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The Uncommon Houseflies: The Buzz

Charlie Chesterman: Farewell to a True Original - November 6, 2013

The first time I ever met Charlie Chesterman was a moment of beautiful and unadulterated sarcasm, the kind of which I would learn only someone such as Charlie could truly pull off.

It was sometime in March 1990, and I was part of a small crowd – maybe 15 or 20 – who had just witnessed what he would later tell me was probably one his band Scruffy the Cat's final shows. Charlie leaned into the mic and said, "I'd like to personally thank each and every one of you for coming out tonight." And then he leapt from the stage and ran around the room, shaking the hand of every startled attendee and saying, "Thank you!"

By the time he got to me, I was already chuckling, learning without a doubt that he was every bit the playful and sarcastic soul he seemed to be in interviews and in his songs. He grabbed my hand, looked me in the eye, uttered his abrupt "Thank you!" and moved on.

I've been going through my index of Charlie Chesterman memories since I learned of his passing on Tuesday; he'd gamely battled cancer for several years, but those are battles rarely won, even by those with the kind of determined spirit Charlie possessed.

The truth is, I didn't know Charlie well. But as I've said several times this week, I feel I knew him well enough. It's strange to think that you can form an intimacy with someone primarily based on listening to him sing into your headphones for 25 years, but that's exactly how it feels. It feels like I lost a friend, even though we only spent a few hours together.

One of his friends wrote on Facebook that, "Within Charlie's songs is pretty much everything worth knowing about love." Charlie's songs provided the soundtrack to the second half of my life. For my 20s, it was the rough and tumble Scruffy the Cat – the first time I heard “Mybabyshe’sallright,” I was hooked. That was it. I can still remember going to ear X-tacy (the small Bardstown Road location next to the Great Escape) and buying my vinyl copy of Tiny Days. I can still remember plucking it from the rack and looking at the giant Gretsch staring back at me. That was Charlie’s hand playing that chord.

“You Dirty Rat” would become my tongue-in-cheek breakup song of choice. You see, I could tell that Charlie got it; he wrote about heavy emotional topics like longing and heartbreak, but there was always just a hint of sarcasm to let you know that, yeah, it’s serious, but it’s not necessarily meant to be taken too seriously. If that even makes sense.

When the criminally ignored album Moons of Jupiter became a commercial flop, ultimately leading to the band’s breakup, I began seeing cassette copies in cut-out bins in record stores around my hometown of Louisville, Ky. I bought probably six or seven of them, solely to give to a friend I thought would also get it, and I would say, “Listen to this. It will change your life.” (Note: Before I handed them out, I would remove the plastic seal and snatch the Scruffy the Cat sticker. Hey, I wanted to change my friends’ lives, but I still wanted to keep the sticker.)

A few years later, after I’d lost track of what Charlie was up to, a new invention fell into my hands – it was something called the Internet, or as it was widely known then, the World Wide Web. I can still remember the first time I sat down and gazed into a computer screen at a web browser. In this case, it was Netscape. My friend Ryan said, “Go ahead. Type in anything.”

I paused for a moment to ponder. So, I’ve got access to the entire world at my fingertips? It boggled my mind. I raised my hands and typed two words: “Charlie Chesterman.”

This is how I learned that Charlie was still making music, and at that point had released not one, but TWO solo albums. I nearly crapped myself. Fortunately, the feature story I had stumbled upon revealed that the albums were available through Chapel Hill-based Redeye Distribution. So, the next day, I went to the local public library, tracked down a copy of the Chapel Hill, N.C., phone book and looked up Redeye. I jotted down the phone number, went home and called.

I literally had to mail them a check, wait for the check to clear, and then wait for them to ship the CDs. It was, shall we say, a very long and arduous wait. But when the CDs arrived, a new world of Charlie songs opened up to me. A year later, Charlie would provide the soundtrack to my divorce.

If you’re a Charlie fan and you’ve been through a rough breakup, you know what I mean – it isn’t just the lyrics, it’s how he delivers them. His voice is thin and even a bit tinny, but they drip with emotion and sincerity. Charlie’s songs have brought me to tears on countless occasions; the great thing is, they’ve made me laugh on at least as many.

Not long after that, with the release of Dynamite Music Machine, he provided the soundtrack to a meaningful post-divorce relationship. I can still remember standing outside with “Bread & Butter” blaring from my car speakers, telling my then girlfriend, “Wait – listen to what he says here.”

“You and me go together, like bread and jelly,” Charlie crooned, in that unique voice that crackled with the aforementioned sincerity (along with that dash of sarcasm), followed by, “Woah, nelly!”

She and I cracked up. It was a signature moment of our friendship, and Charlie became a go-to staple whenever we would take road trips or listen to music at home.

