The Segarini Band vs The World

Originally posted April 3rd, 2011….

Being in a rock band can be fun, rewarding, stimulating and an adventure. It can also be tedious, frightening, life threatening, and rife with danger. No matter how well you plan, no matter how prepared you are, there are forces at work which will occasionally just fuck you up. Sometimes, it can be someone who is a stranger, or worse, someone in the support system of the band who causes the problems. Sometimes…it can be you…and when I say you, I mean me.

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The Segarini Band vs CBS…

It was simple. Clay Harding (our road manager) and I did battle with CBS for months to get a tour support package together so we could play Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and other cities we had yet to appear in. Clay did the math, broke it down, and accounted for every penny. CBS finally saw the light and gave us the amount we needed to make the trip…well, they almost gave us the money. Instead of just handing us the check, they wrote it out to one of the guys who owned Bomb Records. We were signed to Bomb and they had made a distribution deal with CBS. Our next album (Goodbye LA) was to be released on Epic Records, a subsidiary of CBS. We had begged Bomb not to make the deal but to no avail. Tour support was one of the reasons we finally gave in, and it seemed we had been rewarded. HA!

Although we got the funds to make the trip, the dorky label guy cashed our check and gave half our money to his favourite band on the label so they could make a similar trip, apparently not having the math skills to realize he had completely ruined our tour as far as being able to survive on the money we were left with. We had to cut a lot of corners, but we managed to make it all the way to Vancouver, playing the other dates along the way.

When we got to Vancouver we were out of money except for that which was earmarked for our trip home.. Whatever would we do?

We were booked into the beautiful Hotel Vancouver, but we couldn’t afford to do much of anything…like eat. We couldn’t afford to go to McDonald’s, but we could sign “CBS” at upscale restaurants and at the hotel. We couldn’t afford pizza or Chinese food, but we could call room service and sign “CBS” for 8 dollar burgers and the more expensive surf and turf, smoked salmon, and prime rib. We couldn’t take cabs, but we could rent a limo and sign “CBS”. We couldn’t afford to go out drinking or a trip to the liquor store, but we could drink in the hotel and order up bottles of champagne, cases of beer, and liquor and sign “CBS”…and that is what we did.

When It came time to pay for the rooms (a little over $3000) the desk said we would have to pay before we left. Well, I couldn’t very well call CBS, so we had a meeting. The roadies loaded the van and the rest of us stood in the lobby. The lobby had four exits, each to a different street. I walked up to the desk and spoke to the woman (Mrs. Fish) and explained to her that CBS was picking up the bill. She politely informed me that they would have to clear that with the hotel and I said, “Will you take a check?” They did. Had they not taken the check, I would have shouted RUN! at the top of my lungs and we would have bolted out all four exits and met the van at the rear of the hotel.

The trip was eventually paid for by Bomb/CBS. It was almost $3000 more than it would have been if we had been allowed to keep our original budget. The guy that took half our money caught holy hell. CBS taught me the ABCs of Budgeting? Not hardly.

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The Segarini Band vs Maple Leaf Gardens

I had always been treated well on tours and at large venues. Some were better than others, but they were all fun and exciting, from the Family Tree through the Dudes. The Segarini Band had less luck in that department.

One of our shows at the Gardens was a delight. Opening for Eddie Money and Santana, it was just a flat-out good time (except when Eddie and I went out drinking after the show and he got us kicked out of a club for coming on to the owners wife). The Gino Vannelli show was a different story.

I knew Gino and his brother Joe from Montreal. Two nicer guys you could not imagine. However, their crew were less than hospitable. Like Johnny Winters crew (who refused to give the Dudes more than half the lights and sound system at a show in Quebec City (which John and his road manager, Teddy Salas corrected for the rest of the tour) Gino’s crew were, shall we say, ‘overly protective’ of their employer. They gave us a faulty snake (the cables that delivered our amplifiers and mics to the sound board) insisting that they didn’t want to change over the stage set up for Gino, so there would be 2 separate feeds. After playing a set that friends told me was good but ‘tinny’, and complete with a monitor feed onstage that sounded like an iPod through a 1 inch speaker, I talked to Gino’s road manager and he passed the info on to Gino. We got a profuse apology at the after party from the man himself, a class act all the way.

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The Segarini Band vs The Forum…

The Forum at Ontario Place was one of the great venues of Toronto. A huge revolving stage surrounded by seats and a lawn that could accommodate 12,000 people. Sunken below the audience, the bands revolving throughout their sets to face the crowd as the stage slowly spun around, the site offered an experience like no other. The sound was always picture perfect and the audience was offered a view of the performers unlike any other venue in the city. (“Hey Look! There’s Daryl Hall’s butt!”)

