Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bruising blogging from a Port punk

When Jeff Morris (yeah, that's the guy, second from the left) pulled up stakes last year, he left behind a two-decade deep, stylistically diverse musical legacy only hinted at in "Mutes in the Steeple," the Joshua Pritchard documentary focusing on the Newburyport indie music scene in the late '80s and '90s — from NPD, one of the city's first punk bands, and the Bruisers, who bashed their way out of regional obscurity with a punishing, as-hard-as-you-can-get street punk sound, to the surf-rock-with-an-edge sound of the Cadillac Hitmen, and the in-your-face improvisation instro trio Zuni Fetish Experiment, before finally returning to the song format with Death & Taxes, a straight-ahead rock outfit with no room for flash or showboating. Now Morris, who moved to Chicago last year after getting a day-job offer he could not refuse, begins telling the nasty little story on “Tattooed Hearts and Broken Promises,” his new blog.
Up and running for about a week, the blog will tell the story of an intriguing, fading piece of Port music history. He’s up to the Bruisers so far. It’s also a way for him to stay connected to his base. He’ll also use the Internet presence to post free music, the best kind, as well as archival videos, rehearsals, demos and other obscure musical artifacts of the times — as well as new stuff, once he recovers from Black Hawk fever. And already it's producing paydirt for fans, coughing up rarities like “Separations,” a little treasure with a nasty attitude from the NPD days and “Bloodshed,” a Bruiser tune from a 1989 practice session, even a video of NPD’s "GDMFSOB,"(use your imagination, you foul-mouthed punk) —  guaranteed 100 percent obscure, “from a show at some DAV Hall or some shit I can't remember from 1989,” says Morris. Like we said, it's a fast-fading time.

And the stories ... priceless. Like the first time the Bruisers actually played out. It was 1989, a private party in Hampton with NPD, the Bruisers and the Murderers. "We got to Terry's in the mid-afternoon on a hot, sunny day," Morris writes. "There was a long dirt road leading back to the field where the party was at, and we drove our cars down to the end and unloaded. We noticed there were already well over a hundred people there, mostly townie or jock-looking types. They were drinking and hanging out as we walked through with our stuff, and it was already apparent that there was going to be some friction with pushing and shoving going on as we loaded in. The music started and the crowd gathered in the mud and grass around the partial foundation as the Bruisers played the 15 or 20 minutes of music we knew. We blazed through our set with our friends out front and there were some brief punches thrown between our guys and the townies and the tension was growing. NPD played next. Toward the end of the set I'm playing the guitar and (Bruisers singer) Al Barr comes running up to me with bloodshot, swollen eyes. '"I just got f*#!king maced!' Al yells into my ear as I lean forward, still playing the guitar ..." 

It turned out to be an Outsiders-like brawl with, Morris says, “20 of us and 50 of them.”

Wanna know how it turned out? Check out the blog.

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