#Rocktober Guest Blogger: Sharon Cathcart

Posted: October 19, 2014 in Guest Poster, Rocktober
Tags: , , , ,

Sharon Cathcart and I have been buddies for a long time. We’ve got a ton in common, so I asked her to stop in this month with a guest blog post. She was kind enough to oblige.

I had a bit of a struggle trying to figure out my guest blog for West of Mars’ Rocktober celebration.

There. I said it.

Idea after idea was tried and rejected. And then, I woke up on October 6 to the news that yet another live music venue in my hometown, Portland Ore., was in financial trouble due to lack of attendance. Slabtown, which had its beginnings in the early 20th Century as a lumberjack bar, is closing its doors for good on Nov. 1.

This means another small venue for up-and-coming acts disappears in the Pacific Northwest, almost exactly three years after the legendary Satyricon was demolished.

Despite living just a few blocks from Slabtown, I didn’t spend much time there. When I still lived in Portland, it was a blue-collar sports bar. Slabtown stepped up to fill the gap created by Satyricon’s 2003 closure, but now they’re going away as well.

Satyricon’s closure raised a good many emotions for me, most of them good. It was an important time in the Pacific Northwest’s burgeoning punk scene, which eventually developed into the so-called “grunge” movement. I can only assume that Slabtown’s habitués are feeling what I felt.

Here’s an excerpt fromYou Had to Be There: Three Years of Mayhem and Bad Decisions in the Portland Music Scene, which talks about my early days in the music business.

One of the contacts I’d made over time was George Tahouliotis, owner of Satyricon. He was well known for giving new acts a chance, so I went to see him with my rehearsal tape in hand.

“They’re this tight in fucking rehearsal?” he exclaimed. “I want them on this stage.”

We fixed the date, agreeing that Arctic Sun would open for an up-and-coming act called The Surf Cowboys.

I went to rehearsal, delivering what I thought was an outstanding piece of news. After all, they’d been practicing for several months.

“No way,” said Greg. “We’re not ready.”

“Yes,” Mat said, “we are.”

The back and forth went on for several minutes before I stepped in.

“If you want to play in the basement forever, that’s fine. However, if that is the case you do not need a manager. If you don’t want this gig, I quit.”
There was a long pause.

“Okay, fine,” Guy said. “We’ll do it, but if we suck up there you have to back off and let us tell you when we’re ready.”
I agreed to his terms.

We went to Satyricon on the appointed night, loading in what we needed and locking all of our extraneous gear in Guy’s van (we’d brought everything but the kitchen sink, a mistake we never made again). I went to find George so he could point me toward the soundman for the night; I had notes for a few of the pieces.

Holy crap.

Behind the board stood Greg Sage, a Portland music legend. As front man for The Wipers, Sage was an icon in the punk world. I could not believe it. I felt more than a little sheepish giving my notes to him, but he nodded and took them. He was always gracious and informative, from that first day, and I am still humbled that he was our first soundman.

The band, of course, did not suck. I had to work very hard at not gloating when Guy enthused about the rush he got from performing for the small but appreciative crowd.

Two more gigs were immediately booked off of that show, which is how it started to go.

As a special gift for West of Mars readers during Rocktober, I’m offering both my music memoir and my rock fiction eBook free of charge.

To obtain your copy of You Had to Be There: Three Years of Mayhem and Bad Decisions in the Portland Music Scene, visit https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/29513 (affiliate link) and enter coupon code QU82M at checkout.

To obtain your copy of the double-award nominated The Rock Star in the Mirror (Or, How David Bowie Ruined My Life), the story of an Oregon band making its way through small venues like Satyricon and Slabtown and some of the pitfalls they encounter, visit https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/248007 (affiliate link) and enter coupon code ZD79M.

Both codes expire Nov, 10, 2014.

Have I mentioned that I adored The Rock Star in the Mirror??? Be sure to pick up your copy — and yes, since I can’t review it myself (think about it…) and Jett’s swamped, I’d love to post a link to YOUR review. Or host you here for a review. Or both.

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