Shortly after she and I broke up (we’re still friends today, I should note), a fellow Scruffy/Charlie fan I’d met online sent me a tape of some songs I didn’t have. One of those songs was “A New Lease on Life (Parts 1 & 2).” I can still remember lying on the cheap blue carpet in my apartment listening to that song for the first time. Maybe it was my emotional state, or maybe it really was just a song that touched me, but it went all the way to my soul. It became my favorite Charlie song.

Being a music writer and a fairly aggressive sort of guy, I decided I’d try to contact the record label that had put out Dynamite Music Machine. Next thing I knew, I got a package in the mail with promo copies of the CD, promo photos, posters, etc. I was thrilled. I wrote a review for the local entertainment mag. I still have all that stuff, still in the original envelope (save for one of the promo CDs, which is in my music collection and still in its cellophane wrapper).

Somewhere along the line, I contacted Charlie through his website. To my surprise, he responded personally. I  believe I may have mailed him a copy of my Dynamite Music Machine review, but however it happened, we became cyber-acquaintances. In around 2000, when Ham Radio came out, I begged my editor to let me interview Charlie and do a story. I got the green-light, and arranged to call Charlie at home. We talked for a good 40 minutes – he told me stories, we talked about  his visit to Louisville back in ‘90, and I recounted my memories from that show. He had no recollection of the impromptu thank yous.

He also didn’t recall that after playing “Buck Naked,” he conferred with the band as to what to play next. When some rude jack-ass yelled, “Play another song already!”, the band instantly launched into a reprise of “Buck Naked.” When the song ended, Charlie looked around and said, “That’ll put an end to THAT shit.”

Anyway, during that phone interview, I mentioned the dash of sarcasm in his love songs, and asked him, “So, does that make you a hopeless romantic or just a smart-ass?” He laughed out loud for a good 10 seconds. Finally he said, “I don’t know, but that’s the best question I’ve ever been asked.”

Three years later, I read that Charlie and the Legendary Motorbikes would be playing at Twangfest in St. Louis, which is about a three and a half hour drive for me. I had hoped to go, and I had also been bugging Charlie about making me a tape of some demos and unreleased tracks I’d heard about somewhere. I teased, “Hey Charlie, if I come to Twangfest, will make me a tape of those songs? I’ll buy you a beer.”

He wrote back, “Do come. Don’t plan to get a tape, but plan to buy me a beer. I can barely afford this trip as it is, let alone having beer money to boot.”

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go. And I always regretted it. But that’s life, right? My chance to buy Charlie Chesterman a beer would hopefully come again another day.

With the release of Skunk on the Loose and Well My Heart Went Boom, I received an envelope in the mail one day, out of the blue. It had Charlie’s return address on it. I opened it to find copies of both CDs, along with a handwritten note on a blue Post-it. The note read, “Kevin: If you already bought copies, feel free to sell these on eBay! –Charlie”

During this time, Charlie had somehow connected me with Pete Weiss, who began sending me his music, as well as that of other great Boston artists like Jeff Mellin and Orange Nichole. I reviewed their records and began to follow them. Hey, if they’re friends of Charlie, then they’re OK in my book. I would come to “friend” them on Facebook (I’m still not comfortable with using the word “friend” as a verb, but whatever).

I also connected with Charlie on Facebook, and would occasionally trade notes with him about this or that. And then I learned that Charlie had been battling cancer. I wanted badly to attend the benefit show and Scruffy reunion in 2011, but my budget wouldn’t allow it. And then one day, a few months later, I got an e-mail – it was a call for songs for a Charlie tribute album. I immediately threw the Uncommon Houseflies’ hat in the ring.

Of course, the song I chose was “A New Lease on Life.” We recorded our version of it, I hated my vocal, but it was accepted as part of the compilation titled, Chorus vs. Solos: A Tribute to Charlie Chesterman. As a fanboy for nearly a quarter century, this was among the greatest thrills of my life. I can’t even begin to describe it – you see, Charlie was one of my songwriting heroes. I’m no accomplished musician, not by any stretch, but I’m a true music lover, and Charlie, for my money, was just this side of being a Beatle.

Which brings me back to how someone you barely know can somehow feel like a friend through their music. When I got an e-mail from Bob Voges about the CD release show to benefit Charlie and his family, I knew instantly the Uncommon Houseflies had to be on that bill. Bob was surprised we were willing to make the trip from Louisville, Ky., to play a 30-minute set for nothing. But that was no ordinary 30-minute set – this was for Charlie. I asked Butch, our guitar player, if he was in, and he never hesitated in saying yes.

A couple of weeks before the show, I got a Facebook message from Charlie. It said, “Do you want to stay with me when you come to Boston? It will be cheeper.” (Charlie liked intentionally misspelling words. I always thought that was hilarious. I got it.)

