Kinks' Side Band Has Loyal Fan Base Of Its Own

By Scott McLennan

Worcester Telegram & Gazette - Tuesday, February 9, 1999

I can tell "Lola" from "Layla." But after that, I'm a rank amateur when it comes to being a Kinks fan. At least that's how I felt after meeting Doug Hinman, known as the "unofficial historian of the Kinks." Or seeing folks from Denver, Ann Arbor, New York City, and several points of New England gathered Friday in a crowd of about 160 at the Sit' N Bull Pub in Maynard.

The Sit'N Bull is something of sacred ground among the Kinks faithful as Dave Davies has taken to performing there amidst tours with his side band that have him playing larger rooms in communities most other people have heard of.

In a nutshell, Sit'N Bull co-owner Peter Bochner is a Kinks nut and negotiated a date for Davies to play his club in June. Davies, whose solo "Kink Kronikles" tours have been satiating Kinks fans while the mothership band is on hold, loved the vibe and gave the go-ahead for the latest round of gigs, which included shows Friday, Saturday and one at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow.


Just like last time, Davies' chroniclers recorded a show for broadcast on the internet at Saturday's set should be on the site by the time you read this.

The Kinks' following is the stuff of legend, and with it coming in super-concentrated form to Maynard, this seemed to be the perfect time to figure out what the big deal has been about for 30 years.

Now, understandably, the Kinks are the Kinks thanks in large part to the writing and showmanship of brother Ray Davies. Dave has labored in his shadow for the history of the band.

Recently, though, Dave, 52, has been making his mark. His autobiography "Kink" came out in 1996; he began touring with his own band in 1997; and last month released "Unfinished Business: Dave Davies Kronikles, 1963/1998" on Velvel Records.

On stage at the Sit'N Bull, Davies proved he's an able showman himself, a fantastic guitar player, and knows EXACTLY where Kinks songs are coming from in terms of capturing the quirky elements of everyday life and bashing them into catchy rock tunes.

And coming from the small, pub stage of the Sit'n Bull, cutting across wood beams, over tables cluttered with pitchers of beer, and hitting a back wall bar and BBQ pit, Davies and his songs were right at home.

"I think this must remind him of what it was like in the beginning for the Kinks," historian Hinman theorized.

It reminded me of what good ol' rock 'n' roll is all about. Davies and his three-piece band covered all the basic human emotions (joy, sorrow and nostalgia being the jumping-off points) in a 90-minute set that swung from simple propulsive songs to dreamy, wistful ballads and back again.

The crisp images of sadness in "Suzannah's Still Alive," hip-swiveling action of "You're Looking Fine," and primal womp of "You Really Got Me," each made clear in their own ways why Kinks music is so appealing.

The reaction this music generates is a whole other ballgame.

Just as Hinman was describing how the Davies' Sit'N Bull gigs were more like family gatherings instead of concerts, Bochner was on stage announcing various Kink dignitaries in the crowd. He then pointed out yours truly as being in the house to do a write-up. I suddenly went from music reviewer to foreign correspondent.

Once "they" knew I wasn't one of "them," I was queried about my knowledge and feelings about the Kinks, and told twice how Kinks fans wanted to get their hands on the Los Angeles reporter who wrote an unflattering portrayal of Dave, and how horrified they were to see the story picked up and used in the Boston Herald.


"He doesn't get the recognition he deserves," one woman screamed into my ear not once, not twice, but four times like a religious decree.

Another table of big, burly, backward-baseball-cap-wearing guys became my barometer for judging the choice and delivery of material. Whenever the band started a song, within four bars of the tune, the guys would do one of the following: 1) stay seated and deliver high-fives across the table (as seen during "Picture Book," for example); 2) stand up and clink glasses in a cheer ("Death of a Clown"); or 3) stand up, do double high-fives, order another pitcher of beer ("Living on a Thin Line"). I was hoping for back flips on the rip-snorting encore of "Father Christmas," which Dave rescued from holiday-novelty-melodrama and turned into an all-purpose scathing social critique.

Yet the barometer boys gave a reaction to every song I spotted them on, thus using modern polling techniques, I decided the show was a hit among the hard core.

The "family reunion" aspect that first sounded cliche became apparent as someone at every other table seemed to have a pocket camera handy. And most were taking pictures of other fans in the house, not just the star of the show (who received a bottle of champagne, T-shirt and bouquet of flowers from members of the crowd before he was through).

Hinman and others described intense efforts via the Internet to chronicle and discuss all things Kink. Traveling great distances to see a Kinks-related event is not out of the question for the diehards.

But some will say there is a creepy, stalker-type element in the crowd that's a little tooooo obsessive with Kinks.

Phyllis from Marlboro, a longtime fan, recalled being annoyed a few years ago by some of the weirdo sect when she went to a Kinks concert on the South Shore. "We were trying to buy a drink and some of them came up and started quizzing us about Kinks' songs," she recalled. "They wanted to know if we knew how many Kinks songs had birds in them and things like that. It's harmless, but get a life."

Wary of the wackos as she may be, Phyllis was delighted to be invited on stage by Davies to sing along on "Death of a Clown."

She and everybody else in the club was the picture of having fun. And if that's the power of the Kinks music, so be it: that deserves a following.

I passed through Kinks Kingdom not only unscathed, but happy and fairly well accepted: the "unofficial bumper-sticker guy of the Kinks" handed me a fat stack of "The Kinks" stickers to take with me on my travels.

By Scott McLennan - Telegram & Gazette, Tuesday, February 9, 1999

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