The Mighty Mighty BossTones: The Early Years
Making the Best of It
by Johnny Vegas
In the early winter of 1992 our new manager, Jack Flanagan, was trying to get
us some out of town gigs, which at the time was not an easy thing to do. Not
even for a well connected road dog like Jack. Even though we only had one record
out and had played very few gigs outside Boston, Jack had faith.
After a lot of phone calls, Jack called in a few favors and managed to put together
a weekend tour. The first show was in New Haven, CT and we all piled into a rented
van with the back seat taken out for gear and headed out of Bean Town early on a
The gig was at the Moon Club, a little barroom with a makeshift stage on the outskirts
of downtown. It turned out to be a great show and we ended up returning to the Moon
several times over the next couple of years. We were playing in New York City
the next day, so after the gig we loaded up the van and headed for the Big Apple
where we had friends who would put us up.
We arrived at the Wetlands, a hippy/reggae club in New York's lower west side,
at various times throughout the afternoon. I was standing on the corner in front
of the club when Josh Dalsimer, our drummer showed up with some friends followed
closely by Paul (Sledge) Burton, who was playing trumpet with us at the time,
and Steve Malone our sound man. Someone wondered out loud where the rest of the
band was when we remembered the rule of thumb for finding missing Bosstones: check
the nearest bar. We walked to the end of the block to an old man bar, and found
the rest of the band shooting pool and yuking it up with some of our New York friends.
It was here that Jack informed us of the nature of tonight's gig. Apparently
there was a book publishers convention in town and we had been hired to play
a private party for the conventioneers. We all laughed and told Jack to make
sure we had a bottomeless guest list.
The crowd started arriving early in the evening. They were mainly middle-aged
out of towners dressed in preppy, casual clothing. They stood around noshing
on hors d'oeuvres and engaging in conversations while they waited for the promised
"reggae" band to go on. A country band, complete with washboard player and bored
housewife lead singer provided mellow dance music for a few couples in front of
the low stage.
When Steve signaled us in the little dressing room/closet that it was time for
us to go on I remember Joe Gittleman saying that the club was going to clear out
fast when we went on. He was right, in fact, I've never seen anyting like it.
Practically from the first note of our opening number "Devil's Night Out" there
was a stampede at the front door. We watched as people actually lined up to get
out! We finished the song and looked out at the empty room and about two dozen
of our friends laughing hysterically by the front of the stage. In an attempt
to lighten the mood even further, Dicky started improvising, asking the vanishing
crowd if they'd caught the opening act, stating that they "looked like someone's parents."
We finished the set with the first band's lead singer drunkenly clawing at Dicky's
legs and calling him bad names.
With that behind us, the next day we headed enthusiastically for Port Chester,
about forty minutes outside the city. I went up with my friends Paul VanDorpe
and Eric Lemasters. We entered the nice little neighborhood bar where we were
playing and saw a couple of the Bosstones on stage setting up for sound check.
The place was dark and empty except for a few local bar flies tipping back draft
beers and scotch and sodas. At the end of the bar a visibly drunk old lady was
yelling at an even older man. "You never went to Vee-it-nam...you're a god damn liar."
"Here we go again," I said to Eric and Paul. The people that showed up to see
us that night were really cool though. Most of the bar flies even hung around,
and the old lady yelled obscenities at us throughout our set. At one point Dicky
told the audience he wanted to see if we could get everybody in the bar on the
stage. I think we actually pulled it off. All in all we had a really fun weekend.