Segarini – Wack in the Saddle Again ….

Over the course of 5 decades of playing music and recording, looking back (sometimes over my shoulder) I can see that my mission statement remained fairly static. I wanted to write music I loved, hoped other people loved it too, and learned to play musical instruments just well enough to write those songs and, knowing my own limitations, wrote simple ditties I could sing without pulling a hamstring, running out of breath, or unable to hit the high notes without scaring the cats.

During that time (after being in a few bands as a hired hand; The Jades, The Ratz, and US), I put together my own projects seven times. They all had their magic and their moments, their ups and downs, and I cherish those times and love them all. …but one will always be the favoured child, the wildest ride, and the craziest drunken uncle ….

Wack to the Future

Montreal – Demo

I have been writing about and telling the stories of the bands I’ve been in for years. Especially The Wackers. It’s time you heard about how The Wacks actually came together from a different perspective …and learn something new about the rest of us.

…and where does any good party start? Why, in the kitchen, of course.

WACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN

The Wacks arrive in Toronto and see each other for the first time in 38 years. We spent three days around this table playing, singing, and telling stories.

…lots and lots of stories.

Kootch and the Boys around the Kitchen Table

The John Frankenheimer, Chuck Barris, Joni Mitchell, and Mickey Dolenz Stories

Eventually, we had to go to work ….

First Song we Rehearsed – I Started to Rock

The first runthrough of Teenage Love …warts and all, and ohhh, Ernie’s GROOVE.

Everything you Wanted to know about Ernie….

Ern on Ern

Rand talks about his career, how the Wackers came to be, Wackering Heights, ‘Ludes, Jac Holzman, Eureka, Gary Usher, the late and much missed Michael Stull, and the rise and fall of The Wackers. Our memories are not quite the same, but the gist of them confirm that The Wackers were lucky to be able to walk upright, made insanely goofy decisions, and had the time of our lives. The last 5 minutes of this clip are available directly below this one.

Part Two of Rand’s Interview

During this period of our lives you couldn’t think about Rand without thinking of Mel.

Mel has been a friend of mine since she was 14 years old. I met her when her kitten crawled into my shirt and peed on me at Dad’s Point in Stockton. She and her girlfriends were The Family Tree’s first fans, and brought us an audience that made us a top band in our home town. In the clip below, she remembers things the rest of us didn’t, and speaks of the times in a wonderfully wistful and caring way. Mel was and is a firecracker, The Wackers personal Pelosi. She pushed, she championed, she encouraged, she danced, she supported, she truly was a part of the band. With Cherie Porter’s Louise to her Thelma, Mel was both a positive influence, and as nutty as a Christmas fruitcake. Like LaVerne and Shirley, or Lucy and Ethel, they came up with get-rich, get-famous schemes that rival Spinal Tap.

Mel – “Bob”

Me- “What Mel?”

Mel – “Cherie and I know how to make you famous”

Bob – “what is it this time?”

Mel – Instead of walking out on stage, you’ll be lowered onto it on wires with flames shooting out of your guitars while glitter rains down on you in a blizzard of swirling electrified snow, fans off stage blowing it around you guys and the bands hair blowing in the wind and the flames shooting out of your guitars …you’ll get a standing ovation before you even play a note.”

I considered this for a moment, envisioning the flaming guitars setting our clothes and hair on fire, then igniting the glitter which blows out into the first few rows of the audience, setting them ablaze as well, as we gently land on the stage looking like four bonfires, screaming in agony along with the now blazing audience.

Me – “NORM! Come get your wife!”

I may be exaggerating a bit, but not by much.

Mel was a model, an actress, a dancer, and helped keep Wackering Heights from looking like a Frat House. If not for her, Cherie, Paula, and Cheryl’s presence, The Wackers probably would have O.D’d, gone to jail, or worse. Here’s a few pictures.

