Upper Crust

Wn Friday November 14th, the Titanics reunited (with Jay Parham on bass) as part of two benefit shows for Stephen Fredette at T.T. the Bear's in Cambridge. Stephen, of course, is Dave (the Duc d'Istortion) Fredette's brother and a member of the extended Upper Crust family in his own right by virtue of his occasional stints with the Titanics and Satanics -- not to mention his excellent artwork (42k) that graces the Upper Crust T-shirt.

Unfortunately, Stephen has recently had some serious medical problems: he had a defective heart valve, which was successfully repaired. His problems were compounded, however, when he suffered a stroke while in intensive care following the heart valve surgery. Thankfully, he's almost fully recovered. His medical expenses were covered, but he missed work for two months; that's what prompted these two shows. Among the bands that appeared over the two nights are people that Stephen has played with in the past and/or bands for whom he's designed T-shirts.

Here's the lineup, as seen on T.T. the Bear's web site (which adds "bands subject to change"):
Thursday, November 13th: Charlie Chesterman & The Legendary Motorbikes, Sir David James Minehan & His Loyal Knights, Boy Wonder, Wheelers & Dealers, Serum, Pete Weiss.
Friday, November 14th: Crown Electric Company, Titanics, Eric Martin & The Illyrians, Lazy Susan, Elbow, The Gravy.

If you went to one or both of these shows, please e-mail me at crust@juvalamu.com and I'll add your comments to this page. Here are two messages I've already received, along with some memories of the Titanics and Stephen Fredette from a long-time Titanics and Upper Crust fan and an article from the Boston Globe about the benefit.

Eric Martin & Illyrians were pretty damn good... but the show of the night was clearly The Titanics. They were maybe a little sloppy but still rocked, despite Dave's comments about how they sounded just like they used to: "out of tune"... Nat did slip into the Bendover persona at first, but some idiot yelled "wrong persona" and he seemed bemused. [Editor's note: Had I been there, I would have been the idiot who would have yelled "That persona's non grata!"]

It was great to hear the old songs again. They played mixed Titanics and Satanics... Only about 1/3rd of the songs on the set list I saw were played, including:

Totally Mystified
Fuck You Up
Right Side Of Satan
Number Of The Beast
Turn Around On A Dime
Ahead Of The Game
High On Drugs
Rock Hard Cock

They were unfortunately unable to comply with many requests for old covers, like Brandy, or some of the near-end Satanics songs like Crotch Shot.

The benefit for Stephen Fredette was a rousing success (and a fantastically great time) last night. Even with a snowstorm the club was pretty well packed by the time the Titanics took the stage. It was great to see.

I saw part of Elbow's set. They were very good (had an excellent harmonica player).

Next up was Lazy Susan. It was a treat to see them again. They opened up MANY shows for the Titanics and Satanics way back when. Their lead singer, Therese Bellino, actually sang back up vocals on the Satanics LP. It was a mostly acoustic set, which was a bit different but sounded fabulous. They were joined, on mandolin, by Stephen Fredette !!! - WOW

They were followed by Eric Martin and the Illyrians. Eric is a stupendous singer/songwriter/musician (he used to be in The Neats) and the set he and the band put on was sooooo rockin !!! The group included Randall Gibson on drums. Randall, you may remember, used to play with Nat Freedberg in The Flies but he left after their first LP to join Scruffy The Cat (w/ Stephen Fredette).

And then it was time for THE TITANICS! The first words out of Nat's mouth were "This may be kinda sloppy. We only rehearsed once and that was ten years ago." In spite of this statement they played admirably well. Last night's lineup consisted of Nat and Dave Fredette on guitars. Jay Parham on bass and Fred Nazzarro on drums. They played many faves such as: "Man's Inhumanity To Man," "Stayin' On The Right Side Of Satan," "High On Drugs," "Going Out Of My Way To Be Nice To You," "Turn Around On A Dime" and "Totally Mystified." Nat then asked the soundman how much time they had left. He was shown 5 fingers and started saying "Oh 5 songs, that's a lot more music" but Dave interjected and asked if they meant 5 songs or 5 minutes. Alas, it was only 5 mins (T.T.'s is near a residential area and are required to close promptly at 1AM). The band then pulled out (no pun intended) Rock Hard Cock which was a bitchin' ending to a great (though short) set.

One truly riotous note; Nat kept lapsing into his Lord Bendover persona (the accent and attitide). I think it's so ingrained by now that he just can't help it.

