At the Mill Hill with the Cryptkeeper Five
On the P.A.T.H. (the first leg of my journey to see the Cryptkeeper Five) I gripped the middle pole and dug down for the ensuing commute. I’m not one to nit pick other people’s train riding etiquette,(I mean, I didn’t invent PATH surfing I just made it sexy again!) but this fellow decides to lean on the pole and my hand! Now I’m a stubborn bastard myself, so I decided I wasn’t gonna move. So, he wasn’t moving and I wasn’t moving and there we were. Both of us locked in some kind of battle of wills. Finally, he moves away! I think I’ve won. Then with a new fervor he leans back onto my hand. Of course I’m too much of a gentleman to just speak up. I let go and and accept my defeat, a broken shell of a man. Time is 9:00pm.
Right! So I get onto the NJ TRANSIT north line from Newark to Trenton. The conductor scratches across the speaker some gibberish that I vaguely made out as English. Apparently there’s a train stuck in front of us, and for the rest of the ride the passengers will have to get out using the stairs. Just one door to get in and out! WTF! Time Check: 9:25. For once in my life I’m early for something. It’ll take about twenty mins to get to Trenton by my estimation. CK5 doesn’t go on until 11:15. So no worries there.
This is about the time when I realize that The North Line is alot like Dante’s Inferno. With Purgatory being Newark and Heaven,I guess, as New York City. The sexy electronic voice tones in, “This stop New Brunswick. Please check around you for all loose items and baggage upon leaving the train.” All the lecturers and alcoholics line up in a precession to their perspective circle of the Hell that is North Jersey. After about twenty mins of marching, the train lurches forward. 9:45, No prob still fine. Princeton: Liars and Prophets. Another 10mins, at least they were getting faster. 9:55. Hamilton: Sinners of Wrath and Sorcerors?! (IDK man, gimme a goddamn break! There’s a theme here. Just follow it!) At 10:05 I rolled into Trenton with the real deviants and mutineers. Trenton station on a Friday night is really no joke. Call me crazy, but the quack of the odd duck is apparent all about the place. As I’m waiting for my rendezvous, I see the whole sideshow. I think as I traversed the platform the greatest of these was a trannie applying make up in the station. Right there in plain site. I mean hey I’m all for the alternative lifestyle, but come on sister, making the “transformation” in public is a bit slapdash don’t you think? I phone my friend Dan Chung, whom I had conspired to meet for the show earlier that night.
Dan pulls up and we get to the Mill Hill. At first glance the Mill Hill is a corner bar, that on the inside looks much like a saloon should. We never ventured into the top level though. The venue itself is located in the Basement. Cover was $5. Which was more than acceptable.
Let me take this moment to say that I never ask to be put on a list or any of that nonsense. This is local music, if you can’t pay the five bucks to support the scene, I say go back home. This used to bother the crap out of me when I worked shows. A band shows up to a basement show with a guest roster the size of a spoiled nine year old’s wish list to Santa. BANDS: It’s your duty to make sure people come to the shows and pay that is why you were booked! Tell ’em to ante up! Ok, that rant is over. Sorry. Someone needs to say it! I had to step up.
Now, I was saying, upon entering the Basement of the Mill Hill I’m greeted with a huge Sign that reads in black and white, “MILL HILL BASEMENT, Underground Music, Underground.” Clever. I’d say that the place itself could hold something like 50-60 people if packed in like a sardine can. I give the Singer (Johnny) a text to let him know I’m here. As Dan and I are waxing Intellectual about the overall vibe of the place, Johnny comes over greets us warmly and I recant how I found out about the band. He introduces us to the rest of the guys as well. Jay West on Bass, Jimmy Ray Guitar and Vocals, D.T. Graves on Drums and Ceilidh “Blue” Madigan or Mr. “M” on the Sax and Vocals. It’s a weird thing meeting a band you dig and actually having a normal conversation with them. It’s hard to explain, I’m always afraid that I’m going to come of as this crazed groupie, worshipping the very ground they walk on. Somehow my dignity holds true and I manage to play it cool. The conversation ranged from the ride down to the venue itself. I explain myself (The RockerTycoon) to the fellas and grab a Hop Devil from the very cute very friendly bartender. I should mention the first band (Super Consumers) is just getting finished setting up, and sound testing. I give my equipment a test and loosen up to take a few shots.
