Downtown Dirt by Manhole: Grandpa Takes Sandwich, Mops Floor With Your Lunch


God said He would lay waste this earthly plane a second time not by water, but by fire. But He is a fibber, and a shameless con. At the very least, He was @#$ing with us on a cosmic scale when on Aug. 17 He brought the rain in a seemingly endless drizzle beginning not halfway through the long-awaited final battle of the nearly year-long—or so it would seem, to some of us anyway—Band Eat Band Competition. Sponsored, of course, by our very own Preservation Pub.

And there we were, the stage set—truly—the mics and monitors mounted and humming at the head of Market Square, waiting for the day’s seven battle-scarred survivors to rock the center city to its very core, cleanse minds and hearts of grim memories of the carnage and pain that brought us to this watershed moment of victory and catharsis and random acts of unspeakable cruelty…

But I’m rambling again. That happens in times of stress, and these are stressful times, make no mistake about it. The economy is sunk like a great stone turd in a 401k punchbowl, the government spooks are reading or listening to every word we type, text, or breathe into a cell phone, and Bill Shakespeare is out in a purple muumuu on Market Square, singing “Sweet Caroline” to bemused strangers 400 years after the deal went down…

Which is why it all took on such a heightened sense of urgency when King Super, the Crumbsnatchers, the JoJax, Grandpa’s Stash, Backup Planet, Baseball, and Vagabond Philosophy readied themselves for final conflict. The stakes of war are always higher, Jake, when all we hold dearest is put to hazard.

And so it happened that King Super and the Excellents kicked it all off at 4 p.m. sharp. It was a shit draw, to be sure, but someone had to fire the first shot. And so the Excellents , dressed in their Burt Ward best—they were all cast as Robin, i.e. Batman’s sidekick, circa 1966—took to the stage and did a most admirable job of rocking the Square…

It was a slight not soon forgotten, nor forgiven, tho. Because someone—and the smart money is on King Super frontman Dave Bowers; he is an evil f@#$, and a vengeful one—someone sent it all to blazes soon thereafter, pulled some witchery, or else some arcane voodoo ritual, maybe even appealed to the Dark Lord Himself.

It started with the rain, which hit before the day’s lineup was half-through, forcing bands to stay on the safe side of the stage canopy, and limiting the crowds to the bold and hardy few, the willful rawk diehards who weren’t afraid of a couple of wet forelocks, or a little water in the shoe, or the debilitating prospects of double pneumonia.

And then there were the other mishaps, like the power outage that nearly derailed a wicked set by the JoJax, hitting right in the middle of their opening number—a torrid recasting of “When the Levee Breaks,” with new riffs so dark and heavy that Jimmy Page himself must have gone back and scrawled notes in the margin.

But credit all of those brave bastards, strumming and crooning and honking over the backdrop of dark skies and the occasional foreboding flash of distant lightning—not one of the bands who played that sodden afternoon left so much as a single note back at the house. They all brought their ‘A’ game, as they like to say in sports, and the final balloting looked to be as wide open as Market Square itself…

But at the end of the night, there was John Colquitt from our very own Preservation Pub, sitting atop a mound of bloodied skulls and polishing his trombone at center stage, looking little the worse for wear.

After hurtling into the finals with a bravura set in the semis, his outfit Grandpa’s Stash had claimed the whole enchilada. That’s right; after eight years fighting in the trenches, the Stash had finally risen up and taken the hill.

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