****** Musician's Meanderings******
Steve Hashimoto's Journey Journal – News From the Trenches – 08-31-2003:
I had one of those "Eureka!" moments on my jobbing date tonight. It occurred
to me that a useful piece of equipment in every jobbing sideperson's arsenal
would be a veterinarian's tranquilizer gun, to be used on nervous/uptight
leaders/contractors/party planners. When they start waving their arms around and
jumping up and down ("Faster! Slower! Louder! Too loud! Noodle! They're opening
the doors!") just give 'em a dart full of horse trank in the back of the neck.
Several people have asked if I'm some sort of weird-gig lodestone, and I have
to face the facts: Yes, I think I am. From the very beginning of my career
gigs have been bizarre.
My first band was an r&b/soul band called The Soul Union (later The Union,
and later on Wacker Drive, reflecting the changing demographics of the times,
roughly 1968 through 1972). The way I joined the band was by sheer accident. I
had a part-time job at a gas station that was located on Lincoln Avenue near
Bryn Mawr. Now, some of you people don't live in Chicago, but let me tell you
that back in those days the concept of "turf" was very serious and strictly
defined. I went to Senn High School, and I had to pass through several different
turfs to get to this job every day. One day after school I was riding the
Western Ave. bus to work and I had my trumpet with me (I was in stage band and
orchestra). You see, in my 'hood we dressed a certain way, our version of
"colors", I guess -- blue tanker jacket, work boots (officially known as
"sh-t-kickers"), knit cap. You had to buy all of this at a certain store on Devon Ave.
called Jack's, or they weren't acceptable. If you didn't dress like this you were
liable to be hassled on an hourly basis.
A bunch of guys got on the bus and I knew immediately that I was in trouble
because by their dress (black leather jackets, Beatle boots, black Levis) I
knew that they were from either Amundsen or Lane, and we just didn't get along.
They were checking me out pretty hard, and one of them finally came up to me. I
thought, this is it, but he said, "Ain't you Mo's cousin?" I wasn't aware
that I had any cousin named "Mo", but to buy time I said, "What?" He said, "You
know, Mo -- Hashimoto! Bob! Ain't you the trumpet player?"
So of course it turned out that these thugs were pals of my cousin Bob, who
went to Amundsen High School. Unbeknownst to me he'd started playing saxophone
so that he could join the band that these characters had. These guys had no
interest in the music we listened to in my neighborhood (my 'hood was big on hot
rodding, so the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, The Marketts, etc., were big), and
even at that late date I think it's safe to say that most adolescent guys in
Chicago didn't have much use for the Beatles either. The greasers (which wasn't a
racial term at all, it had to do with the fact that they wore their hair long
and ducktailed while ours was generally short and crew-cut) were way into
soul music -- Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, Temptations, Little Stevie Wonder.
What can I say -- their instincts were just a little bit hipper.
Anyway, to get back to the bus, the guy who approached me, the ringleader,
was Mario Ingraffia, bassist and leader of the band. Amongst the crew he was
with on the bus were Tom Schmid, (the drummer and a bit of a psychotic - I think
he still wanted to beat me a little), Mario's cousin Little Joe (the organist
- a genuine original Farfisa), and Jack Froelich (the guitar player). Mario
gave the signal that I was ok and they all came over. Mario explained that Mo
had told them about me, that I'd been playing trumpet for many years and was (by
their standards - they were all self-taught musicians) "pretty good". Mario
knew that to be a proper soul band they needed horns, and they hadn't had any
luck finding a trumpet player in their turf. Without saying in so many words he
told me that they'd even suffer having a geek like me in the band if it gave
them that Stax/Volt sound. So that's pretty much how I got into my first band.
I find it an endless source of amusement that much of the material we played
35 years ago is part of the regular jobbing repertoire ("Ain't Too Proud To
Beg" was the very first song I learned).
We actually worked quite a bit -- high school and neighborhood dances, at
social clubs, YMCA's, church basements, etc. Being pretty connected at the street
level with their 'hood, the band had quite a few street gang acquaintances
(this was so long ago that we actually got into an argument with the Latin Kings
over a girl and lived to tell about it). Almost every gig we had ended in a
brawl, and very often we'd get back home to our practice space (Mo's basement)
only to find our instrument cases full of switchblades and brass knucks that
guys had stashed there when the cops came, all of which would have to be
matched up and returned to their owners the next Monday at school. For a while we
were officially adopted by the street gang TJO (from my neighborhood) -- for
some reason one of their guys named Chief took a liking to the band, and upon
discovering that were having difficulties with frat boys at gigs we were starting
to play at Northwestern and DePaul, volunteered his boys to be our roadie
Anyway, that was the beginning of a strange and twisted career path. A lot of
the bands that we played opposite or on the same circuit with (The U.N., Eden
Rock, Fifth Street, Giant City, The Flock, Pure Smack, Haymarket Riot,
Wilderness Road, Ask Rufus, H.P. Lovecraft, Aura, many many others) contained
players that continue to be friends and cohorts of mine. Unfortunately, both Jack
Froelich and his brother Jimmy, who was a Wacker Drive roadie, died young, and
even though the rest of the guys are alive and mostly in the area, the thought
of a band reunion without Jack is impossible. It's been 33 years since I had
to fight my way out of a gig with a mic stand, so as far as I'm concerned life
This week Steven Hashimoto will contemplate a misspent life at:
SUN. 8/31: a jobbing date, thanks to Carlo Isabelli.
TUES. 9/2: at THE LEOPARD LOUNGE, 1645 W. Cortland, 9pm-midnight (note the
new hours!), with The Steven Hashimoto Quartet (Dan Hesler, sax; Zvonimir Tot,
guitar; Heath Chappell, drums).
WEDS. 9/3: at TRITON COLLEGE, 10:30am-1:30pm, with Souled Out, the
ever-mutating R&B band; then later on at THE NAVY PIER BEER GARDEN, 5:30-9:30pm, with
The Fat Guys Blues Band (Pat Hall, piano, vocals and sunny disposition; Marcus
David, drums; a guitarist to be named later).
FRI. 9/5: a club gig with Tony Ocean, I know not where; then, later on, as
always, at THE GREEN MILL, 4802 N. Broadway, 1:30-3:45am, with The Green Mill
Quartet (Barely Winograd, bari sax; Bob Long, piano; Rick Shandling, drums) for
the After Hours Jam Session.
SAT. 9/6: a jobbing date, again thanks to Carlo Isabelli.
SUN. 9/7: at THE GREEN MILL, 4802 N. Broadway, 8-10pm, with poet Marc Smith
and The Pong Unit (Mike Smith, guitar; Dave Flippo, piano; Ted Sirota, drums)
for The Uptown Poetry Slam.
I need to fill Sat. Sep. 27 as well as many off-nights. Call me at