Five years is a long time to spend working
in one rock 'n' roll band that specializes in energetic driving original rock,
but Skogie is one such band.
Skogie, first organized in 1971 as Skogie
and the Flaming Pachucos, can be seen and heard in places like the Bronco Bar in
Chanhassesn, the Blitz Bar and the Cabooze in Minneapolis, the Island Plaza in
St. Paul Park, (beginning next Wednesday) and the Prior Place in Prior Lake
(tonight and Saturday).
"We're doing all right," said Skogie's
Dennis Peterson in a recent interview at the Bronco. "It's just like working a
steady job, five nights a week."
SKOGIE IS RICK Moore on guitar, Peterson on Bass, All Galles playing Drums, and
Little Mark David Goldstein on keyboards. Moore is 25, Peterson and Galles are
24, and Golstein is 21. Add to these Rick's brother, Bobby Moore, who works the
lights and fills in part-time on saxophone, and Steve Brenner, the sound
technician, bookkeeper and general right-hand man.
Skogie on-stage is versatile enough to
switch gears between social commentary and fairly straight, hard-driving
rock-and-roll dance material. The musicianship ranges from good to
above-average, The vocals are consistently solid and well harmonized.
Originality is the element that sets Skogie
apart. In the past, Moore and company have disclaimed all intention of satire,
but now it creeps into their stage banter quite a bit, along with parody,
one-liners and considerable camp.
In ripping apart the Yes giant,
"Roundabout," Skogie demonstrates an ability to lampoon pretensions of musical
sophistication in rock. ("Everyone thinks 'Roundabout' is some kind of classic
that deserves reverence." says Peterson, "but it's really just a very good rock
'n' roll song.")
To demonstrate. Moore is introduced as the
continental ballet star, Alfonzo Bozoini. Moore plays the famous "Roundabout"
guitar intro while capering -- teetering really -- inexpertly and whimsically
about the stage.
While his dancing would hardly persuade a
Rudolf Nureyev to burn his ballet slippers, it does successfully chide the
song's psuedo-classicism. At one point, Bobby Moore holds cartoon thought
balloon to his brother's head that says, "I'm really expressing myself!"
SKOGIE'S stage patter can be like-wise irreverent.
In one impromptu moment, Peterson and Moore carry on a fairly explicit lovers'
dialog over the music. In another, the two play a scene between a teen-aged
penitent and his lascivious confessor.
Their banter is hardly the family variety.
Years ago, in a show at the coffee house Extempore in Minneapolis, Moore was
doing an Elvis Presley routine, wearing skin-tight trousers with zippered-up
leggings. But the zippers burst, the pants flapped in the air during Moore's
gyrations and the spectacle incensed Goldstein's mother, who had come to see the
boys. She grabbed a public address microphone and began berating the band to all
Moore broke in on her scolding with a
response, "After all, your son is a homosexual, y'know."
Skogie's ability to get it on with the
audience night after night seems at odds somehow with the band's history of the
past five years, a record of hardships, disappointments and misconception all
too characteristic of the business side of the music industry.
"We play this stuff the way we do because we
like it," Peterson said. "We're able to stay fairly fresh because we're involved
with our material. Sometimes it gets hard to stay fresh, though. Like that
three-week period -- that awful three weeks!" he said, covering his face with
his hands as if to block out an aftershock of disbelief. The three weeks
happened during a two-year (1973-1975) period when Skogie departed from their
all-original-music locus and added a 15-minute early Beatles tribute to their
The musicians were writing original songs
with a fiendish zeal and converting their stuff into a recording effort that
yielded their first, and thus far their only, single ("The Butler Did It"), and
album, ("There's a String Attached to Almost Everything We Do").
"I guess we must have thought we were really
getting hot at the time," Moore recalled. They had done well in a Walker Art
Center concert and appeared on local television shows. Then came a connection
with a semi-national talent agency and the timing seemed right to tour outside
APART FROM SHORT tours around the Midwest and South (like a money-losing one-day
hop to Chattanooga), the band booked a lengthy gig: five weeks on the road,
including two weeks in Cleveland on Christmas Day, 1974. By mid-January the
group was back in Minneapolis, having been laid off from three jobs in as many
weeks. Unfortunately the booking agent had not done any research, when he paired
Skogie with these particular clubs.
"In Cleveland," Moore recalled, "they wanted
a hairy-chested soul band and we looked liked a bunch of 19-year-old kids. We
were playing nothing but our original music, some Beatles, and some Beach Boys."
They split after five days. The agency got
them a quick replacement job in Bay City, Michigan.
"This was a supper club and they wanted
dinner music, a show set, a dance set. The manager was real nice about it. He
let us stay one week after we promised to learn a set of instrumental Muzak and
book a $400 pay cut."
Chastened, Skogie moved on to St. Louis.
"That club wasn't too bad, although again it
was an over-25 scene. It turned out to be the coldest week in 200 years. There
was absolutely no business. We left after the first week."
SKOGIE RETURNED to the Twin Cities.
"We finished our album," Moore said, "but I
think we were sort of changed by the experience. We went back to concentrating
more on writing our own material again."
Still, the early Beatles tribute was making
money and the band kept it up for almost another year when another long tour
came along, this time to Canada. The Canadian jaunt included a stint in a club
in Quebec City.
"It seemed like no one spoke English there
so our stage banter was falling dead," Peterson recalled. "It was a completely
absurd situation. We started doing all sorts of crazy things, calling the people
dumb canucks and all that, and then they started enjoying themselves. I think
that told us something about what we should be doing.
Moore said the Beatles medley had come about
for several reasons, including Skogie's lingering infatuation with the 1960s
Beatles songs. "But we were concerned, too, about not being taken seriously as
musicians, I think. We were afraid we'd get stuck with a fun-time-only tag."
Today, Skogie seem to be resting easier with
that tag firmly pinned to its reputation. Plans still include hopes for success
in music, the business wise boys of Skogie plan more carefully. Their various
adventures into fame and fortune, after suffering business losses while
touring to promote their album to a semi-national audience, left them
about $10,000 in arrears. In 1976, they've just about dug themselves out of that
The material for their second album is
ready, but they want a national recording contract or some sort of firm
distribution agreement with a recognized label before they'll start recording
sessions. The humor is sharper now, too, tempered perhaps by experience.
"Maybe we're more aware now of making a
deeper social comment," Moore said. "You learn with experience. Right now we're
mainly trying to get by."