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Fort Wayne bands rock for a great cause — and pay tribute to a great band
By EA Poorman
Fort Wayne Reader
It seems like The Brass Rail has been lining up some amazing shows this month. Hopefully you made it out to see The D-Rays, Dag and the Bulleit Boys,and the Whiskey Daredevils. It was a show for the ages.
Well, the fun just keeps on churning. On August 30th One Lucky Guitar presents Lovelines: A Tribute To The Replacements, a fundraiser for The Slim Dunlap Fund which will be held at The Brass Rail. The night before on August 29th the Orange Opera will be rocking The Brass Rail as well with out-of-towners Motel Beds from Dayton, OH.
I got a chance to chat with Matt Kelley about this Lovelines show on August 30th to see what it's all about. Here's what he had to say.
E.A. Poorman: So how did this Lovelines show come about? As well as being a tribute to the Replacements it's also a fundraiser for The Slim Dunlap Fund, correct?
Matt Kelley: Yeah, you know, for the last year or two, One Lucky Guitar had kinda taken a break from booking shows at any venue beyond The B-Side. It felt like it was time to do something again at our favorite bar, The Brass Rail.
The backstory is this: a couple years ago, former Replacements guitarist Slim Dunlap suffered a stroke. He recovered and went home, but his home healthcare costs are enormous and the medical bills stacked up. Slim was the Replacements’ second guitarist, after Bob Stinson, and played and toured the last three albums. After the Mats called it quits, Slim released a couple of solo albums, and they have hooks for miles—just really great, sloppy & poppy & rootsy rock and roll songs.
Well, a fundraising tribute record seemed like a no-brainer, but Peter Jesperson (former ‘Mats manager and current head of New West Records) took it to a new place with a year-long series of limited edition 7” singles that were auctioned off on eBay. The first release featured an EP by the reunited version of The Replacements—with their first release of all new material in 22 years—and raised over $100K. Over the course of the year, that was followed up with monthly split 7”’ers featuring the likes of Jeff Tweedy, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Deer Tick and more. (I actually won a couple of auctions, scoring the Joe Henry/Jakob Dylan and Frank Black/You Am I releases.) At the end of the year, the singles were collected on a CD, which is killer.
Anyway, Slim’s story is so moving, and he seems like such an incredible guy, and the more I dug into what was going on, I just wanted to see if there was something we could do to raise some funds for him, and the idea of this show came about.
I contacted Slim’s wife and daughter, and they were beyond thankful that we were thinking of them. They’ve been overcome by the outpouring of love and support from fans of The Replacements.
All money collected at the door will go to the Slim Dunlap Fund, and we’ll also hopefully have some t-shirts and posters that we can sell to raise bucks, too. Hoping to raise $1,500.
“Lovelines” is, of course, a reference to an old Replacements song, and even though that song is about (im)personal ads, I suppose this show is all of our chance to write a little love note to The Replacements.
Oh, and I believe this will be the best show in Fort Wayne this year with the word “Line” in the title.
EAP: So who's all playing on August 30th? With so many extremely talented artists and bands in the Fort how did you got about asking folks to play?
Matt Kelley: We’re going to start releasing band names on the 12th, but, it’s five bands. The first two are becoming bands just for this show! And The Jury is playing out for the first time in a few years. I saw their setlist and it is going to murder. (At press time the bands playing are as follows: The Placemats, consisting of Jake Emissions, Dave Trevino, Kevin G, Matt Molaski; Big Star Big, consisting of Chris Dodds, Tim Gordon, Andrea Harvey, Matt Kelley, Casey Stansifer, and Michael Summers; The Jury, Aadia, and Sweet Talk.)
I mainly reached out to people who I had talked about Westerberg and the Mats with over the years, and any of them that weren’t mad at me said YES. It filled up pretty quick. I will say that if I missed anyone—if we simply haven’t met and talked about PW—then email me firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add you to the bill. This thing is not too precious. You noted “extremely talented artists and bands” in your question, which is true, but I believe this show will and should have the spirit of The Replacements, and therefore—anything goes.
EAP: Lovelines will be taking place at The Brass Rail as opposed to The B-Side. With such a unique venue as The B-Side at your disposal why did you go with The Brass Rail for this show? Are The Replacements too rowdy for The B-Side?
