Music » Interviews

The empty set

Two Oregon-based bands aim to put selves, Triple Nickel on map


On a positive note, it cant be too expensive to replace a - bucket drum set.
  • On a positive note, it cant be too expensive to replace a bucket drum set.

Hillstomp guitarist Henry Kammerer laughs when he recalls the last time, and the only time, his band played the Springs.

About a year and a half ago, amid a tour in which Hillstomp had played almost exclusively small venues and dive bars throughout the West, the duo came to the Springs to play the stage at Red River Saloon (the venue now known as the Thirsty Parrot).

"Suddenly, we found ourselves on a really big stage," recalls Kammerer. "The room was huge."

Certainly, it was a new experience. And a welcome one until the house lights came on. The large-scale amenities made one thing painfully obvious: the small-scale crowd of 15.

"It was fun," Kammerer says. "A little bit bizarre."

And a little bit of a reality check. Yes, Hillstomp had been playing smaller stages on that tour, but it had also been playing to larger crowds. And when the band did play rooms this large, it largely occurred back home in Portland, Ore., where selling out such venues isn't unheard of for the duo.

This time in the Springs, Hillstomp and its fellow Portland-native touring partners, I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House (affectionately known as SOB by loving, abbreviation-minded fans), will likely feel much more at home. If anything, the venue they'll be sharing tonight might be too small for their now-acquired taste.

The Triple Nickel Tavern, co-owned by local musician-done-good J.J. Grueter, Jr. (known to most locals as J.J. Nobody), has from time to time played host to local musicians in its billiards room-turned-concert hall, though appearances from out-of-town acts have been sparse.

Grueter never intentionally aimed to establish a venue for national tours. Actually, the roots of this performance are far more informal. Last month, as Grueter's Drag the River toured with SOB and the latter began booking venues for its next tour, the Springs local offered up his own establishment as a potential stop. A final promise no limit on booze consumption sealed the deal for SOB, which, having never previously played the Springs, was more than happy to accept the invite.

"I love coming into a new place for the first time, 'cause they don't know you from Adam," says SOB frontman Mike Damron. "That's the fun of this job: starting from nothing and building up a following."

Certainly something Hillstomp, already having had its Springs initiation, can empathize with. As the Red River Saloon story goes, Hillstomp set aside the embarrassment and rocked its bucket drums and slide guitar all evening long.

"Fifteen people there and 15 CDs sold," Kammerer recalls proudly.

This time, the bands are expecting a few more in attendance. The Hillstomp MySpace page has already had plenty of confirmations from its local set of fans many of whom were in attendance the first time the duo played the town.

"Hopefully that same 15 will come back, " Kammerer says.


Hillstomp and I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House

The Triple Nickel Tavern, 26 S. Wahsatch Ave.

Thursday, Nov. 2, 9 p.m.

No cover; call 477-9555.

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