We were opening for Teenage Head, the hottest street-level band in Canada at the time, a punk breakthrough that legitimized the whole New Wave/Punk scene that had taken hold in Toronto over the past 24 months. Backstage was a party. We all knew each other, the place was packed, and it was a beautiful day. What could possibly go wrong?

For us, it started with a case of faulty perception. We took to the stage and faced a sold out audience and launched into our first song. The band was hot and the audience was pumped. Then the first song ended and we heard what we thought were loud choruses of Boo’s. Boo’s? Us? Booing? Yipes!

We reacted as one. The band put on its game face and rolled into the next tune. Maybe it was the adrenaline or a desire to get off the stage as quickly as possible, but for whatever reason, I noticed it was almost impossible to sing because we were playing so fast, like we were being chased by a mob of angry, hungry, cannibals. As we segued into each new song we played a little faster until I was just shouting out the lyrics. I wondered if Mark, the drummer, was going to explode. His head down, arms flailing, he was playing like the devil himself was right behind him. We finished the set. A great roar lifted up from the audience. We had conquered our fear and finished our set, but the sound of booing had tarnished the moment.

While all of that was going on, out in front of the venue things were turning ugly. By the time Teenage Head hit the stage hundreds of fans who could not get into the sold out show started to act up. When I say act up, I mean riot. The police were called in, fights broke out, property was damaged and a car or two were rendered moot. There were dozens of arrests, several injuries, and enough booze and drugs confiscated from the drunk fans to keep us all loaded for a day or three. During Teenage Head’s encore, some of the audience decided to run amok onto the stage, tackle Frankie (Venom) a few times, snatch one of Gord Lewis’s guitars, and generally behave like a ADD addled mob of pre-schoolers.

We all ended up sitting down in the dressing rooms polishing off the free beer and whatever else we could find while the police and fans played tag all over the place. We were stuck there for hours. It was Frank’s birthday…and a fine night for a party, isn’t it?

Years later, someone who was in the audience sent me a CD of a cassette he had made of our set. I put it on. No booing. I listened repeatedly. No booing. If there was any it must have been confined to a section of the audience that we were facing every time we ended a song. Who knows? However, I have never before or since heard our music played so fucking fast. There were no more rock shows there for quite a while.

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The Segarini Band vs The Angry Couple…

I had a reputation for being (shall we say) ‘mouthy’ on stage. With the Segarini Band, I did take to running off at that particular orifice more often than not. Sometimes the poor band would have to just stand there while I did 20 minutes of stand-up, which would happen occasionally if the audience was laughing along. Other times, I would stink the place up for a few minutes and launch into a tune to save face. Was it self indulgent? Absolutely. Did it occasionally make a set memorable and fun? Yes to that too.

One night at a bar (The Mississauga Belle) located in a suburban strip mall that is now a Blinds To Go store or a Frozen Yogurt outlet, the Segarini Band was met with a packed house all having a great time except for a woman who kept yelling “STONES!” after every song while everyone else was applauding and whistling their approval of whatever we had just played. Song. “STONES!” Song. “STONES!” Song. “STONES!” All the way through the first set, this ‘fan’ yelled herself hoarse demanding her favourite band’s music from a band clearly uninterested in honouring her request. I gave her some slack, realizing she must have an incredibly slow learning curve.

When the second set started, she yelped “STONES!” even before the band had taken the amps off of ‘stand-by’. I had had enough. I started with the usual cure we applied for such behavior. “We have a deal with the Stones. They don’t play us, and we don’t play them” I said benignly. She blinked, paused, then spoke, “STONES!”. Still? I took the gloves off.

“So, you like the STONES?”, I asked, looking right at her. “Whoo!” she shouted, raising her glass in tribute and standing up, knocking over her chair. “Do you LOVE the STONES?”, I continued over the microphone, raising my own Jack and Coke to acknowledge her solo standing ovation. “WHOOO!”, she bellowed, spilling some of her drink on the patron sitting next to her. “Do you REALLY LOVE THE STONES?”, I shouted back. “WHOOOOO!!!”, came the reply. She is punching her boyfriend in the arm now. “Do you have all their records?” I excitedly yelled over the growing din. “WHOOOOOOOO!!!!!”, she screamed, readying herself for the opening riff to ‘Satisfaction’ or ‘Brown Sugar’. I dropped my big grin and lowered my glass, “THEN FUCKING GO HOME AND LISTEN TO THEM!” Dead silence…then, the audience erupted in howls of laughter and applause. “She screamed “Go fuck yourself!” I said quietly into the microphone, “Good looks don’t last…develop a personality.” The crowd started howling and applauding all over again.

