Presented here for the first time is a chronology of the 90′s teenage avant garde in north Baltimore County, Maryland (please p.m. the address in the ‘about’ section to report mistakes or request any corrections concerning any part of this information)
The Preschoolers: (l-r) Dave Willemain, Chris Teret, Jon Woodstock, Bob Phair, Lee Versoza, Eddie Macintosh, Stephanie Rabins, and Luke Mysko – late 1994 or early ’95 – photo by ?? (courtesy of Sarah Kershaw)
Collage was the preferred medium of graphic designers in Towson-Glen Arm. Along with many of the great show fliers and other printed material created by graphic artists Jeff Duncan and Lou Thomas, the finest visual representations of TGA’s place at the junction of revolutionary fervor and proud silliness are found in the collage work of the one and only T.G.A.U.C. Newsletter from late 1994. This publication was collectively designed and written by the members of The T.G.A.U.C. aka The Towson-Glen Arm Unity Coalition. (courtesy of Spence Holman)
1992 – summer
Towson, Md.’s The Nudists begin recording their eclectic songs and improvisational compostions live straight to boom box in Lou Thomas’ mom’s basement in the Rodger’s Forge neighborhood. Formed in spring 1992, The Nudists are a loose knit and wildly versatile project with a revolving cast of very young multi-media artists. The line up of this group includes Alicia Rabins, Chris Teret, Dave Willemain, Spence Holman, Bob Phair, Will Maris, Thomas, and others. Their songs include ’Judge Wapner, Big Man On Campus’, ‘Yar’s Revenge’ (based on the Atari game’s theme music), Dave Willemain’s early version of future Preschoolers’ hit ‘Scott Chester’, and a song called ‘Heavy Metal Penis’ which Willemain wrote as a dig at the hair metal phenomeneon. The Nudists’ recordings present the first extensive documentation of the Towson-Glen Arm aesthetic – a mix of musical spontaneity, leftist concerns, pop iconography, and absurd performance art, though at this point these suburban artists have yet to meet any of their rural Glen Arm counterparts.
- Alicia Rabins – photo from the 1993 Towson High School yearbook. Known in the early 90′s for her innovative work in The Nudists and her patronage at many local music concerts and other Towson-Glen Arm events, the 17 year old Rabins’ writing was then already causing a buzz in nationally known literary circles.
1992 – autumn
On Halloween night 1992 Spastic Cracker is formed by Glen Arm, Md.-area visual artist/poet Tricia Lane and Timonium, Md. poet/musician Lisa Starace who both met while attending Dulaney High School. Soon after a few initial practices that feature only Starace & Lane, they begin writing and practicing songs with a line up initially rounded out by Dulaney student/guitarist Cory Davolos and Towson State University student Laura Cerulli on drums. Davolos is quickly replaced by Dulaney student/Glen Arm guitarist Dave Raymond. Their music features poetic song lyrics by Lane & Starace and they play a form of avant garde pop drenched in ethereal psychedelic textures and influenced by lo-fi ‘riot grrl’ music.
Tricia Lane – 1992 Dulaney High School yearbook picture (courtesy of Dennis and Ann Lane)
Political activist/d.i.y. show promoter/poet Matt Bray hosts the first of many concerts at his parents’ house in Lutherville-Timonium, Md. A theatrical garage punk band called Chickenhead headlines at this first Matt Bray house show; Odenton, Md. crust punk band Coexist opens up. On tour from Florida, Chickenhead feature legendary zine writer/underground adventurer Iggy Scam. At this time Spastic Cracker and The Nudists are the only existent Towson-Glen Arm bands, but for some long forgotten reason neither of these bands can play at this gig. Nonetheless, most of the members of those two bands and many people who will go on to become major figures in the Towson-Glen Arm scene make up more than half of the audience at this concert. Prior to this show most of these people had never met or hung out with one another, thus making it the first official Towson-Glen Arm event.
Matt Bray demonstrating in solidarity with teachers against Md. state education budget cuts at Dulaney High School (photo from 1992 DHS Yearbook)
Mike Apichella purchases a cheap Grand Prix guitar and a distortion pedal. After borrowing a small practice amp from his friend and former bandmate Megan Carberry*, Apichella then begins to write politically charged lyrics and garage art-rock songs for a project that will eventually be dubbed Within. It will be another year before Within actually practices as a band with a full line up.(*Carberry worked as bassist for the pre-Towson Glen Arm era hardcore band Rapeseed which had Apichella on vocals and Matt Bray on drums)
1992 – December
Avant garde jug band The Retarded Dogs forms and begins writing, recording, & rehearsing songs/music, comedy bits, and performance art pieces. The group is the first of many to be led by the teenaged trio of Mike Apichella, Jon Woodstock, and Cory Davolos all of whom had met a few months previously through sharing classes and friends at Dulaney High School. Additional members of The Retarded Dogs at this time include Devon Till, Dave Richardson, Paul Petersan, Scott Makowske, Megan Carberry, Melissa Fatto, and others.
1992 or early ’93 – unknown dates
A live practice recording of The Nudists is made and distributed for free in a very limited edition on cassette by the band themselves. With the title ‘Live @ Lou’s', this marks the first ever release of music to come out of the Towson-Glen Arm scene.
Spence Holman and Lou Thomas of The Nudists; spring 1994 at the Edible Art Show at Towson High School; the piece these two contributed to the show involved a performance in which they had patrons of the event rub paint all over them while they were both wrapped in a sheet like a human burrito; this is why Lou (at right) looks as if he has blood on his face; photo by ?? (courtesy of Spence Holman)
Jon Woodstock writes the poem ‘Daddy Brought The Devil’, which, in an extended version, becomes the lyrics to the song ‘Daddy’* by his musical alter ego Hubcap. Also around this time, Hubcap/Woodstock home records ‘Girls Smell Good’ – an accoustic guitar driven instrumental composition featuring unknown drummers – and ‘Bomb’, his first solo accoustic guitar recording with vocals. (*in summer 1994 ‘Daddy’ goes on to be recorded and compiled by Woodstock on his self released various artists compilation ‘Bomb Droppings’)
Cory Davolos, Jon Woodstock, Mike Apichella 1994, photo by Tricia Lane
Eli Jones and Bill Morgan form noisy experimental rock band The Dry Heaves in Cockeysville, Md. This group (also known as Worm) home records several extremely lo-fi albums without ever playing a concert.
1993 – spring
The poems ‘Daddy Brought The Devil’ and ‘Now They Boil’ by Jon Woodstock,
‘Importation’ by Tricia Lane, and ‘White Advent’ by Matt Bray are published in the 1993 edition of Dulaney High School’s literary magazine Sequel (which is subtitled “Pentimento”). Several of Tricia Lane’s lino-cut prints also appear in this publication.
(l-r) Dave Raymond and Tricia Lane performing live with Spastic Cracker at Matt Bray’s house – summer 1994 (photo by Lee Versoza)
The first concert ever to feature a bill with several Towson-Glen Arm bands occurs on saturday May 1st 1993. All the bands performing that afternoon make their debut at Mike Apichella’s mom’s house. Those bands include Spastic Cracker, The Retarded Dogs, and Gaspillar (a heavy Melvins-type band which features future Young Death member Jim Sajor). Members of the influential bands Born Against and Universal Order Of Armageddon are among the attendees at this show.
the first flyer for the first underground music show in Glen Arm drawn and designed by Mike Apichella and Tricia Lane. Two other rarer flyers variations exist advertising this show, including one which features more prominent design work from Tricia Lane.
Spastic Cracker begins to gig regularly throughout the greater Baltimore area from this point on until late 1994.
1993 – summer
The Nudists only show at a party at Lou Thomas’ mom’s house occurs, a show that also features sets from the local grunge band Fork, heavy blues rock power trio The Waldorfs (a group led by future Preschoolers member Diego Ramos), and eccentric Towson High rockers The Three Scrambled Eggs.
Dave Willemain performing live with The Preschoolers at The Black Cat, Washington, DC – mid/late 1995 (photo by ??, courtesy of Lee Versoza)
Excluding themselves, Apichella, Woodstock, & Davolos choose to change their band’s personell everytime they play a show as a concept art tribute to confusion. For the same reason, they also choose to change their band’s name after each gig they play. Consequently, The Retarded Dogs self consciously morph into Young Death who feature the additional personell Jim Sajor and The Nudists’ Lou Thomas, who Mike Apichella had marched with at the massive spring ’93 gay rights demonstration done in D.C. to protest Presdent Clinton’s ill fated ‘Dont Ask, Dont Tell’ policy. Young Death’s rehearsals last through the early autumn.
