Saturday, January 26, 2013

Freeze Your Balls Off!: The Scooter Rally

Brian leads the FYBO TUN*C country ride 2012
Another year, another January, another Freeze Your Balls Off (FYBO) rally goes by... The good peoples at the Incriminators Scooter Club have been putting this thing on for, can you believe it, 14 years now! The FYBO rally blueprint of long weekend, beer, bikes, bands, has been followed by (ahem...) many other clubs and always proves to be a winning combo no matter the weather. Ton Up N*C has traditionally been involved via the creating the Best Motorcycle trophy, organizing/leading the FYBO Country ride and the provision of drunken fools. Heres a TUN*C photo retrospective of the event (some photos were borrowed from

Straight 8's circa 2005 @ FYBO w/ Patman on upright bass.
Alex, Patman and Marcus FYBO 2006
TUN*C 2006: Patman, Chad, Marcus and Alex
TUN*C @ FYBO 2007 L-R Hillbilly Marcus, Alex, Chad, Jim, Toro
Straight 8's circa 2008 @ FYBO w/ Patman on upright bass.
FYBO 2009 @ Green Room w/ L-R Camper, Chad and TJ
TUN*C's Alex tickles the Rickman, FYBO 2010
Brian scans the bike show in 2011.
Doyle, Alex (TUN*C), and Riever at FYBO 2012
In 2013 TUN*C's Eric takes home the Best Motorcycle win with his Superhawk.

Thanks for the good times FYBO. See you next year on MLK weekend!

Ton Up NC = Riding, Restoration and Racing of Vintage Motorcycles


Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Hills Have Voices: Legends in Springville, UT

These hills have voices. At least I think they do.  Leading me to find a small shop in Springville, Utah where I was looking to find a quick bite to eat.  As I drove along looking for something to shove down my throat before my next meeting, I caught a glimpse of something on the opposite side of the road that looked like a bike.  
You guys know the drill.  Riding along at 55mph in unfamiliar territory peering into carports, sheds, and garages just hoping to catch a glimpse of a bike and especially a rusty one!  Your eyes become trained to pick up on the slightest characteristics of a vintage motorcycle.  The taillight, exhaust, gas tank, even a forgotten rusty lawn ornament can result in a stroke and instant whiplash.
But back to my story…  I spun the rental car around and headed back to investigate a bit further.  As I rolled back past and got a better look, I knew that I was going to have to stop in and see what this place was all about.  What I had caught a glimpse of was a sculpture of a salt flat racer built around a knuckle HD.  I came to find out that this sculpture was done by the local artist Jeff Decker that actually lived across the street.
I made my way into the shop and a gentleman walked up from the back of the shop to meet me.  Steve was his name, and he seemed fine with me coming in and checking out some of the bikes he had on display.  As soon as I walked in I looked to the right at a line of bikes that were a mixed array of modern and classic HD’s.  Upon closer inspection I immediately locked onto an early Indian sitting on the end of the row.  He quickly picked up on my amazement, and cracked a big smile.  I asked if I could take a few shots to show some of the guys back home and he quickly obliged.
At this point I was on high alert as I began to recognize the magnitude of what I was surrounded by.  I actually began to get goose bumps as started to count the number of early 1900’s American motorcycles that were sitting in this place.  They were all mostly unmolested examples sitting just as they would have been discovered.  I peered up into the loft above us and literally almost fell on the floor.  The big “X” of an Excelsior motorcycle tank was staring me right back in the face.
He motioned for me to follow him so he could turn on all the lights and show me around the place.  The next half hour or so was nothing short of amazing.  There were motorcycles of several varieties lined up all over the place.  From the early beginnings of powered bicycles like the Indian Camel, to some of the most powerful like the big Henderson 4’s, the place was simply wrapped up in early American patina.  The visit was nothing short of legendary, and its name seemed to fit quite well as it was called “Legends”.  I came to find out that the business was owned by a gentleman by the name of Rick Salisbury.  Rick decided to renovate a dilapidated general store, and turn it into a state of the art motorcycle shop with some extra room to display his treasures. 
Steve then led me back to the shop where he had a few projects he was currently working on.  He had an early HD, and an Excelsior up on benches where he was working to put them back together.  He also had a Henderson 4 motor he had torn apart that he was going through.  The best part about these bikes is that a majority of them are runners, and when time permits they are often ridden.  Each year Rick Salisbury, and several others participate in an event known as the Motorcycle CannonballThe Motorcycle Cannonball is a 16 day endurance race that this past year led over 70 vintage riders from Newburg, NY to San Francisco CA.  Just this past year there were a total of 15 Henderson 4’s in the race!  Not all of them made it, but some of them actually completed the journey under their own power.
Needless to say, this place made my week.  By the time it was all over I had completely lost my appetite and was 10 minutes late for my appointment .  Damn GPS!  Best excuse ever…
So, if you ever find yourself in the small town of Springville Utah, stop by Legends shop on Main Street and let Steve or Rick show you around.  You certainly won’t be disappointed.

