Monday, April 03, 2006


I’ve personally floated on the periphery of the American “beer scene” for a good 15 years now, and let it be said for the record that there is most certainly a beer scene, akin in many ways to the underground rock scene, scrapbooking scene and left-wing activist whinging scene. This particular scene can be found in watering holes like San Francisco’s legendary TORONADO bar, Washington DC’s BRICKSKELLER, and in brewpubs and breweries the nation over. The house organs are monthly newspapers like THE CELEBRATOR and ALE STREET NEWS. Their key monthly events are beer festivals such as the Anderson Valley Beer Festival or the granddaddy of them all, Denver’s Great American Beer Festival. And their music? Well, I don’t want to cast aspersions, of course, but somehow a culture has seemed to develop around the concept of the “brewery band”. This may just be a clever way for beer-obsessed folks who also happen to be struggling musicians to let their demons all hang out in tandem, but man, does it make me chortle. I’ve seen exactly one brewery band in action, the ROLLING BOIL BLUES BAND, and whew, were they something. Imagine the worst barroom BB-King-style blues imaginable, with songs about drinking, fermenting and bottling, and a line-up consisting of dudes in t-shirts and shorts. It was one bad ass trip. I know they’ve competed in several “Battles” against other brewery band like the OLD FOG HORNS and MARTY JONES AND THE DRUNKY TONKS, and I’d be surprised if the “Boils” didn’t kick some serious brewery band ass in each contest. I also know that bands such as these often liven the proceedings at aforementioned beer festivals, and when all is said and done, it could probably be worse – but not by much. There’s something about drunk white men playing bad blues that really sets me off, probably because of the generic out-of-the-box “we’re fuckin’ partying!!!” vibe that comes with said bands, and the spectacle of hammered 40-somethings boogieing down to the music just leaves me sad, cold and fearful for my future. Then again, I’m going to the Anderson Valley Beer Fest in a few weeks and I wouldn’t be surprised if my left knee starts inadvertently twitching when the Rolling Boil Blues Band kick into “Beer!”, sung to the tune of The Champs’ “Tequila”. You have to admit that sounds pretty boss.


No Big Thing said...

While the Humboldt Firkin Tappers and their ilk are painful indeed, don't forget some of the other band archetypes that seemingly spontaneously appear anywhere there's craft beer and a PA. There's the mandatory neo-hippy collective bent on delivering funky grooves no matter who gets hurt along the way. They should not be confused with the pack of midle-aged white guys armed with bongos, a rainstick, a few Ladysmith Black Mambazo records and a desperate yearning to "open peoples' eyes to the rainbow of music our world's cultures offer."

The Itchy Firkin said...

Have you ever heard the Humboldt Firkin Tappers? Neither have they.