Since he’s a lifelong Valley resident — not to mention a veritable scene stalwart — one would think Jeff King would know his way around the area by now. The Crawler caught up with the journeyman musician to inquire about his recent radio appearance, however, and it appears he actually arrived at Springfield’s Rock 102 studio by way of Denver.
“We get requests for John Denver quite a bit through the years, and somewhere along the way, we started substituting West Springfield for West Virginia [in Denver’s ‘Country Roads’],” King explains. “My altered version became a work in progress and I kept continuing to add to it. Next thing I know, I have a complete parody chock full of West Springfield references that people love, and Rock 102 found out about it.”
When he’s out at the clubs — as The Kings will be this Sunday, Aug. 30, 3-7 p.m. at Sonny’s Place in Somers, Connecticut — the official backstory he offers is that John Denver played the Big E and was so moved by the town of West Springfield that he penned a rare, alternate version “never heard live before this very evening.”
“What the heck — even Bondi’s Island has to be better than West Virginia, right?” he says in jest.
Admission to The Kings’ show this weekend is free and the event is open to all ages.
In other news, John St. Onge — best known on the circuit for his work with The Swillmerchants — checked in to report that his latest labor of love, Slorg, will host a CD release party at Noho’s The Basement this Saturday, Aug. 29.
“The disc is called RULES and it’s something I came up with with my friend Rob Driscoll,” St. Onge says. “We wanted to write instrumental music with no real limitations, and I think we’ve succeeded. It’s rock for sure, and the early feedback has been very positive.”
While an offer to join a record label or major tour would be appreciated and immediately accepted, St. Onge adds that Slorg’s main goal is to procure a licensing deal and “maybe get a tune or two on a video game.”
Last but not least: a tale of two tours. The Crawler, it seems, took in sets by veteran rockers Van Halen and MÖtley Crüe within a week’s time.
The former — reunited with founding frontman David Lee Roth — mixed hits with sonic chestnuts from deep within the VH catalog. Rarely performed tunes like show opener “Light Up The Sky” and the rollicking “Romeo’s Delight” fueled ferocious fist pumps from diehards and some head scratching from bandwagoners. But any confusion was quickly reeled in by the likes of “Panama,” “Dance The Night Away,” and “Runnin’ With The Devil.”
“In A Simple Rhyme” proved such a deep cut that even Roth himself quickly threw his hands up in the air and declared, “I forgot the fucking words.”
One would think that a lead singer forgetting the words to a tune in front of 30,000 people would be patently obvious, but had he not made the declaration, Roth probably could have gotten away with it, since he rarely sings anything in the truest sense of the word these days. Rather, he uses the familiar, often virtuosic music as a sonic canvas on which he overlays choice phrases, assorted howls, dance moves and whatever else he can muster, in much the same fashion a former 100 mph power pitcher might trade his fastball for a spitter as a wily veteran.
To quote his old solo videos, he’s got “charisma,” not to mention the gift of gab. The talents and abilities of the brothers Van Halen and bassist Wolfgang (Eddie’s son), in stark contrast, proved beyond reproach.
Stay tuned next week for a full critique on the Crüe and much more!•
Send correspondence to Nightcrawler, P.O. box 427, Somers, CT 06071; fax to (860) 394-4262 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.