Ton Up NC = Riding, Restoration and Racing of Vintage Motorcycles

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Str8 Talk: The Straight 8's on music, motorbikes and appearing on the Cinemax show Banshee.

The Straight 8's at Durham's Motorco Music Hall. (photo by TUN*C)
North Carolina's Straight 8's evoke a simpler time, a time before auto-tune, mp3's and push button ignitions on motorcycles. The Straight 8's are practitioners of the traditional rockabilly sound and over the past 10+ years they have established themselves as one of the premiere bands of the genre and an annual favorite at Ton Up NC's Bull City Rumble. In addition to touring locally and nationally, the Straight 8's were recently selected to make a live appearance on the pilot episode of the new Cinemax original program Banshee. The program was created by Academy Award winning screenwriter, Alan Ball (American Beauty, Towelhead, Six Feet UnderTrue Blood) and was filmed in Charlotte, NC, but is set in a small Amish community called Banshee, PA. We recently caught up with the Straight 8's for an interview:

Introduce yourself.

Robert: “Hi, I’m Robert. I play guitar and do most of the vocal stuff.”

Daniel: "My name is Daniel Mebane. I am the upright bass player for the band."

Murph: "Hey, I'm Mark Murphy. I play drums and am a bit of a closet guitarist (mostly surf/instro type stuff).  

Where are you all from and where have you lived?

Robert: “ I grew up in SoCal and moved out to NC in the early 90’s.”

Daniel: " I have lived in North Carolina pretty much all my life. I was born in Greensboro, where I grew up. After high school I attended East Carolina University in Greenville NC. A couple of years back I went out west to Texas to work for a few months, but been back here ever since. I love NC and will probably always call it home."

Murph: "I was born in the Bronx and lived in NY/NJ through 9th grade.  I finished HS in Lexington KY and lived in MS and KS while in the USAF.  I moved to NC in 1985… man, going on 28 years now!"

How have the places you’ve lived impacted what you do?

Robert: “Everyone thinks the West Coast has the market cornered on cool, but it wasn’t until I moved to the East Coast that I felt any real connection to a place. I think people out here are a lot more open and approachable and aren’t always hiding behind some façade. I think this helped me get into playing music out and feeling like people cared.”

Daniel: "I think when I went to college was when I got really involved in music. There was a skate park in downtown Greenville that hosted a wide range of punk shows. The exposure I got from the bands coming through inspired me to join a band. When I moved back to the triad there was a lot of hype and steam going with shows like Heavy Rebel Weekender and the Chicken Pickin. I tried to immerse myself in the music, culture, and people. It was very exciting. I played with a bunch of different people and that's how I met up with Robert several years back."

Murph: "Since I moved around a lot in the early days, playing drums was a way to make friends and to try and  feel at home in a new place. My USAF tech school was in Biloxi Mississippi and I marched with the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps for almost a full year.  Our close proximity to New Orleans meant that we performed at a ton of Mardi Gras parades.  This impacted my drumming in that I still prefer traditional grip for more technical playing."

What initially got you into music?

Robert: “I think I must have just been born with it even though in some ways I was a late bloomer. I didn’t start noodling with an instrument until my late teens and then I didn’t take it too seriously until I was a good bit older. I did spend most of my mid-teens listening to 50s-60s music, but my friends thought I was completely lame and eventually I became a big metal head. It’s wasn’t till much later that it came back around full circle.”

