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writings

Work Music

NYC's Number One Antidrugsex Band

The Saga of the Workdogs

Horse: The True Story

Dog daze

Maxwells, 6-2-89

Goin' Down Under

WORKDOGS

There's No Tomorrow for Red


Dog daze. The hardest working band in lower Manhattan is the Workdogs.

  Running amok and unrestrained in grizzly Gotham City is a band called the Workdogs. There couldn't be a more appropriate name for them because that is precisely what they are - the hardest working, dumbest, mangy mutts ever to beg from the table of plenty or run in a pack with the fiercest wolves of rock n' roll.

  It all began for the Workdogs, a.k.a. Rob Kennedy (on bass), and Scott Jarvis (on drums), when, as young runaways, they fell under the spell of the flowering psychedelic music scene and started swabbing the floors of the now defunct Fillmore East in exchange for free entry into the wild live nighttime extravaganzas there. At the Fillmore, they got their first break, one among many that would not catapult them to fame, but rather, add another scarring crack onto their abused psyches. In the great do-it-yourself garage rock tradition these two fans put down their brooms and rose to see life from the stage. After a night of satanic frenzy, two musicians entered the club and began playing along with them - just for the HELL of it. The impromptu members of this unlikely jam were none other than Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, in town to record their historic Live at the Fillmore East album.

  Sine that fateful day, Scott and Rob have never lost their driving passion for playing together. As a guerilla rhythm section for hire, they've always been ready, never ever missing a beat (expect when they're too stoned to function). Some of the many bands they've gigged with as side-men over the years are familiar to followers of alternative rock; The Velvet Monkeys (from Washington, D.C.), Half Japanese (from Union Town, Maryland), Mo Tucker (ex-Velvet Underground), Purple Geezus, Tav Falco's Panther Burns, High Sheriffs of Blue, to name but a few. More noteworthy than their reputation as the hired hands of the underground circuit, is their odd career as a band of their own. They've refused to enlist the regular services of any single, permanent band member and chosen, rather, to have a different third member sit in for each and every gig and recording session. The list of special guests is as lengthy, obscure and cultishly historic as those they've sided with, and includes Ivan Julian (ex-Voidoids), Bond Bergland (ex-Saara Dogs and Faktrix), Rudi Protrudi (Fuzztones), Greg Slab (Raging Slab), Ted Horowitz (Pierce Turner), Jerry Williams (Purple Geezus), Mark Abramson (Cosmic Oven), Don Fleming (BALL), Russell Burke (Turbo Hydromatics), and on and on.

  If a name were invented for music the Workdogs produce, they'd make sure it was illegal to say on the radio. I'd call it a virulent combination of musical roots blended together in a greasy cup, like a potent mix of a dozen rot-gut moonshine spirits. the overwhelming flavor is the blues. Kennedy says that music "appealed to us because it's so simple that no matter how fucked up we get, we can usually play it, and because it's always about either sex, or work or getting fucked up - things we can relate to." Among the other bad-ass American musical roots in their songs are chitlin howling C & W, jazz (of the hardcore Beebop, roots R & B, and early Big Band Swing nature), and amphetamine-twisted truck drivin' music. If you don't like the sound of all this (and who in their right minds could blame you), you should be sure to stay far away from Coney Island on July 7th, where they'll be raising hell with the Gibson Brothers and the Velvet Monkeys, respectively.