When we hit the road, we had around $200 in the band fund. That got us our first night’s stay at a Red Roof Inn, enough gas to get to Buffalo, N.Y., a crappy lunch at Wendy’s and a 12-pack of Yuengling beer. Hey, when you’re a band on the road, you gotta have the essentials.

Charlie had said he’d call me the Friday before the show, but I hadn’t heard from him all day as we arrived in Boston in the late afternoon. We were almost to Somerville, on our way to check out Radio, the show venue, when my phone rang.

“It’s Charlie!” I said.

“Don’t panic,” Butch said. (He fully understood what this trip meant for me. Heh.)

“Hello,” I said.

“Hey Kevin, this is Charlie Chesterman calling.” Yep, that was the distinctive Charlie voice all right.

He asked what time we would be coming over, I told him it would be later in the evening, and he said, “That’s probably best. I didn’t pick up the house like I was supposed to, so there’s some panic over cleaning.”

“Aw, don’t clean just for us, Charlie,” I said.

“That’s what I told my wife,” he said, laughing. “I told her, ‘They’re just coming to play a rock ‘n’ roll show. They don’t care what the house looks like!’”

Later in the evening, I called him back and told him we’d be heading over. He said, “I’m at the liquor store right now, so give me 15 minutes. I thought I’d sit on the porch and drink a beer.”

“We’d love to join you,” I said.

“Sounds good,” he said. “See you in a bit.”

When we found his neighborhood and his house, we couldn’t quite see the house number. I walked toward the one we thought it was, and the front door was open.

“Is that it?” Butch said from behind me. That’s when I saw the poster hanging there just inside the door: Twangfest 2003.

“This is it,” I said. “No doubt.”

About that time, Charlie appeared. He helped us carry our stuff in, and his daughter Clementine came bounding down the stairs.

“She was scared to death she wasn’t going to meet you guys,” Charlie said.

She had an armful of Harry Potter books, and she told us excitedly of which one she was reading at the time, and how many times she’d read them all. I was immediately captivated by this awesome little girl. She had a dash of that Charlie spark, I could tell immediately.

Anyway, we sat there talking with Charlie for probably an hour, maybe two, and I grilled him about his songs, Scruffy history, why drummers are so unreliable and other topics. At one point, we discussed who would be on Mount Rockmore – imagining if, instead of presidents, it was rock stars. Who were the most important four?

I mentioned that one of my friends had argued once for Tom Petty to be on Mount Rockmore.

“Tom Petty??” Charlie said. “Tell you what: We’ll put a Tom Petty sticker in the men’s bathroom at the rest stop before you get to Mount Rockmore.”

Charlie’s beer emptied at one point, and I said, “Would you like one of these Yuenglings?”

He said, “I’d love to have one of your Yuenglings.” So I opened one for him and handed it over. Don’t laugh, but I stuck the bottle cap in my pocket immediately. I still have it, safely tucked away. And I finally got to buy Charlie that beer I had promised him.

The next morning, we had a bit of time to chat with Charlie and meet the rest of his beautiful family. Clementine showed me books, showed me knickknacks, showed me whatever she could find. It seemed every other sentence began with “My daddy and I …” It was so clear that she idolized Charlie Chesterman. Hey, I got it. Lots of people did.

At one point she said, “I have a treasure to show you.” I said, “Oh, treasure, let’s see it.”

She brought me a small square box. She opened the lid, and handed me … a tiny frog. A real one.

“It’s a petrified frog,” she said. “My daddy found it at work.” Charlie would go on to explain that he could only figure that the salt water had somehow preserved it, and he thought it was kind of cool, so he brought it home to Clementine. Indeed, it was very cool.

After Charlie’s family left to run some errands, we were left to spend another hour or so with him. He made coffee. I’m not a coffee drinker, but at one point Butch said, “Charlie, this is some of the best coffee I’ve ever had.”

Charlie said, “Well, enjoy it, because it’s the only time you’ll ever have it. I’m out of my regular coffee, so I just mixed a bunch of stuff together. It’s a mystery blend.”

“Mystery blend,” I said. “Butch, that sounds like a song title. We need to write that.”

Charlie laughed and said, “I’m stuck inside the bathroom, when it will it end? Mystery blend. There you go, there are your first two lines.”

That exchange became this song. So, in a way, we can now say we wrote a song with Charlie. He didn’t want a co-write credit (and if you listen to the song, you might understand why), but when I sent him the finished recording back in April, he said, “Sounds great! Keep it up!” And he also noted that when he played it, somehow the music player on his computer got stuck. So it played over and over.

He wrote, “My music player got stuck so I had (HAD!) to listen to it six times in a row!”

Anyway, later that day at the venue, I asked Charlie to sing a song with us – either “A New Lease on Life” or “Moons of Jupiter,” which is a semi-regular in our set (we also made a recording of it which you cannot buy anywhere). He chose the latter, and then set about remembering the lyric. I have a picture of him sitting, legs crossed in classic Charlie fashion, his brow set, determinedly jotting down the words to the song in preparation.

