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IN DEFENSE OF Don Staley, the reviewer, we were coddled 20 to 23 year old punks without the experience to perform at that level and deserved to get slapped silly irrespective of the technical problems.

The next morning we confidently ordered the Frank Sinatra breakfast - cigarettes, coffee and the reviews. Meanwhile, several hundred thousand copies of a front-page entertainment section picture of Butch strutting below the caption "Revival Without A Cause" had already arrived on the doorstep of the citizens of Vancouver who were enjoying good laugh at our expense.

It was in a hushed room at the Fraser Arms Hotel, a lumberjack hangout across the river from a 24 hour a day screeching saw mill, that Don Stanley's review was recited aloud to the gathered troupe like the reading of the will of a miserly uncle, and each Glass Pack laughing the laugh of the doomed as the other was lampooned, each handed his own bag of coal - a "particularly lame sax player", "Julio Lopez slightly fatter and grosser than Steady Eddie Sullivan who is paradoxically in love with his one good looks" and on and on . . . . The words filling the room were met with gallows laughter as the next of our members walked the plank. When the sawdust settled, we agreed that Don Stanley was right, we weren't good enough yet and vowed with swords to the sky that that would never happen again, and it never did.

A year later, after many more nights at DE's, we had revamped the show, adding new features such as Father Duffy the way ahead of his time lecherous, spendthrift Irish priest blaspheming "Tell Laura I Love her", a Country & Western sketch and an American Bandstand format for Bob Sarlatte to mug like Dick Clark and tell jokes for 15 minutes each night.

The Dick Clark show was and remains a forum for whatever weird act that came to mind (e.g. in more recent years, Blocked Intestine the Heavy Metal Trio -- (featuring leather-clad hambones Craig, Laz and Danny from the original group who stomped out to the Band Stand stage to the opening bars of Jimi Hendricks' "Purple Haze" and then screamed as one "S'cuse Me While I Kiss This Guy", whereupon in heavy Cockney accents the three metal heads argue with each other and Dick Clark as to what the correct words are "Kiss the Sky" or "Kiss this Guy").

But the one Bandstand act that has logged the most appearances was Bah-Doon (Gary Murphy), pictured to your left. Bah Doon is the penultimate bass singer, the unsung hero of all Doo Wop groups, who has fallen on hard times and is constantly finding the bumps in the road back to the top more interesting than the road itself. Bah Doon is finally coerced by Dick Clark after a near death coughing fit into a wheezing, hacking, rendition of Blue Moon that would make the Marcels proud, with a last gasping "Ba badaba, bada bah bah bah, bada ba badaba di di dang di dang dang, di ding di dong ding . . . BLUE MOON . . . as he collapses into a heap at Dick Clark's feet.

The Bandstand sketch was climaxed with an appearance by Butch as a shy Ricky Nelson doing "Poor Little Fool" enduring condescending glances from a self-absorbed Dick Clark, until at the end Rick gets the last laugh when he makes the record skip (that's right the sound and choreography of an actual broken record. Go ahead folks, we'll wait, you try and sing, play and move like the sound of a record skipping) and Dick has to shake the Bejezzus out of an entranced Rick to knock him and the record back on the groove resolving into the gushing awe shucks "I was a fool, oh Yeah" fade out.

The Country & Western Show survives today, now featuring Gary Murphy as Conway Twit (see video -- "Country Show"), but was made possible in 1974 by two unrelated phenomena - the first being the guitar playing of new kid Rob Birsinger, and the second being a placemat that we had seen in and borrowed from a roadside diner in the middle of Nebraska the previous Fall. On this placemat was printed a poem with pictures of various trucks, flags and Red Neck American slogans and icons titled "Ode to The Little Woman Behind the Man Behind the Wheel". From that sonnet came the character of Hank Bunion-suspiciously dressed and sounding like Johnny Cash -- the Truck Drivin' Man bigger than life itself, who to this day kicks off "Truck Drivin Man" (a song we stole from Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen - an even trade for their heist of our "and at the Marquis De Sade Hotel Chains Are Required" joke to lead into their "Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar") with a dedication to the "Little Woman Behind the Man behind the Wheel".

With a streamlined act and new guitarist, Rob Birsinger, and new drummer (Mike Moore), we were ready to take on Canada once more.

This time Vancouver was a dream come true. We had worked our asses off for a year on the road and we were ready for the reviewers. The huge stage and lighting equipment at the Cave provided a laboratory environment for the development of the show that we've been reprising now for 18 years. With the help of Disc jockey, Rick Honey, who pumped us like KSFO's Terry McGovern had three years before, we drew better in Vancouver than we did anywhere, and played The Cave for two weeks at a time twice a year for several years. It is a tall order to fill a club that big for that long. Maybe we did pick up a dose of that Double Shot of My Baby's Love fever from Pioneer week and snuck it with us past customs and infected those staid Canucks. One Saturday night, we played every song we knew, and responded to several encore calls. Back in our dressing room, we had already changed out of our costumes when the club manger came back and told us we had to do one more, because "These people won't go home". So, we pulled our guitars out of their cases and went back out on the stage in our street clothes. After a little time killing stand up comedy by future Laverne & Shirley writer and Night Court Producer, Piano Man Larry Strawther, we tuned up and our drummer, Mike, gave us the stick count into "Little Deuce Coupe" and taught 800 people standing on tables how to clap on the twos and fours.


  © 2005 Butch Whacks & the Glass Packs