Departures

Two demises -- one real, one metaphorical -- have made this a tough month in the music scene

Unless you've a habit of reading the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's obituaries, the news of George Montague Holton III's untimely passing may not have made it your way. Indeed, Bandwidth may not have found out if not for Hollywood musical prankster Steve "Mr. Entertainment" Toth, who sent in the notice about the Woggles guitarist, who died May 12 from complications involving prescription medicine and diabetes. He was only 31.

"Such a fun guy!" moped Mr. Entertainment. "My heart pumps tears today."

The Atlanta-based Woggles epitomized the crazed garage-rock revival that sneaked '60s-styled guitars, fuzzboxes, and screaming back into the '90s. Fun-filled albums like Teendanceparty, Get Tough!, Wailin' with the Woggles, and Fractured are still available from various indie outlets, but as Mr. E relates, it was the Woggles' live shows that he remembers most fondly.

"We played with them a few times," he says, "in Atlanta and down here. We played at Churchill's once together [in] 1996 [or] 1997, and after the show, we all went to [Wolfie's], and Montague stole the menu." The legendary Wolfie's in South Beach is gone for good too, but the hefty Holton wasn't laid to rest with the menu -- his parents had him buried in a Woggles T-shirt with his guitar strap at his side. "Funny guy," recalls Mr. E. "Liked his chicken and his black Jerry Jones [guitars]. Last time we saw them, 2002 in New Orleans at the Matador, he was keeping them guitars in coffin cases."


Starting about three years ago, this paper went to great column-inch lengths to declare Broward County's the Rocking Horse Winner the best straight-up rock band around. Two albums and several cross-country tours later, we're sad to report that the Horsies are hanging up the saddle. Just two months ago, the quartet hoofed it to Austin to appear under the SXSW indie-rock big top, but no one's heart was truly in it anymore. Some inside observers have speculated that a personality rift -- with drummer Matt Crum and guitarist Henry Olmino on one side and singer Jolie Lindholm and bassist Jeronimo Gomez on the other -- widened until repairs couldn't be made.

"Unfortunately, the rumors are correct," Olmino confirms. "We are no longer playing together. Matt can't get along with Jolie anymore, and to be honest, I can't either. She is difficult to travel with, and all of our problems came to a head on our last tour. It sucks, but such is life."

"I wish they would have continued without me," says Crum, who explains he left the band because "it wasn't my thing, and it hadn't been for a while. Things were starting to happen that would've been good for what they were going for. But I just wanted no part of it."

"It was for the best," Lindholm reports. "I've actually had a lot more opportunities since it happened. I sang a radio commercial for Burdines a few weeks ago -- still waiting to hear if it's going to get airplay."

Toward the home stretch, the band didn't seem to be having fun on-stage. This was obvious during a shaky performance at the Factory last August opening for Hey Mercedes and apparently persisted all the way to the SXSW show, by which time the unraveling had become even more noticeable. "Their performance in Austin was very lackluster, given the fact that this is a band that's on tour a lot," reported a local music fanatic who makes a yearly trek to SXSW. "They sounded good, but it was really unenthusiastic. It wasn't very convincing. I'm sure there were a couple major-label people in the audience, and if I was one of them, with deal-making power, I wouldn't have signed them after that performance."

The Rocking Horse Winner remains signed to Equal Vision Records, the label that released its sophomore album, Horizon, last year. Bearing a sticker reading "Featuring Jolie Lindholm, guest vocalist from Dashboard Confessional," Horizon didn't move many more copies than its locally released predecessor, State of Feeling Concentration.

"They've been together a long time and touring relentlessly, trying to break this record in very low-key conditions," says the band's manager, Rich Ulloa, "and I guess they just reached a point where they weren't happy with the progress, and frustration set in. Maybe they just need to take some time off and reflect. Who knows? They might start talking again after the fall and start writing again. You never know."


There must be more to report on in the music world, but we're still recovering from a particularly virulent case of American Idol fever. Bed rest and plenty of liquids should clear it up by next week.

 
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