A “typical” Young Death band practice immortalized in the pages of the 1994 Dulaney High School yearbook. If you look closely at the “drummer” pictured here it’s clear that Jon Woodstock didn’t make it to this practice….(photo by Matt Mobilio)
1993 – autumn
Spastic Cracker self release their first record, a full length cassette entitled ‘Valve’. This release features mostly musical tracks along with a few spoken word recordings by Tricia Lane and Lisa Starace. Lane also creates unique cover artwork for the album packaged in home made tape cases fashioned out of left over remnants of colorful 1960′s wall paper.
Political avant-garage band Within begin rehearsing their primarily Mike Apichella-penned material. At this time the group consists of Lisa Starace and writer/activist Claire Mysko, in addition to the group’s founding member and leader Apichella.
- A 1994 flyer for one of the earliest Within shows and the 2nd show ever to occur at Matt Bray’s house; art by Matt Bray (courtesy of Lisa Starace)
In response to a brutally thwarted streaking stunt at a Towson High School sporting event, Nudists members Spence Holman, Chris Teret, Dave Willemain and Lou Thomas jointly and anonymously publish The Daily School Bus – a zine dedicated to voicing opposition to the totalitarian discipline policies of their school’s administration. Three issues of the The Daily School Bus are published in small editions with the first being printed under the title ‘The Daily School Buss’. As well as containing anti-administration propaganda and other socio-politcal opinion pieces, The Daily School Bus(s) is notable for being the first publication to feature the surreal poetry, primal illustrations, and collage art of Willemain, Holman, Teret, and Thomas.
Young Death plays it’s debut/swan song concert gracing the “stage” of Mike Apichella’s mom’s house on October 29th 1993 opening for legendary crustcore band Aus Rotten. Their set, like the Retarded Dogs’ from a few months earlier, is a Frankenstein-ed piece of 1920′s-style jug band music, comedy, performance art, garage rock, and experimental music.
Page 3 of The T.G.A.U.C. Newsletter, circa late 1994 (courtesy of Spence Holman)
At the same October 29th Apichella house show where Young Death debuts, Within also makes its first concert appearance. Within will continue to gig regularly from this point until their spring 1995 split.
Out of the ashes of the recently defunct Nudists, The Preschoolers form. Featuring Dave Willemain, Bob Phair, Chris Teret, Eddie Macintosh, Lee Versoza, and Joe Mysko, they begin rehearsing around Oct or Nov of 1993 creating jazz influenced/60′s style Jamaican ska music with a progressive political message. They present their work in an absurdist performance art stage show often inspired by the boundless imagination of Willemain. In their 2+ year existence the group becomes the most popular band ever to come from the TGA scene. They also go through several line up changes in that time with Joe Mysko being the first member to exit late in 1994. Mysko is then followed by Chris Teret in mid 1995. Other musicans to make their way through the Preschoolers’ ranks include the drummers Scott Gilmore and Jon Woodstock, violinist Stephanie Rabins, hype-man/dancer Sam Frazier, clarinetist Fred Wells(formerly of popular local bands The Piltdown Men and Squash), guitarist Diego Ramos (an exchange student and musician from The Canary Islands region of Spain who frequently collaborated with many of the TGA artists), back-up vocalists/dancers Mike Apichella and Melissa Fatto, and baritone horn player Luke Mysko who would go on to become the group’s primary drummer from mid 1995 until their break up in early ’96.
A very early line up of The Preschoolers circa 1993; (l-r) first row: Joe Mysko and Sam Frazier; second row: Eddie Macintosh, Lee Versoza, and Dave Willemain; third row: Diego Ramos and Bob Phair (photo by ??; courtesy of Lee Versoza)
Eli Jones’ sludged out grunge-metal band Shovel forms in Glen Arm. They begin to practice and record Jones’ loud riff driven songs and play shows throughout Baltimore County, debuting at the legendary T.G.A.U.C.* sponsored show at Scott Gilmore’s parents’ house on Labor Day ’94. This group also includes Dan McClusky and Don Mueller(an ex member of Glen Arm garage punk band Subversion); Abbey Moore joins this group in its final days. Shovel is the first band to significantly polarize opinion within the TGA scene: their music is either seen as an energetic reinvention of heavy rock tropes past or a clearly unapologetic statement of machismo. Jones and co. go on to release two home recorded tape e.p.’s – the very lo fi boom box document ‘Shovelive’ and a self titled follow up release recorded on 4 track, both of which are produced by Eli Jones. Despite their controversial presence, Shovel go on to become one of the most popular d.i.y. underground bands in Baltimore County and remain so through the entirety of their existence from this point until their mid/late 1995 break-up. (*see summer 1994 entry for more info on The T.G.A.U.C.)
(l-r) Abbey Moore and Eli Jones of Shovel practicing (or playing a show) at Don Mueller’s house in Glen Arm. Abbey Moore joined the group in 1995 towards the end of their reign as north Baltimore County’s sludge metal masters. At that time Moore began to usurp the lead role in the group from Jones whose priorities started to lean towards more non-metal projects. This set the stage for Shovel to eventually become Abbey Moore’s hard blues power trio Wake who recorded several tapes in ’95 and ’96.(photo by ??, courtesy of Jimmy Jones)
1993 – November or December
The Apichella/Woodstock/Davolos project changes its name & line up yet again, this time to Eve Pagoda. They add only one additional member to their newest incarnation: Preschoolers’ trombonist/multi-media artist Dave Willemain, who is asked to join after being reccomended to the group by Lou Thomas. Unlike previous incarnations of this group, Eve Pagoda’s repertoire is exclusively made up of semi-improvised compositions which focus on unconventional melody and extremely distorted sonic textures.
Dave Willemain – 1993 Towson High School yearbook picture
1993 – December
On December 4th 1993 Within plays at the legendary NYC venue ABC-NO-RIO on Manhattan’s lower east side opening for Half Man. In doing this, Within becomes the first Towson-Glen Arm band to play a gig outside of Maryland.
1993 or early 1994 – dates unknown
One of two cover design variations created by Eli Jones for the 1995 reissue of his project Lesbian Chicken Maggot Blasters’ 1994 debut; one other version exists which is identical in every way to this, except for the fact that the silver star in the middle of the chicken leg appears in black & white. The cover of the original 1994 issue of this record features only a track list and the LCMB logo and no other graphics. (courtesy of Jimmy Jones)
Cockeysville, Md. native/master musician Eli Jones begins writing, rehearsing, recording, and producing the material for his Lesbian Chicken Maggot Blasters solo project. Far ahead of it’s time, LCMB’s songs are almost purely driven by unconventional melodies and sound effects processing. Jones forms a live band in order to perform LCMB’s music at an unsanctioned show at the Rossbrooke Apartment complex’s poolhouse in Cockeysville, Md. Along with an unknown Dulaney High student for a singer, Jones selects a random kid (name also unknown) from the audience there to improvise all of the drum parts for their set. The attendees at this concert are rowdy inebriated teens who, much to Jones’ chagrin, mostly ignore LCMB’s set. A riot quickly breaks out during the concert with police breaking up the event only minutes after Jones and co. finish their set and unload their equipment. Soon after this chaotic gig, Jones chooses to never perform a live LCMB show ever again. He also decides to complete the Lesbian Chicken Maggot Blasters first self titled full length and all of its three follow ups by playing all of the instruments on these records himself. Eli Jones goes on to make many other solo recordings under several different names (Airway, Eli Jones: Lax Legend, The Thing, etc.) in numerous music styles over the course of the next 8 years. Some of these are officially released to the public, while others are rarely heard outside the confines of Jones’ Cockeysville home. (to hear some of the music by LCMB and other Eli Jones projects please check out the tribute blog http://elilives.tumblr.com/)
Eli Jones with his beloved Ford Escort circa 1996, photo by Jason Forster
Big Huge Fucking Machine – the fourth evolution of the Apichella/Woodstock/Davolos project – forms. They differ from previous versions of this group in three major ways: first, they do not feature any additional members outside of Mike Apichella, Jon Woodstock, and Cory Davolos. Secondly, their existence is concurrent to that of Eve Pagoda’s. Finally, BHFM’s material is entirely improvised. Though they never play a show, BHFM do record and in the process make some of the first documented examples of the Towson-Glen Arm scene’s purely improvisational music. Big Huge Fucking Machine exists from this point on to the end of summer ’94.
