Rock Stars In Their Natural Habitats

A zoological study of local musicians roaming free in their favorite hangouts

Running into musicians before regular club hours, you almost always notice that rock stars look smaller off stage. The fact is that the person you see on a Tuesday morning, eating an Egg McMuffin outside the SuperAmerica or buying toilet paper at the corner supermarket, is not the same person you saw on Friday night, bathed in light, elevated above the masses, surrounded by throngs of the insanely devoted and devotedly insane. But then, of course, she < I>is.

We asked six local artists to tell us about the places they hang out in their Clark Kent hours, after their amps are unplugged, their fans are hungover, and they're suddenly just as human as the rest of us. Maybe in the future these musicians will reach that strange celebrity state where every room is a stage and every social interaction is a photo opportunity. But until then, clip and save our pictures--we hear that photos of average people in ordinary places will be valuable to the National Enquirer some day.

 

Tema Stauffer

1-Mike Gunther, on a footpath below Pillsbury Mill: There are so many forgotten nooks where people take refuge down here. I was walking down by the river one time and I found a clearing where somebody had built a fire. There was a woman's sweater folded up perfectly and someone had taken long grass and tied it into a cross. So there were crosses all over the sweater and flowers all around. It gave me a really creepy feeling. I couldn't touch anything. I went back with my friend another time, and there was a book that was open. Someone had written in it: "I just saw Jesus here." There were more crosses hanging from the trees. A year later I came back again to the same spot, and I was sure it was the same spot, but there was nothing there. When I looked up, there was one woven cross left, still hanging from the trees.

 

2-Arzu Gokcen, at Grumpy's Bar: When I used to do [Staraoke] at the Dinkytowner, there were these pipes coming down from the ceiling. This group of guys came in from California, and they were singing [Kenny Rogers's "The Gambler"] and some of them threw this one guy up in the air--it was like, "Yay!" He flew up super high and smashed his face into the pipes. The rest of them got scared, so they just kind of let him drop down on the floor. And he was down there singing, "You got...to know...when...to...hold 'em..." He was in so much pain, but he just kept going.

Running into musicians before regular club hours, you almost always notice that rock stars look smaller off stage. The fact is that the person you see on a Tuesday morning, eating an Egg McMuffin outside the SuperAmerica or buying toilet paper at the corner supermarket, is not the same person you saw on Friday night, bathed in light, elevated above the masses, surrounded by throngs of the insanely devoted and devotedly insane. But then, of course, she < I>is.

We asked six local artists to tell us about the places they hang out in their Clark Kent hours, after their amps are unplugged, their fans are hungover, and they're suddenly just as human as the rest of us. Maybe in the future these musicians will reach that strange celebrity state where every room is a stage and every social interaction is a photo opportunity. But until then, clip and save our pictures--we hear that photos of average people in ordinary places will be valuable to the National Enquirer some day.

 

3-Brother Ali (not pictured), at a Fifth Element freestyle showcase: The kids that come out here are different than I was. When I grew up we didn't learn about hip hop from TV and CDs. We were connected to the culture. In '84, we all break-danced, we all did graffiti art, we all were DJs, and everybody rapped. I would go early to the school dance and wait for the DJ to show up. I'd help him carry his stuff in, and I'd stroke his ego a bit, say something like, "Goddamn, you got a lot of records!" I got into the dance free that way. Right when they opened the doors, I had my tape and I saved my money to buy a microphone, so I'd ask the DJ, "Could you give me a break and let me perform? I won't curse." And he would give me 10 minutes while he went out to smoke. Hip hop is about making things happen in unconventional ways. If you don't have the tools you're supposed to have to make something happen, you figure out your own way to do it.

 

4-Ciaran Daly, at the Imperial Room: At no point in the evening at "Transmission" have I ever had to stop talking, put down my drink, cock an ear at the ceiling and say to my friends "What the fuck is Jake thinking?" All the best DJs work that way--you don't realize that someone is spinning the perfect soundtrack to your evening because, if it's good, it seeps into your bones and your conversation and T. Rex suddenly comes on at the very moment it's supposed to, in that creepy-cool coincidence way that convinces you that yeah, songs are messages from God, written very specifically for you.

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