Old Thrashers Reunion 2022 UAY Benefit
Trumpet Blossom Cafe – Saturday, July 23 at 7:00 p.m
“At the Old Threshers Reunion this summer, you’ll come across some old pumps, tractors and balers, and there will be very cute nanny goats and girls with spots on their tails,” said musician David Murray, summing up the festival annual at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa celebrating the state’s agricultural heritage. “If you go to the Old Thrashers Reunion, you’ll see a lot of old grumps, hacks and well-meaning naysayers.”
And plenty of loud, weird sounds spewing from the mouths of Iowa’s music underground — like Murray’s band Instant D/eTh, which will perform alongside Scorched Earth Policy, Shining Realm and Maaaze at the upcoming benefit for United Action for Youth (UAY). The event has benefited the arts and music programs at UAY since its inception; this will be the first Old Thrashers reunion since the pandemic.
The first Old Thrashers reunion came in 2008 after Kylie Buddin, a longtime UAY coordinator and veteran of the local music scene, was talking to his high school punk rock friend Julie VanDyke. As they discussed how strange it was to enter middle age, she asked him what he would do to celebrate his 40th birthday if there were no restrictions.
“Without hesitation, I said, ‘See Stiff-Footed Sheep, Soviet Dissonance and Pestients again at 10 South Gilbert.'” 10 South was the home of the punk scene and was home to many amazing acts – Effigies, Die Kreuzen, Hüsker Dü, 7 Seconds and Naked Raygun, just to name a few. Julie said if I could get the bands, she’d take care of the rest. Everything came together and the first show was glorious. Even the conflicts that arose reminded me why I loved it so much very much our scene.”
Buddin’s experience was also shared by Hart Epstein, the organizer of this year’s Old Thrashers Reunion, whose band Scorched Earth Policy will reunite for the event after a 30-year hiatus.
“It’s an extended family thing. When I first started going to shows, I was on the younger side of things; now I’m one of the oldest,” Epstein said. “You drift away as the years go by, but you pick up where you left off at some point. ICHC [Iowa City Hardcore] the extended family was and is close knit, I would say. Most everyone who is still with us speaks regularly.”
Scorched Earth Politics — which drew on various influences that included “King Crimson, Chrome, Slayer, dismantled AM radio and John Zorn,” as Epstein put it — broke up around 1993, but its members remained friends. narrow.
During the 80s, the underground exploded with punk rock angst, virtuosity and a craftsmanship that followed no prescribed template – rockabilly bands, industrial bands, loud hardcore, goth rock and noise were all part of the mix.
“If you were outside the norm, you would be welcome,” Buddin said. “Everybody got shows and everybody was represented.”
Murray recalled that beneath all the prodding, preparation and bluster was a self-made spirit that reminded them they didn’t need agents, liars, parents or meddlers to have a good time.
“We kids found a way to explore our expressive selves and meet new, exciting people,” he said. “Find a free room and bring a sound system. Work up some stage props, visuals or flyers. Pay just one at the door so everyone can come.”
UAY, founded in Iowa City in 1970 to provide support and opportunity for youth creativity, played a pivotal role in that emerging punk rock scene.
Epstein’s bandmate Billy Mackenzie found a home at UAY, where he picked up his first bass guitar around 1983. And Instant D/eTh’s Murray took advantage of UAY after he started playing music as a student at City High in 1980, when he and his brother formed a group with others who met through that organization.
“It is a great pleasure to perform under the banner of United Action for Youth,” said Murray. “That set-up was instrumental in getting me out of the gutter and onto the scene. The opportunity they give to a young person with artistic sense, but without strong direction, is priceless. I found other kids doing things I thought I could do. Make art. Shoot a video. Play in a group.”
Epstein also spent every moment possible at UAY as a teenager — learning to play drums and guitar, figuring out how to use studio recording equipment, or just hanging out. Now he has a 17-year-old son who is exactly the same way.
“He found his way there much like I did,” Epstein said, “and found the same sense of belonging and community that I had 35, 40 years ago. And the OG Old Thrasher, Kylie, is helping to make it a place so wonderful.”
“I would say that continuous, multi-generational connection is very hard to lose,” he continued. “What’s old is new again, in terms of the challenges and stresses children face. I think this current generation of kids have a lot more tools at their disposal, are a lot more educated and skilled, are able to handle a good deal of this shit with a lot more intelligence and confidence than, perhaps, we Gen-Xers. sometimes it can. I find hope in these children.”
Trumpet Blossom owner Katy Meyer feels honored to have hosted the Old Thrashers Reunion over the years, especially because it’s a fundraiser for UAY, which she feels is an absolutely vital organization. Meyer would not be able to maintain her venue without the continued support of the community, which is why she is happy to offer her space for this benefit show.
And the difference between an Old Threshers reunion and an Old Threshers Reunion, according to Meyer? “One involves harvesting grain and one involves absorbing it.”
As always, Kembrew McLeod reserves the right to swing. This article was originally published in Little Village Issue 308.