It would have been a journey certain to test the mettle of the hardest road veterans. But for the young foals who make up the Rocking Horse Winner, the schedule appeared beyond grueling. Immediately following a rousing show at Respectable Street May 25 (with some of the band members' parents watching appreciatively), the group departed on a 15-city, 15-day kamikaze mission up the East Coast. The band was to have limped home to Respectable Street Sunday, June 10, to play its 17th consecutive gig, but fate intervened. A note posted to the door of Respectable Street noted that the show -- which was to have featured Moods for Moderns, Lovelight Shine, Six Going on Seven, and the beloved Horsies -- had been canceled, with Lovelight Shine waylaid in Gainesville and Rocking Horse singer Jolie Lindholm too sick to perform.
But I'd also surmise that the three out-of-town bands saw driving all the way to West Palm Beach to perform on a Sunday night a losing financial proposition. (Wonder why?) As such, Bandwidth had to leech onto the only remaining nightlife on Clematis Street, which unfortunately was a band called the Belligerents across the street at Ray's Downtown Blues. That band's ineptitude made me miss the Rocking Horse Winner that much more.
How did the kids not come to this? After that May 25 show, our heroes trekked to (deep breath): Fort Walton Beach; Tallahassee; Atlanta; Raleigh; Baltimore; Philadelphia; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Farmingdale, New York; Syracuse; Long Island; Harrisburg, New Jersey; Richmond, Virginia; Norfolk; and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as part of "An Evening with the Rocking Horse Winner -- Spring Tour 2001."
A show in Vermont was scrapped, explains bassist Jeronimo Gomez, after band members looked at a map and realized they would have had to drive literally all night to make it there in time. And Brownie's, a snooty venue in New York City, told the Horsies they were too young and unknown to play there, forcing the band to find a different venue on nearby Long Island. Then toward the end of the tour, Lindholm came down with a nasty cold. "Some of those shows she sang pretty crappy," Gomez remembers. "In Myrtle Beach her voice gave out just three songs in. But we played the whole show. She pulled through it, but it just didn't sound the same."
Though Jolie's younger sister, Kristen, did some backup vocals on the band's State of Feeling Concentration album and has occasionally jumped on-stage to fill that role, she's now officially a member of the band. Sort of. In a way. "I guess she is," Gomez says with hesitation. "She's another person in the band, and she's got two hands. We'll have to find something else for her to do." And Jolie has moved the vibraphone from the side shadows to center stage, adding plinking notes to their signature song, "Sweet Smell Before the Rain."
But the tour wasn't all about sickness and malaise. "North Carolina was pretty nutty," J-Ro says. "We played somewhere that had never hosted a show before. About 300 kids ended up coming, and we sold $500 in merchandise. It was ridiculous. We probably made about $4000 in those two weeks." But, he adds, with six people (the band's roadie included) traveling in a van, food and fuel took away a big chunk of that.
The Rocking Horse Winner has been resisting offers from all sorts of independent labels while waiting for the right nibble to come along. "We just got an e-mail from the A&R director at Elektra, saying they wanted some information on us," Gomez happily reports. The band has been negotiating with Equal Vision Records out of New York City, but the label's demands have made the Rocking kids reluctant to hitch their wagon: Equal Vision wants a four-year, three-album contract. "That would tie us down for a long time," Gomez says. "Also, they work with bands of 18- and 19-year-old kids. I don't know -- I think our music is on a different level than the little punk-rock bands they're doing. Plus I don't want to be locked into a contract for four years and then get an e-mail like I did today from Elektra."
Feeling Concentration's producer, James Wisner, also lent his ears to last year's South Atlantic Hymns from West Palm Beach's outstanding Legends of Rodeo. One of those songs, the charmingly titled "Jesus Drank Wine and So Will I," is set for inclusion on an upcoming compilation of regional bands, to be released via TheHoneyComb.com.
Like their equestrian counterparts discussed above, Legends of Rodeo are embarking this month on a substantial tour -- of the Southeast in this case -- including Atlanta, Birmingham, and Virginia Beach. Last chance to catch the quintet in action before its departure is when it opens for Sally Anthony in the Harriet Himmel Gilman Theater at CityPlace in West Palm Beach June 29.
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