Lou’s Inn was a very large club on the scale of an Uncle Sam’s. It was built inside an airport hanger in the city of Westfield located in Chautauqua County, New York, 66 miles away from Buffalo… Sounds like a great road-trip to put on a concert right? That’s what most of us thought but not Kim Watts; she wanted no part of it…
Trouble had been brewing with Kim and the band for a while now. It came to a head at the rehearsal before the Lou’s Inn gig. In short, Kim wanted the band to play local clubs only. No more ‘long-distance’ overnight gig’s. She made that decision all on her own but we were a band and made decisions together as a band. Everyone had a vote and the majority ruled.
We thought Parousia had a unified goal to travel around the East Coast playing music. To the majority of us in the band, It simply made sense to play the long-distance/ overnight gigs as a way to prepare for a much longer road-trip like on a college tour. But no one could tell Kim Watts what to do and once the band voted against her, she walked. The weird thing is… out of nine shows in May, six were local in Buffalo or Kenmore.
In the wake of her sudden departure, tonight was Parousia’s first gig without Kim Watts… It required Patt Connolly to take on bigger vocal challenges and motivated Garth Huels to step up with more harmonizing. This would have to do until we could learn a new crop of songs to replace Kim’s.
I don’t know… looking back I wonder if Kim had a premonition about the Lou’s Inn gig… one she couldn’t properly express to us in a way other than extreme anger but nonetheless, one we might have heeded if delivered in a different way. We had no time to dwell on such things, there was much planning to do…
When the time came, the band and entourage (sans Kim Watts) packed up and headed out in a caravan to Westfield, NY for a long lost weekend at Lou’s Inn.
We had to rent the big 16’ U-haul truck to fit all of our equipment and the “big P.A. system” comprised of two bass scoops, two ‘Perkin’s bin’ mid-range cabinets, two treble horns, three stage monitors, plus cross-overs and power amps.. The band’s entourage included “head-roadie” and sound engineer Dave Styn, with his little brother Steve Styn.
Rounding out the crew was Garth’s little brother Keith Huels, and the ever faithful Tom Miller. Lighting tech, Mike Carroll and his assistant “Steven” who we also referred to as “the Indian Guy” (not out of racist intent but out of a great love for our Native American Heritage). Absent from this gig was Mike’s usual assistant (and girlfriend) the lovely Ms. Shirley.
When we arrived at Lou’s Inn, we were impressed with the size of the stage. But to our surprise (and irritation) suspended above hung a 20′ banner with the name “ALEXANDER” (a local AC/DC tribute band) in all caps. ALEXANDER was the beloved house band and the club manager refused to let us take it down. Parousia had to perform on both nights beneath a banner that spanned the expanse of the stage with the name ALEXANDER on it.
Murphy’s Law states “if anything can go wrong, it will” and so it went with this gig beleaguered with problems…
Because we arrived late, we were rushed to set up our gear in a very large venue that was completely unfamiliar to us. One of our bass P.A. speakers needed work and when Dave Styn attempted to unscrew it from the cabinet the screwdriver slipped off the screw-head and punctured the speaker cone. We had no spare but we forged on knowing this was going to drastically affect our sound.
With barely a sound check under our belts, the band played three-sets of music to a thin unenthusiastic crowd (they preferred to hear Alexander’s rendition of AC/DC songs). We were exhausted and uninspired on stage and felt unappreciated.
When the bartender was closing the club he asked us, “Don’t you guys have any place to go for the night?” We explained to him that our booking agent told us that the gig included ‘overnight accommodations’. He scoffed at that, but reluctantly agreed to let us stay inside the bar for the night. “Now let’s get this straight… if there’s trouble and the police come, I don’t know anything about you guys staying in here. Don’t expect me to vouch for you. And another thing… don’t touch any of my booze! I have the levels marked on all the bottles. I’m locking the door now, so if any of you want to leave, go because you can’t get out once I lock this door.”
That night, most of the entourage slept inside the club on top of tables or road cases. Some slept in the back of the U-haul truck. One even slept on top the truck. Yes, I remember Garth Huels sleeping on top of the truck… When we woke up in the morning, we looked out the window and saw that the spring dew had covered him with a thin layer of frost. We thought for a moment he might be dead… but we couldn’t open the locked door to check it out.
