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Tales About Music, Alcohol And Calling The Cops
Crazy Stage Stories
I look at my guitar player and I say, 'The next song, let's play "My Sharona",' ... and I saw [the Knack] drop their sandwiches. - Rob Monte
by Josh Davidson
 [Chorus and Verse] Crazy Stage Stories
Rob Monte of Dog Voices

For veteran musicians, while the art of performing comes from years of hard work, a great deal of fun is usually found in the process. While some of that fun doesn’t always look pretty on paper, it exists in that performer’s mind almost like a badge of honor.

While paying your dues on stage is not an easy task, years of doing so leaves a musician with numerous stories to tell with pride to friends and others who take to the task of getting on stage.

Chorus and Verse asked two New Jersey mainstays for their favorite stories. One, the singer of one of the state’s most popular cover bands, Dog Voices’ Rob Monte. His bands have graced the stages of many of the tri-state area’s top clubs for years. We also went to the front man of a well-known original band from Jersey, Dave Blanche of Godspeed. In only a matter of months, Blanche went from responding to an ad in the Aquarian Weekly to signing with that band to Atlantic Records and touring Europe with Black Sabbath. He now is lead singer of Staggerwigg, who is on the verge of signing with an independent label.

Monte’s favorite stage story comes during the years when he used to drink a lot more during gigs. At that time, Dog Voices was playing at Tuxedo Junction in Danbury, Connecticut, which held about 800 people. Dog Voices had brought 55 of their own fans to the gig.

Monte was climbing towards the ceiling of the venue when he saw a guy who had no legs in a wheelchair. The man told Monte he loved his band and wanted to come up and do some rap songs. “I jump down off the stage with my friends and we pick up his wheelchair and put him on stage,” Monte said.

The man came up and did “Fly” by Sugar Ray. The guy did a good job rapping and Dog Voices took over with some Rage Against the Machine until Monte noticed a strange appearance.

“I turn around and he’s not in his wheelchair,” Monte said. “He’s running on stage on his hands.”

The man had one fist raised and pushed himself back onto his wheelchair, Monte said. Monte then asked him back up on stage and he and his friend picked him off of his chair, swinging him back and forth.

“And I hear my band going: no, Monte, don’t,” Monte said.

Monte and his friend sent the guy into the crowd for some stage diving and the crowd caught him.

“Well, needless to say, we got fired from that club,” he said.

While Monte said that is something he would never think of doing now, that story has reached somewhat legendary status. Monte has heard many area cover bands talking about it without knowing he was the main culprit.

“And I say, yeah, I’m that guy,” he said.

Another favorite of Monte's goes back to his days in another Jersey cover band, Who Brought the Dog. The band was opening for the Knack at the Tradewinds, in Sea Bright, and was having trouble finding a fill-in guitar and bass player, Monte said. They finally accomplished that 40 minutes before the show.

Monte went backstage intending to take a shower “and the Knack’s bodyguard wouldn’t let me,” he said. He went to find his manager and got dressed in the bathroom.

“When I go to get ready to appear on stage, half my band is not there " my guitar player and my bass player,” he said.

Those two fill-ins had been busted for pot possession, but the police were able to process them quickly so they could play the gig, Monte said.

As the band played the show, Monte could see into the Knack’s dressing room and Monte decided to do a major no-no for a cover band opening for a one-hit wonder; playing its one hit.

“I look at my guitar player and I say, ‘The next song, let’s play "My Sharona",’” Monte said. The band played the song “and I saw [the Knack] drop their sandwiches,” he said.

Members of the Tradewinds staff came running on the stage and the PA was shut off after the beginning of the song, he said.

Dave Blanche of Godspeed

In 1994, Godspeed was playing a benefit for the metal radio station WSOU at Studio One, Newark, said Dave Blanche. “Studio One has this little bar on the side when you first walk in,” he said. “It's a good place for bands to go and get tanked up before they go on stage.

“We were on, like, no sleep as it is, we just came back from playing with Sabbath over in Europe and were in between tours,” he said. “Anyway, our local fans and friends missed us and decided to get us wasted on Kamikazes. By the time we went on, all hell broke loose from the very first note.”

The band wound up playing a half a song and then switching instruments and going into a long “nasty” jam, Blanche said. “I went from singing to playing the drums,” he said. “Chris [Kosnik, Godspeed’s bassist] was crawling around the stage looking for the tooth somebody knocked out with their guitar or bass. I think we invited our friends up to play the rest of the jam. It really was just a blackout for me after that. I do remember waking up on the floor on the side of the stage. They finally pulled the power out on us. What a night.”

At another show at the Cafe Bar in Long Branch, Godspeed set off a smoke machine, only to surprise its fans when the smoke cleared. “When the smoke cleared, the band was standing there in adult diapers,” he said. “When you think about it, that’s worse than standing there naked.”

Another favorite story of Blanche’s involves the band being in a hurry because it had two shows on one Friday. The first was at the Academy in New York City, NY. “After we played, we were in such a hurry to get to the other show over in Jersey that we started throwing our stuff out the window of our third-floor dressing room,” Blanche said.

One of the booking agent’s friends yelled at them and said they would never do another show for him again, he said. “They were calling cops and fighting with us and everything else,” he said. “This whole thing spilled out to the street it was quite a sight.”

Is a stage story worthwhile without the cops being called?

Josh Davidson
Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.
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