By Eileen Tilson
The cult popularity of Uncle Tupelo and its spin-off groups Wilco and Son Volt opened the doors for what became an entire new generation of musicians who grew up in the punk rock generation but found genuine connection with traditional country. The Scud Mountain Boys – Joe Pernice, Stephen Desaulniers, Bruce Tull, and Tom Shea – clearly fit into this camp. The band originally played electric rock’n’roll under the name the Scuds. Pernice, Desaulniers, and Tull formed the group in Northampton, MA, in 1991, and they gained a respectable local following. But the bandmembers soon tired of hauling equipment around and found they much more enjoyed the after-show get-togethers playing acoustic country songs around the kitchen table at home. Finally they decided to haul the kitchen table to a club. And history was made. We were joined by Stephen Desaulniers before their show at the Black Cat this Sunday.
What was the first gig you ever went to?
It was by accident. I was 14 and my church group took us to Riverside Amusement park in Agawam MA where I saw Robin Lane and the Chartbusters. I had never heard nor heard of them. As we were getting ready to leave, they played “When things Go Wrong,” which blew my little mind. This is a clip is of the Chartbusters from that time doing that song at The Rat in Boston. Every now and then I play a show with Robin, and it is the coolest thing to think back on that show.
What is the best gig that you ever played/performed at?
I have been playing (along with Tom Shea) in The Ray Mason Band for many years. Although Tom wasn’t a part of this particular show, we once opened for The Band at Amherst College. We played pretty well, as I recall, but it was more about…you know, playing a gig with the fucking Band, who we didn’t get to meet, but I didn’t care, I’ll always get to say I shared a bill with The Band. Lame, I know, but did I ever tell you about the time my buddies and me opened for The Band?
What is the best gig you have ever been to?
Grateful Dead, Rochester War Memorial, 11-8-85 – Really, do I need to say anything else here?
Gig you would most like to play?
Like to play Levon’s Midnight Ramble.
What would be the lineup for your dream gig?
Playing with the Ray Mason Band, any Friday night down the street from where I live. Right now that’s Whisker’s in Easthampton, MA. The bill really doesn’t matter, though I’d like to do another show with National Carpet. Two free beers, and I leave with more money than I came in with.
Catch The Scud Mountain Boys Sunday Feb. 19th, at Black Cat Washington, D.C.