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The Dirty Three on the cover of Maxmum Ink in October 2005

The Dirty Three

by Rökker
October 2005

I had no idea what to expect when I got to the door of the East End, the short-lived club on Madison’s east side in the mid-nineties. I was there for the Man… or Astro-Man show as they were on the cover that month. What I didn’t know was that the opening act, The Dirty Three, would be a band I would love for years to come. That was October of 1996.

Prior to the show, I hadn’t heard much about this Australian band, except that they traveled around the country, in an old, black Cadillac, going show to show without breaking. I’d heard stories about the band’s leader and violinist Warren Ellis, and his love for whiskey.

When I ran into him at the show, bottle in hand and wearing black, he was just as mysterious and foreboding a figure as I’d heard about. In fact, they were all very quiet.


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Buddo of Last Crack on stage at the Headway Festival in Amsterdam, The Netherlands - photo by Rökker

Last Crack: On the Road in Amsterdam

by Rökker
June 2005

I awoke that morning of April the third to stories of snoring, dragons, taxi rides, red lights, girls behind glass doors, Finlanders, The Grand Rokk, Kalli and Jon, the Blue Lagoon, lava, sheep’s head, shark, Black Death and many more than I can list. That sleep allowed us to process that insanity called “48 Hours in Iceland.”

The group is hungry and everyone wants to eat down by the canals and walk around a bit. The Damrak, Amsterdam’s main street, is busy with people of all nationalities buzzing every which way. Cars, taxicabs, trains, bikes, horses, and motorcycles are all out to get me, it seems, as I weave my way through the web once again… only this time, the spiders are asleep.

We end up at a Turkish restaurant in the Red Light District called Grillroom Donny. It’s a small place with a great waiter and everyone gets kabobs and shaorma. The food sets our mood with combinations of spice and relish.

I can’t miss an opportunity for a quick space cake for desert, so it’s back to the Bulldog to check the Internet before heading back to the hotel.

We take the train back to the Hotel Etap and stop at the Heineken machine on the way in to call Freek Kroesbergen, the promoter of the Headway festival (www.headwayfestival.com). He was relieved to hear from us, as bands have gotten lost in Amsterdam before (too many space cakes I guess). He told us to stay put and sent a bus and driver to pick us up.

As we pull up to the site of the festival, Club P60 (www.p60.nl), we can see the bustle of people around the entrance and feel the buzz as music pours out the backstage door to the venue.


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Last Crack at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, on the cover of Maximum Ink in May 2005 - photo by Rökker

48 Hours in Iceland with Last Crack

by Rökker
May 2005

March 30 1800 Central Standard Time: Last Crack and crew await boarding an Icelandair 757 at Minneapolis International Airport. To settle nerves some of the boys have taken to the bar and shot glass. Happy flights, next stop Iceland!

0630 Atlantic Standard Time: That’s midnight for us Wisconsinites. Our day starts waking up at Iceland’s Keflavik airport in need of transportation for our crew of nine plus gear to Reykjavik, Iceland’s capitol forty-nine kilometers to the west. Reykjavik is about the size of Madison and harbors two thirds of the island nation’s population.

An attempt was made to find the difference in cost between the bus and a rental car at the Hertz window when along comes a cab driver with an idea. Olafsson, the world’s only Porsche taxi driver, tells us he’s going to Reykjavik anyway so he’ll give us a good deal. He also suggested we rent a one-way car for the rest of the gear and guys and just drop off the car in the city. Brilliant idea! He saved us some money right off the bat.

0800 AST: After an intense drive past kilometer after kilometer of moss covered lava, mountains and volcanoes, Olafsson drops us off at the club we’re playing that night, The Grand Rokk.

Kalli, the owner, and his associate Jon (pronounced like yan but with a little yone in it) meet us and dole out cups of espresso by the dozens to the weary set of travelers, trapped in their lair. They tell us of Vikings, celtic lore and Icelandic customs, then take us to the guest rooms at the hotel Adam to meet host Ragnar and get some rest.


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Burden Brothers on the cover of Maximum Ink in June, 2004

The Burden Brothers

interview with guitarist Cory Rozzoni
by Rökker
June 2004

I ran into the Burden Brothers completely on accident at this year’s South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Their crowd was as big as their sound and I was totally impressed with the songwriting, performance and energy they put out. They played together like a pro sports team, well honed. I spoke with Cory Rozzoni who left Madison to relocate in Dallas.


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Damageplan RIP Dimebag Darrell!

Damageplan

by Rökker
April 2004

What do you do when your world-famous band suddenly breaks up? How do you respond to the fan with a question mark in his head and a “Pantera” tattoo across his chest? If you’re Vinnie Paul or Dimebag Darrell you forge a “Damageplan,” the new band featuring the x-Pantera brothers.

“We were blown away by it as much as anybody,” admits drummer Vinnie Paul about the break up. “Pantera was our family…that’s the only thing we ever cared about and the only thing we ever put our efforts on.”

Phil Anselmo, the other key element from Pantera, left to pursue solo projects and is on tour with his new band “Superjoint Ritual.” Phil also has another project, “Down,” that also features x-Pantera bassist Rex Brown. The split down the middle of the band played itself out in the media; it wasn’t pretty.


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Last Crack is back! on cover of Maximum Ink for Rokker's Birthday, November 2002 - photo by Rökker

Last Crack

by Rökker
November 2002

It started just like any other local hard-rock band. A couple of guys from an unheard-of band hooked up with some other guys in another unheard-of band through a billboard at a local music store. They had a practice space, a PA, a following (well, plenty of friends), two guitar wiz’s, a dynamite rhythm section… what they needed was a singer. So back to the billboard they went, in search of a vocalist that could compliment their intricate rhythms, blend with their mysterious melodies and cut in through the intense guitar solos of a metal band.

And there it was, a poster for an available singer. It was Buddo, of the Snotrockets. They ripped all of the tags from the poster and went home to call him. It was the summer of 1987.

Buddo showed up to the storage facility in McFarland that was the band’s rehearsal space. “I’m Paul” proclaims guitarist Paul Schluter. “ahh… Pablo” replied Buddo. “I’m Todd,” says bassist Todd Winger. “Toddereno,” remarked Buddo. “Phil ,” mutters original drummer Phil Buerstatte. “Philo,” again replied Buddo. Somehow, guitarist Don Bakken remained “Don,” but together they would become Last Crack.


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