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DC Rock Live: A Unique Music Blog (Pt. 1)

 

College is supposed to be place where, when you go there, you’re exposed to interesting ideas and cultural events and all kinds of mind-blowing music, and for that reason I was shocked to learn during my freshman year at Miami University that the standard musical diet was so middle-of-the-road blah that I threatened to sue the university.

What made matters worse, everybody bought the same damn records—or almost everybody anyway. To this day, whenever I overhear “More than a Feeling” I start twitching and sweating….Whatever the opposite of nostalgia is is what I feel when I hear that song and many others that blasted from Infinity speakers all across the campus….

Still, that was a period of discovery for me, with all kinds of musical surprises. I was among the few people in attendance when Gil-Scott Heron came to Miami; I also saw Roger and the Human Body; my road trips included a Muddy Waters show and my first Dead concert, where the encore was “Werewolves of London.”

And there were students who turned me onto some music I never would have heard otherwise, or at least not for years to come. Among those people was Dave Hintz, whose enthusiasm for punk and interesting new music in general must have been contagious, as he drew quite animated crowd at parties where the weary, stale, flat and much-too-profitable mainstream rock was given a much needed rest, if not sent to its grave.

Along with catching countless to-die-for concerts and amassing an amazing record collection, Dave got involved in promoting and documenting the music. A few decades later Dave’s enthusiasm for music remains intact, and in fact his immersion in it is remarkable. He now writes two to three hundred reviews a year for Folk World and, in his blog, DC Rock Live, he reviews over two hundred concerts a year. Ultimately my blog will turn its attention to his blog, but first I thought readers from Ohio and nearby would enjoy hearing about his involvement in a musical scene during a period when a lot of exciting stuff was happening. After all, that experience informs his current writing—and it would make for interesting reading even if it didn’t.

Dave’s mania for concert-going began while he attended Miami University, which meant hitting the road for great concerts that were often, to put it lightly, lightly attended. Before there was the Jockey Club there was Bogart’s and Dayton.

Jim Carter is still a dj at WYSO,” Dave said. “He managed bands and he promoted shows at private places. And then Walnut Hills near the University of Dayton got some shows started. That’s where Toxic Reasons made their debut. The Ramones played The She.

“And I saw Richard Hell and the Voidoids at Gilly’s,” Dave added. “Jerry Gillotti [the owner of the club] went nuts.”

Among the memorable Bogart’s shows was a John Cale concert plus his first Ramones show, which will be an installment in my now-famous series, Favorite Concert Ever, plus X. “When X played their first tour,” Dave remembers, they played two sets of repeated songs.”

After the Jockey Club opened in Newport, Kentucky, Dave quickly became a regular.

“My first Jockey Club show was very interesting,” Dave said. “A year earlier Husker Du played Dayton. There were only eight paying people at that show. After the show I met Bob Mould, and we talked about pro wrestling. About a year later, all of a sudden I heard Husker Du was playing the Jockey Club. I walked in early; I was about thirty feet away from the stage. They were up there sound checking, and Bob yelled, how are you doing? He remembered me from wrestling. We became friends for a really long time. This was still before Zen Arcade. I saw them there three or four times at least.”

I remember from that period that Dave put together a punk rock + pro wrestling fanzine that included writing by Bob Mould and that Dave and Bob would meet at pro wrestling tournaments around the country. I also remember walking into the Jockey Club and seeing Dave behind a videotape camera on a tripod. He filmed a lot of shows there, and I asked him about that.

“The first show was Black Flag, and the sound came out great. I kept my promise—I never copied the film for anyone; I wouldn’t even copy it for friends. Henry Rollins, Kira Roessler, Husker Du, Toxic Reasons, DOA, Agnostic…Flipper, they were giving me wincing looks. I had to give them the original and they would mail me the copy and of course I never got the copy.”

Dave preserved all the footage that technically was worth preserving and converted it to digital. As you might imagine, this footage was of great interest to some folks.

“What happened is the Squirrel Bait show they opened for Husker Du,” Dave said. “Eventually got to meet Dave Grubbs; I made sure he got a tape. All of a sudden I got an email out of the blue from a guy who was doing a documentary for the band asking, are you the David Hintz who filmed Squirrel Bait at the Jockey Club?

Dave also played a role in promoting Toxic Reasons early on, and by doing so earned himself some karma points: the originally struggling Dayton hardcore punk band went on to have a long and storied and (eventually) successful career, particularly in Europe.

“I was their first manager,” Dave said. “I booked the shows, and they recorded a record. I tried selling them. One of the biggest highlights was selling 25 for 25 dollars. I was begging people to pay two dollars for them. Now they’re worth 500 dollars.”

While we were chatting on the phone Dave noted how, even though it’s a modest-sized city, Dayton had an impressive music history. He mentioned how, in a recent documentary, Bob Pollard from Guided by Voices talked about the Dayton scene, praising Toxic Reasons and Dementia Praecox. “Pollard probably came to some of the shows I promoted or managed,” Dave said.

In my next blog entry we’ll shift our focus to the blog Dave Hintz writes called DC Rock Live, where he reviews concerts by countless bands that come to Washington, DC, which, because I keep up with his blog, I have to learn gets amazing concerts on a regular basis.