My friend Mike returned from vacation in Corfu last week to a spate of bad news:
- A lawsuit involving his dog knocking over an elderly lady in park had somehow gotten revived long after he had deemed it over and done with. Over the years, the plaintiff’s allegations have gotten trumped up and dramatized to the point that they now include Mike standing over the victim and laughing evilly while she writhes around in pain. So, needless to say, it’s shaping up as quite a courtroom drama.
- The same dog– now years older and much calmer since the park incident described above– nevertheless terrorized his dog sitter while Mike was in Corfu such that the sitter no longer has any interest in looking after the dog.
- Most hurtful of all, Mike returned to find that he had been ousted from his role as Mitch Mitchell in the Jimi Hendrix tribute band he plays in and replaced by… a chick!
Now, performing in a tribute band is such a farcical and inauthentic experience to begin with that it would be easy to poke fun at someone’s feelings of betrayal at being kicked out of a fake Hendrix band to which they felt a sense of ‘belonging’. But, note a few disturbing facets of this: first, the fact that the band has removed a mild-mannered, male, native English-speaking drummer from the Mitchell role in favor of a Czech woman clearly indicates that it is taking its one big craven shot at ‘the big time’ and has abandoned any sense of fidelity that it once had to emulating the real Hendrix Experience. Unless you’re going to replace every member of the group with a woman, this expedient mixing-and-matching of personnel clearly violates the unspoken ethical/aesthetic code of the tribute band.
Next, in the long tradition of Rock Bands Not Handling Things Professionally, no one actually directly informed Mike of the palace coup. Instead, he found out from the band’s facebook page, where its Iago-like manager had posted a concert notice inviting followers to ‘guess who our new drummer will be!’ (A strange and unanswerable question to pose, by the way… what should one guess, Kofi Annan?)
When Mike told me about all this, I was reassured by the fact that he had already assembled a bunch of half-baked ideas for how to wreak revenge on his former band, as this — i.e., obscure vengeance plots– seems like the normal and healthy response of a bruised creative ego. One idea was to make a somewhat condescending documentary about a tribute band who arrives in the Czech Republic from the US and whose personal identities become totally eclipsed by their assumed Hendrix Experience identities. I endorsed this and vigorously recommended the Chuck Klosterman essay where he follows the Guns ‘n’ Roses tribute band around as background reading. My only other suggestion was that he form a rival Hendrix band that specifically emulates Jimi’s Band of Gypsies phase, and thereby re-ignites the whole debate about whether he was better when he was playing with British white guys or American black guys.
For old times’ sake, here’s a clip of the The Jimi Hendrix Facsimile from the Trutnov Music Fest back when Mike was still manning the drums:
See also: The Seven Types of Stories, in which I go to see the Stone Free Experience play, but wind up writing mainly about the Led Zep cover band that follows them.