AND JUSTICE FOR ALL

Week after week, I spout off about what I like and don't like here in this column, and, while it may be hard for the legions of Screed loyalists out there to comprehend, there are some who do not always agree with my opinions. Believe me, for every teeming mail sack I receive filled with warm, complimentary letters, there are plenty of, well, negative judgments that come my way:

I'm an asshole. I'm full of shit. I know nothing about music (who told?!!). People like me got Clinton elected. And Clinton's an asshole. I don't cover enough local bands. I don't cover the right local bands. You get the idea; Honest Abe was right.

So in the interest of fair play and equal time and all that, I thought I'd give an opposing viewpoint a chance to be heard somewhere beyond my answering machine. This call--transcribed verbatim--arrived last Thursday, after that week's issue hit the streets featuring a Screed profile I did on a local band named Beat Angels. In case you didn't read it, I liked em. Quite a lot. This gentleman begged to differ.

"Hey dude, man, my name is Dana and I'm just calling in reference to your whole entire page that's devoted to the Beat Angels, and man, you're sick, you're twisted, you have no musical sense at all, I don't even know why you're rating bands. These guys suck. They're the most commercial piece of shit lame band ever in the world. I went cause these guys wanted somebody to come help them be roadie or do sound stuff for them and everything and I came and I sat and I seen them at the Mason Jar and I made myself stay only because I purchased a beer through the first song of these guys and I could not leave running fast enough. "This is the most lame type of music I've ever heard in the world, and for you to say that they're, like, excellent and all this stuff and try and help them get, like, some kind of publicity is completely stupid. There are many better bands and I am not even a musician and I can use your support much more cause we write better music and have better ideas for musical taste than anything you wrote here about these guys. Sorry. Bye."
@rule:
@body:A lot of people in bands, moaning and groaning, call me about how some club owner screwed them over in one way or another, and they want me to expose the various evils in print. Though I generally sympathize, there's not much I can do; nothing is ever documented in these situations, and bands say one thing and club owners say another. Who's right, who's wrong, who knows? Club owners are notorious, sometimes justifiably, for not living up to bargains, yet people in bands are notorious, sometimes justifiably, for being naive.

But here's a little tale that I can write about; it concerns a longtime Valley band named Box of Cherries, cussing onstage, broken promises and how the American court system worked the way it's supposed to.

The band was hired to play for two weekends at the Alamo Saloon in Fountain Hills, but the bar changed hands before the appointed dates. The new owner, John Karetas, hired BOC for an additional weekend. That made three weekends. Head Cherry Glenn Dejongh told me that Karetas (who could not be reached for comment) had seen the band play before he booked it, but after seeing another performance, called to cancel the three weekends. The band was too rowdy; there was too much swearing onstage. Dejongh also admitted that he didn't get along with Karetas.

The Cherries decided to take action, and on June 21 placed the case in the hands of the small-claims legal system at Scottsdale Justice Court. "We were in there for an hour and a half; we both gave our sides," said Dejongh. The hearing officer "was, like, 80 years old, and probably wouldn't know rock n' roll if it hit him in the face. In fact, he went out of his way to stop the proceedings in the middle and said, 'I'm just curious--this has nothing to do with the case--but how do you guys learn your songs? How do you play em up there? Do you have some sort of score that you play to?'"

So the man in charge was no Dick Clark--the Cherries still came out on top. "What they ended up deciding was that we were one-third at fault, because we didn't turn down in a professional manner like we could have," explained Dejongh, "and John was two-thirds at fault, because he made [and broke] a commitment. We would have made $1,440 if we'd played the gigs, and since they judged John was two-thirds at fault, the judgment against him was for $982. That included band's expenses, which included an $18.50 filing fee. John was honorable enough to pay it the day he got the judgment."

What sustained Box of Cherries through all this heated legal wrangling? "We thought we were going to win it, so we told the exact truth about everything," said Dejongh. "About the volume thing and the swearing onstage and whatever. It's rock n' roll, and that's the way it is."

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