Mel

Mel and Rand

Mel Dancing

Mel on a Billboard

Mel and Cherie Playing Dress Up at the Heights (every day)

Cherie and Mel with 2 of the 26 Wacker Kitties

Cherie

Not only did this column need some estrogen, but Mel still packs a pretty good wallop. She really was kind of a member of the band…sometimes, but more importantly, I just don’t want to piss her off. *grin*

Mel on Stockton, The Family Tree, Roxy, Wackers, Wackering Heights, The Bubble, Cherie The Blizzard of ’71, the Hurley Wisconsin Bar Brawl, LeeAnne Lockwood and the House That Wasn’t There in Trout Creek Michigan, and More.

Truth be told, there is one other reason Mel got so much space – Rand and I still owe her for a ton of makeup, feather boas, and about 174 lbs. of glitter.

A little more from Rand ….

THE WACKS MUSEUM

Some Music and Videos

The trip across the country we all mention here was written up by me with the hopes we could get it turned into a movie. This was written to be the song that played under the opening credits. Look at this as a reallly primitive trailes for yet another Wacker pipedream.

The song Rand and I wrote for the Dillards ….

Rand and I at an outdoor Festival in Montreal. First time we played together since The Wackers broke up. He as a solo artist, me with All the Young Dudes. People thought we were feuding. We set ’em straight.

On Our Way to the Prom

The Wackers Onstage at Carnegie Hall

The recording Rand talks about in his interview. Tempo Studio in Montreal. Rand, Myself, Rita Coolidge, and a well- lubed Kris Kristofferson record the first version of Juvenile Delinquent, which would have closed Side One of Wack and Roll.

This track was going to close the Wack and Roll album. It is the last thing we recorded together as The Wackers.

…and the previous brings us here.

The Wonderful Poster was designed and executed by Jason Mamone

The Last Word goes to our dear friend and late-to-the-party Wacker Fan, Jade Dunlop.

I found it touching …and incredibly well written and from the heart.

Jade Dunlop

Time Will Carry On

By the time I came into this world, the band known as The Wackers had already spent the past 14 years existing only in the form of old records, photographs, memories and legends. Having officially disbanded in 1973 and the former band members had all moved on to bigger and better things – their lives just as much ahead of them as mine was that first December day. Over the course of many years, the roads of circumstance had brought them all to many different places in many different ways: Drummer Ernie Earnshaw was playing music in Loleta, California while guitarist Rand Bishop was penning novels in Nashville, Tennessee. Kootch Trochim had traded his bass for guitar and was still rocking in what had become the Wacker Kingdom of Montreal, PQ and Bob Segarini was living in Toronto, writing columns and rocking the radio airwaves. It was through my time spent with Bob that I first heard – and fell in love with – the music and mythos that was The Wackers. He shared with me a vivid and exciting history – a collection of epic memories set to a stunning, sweeping and electric soundtrack.

Wackers 3.jpg

The adventures of KootchBobErnie and Rand(y), along with Mike and Tim Stull, Norman Vosko and Melanie Bishop (now known as the beautiful Melanie Weber) became so well known to me they might as well have been part of my own history. But I guess that’s the point – as much as I loved to hear the music and the stories, it became a somewhat disappointing experience to participate in. These echoes from the past formed a life I could only live second-hand. Like a lighthouse beacon on that distant shore in time, the melodies and anecdotes flashed a bittersweet warning to me that no matter how much we yearn to go back, we will never be able to truly be a part of what had gone before. Simply due to the Grace of God and His poor sense of timing, I had missed my chance to share in something special with the people who I would one day come to call my friends. I began to feel left behind. Abandoned… Too late.