1994 – winter
Out is formed by Spastic Cracker members Tricia Lane & Lisa Starace, along with Colin Busch (of U.O.A.) and University Of Dayton student/Glen Arm ex-pat Kathryn Mullen. The group’s work consists of completely improvised instrumental music and noise created by Starace, Busch, and Mullen, while Lane recites her dream-like poetry over top of it all. The busy schedules of Spastic Cracker and U.O.A. cause Out to become a short lived side project. They play one show on March 19th 1994 at The Loft in Baltimore with Spastic Cracker, Sick, and Tequila Mockingbird (a teenage pre-Oxes band who frequently booked indie rock shows at The Loft throughout the early/mid 90′s). Though they last only through winter ’94, Out’s existence is immortalized when a primitive logo design is created by the group. This logo is stenciled onto four matching white t-shirts that they all wear at their lone show.
Kathryn Mullen of Out modeling one of her band’s stencilled t-shirts in what looks like a parking garage(?). It’s worth noting that very few TGA acts or bands ever made t-shirts to advertise themselves. This was probably a choice made as both an anti-capitalist statement and as a reaction against punk fashion and other mainstream rock cliches. (photo by Lisa Starace, winter 1994)
Tricia Lane publishes her first zine. Entitled “Engage”, this publication is a brief collection of earthy yet mystic poetry and visual art/graphic design work by Lane. Jamie Parrish and Tim Kabara also contribute writing to this zine. “Engage” is also notable for its inclusion of Lisa Starace’s poem ‘We Are Not Ourselves’, the future lyrics of a Within 7″ track. From this point up until 1997, Lane and Lisa Starace will go on to self-publish their work in a few other unique zines (‘Cora’, ‘Palindrome’, ‘Party With Me Punker’, etc.) and in anthologies printed by their college alma mater Towson State (the 1996 and ’97 editions of the Grub Street literary magazine and the TSU Feminist Collective’s Ladysmith journal).
Eve Pagoda plays their one and only concert at what is so far the lowest attended show at Mike Apichella’s mom’s house. The poor turnout is blamed on the fact that the show had been scheduled originally on a weekend but had to be moved to a weeknight at the last minute in order to accomodate an important weekend show that Dave Willemain suddenly had to commit to with The Preschoolers who at this time begin to quickly ascend to impressive heights of local popularity.
1994 – spring
On April 6th 1994 Spastic Cracker opens for Lungfish at Towson State University’s Susquehannah Hall.
Lard Star – the 5th incarnation of the Apichella/Woodstock/Davolos project – forms and begins rehearsing/improvising a style of wacky garage hardcore music with mostly ironic lyrics. Unlike most previous line-ups of this group, Lard Star includes no extra members, though their instrumentation is slightly different than that of Big Huge Fucking Machine. Their shows occur throughout mostly Baltimore County until the end of summer ’94.
A flyer by Lee Versoza advertising a very early Towson-Glen Arm show at Scott Gilmore’s parents’ house in Hunt Valley, Md. This was probably the first show to feature nearly all of the active TGA bands on one bill. Overflowing here are the elements of political satire, ironic humor, absurdism, and pop culture obsession often used by TGA’s graphic designers and zine writers. (note: the band “Lynn Kitty” is actually Lard Star who originally went by the name Moth Magic, then became Lynn Kitty, and finally settled on the Lard Star name shortly before playing this gig.)
On April 30th 1994 Within opens for Unwound, Universal Order Of Armageddon, and Blank at the short lived venue Cesare’s House.
Within live at Cesare’s House (aka Czar’s House), Tonie Joy of Born Against/UOA watches seated in the background – April 30th 1994, photo by Melissa Fatto (a cropped b&w copy of this pic was used as part of the lyric sheet layout for Within’s 7″ e.p.)
Joke punk/performance art band The F.G.’s(which alternately stands for ‘Fucking Genitals’, ‘Fornicating Gophers’, or ’The Four Guys’) form and quickly begin practicing, writing music, and playing shows. Their line up includes Doug Hammond, Lou Thomas, Spence Holman, and Chris Teret. The F.G.’s song lyrics use the phrase ‘fuck you’ randomly in and out of recognizable context ad nauseum, a concept mean’t to satirize the aimless nature of contemporary American punk music and culture which at the time had just become synonomous with conformity, populism, and nostalgia thanks to the commercial success of punk influenced pop groups like Nirvana and Green Day.
Lou Thomas – February 21st 1995 at the senior year art show of Spence Holman and Tyler Roylance at Towson High (photo by Spence Holman)
English teacher William Jones organizes and curates the first Towson High School Coffeehouse event which is held on May 22nd 1994. Among the school aged performers featured that night are TGA artists Alicia Rabins, Diego Ramos, Claire Mysko, and Dave Willemain who gives a dramatic/comedic reading of his stories ‘Dunk-A-Balls’ and ‘The Routine’ accompanied by the instrumental improv music of Scott Gilmore and Spence Holman. The performances at this event (mostly poetry readings) are video taped in their entirety by Megan Carberry.
Towson High School English Dept. head William Jones, 1993; as a prize winning poet and a teacher of English and creative writing at both Towson High School and Dulaney High, Jones was a massive influence to many teen writers from the north County underground. (photo by Ben S. Minen, originally published in the Colophon literary magazine)
The Towson High School Coffeehouse event was created for the specific purpose of promoting the then recently published edition of the Towson High School literary magazine ‘Colophon’. This issue of the yearly publication is subtitled “Gesture” and features writing by many T.G.A. artists including Dave Willemain’s poem ‘Black Panther(Save Our Cities Rally, Washington, DC, 1991) ‘, Claire Mysko’s poem ‘Food Dreams’, and Chris Teret’s prose piece ‘America’s Apocalypse’.
Claire Mysko self publishes her very limited edition zine ‘Wonder Woman’. This zine presents Mysko’s wholly unique perspective on life as a teenage feminist, an activist, an accomplished student, and a Towson-Glen Arm artist. Along with her own contributions of confessional true stories, essays, and poetry, this zine features book reviews, a recipe, photos and layout assistance by TGA artists Melissa Fatto and Matt Bray, poetry by Tricia Lane and Julia Kim, and the hallucinogenic short story “King Herbert And The Brunch Boys” by Dave Willemain. The debut issue of ‘Wonder Woman’ also features Mysko’s account of the aggressively foiled attempts to promote and book shows for her band Within who at this time, despite the group’s concerted efforts to broaden their audience, recieve little support outside the TGA arts community.
(photo by Clint Nichols)
Spastic Cracker’s first 7″ is released, a split with Baltimore city band Big Heifer issued by Hat Factory Records. The record features the S.C. song “Milwaukee”.
Matt Bray begins hosting shows at his parents house on a regular basis from this point up until shortly before Labor Day 1994. Most of the currently existent Towson-Glen Arm bands perform at Bray’s events in addition to many then well known nationally touring emo and politcal hardcore bands.
Spastic Cracker live at The Loft in west Baltimore – (l-r, Dave Raymond, Tricia Lane, Laura Cerulli, Lisa Starace) winter 1994, photo by Brian Storms
1994 – summer
Dave Willemain forms T.E.A.M.(Together Everyone Achieves More) with The Preschoolers’ Luke Mysko and his former Eve Pagoda bandmates Apichella, Woodstock, and Davolos. T.E.A.M.’s work is of a mostly free form nature and very similar to that of Eve Pagoda, though, unlike E.P., T.E.A.M.’s sound is primarily driven by space-age synth sounds and funky rhthyms. Outrageous lyrics and song titles exclusively created by Willemain also define T.E.A.M.’s sound and live show. T.E.A.M. only performs two concerts in summer ’94: one at Cory Davolos’ parents’ house(under the anagram Meat sans Jon Woodstock) and the other at Matt Bray’s where they headline over legendary grindcore/death metal band Conniption (who featured future members of the even more legendary queercore band Limp Wrist)
In July of 1994 the ‘Bomb’ various artists tape is released by Jon Woodstock. Along with sound collages created by Woodstock, ‘Bomb’ features various music recordings from Towson-Glen Arm artists made between 1993 and 1994, with a few of its tracks possibly originating from as early as 1992. Most notably, ‘Bomb’ includes many of the earliest and first recordings of Hubcap, Big Huge Fucking Machine, and the only known recordings of a jam session featuring the trio of Hubcap, Lou Thomas, and Dave Bergunder (later of Celebration/Love Life).
(l-r) Tricia Lane, Colin Busch, and Lisa Starace performing live with Spastic Cracker at Matt Bray’s house – summer 1994. These three plus Lee Versoza would go on to form improv group Jet Ball Taiwan; here Busch is filling in for original SC drummer Laura Cerulli. (photo by Lee Versoza)
Improv music quartet Jet Ball Taiwan forms. The group consists of Tricia Lane of Spastic Cracker and Lisa Starace from Spastic Cracker/Within, Lee Versoza of The Preschoolers, and Colin Busch of U.O.A. They rehearse a few times and only play two shows (one at D.C. house venue Mountain Lodge opening for Heavens To Betsy, and the other at Baldwin Hall in Crofton, Md.) before breaking up due to scheduling interferences caused by the intense workload of the other bands that feature Starace and Versoza.
The Preschoolers release their first record to local acclaim – a frenzied 10 song tape entitled “Kumite: Banned In 36 Countries”. This is a home recording produced by Bob Phair on four track and released in an edition of 100 copies by Death Ska Records.
The tape cover of ‘Kumite: Banned In 36 Countries’ by The Preschoolers – one of the most important releases to emerge from Towson-Glen Arm (art by Lee Versoza; layout by Lee Versoza and The Preschoolers)
Lisa Starace forms instrumental rock group Ashcan with Claire Mysko and Christian Sturgis (of Annapolis band U.O.A.). They play a handful of shows toward the end of the summer of ’94 before Mysko departs from Maryland in order to attend college at The New School in NYC, breaking up Ashcan and quitting Within in the process.
Lou Thomas briefly replaces Claire Mysko in Within. One show (on Labor Day 1994 at Scott Gilmore’s parents’ house) and a handful Within recordings feature Thomas who quits the group after a month in order to work more with his pre-existing projects and several new ones, most notably Husky Youth…..
flyer by Cory Davolos for a July 3rd 1994 show at his parents’ house
Lou Thomas, Chris Teret, Scott Gilmore, and Doug Hammond form Husky Youth. A self described “riot boyyy” band, Huskey Youth place the 1990′s pop iconography of grunge rock riffs into the context of leftist political protest music. Frequent rehearsals at this time shape their era-representative sound and wild revolutionary rhetoric into an easily accessible music style that briefly puts them second only to The Preschoolers in terms of popularity and commercial success in the Towson all ages scene. Their well attended concerts occur regularly through the end of 1994 and early 1995. H.Y. splits up in early ’95 due to both creative differences and the departure of Doug Hammond and Lou Thomas who then both join the hardcore band Manisexdestiny as full time members.
Doug Hammond at Towson High – early or mid 90′s, photo by ??(courtesy of Spence Holman)
Shortly after Matt Bray’s house shows cease, Scott Gilmore hosts a Labor Day concert at his parents’ house in Hunt Valley, Md. Here Lou Thomas commands the mic to jokingly announce the formation of the Towson-Glen Arm Unity Coalition, marking the first time the term ‘Towson-Glen Arm’ is ever used publicly in any context. In Thomas’ comedic hammy stump speech he describes the T.G.A.U.C.’s purpose as being that of “ending the war between these two great towns!” (in reality, there was never any rivalry between either town in the T.G.A.U.C.’s namesake) Despite it’s blatant absurdity, Thomas’ proclamation sparks a debate among the T-GA artists/patrons regarding the nature of the new organization with some believing it to be a group of left wing revolutionaries, others thinking of it as an organization made to benefit only the music scene’s activity, and still others believing it all to be another one of the scene’s ongoing concept art in-jokes. The T.G.A.U.C. eventually proves to be a combination of all of these things. One low key autumn ’94 meeting in the parking lot of Towson High, one newsletter, the great logo that Spence Holman designs for the organization, and Lou’s speech represent the entirety of The T.G.A.U.C.’s formal output.
Page 4 of The T.G.A.U.C. Newsletter (courtesy of Spence Holman)
Mike Apichella and Cory Davolos break up Lard Star citing creative differences with Woodstock as the main reason for the split. Consequently, Woodstock chooses to relocate to the west coast, but before he leaves he self releases the ‘Bomb Droppings’ tape - the second and final volume of his ‘Bomb’ compilation series. The content of this second volume is very similar to the original ‘Bomb’ though it lacks the sound collage pieces featured in that earlier set. Though a few recordings from 1993 make it onto this tape, ‘Bomb Droppings’ is significant for being one of the ultimate documents of the almost non-stop TGA activity that defined the summer of 1994.
(left-right) Eli Jones, unknown, Cheryl “Jill” Jordan, and Dylan Yukna clownin around circa 1995. Photo by Josh Loucks
1994 – autumn
Within’s self-titled debut 7″ e.p. becomes the only known release on Matt Bray’s record label Sunshine, a label based in NYC due to Bray’s recently attained status as a student at NYU. The record features four songs (‘We Are Not Ourselves’, ‘Permanent Closet’, ‘Cute Band Alert’, and ‘Disease’) and a black & white sleeve with lyrics and ultra minimalist artwork. The chaotic lo fi record’s passionate experimentalism is greeted with little attention and some dissaproval including a negative review in the Maximum Rock’N'Roll zine. Outside of the TGA scene, other Within releases will generate generally the same kind of reaction.
The Within tracks ‘Christian Science Death’ and ‘Etiquette’ appear on the Baltimore Food Not Bombs chapter’s benefit compilation tape “Because Good Intentions Arent Good Enough” compiled and released by future Apolitical member Angel Gonzales.
Mike Apichella – 1992 Dulaney High School yearbook picture
Cory Davolos, Mike Apichella, Chris Teret, and Scott Gilmore form The 6 O’Clock Alarm to play what they term “60′s pop”. In reality their sound is more like a lo fi kind of power pop ala The Nerves/Television Personalities. The group writes only a handful of songs and practices rarely, mostly due to Gilmore & Teret’s busy schedule with their other more popular band Husky Youth, and Teret’s work with The Preschoolers. As a result, before breaking up in early 1996 ,The 6 O’Clock Alarm goes on to play only a few sporadic concerts over the course of 1995 and ’96, despite also becoming one of the more celebrated bands on the TGA circuit.
Mike Apichella and Lisa Starace form the short lived duo line-up of Within. They record a few songs, but do not play any shows. At this time they also search for a new third member.
Lisa Starace circa 1996, photo by Jason Forster
Mike Apichella and Cory Davolos create a conceptual art piece/public advertisement called “The Punk Rock Sign” which is informed and inspired by many of the same kinds of artistic/comedic choices made by The F.G.’s (see the ’1994 – spring’ entry here for more on The F.G.’s) This piece consists of a small square wooden board on which the term “punk rock” is written along with Mike Apichella’s phone number. They then nail this sign onto a tree where two similarly modest signs already hang advertising ‘firewood’ and ‘snow blowing’. The tree where all three signs hang is located along the side of Pleasantville Road, a main thoroughfare traversing part of Maryland’s Gunpowder State Park area located near the border of Baltimore County and Harford County. About six months pass before all three signs are removed from the tree there, most likely the work of Park rangers or D.N.R. police. Presumably, no one calls Apichella in regards to the service offered by “The Punk Rock Sign”.
Jon Woodstock home records the ‘Hey Mike’ tape of intense accoustic folk rock shortly after the artist mysteriously returns from the west coast. Woodstock leaves a copy of the tape inside of a screen door at Mike Apichella’s mom’s house while the Apichellas aren’t home. Though the tape is never officially released Apichella’s copy is widely borrowed and dubbed by many kids throughout the TGA scene. As a result, the moody songwriting and hard hitting delivery of Woodstock’s ‘Hey Mike’ material goes onto massively influence the later work of folkier Towson-Glen Arm groups like Rive Gauche, Woe-Be-Gone, and Lou & Chris.
Lisa Starace decides to concentrate full time on Within and an as yet named group she forms with fellow Towson State University student Tim Kabara. Consequently, Spastic Cracker decide to call it quits. Other reasons cited for the group’s break-up include Tricia Lane’s intensified focus on her school studies and her work as a print maker and fibre artist and Dave Raymond’s departure for college out of state.
1994 – December
Dundalk noise artist/Towson State University student Tim Kabara joins Within and begins writing and practicing all new songs with the group along with original Within members Mike Apichella and Lisa Starace. Within will go on to play only a handful of shows with this lineup.
Lard Star/Eve Pagoda split tape originally released spring 1994, art by the bands
late 1994 or early 1995
Sarah And The Vendettas is formed by Dave Willemain with Sarah Kershaw, Alan Itkin, and Aaron Friedman(of Fork/Manisexdestiny/The Idiots/etc.). Later, Friedman is replaced by The Preschoolers’ Chris Teret who is later replaced by photographer Kristen Mulherin. The bizarre performance art antics of both the comedic lead singer Itkin and the fashionable ominous bassist Kershaw make them one of the stranger acts in the TGA scene despite their archetypal sloppy punk sound. They practice and write their music infrequently due to Willemain’s Preschoolers/Checkered Cabs commitments. As a result, they only perform a handful of shows in 1995 before calling it quits late that year.
Sarah Kershaw of Sarah And The Vendettas in the Fell’s Point area of Baltimore with her freshly purchased first bass guitar, 1994; photo by Kristen Mulherin
Dave Willemain, Bob Phair, and Julia Kim publish the one-shot zine ‘Mochi’. This publication symbolizes a critical response to what is deemed as the misdirected populism of The T.G.A.U.C.’s activities. ’Mochi’ includes political opinion pieces, absurdist ramblings, fake gossip, fake local scene reports, and many real photos of The Preschoolers, Dave Willemain, Mike Apichella, and other T.G.A. stalwarts.
The masthead of the satirical/absurdist zine Mochi by Dave Willemain, Bob Phair, and Julia Kim. If you contributed photos to this zine please contact the email address in the ‘about’ section here asap. (courtesy of Chris Teret)
1995 – winter
The Preschoolers play a gig at The Black Cat in Washington, DC Feb.4th 1995 opening for popular D.C. based soul/ska band The Checkered Cabs, getting booked last minute to fill in for the original opening act The Insteps from NY who cancel due to getting stuck in a big snow storm. After a very positive response at this gig, The Cabs begin to regularly book The Preschoolers as their primary opening act, in turn giving The Preschoolers the opportunity to regularly perform in the DC area from this point on. Over the course of a year or so, the two bands become so close personally that Preschoolers members Dave Willemain and Eddie Macintosh also join The Checkered Cabs. Bob Phair too joins The Cabs, but quickly departs after a few months to concentrate more on Preschoolers work.
A recording project called Police With Boners is formed by Mike Apichella, Cory Davolos, and Preschoolers’ members Chris Teret and Lee Versoza. The group records a tape of 6 sloppy garage punk songs with ironic lyrics which are all written, quickly practiced, and home recorded in one night. An awkward lo-fi blues jam-electronica piece fills up the last twenty or thirty minutes of the tape. Lee Versoza creates the grotesque artwork for the cassette’s cover. The group makes six copies of the album which they quickly distribute for free to complete strangers by hand in downtown Towson the next night. No other activity represents this band’s work.
In response to the positive feedback he recieves for his work on the ‘Hey Mike’ tape, Jon Woodstock decides he wants to put a live band together to publicly perform that tape’s material and other new songs that he writes in a similar vein. Mike Apichella and Cory Davolos offer to back him up instrumentally for this purpose. The three attempt to maintain a regular practice schedule, but personal issues on the part of Woodstock cause him to rarely show up for any of these rehearsals. Consequently, the project quickly crumbles.
The only known photo of The Lesbian Ninjas: (l-r) Alan I., Mike Apichella, and Luke Mysko hanging out in Apichella’s basement probably right before or after the debut Silverfish Death show held there in fall 1995. (photo by ?? ; courtesy of Sarah Kershaw)
Mike Apichella forms the comic reactionary band The Lesbian Ninjas with Alan I. and The Preschoolers’ Luke Mysko. The group’s purpose, according to Apichella, is to be the “worst and stupidest band in the scene, or maybe the entire world”. In reaction to the antiseptic sound of 90′s alt rock (i.e., maudlin emo, post-grunge, ‘math rock’, ‘tuff guy hardcore’, etc.), The Lesbian Ninjas’ music is defined by undistorted/out of tune/sloppy electric guitar playing and primal soft drumming with vulgar/politically incorrect/absurd song lyrics sung in an excessively cartoony style. Two Lesbian Ninjas tapes are home recorded by the group. The chaotic sessions which yielded these were often open to friends and accquaintances of the Ninjas as both tapes were made at Alan I.’s parents’ house in Towson, a common hang out for many TGA artists and local teens who can often be heard in the background rough housing, watching t.v., playing video games, and spontaneously participating on many of the takes recorded for each tape. Before unofficially breaking up for now forgotten reasons, The Lesbian Ninjas play one show at the corner of York Rd. and Pennsylvania Ave. in Towson across the street from the Towson Commons shopping center in spring 1995. For this show only they change their name to Maryland (an ironically humorous name change done in tribute to geographical band names like Kansas, Asia, Boston, Chicago, etc.)
Here and above are excerpts from what was probably the most mainstream press exposure ever recieved by a Towson-Glen Arm work: a posthumous review of the Spastic Cracker/Big Heifer split 7″ on Hat Factory Records originally published in the January 18th 1995 edition of the Baltimore City Paper. The end of the review notes that this 7″ was distributed by Get Hip, then a very prominent indie record wholesaler. As part of the Get Hip catalogue, S.C.’s record (along with The Preschoolers e.p. on Reptilian) was one of the most widely available TGA releases.
1995 – spring
Mike Apichella & Lisa Starace mutually decide to break up Within in order to work on newer projects of a very different nature from that group.
Lisa Starace performing live with Spastic Cracker at Matt Bray’s – summer 1994 (photo by Lee Versoza)
Dave Willemain’s short story ‘Dunk-A-Balls’ is published in the 1995 edition of Towson High School’s literary magazine Colophon, an edition subtitled “Of Darkness Into Light “.
The Preschoolers’ Dave Willemain and Bob Phair, dancing in a kitchen crica 1993 or 1994 (photo by Daphne Davis)
The Unheard Ones are formed by Lisa Starace and Tim Kabara. With Eli Jones soon coming in on drums, the trio begins writing and rehearsing it’s intense post punk-influenced indie rock material, though they wont begin to regularly play live shows until nearly a year later.
The Unheard Ones circa 1996 or ’97: (l-r) Eli Jones, Lisa Starace, and Tim Kabara. (photo by Jason Forster)
Before calling it quits, Within plays a final show at Tim Kabara’s mom’s house (aka the venue Dub Housing) in Dundalk, Md. to celebrate the release of their swan song/first full length release, the suitably titled “R.I.P. 5/95″. This release was originally slated to come out on vinyl via the New Jersey label Chicken Farm Records (run by Robert Jurgensen Jr. of the grindcore band Kisses & Hugs, later of noise music legends An Oxygen Auction and Air Conditioning) Due to money trouble, Chicken Farm ends up dropping the project, so Within chooses to issue the album themselves. “R.I.P. 5/95″ contains a series of tracks from a recently Eli Jones-produced Within four track session as well as previously unreleased material from all other line-ups & eras of Within.
Josh Marchant – late 90′s or early 2000′s (photo by Lisa Starace)
Josh Marchant (an ex-member of Subversion) and Mike Apichella start a new group called Silverfish Death. The duo immediately begin recording and rehearsing with their material being dominated by the eccentric lyrics and indie rock/grunge pop infused songwriting of Marchant, though several leftovers from Within and the temporarily dormant Apichella/Woodstock/Davolos project make it into Silverfish Death’s early sets and recordings.
Eli Jones and Baltimore City musician/Towson Catholic High School student Craig Jakubowski form Glorious Fourlane. Their initial week-long set of recording sessions occur at Jakubowski’s parents house and are recorded onto four track with Jones and Jakubowski producing, engineering, writing, and playing everything on the record themselves. Their sound contains echoes of Lesbian Chicken Maggot Blasters’ work* mixed with more conventional pop songwriting, prog/math rock, and analogue electronica**. Due to their inability to find musicians able to easily acclamate themsleves with the intense spontanaiety and heightened level of musicianship defining the pair’s compositions, Jones and Jakubowski fatefully choose to never play any G4L material live. (*see the ‘late 1993 or early 1994′ entry here for more info on Lesbian Chicken Maggot Blasters) [**Jakubowski's interest in electronica led him to current fame in the video game music world under the name Temp Sound Solutions.]
Craig Jakubowski starts up a record label and distribution service (named after himself) to help promote the work of suburban Baltimore area artists including many Towson-Glen Arm bands. This label/distro becomes the first of it’s kind to give support to the TGA scene specifically in this way. Some of Craig Jakubowski’s TGA releases include albums by The Lesbian Ninjas(their second tape only), Guru Magpie, Lesbian Chicken Maggot Blasters, and Glorious Fourlane.
