Puttin' On The Ritz

More sophisticated by the second, etc.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Origins, Early Histories, etc.

Why yes, hello. Welcome to the official blog of Puttin’ On The Ritz. There are no unofficial ones that I know of, by the way. We plan to use this space to update you on our various exploits, so you can know where to be, and more importantly, when. The right time and the right place, etc. You might also be subjected to various rants from Kevin or myself, depending on our mood. Regardless, a good place to start might be the beginning. A brief history of Puttin’ On The Ritz, if you will. Our band was conceived one evening (April 4, 2004) at 502 Warren Street, which was playing host to several bands (Aa and Japanther among others, if memory serves me). Kevin Shea and myself were outside, chatting about something or another (consuming copious amounts of alcohol, in all likelihood), when we began singing songs to each other. For some reason, we were singing standards to each other, but we were singing them as a sailor might, so to speak. Then it occurred to him that his friend Tianna was looking for some sort of lounge band to perform some party, and that perhaps we should start a band with him drumming and me singing our dirty songs. Tianna happened to be there, and agreed to let us perform. Some time passed, and about a week before the show we finally got together to pick out the songs we were going to play. We chose six, but we decided that rather than change the lyrics we would just perform them straight, me crooning much as Sinatra might and him drumming. We had two practices, which we recorded straight to minidisc so we would have compact discs to sell at our show. Somehow we booked another show for the following week, actually before we had ever practiced. I was nervous, I had no idea if we were going to suck or not. Everything was happening so fast.

May 8, 2004 -- Free 103.9, Brooklyn
We thought there were going to be other bands, but there was not. We played at 12:30 or 1 or something like that, I cannot recall. It was a cocktail party, everyone was dressed up and they were making martinis and manhattans and what not for everyone. We were quite drunk, if memory serves me. We went through our six songs, and much to our surprise people didn’t walk out on us. We had a pile of our CDs on one of the monitors, and people were actually taking them and leaving money in their place. The set ended with me rolling around on the floor, scatting. This has become a regular occurrence. We got paid twenty bucks, which we promptly went and spent at a bar.

May 14, 2004 -- North 6 Basement, Brooklyn
We played with Barry London and Kid Millions, Friendly Bears, and Sabers. We debuted our practice of playing last, in front of the exit. Kevin played a set at Tommy’s Tavern, then at Pete’s Candy Store before he even arrived. I didn’t see much of the other bands, I was quite busy getting drunk. When Kevin arrived I busied myself getting him drunk as well. By the time we went on we were thoroughly soused. I vaguely remember knocking the music stand over a bunch and fucking up just about every song. I know these are songs everyone is supposed to know, but try singing them with only drums for accompaniment. Whilst intoxicated. After only two practices. You start to catch my drift. People didn’t walk out, but that might have been because we were playing in front of the door.

May 14, 2004 -- Tommy’s Tavern, Brooklyn
A few bands played earlier, but they had all long finished by the time we arrived. I guess you can say we played with them, but I have no idea who played and it doesn’t really matter that much anyway. Todd asked us to come play after our show at North 6, which for some reason we thought would be a great idea. We arrived at around 2am, and there were maybe twenty or thirty people still there. We set up in front, right next to the bar. I had broken the music stand earlier in the evening, which we hastily taped back together. Todd fed us shots and beers for some reason, which we certainly did not require. I decided somewhere in the set that it would be a good idea to take my shirt off. Then I started rolling around on the pool table, whilst people were shooting pool. Apparently they were not pleased. Some local dude sitting at the bar really liked us and bought us more beer, which we really did not need by that time. Immediately after performing I walked across the street and vomited under a tree. Kevin was so drunk he could not successfully hail a cab, which Todd had to do for him. I later learned that there were extensive photos taken at that show, and some German dude filmed it. Of course, being German, his camera was in the PAL format, which is almost useless for us. The rest of the weekend people kept coming up to me and telling me how great we were, despite the fact that I had no recollection of them being at the show. Kevin got alcohol poisoning for his troubles.

