Five Firsts: Michael Eck
NAME: Michael Eck
BAND AFFILIATION: Ramblin Jug Stompers, Lost Radio Rounders
INSTRUMENT: I own guitars, mandolins, ukuleles, jugs and a bunch of other stuff. Whether I actually play them is open to debate.
1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … Well, I had records before I bought them – mostly plastic bags of old jukebox 45s from L.J. Mullen Pharmacy that my mother bought for me and my two older brothers. I also pilfered stuff from her album collection, and I remember having the Dewey Martin and the Medicine Ball album from a garage sale. But the first album I ever bought with my own money was Peter Frampton’s “Frampton,” from the Woolworth’s at Delaware Plaza, which, believe it or not, had a pretty awesome record section in the days before Record Town opened. Korvette’s – at Northway Mall – also had an amazing music department. My vinyl copy of Television’s “Marquee Moon” still proudly sports its Korvettes sticker. Then you had Just a Song at 20 Mall, and the one on Central Ave, and World’s Records…but I digress. The first single I bought, if you want to believe, by the way, was Barry Manilow’s “Daybreak,” but that’s an altogether different question, isn’t it?
2. THE FIRST CONCERT THAT I EVER SAW WAS … Amazing, that’s what it was. Aerosmith, March 1978, Palace Theatre. I was 13. Steven Tyler was so f-ed up that he couldn’t even get the words to “Last Child” straight, but the scarves looked cool. This was the “Draw The Line” tour, where the band wanted to get back to their roots by playing smaller halls. Tickets were doled out on a lottery system, and me and my schoolmate John Eidberger sat in the second to last row of the stone bleachers at the back of the balcony. Joe Perry and Brad Whitford kicked the show off with the screeching middle riff of “Kings and Queens,” even though they didn’t play the whole song. I couldn’t hear for days after. I still can’t hear. My next three shows were Be Bop Deluxe (Palace), Fleetwood Mac (SPAC, on the “Rumours” tour) and Patti Smith (Palace). That Patti Smith show – that was the one that changed everything. It was supposed to be my third show, but she had to switch the date, so it fell the day after Fleetwood. She pissed herself, rubbed herself with the American flag, kicked some asshole in the face and played a guitar solo that consisted off pulling all the strings of her Fender Duo-Sonic. Good lord, it was great. But I digress…
3. THE FIRST MUSICAL INSTRUMENT I EVER OWNED OR PLAYED WAS … Truly, it was a “Mexican Rhythm Kit” that I begged for for Christmas when I was 11. I also wrote my first song on it – a most-likely-racist little suburban ditty called “Jungle Fever” that consisted of the words “Whoa-oh-oh Jungle Fever” repeated over and over. My first guitar was much cooler – a 1966 Mosrite Ventures Model purchased at a yard sale in East Greenbush for $20. Johnny Ramone and Kurt Cobain would have been jealous. I couldn’t afford the extra $20 for the ’65 Fender P-Bass that was right next to it. I had that guitar signed by all of the Ventures in 1981 at J.B. Scott’s. We gave them a ride to the hotel, and they sang “Happy Birthday” to my friend Harold, who completely missed the beauty of the best-selling instrumental band in the world singing to him. But I digress…
4. THE FIRST SONG THAT I EVER PERFORMED IN PUBLIC WAS … “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by the Clash. The band was called Deaf Zone, but later we became the Plague. You’d think I could leave it at that, but no. It was a battle of the bands at Bethlehem Central High School, and the rest of our setlist included “Clampdown” by the Clash, “Operation” by the Circle Jerks, “Anarchy in the U.K.” by the Sex Pistols, “Nazi Punks F-Off” by Dead Kennedys and a bunch of originals written by bored teenagers. Not that I remember. And yeah, I wore a cowboy hat with an American flag pin on it; and a plaid suitcoat; and a beard. We didn’t have any songs to do if we won the contest, so we just figured – in a sort of what-would-Flipper-do kind of way – that we would play “Louie, Louie” for an hour. We didn’t win. But I digress…
5. THE FIRST BAND I WAS EVER IN WAS … was a trio called Neon Knights with Sean Roche and Bob DeAngelis from Christian Brothers Academy. We all went there even though we lived in Bethlehem. Bob hit his drums so hard that little pieces of drumsticks and blood would land all over me. I had to push my knee against his bass drum to keep it from creeping across the floor. You should have seen the bruise. One time the blood seeped through my pants, but it taught me about locking the bass and drums together. We played only songs by Black Sabbath, the Rolling Stones and AC/DC. Eventually, it became this ten-piece behemoth with two drummers, a keyboardist and too many guitarists, but Lenny, the singer, could do a pretty good Bon Scott. I wanted to do some MC5, but it wasn’t to be. But then, as you know, I digress.
Michael Eck leaves his various bandmates behind for the evening on Sunday, when he brings his maximum solo acoustic sound to Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs in celebration of his brand new CD, “In My Shoes.”