The movement of time and space is much like that of a record on a turntable. As the record spins like the earth on it’s axis, the steady-handed needle of time snakes it’s way through the grooves from start to finish – always forward, never backward and stopping only when our song has come to it’s end. But every once in a while, a record can skip, sending the listener back to a time and place in the melody through which the needle of time had already passed. It was during one of these rare skips that I found myself in the even rarer position of standing at the front of a stage watching The Wackers play live – an event that had not once occurred in the past 38 years. The Wackers Reunion – aptly titled “Wack in the Saddle Again” – took place in the rich, velvety elegance that is Cherry Cola’s Rock n’ Rolla Cabaret and Lounge in Toronto on July 24th, 2011, but the energy in the room was more reminiscent of Lake of Two Mountains High School, Loyola College or even the fabled Norm Silver’s Moustache in Montreal circa 1972. There were a lot less feathers, glitter and leaping about the stage than the older fans would remember, but the music – honestly and sincerely played – struck a chord with all of us there that night. For one evening, past and present merged into one ageless entity and I was no longer too late, but right on time. Through this spectacular event just short of time-travel, I was granted the seemingly impossible opportunity to join in the shared history of The Wackers and their fans – old and new; finally a first-hand experience with the music – and friends – I love so much.

But just as a record keeps turning, the ever-moving current of time took hold of that tiny moment and began to sweep it gracefully into the past. Gear was packed up and moved off stage. Goodbyes were said, planes and trains were caught, and suitcases were unpacked at home. The reunion was over, and once again Ernie, Kootch, Rand, Bob, Tim, Norman and Melanie returned to the lives they’d happily created far away from that of The Wackers. Meanwhile I was left to come to terms with the fact that I had yet another moment in history my heart begged to return to. I spent my days hoping that maybe the needle would skip again, and I could be transported back to that memory – the past. I could live my entire life caught in the endless loop of a broken record – existing in one time and one time only, over and over again. But that’s just what my life would be: broken. Time, like a record, is not supposed to skip and repeat itself – it’s supposed to steadily play through, bringing new sounds and experiences, each one different, until the needle reaches the end.

Although we all have moments in time we yearn to go back to – whether we were there to begin with or not – our direction must always be upward and forward; optimistic and curious for what lay ahead but with the knowledge, reverence and sincere appreciation for what came before. For no man is ever truly born too late – maybe too late to live someone else’s life, but never too late to live his own. The current of time will always flow. Time will always move…and Time will Carry On.

Jade is a gifted old soul whose love of music spans decades that came and went before she was born, yet lives on through her incredible ability to make it all new all over again. She loves wigs, kitties, other stuff, and kitties. She likes to think of herself in the same terms that Roger (the alien on American Dad) thinks of himself, “The pansexual alcoholic who lives in the attic.” I prefer to think of her as a multi-talented woman whose future looks so bright, we’ll have to wear shades. When I asked her to write a byline for her guest column today, she sent me this: 

Jade Dunlop: Film at 11
Jade Dunlop: Love it or shove it
Jade Dunlop: I’m not a writer, but I play one on tv
Jade Dunlop: In Colour
Jade Dunlop: For external use only
Jade Dunlop: Now available without a prescription
Pick one…
=00=
…and that, as they say, is that.
Like Ms. Dunlop, I’m sure we all have times and places we would love to relive, but we can only go forward.
…and as God as my witness, I would do this again in a heartbeat.
Special and sincere thanks to the people who made this reunion, these videos and photographs, and this column possible.
Nadia Elkharadly and Emer Schlosser, who instigated, organized, and shot all the interview footage.
Barry Roden and Phil Pendry, who shot volumes of rehearsal and performance video and photographs,
Norman Vosko, David Henman, and Dan McLean Jr. for filling in for Michael Stull.
Tim Stull for everything
Frankie Hart for reprising her vocal contributions.
Tony Brand for recording everything we played that week.
Dave Bailey for being the band’s driver.
Cherish Stevenson and Cherry Cola’s where the rock and roll attitude still lives.
Carl Andre Petzelt, a finer soundman you could not find.
Michael Tomasek for the one live performance I could get my hands on in time to include it here.
Jade Dunlop for the lovely tribute to the whole Rock and Roll Circus.
…and the people who came from all over North America to hear The Wacks Last Hurrah.
There’s more to share, but another time. There is so much to round up, and make presentable. So …for the time being …this is the best I can do.
I’m sorry you weren’t there.
But you can turn this up as loud as it will go and pretend you were, and the second video has a nice surprise at the end.
Wack on.

=0=

Segarini’s regular columns may contain nuts, dairy, bug parts, and dust bunnies

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: