Tim Kabara’s early documentation of Towson-Glen Arm

writer Tim Kabara's 1994 Towson State University i.d. card (courtesy of Tim Kabara)

writer Tim Kabara’s 1994 Towson State University i.d. card (courtesy of Tim Kabara)

Picking up from where I left off on the last post, recently I made a big geographical jump that’s plopped me down me in the New York City area mostly in one piece. It’s been a heck of a ride so far; I’ve stumbled over everything from my own shoelaces to my own identity and an infinite number of other things. Regardless, as much as I am grateful to have spent my younger years in Maryland, it is truly gratifying to know that I’m able to make a home in one of the craziest places in the world.

Despite all the positive energy of greater metropolitan New York, my process of getting fully settled in the place is still on going. This means that the lengthy Preschoolers chronology mentioned in the previous entry also remains as a work in progress. It should be finished around Christmas or maybe little earlier.

In the meantime, over the next few months expect some quick but essential posts about a few of the more forgotten corners of this blog’s already obscure subject…

In the 90’s extensive press coverage for Towson-Glen Arm was extremely rare. While TGA bands like Spastic Cracker, The Preschoolers, and Within all received capsule record reviews in the major indie press and some local zine/school yearbook attention, the alt rock era only ever witnessed the publication of one comprehensive article about the north County underground’s unusual approach. This piece was written by Tim Kabara and it centered around a Towson-Glen Arm concert held on September 26th 1997 at the now defunct Baltimore city all ages venue The Small Intestine. This show featured the pre-Oxes group International Sounscape Internationale, and two TGA bands: The Boom Boom Cats, and The Superstation – a grungy indie pop group lead by the bizarre singer/songwriter Josh Marchant . This band also featured Mike Apichella (aka yours truly) on drums, the lead guitarist-producer-composer Eli Jones, and bassist/composer Chris James. Kabara’s article focused heavily on The Superstation as the concert in question featured one of that group’s last performances. The article originally ran in a fall 1997 issue of Towson State University’s student newspaper The Towerlight.

The musician/author/journalist/documentarian/1999 Towson State graduate Tim Kabara would become a staple of the Baltimore underground in the aughts and he continues to be an important part of that city’s ever growing creative milieu. During the 90’s Kabara was a great supporter of Towson-Glen Arm, as well as many other underground art movements up and down the U.S. east coast and beyond.

Kabara also played a major role in the birth of a strange local art scene in the rough working class town of Dundalk, Md. where he spent much of his teen years. Many odd bands and recording projects that combined the efforts of young TGA artists and Dundalk freaks emerged directly as a result of Kabara’s patronage of and collaborations with north County artists, things which occurred primarily once he graduated high school and began attending Towson State. A deeper inspection of Kabara’s early creative efforts will grace this blog soon, but for now we’re going to focus on the distinction he’s earned as one of the very few 90’s journalists to crystalize the Towson-Glen Arm wildness in essay form.

Below are scans of an earlier essay about The Superstation done by Tim as an assignment for a college English class. This was completed about a year before the 1997 concert which eventually became the focal point of Kabara’s Towerlight article*. In this earlier rough essay, poetic descriptions of The Superstation’s artistic versatility served to present the band and “the Towson scene” as a Merry Prankster-esque raspberry blowing mightily into the cold facade of the mid-90’s’ alt-rock homogeny. After each scan, the always compelling Tim Kabara has contributed some contemporary impressions of his younger self’s artistic intent…

...PAGE ONE I like the opening! You are struggling with how to explain the “Towson scene” of the 1990s. Yes, something was changing at the time this was written. People were growing up and older, bands were coming and going… this is cyclical. It is hard to see that when it is happening for the first time, but you are getting it. Are you sure the Towson scene music is “punk rock”? Would your audience understand what you mean? I would consider revising this in the next draft. How are you speaking with such authority about “taking yourself seriously”? You immediately contradict yourself by talking about “serious” bands being a part of the scene.

…PAGE ONE
I like the opening! You are struggling with how to explain the “Towson scene” of the 1990s. Yes, something was changing at the time this was written. People were growing up and older, bands were coming and going… this is cyclical. It is hard to see that when it is happening for the first time, but you are getting it.

Are you sure the Towson scene music is “punk rock”? Would your audience understand what you mean? I would consider revising this in the next draft.
How are you speaking with such authority about “taking yourself seriously”? You immediately contradict yourself by talking about “serious” bands being a part of the scene.

PAGE TWO I dig on your description of the set! I was there, and totally don’t remember those details.

PAGE TWO
I dig on your description of the set! I was there, and totally don’t remember those details.

PAGE THREE I like how you see this sort of messy “multi-musicality” thing and describe it as a strength. Maybe that is a “punk rock” aspect of this Towson scene? The rule bending and breaking? The general “YOLO” vibe? Just a thought… Um… hey. I have to level with you. You were doing such a good job of being objective and even-handed and nice and then… you launch into this “snowball’s chance in hell” invective? Why? Like Edgar Allan Poe did when he was working as a literary critic, you are spending too much time on a “hatchet job” on these local groups and the Baltimore scene at that time. Why not stay positive? Don’t hate, appreciate! Oh well… I’m going to chalk this up to youthful inexperience and advise you cut this stuff out in the next draft.


PAGE THREE
I like how you see this sort of messy “multi-musicality” thing and describe it as a strength. Maybe that is a “punk rock” aspect of this Towson scene? The rule bending and breaking? The general “YOLO” vibe? Just a thought…
Um… hey. I have to level with you. You were doing such a good job of being objective and even-handed and nice and then… you launch into this “snowball’s chance in hell” invective? Why? Like Edgar Allan Poe did when he was working as a literary critic, you are spending too much time on a “hatchet job” on these local groups and the Baltimore scene at that time. Why not stay positive? Don’t hate, appreciate! Oh well… I’m going to chalk this up to youthful inexperience and advise you cut this stuff out in the next draft.

PAGE FOUR Still, your youthful strum and drang does nail something about the spirit of the scene at that time. Saying The Superstation will “shove wacky fun up your ass” is a bit over the top, but the point is made. Okay. Now this last part is baffling/ bizarre. Why would you weirdly attack The Great Unraveling, your friend’s band, in this last part? You totally like that band! Your band toured with them! They played a show in your mom’s basement! I am seriously confused. Tim Kabara from the 1990's, I think maybe you are trying to attack bands that are imitating an existing sound/style? Some advice… those kids who are really into Unwound and all that great music, people like Chris Coady and Guy Blakeslee and Walker Teret, are going to grow up and make some seriously awesome music and make great art. Put the literary “knife” down. I assure you, we are all in this together.  Trust me. I am from the future. I know. Regards, Tim Kabara from the 2010s

PAGE FOUR
Still, your youthful strum and drang does nail something about the spirit of the scene at that time. Saying The Superstation will “shove wacky fun up your ass” is a bit over the top, but the point is made.
Okay. Now this last part is baffling/ bizarre. Why would you weirdly attack The Great Unraveling, your friend’s band, in this last part? You totally like that band! Your band toured with them! They played a show in your mom’s basement! I am seriously confused.

Tim Kabara from the 1990’s, I think maybe you are trying to attack bands that are imitating an existing sound/style? Some advice… those kids who are really into Unwound and all that great music, people like Chris Coady and Guy Blakeslee and Walker Teret, are going to grow up and make some seriously awesome music and make great art. Put the literary “knife” down. I assure you, we are all in this together. Trust me. I am from the future. I know.
Regards,
Tim Kabara from the 2010s

[*a scan of that appears here also. If anyone can give full bibliographic info on this autumn '97 article, please get in touch asap]

[*a scan of that appears here also. If anyone can give full bibliographic info on this autumn ’97 article, please get in touch asap]

(A million thanks go out to Tim Kabara for his help with this post, and the thorough archival/fact checking assistance which he’s given to the TGAF project as a whole. You can catch up with Tim Kabara via any major social networking platform, his work as a presenter on Baltimore, Md.’s WYPR 88.1fm, and as a record reviewer for the now defunct – but well archived – Beabots website)

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