Nostalgic for the Nuns

For no reason at all, I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately about my first band, Nun of the Above. I played with the Nuns from 1985 until early 1990, when I left Little Rock. We sucked, but we sucked with originality, and that counted for a lot when you were a garage/punkabilly band in that era.

Actually, we didn’t entirely suck. The lead guitarist would be welcome in almost any band; the second guitarist had an artist’s soul and could write good songs; the bass player was a strong singer and a competent player; the Spinal Tap-ish series of drummers we used all could play some…but me, the keyboard player and the sometimes-third-guitarist constituted the boat-anchor wing of the ensemble.

But we did have fun. And we had great parties. And we got thrown out of a bar or two or five. And I learned how to play with a band.

The Nuns have scattered. Vinnie the guitarist is still in Little Rock; Mike the artistic guy moved to San Francisco for a while, had the horrible misfortune of seeing his sweet wife die of cancer and now lives in northwest Arkansas (see comments below); Kevin the bass player was in Memphis, last I heard; Dave the keyboard player, who married into money, was a full-time sunset watcher the last time I got an update (2014 update: He got divorced and has been married again for a while); and nobody hears from Paco any more.

Some of these guys are approaching 60 now, if they’re not already there. We did things that no 60-year-old is ever going to admit to doing.

We weren’t dangerous, but sometimes we liked to think we were. Now that middle age has removed any doubt about that issue for us, nostalgia is an especially sweet thing.

Randy

2 Comments

  1. Hey Randy, How are you doing? I stumbled on this post of yours. Hope your doing well. Schratz told me you were still playing music. glad to hear it. We all learned how to play eventually. I am surprised you left out the guy who started the band, Carl T Hall. Carl is an award winning journalist and union man. He worked at the Arkansas Democrat, USA Today, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He wrote most of the songs we use to play. Anyway I did move to San Francisco in 87. Carl moved out soon after and we started playing in various formations. Union Maid, The Piss Ants, were fun, but our most successful band The Wompus Cats. I would describe the Wompus Cats as Swampedelic country blues. We took over the Union Hall when the SF Chronical went on strike and played a lot of union events. We recorded a ton of stuff and I’m getting ready to re release it. I also played with another Fellow from little Rock calling ourselves Chess Green and the New Planet Review. That was a really fun band. the Wompus cats were doing great and getting really tight when our drummer died. I know Spinal Tap right? He was the sweetest soul at only 22 years old. His older brother was our other guitar player so we were kind of devastated. So out of the ashes of that devastation we started playing acoustic instruments pickin some blue grass. We weren’t really bluegrass because we used drums and no bluegrass purist could abide drums. We also had an electric banjo player and a smoking hot Fiddle/Mandolin player. a young Jewish kid who was the best of all of us. That band was christened the Spikedrivers and we went on a great run playing all over California and Oregon. We played a bunch of festivals and some legendary venues. And made a CD I’m really proud of. Man I was living the hippie dream for a while.
    What you said about Jane was not entirely true. She did, bless heart die of Cancer, but that was years after she went to Spain with another man. I won’t say anything bad about those who have gone on. Jane really could be sweet but we were mostly fighting like cats and dogs. I don’t blame her at all. We were unhappy. We both flourished once we split, and I ended up finding Sarah the girl of my dreams. A true soul mate. So after a great time in San Francisco, Idid leave part of my hear there. We got married and had a baby and decided to move back to the old McKenzie place where my ancestors settled in 1850. We built a house with a kick ass music and art studio. Carl comes out about once a year to write and record a new batch of songs. Carls son Dez (about 24 now) is a kick ass rocker who’s had great success in the city, and my oldest Roy can play almost any instrument he picks up. So at the end of June were going to Make a new Wompus Cats album with Roy and Dez as our rhythm section. I’m working on a new web site where I can post all this music. Oh and I’m not near 60 yet…ok early 50s, but your only as old as the woman you feel and my wife’s a decade or so younger. Wow did I ramble. And you may not even get this. We should have a reunion. It would be good to see you.
    Peace & Grits. Michael

  2. Ack, this is what happens when you hear everything secondhand..thanks for correcting the inaccuracies. As for Carl, I actually didn’t move to Little Rock and join the band until after he had moved to San Francisco and I’ve only met him once or twice. I’ve taken up mandolin recently and play it in a truly horrible fashion, just as I played harmonica back in the 1980s. I’m in two bands these days and they both play fairly regularly; I just had a gig last night. I’m now 54 and if you had told my 24-year-old self that I’d still be playing in bands three decades later, I would have laughed and laughed. Good to hear from you, Mike.

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