A flyer by Eli Jones for what was supposed to be the first show of The 6′O’Clock Alarm. That band didn’t actually play this gig; instead Baldwin, Md.’s musical performance artists Guru Magpie made their debut since 6′O’Clock Alarm member Cory Davolos got stranded in a blizzard while visiting friends in Ohio shortly before this gig causing his band to cancel. (flyer courtesy of the archives of Craig Jakubowski)
A more versatile/less commercial rock band is formed from the then recently disbanded Husky Youth’s ashes. They choose to name themselves Rive Gauche (french for ‘Left Bank’, meaning the Parisian left bank of the river Seine - a frequent hangout for poets, artists, and other Bohemians during the 19th & 20th centuries) This group features Lou Thomas, Chris Teret, and Scott Gilmore. Shortly before their formation, Gilmore chose to transfer from Towson High to Park School where he befriended a young multi media artist named Guy Blakeslee. Through the connection to Gilmore, Blakeslee successfully auditions to join Rive Gauche and soon begins rehearsals with the group. 60′s West Coast psychedelia, Beck, and indie rock’s then ubiquitous sound ala Pavement and The Velvet Underground all combine to make Rive Gauche’s music a bridge between the more commercial aspirations of Husky Youth and the experimental folk rock and heavy psychedelia that will mark the future work these artists contribute to groups like Woe*Be*Gone, Lou & Chris, The Convocation Of…, and Entrance. Shows for the group occur regularly from 1995 until early 1996 at which time Rive Gauche splits due to further creative differences and pressures inolved with the impending college exodus of Thomas and Teret.
photo by Stephanie *Rabins* circa late 1995
1995 – summer
With production by Parkville, Md. indie rock artist Dave Lamiason, The 6 O’Clock Alarm’s one and only full length self-titled tape is released. The record displays their high energy/hook driven power pop songs along with a few tracks that represent both moody garage rock and noisy 60′s punk.
Rjyan Kidwell (of Glen Arm area music/performance art group Guru Magpie) joins Silverfish Death and begins practicing and co-writing songs with the band. It will be the winter of ’96 before Kidwell begins to regularly play shows with S.D.
1995 – autumn
Silverfish Death’s self-releases it’s first record: the “Guitar For Small Fries Vol. 1″ tape. About a quarter of the record is completed at Catonsville, Md.’s Fuzzy Bunny Puppy Farm studio (run jointly at this time by Zach Poff and future Oxes member Chris Freeland, whose parents’ house also serves as the location of the studio). The rest of the first Silverfish Death tape contains home recordings made by the band themseves and engineer Dave Lamiason.
Sarah Kershaw, Dave Willemain, Alan Itkin, Mike Apichella, and Jeff Duncan in Mike Apichella’s basement, probably right before or shortly after the fall 1995 debut concert of Silverfish Death; photo by ?? (courtesy of Sarah Kershaw)
To celebrate the release of “Guitar For Small Fries Vol. 1″ Silverfish Death plays their first show ever at Mike Apichella’s mom’s house. New S.D. bassist Rjyan Kidwell only plays on a few songs in their debut set, while Gary Barrett of Guru Magpie and Don Mueller of Shovel also make S.D. cameos. For the most part, the first Silverfish Death set features only performances from Silverfish Death’s founding duo Mike Apichella and Josh Marchant, though their future shows will also often feature cameos from Mueller, and Barrett. From here on (under both the S.D. and Superstation names) the group will regularly perform throughout the Baltimore County area until they split up in the spring of 1998.
Mike Apichella trying to hide from the camera backstage at one of the many Preschoolers concerts at The Black Cat in Washington, DC. Apichella was a driver and roadie for The Preschoolers for most of 1994 and 1995. (photo by Lee Versoza)
1995 – December
The Preschoolers open for The Slackers at George Washington University in northern Virginia. It ultimately becomes their biggest show ever, but this gig also will sadly become their last.
1995 or 1996 – dates unknown
The 7th evolution of the Apichella/Davolos/Woodstock project forms under the name Sky Pilot ( a name derived from the title of a late 60′s anti-war acid rocker by U.K. band The Animals). T.J. Mobileo is the only additional band member in this line-up. With an even mixture of completely improvised compositions, a few cover songs, and several new more rock oriented songs written by Jon Woodstock, Sky Pilot begins practicing and recording. Unlike previous versions of the Apichella/Davolos/Woodstock project, Sky Pilot doesn’t showcase any sort of blatant theatrical or comedy elements in either their music or at their lone early 1996 live gig which occurs at The Loft in west Baltimore. Though no official records are produced or released by the group, Sky Pilot goes on to record a practice tape, a piece of which also makes a stray appearance on Eli, Mike, and Cory’s unreleased “Selling Glen Arm By The Pound” album.
Under circumstances similar to that of their first l.p.*, Eli Jones & Craig Jakubowski aka Glorious Fourlane record a second album showing a much more prominent emo/hardcore influence than their previous release. Despite the record’s more conventional melodies and arrangements, the sophmore effort from G4L still features their trademark use of dense sonic layering via the use of fx processors, a Casio SK-1 toy synth, and vintage 60′s style fuzz distortion. For reasons which remain unclear, the second Glorious Fourlane album is never released. (* see ’1995 – spring’ entry for more info on G4L)
Rjyan Kidwell and Gary Barrett create a non-profit/d.i.y. record distribution/replication/promotion service called Full Tilt. Following in the footsteps of Craig Jakubowski’s self titled record label, their mission is to provide an easy method for music fans to obtain releases by the artists of the suburban Baltimore underground scene. Unlike the Craig Jakubowski label, Full Tilt’s catalogue also contains a significant number of releases by lesser known emo, electronic, and indie rock artists from regions outside of Maryland and the U.S.
The album of primarily improvisational music called “Selling Glen Arm By The Pound” is recorded by the trio Eli, Mike, and Cory (Jones, Apichella, and Davolos, respectively). The 90 min recording finds the three musicians cutting loose in long free form jams with all of it melding together elements of Big Huge Fucking Machine (see ’1994 – winter’ for more info) and Lesbian Chicken Maggot Blasters (see ‘late 1993 or early 1994′ entry for more info) . A few tracks feature Eli Jones performing heavily effected solo guitar melodies. The track “Space Bike” also appears on this record. “Space Bike” is the first electronic music piece ever composed and performed solely by Mike Apichella. Additionally(and inexplicably), a recording by Sky Pilot appears here, this being a primitive garage punk cover of The Pixies song “Cactus” featuring vocals by Jon Woodstock. Perhaps because of the more blatantly uncommercial nature of its material, “Selling Glen Arm By The Pound” is only ever reproduced in an addition of three copies – one for each of the main band members.
Cory Davolos getting a haircut - summer 1992 (photo by Chris Davolos)
1996 – winter
Silverfish Death changes it’s name to Neon. The trio never plays any shows under this name (which they keep for only a month or so), though they do record an l.p.’s worth of songs as Neon. “Mangoland: Guitar For Small Fries Vol. 2″ is the name of this new album which is produced and engineered on four track by Jeff Duncan of Towson hardcore punk band The Idiots/Manisexdestiny(soon to be a member of Towson metalcore pioneers Behind Closed Doors). For the most part, the tracks on this album are never officially released.
Soon after the Neon name is nixed, the trio of Mike Apichella, Josh Marchant, and Rjyan Kidwell become The Superstation. Marchant came up with the name which was also a nickname for Russia’s techinically plagued Mir Space Station.
During their troublesome final recording session, The Preschoolers break up on January 9th 1996 citing the main reason for this being the departure of Eddie Macintosh(who leaves due to creative differences with the group) and the increasingly busy schedule kept by Macintosh and Dave Willemain as members of The Checkered Cabs. By this time Willemain and Macintosh were regularly playing bigger shows with The Cabs throughout the mid Atlantic ska scene to 1,000+ sized crowds.
The Preschoolers’ final incarnation: (l-r) Eddie Macintosh, Bob Phair, Dave Willemain, Luke Mysko, and Lee Versoza – late 1995 or early ’96; photo by ?? (courtesy of Sarah Kershaw)
Rjyan Kidwell quits The Superstation to concentrate on working more with his other newer band The Idea Men who also feature Craig Jakubowski and Gary “Gary B” Barrett(ex-Guru Magpie).
Mike Apichella briefly joins Airway – Eli Jones’ solo power pop vehicle. Airway’s high energy songs and home recordings of Airway’s songs had been existent many years prior to Apichella’s participation in the project, but like so many other works by this group’s leader, those Airway recordings featured only Eli Jones. Apichella learns and plays only one set’s worth of material as an Airway member, a set which is only performed live once at what turns out to be the final concert at Dub Housing. Annapolis area psychedelic shoegazer band Goodbye Kitty headlines this show and a similarly hallucinogenic Dundalk, Md. indie rock band called Flush opens up (Flush feature future Charm City Suicides drummer Chris Johnson).
