The Walking Rock Alphabet: F
Today’s little walking story is a bit different than anything that has been written throughout both runs of the alphabet. For the first time, today’s band of choice is not only a local band, but a band whose entire lineup I would consider close friends. Yes, this will be a truly biased post.
Flag With Hank was a late 80’s/early 90’s roots-rock band led by former No Direction leader Rich Show. In fact, if memory serves correctly, No Direction gradually morphed into Flag WIth Hank. The mid-80’s were a blur of booze and chemicals so I could be completely off, but I seem to recall a latter period No Direction in-store appearance at the record store I managed that featured Flag With Hank members Lance Beier (drums) and Heath Henjum (bass).
It can’t be stated enough how important this band was to what became a thriving local scene a few years later. They opened the doors and showed that people would show up to see a local band that plays original music...and it didn’t have to be a traditional music club.
But Rich Show had been through that already with No Direction. Not given any shot to play clubs like the Pomp Room, that band set up a legendary Monday night residency at the original Crow Bar. It’s also unlikely that Phil’s Pub would still be doing live music 25 years later if No Direction hadn’t convinced them to allow them to play all-ages shows in their original 18th and Minnesota location?
Flag With Hank had this same handicap. So they knocked on all the doors in town, and quite often were given an opportunity. Sometimes it didn’t work out, such as the West 12th Street casino that refused to allow them to charge a cover charge.
When it did work out, though, it not only was for Flag’s benefit but for a growing scene of new bands that began cropping up around town. The center piece of that so-called “alternative” scene was the Mad Hatter, and it was there that ALL of my musician friends played.
Unfortunately, I missed most of the Mad Hatter scene, as I had moved up to Aberdeen to run a record store. I did make it back for some great Flag With Hank shows at the ‘Hatter, though, but it wasn’t until the scene had moved to the Limelight, Jono’s, and, eventually the Pomp Room that I was once again immersed in local music (and writing about it).
During those years, Flag With Hank put out two releases, the cassette-only self-titled album and Weaselroni, today’s album of choice. Listening to the album for the first time in years, I’ve decided that calling them “roots rock” isn’t really accurate. Nor is “alternative” or whatever other genre title you try to give them.
Ok, roots rock may be the closest, but the blistering opening track, “Don’t Look My Way”, has more in common with The Replacements’ “Hold My Life” than The Blasters or Del-Lords. On the other hand, what so-called alternative band would cover Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight”. (By the way, the beautiful female fans that flocked to see FWH would seriously coo when Show would begin singing that tune.)
Yes, today’s walk was full of nostalgia, along with a sadness that the local music scene is basically dead these days (at least for music I enjoy). Flag With Hank morphed into Violet, and, along with a handful of other local bands (most notably Janitor Bob) the “normals” actually showed up by the hundreds (sometimes thousands). The Pomp Room finally dumped the terrible metal cover bands, and national acts listed our town as a destination.
Now there’s maybe two, three shows a year I give a fuck about. Of course, leaving The Ledge studios is a rarity anyway, so why would anybody care who I want to see?