J. Free with The 600

J. Free with The 600 at The Longhorn Bar, 25 Nov 1980
[photo © Toby Biehl's mom]

The 600
1980

Luke Zimmerman: vocals [keyboard?]
Toby Biehl: drums
Shawn Pike: guitar
J. Free:
guest vocals
Tim Mitchell: bass

Barely a blip on the radar, this momentary group was an unplanned and unlamented stopgap between The Sacred Version, Red Meat, Bwana Devil, The Hytones, and possibly a few others that may have become overlooked in the history books.

Most of the commentary here originally appeared on the first T C P U N K message board, in 2001.


Someone mentioned The 600, and thanks to Toby Biehl's mom, who took this photo, that band can now take their place in the TCP archives. There have got to be more out there, but my guess is that she would have them, if anyone knows how to get hold of her - or possibly even Toby, for that matter. I suspect the reason he gave this to me is because he knew I would hang on to it.

I wasn't even an official member of that band, but was invited to join them for the last song of their set, which was a song I had written in a previous band with Tim Mitchell and Shawn Pike, called The Sacred Version. Actually, I'm not sure if there really were any official members, but that night at The Longhorn it included Luke Zimmerman, Toby Biehl, and my old mates from The Sacred Version, Shawn Pike & Tim Mitchell.

Not that anyone's really keeping track of such things, but my tape of The 600 at The Longhorn has finally surfaced, along with many other equally embarrassing artifacts of what some of us did when we were younger and less inhibited. The date of the show was November 25th, 1980, which means that the venue had officially changed it's name to Zoogie's at that point. The set consisted of five songs: So Happy, Face To Face, Replicas, Scissors, and D.O.F. If memory serves, Toby was thrown out of the venue immediately following the set, by Hartley Frank, who took offense at the swastika on Toby's t-shirt.

The song I’m singing (if you could call it that) was called "D.O.F." - an acronym for "day-old funk", a reference to that not-so-fresh feeling one might succumb to if they haven't been keeping on top of their personal hygiene after gettin' some. [I don't really need to explain this, right?] This was inspired by a phrase coined by one Courtney Bolstad, who I ended up working for several years later, and who apparently had pretty much cut ties with that part of her past. I never asked Courtney what inspired her to invent with that particular phrase.


Six Degrees Of Separation:

That's pretty much all there is to say about this entry. I wasn't a member of this band, and if memory serves, they existed for this sole performance. Toby Biehl had gained a bit of notoriety in the early Mpls punk scene as the drummer for Red Meat. At one point, that spot was filled by Pete "The Barber" Davis, who went on to establish his reputation as the publisher/editor of Your Flesh magazine, and also Creature Booking - both of which I had some involvement with several years later.

Toby and I lived together for a while with Scott Brooks in a south Mpls storefront, next door to another space occupied by Luke Zimmerman, at 48th & 4th. Luke's storefront served as a makeshift venue which hosted a number of underground shows, featuring bands like Suicide Commandos and Hüsker Dü. Toby had also been in a band with Scott, called The Doorknobs, and I think the song everyone remembers by that group was their tongue-in-cheek take on The Monkees' "I'm Not Your Stepping Stone", only their version was reworked as "I Hate The Rolling Stones". Scott Brooks would later become the lead vocalist and guitarist for the renowned avant-funk group Things That Fall Down.

The last time I saw Toby was around 1986, when I was living between NYC and Mpls. He and a girlfriend were living in an upstairs apartment on Lake Street. That was when he showed me the photograph his mom had taken at the 600 performance, along with a few others from that night. In a sly gesture of our old camaraderie, he asked me to autograph the photo, so I did. Later during our visit, I realized he and his companion were getting ready to indulge in a particular habit I didn't really want to stick around for, and as I got ready to leave, he insisted that I take the picture with me, because he knew I would appreciate it. I didn't know at the time that it would be the last time I saw him. No one else in our old scene ever saw him again either.

Even though The Longhorn was the first place I held a job as a teenager, this was this the only time I ever set foot on the stage, and by then, it wasn't even the same venue. Jay Berine (who had purchased the space when it was still a steak house, and turned it into a rock venue), was already gone, and Hartley "caterer to the stars" Frank had stepped forward to carry the torch. For a very brief moment when I stepped on that stage, I was reminded of the excitement I had felt when The Sacred Version had played their first show in Bill Batson's basement, and nearly everyone who was a regular at The Longhorn came out to see us. Although the crowd and the energy was still there, I had already figured out that this was only a reprise, and that the old days were already way behind all of us.


The 600: recorded live at Zoogie's [aka The Longhorn]
25 November 1980


D.O.F. ©1980; The Sacred Version
words: J. Free; music: Phil Schuster, Shawn Pike, Tim Mitchell

Performed by The 600;
Stereo audience boom-box recording by Nick Leonard

Photo of J. Free by Toby Biehl's mom.
An actual photograph - on real film!


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