A page from the mid 90′s journal of Eli Jones. This is a list of bands and solo projects which the artist had been working with before and up until sometime in 1995. If you were in any of these bands, if you worked on any of their recordings, or if you saw any of them play live please contact the address in the ‘about’ section here asap.(courtesy of Jimmy Jones)
The Preschoolers posthumously contribute their track ‘Huey Newton’ to Stubborn Records’ “Root Branch Stem” compilation c.d. which is released in March of 1996
Eli Jones joins The Superstation becoming the group’s lead guitarist and bringing his Essex Community College classmate Ray Shaw along to fill in as bassist til the group finds a permanent replacement for Rjyan Kidwell. A few months later, Shaw is replaced by another one of Jones’ ECC classmates: Dundalk, Md. musician Chris James. With James as the group’s bassist, this quartet line up of The Superstation will practice and perform a repertoire mostly made up of Josh Marchant’s original songs from mid ’96 until autumn 1997.
1996 – spring
Mike Apichella joins Pedigree – a folk rock group led by Doug Hammond (ex-Huskey Youth/F.G.’s/Manisexdestiny/many more), and featuring future Will Oldham sideman/Cass McCombs arranger/Arbouretum member/Woe*Be*Gone member/Walker & Jay member Walker Teret. They begin practicing an odd set of mostly cover songs chosen by Hammond. Pedigree plays only a few shows in the summers of 1996, ’97 and ’98. The infrequency of their gigs can mostly be blamed on Doug Hammond’s status as a student attending Emerson College in Boston, Ma. where he lives during every fall and spring from 1996 to 1999.
Walker Teret circa the mid or late 90′s. Check out his Charles Mingus shirt; Walker and his brother Chris often wore shirts with the names and pictures of jazz musicians on them as a reaction to punk fashion since so many kids at their school wore the shirts of Black Flag, Misifits, Nirvana, etc.. (photo by Stephanie Handleman)
1996 – summer
The Preschoolers posthumously release their first vinyl record on Reptilian Records – the 7″ e.p. “Angela”, which, in addition to it’s title track, also features their local hit song ‘Scott Chester, Boy Next Door’ and ‘Il Nya’ Pas De Quoi’.
The duo Lou & Chris form at Bard College in Annandale-On-Hudson, NY. This duo features expat Towsonites Lou Thomas & Chris Teret who both graduated high school in 1995 and coinicidentally then chose to attend the same upstate New York liberal arts college. Spiked with plenty of eccentricty and rough hewn melody, their sound echoes the work of Jon “Hubcap” Woodstock, Beck, Bob Dylan, and other singer/songwriters. The group records many of their songs on 4 track in ’96, but never formally releases that material, though they play a handful of informal shows at Bard and back in the Towson area at this time. More importantly, this group’s work lays the aesthetic foundations soon to define what Teret and Thomas will create with Scott Gilmore in the band Woe*Be*Gone. After a roughly three year hiatus brought on by the formation of Woe*Be*Gone and various school related commitments, Lou & Chris reunite in summer 1999 to record a short 6 song record in Chicago, IL. where they are backed up by musicians Bobby Burg and Beth Hoeckel(a Maryland ex-pat and former student of Towson’s Carver Center magnet high school). Burg engineers these sessions which are very similar in content and style to those of Woe*Be*Gone(see ’1997 – winter’ entry here for more info on Woe*Be*Gone) Under the title ‘In Chicago’, the duo self-release this material on tape for free in an edition of around 10 copies in the summer of ’99.
Academics and extra curricular school activities were a big part of the Towson-Glen Arm artists’ lives; elements of the scene would even slip into some of these more conventional studious pursuits as is evident here in the large number of TGA kids in the Towson High School Philosophy Club: “A. Itkin” (of Sarah & The Vendettas), “T. Roylance” and “I. McDonald” (of Skull & The Cross Bones), writer “J. Selway”, ”L. Thomas” (of The Nudists, Woe*Be*Gone, F.G.’s etc.), “S. Holman” (of The Nudists, F.G.’s, etc.), writer “D. Davis”, and “C. Teret” (of The Nudists, The Preschoolers, Woe*Be*Gone, etc.) [photo from the 1994 Towson High School yearbook]
1996 – autumn
Dave Willemain, Bob Phair, and Luke Mysko – all formerly of the Preschoolers – start a live dub reggae band called Star Chaser. They are later joined by bassist Chris Hartmann from popular Baltimore city ska band The Smooths. The group practices and rehearses frequently, but they only make a series of unreleased recordings and go on to never play any live gigs.
(l-r) Luke Mysko with Jason Watson goofing off at Towson High. (photo from the 1995 Towson High School yearbook)
1997 – winter
The Superstation releases its first album titled ‘The Superstation Is America’ in an addition of 30 or 40 copies. It is mostly produced and recorded by Eli Jones. Two songs from the album come from earlier sessions not produced by Jones: a home recording of a song called ‘Nosebleed’ made by Mike Apichella and Josh Marchant at some point in 1996 or ’97, and the song ‘Blackhole Mambo’ which was put to tape at the Jeff Duncan supervised Neon session in early ’96. ‘The Superstation Is America’ goes on to become the group’s most well known release and even inspires Tim Kabara to write a favorable article about The Superstation for his college’s newspaper The Towson Towerlight.
Lou Thomas – 1993 Towson High School yearbook picture
The esoteric folk rock group Woe*Be*Gone is formed by Lou Thomas, Chris Teret, and Scott Gilmore. Additionally, Walker Teret will augment Woe*Be*Gone at most of their live shows and at their second and third recording sessions. Shortly after forming, this self described songwriters collective begins recording and writing a lengthy self-titled album at Lou Thomas’ mom’s house on four track. Though their rehearsals are frequent throughout January 1997, gigs featuring Woe-Be-Gone won’t begin to materialze until the summer of ’97. From that point on, Woe-Be-Gone’s shows continue until early 1999. Stephanie Rabins becomes a member of the group around the time that they begin writing the material for their third recording session in late ’99. This session included Zach Poff-produced material intended for an unreleased split 7″ with Charm City Suicides that was to be issued on Mike Apichella’s Baths Of Power label (this project is nixed due to money trouble on the part of Apichella, though the group still completes these recordings in January 2000).
1997 – spring
Cory Davolos suggests a name change for Sky Pilot. The new monicker Human Host is his choice, and, shortly after he proposes it, this name change is accepted. The group then opts to add Perry Hall, Md. drummer Ben McConnell (of Drone Theory) and The Superstation’s bassist Chris James to their line up, a line up which at this time also features Mike Apichella on keys/electronics, Jon Woodstock on vocals, T.J. Mobileo on guitar, and Davolos also on guitar.
Upon the night of the first Human Host practice at the Apichella home, Cory Davolos arrives only to accidentally drop his rare 1969 Vox semi-hollow body guitar down a flight of stairs where it sustains severe damage that can’t be repaired quickly. The practice then abruptly comes to an end before it can even start. The same can be said for the new line-up of this band*. Unceremoniously, this night becomes the final time in which the Apichella/Woodstock/Davolos project convenes creatively, with Woodstock’s continually mounting personal conflicts, Apichella’s work with The Superstation, and Davolos’ dissapointment over the destruction of his signature instrument all preventing the trio from maintaining further activities at any other time in the 1990′s. (* The band name Human Host was revived for a new Apichella project in 2002, a project that continues to this day.)
Late in spring 1997, ex-Preschooler Eddie Macintosh dynamically expands the already wide aesthetic parameters of the Towson Glen Arm sound by forming a primal rockabilly band called The Boom Boom Cats with Cory Davolos, The Preschoolers’ Lee Versoza, and Pat Blumer (formerly of lo-fi pop-punks The Nicateens aka Snatch Attack). They practice and write material for only a few weeks before playing a clutch of shows which all occur in 1997 and ’98 throughout the Baltimore area. The group’s ties to Towson-Glen Arm become threadbare in the late 90′s when Cory Davolos decides to move to Missoula, Mt. and Pat Blumer heads to New York at which time Macintosh and Versoza replace them with musicians from outside of the TGA milieu.
The Boom Boom Cats, live at The Old Mill Tavern in Dundalk, Md.; Nov. 8th 1997, photo by (??)