Matt Kelley: Most B-Side shows are pretty much room sound—we don’t even have a PA! But, we’ve rented a PA and done band shows here and there, and indeed had a great floor-bouncing punk show last year with Flamingo Nosebleed, Dog Party and Kepi, but it just felt like this show was bigger than The B-Side. I also know how important The Replacements are to John Commorato and Corey Rader and it means a lot to be able to put this show in the Rail.
Having said that, we’ll probably have a few smaller events around Lovelines that will take place here. The creative duo pye,brown has been publishing the zine (260) and their latest call for entries is based around The Replacements. I think we’ll do a reading from that publication at The B-Side on August 21 or 23, followed by a performance by one of the bands.
EAP: How important were The Replacements to your musical upbringing?
Matt Kelley: Well, you know, for me, they’re almost everything. The funny thing is, though, I actually heard Paul solo first, when he had those two songs on the Singles soundtrack. Then I bought 14 Songs at Twist & Shout (traded in a Frank Black CD for it, as I recall), and it was off to the races as I chased down the back catalog. That’s my not-so-dirty, not-so-little secret: I actually think PW’s solo catalog is better than The Replacements’ discography, and would count 49:00 and the alter ego Grandpaboy’s Mono albums as two of my all-time top ten. Mono is probably my #1. In fact, I was so serious that I wanted to be buried with the album—but worried I might not be taken seriously—that I had it tattooed on my left arm.
It’s Paul, Bob and Bruce, and then everyone else.
Beyond music, though, Paul and the band have colored my entire life. Thinking about this show, I was reflecting on my WWPWD? moments, and there’s a mountain of them, large and small. I mean, in One Lucky Guitar’s brand book, we quote the great line from the song “I Don’t Know”: “One foot in the door, the other one in the gutter.” That quite perfectly sums up One Lucky Guitar, I think, and I couldn’t be more proud of that. We have credibility in the board room and the bar room and are 100% authentic in each—just like the Mats. That’s pretty great.
EAP: How does it feel to be donning the stage after all these years? Can you tell me a little about the band you're playing with?
Matt Kelley: Yeah, you know, I haven’t played electric guitar on stage in many years. I got out my amp and there were some papers stuffed in the back—it was the setlist from The Trainhoppers’ Dylan set at the first Down the Line, in February 2007. (Killer set, by the way.) In fact I hadn’t played out much at all in a few years, and then last December, Chris Dodds had an opening at Columbia Street West’s happy hour, and we duct taped together an acoustic version of our old band Go Dog Go and did a couple sets. And it was a complete blast.
At first I thought we might do a set for this Mats show—we were going to call ourselves Go Dogbreath Go, since one of The Replacements’ original band names was Dogbreath. But, GDG is going to do that December show again this year, and it felt like Lovelines would be a fun place to play with a few folks I’ve admired and wanted to make a racket with for years. Andrea Harvey is a marvel, just incredible. Casey Stansifer on bass is just ridiculous, and such a great presence. Tim Gordon has been singing with Chris forever and just love, love, loves music in such a contagious way. And of course, our buddy Michael Summers on lead drums—I’ve wanted to play with MS since we first started our 15-year long conversation about the power & passion of rock ’n’ roll, way back in 2000…
So we are Big Star Big, named after an obscure Slim Dunlap song. (Dig around and find The Bremen Riot’s version of this track—it’s so, so, sooo good. Hookiest song ever, and just unbelievably clever (in the best way possible).)
Oh, and we’re not playing any Replacements songs in our set!
EAP: While I have you here, can you share with us what you have lined up at The B-Side in the near future?
Matt Kelley: Awesome—thanks for asking. We had a couple of incredible shows in July (Rayland Baxter, David Bazan) and decided to take August off—this old building doesn’t have the HVAC to handle a hot summer evening with 60 people in a room together.
But, we have Mike Adams At His Honest Weight here on September 25th. Mike’s latest album scored a 7.9 at Pitchfork and I believe is the best record of 2014 so far. That’s a full band show and should be terrific.
We’re hosting Marah at The Brass Rail on September 16 and I’m going to try to get them to do an early, acoustic set at The B-Side.
The Lovelines show happens Saturday, August 30 at the Brass Rail.
For more info, check out the Brass Rail on Facebook, or visit fwbrassrail.com