As I go back for my bag to switch lenses I run into Tim from Honah Lee. I’ll Be interviewing Honah Lee in my next blog they’ll be at the IMAC in Jersey City on Friday. We exchange hellos as Super Consumers start up. I excuse myself and get to work. It’s been a little while since I’ve shot a band in a basement so getting light and exposure down is going to take a test. I say all that to say this, I like shooting bands other than just the one I came to see, some times you get something pretty cool and you almost always make a new friend here or there. I’m actually quite proud of this shot of the Super Consumers‘ Lead Singer. They play what seems like a limited sized set 6-7 songs I think. They threw in a cover of that Cranberries song “Zombie”! I always dug that song, and not just for the muted horror reference. They finish up we chat for a few as CK5 sets up and I let them know what I’m about. Hopefully this won’t be the last time you hear from those cats at Rocker Tycoon.
I decide thanks to my trusty mini tripod that I can just tape the whole show while I’m shooting. Which is great because it’s hard to rock out and video at the same time. About three songs in Johnny gives the a nod and they kick right into Incorruptible: The Death of Hope II. I’m pysched! I turn to Dan, I can tell he likes what he hears (this is within 5 hours of introducing him to the band). Johnny asks Blue if hes having a good time, Blue shouts out that he loves it, he could write a love song about it! Johnny Explains its a new one from their upcoming album record D.T. starts it up….. and they once again explode into rock! Meanwhile Jimmy Ray, Johnny, Blue and Jay all trade off vocals. Jimmy Ray and Jay throw some “OOOOOOHHHHH WOAHS!” out there and this continues for what really doesn’t seem longer enough.
Flashback to talking with the band right before the set; Jay and I were talking and I confessed that I was really hoping to hear “The Desperate Man……the Deadweight”, which had been a real anthem of mine since first hearing about the band while in North Carolina summer of 2005. Ian Harker a long time friend and rock confidant hit me up via the Myspace and told me about the band. That song was on their page and it really endeared me to their sound. Flashforward; four and a half years later and Jay lets me know in hushed tones that I won’t be disappointed! RAD!
Johnny informs a very charged crowd that they only have time for 3 more songs. I have to admit I was getting a little nervous about Jay’s promise. I’m not gonna leave you in suspense, the last three songs did include my request! They finished the set to a thundering of applause, yipping and hollering, I supplied my effort for the fanfare as well. This is what its all about, five guys sweating it out to rock N roll in a basement in Trenton!
The guys, Dan and I retired to the upper section of the Mill Hill (heh, how about that I was up there at one point!). I got this wonderful conversation on video between myself and CK5! It’s 12 mins longer and the focus gets dodgy in the middle for a sec, but the message being conveyed is well worth your time. It’s some of my best work yet. The pictures certainly are without a doubt!
OH man! I almost forgot…..so we finished the interview I look at the time and it’s 12:50! “So what!” You say to me in a tone that could only serve as punctuation to your ignorance to the NJ Transit North Line Schedule! Well, good reader, the Train leaves at 1:02am! THE LAST TRAIN! The 3:10 to Yuma, if you will. Dan puts the pedal to the metal as we get into the Danmobil, his Honda Element. RED LIGHT….12:55……Green light! RED LIGHT! 12:59. Dan looks ready to run it. I wave him off that notion, as I consider myself a man of chance, running the light would be like stacking the deck! Arriving at the station briskly at 1:03. I tumble down the stairs just in time to hear the chime of the closing doors. Like the defunct Indiana Jones I am, I dive into the doors and they close behind me. Of course the conductor looks at me quizzically and says “Nice dive, I would have opened the doors back up man.” The train rolls out. “Sure you would, man, sure you would!”