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November 11, 1997

Madhatter.  Streetbeat.

I am pleased to announce the first M.O.R.E. (Mobile's Original Rock n' roll Evening) which will be at Monsoon's (210 Dauphin Street) on Nov. 12. If you remember last year's M.O.R.E. nights at The Outer Limits, then you will not want to miss the new and improved M.O.R.E. at the bar "taking downtown by storm," Monsoon's.

Before we get into the feature article this week, here is a non-sarcastic look at the "Madhatter Tip Top Five," the only extensive top five list of the best shows to see in the next two-weeks. Number five is Blues Traveler at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA on Nov. 12. Number four is U2 at The Superdome in New Orleans, LA on Nov. 21. Number three goes to Elton John at The Birmingham-Jefferson Coliseum on Nov. 14. Number two is Dr. John at The Rialto Theatre on Nov. 15 in Atlanta, GA. And the best show to see in the next two weeks is Harry Connick Jr. at Symphony Hall in Atlanta, GA on Nov. 18. If you think old Harry is just another Frank Sinatra-type musician, think again. He is a swingin', groovin', jazzed out cajun boy, who can jam!!! Don't miss it.

Here's a quick tip of the madhatt to the boyz in Third World Citizen who rocked Twister's (the old Club Royal downtown). They have the hardest balls I've seen in Mobile. It's good to see bands like that making a comeback in the music scene, especially since the early demise of clubs like the Culture Shock and Vincent Van Go Go (R.I.P.). Keep your eye out for any shows from Third World Citizen, they are the one to see!!

Here is the madhatter music quote of the week. This one will make you feel good about living in this time period, or this country!

"If any person has sung or composed against another person a song such as was causing slander or insult to another, he shall be clubbed to death." Roman Law, Roman Twelve Tables, 449 BC

Who is FEZ? You've heard the name, maybe caught a glimpse at Bayfest, but do you know the "rest of the story"? I have the opportunity to speak with Steven Harper (a.k.a. The Monkey Boy) in a recent phone interview. After talking with Monkey Boy for a while, I discovered FEZ is not limited to being "another surf band." They are a group of well seasoned musicians whose varied musical influences adds a new twist to the classic party "surf" music. They are truly a band for people of all-ages to see.

That is precisely why they will be headlining the M.O.R.E. at Monsoon's on Nov. 12. The show will be open to all ages. The opening band, Jonny and the Shamen, will play at 8:30 and FEZ will finish the show around 1:00 a.m. (no excuses for you early riser's)!

FEZ came to existence eight months ago. After seeing a Ventures show, Monkey Boy decided it was time for a change of pace. So, he left the Dauphin Street Combo to start FEZ. The rest is history.

"Surf music is something I always dug, but never really consciously thought about it," Monkey Boy said. "I used to do a bunch of surf music back in high school. I kind of got out of rock bands in general, and started playing in a jazz band [Dauphin Street Combo]. Then one night I said, 'if I'm ever going to be in a rock band again it will be a surf band.'"

Monkey Boy didn't look far for FEZ's bass player, Ben Harper (a.k.a. Chaos). They have known each other for a very long time; since birth -- or conception, however you look at it. Tim Stanton, otherwise known as "The Mefarious Dr. K. Mako," lays down the beat for FEZ. Monkey Boy first met the rhythm guitar player, Cheri Warren (a.k.a. The Space Girl), at the Mobile Student Symphony years ago. He played cello and she played violin in the symphony. Monkey Boy and Space Girl played together in The Aboriginals in the 80's. Monkey Boy credits three main influences with the stage names and show. Spinal Tap, Kiss and GWAR. There you have it with the unusual stage names. Look for an upcoming comic book by the band to be out in a couple of months. There you will find the long version of the stories about their names.

What about the band name, FEZ? Monkey Boy was inspired from a trip to the "intellectual" capital of Morrocco six years ago. The culture shock he felt in the town of Fez is the basis for the bands' performance standard. They want people to feel "tired and disoriented," as they would on an long travel -- a trip through the surf musical spectrum and beyond. The journey stays true to the surf classics, while making pit-stops in the musical townships of Ska, lounge-jazz, straight-jazz and rockabilly.

'We get a real mix of crowds," Monkey Boy said. "At BayFest we had your middle-aged couples with lawnchairs who came out to see the show and were diggin' it. Then again you would see the fourteen year olds out there with nail, spiked hair, suspenders and their combat boots, and they were diggin' the show too. I love playing for different groups of people. I think cool music doesn't necessarily have any boundaries like that. You don't have to be old. You don't have to be young. Just because your parents listened to it and like it, doesn't mean you can't listen to it too. So, I like all ages shows that are truly all ages, because to me it's cool. I like to look out there and see people who heard surf the first time around and they are diggin' it . That let me know we are doing something right. Then also to see people who are listening to alternative music that are diggin' the FEZ show, that let me know we are also doing something right in terms of energy and aggression.

Complete with stage costumes that live up to the unusual stage names, FEZ as a show appeals to the wide spectrum of music lovers. Better still, you don't need a "degree in music" to appreciate them. In a town of very original musicians, FEZ might be able to open the eyes of the "unoriginal" crowds that frequent the bars downtown. Lookout Mobile, surf is up on Nov. 12 at Monsoon's. And it's going to be a long ride to the shore of musical mystery! Support local music, come see FEZ and Jonny and the Shamen at M.O.R.E. night.

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