One thing that struck me when he sang with us that day was that our fill-in drummer Cal Cali – who did an outstanding job, especially given we never got to rehearse with him! – forgot to play the breakdown in the song. I momentarily panicked, but Charlie never missed a beat, quickly launching into the final chorus.

While on stage, I just kept looking at Charlie. It was a surreal moment for me, one that will be forever stuck in time – I was on stage, performing with one of my greatest music heroes. I sang backup on the chorus just so I could say I had sung a song with Charlie Chesterman.

While he was on stage, I thanked him publicly for letting us crash at his house. He said, “Yeah, and meanwhile, I had to sleep in a tent in the backyard!”

I bought a ton of CDs and posters that day to help the cause, and we had a great time. I got to buy Charlie yet another beer at one point, and got a few more minutes to chat with him. I had worn on stage that day a vintage Scruffy t-shirt I had bought in 1988 at a show in Cincinnati, Ohio. It had yellowed with age, but was in good shape otherwise.

Earlier that day, I had shown it to Clementine, who looked at the distinctive cat logo and said, “Did you know my daddy drew that?” I said, “Yes, I did. I have always liked it.” (This is why I hoarded the stickers.)

About that time, Charlie walked into the room, and Clementine said, “Look what Kevin has.”

Charlie said, “Oh yeah, I’ve still got one of those.”

 I said, “I bet mine is more yellow and gross than yours.”

He stopped, looked closely at my shirt, and said, “Maybe.” And then walked off into the kitchen without another word.

Later that day, when the show was over and I was on my way out the door as the room was dispersing, I asked Charlie to sign the shirt. I took it off and handed it to him, and he wrote, simply, “All the best, Charlie Chesterman.” He had others waiting on autographs and was probably feeling rushed, but I wanted one last moment. I stumbled on my words at first because, hey, this was Charlie Chesterman – my idol. What do you say to your idol if you aren’t sure you will ever get to spend time with him again?

“Charlie,” I said, placing my hand on his shoulder, “thank you for all the happiness.” He seemed a bit embarrassed by it (he was a self-effacing guy), and said, “Well, thank you, sir, for being here today.”

So that’s it – not counting Facebook messages, those were the last words I ever got to say to Charlie Chesterman: “Thank you for all the happiness.”

It may have sounded stupid at the time, but that’s what came out. I think, in light of the joy I still get from listening to his music and enjoying the few memories I have of him, it was awkward but appropriate. Completely appropriate, the more I think about it.

And that’s why I mourn this week for a guy I didn’t know well but somehow knew well enough. It feels  like I lost a friend. I believe that I did, because it’s hard to imagine someone knowing Charlie at all without feeling like you were his friend. Heck, when we left his house for the last time – telling him we were crashing with another Boston friend that night – he felt badly.

“I hate that you guys are leaving, since you’re stuff’s already here,” he said. Butch and I didn’t want to impose on him and his family any further; he felt guilty that he wasn’t giving us more, somehow, than he already had. So, yeah, I didn’t really know Charlie up to that point, and yet I did.

So long, Charlie. I feel so lucky to have gotten to know you at least a little, both through your amazing songs and spending what little bit of time with you that I did. And I promise that if I’m still alive 25 years from now, I’ll still be spinning your tunes – in my car, on my computer, in my head and in my heart.

Your friend,

Kevin Gibson

We're Back - September 6, 2013

Hello again. Long time, no?

Well, there's a reason we've been quiet for most of the summer, and that reason is that we've been busy writing and rehearsing new songs. And boy, do we have some doozies for you. Here's a little rundown, as sort of a sneak preview:

"Tijuana Tornado" - This is actually one of the first songs Butch wrote for the band when he joined nearly three years ago, and we're just now getting around to finishing it up. It's the story of a Mexican wrestler who has the wrestling world by the tail ... or so he thinks.

"Mr. & Mrs. Awesome" - This is Kevin's response to society's climbers, the entitled few who believe they're above the rest of us.

"All the Beer in Boston" - This song was born when we went to Boston last May to perform as part of a benefit for the legendary Charlie Chesterman. We were sitting in an oyster bar, traded a couple of lines, and Butch ended up finishing it up back at home. It's a rollicking alt-country number we are sure will be a hit.

"Stupid Things" - Kevin doesn't write love songs. He just doesn't. And even when he tries, they come out ... well, a little different than most love songs. This one is about all the stupid things people do when they fall in love.

"Give Yourself a High Five" - This one is just downright funny. It's also fun and catchy, like any good power-pop song should be. It's about being thankful for just getting through another day.

"Critical Care Nurse Career" - Kevin used to work at a nursing college, and one day while working on the school's website he came across the phrase "critical care nurse career." "Hey, that should be a song title," was Kevin's bizarre thought at the time. The rest is history.

