Nurse the Hate: Uncle Scratch
I was asked by Brother Ant to write a short story about them and their interaction with Bike Culture for Iron Horse Magazine. I have never read Iron Horse Magazine, but I'll bet there's a picture of a heavily tattooed girl in a leather bikini laying across a tricked out motorcycle somewhere towards the center of the magazine. Two quick side notes: 1) I don't see a lot of swimming going on in leather bikinis, do you? 2) Ever notice how motorcyclists give each other that low hand salute when they pass other motorcyclists? Krusty told me he gives motorcycles that wave when he goes by on that Vespa scooter of his and NONE of the motorcyclists ever return the gesture. Oh yeah, like you are some higher order up on the food chain. Get over yourself Cheese. You are just riding a two wheel vehicle that you got with a check and payments just like that kid on the Honda 200 and Krusty on his Scooter. You may look a little cooler, but still...C'mon and have some solidarity man.
Anyway, here's what I wrote. Who knows if they'll print it...
There are a couple of things you should know about Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival. Number one, they kick the devil in the balls all day everyday 24/7/365. Number two is that they don’t travel outside Northeast Ohio very often. Brother Ed says it’s because there are so many sinners living here, but I think it might also be because it’s a lot of work to load all their instruments (or in reality discarded garbage they use as instruments) into Brother Ant’s tiny Hyundai.
I play in a band called the Whiskey Daredevils, and Uncle Scratch will often play shows with us. A couple years ago I asked if they wanted to play with us in Charleston WV, and to my surprise they said “yes”. Apparently besides the show, Brother Ant had some snake handler friends he wanted to see in the area.
We were set to play a different venue than we usually played in the area. Normally we play the Empty Glass as the vibe is perfect for what both of our bands do, but this time we were set to play The Glass Parrot. We had never been there, but we were assured it would be “great” by a mutual friend of the band named “Simply Herb”. (Herb was his name, and I guess his hair used to look like the singer for the 80’s English band Simply Red. Hence, he became known as “Simply Herb”.)
As Uncle Scratch set up their traveling thrift store/garage sale gear to play first on the bill, I noticed the room filling with a large contingency of bikers. Not 55 year old white collar guys that bought a Harley last year, and wear the biker clothes like a weekend Halloween costume. I’m talking about walk-the-walk-Honest-to-God bikers. It turned out the Pagans Motorcycle Club (Gang?) were having a large get together in Charleston, and had chosen this bar as Ground Zero for partying.
I have been to a number of biker events over the years, and as I recall I have heard bands play almost exclusively Allman Brothers and George Thorogood covers. I also have a strong recollection of a really skinny girl with saggy pancake tits playing air cowbell to “Mississippi Queen”. Suffice to say, I don’t ever remember hearing any songs like Uncle Scratch’s “Gimme Back My Bible Baby” or “I Banged A Sinner”. Yet, here two guys in horrible suits were about to play messed up songs about Jesus and Johnny Cash on homemade equipment for a room full of Pagans. It seemed like a death wish.
Unfazed Uncle Scratch went on and did what they do. It was a no holds barred show where equipment was destroyed, Brother Ed sermonized in a confusing blend of profanity and mangled Bible references, and Brother Ant almost broke his leg while trying to balance standing with one foot on Brother Ed’s cardboard tube bass drum and the other foot on Brother Ed’s head. In short, they rocked.
Like all good rock shows, the crowd was divided. Half of the Pagans immediately left, completely confused about what to make of the unfolding spectacle. Was this religious music? Is this a joke? What the hell is going on? Who are these guys? The other half bought in completely, and had a blast. Beers flowed and people crowded the front of the stage. I left the night with mixed emotions. On one hand, it was great to see how Uncle Scratch can completely win over any crowd. Yet, it would have been great if a riot had broken out instead and they had been hung from the rafters by their scrotums. Oh well, maybe I can book them into a show at a Penecostal Tent Revival. We’ll see how that goes…