Photo by JT Rhoades
Last night was the third and final night with the Groundhogs, and I dare say it’s been the best night so far. There’s been a lot of speculations around Groundhogs touring without founding member and original frontman Tony McPhee, and to be fair, I wasn’t around to experience ‘em back in the day, but personally, I cant imagine them ever being any better than they are now with current frontman and lead guitarist Chris D’Avoine, who’s boosting as much charisma as he is talent.
As mentioned in my last post, there were rumours going that Radio Moscow guitarist Parker Griggs would join the Groundhogs on stage, and after having a sneak peak during soundcheck, I got even more excited for the show. Groundhogs played an impeccable set before being joined by Parker on stage for the final hurrah, ‘Cherry Red’, of their 1971 album ‘Split’, and just when you thought Groundhogs couldn’t be louder and more powerful – they did. Three guitars, extended solos and jamming galore. Damn, I almost needed a cigarette after that and I don’t even smoke.
Once everyone’d had some time to gather the pieces from their blown minds, it was yet again time for Radio Moscow to take the stage, and it pretty quickly dawned upon me that they’re either getting better and better every night, or that my brain just haven’t been evolved enough to wrap my head around their humongous musical talent, and is only becoming so now as I’ve been exposed to it over an extended period of time. I could go on about how good they are and draw insane comparisons, but let’s be honest, I’m with them for another day and I cant make ‘em too big for their boots just yet.
Photo by JT Rhoades
While sat in the backstage area after the show, I ended up chatting to Groundhogs drummer Ken Pustelnik who asked me if I’d heard the story about how himself and Parker originally met;
«It was a late night in Bristol when I saw these three long haired guys who looked totally out of place in an area they shouldn’t be wandering around in, so I walked up them and asked if they were alright, as they looked a bit lost; ‘Are you looking for the train station?’ ‘No, we’ve just played our first ever gigs over here in the UK, and we didn’t get paid. We’re struggling a bit as we can’t get back home to Iowa.’ So we ended up taking them back to ours, and I got them a few gigs, their first ever paid ones in Britain, and eventually they managed to make the money to get back to the states. Parker was about 17 at the time, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.»
What are the odds – three seventeen year old broke musicians in a foreign country with no place to stay or way to get home gets approached by a guy who just happens to be Ken from the Groundhogs, someone kind enough to house them, and has the connections to get them paid gigs and back on their feet. What a guy!
As we left I pretty much crashed in the van while everyone else was ready to party it up at the house. When we arrived, it didn’t take long before Anthony fell asleep under the kitchen table – that guy can sleep pretty much anywhere and through anything, which is a skill I highly admire. I hung out for a bit, before retracting myself upstairs and into my borrowed brightly colored green sleeping bag around 3am, while listening in on something that sounded like Rage Against the Machine blasting out from the speakers downstairs. Five hours later, I wake up to find photographer JT stretched out on the floor, as Parker climbs into the other bed having been carried away in conversations about ‘life and music’ with drummer Paul until the light of day – which means heading to bed about two hours before we were meant to pack up and go at 10.30.
10.42am and still no sign of life…