"Zooey Deschanel (The Only One)" - Yes, this song is about the "New Girl" actress, but only sort of. On a larger scale, it's actually about society's obsession with celebrity, and this obsession's oh-so-fickle nature. Plus, it's got a really sweet guitar riff.

"Center of the Universe" - This is a contribution by the newest Housefly, Nick Peay. It's about a legendary liquor store in Tennessee that is believed to be the center of the universe. And oh my, does this song rock.

There's more, but if this doesn't whet your appetite, what will? We hope to see you Sept. 27 at Dillingers in New Albany when we roll out some or all of these soon-to-be classics.

Dr. Demento - July 9, 2013

Well, well. Our old friend Dr. Demento has come through yet again. The good doctor has in the past played three of our songs: "Disgruntled Shooter (In the Nursing Home)," "Pink Party Vomit," and "Commando for Jesus."

This past weekend, he played both "Prelude to the End" and "Hipster Apocalypse" (from our new EP) back to back. Check out the playlist if you don't believe us.

New EP is Available! - May 7, 2013

That's right, kids -- now you too can download your copy of Hipster Apocalypse, hot off the press! And you can do it at CDBaby.com!

hipster_apocalypse_cover_website.jpg

Hipster Apocalype Debut! - May 5, 2013

Check out the title track for our new EP, which drops on Tuesday! TUESDAY!

IPO Press Release - April 17, 2013

Red Corduroy Music Lands Two Acts at
International Pop Overthrow Chicago, April 25-26

LOUISVILLE, KY – April 16, 2013 – Louisville, Ky.-based Red Corduroy Music announced today that two acts on the label will perform at International Pop Overthrow in Chicago on April 25 and 26.

Nick Peay, the label’s founder, and his band will perform Friday, April 26, as part of a seven-band lineup; meanwhile, the Uncommon Houseflies, who also played the festival in 2012, will perform Thursday, April 25. IPO, in its 14th year doing power-pop music festivals all over the U.S. and in the U.K., will be held at Red Line Tap in Chicago.

Peay will perform songs from his newest EP Feathers & Fables (download the single "(Two Miserable) Blackbirds" here), along with some power-pop gems of the past. Songs like the Gin Blossoms-esque “(Two Miserable) Blackbirds” will be a natural for melody-craving IPO attendees.

Meanwhile, the Uncommon Houseflies will bring their off-the-wall brand of power-pop to IPO Chicago for the second straight year, and will be promoting a forthcoming Red Corduroy release titled Hipster Apocalypse (download the single "Nothing New" here).

“We’re honored to be performing at a long-standing and respected festival like International Pop Overthrow,” said Peay, who launched Red Corduroy in 2010. “I know the Uncommon Houseflies and I are looking forward to it, and our hope is to bring more Red Corduroy acts to IPO in the future.”

"I'm definitely pleased to be having Nick Peay and The Uncommon Houseflies play the International Pop Overthrow festival,” David Bash, the festival’s founder and promoter, said. “Nick is a fine singer-songwriter who I'm looking forward to seeing for the first time, and The Uncommon Houseflies brought so much fun to IPO Chicago last year with their humor-inflected power pop that I couldn't help but invite them back!"

International Pop Overthrow Chicago runs from April 18-27 at the Red Line Tap, 7006 N. Glenwood Ave. Cover charge is $10 per night.

ABOUT RED CORDUROY MUSIC
Red Corduroy Music was founded by musician Nick Peay in 2010 as a way to get his and other indie musicians’ music to a wider audience outside the Louisville, Ky., area. Red Corduroy offers not only music business consulting and PR, but also recording services. For more information, visit redcorduroymusic.com.

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL POP OVERTHROW
International Pop Overthrow (or IPO, as it has affectionately become known) is a pop music festival which has been held for the past fourteen years in Los Angeles. We have also held IPO for various years in Chicago, New York, Boston, San Diego, Phoenix, Detroit, Milwaukee, Portland, Seattle, Austin, Dallas, Vancouver, and Toronto, as well as in Liverpool (at the world famous Cavern Club), and London, UK. For more information, visit internationalpopoverthrow.com.

We Got Podcasted! - April 1, 2013

Our pal (and Houseflies guitar player) Nick Peay has a podcast. It's called "Podcastiness", and it primarily features conversations with musicians about why and how they do what they do. And it's very podcast-y.

See where we're going with this? Nick interviewed Butch and me about how we got into music and how the band got started. And you can listen to it right here.

It's just the sort of seedy, shocking tell-all you would expect from the Uncommon Houseflies, too, from our lurid affairs with celebrity bimbos to crazy, behind-the-scenes misadventures with groupies and midgets. Oh, and there's bacon involved as well. It's ... crazy.

Please share the link if you feel so inclined!

