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ACOUSTIC ROSS DOT AS THEY SAY COM PRESENTS THE TRUE AND SECRET HISTORY OF
I came up with the name around 1988 but took 4 years to finally consider putting an actual band together to use it. It’s pronounced "vagrants," but I always spelled it this way, to imply some meaning and to describe much of the music - vague rants. (Vaguer Ants?) When we launched in 1992 I was just figuring out how to write songs, and it showed. I like to think of this band as one brilliant, shining moment that stretched itself out over a span of several years until it finally broke into piles of cute little shiny pieces. No practice schedules, no paying gigs, no permanent membership, just a floating workshop of sorts; but there was always great music, and it was always great fun to be a part of it.
PHASE ONE: 1992
We played in Dave’s basement a few times. I was a new - and horrible – guitarist, just having bought my first electric. We pulled off some remarkable jams, especially when we traded instruments, rotating Ted to drums, Dave to guitar, me to bass. I faced the obvious in July, placing an ad for an additional guitarist/vocalist; but I took a job two hours away in August, ending the electric phase of the group. We never even got any songs completely worked out. There exists a tape of the first day we played together – I copied it for a lot of folks at the time who I sincerely hope never listen to it anymore. It’s like having naked baby pictures posted in public and it scares me just a little…
PHASE TWO: 1994
On a visit to Kent, Ohio, where Ted and Mark shared a house with the afore-mentioned Dave, I got hooked on acoustic guitar. Mark & I spent most of an afternoon playing together, with him on acoustic bass, taking a break just long enough to go buy me an acoustic guitar of my own. Within weeks we acoustic Vaguerants played our first open-mic night (July 13, Brady’s Café, Kent). By year’s end we played three more such nights with three lineups (one had Dave sitting in on drums with Ted on bass and Mark unavailable). In early 1995 Ted & I played (very poorly) in a Grateful Dead festival in Wheeling, WV. We did "Uncle John's Band," "Casey Jones," and "Friend of the Devil," only the last of which acquitted us in any capacity. Soon I took another job, this time in Springfield, Missouri, effectively ending phase two. In Springfield I honed my solo act, which I’d begun out of necessity in the Brady’s days, and in the 15 months I lived there I played about 60 open-mic and scheduled gigs in various bars & coffee shops.
VAGUERANTS REUNION TOUR 1997 (same lineup as phase two)
I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma for yet another job, in an apparent attempt to justify the band name. In August of 1997, I’d been in Tulsa for a year, Mark was about to move to South Korea for a year, Dave was now living in Colorado, and Ted was staying in Kent. On my vacation trip back home, we picked up right where we’d left off, playing our best show ever (another Brady’s open-mic night) on just one afternoon’s rehearsals, and that was all.
As of 1998 when I first wrote this page for Mark's site, there was no reason for me to think we wouldn’t do it again, despite the geographical situation - nearly 11 years later as I revise, I'm in Oklahoma, Mark's in Ohio, Ted's in Vermont, and Dave's in Colorado; we're all still playing music in some capacity; and that feeling really hasn't changed. Stranger things than our potential reunion have happened.
Some of my own early original compositions (Something Drastic, In The Distance, for mike and kristin, Big White Chevy), plus a diverse batch of covers: The Beatles' "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window," Bob Mould's "Can’t Fight It," the Violent Femmes' "Fat," Tonio K.'s "How Come I Can’t See You In My Mirror?", Uncle Tupelo's "Screen Door," Frank Zappas's "Plastic People," plus three Grateful Dead tunes we learned for that tribute show. At the ’97 gig we did nothing but covers – Fat, Can’t Fight It, Bathroom Window, plus Adrian Belew’s "Fly," which featured Mark on vocals, Ted on backups, and me on a ridiculously complicated alternate-tuning guitar part that I don’t play particularly well; and my own twisted Spanish arrangement of Green Day’s "Basket Case."
That’s it for now. This time next year, we could be the house band at a Holiday Inn in Afghanistan. You never know.
- Tulsa OK 10/12/98 and 1/16/09
"Acoustic Ross" & "News From Around The Bend" © 2002-3001 Northcraft Entertainment Organization. All content not otherwise specified is also © 2002-3001 Northcraft Entertainment Organization. While we're at it, "Northcraft Entertainment Organization" is also © 2002-3001 Northcraft Entertainment Organization.