Long before the local clubs would demean themselves by booking punk bands (and before “punk” became a genre and not an outlook), Albuquerque had a seething, seamy musical underbelly of garage bands that actually gigged in garages, cellars and even frat houses. These shows were sometimes promoted by hand-scrawled flyers but mostly by word of mouth. There was a DIY record label (Resin). There was a record store that sold Resin releases (Bow Wow). And there were bagels, lots of bagels, and shows in a Nob Hill basement near sweltering ovens (Fred’s Bread & Bagel). There was also a man who counted a cast of characters among his friends, acted as their attorney and confidant, and hauled in mountains of crawfish from the Gulf for band parties. This Friday, friends of New Orleans native Gary Wayne Nelson (who is seriously ill) will be on deck at the Launchpad to return his many favors with a benefit show.
Back in the Pleistocene epoch of the Burque scene—the late ’80s when punk could and did include jazzy solos and hypnotic progressions— Cracks in the Sidewalk stood upright in a (de)evolutionary stance, much to the confusion of the budding skate crowd who thought punk rock meant only thrash and meathead moshing. The band touts the influence of San Pedro, Calif.’s Minutemen, which slept on various bands’ couches while touring here. Twenty years later, singer Judson Frondorf, guitar player / grand old man Gordy Andersen (Jerry’s Kidz; Young Black Sabbath Teenagers) and drummer Chris Partain (Star Tattoo parlor) are joined by Brian Banks (Indian List; BigDamnCrazyWeight), who is replacing not one, but two bassists, Jez Velasquez and Mike Rose.
In 1994, guitar player / vocalist Jason Ward (Star Tattoo), Wade Irving and Chris Partain formed Starsky, a name that Ward won from Keith Herrera (Resin; The Drags) in a Pong match. The band is reliable, workingman’s indie with a nice pop sense and a taste of old school. Gary Wayne Nelson called Starsky “my garage band,” since the group often practiced in his garage. The first and only Starsky release came out in 1997 on Science Project Records (launched in the wake of Resin’s success by Joe Anderson of Bring Back Dad; now the proprietor of the Launchpad, Low Spirits and Sunshine Theater). Soon after, Anderson replaced Irving. Starsky resurfaced a few times through the early aughts, but this will be the first reunion with mini-sets by both incarnations.
As if this wasn’t enough, the remaining reunion truly makes this “An Evening With Chris Partain.” He rejoins bassist Christina Kennedy and wailing guitarist Eric Kennedy (one of Launchpad’s original owners) in Elephant, which is almost two bands in one. The earliest Elephant shows featured Eric’s sludge punk guitar and throat-wrenching vocals, later shows highlighted Christina’s outstanding, sweetie-pie pop. This weekend Elephant will rise again in triumph like a mastodon mired in the La Brea Tar Pits but too tough to go under.
The supergroup portion of the show is new project Sad Baby Wolf with Ward, Marty Crandall (drums, guitar, bass and vocals) and Neal Langford on guitar (the latter two were members of Flake Music, which morphed into The Shins).
Rounding out the incestuous bill is an acoustic set from Ray Gutierrez (of Allucaneat which recorded on Resin) and the heavy rock and roll of Black Maria with Gordy Andersen and Brian Banks.
Whether you’re old enough to have seen all these guys back then, or were young enough to have been beaten up for your bagel money, this show is not to be missed.