Magical (Musical) Mystery Tour: Part Four

It’s been a while since the last stop on this tour looking back at my not-quite career in music-making, so if you need to catch up, I suggest you check out Part One (The Beginning), Part Two (BAUG) and Part Three (Rahne) before reading further.

We’re going to backtrack a bit to before the break-up of Rahne to discuss the sort-of untold chapter between the chapters. By early 1996, various factions in the Las Vegas-area darkwave/goth/industrial/noise scene had been whispering for months about joining forces to help cross-promote bands and grow the scene. In March, Morgana Athena, Rahne, Rosemary’s Baby, Sackcloth, Someone, Necropsis de la Musique, Wail of Sumer (Jason Feinberg’s band) and surely other acts I’ve long forgotten assembled at Enigma Garden Cafe in downtown Vegas to form an alliance. We took the name of the group from Morgana Athena’s long-time self-publishing label, Still Hour Productions, and with some ground rules set, a new collective was born. Officers were elected, meetings were scheduled, and we were off to the clove-smoke-filled races.

It worked pretty well for a while. With the exception of the colder months when we met at the apartment Jason and I shared, the group met weekly at the UNLV Alumni Amphitheater, which was appropriate, seeing as how most of the venues we played were around, and a number of the Still Hour members lived near, Maryland Parkway. Jason and I took care of group funds and our monthly newsletter, which we distributed to coffee shops and bars as a sort-of self-promotional zine. It introduced people to our artists, promoted shows and provided reading fodder for bored cafe haunters. The group grew in size as interested parties caught on to what we were doing, bringing in poets, artists and even more pop-oriented groups such as Melancholics. Jason hosted a radio show under the name “Still Hour,” plans were underway to release a compilation album (on vinyl!), and even more significantly, we decided to put on a concert festival.

After much discussion at our weekly meetings, we decided to produce a day-long charity concert benefiting AID for Aids of Nevada. We figured an event this large would be great promotion for the Still Hour bands, and obviously also a great fundraiser for AFAN. However, we were mostly a group of twentysomething social misfits taking on a task that may have been a bit too much to chew. Of course, that didn’t stop us.

Somehow, David Taylor (who played guitar in Wail of Sumer with Jason) and I became the point men for the festival, which was dubbed “Music for Time.” Either we both had a little more business savvy and experience than the rest of the crew, or we were both blowhards enough to take charge of things without anyone questioning. Whatever the case, planning for the festival became so time-intensive that I actually took a leave of absence from (and eventually plain ol’ quit) my day job to work on both “Music For Time” and Rahne full-time (ah, to be 20 again).

Our days were spent tracking down sponsors, scouting potential venues, meeting with AFAN, faxing press releases and formulating plans. Back then (and maybe now), it wasn’t as easy as you’d think to secure a large, outdoor venue for a music festival. We were targeting families, but featuring some pretty dark bands. Either way, neither the county nor the city would host a “rock” festival, and eventually we settled on the Rainbow Library Amphitheater, which could accommodate about 1200 people, and that was only after whitewashing the musical line-up for the powers-that-be with a cassette sampler featuring the softest of our proposed bands (bear in mind the schedule included a duo whose act included simulated heroin shooting).

Eventually, we secured services in-kind, including sound and lighting, concessions, advertising, giveaways and more. I designed all the advertising, collateral and tickets (getting really familiar with Adobe’s suite of products), as well as writing up (from notes collected at planning committee meetings) a 12-page document outlining the scheduling, rules of conduct and technical specs for the festival. We had radio spots and half-page ads running, tickets distributed and selling in various retail locations, and even non-Still Hour bands such as 12-Volt Sex (or was it Attaboy Skip? One of ’em!) booked to bring in a more diverse crowd. I had picked up a new part-time job at Kinko’s as my money ran out, but all was on target for our Nov. 2 production. And then …

KABLOMP (that’s the sound of the bottom falling out)

Dave called me a week before the festival to let me know the sound/lighting company dropped out of the show, and he therefore made the decision to cancel the event. To be honest, it’s been 14 years and my memory is questionable, so I don’t know exactly how it went down, I just know there was no meeting of the collective or even the committee, just a decision made to shut down the whole thing.

As you might imagine, this was a mortal wound to a lot of relationships in the scene, and directed a lot of animosity and frustration toward both me and Dave (him getting the worse of it). I pulled Rahne out of Still Hour, forging ahead in a less dark direction. The collective struggled forward but barely made it past the end of 1996. In the end, it was just another blip on the Vegas cultural radar, but looking back, the short-lived era of the Still Hour collective represented something that, in my best estimate, no other group of musicians has been able to replicate here. It was a rare show of solidarity and fortitude you might otherwise never expect from a motley crew of goths, punks, rivet-heads, chronic depressives and otherwise socially outcast creative types.

Next up: Return to the goth side with Morgana Athena!

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