Heritage Hump Day: Sledville, "Bar Room"

Sledville, fronted by a guy most famous for flipping the bird on live TV.
Sledville, fronted by a guy most famous for flipping the bird on live TV.
Courtesy of Onus Records

Every Wednesday is Heritage Hump Day! That's because every Wednesday from now to the end of the year or before someone really big stops us, Heritage Hump Records (a temporary subsidiary of Onus Records) and New Times will be bringing you a limited edition collector's item of a much beloved Phoenix band that walked the scorched earth of Arizona before the year 2000 A.D. We will honor that band with a commemorative digital single that you, the digital public, will have only seven days to download to your computers and smart phones before this single gets marked up to an exorbitant price as determined by the mp3 collector community. When that happens, a new Heritage Hump subject will be chosen and the free-for-a-limited-time-only cycle begins anew.

Marc Norman is one of Tempe's most enduring natural resources. Admit it; he's always been here for you as far back as you can remember, fronting bands ranging from Cottonmouth to Sledville to Ghetto Cowgirl to Narc Morman to Marc Norman and the Saboteurs of Musical Integrity to Velvet Elvis. Marc Norman's always had a gig going on somewhere and if he were ever to move his enthusiasm over to another province like Brooklyn or Seattle, you'd be crestfallen.

To be quite honest with you, I couldn't tell you the subtle difference between any of these groups because you've got Marc Norman's distinctive growl as the connective tissue between all of those bands. When they started out, Ghetto Cowgirl had many of the same people Sledville did, like guitarists Thomas Laufenberg (The Pistoleros) and Phil Beach. Both those gentlemen were on hand during one of the most notorious incidents in Norman's career, the night the air went blue on KTVK Channel 3's NewShow., all because Marc flipped the bird on live local TV. Bob Mehr outlined this shameful TV appearance in his July 22, 2000, article, "The Filth and the Fury."

The incident began when Channel 3's resident piece of eye candy, Claudia DiFolco, held up a copy of the band's debut album, Excuses for Losers, with her hand obscuring the cover photo which depicts a dolled-up cowgirl giving the camera the "finger."

DiFolco sought to explain away the situation by jokingly asking Norman, "She's giving the peace sign, right?" At which point, Norman, wide-eyed and apparently oblivious to the fact that he was not on HBO, gave his own very pronounced version of the single-finger salute to the mass viewing audience.

As far as sheer entertainment value goes, we can't stress just how funny the image of a panicked DiFolco -- breathless gasps and all -- knocking down Norman's hand like an angry schoolmarm was (trust us, we've watched the tape enough times to know).

After a brief and uneasy exchange, the band launched into a song before the feed was sent back to the studio and to a sufficiently bemused Liz Habib commenting, "Guess we're living on the edge tonight." (These oh-we're-so-shocked platitudes continued for much of the program, with NewShow talking heads wringing their hands about the "out of control rock 'n' rollers.")

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But this week's Heritage Hump track puts the spotlight on Sledville, the band Norman fronted from the mid-'90s until it fell apart sometime in 1997.

Says Beach, who currently plays with The North Poverty All-Stars, "One of Sledville's notable achievements was being selected as winners of the southwest region for a VH-1 contest, whose name escapes me at the moment. We were flown to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and performed there with seven other bands, with the headliner being John Fogerty. Also, we were chosen to perform at SXSW 1997 and played at Steamboat 1847, Stevie Ray Vaughan's regular Tuesday gig."

Sledville's discography consisted of a five-song cassette EP called 3 Bucks, released in 1996, and a full-length CD entitled Igneous Rock in 1997, from which this week's Heritage Hump selection "Bar Room" hails from.

"Phil Beach and I would write on his Tascam 4 track." recalls Norman today. "Cause it was cutting edge tech at the time... mmmmm cassette 4-tracks. This one is about Franco from the Mason Jar. Cause he never fucking paid us or anyone else for that matter."

Sleeve coutesy of Onus Records/Heritage Hump Records

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