Cheers,

Kevin

Spring! - March 21, 2013

Hola! It's me again, the erstwhile Housefly guy, here to update you on what's what in Housefly Nation. You know, the buzz, as it were.

We posted a new video on the site and on YouTube that you may want to check out. It's a live version of our tune "Zany Pete's Revenge," recorded at Dillinger's on March 9. Here's the YouTube link to the vid. We posted it because we thought we rather rocked that thing. A few folks have concurred. Please watch. And you might want to make sure you're sitting down.

Speaking of sitting down, at that very show my guitar strap broke just as we finished playing "Zombie Girl," so I had to play/sing "Hipster Apocalypse" from my aging keister. At first I thought it was a bit embarrassing, but now I think maybe it was kind of rock 'n' roll. We sure enjoyed playing the song for everyone, and the crowd seemed to like it too. There was dancing, and lots of folks chanted along with the "This week!" bits, which was gratifying. (You know, we get tired of doing it all ourselves!)

Anyway, Nick wore his Japanese baseball jersey, and looked and sounded smashing. Butch wore his mechanic shirt, the one he wore onstage in Chicago last year, and by golly, I don't think he's washed it since that road trip. Something needs to be done about that. And John? Well, John was John. Sounded great as always and scared children with all the crazy he faces he makes during songs.

We played at Dillingers again the following week as Nick's backing band. I won't go into too much detail, but suffice to say that every rock show should have a midget dressed as a leprechaun.

And finally, we have finished tracking for our new EP, Hipster Apocalypse! It's mixing time, and we hope you'll be able to hear some sample previews in the next couple of weeks. Special thanks to LeighAnn Yost/Northcutt for providing some most wonderful backing vocal help on the John Prine-ish tune "The Last Singalong." (Nick did some great work on that one too.)

Next up, it's Dillinger's again on March 29 followed by International Pop Overthrow, again in Chicago, on April 25 and 26. We were slated to play IPO in Nashville in a couple of weeks, but the festival there has been postponed due to the venue suddenly not wanting live bands there any longer.

That's it for now. It's lunchtime. Yes, Houseflies need to eat too.

Cheers,

Kevin

Adventures in Nashville - February 25, 2013

Well, we survived our first band foray into Nashville. Barely.

We backed up our good pal Nick Peay on stage at Douglas Corner, opening for Jenn Franklin and Kristen Cothron. The turnout was decent, but regardless of a few empty seats we enjoyed the experience greatly. The way we see it, as long as Nick is happy, the Houseflies are happy. At least when we're performing as his backing band. On this night we billed ourselves as Nick Peay and the Philadelphia Incident. (There's a story behind that; you'll have to ask Nick.)

2013-02-23_12_39_11.jpgAnyway, we spent Saturday hanging out with friends. You know, once we recovered from Friday night's PBR-fueled debauchery. Kristen and her resident guitar player/boyfriend Justin took us to a place called Twin Kegs for lunch. On the bar's sign out front it announces that Twin Kegs is "International Famous." We're pretty sure that fame is because of the burgers, not the grammar.

Oh, and the burgers were quite tasty. As was the giant basket of fried okra we shared. The downside, however, was the moldy men's room. Wow, that must be what evil smells like, folks. I took some video in there just to prove it exists, and I can only say that it's good our video camera cannot record smell.

On Saturday night, we went to a bonfire party and roasted some hot dogs. After that, someone passed around the moonshine with Gummy Bears dropped into it for flavor. I can't speak for the rest of the guys, but I don't remember much after that. No one got any new tattoos, though, so it couldn't have been too bad.

Oh yeah, and Aaron, the guy who threw the bonfire party, has a treehouse on his property. And it has a Jolly Roger hanging from it. Bad. Ass. Can't wait to go back in April with a parrot on my shoulder.

Cheers,

Kevin

Nashville! - February 19, 2013

We're super-excited to be trekking to Nashville this coming Friday, Feb. 22, to play as Nick Peay's band. For one thing, it will be the first time playing in Nashville for Butch and me -- like, ever. And of course there's the obvious reason, that we really love Nick's songs and truly enjoy hanging out with him and our esteemed drummer John. Who wouldn't? They're both shorter than us.

Also, we'll be opening for a couple of talented singer-songwriters in Jenn Franklin and Kristen Cothron. If that's not enough, the show will be at Douglas Corner, a place whose stage has seen the likes of Bonnie Raitt, the Kentucky Headhunters, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Trisha Yearwood and plenty more whose names I've momentarily forgotten.

In addition, we're getting closer to having our new EP finished, and we hope it will be ready for sale when we head back to Nashville April 11 as the Houseflies for International Pop Overthrow.

Joke of the week: What has two legs and bleeds? Half a dog.