Her face turned crimson red. She sat down, but instead of yelling at me again, she turned to her boyfriend, punching him repeatedly in the shoulder as she started screaming at him. “Do something!” was all I heard her say, just as we launched into another one of our own tunes. Two verses and a chorus into the song all hell broke loose.

With the lights in your eyes on stage, you can’t really see all that well, especially into the audience. I thought I saw something suspended in the air for a fraction of a second. It was a glass, ice cubes and liquid spinning out of it as it arced above the audience’s heads. I started to step back, but the glass was badly thrown, breaking against a microphone stand before slamming not into me, but our lead guitar player, Michael St. Denis’s knee, ripping his pants and drawing blood. We played for a second and then, suddenly, there were no drums. We stopped. Where, I thought to myself, are the drums? Then I saw Mark Bronson, our drummer, hauling the drink hurling malcontent out of the audience and up to the stage, then punching him into the alcove next to it where our amp and guitar cases were. By now, Mikey had his guitar off and joined Mark on the side of the stage hidden from the audience and the two of them gave the “STONES!” girl’s boyfriend what for. Clay (our road manager) had to stop them before they killed the poor kid. Then, the club’s bouncers showed up and took over wailing on the guy in place of Mark and Mikey. They took him through the backstage door onto the sidewalk, where the police gave him a few punches when he wouldn’t co-operate, before tossing him into the back of their squad car. By now, we were back playing and the incident was put behind us…until the end of the night.

By the time we were done, the jackass that threw the drink was back in the bar after he cooled off in the cop car. When I walked into the front room of the club, I saw his girlfriend yell at him one last time before leaving with a biker and riding off on his Harley. The poor shlub looked around, saw me, and took a swing. Luckily, I saw it coming and turned my head, his fist just grazing my cheek and causing him to stumble into me. I grabbed him by the neck and drew my hand back to deliver a shot to his now horrified face. Then without warning, my arm was held back and I was floating off the ground.

Clay, all 300 pounds of him, had come up behind me and lifted me off the floor. I was now suspended in mid air, my arms and legs windmill-ing harmlessly through the smoky air, connecting with nothing. The target of my ire backed away and sat down at a table, his head in his hands. After firing Clay 15 times from my perch in his arms, he put me down and scolded me. Fine, the kid probably would have gotten in a few good licks, so Clay more than likely saved me from a bruise or two or worse. I walked over to the table where the guy was sitting. He looked up and said, “Sorry about the glass man. My girlfriend made me do it. Now the bitch left with a biker.” He looked up at me. “You gonna beat me up too?” “Nah”, I said, putting my hand on his shoulder, “I couldn’t hurt you any worse than she did.” That was a great gig.

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The Segarini Band vs A Motorcycle…

We were drunk when we made the deal. Larry “Hurricane” McLean and I had been drinking buddies for a couple of years. We had met at a gig or a bike show, I forget which, and had become instant best buds. Larry was a motorcycle daredevil and stunt man. He had been jumping over boxes and American Flyer wagons since he was a little kid on a bicycle, even over his braver friends laying in the dirt of neighborhood vacant lots (and who were still his buds and now part of his crew) before he was a teenager. Then later, astride a motorcycle, he graduated to jumping further and further over tons of considerably more dangerous obstacles. He and his crew were my home away from home when it came to partying, and every time we got together, the evening always ended with Hurricane and I talking about setting up a jump over the band. Of course, we never followed up on the idea. Sobering up the next day usually let the common sense the alcohol blocked the night before start flowing again and that would be that. One night, Larry’s kind-of manager overheard the usual party-ending deal being made, came over and convinced both of us what a great idea this was, brilliant, really…which is how this idiotic, beer soaked nonsense became reality.

We planned to execute the jump at the Sunset Speedway north of Toronto. It would be a 2 day event of camping out, drinking, barbecue, and drinking. Perhaps  there would be drugs…and drinking. The site was secured, the plans set in motion. A deal was made with a motel not far from the site, and details for the length and size of the ramps, stage, and logistics were carefully laid out. A couple of months later, we were ready. The band agreed to do it with trepidation and not a little anxiety on their faces. Mark the drummer started having nightmares. “We’re doomed”, he would say, whenever the subject was broached.