While for some reason Garth slept on top of the truck, Steven, “the Indian-guy” slept inside the back of the truck with a girl he met that night at the bar. The next day, Eric was upset because his blanket was back there and it was used by the couple as a ‘cum blanket’. Mike Carroll, our lighting tech, hooked up for the night with a local girl he met and went home with her. Mike returned to the bar around four in the morning. He woke us up pounding on the windows to get inside… We couldn’t unlock the door, but Mike found a way to get in.
Unable to sleep, there was little else to do but play a video game called “Galaga” (a now classic “Golden Era” arcade game) that had just come out in 1981. Patt and Mike became addicted to it but they soon ran out of quarters. By accident it was discovered that a free-play could be enabled when a beer bottle was whacked against the coin slot in just the right way. Well, after a few dozen games, Mike struck the coin-slot with too much force causing the beer bottle shatter in his hand, cutting him pretty bad… but “not bad enough to go to a hospital” he said. He wrapped his bloody hand with a rag and that was that. Eventually, we were so exhausted we passed out for few hours in the morning before the club reopened.
The band had very little money between us. We already ate the baloney sandwiches we packed but managed to scrape together enough money to order one pizza for ten people to share. …It didn’t go very far.
We were so depressed… Kim quit, we were broke, the crowd at the bar hated us and now we had crappy sound thanks to a blown P.A. speaker. We tried to cheer ourselves up by taking a hike down to a nearby creek but we only found death. There along the shore is where we saw it… the visual metaphor that summarized not only our entire trip to Westfield, but what we felt was Parousia’s current metaphysical state in the musical universe. …a dead fish being eaten away by maggots…
We stood around it… we didn’t know what to say. We looked at each other for a moment and knew what we were all thinking. The loss of Kim… the waning crowds, the expense of maintaining equipment and performing shows in venues located farther and farther away from the city of Buffalo… it was wearing on us. And all the while we stood there in a circle, we couldn’t help but stare at that damned fish… it was mesmerizing, the entire ‘circle of life’ thing before our eyes.
In lower spirits than before, we made our way back to the club. We had plenty of time before our show tonight and had a bit of a jam-session on stage. We had a difficult time doing that because the bartender kept playing AC/DC’s “Back in Black” album over and over and over again at a high volume. We got sick of that real fast. If only we had the money to drink ourselves into oblivion… Finally came the time to play our three-sets of music with a blown speaker to a small crowd of people who disliked us.
More weirdness ensued at the end of the night. This time it was Bob Lowden who slept with a girl he just met in the back of the U-haul truck … well once again Eric left his blanket there and once again it became ‘the cum blanket’. Oh yeah, Eric was not happy but hey, that’s rock and roll baby.
The next day, Buffalo Backstage published a very flattering review of Parousia that said “If you have not seen it your missing some of the best theatrical rock in WNY.” This gave us the spirits to push-on through the end of the month.
We played 24 shows that summer including our performance at the Hockey arena in Port Colborne Canada and two outdoor concerts; one at the Riverside Park for the fourth of July Celebration and other at the “Hertel Happening” in August.
Parousia was paid $200.00 to play the weekend at Lou’s Inn. That’s $100.00 a night. It by no means covered our expenses, which were considerable for an overnight out-of-town gig. Dave Styn, head roadie was paid $80.00 to roadie and run sound. Mike Carroll was paid $85.00 (Including gas) to set-up and run the lights. Roadies Steve Styn and Keith Huels were paid $20.00 each. Barry was paid $30.00 for gas and Patt was paid $5.00. The truck rental cost $131.00 for two nights. $6.00 dollars was spent on food for all ten of us. $81.00 went to pay for rent at the Music Mall, equipment repair, equipment rental and “materials”. All and all expenses arising out of this gig totaled $458.00! Which left us $258.00 “in the red”. Not good! Kim was right!
Lincoln Bedell Statue – Westfield NY.
Grace Bedell was an eleven-year-old local girl who was very concerned that if her candidate for U.S. President, Mr. Abraham Lincoln, didn’t do something about his personal appearance; he would certainly lose the election. On Oct. 15, 1860, Grace wrote to Lincoln: “I have got 4 brothers and part of them will vote for you any way and if you let your whiskers grow I will try and get the rest of them to vote for you. You would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.”