Joe Oestreich In Town With Watershed, New Memoir
Columbus, Ohio’s Watershed plays Small’s this Thursday. Bassist Joe Oestreich has a new book out–a memoir of his life on the road with the band. This is more than just another band passing through Detroit on tour, though. A good chunk of the band’s history and subsequent content of Oestreich’s book take place in the area.
They’ve come a long way since they contributed a track to A Fist Full of Chaos on Detroit’s own Chaos Records in 1991, whose founder Sue Summers was an early champion of the band. She’s been telling me for no less than 20 years that I would love these guys, and we should trade shows, and we’re cut from the same cloth. Goddamnit, she was absolutely right. I was 5 pages in to Oestreich’s book and the band is bonding over Cheap Trick deep cuts, listening to Bastards of Young on the juke box at Small’s (before taking the stage in front of 5 people) and washing down percocets with PBRs. A few pages later they’re forming a deep friendship with John Speck (Generals/Hoarse/The Fags/HiFi Hand Grenades) and eventually recording at the Loft in Saline with Tim Patalan. I’ve lived these pages, more or less, but I suspect a lot of people from bands in places like Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and St. Louis have lived them too. We didn’t all get signed to Epic, we haven’t all played to sold-out amphitheaters or toured with The Smithereens, but a lot of us have lived some portion of that dream, and there are even a few of us who are still at it. Whether they realize it or not, they’re carrying the torch for every one of us who used to play places like Lili’s 21, Finney’s Pub and Cross Street Station. Most of the vets of those days have traded in their guitars for Disney DVDs and corporate day jobs, but some of us are still at it, and Watershed – through their refusal to quit – give us a cause to continue.
In the book, Oestreich nails it – the lonely girl back home who kinda gets it, but kinda not, the techniques that bands learn to keep from killing each other while driving through New Jersey in a dying van that smells like pizza puke, and the romantic notion that even if it only means something to us, then it’s worth doing. This isn’t your standard Rock N Roll memoir style of writing. Although both the Sammy Hagar and Ace Frehley books were interesting reads, they weren’t exactly expanding anyone’s vocabulary. Oestreich narrates in a literary, descriptive style that is more image provoking and engaging, almost like fiction. But anyone who can relate to any of the above scenarios knows this ain’t fiction. The rest of you might wonder.
It all comes back to Watershed though. These guys have it down – the great songs, the dual-vocal duties, the biting guitars and sharp hooks they may have borrowed from that Cheap Trick deep cut, or John Speck riff, or some other power-pop anthem and made it their own. They’re supporting their new record Brick & Mortar which you can stream on their site and buy at Small’s. Go to the show, get the book and the record, and either live vicariously through Watershed and remember the good old days or get your ass home and figure out a bridge for that new tune that you’ve been stuck on for a week. Either way, you won’t regret it.
Joe Oestreich will be reading from the book and playing some tunes on Thursday at The Lido at 7pm. It’s free and open to the public. 33535 Woodward Ave. in Birmingham, 248-792-6248 or check out www.springfed.org for more info.
Watershed plays Small’s Bar on Thursday Night. Details HERE.