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If Music Could Talk

A guest post from Todd Marella, in Portland, Oregon.

About a month ago, Sideburn’s ed asked me if my Clash tribute band, Truncheon Things would like to play a pre-One Show kick off party hosted by Icon and Sideburn, in Portland. Without giving the question mark a chance to land, and without consulting with the rest of the band, I said ‘Yes,’ enthusiastically. ‘Great, we’ll work out the details,’ says Gary. With that, I needed to inform the band that I’d ‘Sort of accepted an offer to play this party…’ You see, I’d already begged the folks at See See to give the band a slot at the One Show. With a little back and forth and firming up, we were on the bill for Thursday at Rogue Brewery, and Friday in the opening slot at the show. We put some practice sessions under out belts, firmed up the new drummer, added another song to the set and readied ourselves for a full aural assault on two fronts in as many days…

Gary arrived on the 26th, and leading up to his touchdown at PDX, I had duties. Make a sign, a lit sign displaying the Sideburn original font with a carnival marquee flair via 95 light bulbs, and a pink background (my choice). It would cap the Geoff Nickless image we had blown up, printed on fabric and stretched over a PVC frame. With Thor Drake’s India FTR 1200 hooligan parked in front at the same oblique angle as the two riders depicted from a race at the San Jose Mile, the idea was to give visitors an opportunity to create their own cover shot featuring them and theirs. We’re calling it a success, as many relished the chance to participate, gladly throwing a leg over the Indian and assuming a straightaway tuck for their photos.

Deep on side three of Sandinista, the Clash’s adventuresome expedition through various musical styles, and battlefronts covering time in history, space, and political spectrum…The Boer Wars, Viet Nam, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, naming but a few, you’ll find ‘If Music Could Talk’. Its reggae base and drum lines provide a steadiness welcomed for amassing large movements of motorcycles, their builders, the equipment that accompanies, and the masses who support the One Show every year. The meandering, jazzy saxophone throughout the tune provides an apt tapestry of soundtrack for the artists, their work, and those who support them. It’s a stream of consciousness tune that captures the essence of the global gathering of motorcycles, cars, food, drink, art, music, and the people who make, sell, love, and enjoy them.

From the time his plane landed, to the time I dropped him at PDX, Gary was going nonstop. Duties never run out for the General of the preeminent global flat track inspired magazine, particularly while at the largest motorcycle builders’ show in the world. He brought mags, hats, Tees, hoodies, skate decks for all to admire and purchase, some of which were printed and embroidered here in town. He also sold nearly everything he brought to the party!

Boozy brunch (me not him) with old mate Patrick from the Sang Froid Riding Club

We managed to work in breakfast at The Mont, drinks and bites at The Lift-Off Lounge, stops at the recently opened See See locations in Newburg, and the brand-new Beaverton shop, and the St. Johns location, which Gary hadn’t seen either. We covered some ground, for sure.

Thursday arrived, and we had the benefit of ensuring that the background would work out swell. Good thing, because I was in full Rock and Roll delivery mode. By the time we were into the second number of the set, it seemed the people in attendance at Rogue Brewery were pleased with what they were seeing and hearing.

Emily (owner of The Mont) digging Trucheon Things. Author of this post behind on the mic

That worked out well for the band, as we were moving in perfect time, and having a blast doing so. By the end of the set, the dance floor was full and people wanted more. We didn’t have more, so we recycled London Calling, and ended on a high note. What a treat. The feedback was positive from the moto community who turned up, and the Rogue regulars, as well. It was a special night for me, as many of my oldest and dearest friends from Portland, and my youngest daughter were in attendance. A little more celebration, and we had to get back to base for some sleep… the show started at 9:00 in the morning the next day. The rain that bathed Portland all week off and on didn’t let up for the biggest One Show ever, nor did it deter the multitudes from attending.

The rain didn’t keep the Seattle Cossacks, the stunt bikes, or the electric trials bike wizardry away, either. They were all there, along with vendors, journalists, and some very special musical acts. Ed Subias made the trip up from LA, and in rare form, without a single camera other than that on board his phone. It was great to hang out with him all weekend without the duties he normally carries, trading them for helping with the Sideburn booth set up, and providing crew chief detail for my short stint at Castle Rock to race on Sunday. More about that later. Truncheon Things took the stage looking out over a sea of choppers and attendees ready to deliver the second salvo of the weekend and delivered all we had in the breech. Well received, we retreated after the final strafing of “Complete Control,” in anticipation of Roselit Bone, who in my book, could headline any bill they’re on. They did not disappoint. The same can be said for every act on the bill for both days.

It became clear that the weather would not cooperate for racing at Castle Rock on Saturday as I’d planned. Fingers were crossed for a different condition on Sunday. The show became a blur on Saturday for the sleep deprived such as I. Memory does serve that I witnessed incredible moto stunts, more bikes than I’d ever seen assembled in one place at a time, an incredible night of music, and several visits from friends new and old.

Truncheon Things play The One Moto Show

I dropped Gary at the show Sunday morning, swapping him out for Ed, and headed to my storage to get bike and gear loaded for racing at the Rock. My seat was in dire need of repair in the form of fibreglass mending. I’d done it the week before, but only managed to get it primed. No biggie. We packed everything I needed, including race gas, oil, and plugs I’d purchased the day before. The track itself was under preparations when we arrived, and looking promising. The rest of the property on the fairgrounds was a swamp. I’ve been there quite a few times over the years and never seen it in this condition. Soggy at best. Alas, the sun was out, and we were all pretty stoked to race.

After the riders’ meeting I went and staged in the mud for practice. Once it was my group’s turn (Vintage Open, and Vintage Two-stroke), I set out on the track. Still geared for Spokane, which is a smaller track and a cushion, it took me some laps to concede that I’d have to shift up and down to be able to pull out of the corners. That was fine, and practice felt pretty good once I figured it out. As I came off the track through the swinging gate, the bike bogged and died. I went to kick it and it felt like I lost compression. A push from Ed back to the van and the removal of the head revealed the front of the piston was missing. Burned it off. My day was done, and so was that top end. My day of racing was over before it began. These little old two-strokes are time bombs ticking, and I got a lot of laps, and fun out of this motor.

Todd's top end. It could've been worse

I feel pretty fortunate in the big picture. Ed had the van loaded up before I could get my boots off. With that, we were headed back to Zidell Yards, current home of the One Show. By the time we arrived, the show was over and Thor was shucking fresh Hamma Hamma oysters. The sun was out, the pressure off, and people were ready to unwind.

Todd partaking in drink and oyster-fuelled electric bike racing. Before it went hurty

We did so over drinks and as many oysters, burgers, and fries as you could eat. The music was up and spirits were high. We’d already broken down the booth, loaded everything up, and decided there was no hurry to leave. Within minutes, a mini flat track was laid out, and head-to-head electric bike races were underway. And, of course I was in as a rider. And, of course I managed to get my left leg caught between the tyre and seat of my opponent’s bike. Ebike racing on a mini impromptu track proved more dangerous than the 3/8 mile at Castle Rock.

It seems like a blink of an eye, and the show was over. There ain’t no party like a See See party. The list is long of those I’ve to thank for everything this weekend, but Thor, Gary, and Ed…you guys made it very special for this Truncheon Thing. I can’t wait for next year. Dig.

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