Cheers,

Kevin

Things are picking up already - January 29, 2013

Yowza. We're not even through January, and our dance card is already full. We're old men, dammit! We won't see age 50 if we keep living this blasted rock 'n' roll lifestyle!

OK, rant over. Here's a rundown of what's ahead:

  • We're playing in Nashville for the first time ever on Feb. 22, backing up our buddy Nick Peay. Band name for that night is yet to be determined, but maybe Nick Peay and the Pappaws will make an appearance. Beer may be involved.
  • On Feb. 28, we're at Zazoo's, again backing Nick. Our show there on Jan. 24 was boffo.
  • On March 9, it's the Uncommon Houseflies with Discount Guns, Tall Squares and Cincinnati's own The Getaway at Dillinger's, a new-ish venue in New Albany, Ind. We plan to bring plenty of rock that night. We'll wear our rock pants, just for good measure.
  • The weekend of April 13, we're back in Nashville as the Houseflies as part of International Pop Overthrow. We'll also be booking some Nick Peay shows in and around Nashville for that weekend. Beer may be involved.
  • Later in April, we're headed back up to Chicago for more International Pop Overthrow, where we'll have two slots -- one as the Houseflies and one as Nick Peay. We may try to book a show in Indy for the trip up or back. Jimmy Rane may be involved.
  • Sometime in late March or early April we plan to release our new EP, Hipster Apocalypse. That will be followed with a CD release party at Apocalypse Brew Works, featuring a beer brewed by Leah Deines especially for us! (Does the name Uncommon Ale sound enticing? We think so! And we've asked her to make it bacon-flavored; she looked at us like we're idiots. Which we are.)
  • Later in the spring, we plan to revive our Spinal Tap/Tenacious D tribute show. More details on that as we make them up. Silliness may be involved.

Whew. I'm tired just from typing all that. Now I have conserve the energy to actually go out and live it. Hopefully, Butch or John will be able to carry my amp for me.

Cheers,

Kevin

A Busy 2013 Ahead - January 9, 2013

2012 was quite a year for the Houseflies. Last year, we:

  • Released our EP Wretched Radio in February with a big bash at the Monkey Wrench in Louisville 
  • Played in Chicago as part of International Pop Overthrow (IPO) in April
  • Played in Boston at the release party for Chorus and Solos: A Tribute to Charlie Chesterman, a compilation on which we had a song. (Charlie even got on stage and sang with us!)
  • Got pulled over by the cops
  • Toured the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame
  • Got our own weekly radio show, 'Flies on the Wall, on Crescent Hill Radio
  • Created videos for "Wretched Radio," "Space Monkey," "Zombie Girl," "The Jam Band Incident" and more
  • Played lots of shows over the summer and debuted some new songs
  • Ate lots of chicken wings
  • Performed a Spinal Tap/Tenacious D Tribute show in October
  • Played a couple of shows as the backing band to our pal, ultra-talented songwriter Nick Peay
  • Started recording a new EP titled Hipster Apocalypse
  • Drank some beers
  • Covered Sonny & Cher at a wedding reception
  • Released our EP A Very Houseflies Christmas
  • Performed on WHAS 11's "Great Day Live!" TV program
  • Filmed and released a video for our recording of "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"
  • Were told by the writer of "Grandma" that our version sounds like "Johnny Cash facing mortality"
  • Had an Apocalypse sing-along on the show with a bunch of talented local singer-songwriters
  • Rang OUT the old year with an End of the World Party at Apocalypse Brew Works

Whew. We should really be tired, but we've got more to accomplish. We're finishing up the aforementioned EP Hipster Apocalypse over the next few weeks and hope to have that out in time for our show in Nashville, Tenn., in mid-April as part of IPO. We also plan to play more shows with Nick Peay, and are hoping to do a recording project with him sometime during the summer.

So, happy 2013 to everyone. We hope to see you soon!

Cheers,

Kevin

Christmas EP - November 27, 2012

Our Christmas EP, A Very Houseflies Christmas, will be available for download soon! Check back for more info!

'Flies on the Wall Episode 1 - June 15, 2012

Homegrown Radio Hour! - June 15, 2012

On June 13, 2012, we were guests on the Homegrown Radio Hour, by way of Crescent Hill Radio. We played some tunes and talked with hosts Christi Stevens and Kathy Weisbach. And it was fun! Check out our new song "Nothing New."

We Have Our Own Radio Show! - June 3, 2012

Check out the trial run demo of our new radio show 'Flies on the Wall here. Crescent Hill Radio asked us to take a stab at live radio, and the plan is to make this a weekly event. The target start date to go live is Wednesday, June 20, at 8:30 p.m., and you can stream it in real time at crescenthillradio.org.

The Houseflies Did Boston! - May 15, 2012

Wanted to report that our road trip to Boston was a smashing success, all things considered. We played a set at Chorus vs. Solos: A Tribute to Charlie Chesterman, got to spend some time with Mr. Chesterman himself, met some great people, saw some cool bands, and caught up with old friends. We even ate some raw shellfish -- what could be better?

