Thursday, December 8, 2005 Edition
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Scene Scribe: Lesser Known Saint pays tribute to 'Dimebag' Darrell

By Michael Swanger michael@dmcityview.com

There is a lot of distance between the members of Lesser Known Saint when it comes to their influences and geography, but their shared love of late metal guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott will close the gap Saturday in Ames when they pay tribute to the former Pantera ax-man.

It was Dec. 8, 2004, when headlines hit the airwaves that Abbott had been shot to death onstage at a Damageplan concert in Ohio. The news shocked Lesser Known Saint, whose members Jim Schloemer (vocals), Axel Aguado (guitar) and Mike Britson (guitar) reside in Minneapolis and Brendon Fuhs (bass) and Sam Wong (drums) live in Ames. That night, they began planning a tribute show that would take a year to prepare, but one that would coalesce their eclectic tastes.

"We've been so hugely influenced by this man, his music and everything about him," says Schloemer. "It took us more than six months just to come up with two sets of Pantera tunes we could agree on."

Abbott is a bit of a curious influence for alt-rockers Lesser Known Saint, though their sound includes space rock and metalcore. But Schloemer says Saturday's tribute show at Bali Satay, which marks the first time the band will play a cover tune since its formation in 2002, isn't about playing Pantera songs note for note. The bill also includes Organ Donor paying homage to Elliott Smith and Johnny Cash and the Sons of the Republic tipping their hat to The Who.

"It's about a bunch of people who have a lot of love in their hearts for 'Dimebag' Darrell and want to drink, hang out and play some awesome music," Schloemer says. "I wanted it to be a special evening where each band would do something they normally wouldn't do."

Finding middle ground during the past year between Minneapolis and Ames has been the norm for Lesser Known Saint. Earlier this year, they split time between the two cities to record their new independent album, "New Year's Project," as they continued to book Saturday night gigs in Iowa. But the release of their new album, Schloemer says, adds a little strain to the group because it wants to promote the record with more live shows.

"Now it's becoming apparent our drummer and bassist need to get their asses up here," he says with a laugh. "It's tough because everyone has legitimate day jobs, so we just roll with the punches."

Schloemer moved to the Twin Cities in August of 2004 after graduating from Iowa State University to work for an architectural firm. He says the group still practices and gigs on weekends, and though he wishes everyone lived in the same city, he says the band has never sounded better.

"I've never been happier because we're reaching a point where everyone is comfortable writing together and we've had our fights and we don't have to worry about inter-band politics," he says. "What's cool about this band is we all have good jobs and we don't have to do music for a living. We write and record on our own time. It's our own money and on our own terms. Sam and Brendon will move when they're ready, and if they have to stay in Iowa we'll take it as it comes. There's no question about their dedication to the band. We tackle serious issues with our music, but we don't take ourselves really serious."

And because their time together is limited and they admire Abbott so much, Schloemer says this weekend's gig is special.

"It'll be a good night," Schloemer says. "There'll be some crying, laughing and rocking."

Scene notes

Corey Taylor will produce Facecage's next album. Facecage's manager Denny Harvey, who says Taylor is a fan, recruited the Slipknot frontman. "He was ecstatic to be a part of this," Harvey says. "He has watched Facecage go from playing clubs and paying their dues to becoming a Midwestern success story." Taylor is already at work with the metal group in the studio. Facecage has tentatively planned to release "Facecage III" next summer... Speaking of Facecage, bassist Fred Missouri is asking for the public's help to track down stolen equipment that belongs to another local rock band, Mindrite. After their Nov. 26 gig at Gabe's Oasis in Iowa City, a significant amount of Mindrite's gear was stolen including a Marshall TSL-100 head, an Ampeg SVT-4pro head in a rack with a tuner and conditioner, a natural finish Warwick Corvette-5 five-string bass and a few guitars including a gray LTD that had the words "life is a possibility" carved into the top of it. Anyone with information about the stolen gear should contact Missouri at fred@facecage.net. Mindrite, just wrapped up filming its video for the single "Everything" in downtown Des Moines and will release it in a few weeks online at www.myspace.com/mindrite. The group will also issue its new live CD during its Dec. 16 show at the House of Bricks... Blues on Grand raised about $10,000 in cash and instruments at its "Alive and Pickin'" benefit concert two weeks ago to assist Gulf Coast musicians... Simon Estes performs today (Thursday) at the Old Bags Luncheon and auction at the Holiday Inn Downtown. Tickets are $125. Call 262-5695 Ext. 10... The Des Moines Choral Society will present a holiday concert Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at St. Ambrose Cathedral, 607 High St. Tickets are $20 for preferred seating, $12 for general admission and $6 for students. Call 273-5255 or visit www.dmchoral.org... In January, blues guitarist Tab Benoit and a number of Louisiana musicians including Dr. John and Cyril Neville recorded "Voice of the Wetlands," an album designed to bring attention to the destruction of South Louisiana's wetlands in which the proceeds from its sales would benefit to the non-profit group Voice of the Wetlands. Eight months later, Hurricane Katrina's devastation made the album, which was released in September, prophetic. Benoit plays Blues on Grand on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $10... Debra Peckum, executive director of the Civic Music Association for nine years, will leave her post with the non-profit music group at the end of the year to become the new director of corporate and foundation relations for Mercy Medical Center. During her tenure with the CMA, she helped boost its membership, moved its offices to Capital Square, added new programming (namely jazz) to its classical format, incorporated the summer music series by the Belin String Quartet into its programming and helped the group find a new home at Drake University to present its concerts after moving from the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines. "Hopefully the next person will bring some fresh ideas and take it to the next level," she says... Tamara Kenworthy was named president of the Metro Arts Alliance for 2006... Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols, Miles Davis, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blondie will be inducted into the 2006 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 13. Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, who founded A&M Records in 1962, will receive lifetime achievement awards. The sideman category will be announced later... Unheralded singer-songwriter-guitarist Chris Whitley of "Living with the Law" fame died Nov. 20 in Houston of lung cancer at the age of 45. Though his March 2004 performance at the Maintenance Shop in Ames was marred by technical problems, he was one of the most significant artists to play Central Iowa last year... Imagine this, it was 25 years ago today that John Lennon was murdered. CV

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