Monday, October 26, 2009

Dark Adventure Origins

     Before ebay, the stores, the conventions and even the flea market, Dark Adventure was a band.  In the early '80s a small group of friends and party buddies were gathered in a hobbled together semi-soundproof jam room pondering life and playing rock and roll.  Eventually, the need arose for a name and a list was posted on the door for suggestions and many humorous tags ensued.
     Our group of friends had a bastardized in-language used with each other.  Something ludicrous and ridiculous was, "darklin'" or "dark!" for short.  Appearing on the band name list one night was Dork Adventure and the next night the "o" was crossed out and an "a" added for "dark!"  Several of us claimed responsibility for the monicker later, but that night Dark Adventure the band was born.
     The group went through a few incarnations and lasted several years.  The group never broke out with a contract but they remain in my estimation the epitome of the freewheeling jam band.  Those were heady days and though many of us have drifted apart over time, a few of us have remained great friends.  As to the origins of the name?  I give credit to myself, Johnny, Bo and James combined, as we have all staked claim at one time or another. 
     I had pondered starting a limo service with the name and eventually morphed that into Dark Adventure Comics.  At one time I had a 1968 Cadillac hearse geared for shows emblazoned with the logo and the tagline, "Your Final Stop For Comics."  That and reactions to it are stories for another day as this space belongs to a select other few.  And now...
     Ladies and gentlemen...


     The leader of the band, the inimitable Johnny Scales.  A lead and rhythm guitarist, songwriter, producer and overall talented musician.  I have incredible riffs blazened into my mind to this day from his Ibanez.  He could go melodic, blend into heavy metal then take flight into fuzzy acid melodrama.

      Johnny had an incredible ear for music and a background ranging from blues to the alternative.  When matched with a fellow guitarist of his own caliber he could transcend lead and rhythm into a blend of blissed-out zone.  I still occasionally listen to some old tapes just to hear that Ibanez roar and soar.

     On the drums...Mr. Bo Shealy!  Beginning in high school, I have had the extreme benefit of watching Bo's development from basic rhythm to becoming a bombastic, driving and virtually unstoppable wall of percussion.  Bo played in everything from a Buddy Holly tribute band and studio work to clubs and stages.

     One may think this writer exaggerates when describing this guy-I do not.  I have seen hundreds of bands and listened to all of the percussionists and even studied various beat structures inside and out to assist in creating poetry.  To this date, the most incredible drum adventure and solo I have ever experienced came from the hands and feet of Bo at his kit in his bedroom in 1981.  James Hussey was there and can also bear witness to that intoxicating 15 minutes.

     As is true with most bands on some instruments, Dark Adventure had a revolving bass slot.  One day, Lane Jenkins decided to pick up the bass and the position was filled.  Not only did he have the looks, but he also developed a singular technique that allowed him to fill beat and hold structure when his beginning skills faltered.

     Lane eventually quit the bass when he married and I have always felt his was a talent never fully realized.  Going back through old recordings his playing progressed from the amateurish to the polished in a shorter period of time than one could comprehend.  Lane was a gifted soul and a fine comrade.

     Lastly, no band is true without a voice.  Jeff, "The Rock" (way before that Dwayne guy) supplied that with force.  A classically trained and award-winning vocalist, Jeff could sing a tender ballad as well as heavy metal power vocals.

     Jeff was the first of the two band vocalists and his was the longest and best tenure.  Jeff had the most range and endurance but also had the worst proclivities concerning practice and temperance.  His still remains the voice of a savored period of musicality in my thoughts.


     The above photo shows Dark Adventure approaching their peak.  Pictured from left to right is Johnny, Bo, Lane and at the far right, Joe Feeney.  Never a member of Dark Adventure, Joe had his own groups, including the seminal punk band, Lentil Week.

     Joe was and is a phenomenally gifted guitarist, bass player and journalist.  When Joe took the stage with Johnny it could be dueting maestroes, each attempting to outdo each other while also layering each other's flights with rhythm.  One notable night, Bo's kit was knocked akimbo mid-song by a passed out Jeff.  Salvaging the moment, Joe and Johnny continued on together and just that duo broiled the stage with sheer genius as they managed to not only destroy on guitars but somehow miraculously interchange the persussion parts with one another while successfully engaging the audience's attention away from the problem.

     I must also give a nod to Kevin (vocalist #2) and Simon (bass) of the later incarnation of the band and the rest of the ever changing body of friends, supporters and party animals: the late George Caldwell and Chris Westphal (rest in peace, guys), James, Steve, Logan, Adam, Scott and all the "chicks and dudes" of that era.


     One could ask where was I in the midst of all the bluster I pontificated on above?  Not on stage.  I am not very talented on musical instruments and as such, would never attempt to play the game with those gifted fellows at their level.  We were a great group of friends, each with his own talent.  I wrote several songs for Dark Adventure and over the years, numerous more for other groups.

     Still, every now and then I pull out a tape and press play.  It is a song I wrote called, Parsifal, to music composed by the band.  There is a long and soft guitar and cymbal lead-in to a swooshing and involved Trower-like orchestration that begins the vocals:

I'm the last Grail seeker
I'm the virgin knight
there's no blood on my blade
but the horror in my eyes
is the vulture's stare
on this misty scene
above the bodies of the men
hanging from the trees...

     and so on.  Not the greatest lyrics I ever wrote but I play it for the presence it has and for the subtle and complexly beautiful work on it by Johnny and Bo.  It stands as one of the most remarkable pieces from the short-lived band that created many long-lived memories.

No comments:

Post a Comment