My history with Don Howland goes back to 1980/81 when we both attended a small liberal arts college outside of Columbus, OH. I was just getting into different types of music after leading a very sheltered life in rural Connecticut. That year was a big one for me music-wise as I first heard punk rock and New Wave and all of the things that were popular in the underground at that time. I had the fortune of being assigned a room across the hall from the only “punk rocker” at that school. As my freshman year progressed I heard tell of an individual that was into a similar form of music- primarily he was into the Cramps. That’s about the only band I truly worshiped at that time, so it was an immediate stamp of approval for me. In fact, I heard that he had met and interviewed them in person! Well we finally met when some mutual friends attempted to put together a band even though none of us really played an instrument. But Don had a bass guitar. That was big stuff. We met once exchanged pleasantries and never saw each other after that. Don was a senior when I was a freshman. The last time I saw him at school he came to pick up his bass equipment which had for some reason been stored in my dorm room.
Fast forward to 1989. I had been in Boston for a few years by this time, with college years as far from my mind as possible. My brother and I started playing music together in 1986 to be joined by Dana Hatch and a host of others in 1987. At some point we were doing a live performance at WERS in Boston and were hanging out in the studio when I noticed a record in the play pile. It was the Gibson Bros first record and I flipped it over and there was Don! I guess that would place it around 1988 or so. I started working at Rounder Records in 1988 and the Okra record was carried there. Glenn Jones of avante garde guitar fame was a big fan. The Gibson Bros played in Boston that year but somehow I missed them.The first time I did get to check them out was when Jon Spencer and Cristina Martinez were in the band in 1990 and they came through Boston and played the Middle East cafe. I reintroduced myself to Don. I truly don’t think he remembered who I was at all, but we had just released “On Your Knees” so I had a nice chat with him, gave him a copy of the record and that was that.
Well I guess Don liked that record because we stayed in contact, and then played some Gibson Bros shows on the next tour when Rich Lillash was the drummer. This lineup morphed into the Bassholes and thus began a very long association with an intertwined history that is truly amazing. The Bassholes and Cheater Slicks have been partners in crime for over twenty years, ruining the financial fates of which ever label we happened to both be affiliated with…and there are many- including our current label Columbus Discount Records. We played most of the shows with the Bassholes with Bim Lamont Thomas on the drums, but our earliest shows together were with Rich Lillash drumming. For this reason, Don decided that he would like to bring Rich back to play with the Bassholes for our 25th anniversary show as a tribute to those earliest shows back in ‘92 or so, when we were all at our drunken craziest.
To include Bim, who has been a constant companion and friend since we moved to Columbus in 1996, we decided to have the mighty Obnox open the show. Bim has developed into one of the most intriguing and captivating musicians around since he decided to spread his wings and go into solo flight. He manages to combine forms of music that shouldn’t work, into one hellishly powerful, cohesive vision.
All bands and musicians on this bill have weathered many storms and been on the beach a few times as well. But all are still actively pursuing a long-term vision…and that’s a rarity these days. Both the Bassholes and Cheater Slicks have new studio records on Columbus Discount coming out later this year and Obnox is working with Gerard Colsloy’s new label, 12XU. So the story continues…and so does the friendship…and that’s really what this show’s all about….TS