I recently asked a local punker what kind of remuneration does one of his kind expect after a local show. He answered. Then I asked again with a "no, seriously" look on my mug and realized that I just insulted him.
And still-being a card-carrying punk in this day and age is a tough gig to get. You rehearse over and over, carry your equipment to the venue through rain and snow, play yourself dizzy, drag your equipment back home at 2 in the morning, then spend 20 minutes figuring out how to divide $17 four ways.
Such is the scene of the working men and women who regularly take the stage at Jay's Upstairs. Though I dare not call myself a Jay's regular, I do slink in from time to time to check out some of my faves, and to look for some new ones.
I've seen my share of train wrecks, but I've never once seen anyone up on that shallow little stage who didn't give a shit about what they're doing. An incredible compilation disc entitled, with appropriate subtlety, Ram It Home, somehow captures all that. Bands and producer alike, got Jay's raw late-night sound within the antiseptic confines of some sort of studio.
It's impossible for any non-musician to understand just how much work goes into even the shortest set, and why all that work is sometimes worthwhile. So if you care one iota about this part of the Missoula music scene, get your hands on this disk.
Your best chance to get your own copy is to show up to the Ram It Home party on Saturday at the Buck's Club. Most of the bands featured on the disk will be there, so pay attention. But if you miss the gig, there's always Rockin' Rudy's, Ear Candy and other local shops.
Though I can't say I really have a favorite, I should point out some of the highlights. As a point of reference, I've always judged punk music the same as the blues. That is to say, pardon me, by its heart.
Humpy and the Sputniks are gold. There just is no substitute for speed, sometimes, and both are full throttle here. They're really the only true representatives of traditional hardcore on Ram. Humpy sounds just as rehearsed with a heavier sound and a good deal more emphasis on vocals. All of one minute and 12 seconds long, "You Make Me Sick" is downright catchy. Sorry, fellas. The Sputniks' "Syndicate" is a study in speed and ensemble cooperation. All three of the band's songs are tight, offering an affirmation of serious basement time.
The seemingly omnipresent Jay's fixture Fireballs of Freedom don't disappoint, either, which surprised me. For some reason they just seemed to sound like one of those live bands, whose sound could never be captured. Wrongo. "Shitting Rubber Nickels" is scorching.
The Helltones are kind of like the Reverend Horton Heat with his head on fire. They only had two songs, and I wish there was some more. Having never heard Prosciutto before I've got to name them as the best surprise. They've got a great funkiness and an affinity for that strange punk-swing thing. I can't wait to hear them live.
The Good Word, another band I've never heard live, has got just one song on the compilation, "Weather"-kind of a shame because they've got a cool trip-core sound and I'd like to hear more.
Cicada, Volumen, Sasshole, Spanker, Oblio Joes and Mike & Rick are also featured and turn in solid performances. I can find few negative things to say about Ram It Home, and for the stuff I didn't like. But it's just not my bag of beans.
Make up your own mind, pick up the disk and don't forget to go see the bands. The Independent sponsors 10 hours of rock at Buck's Club, featuring the artists on Ram it Home, Saturday, June 27, starting at 3 p.m.