, Twitter page, or this e-mail address
.