Keep your eyes peeled, because we'll be posting some video and photos from our experience very soon. We also might kidnap the Go-Go's. We'll just have to see.

Posterized! - May 8, 2012

Check out and buy the poster for this weekend's Chorus vs. Solos benefit show for Charlie Chesterman. We're heading to Boston to play a set to help out. And if you buy a poster or one of the cool t-shirts or other items on CafePress? The proceeds go toward  helping Charlie with his medical bills! 

Dr. Demento Strikes Again! - May 1, 2012

Many thanks to the wonderful Dr. Demento for playing "Commando for Jesus" on his show March 17. "Commando" is, of course, a track from our new-ish EP, Wretched Radio. Here's the link to the Dr. Demento play list, if you're interested. And if you aren't interested, why the hell not? Dang.

Check Out the New Video - April 24, 2012

We posted a video for "The Jam Band Incident" over the weekend. Check it out over at our Videos page or at YouTube. If you like dancing, you'll like this vid. We promise.

Podcast Interview! - April 19, 2012

Our own Kevin Gibson was interviewed recently on a local podcast by Louisville musician/producer/all-around-nice-guy Jordan Forst. Check it out now.

On the Road ... - April 13, 2012

Hey everyone -- our first show with Brad went swimmingly (and really, check out the Debauchees, for whom we opened that night -- amazing young band), so on April 22 we're off to Chicago to play our first out-of-town show as part of International Pop Overthrow. Tres fun!

A couple weeks later, on May 12, we're playing in Boston as part of a CD release party for Chorus vs. Solos: A Tribute to Charlie Chesterman. We hear tell that Charlie himself will be in attendance, which makes us excited and nervous and giddy and even a tad dizzy. He is, after all, something of a music legend. Well, if you are into '80s cowpunk and the alt-country revival, he is.

After we rest up and recover, we'll schedule some more local shows. And we also may go to Detroit. More on that later. Oh yeah, and we're cooking up another CD that will include songs such as "Nothing New," "Hipster Apocalypse," "Public Display of Affection," "Hairy Ballerina" and "Mr. & Mrs. Awesome," among others. Stay tuned!

Introducing ... Brad! - March 5, 2012

Hey all, just wanted to introduce you to our new drummer, Bradford Randall. Bradley recently moved here from Royal Oak, Michigan, and just happened to be looking to play rock tunes with an original band. Craigslist took care of the rest, and now Brad is the newest Housefly!

Find out more here.

Charlie Chesterman Tribute - March 1, 2012

Chorus vs. Solos: A Tribute to Charlie Chesterman, is now available here. Donate whatever you feel comfortable donating, and download 24 great tracks, including one of ours! In case you don't know who Charlie is, he was the frontman for alt-country punk-rockers Scruffy the Cat before launching a solo career. Google him -- you won't be sorry. And you can get started buy purchasing this tribute album, which will help Charlie defray medical expenses related to his cancer treatments.

Charlie_Tribute_cover_resized.jpg

Leicester Bangs Review - February 28, 2012

This is kinda nice. This dude really did his homework. Dang.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Review: The Uncommon Houseflies


The Uncommon Houseflies - Wretched Radio (Better Days Records)
In 1986 Frank Zappa posed the question “Does Humor Belong In Music?” Considering Frank’s oeuvre included such gems as “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow” and “Penguin In Bondage” we must conclude that his own answer was affirmative. I think it’s safe to assume that The Uncommon Houseflies are very much in agreement. Previous albums “Zombie Clowns Ate Your Sister's Kitty” and “Excrement Weather” have featured many sing-a-long family favourites including “Disgruntled Shooter (In the Nursing Home)”, “Pink Party Vomit” and “Beating Up Hippies”, and fans of those particular recordings will not be disappointed by the fare on offer here.

“Wretched Radio” is chock full of irreverent subject matter, from being dumped for a longhair (“The Jam Band Incident”) to misguided religious enthusiasm and giving up underwear for lent (“Commando for Jesus”). Originally inspired by The Ramones, they’re not averse to wrapping feisty power-pop-punk tunes around their words of wisdom, but other styles, including alt. country and rap get a look in. Needless to say, your own response to the original question will help make your mind up whether this is a band you want to hear. If you’re partial to a bit of comedy then jump right in. I’m sure you’ll have a chuckle or two when you hear the tracks already mentioned, and you’ll be equally chuffed with “Border Disorder (The Canada Song)” and “Space Monkey” – everyone likes a hairy astronaut song.
http://uncommonhouseflies.com/
Rob F.

Go to the Leicester Bangs site: http://leicesterbangs.blogspot.com/2012/02/review-uncommon-houseflies.html

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