Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Joe Nelson goes to Mt. Rushmore

Coming off an intense day of all things Vic, we switch gears and bring you a great read from our O.C. counterpart, who we asked to share some more memories of life on the road. Joe summarizes life in South Dakota whilst on tour and the people he met along the way. - DCXX

One of my favorite guys from the late 80s was Dan Straight From The Heart out of Rapid City, South Dakota.
Guys who toured in the late 80s definitely know who Dan SFTH is. That's the thing about those times. In between NYC and LA were a ton of scenes being run by 1 or 2 guys. They all have stories too, plus there's a ton of undocumented bands that never went anywhere. I remember in Pensacola there was a straight edge band made up of long haired Seminole Indians. They were GREAT...totally something out of a David Lynch movie.

Anyways, Dan SFTH was the end all be all for anything cool ever finding its way into that horrible place. Anybody who's ever been to Rapid City, which unfortunately for me has been about 4 times, knows that the city contains all the pathetic parts of the movie Fargo. It's like the world's biggest trailer park set up at the base of the Black Hills, which unless you were a Lakota Indian waging war on Custer and company in the mid 1800s is void of any excitement. I mean the only "real" tourist attraction within 100 miles is Mt. Rushmore for Christ sake, which of course is where Dan SFTH worked.

The shows were either held at some broken down skate park, or a conference room in the Comfort Inn. The skate park was the cooler of the venues, although the shows there were always matinees, which made it so you had to drive all night from either the previous nights show in Denver, Colorado, or Salt Lake City, UT...both being about 10 hour drives. Of course the other guarantee you had about the show was the band. Dan's band, Straight From The Heart would surely be the opener. I can't even remember what they were like, but I'm pretty sure they had a demo.

I looked through my old tour journal which I kept and found this entry regarding it.

"Arrived in Rapid City, at a skate park if you can believe it? I tried to skate the half pipe on some yokel's board, but it was all warped from the sun so I ate shit trying to pull a front side 360. It feels like I broke my wrist, but I'm scared to tell anybody. I'm pretty sure they just shoot anybody who comes up lame in these parts rather then take them to a hospital. "A Hospital???...what the hell is that? Some sort of commie deal?...BAMMMMM!!!"

The kid who is charge of the show is Dan Straight From The Heart. He told us we can come to Mt. Rushmore tomorrow if we want. That might be cool. He also carries a picture of Mike Hartsfield, from Freewill in his wallet.
The only reason I know this is cause he showed me. Not sure what I make of that. Maybe it's cause Mike lives in Big Bear, and he lives in South Dakota? I'm thinking there may be a sub-scene to the real scene, made up of hillbilly towns, which I have no idea about. It's hard to say. I'm not sure I even want the answer either.

Straight From The Heart, which is the local Straight Edge band played. It seems every town has one these days, or in the case of Salt Lake City 3 or 4. I tried to watch with interest, but learned I really don't care. Insted was pretty good though. Some hillbillies got a mosh going, which they seemed pretty proud off. One dude even slammed with a Coors light can in his hand. It sure is different out here in the Black Hills. Weirder."

It was weirder that's for sure. I remember after that show or perhaps the one the following Summer we went to shower at some punk flop house there. Anybody who's ever been on the road van style knows that the most important thing is a good clean shower after the show. That and a solid vegetarian meal were seriously the only goals besides the shows, well maybe some of the shows, that any of us ever had.

I was first in line, so with my gear I walked into the house to find 9 - 10 peace punks sitting in a circle smoking weed. To my left was a kitchen piled with 6 feet of at least month old dirty dishes. The bathroom was already filled with 2 - 3 inches of dirty water, before any of us had even taken a shower. I just turned around and headed back to the van. Steve Larson the Insted drummer was next. He asked me "how does it look?" I replied "see for yourself." Thirty seconds later he was unshowered, and back in the van with the same "oh well, maybe Denver will be better" attitude we probably all ended up having that night.

Later in life when I started touring with other bands, Rapid City was no where to be found on the tour route. Dan Straight From The Heart had either thrown in the towel, or fled the Dakota plains altogether. Which if true, was South Dakota's loss, not his. I wonder where he is today? I wonder what he's doing? Do people know him in some office as just Dan? Or is he still Dan Straight From The Heart? ...A legend...well...sub-legend!


Ben Edge said...

Let it be noted that in a Livewire thread many months ago, I declared the SFTH song on the Voice of Thousands (or Voice of the Voiceless?) comp as being the worst hardcore song ever. There was another band out of South Dakota in the late 90s called Spirit of Versailles, which were just as bad, but in a more screamo way.

Stephen said...

I agree with ben edge on this. That SFTH song is one of the worst hardcore songs I've ever heard. Though they weren't great, Spirit of Versailles were incredible compared to SFTH

chad said...

i have the SFTH demo, AND a t-shirt. i don't know if i should be proud or embarrassed. as i recall, the demo was actually slightly better than that track on Voice of the Voiceless but i haven't listened to it in years and years.

Anonymous said...

i had the SFTH record in my hands a few times. nice pink vinyl. other than that i really didn't like it. but don't be coming down on them so hard. there were worse stuff, like that Touchdown demo. seeing their shirt on GB record, i was dying to hear that band in my long gone diehard days. now i heard it for the first time and i understand why they never went anywhere

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erik said...

Dan lives in minnesota now and works as a tattoo artist.