kelley/cones 2010


Rods and Cones appearing Saturday, May 14, 9 p.m. at Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave., Allston, Mass. Also on the bill: Freezepop. (617) 779-0140.

 Back in the early 1980s, in Boston, the local music was in a state of flux. Anything could happen, the weirder the better. Bands were abandoning the typical rock and roll backbeat and trying other grooves, other instruments. As I look back, it seems that Rods and Cones were in the right place at the right time, though it didn’t always feel that way in 1982.

The local audience was enormous, of course, given all the college students – and recent graduates -- in the area. In Kenmore Square you had the Rat and Storyville, in Allston you had Bunratty’s, on the waterfront you had the enormous Channel club, in the Fenway you had the Jumpin’ Jack Flash club, which was a lot more fun than the name implies, and in Cambridge you had Jack’s, the beloved Inn-Square Mens Bar, and later T.T. the Bear’s (the Cones played at all those places and many others). The local radio was playing Boston bands, and the local press would write about the big noisemaker of the week. Conditions were ripe for anyone who had a musical instrument and a little nerve and some determination to create something different.

I’ve written about Rods and Cones a couple times. I was a 22-year-old bass player waiting tables in Harvard Square. At night I would go down to the basement and help create some odd, chugging, bleeping, growling tunes with my mates. For the record, I co-founded the band with keyboard player Brian "Herman" Hess. We recruited Chris Kelley to be our singer. On guitar was Mike Napolitano, on drums was Chris DiNardo, and on percussion was Jim DiNardo. In 1984, Napolitano left the band, and Gary France took over on guitar.

All in all, we had a good six-year run. We performed up and down the East Coast, we competed in the 1984 WBCN Rock and Roll Rumble, our tune “Round Room” appeared on a vinyl compilation album and got some airplay. We performed on the final night of the Inn-Square Men’s Bar, where we missed a chance to jam with Joe Perry. We opened up for Gary Glitter at the Channel – his first-ever U.S. show. (Should I really be bragging about that?) We opened for the late reggae great Dennis Brown at the Channel. We opened for Ebn Ozn at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel in Providence. We opened for The Call at the Living Room in Providence. We released an EP that included “Education in Love,” the video for which was in heavy rotation on V-66. We became semi-regulars at CBGB in New York, and some of our tracks were released on the short-lived CBGB record label. We played at a benefit concert, opening for X and Cheap Trick. One night down at CBGB, in about 1986, we opened for Lenny Kaye, and we handed a copy of our record to Jim Carroll. An hour later, as we were driving our van up the Bowery, we saw Carroll and his date, and he was spinning our record in his hands like a basketball!

As I’ve said before, there are worse ways to squander one’s youth.

The occasion for talking about all of this is that all these years later, we Rods and Cones are still in touch, and we all still play. The exception, of course, is our late colleague Brian “Herman” Hess, who died suddenly in 2004. I have written about Herm in a previous post.

In early 2010, Rods and Cones regrouped – with Napolitano and France in the band at the same time, and yours truly switching off between bass and keyboard -- and performed a few tunes at Boston’s House of Blues, at a V-66 tribute night. The show went so well that we are jamming even harder and deeper, and stretching out farther and putting together a full-length show. As I write this, I’m coming off a two-day rehearsal, and let me tell you, my central nervous system is positively pulsing with it, and it feels good.

Rods and Cones will be returning to play their first full-length show in 22 years on Saturday night, May 14, at the Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave. in Allston. More information here. Also on the bill will be the young, vibrant group Freezepop.

We’re putting some work into this show, to make it as intense as we can. If you heard us back in the day, I hope you’ll come out and see some old friends. If you weren’t there, then this is a chance to see what the fuss is about.

And thanks for listening.


Kristen Westhoven May 03, 2011 @10:24 pm

Freezepop too? YAY! Glad you're feeling good vibes!

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