Crown Electric Company finished off the night with a fantastically FUNKY set. At one point, one of the singers kind of toasted Stephen Fredette and commented it was too bad he had to go through heart surgery for the Titanics to get back together...

Before I end my ramblings; two notes of interest. 1) I did see Jim Janota enter the club shortly before The Titanics took the stage. 2) I also spotted Mark Sandman from Morphine in the audience - pretty cool.

I was unable to attend the Thursday night's show; Charlie Chesterman from Scruffy The Cat, Dave Minehan from The Neighborhoods - DAMN, I missed them !!! If you get any reports on this show please post them. I'd love to hear how it was.

Reminder -- e-mail me at crust@juvalamu.com and I'll add your comments to this page.

Memories of the Titanics & Stephen Fredette

There was a great show at The Rat... Nat had been treated to several rounds of Tequila and by the encore he was mangling lyrics quite creatively... All Hung Up, for instance, ended up something like this:
		Girl I tried to open your mind
		Tried to give you love in your behind
Amazingly, he then accepted "Rebel, Rebel" as a request... Problem was that the band knew the music, but Nat didn't really know the words (except for the "Rebel, Rebel" part). So after the intro, Nat is basically going "I don't know the words... Rebel rebel..." Fortunately, Stephen, who knows all kinds of pop songs, stepped up and saved the day, singing the entire song. (Nat chipped in on the chorus).

Later, we requested "10 Foot Pole" and Stephen started it off, but it ground to a halt as Nat didn't recall the mouth sounds... During the early Titanics days they played a lot of covers, including stuff like "Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto", "Brandy", "Aufweidersen", etc. One night they played this really short song called "10 Foot Pole". It was bloody near incoherent because it is extremely uptempo. Anyway, it was totally brilliant... afterwards Nat admitted (on mic) that he didn't know "all the words". (He has also said that about "Out Of The Frying Pan").

(People who've followed the Titanics from way back seem to have made a practice of requesting the song. It was played by request at what was possibly the best Titanics show ever at the MIT student center. I was an undergrad at the time, so this was like having them play in my living room. Beers were $0.25 each (no joke) and they played without an opening act, with one break, for about 3 hours. At the end, they were basically out of songs.)

Stephen also played with The Satanics at least once... this was actually before The Satanics were an official "real" band. The Titanics used to play almost every weekend, but that wasn't enough for them, so they would play out under other names to keep the booking agency from getting pissed off. I recall shows as The Cannabolics, The Satanics, and "Tie-Tan-Icks".


Rockin' from the heart

by Jim Sullivan.
© Copyright 1997 Globe Newspaper Company. Used without permission. Hope they don't mind. Buy an extra copy of the Globe today.

If you go to T.T. the Bear's Place in Central Square tonight or tomorrow night, you might spot a guy sitting in the middle of the dance floor, watching six bands each night wail away. That guy would be Stephen Fredette. Tonight's bands are Charlie Chesterman, Sir David James Minehan and his Royal Knights, Boy Wonder, Wheelers & Dealers, Serum, and Pete Weiss and His Rock Band; on tap tomorrow are Crown Electric Company, the Titanics, Eric Martin & the Illyrians, Lazy Susan, Elbow, and the Gravy. Tickets are $8 (cheap).

Why does Fredette - a guitarist in Custer, Pete Weiss and the Rock Band, and Thing From Venus - get to park himself? He's the reason the bands have banded together. On Sept. 18, Fredette, who is 41, underwent successful surgery to repair a defective heart valve. While in intensive care, he suffered a stroke. "It was a pretty adventurous time, though it was a pretty mild stroke," he says. "When it first happened, I lost use of my left side. It was like having the rug pulled out from under me again." But now, he says, he's 95 percent mended: "If you talk to me you'd have no idea something happened. The only thing I have left is numbness in my left arm."

Insurance covered the operations, but Fredette lost two months pay at his day job at a frame shop. "He's just a prince," says Pat McGrath, guitarist for Wheelers & Dealers. "I'd play all day several days for him." McGrath and Fredette were roommates for three years, and McGrath credits his buddy with teaching him to play. "A lot of people make music seem like a magic trick, try to keep it exclusive, and he was of the opposite school," McGrath says. "He was so sharing."

Boston rockers, it seems, are ready to perform a benefit at the drop of, well, a quarter. Eric Martin of the Illyrians recalls that in '81 when fire struck the Allston house where he and his bandmates in the Neats lived, a benefit was organized within a week.

Fredette may join Lazy Susan for a couple of songs. Aside from that, he says, "I feel obliged to show people the kind of kindness they're showing me. I'll wing it."

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