| Dorchester punk band called Unnatural Axe
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On October 22, 2005, the Emerald Isle hosted a screening of the Dorchester premiere of You'll Pay for This, the documentary film by Dorchester native Tom White about the band.
It is 1977. A scruffy neighborhood of Boston sprouts a band of naive working-class kids who think they can shake up the world with their personal take on the punk rock experience. Not content, or possibly even competent enough, to be another Jam clone or a Clash clone, Unnatural Axe bash out their own brand of two-chord and three-chord rock, and crank it up extra high.
Throughout 1978 and 1979 the Axe were playing regularly in New York, and at Cantone's, the Rat, and the Space in Boston as the opening act for the "big" UK and US new wave acts of the time. Their strangest billing must have been opening for The Police at the Rat in Kenmore Square. It is truly unfortunate that Sting squandered this "turning point" opportunity to learn the essentials of punk rock from Boston's finest. Sting's only question of the Axe vocalist: "Did you poop?"
But such is the fate for the greatest moments of brilliance of our times: few people recognize it. The big club owners didn't see it and the major record labels didn't hear it. After two short years, the Axe packed it in.
As a result, the Unnatural Axe discography is small: one 4-song 7" EP in 1978, a track on the Boston Bootleg compilation in 1979, and two later 7" releases (in 1982 and 1990). But what recordings do exist provide the documented proof that the Axe were, and shall always remain, the most important punk band Boston will ever call its own.
? M. Bastarache
From: "Tom White"
This is Tom White from the Unnatural Axe here. We had a great night at the Emerald Isle, screening our movie and playing live. It was fun to see our old frinds and to make some new ones also. Many thanks to Joyce Linehan for organizing the event and the Emerald Isle for all their help.
The following is a press release for the show with updates on the band.
The Dorchester Arts Council presents Unnatural Axe at The Emerald Isle on October 22.
Legendary Boston punk band Unnatural Axe, featuring former St. Brendan School students Richie Parsons and Tommy White, will perform at the Emerald Isle, 1501 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, MA on Saturday, October 22. Axe guitarist Tommy White, who got his first lessons in moviemaking at the Dorchester House Day Camp, will also show a sneak preview of the Axe documentary he produced entitled You?ll Pay For This as part of the show.
Formed in Dorchester in 1977, the band quickly became a regular fixture at Boston?s Paradise Theater and the late lamented Rat opening for national acts like The Police, Squeeze and the Plasmatics. After attracting the attention of Arista Records and playing countless shows throughout New England as well as New York City, the band members went their separate ways in the early 80?s. Despite the "breakup", the band still reunites a few times a year just to have a little fun.
While the Axe men moved on with their lives, their humble 4-song record was becoming an underground hit ? collected, traded and bootlegged around the world. Over the past three decades numerous bands throughout Europe and the United States have recorded songs from the Axe catalog.
Seizing upon the interest in anything Unnatural - Tommy White, an alumnus of the PBS TV show Zoom and experimental video camera operator with MIT?s Film/Video department decided to dig up the early videos of the band in its? heyday to make a unique documentary. "It?s the great American story of two would-be punk rockers writing songs in a Dorchester basement in 1976 who eventually make it to CBGB?s," says White.
The Axe recently performed at Passim?s Folk Club in Cambridge for a gallery opening featuring artwork by New York rockers Jane County, Dee-Dee Ramone and Arturo Vega. This past winter found them playing to a packed house on a classic bill at The Middle East nightclub with Willie Alexander and The Boom-Boom Band plus The Nervous Eaters.
"We?ve played a few shows in Dorchester at private functions, but this will be our first public appearance in our native land," says Richie Parsons, the band?s singer and former St. Brendan?s altar boy. Richie is a prolific songwriter who also penned the hometown theme "No Surfing In Dorchester Bay" which will be performed that night.
So come on down to the Emerald Isle and howl with Unnatural Axe and The Dorchester Arts Council!
Contact Tom White at 617-327-9709
Pictures available on request!
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Created: October 15, 2005 Modified: October 25, 2005