1997 – summer
Eli Jones attempts to form a new back up band for the long dormant project involving the work of singer/songwriter Jon Woodstock. At first, only Jones and Woodstock work together on this, but soon jam band musician Scott Doerfler is brought into the mix. The newer member and Jones eventually clash over creative differences. As a result, Jones leaves the project early on before any shows or even a full set of material is ever put together for the group. Nonetheless, this summer ’97 collaboration creates a musical template for The Pink Slips – a late 90′s trio featuring Woodstock, Jones, and Trevor Murray. This band goes on to play shows with only tenuous connections to the TGA scene. The Pink Slips remain active until Eli Jones tragically succumbs to an accidental death on June 11th 2000 at age 23.
Woe*Be*Gone completes and self-releases it’s self titled first album on tape, an album that exemplifies the intense emotional power of the Towson-Glen Arm scene’s accoustic music. The first Woe*Be*Gone album is also notable for it’s richly nuanced lyrics – humanist ruminations created from a dreamlike perspective.
The Superstation become the first Towson-Glen Arm band to go on tour. This tour is a short week long jaunt done in August ’97 which takes them to gigs in Lancaster, Pa., the North Carolina cities Durham and Greensboro, and the NYC suburb of East Orange, NJ where they are recorded during a live broadcast performing on The Pat Duncan Show on legendary college radio station 91.1 WFMU.
The Towson-Glen Arm scene experiences it’s first major tragedy: the sudden death of 19 year old multi-media artist/Preschoolers’ founder Dave Willemain. Willemain’s passing sends devastating shock waves of sadness throughout the Towson-Glen Arm artists community and beyond.
1997 – autumn
After creative disputes with Mike Apichella on their brief summer tour, Eli Jones quits The Superstation. Chris James follows in solidarity with Jones.
Before The Superstation reconfigures itself into a new four-piece group, they play one final show with Jones and James at the beloved north east Baltimore all ages venue The Small Intestine. This show is recorded by Zach Poff on four track, though Matt Dahl(an ex-member of northeast Baltimore area avant-folk rockers The Freedom Riders) will produce this material. Portions of both this concert and The Superstation’s August ’97 set at WFMU make up the last, very ltd. edition, self-titled Superstation album which becomes available on cassette soon after the last show played by that tape’s line-up.
Dave Cannon and Marie Schneider join The Superstation. Their tenure in the group isn’t long, as Cannon’s school work and duties as guitarist in the popular Catonsville avant-horror rock band Rhino Virus make frequent practices and shows almost impossible. Schnieder also leaves when Cannon does, mostly due to the stage fright she experiences performing live. This very short-lived second quartet line up of The Superstation plays only one show at an art gallery on the campus of Towson University performing rearrangements of older Superstation material and never writing any new songs unique to this line-up.
A psychedelic handbill for a Superstation show at west Baltimore restaurant Mencken’s Cultured Pearl – 1996 or ’97; artist: unknown
Matt Dahl joins The Superstation whose original members (Mike Apichella & Josh Marchant) choose to scrap all of their quartet line-up material in favor of practicing and writing a totally new batch of tunes with Dahl. These new songs reflect a growing focus on Apichella & Marchant’s 60′s garage rock influences while not sacrificing any of the poppy indie rock hooks that defined work by earlier versions of The Superstation.
Walker Stump-Coale (ex-member of The Nicateens aka Snatch Attack) forms Charm City Suicides. The band also includes Mike Apichella, Josh Marchant, and John Browning (who quickly splits from the group in January 1998, and is then just as quickly replaced by Chris Johnson of Dundalk, Md. band Flush). Initially, Apichella and Marchant see CCS as nothing more than a side project for The Superstation, but CCS end up significantly eclipsing The Superstation in local popularity due to their highly stylized live performance art shows and introspective yet simplistic lyrics (many of which are inspired by the death of Apichella’s good friend and collaborator Dave Willemain). Apichella also ends up writing the majority of the group’s music by fusing elements from two of his earlier projects: Within (see ’1993 – autumn’ entry here) and Lard Star (see ’1994 – spring’ entry here) CCS’ sound also shows an influence of the then contemporary sounds by Providence, R.I.’s nascent experimental punk scene (i.e. Arab On Radar, Lightning Bolt, Landed, etc.) Charm City Suicides’ practices begin at this time on a regular basis, while shows all over Maryland and the U.S., several record releases, near constant line-up changes and many other problems begin to occur regularly for this group from 1999 on up to their autumn 2002 split.
1997 – December
The Superstation records all of its Matt Dahl-era material in one mostly live eight track session produced by Dahl at Mike Apichella’s mom’s house. None of these recordings ever see an official release.
The first show with the Matt Dahl line-up of The Superstation occurs at a wild new years eve party held at Mike Apichella’s apartment in Towson.
Charm City Suicides – early 1998 - live at The Small Intestine in Baltimore (photo by Mark O’Donnell?)
1998 to the present
O.k., thats enough of this “3rd person” junk….this is Mike Apichella writing here and, in conclusion, I just have to say that it is impossible to briefly sum up everything which happened once the slow, organic dissolution of the Towson Glen Arm scene began. The kids who made up this group of artists became adults who went off in a variety of directions as wildly disparate as the influences that defined their creative work….but since it has often been said that something is better than nothing, here’s a very short update about achievements made by four former Towson-Glen Arm artists from ’98 to the present:
One artist who has steadfastly kept the TGA aesthetic flame has been *Lou Thomas*. His work with the Portland, Or. band Chores and his ever growing solo song catalogue continue to represent everything that was versatile, witty, spontaneous, and emotionally powerful about Towson-Glen Arm. Lou graduated from Bard, traveled a bit throughout the U.S. and beyond, and then began graduate studies at The University Of Md. – College Park, studies which he recently completed. He’ll soon be working hard as a phd candidate at M.I.T. in Cambridge, Ma. with hopes of gaining a doctorate in urban planning. Good luck Lou! (for more info on Lou’s work and how to obtain it on record check his website: http://www.thefantasticlouthomas.com/index.html )
*Scott Gilmore* is perhaps the most famous musician to come out of Towson-Glen Arm. Gilmore attended college at McGill University in Montreal, QB, Cn. There he befriended the members of the well known Montreal based “post-rock” band God Speed You Black Emperor and became instrumental in helping to write the material of their associated group A Silver Mount Zion from 2001-2006. This band would eventually tour the U.S., U.K., Europe, and Canada garnering massive acclaim in the indie rock scene throughout the 2000′s. After finishing studies at McGill, Gilmore attended Oxford University in England. After completing studies at Oxford he then began law studies at George Washington University. After completing law school Gilmore then worked with the American Bar Association and as a law clerk with The United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the U. S. Department of Justice. He’s now working with The Center For Justice and Accountability, an organization dedicated to giving free consultation and litigation services to political prisoners and vicitims of state sponsored attrocities. Additionally, Gilmore is currently preparing to take the bar exam. Good luck to you too Scott! (further info on Mr. Gilmore’s very important work can be found here: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:aAB08NsRyjQJ:www.cja.org/section.php%3Fid%3D91+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us)
*Alicia Rabins* is an artist who could be called “the midwife” of Towson-Glen Arm simply for her work as violinist in The Nudists (the first Towson-Glen Arm band). Alicia has developed an unbelievable resume that certainly reflects the multi-media nature of the TGA scene. I’ll just let the bio from her website do the talking here: “Alicia Jo Rabins is a poet, songwriter, performer and Torah scholar based in Brooklyn. Her poems appear in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Ploughshares, 6×6, Court Green, anthologies from NYU Press and Knopf, and a chapbook from Artscape Press. A classically trained violinist since the age of three, Alicia is the songwriter and bandleader of Girls in Trouble, an art-pop song cycle about the complicated lives of women in Torah, which has performed across the US, Canada and Europe, released two albums, and garnered critical praise from Huffington Post, the New Yorker, and LA Weekly. Alicia is the recipient of grants and scholarships from Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Six Points Fellowship, and the LABA Fellowship at the 14th St Y, and has served as a cultural ambassador for the US State Department, performing American fiddle music in Central America and Kuwait. She is currently at work editing her first collection of poems and composing “A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff,” an experimental song-cycle about the spiritual implications of the financial collapse. An experienced and dedicated Jewish educator, in 2010 Alicia founded Personal Torah, offering creative, meaningful bar/bat mitzvah preparation and adult Torah study in person or online.” (there’s more about Alicia Jo Rabins here: http://www.aliciajo.com/)
Since this is my blog, I guess I may as well toot my own horn. I, *Mike Apichella*, work now as a freelance writer, a visual artist specializing in commerical illustration, and I am the leader and founder of the multimedia art collective Human Host, a group that is celebrating it’s 10 year anniversary throughout 2012 – here’s a link to the HH bio which has all of the other info you might wanna know about my post-TGA work: http://www.humanhostmusic.com/bio.html