Hell. What’s a little doom when you’re in a rock and roll band? Peter Kashur, our second guitarist, simply obtained a construction site hard hat. Larry’s ‘manager’ borrowed a Winnebago from a police officer he knew in Orangeville and away we went.

For a day and a half we partied our asses off while the crew went about setting everything up at the nearby speedway. We commandeered the motel and its restaurant and bar. The afternoon of the jump the press arrived and fell right into the party. Surrounded by family, friends, and curious hell raisers, we danced on the edge of the abyss for all we were worth. It was a grand time.

That night, the looky-loos were in the stands and the stage was set for the big rock and roll motorcycle jump. Last minute checks of the positions of the ramps and the direction and strength of the wind were calculated and adjusted for. Larry was in his white leather jumpsuit with its red and blue gee-gaws and circled the track of the speedway doing wheelies and waving to the crowd. We hit the stage and began to play. At the end of the set, Larry would make the Jump.

We arrive at the end of the set. I introduce Larry and he pulls up in front of the stage to wild applause. We start to vamp while Larry circles the track for a series of wheelies and onboard cool moves as he passes the stands. He makes his final pass before mounting the launch ramp and hits the cabling in front of the stage that connects the sound system to the board, loses control of the cycle and goes over the handlebars, skidding to a halt 50 feet away. Is he hurt? Nah…he leaps up, thrusting his arms into the air and signaling that he is alright. There is, however, a 4 inch wide hole in his leather pants, and a nasty ‘hamburger’ (bloody, skinless wound) on his ass from sliding across the asphalt at 60 miles an hour. The bike, on inspection, has it’s handlebars out of true by about 10 degrees. There is a confab with his crew in front of the stage. Sprained wrist, giant hamburger, and a damaged bike. Larry announces he will go for it anyway. The crowd roars its approval. Mark the drummer mutters, “We’re doomed” under his breath. Pete dons his hard hat. I remain drunk and grinning.

The band launches into our final song of the evening, Larry prepares to get up to the proper speed and then…hits the throttle, gaining speed as he accelerates toward the launch ramp. Everyone holds their breath. The next thing I know, I am looking UP at the underside of a motorcycle as it flies over my head. Success! Larry comes down on the landing ramp to wild cheers, and the band finishes the song and waits for Larry to join us on the stage. We invite the crowd over to the bar at the motel to celebrate with us. Mark the drummer mutters, “We’re doomed”, under his breath.

Larry Jumps the Segarini Band

The Big Jump

Bob and Larry “Hurricane” McLean post Jump

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The Segarini Band vs Me…

We were getting ready to play a great little bar on Jarvis Street called the Hotel California, when Howie Mandel called me and said he wanted to introduce us that night. “Fine”, I said, always happy to see Howie. He says, “I’m bringing a friend. Could you let him do a set?”, then fills me in on the guy. I readily agree. That night, the place is packed (easy to do…we had 75 fans and the club sat 50) and Howie, true to his word, gives us a great introduction. By the end of the first set, the bar is WAY over capacity and it is hard to even walk around. I have not had an opportunity to tell the band we had a guest going on next. Finally, Howie gives a rather cryptic intro to his friend, and from outside, wending his way through the crowd, applause and shouting rising as he approached the stage…is STEVE fucking MARTIN! Everybody is going apeshit. The band, standing off to the side of the stage, is grinning and clapping wildly. Our guest launches into his classic routine, and the place goes crazy. Clay has called the press, and representatives from all three dailies arrive just in time to catch the set. The vibe in the tiny club is electrifying. Steve eyes the band, and asks them to come up on stage, gives them some intel, and they launch into ‘King Tut’. The cheers are deafining.

After the set, I finallyget a chance to talk to the guys in the band. They are beside themselves with happy. “Guys”, I start, “I didn’t have time to tell you before, but that wasn’t Steve Martin”. A look of incredulousness descends on their smiling faces. “That was a friend of Howie’s from Calgary named Dennis Taylor impersonating Steve Martin”. The look of incredulousness turned to anger. They were pissed. They stayed mad for a loooong time. Really, there was no way to tell them until after the set. They didn’t believe me. After that, I was threatened with pies to the face, and a lot of stern looks. It was a great gig. We did it again at the Palais Royale later that year. All was forgiven. Looks like Steve to me. Judge for yourselves here. There is an added surprise at the end of the video.

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Segarini’s regular columns appear here because Field and Stream and Plumbing Monthly are no longer interested in publishing him

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-button7giphyBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

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