Unless you are in Metallica, U2 or the Rolling Stones it seems that being a musician means being in a constant state of ebb and flow. Some keep at it through the ebbs and flows while some swim to shore and never get back in the water. I respect either choice but I totally understand the former. For us it's not about money or fame. It's a drive to want to create and perform the music that is you. For those of us, giving up is not a choice.
Their career was flowing & I was just jumping in the water.
Back around 1991 I was going to church at the time. That church happened every Saturday night. That church was Headbanger’s Ball on MTV. One night I saw a band called Last Crack. The song was called "Energy Mind" (VIDEO). Even the title was cool. They really didn't sound like anyone else at the time. A little grungy, a little moody, a little experimental. They had an enigmatic frontman named Buddo. The guitarists, Paul "Pablo" Schluter and Don Bakken, had there own unique sound that was a little different than what was happening at the time. The rhythm section of Todd Winger and Phil "Philo" Buerstatte played odd rhythms that still made you groove. They were all around great musicians. I bought the CD and really enjoyed the band but they never really broke through to the masses. At that point I had no idea where they were even from. I just new they rocked.
A few years later I was playing in a band called Motormouth. We ended up being managed by a gentleman from Madison, WI. I found out he also managed Last Crack and to my surprise they were from Madison. That's when I learned that you don't have to move to LA to "make it". By this point they had split with there original singer and drummer and had a new lineup that was equally amazing. Their new singer, Shawn Brown, was outstanding and original in his own way. I was given an import version of an album called "Runheadstartscreaming" (VIDEO).
Side note: Around this time I had one of my first "holy sh*t" moments in a band. I was playing the Paramount in Madison and looked up to see Don standing there about 10 feet in front of me. I just remember thinking to myself the whole time "Don't suck, don't suck, don't suck".
My career was flowing & theirs was ebbing.
Eventually the second lineup would fracture and they would go on to form offshoot bands that I would play shows with over the mid 1990s when I was a member of Diggin Ruby/LeSonic. I would end up moving to TX and by the mid 2000s I was playing in the Burden Brothers and my "career" was going fairly well. I had heard that Last Crack had reformed with their original singer but hadn't heard much more. At some point the Burden Brothers ended up doing a show at SXSW in front of 1000+ fans and after the show I decided to go to the bar to grab a drink. I look to my left and see Pablo and I'm like "Aren't you in Last Crack?" Then I noticed most of the other guys there as well. I asked them what the hell they were doing there and they said they had just reformed and did a few SXSW things that weren't great (which is usually the case). They asked what I was doing and I told them I had just got off stage. They said they caught the end and it was great. A little small talk and we went our ways. It was a very surreal moment knowing that guys I looked up to were now on the other side of the situation. I remember leaving that conversation feeling bummed for them having to trudge it out all over again. But I also thought it said a lot about their belief in what they do and reinforced my "never give up" mentality. I couldn't wait to hear what they did next.
We both ebbed and flowed. A lot.
Years would pass. I left TX, the band, and relocated to Nashville. I played in a band that did fairly well regionally. We opened for many national acts but I just could never get complete back in the flow. Unfortunately for Last Crack, Philo passed away a few years ago. Chris Havey (who is a monster on the drums) returned and they continued but also seemed to not get back in the flow. We were both, in theory, just treading water, holding on, trying not to drown. They released a live DVD/ album that is great. They just kept moving. So did I.
My career is starting to flow after years of ebb & theirs is flowing again.
Over the last 4 years my "career" has ebbed more than flowed but I've never given up. Only recently have things started moving again and time will tell if I will get in the flow again. Lights of Marfa is working hard and pumping out music like I had hoped we word for years now. As always I'm optimistic and not stopping any time soon. As for Last Crack, in the last year I started to hear buzz again from their camp. Recently it was announced that they had signed to EMP Label Group, the U.S.-based label of MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson, to release a new record. It is called "The Up Rising" and was released a few weeks ago and is worth a listen. (NEW VIDEO) (SPOTIFY) (APPLE MUSIC). It actually charted on Billboard. They are back in the flow.
The Ebb & Flow of Rock & Roll
The lesson to learn is that most musicians don't have the fame and fortune but that doesn't mean they aren't working their hearts out between many ebbs and flows. The amount of pure joy followed by absolute disappointment is beyond words. Most people don't have the stomach for it to even stay in the game for 10 years. I salute all of the guys and gals out their still following their hearts and laying it all out there. If you're in an ebb, don't give up. If you're in a flow, enjoy it but remember what it feels like so you can fight to get back when things begin to ebb.
Cheers to Buddo, Pablo, Don, Todd & Chris for doing what they do and still being an inspiration $% years later. I'm glad they are back and wish them nothing but success.