May 29, 2004 -- Asterisk, Brooklyn
This show was originally supposed to be at Volume, but they were shut down by the fire marshal, so it was moved at the last minute to a loft space in Bushwick. We played with Japanther, Aa, Dreamhouse, Talibam, Au Revoir Simone, Aqui, Lucky Dragons, and maybe some others. We were originally going to perform in the bathroom, but the facilities at the new space were not quite as spacious. Thus, we decided to perform in the long, narrow hallway. A fist fight was breaking out as I plugged in the microphone. People kept getting tangled up in the mic cord, and it kept coming unplugged. Not our best effort. Everyone seemed baffled and hostile, except for a few who seemed to love us. I was told later that people spent the rest of the night asking about us and talking about how much they liked it. I saw no evidence of that, but I was rolling around on the floor at the time.

June 11, 2004 -- The Cave, Queens
I put a tremendous amount of work into this show. We performed with Free Blood, Japanther, Nightmerica, Zeke Healy, Sleepy Doug Shaw, and Andersonic. A $2 punk show, if you will. Zeke and Doug played acoustic outside. We of course went on last, at like 2:30am or something. The police showed up in the middle of our set, and the owner told us we had to stop. The DJs began playing records at a volume considerably louder than our own, which I told the owner (who had spent most of the rest of the night kissing my ass because they had never, ever, had anywhere even approaching the number of the people there that my show brought in). He said he didn’t care, we had to stop. We are unflappable. We grabbed a snare and went out to the street corner and resumed playing. He came out and told us to just finish inside. We did. We lost a number of our audience members, but it just goes to show that you cannot stop the rock, apparently.

June 26, 2004 -- The Nest, Brooklyn
This was not actually a proper Puttin’ On The Ritz show. It was a Puttin’ On the Talibananacondom show, apparently. It consisted of me, Kevin and Matt (Talibam), and some other dudes whose names I promptly forgot. I agreed to do this last minute, and it was a mess. I walked in just in time to play, somewhere around 2am. I had no idea what to do, so I jumped around and screamed into the microphone. Someone started throwing bean bag chairs at me. The sax player grabbed a microphone stand and ran into the crowd knocking peoples’ drinks out of their hands. The plug was pulled, and we were asked to leave. Somehow Matt got paid on the way out, although I’m still not sure how.

June 27, 2004 -- Lyric Lounge, Brooklyn
Talibam was playing again, and I showed up for moral support. At one point someone asked if we were playing. Kevin looked at me and asked “Do you want to?” I agreed, for lack of anything better to do. This was a poorly booked and/or promoted show, as the only people there were the bands and their girlfriends. Todd turned up because in the middle of the set because I said we were playing. It was supposed to be at Tommy’s but Matt failed to actually tell them that. When they showed up they were informed that they would not be allowed to play. I was telephoned for assistance, and Todd has already suggested they call the Lyric Lounge, which I passed along to them. Honestly, it was mostly a waste of time. I guess they can’t all be winners.

June 30, 2004 -- Tommy’s Tavern, Brooklyn
We got to play with all our friends. Japanther (already our third show with them), Nightmerica, White Oni (Rop and Tim and Kokie’s debut), and some hardcore band called Drinker’s Purgatory that was on tour or something. We played a little earlier than usual, around 1:30am. Far and away our best show. We went on immediately after Japanther in the front room. Everyone stopped and watched on their way out. Moreover, they hooted, they hollered, they danced, etc. It actually looked like we knew the songs. Kevin got a standing ovation for one of his drum solos. I rolled around on the pool table again, but people knew it was coming so they weren’t playing pool. We sold all four compact discs on our persons immediately following the performance. It looked like we were actually becoming a decent band, more than just being extreme and crazy and ridiculous, etc.

That’s it so far. Seven shows (eight of you count the nest, which I don’t really), four practices (unless you count getting together to pick out songs and make CDs, which I don’t really). We were supposed to play last night, but Kevin never turned up. His phone died and his other show didn’t end until almost 3am. Oh well. I got drunk without him. Our next show is Siren Fest, although we were not invited to play. We will be playing two sets, one at 6pm near the Cyclone, and another at 8pm in the Atlantic Ocean. It works simply because we do not require power, so we can do whatever we want. We always wanted to play with Mission of Burma, Blonde Redhead, etc. It seemed like an easy enough way to do so. We’re recording with our from J Ellis on the 24th, and I hope to put out a real CD with the results. We’re talking to Aa about booking a tour together, and we have all sorts of other clever schemes, harebrained or otherwise, in mind. Keep checking in for more details.


Post a Comment

<< Home