Saturday, January 26, 2013

Stick Figures - Crayola Bowling

A1. N-Light

A2. Ellis Otivator Dub

B1. Crayola Bowling

B2. September

The Stick Figures EP
Green (2581), 1981

Sid Dansby moved from Jacksonville to Tampa in 1978 to double major in engineering and music at the University of South Florida. He grew up playing a wide range of percussion instruments including tympani, vibes, and xylophone as well as guitar, violin, and piano. His brother Robert, who was an art major at the same college, picked up violin at an early age and played drums. Their school introduced them to multi-track recording and synths as their musical influences gravitated towards the glam sounds of the New York Dolls, Bowie and the unique compositions of Soft Machine, King Crimson, Zappa and Beefheart.

During their first year at USF, the Dansby brothers met Dave Bowman, Bill Carey, and Lee Warren who were in a band called the Art Holes. That band ended the following year when Lee graduated and moved up to Baltimore. Sid and Dave then discussed starting a new project to make music unlike anything else they were hearing. They brought in Bill Carey as well as Dave’s sister Rachel. After trying out a few different drummers, Sid's brother Robert became the permanent choice.

The new band was coined the Jetsons and they played around the Tampa area frequently. There was a very vibrant music scene happening there with a myriad of venue options. The band developed a strong following working clubs like the Buffalo Roadhouse, Ms. Lucky’s, and Mi Backyard 2-3 times per month. They even played sets before films like Eraserhead that were being shown on campus.

Everyone in the band was proficient at multiple instruments so they often switched things around. They all came up with general ideas for songs and typically they’d work them into complete compositions together. The band primarily played original material but they’d throw in maybe one Iggy, Roxy Music, or Jonathan Richman song per performance. After a while they decided to change their name to Stick Figures.

The band earned enough money from gigging to go in a studio on Davis Island in the middle of the night and quickly lay down the tracks for a four song EP. Community radio station WMNF was a big supporter of the local music scene and one of the station’s DJs named Pam Wiener became the Stick Figures manager. She also helped them release their 7".

Each member designed their own unique sleeve and then ran off copies on a Xerox machine before getting together to stuff the records into the sleeves. They received airplay on not only local stations, but even John Peel played Stick Figures on the BBC in England. In fact, the band was picked up by UK indie label Glass Records and were supposed to put out a record with them.

In 1981 the band set out for New York in hopes of finding a broader audience. They continued to be prolific, churning out two or three new songs every week and amassing a repertoire upwards of a couple hundred original songs, but they didn't play out much. After recording most of an album, the struggle to survive in the big city proved too much and things fell apart.

Stick Figures played their finals gigs in Atlanta, back to back nights supporting the Fall and Lounge Lizards.

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