Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mobile Homes, The Simple Joys

If you went to college at one of the major universities in Iowa during the late 80’s, and went to see a lot of live music, chances are you heard the Gear Daddies. I actually heard them because this band, Box 10, from Cedar Falls, Iowa, covered about half of their first album, Let’s Go Scare Al.

That first album is pretty much the soundtrack for all Midwestern small towns in the 80’s. The Gear Daddies were officially my “first” alt-country band. I was into them for about a year before I even heard of Uncle Tupelo. I spread that first CD around to anyone who would give it a listen.

The Gear Daddies, or “Gear Dads” as some of us would refer to them, were from Austin, Minnesota. They were lumped in with a bunch of other Minneapolis bands, including the Jayhawks, Run Westy Run, and the Draghounds. They were around until at least 1993, so they sort of got to ride that whole “alternative” thing for a little while, but never really made it big. Hell, I don’t think that they did that much touring outside of the Midwest except for one tour out in the Boston area. It’s not like they were on some small indie label, either. These guys were signed to PolyGram.

In the Spring of 1993, I was graduating. I don’t think the economy was very good back in 1993, because a lot of the people I resided with in Friley Hall were having trouble finding jobs. There were two guys on my floor who were getting degrees in Aerospace Engineering, and they were not going into their field of work, instead, having to compete with mechanical engineering majors for jobs. There wasn’t a lot of Health and Safety jobs out there either, but one day, my advisor said, “Jez, I scheduled you for an interview tomorrow night with AlliedSignal. Be there.”

So I interviewed with the head Health and Safety guy for a division of AlliedSignal and the HR Manager. It was cool. I let them know about my 8-month internship and that I was in a band. The HR Manager’s eyes lit up.

“Are there any good bands playing in town tonight?”

I said, “Actually, Jim, if I didn’t have a final tomorrow, I would be going to People’s Bar and Grill to see the Gear Daddies. They’re one of my favorite bands.”

I got a second interview at the plant and ended up getting the job, which was a good thing, since my folks were living in Germany at the time, and if I didn’t get the job, I was going to be essentially homeless. Later, I came to find out that Jim really liked the Gear Daddies and even bought one of their CDs. I think he tried to get them to play at the corporate summer party, but it didn’t happen.

When I moved to Pensacola in 1996, I discovered what I consider the “southern” version of the Gear Daddies: Drivin’ n’ Cryin’. Their song, “Straight to Hell” would have fit nicely on either Gear Daddies album, as well as this suggested list of Gear Daddies songs:

Statue of Jesus
Heavy Metal Boyz
Drank So Much (Just Feel Stupid)
She’s Happy
Stupid Boy
Don’t Look at Me
Time Heals
Zamboni (hidden track at the end of “One Voice”)
Dream Vacation
Little Red Corvette (cover)
The Tide is High (cover)

Some dude from Illinois hooked up this video with the song, "Statue of Jesus." You may think it really has nothing to do with the song. Actually, if you watch this video with a pounding hangover, it's perfect.

Beer to enjoy this music with: Leinenkugel's Original


kelsi said...

that's one of the greatest "how i got the job" connections i've heard.
and the suggested beer pairing is a brilliant idea. i may be a little jealous of how brilliant it is.

Boo said...

Yep, I love the beer pairing. I'm gonna have to rip that off, but maybe with shoes. Shoes are very important in my musical life.

Felicia said...

Nice pick! That goes for the beer too. I love Lenie's, but keep away from the Berry Weis at all costs.

chris said...

Ha, I'm loving the MPLS love on this blog. I taught one of the Gear Daddies' sons a couple of years ago - it seemed like he didn't think his dad's band was cool anymore.