Daniel: "I grew up in a very musical family. I started playing guitar when I was 6 or 7. I lost interest for several years until I moved to Greenville. I think that is when I finally found music and people that I gelled with."

Murph: "I dunno, I have just always loved music, and especially the drums, for as long as I can remember.   My father was a musician - one of those guys who could pick up any instrument and learn to play it (trumpet, guitar, harmonica, etc.).  His brother (my uncle Jimmy) was also a drummer and said my dad played drums better than he did without a single lesson.  I used money from my paper-route to buy my first set of sticks and practice pad to take lessons at school in 5th grade."   

Would you guys consider yourself modern, retro or vintage?

Daniel: "I love the styling of all the mid 20th century. The cars and bikes had so much style and beauty that I think is lost today. The music was so fresh and had so much energy. I do have to say that technology has advanced a ton and I also enjoy the comforts of central air! My early 60's record player sits underneath my plasma tv, if that is a better indicator. So I guess I bounce back and forth."

Robert: “I guess like Daniel, I’m sort of torn between the two. I love the music, art, style and overall bold sense of mid-century America and yet I’ve got to admit there are lots of great improvements in modern times too. Stylistically things have gone downhill these days. Products are made cheap and fast without much regard for style or quality. And yet maybe that’s just a progression of that older era. Mass production came into its own in the 50s! I’m still the nerd though that will try to fix some old antiquated piece of technology and swear up and down that it’s better … but deep down I know that a lot of that energy is wasted and that more often than not something newer would make my life a lot easier.”

Murph: "In some cases, the music we play sounds very vintage.  By that I mean the rhythms, lyrics, tone, and approach to the songs are as if they were being written/performed back in the day. From a drumming standpoint, sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. For example, early rock-a-billy recordings had very little in the way of drums, so to be truly vintage would put me out of a job.  But we also play a lot of straight-up rock music… whether it's rooted in the 50's or any number of influences that have shaped the genre over the years.   From that standpoint, maybe we're more "retro" than "vintage", since we may approach a song with a certain feel that could have come along any time between the early-50s and today."

Do you guys ride motorcycles?

Robert: “I’ve got ’66 Bonneville that I’ve had for a few years. It’s been sitting in my garage for a while in varying degrees of disassembly. It just can’t ever seen to find the time to get it all back together and running. It’s on my to-do list, but I’ll admit that I’m being a bit slow about it. It sure does look sweet though.

Daniel: "Not too much riding lately. I own a beautiful 1971 T-120r currently. If there is a dislike for NC anywhere it is with the NCDMV. I have spent hours of work and time trying to clear a title so it will be legit, but every trip back is rejected in need of more paperwork. I grew up riding dirt bikes and have recently been searching for a couple of XR's to get back into that."

Murph: "I had a buddy with a 250cc off-road bike (with shoddy rear brakes). I was about 19 (and still indestructible) when I endo'd the bike and went airborne… it all happened in an instant.  I tumbled a few times, landed on my feet, knocked the dust off, picked up the bike (and my pride) and rode it over to where my friends were all laughing their asses off. I've thought about getting a bike every now and again… maybe once the kids are out of the house."

How have motorcycle and car culture affected your music?

Robert: “For some reason cars/bikes and rock-n-roll just always seem to go together. I think it’s because these things always seem to represent a sense of freedom and therefore maybe even rebellion.  The stuff we play, as simple as it may seem, fits into that little niche in our brains that melts all of those ideas together. So if I’m writing a new song, those are the place where I’m taking aim.”

Daniel: "I think the culture surrounding the scene is pretty killer. I mean there is always gonna be someone hating on you or clicks that develop, but I think that overall everyone is super supportive with things. I'm glad that our music meshes into all this little subgroups. It's nice to be part of events like the Bull City Rumble or Heavy Rebel weekender. People that might come to the bike show having not heard us, stick around for the music and see us perform.

Murph: "Cars and music have always gone together for me… to the point when where they have influenced each other.  My first car was a hopped-up '69 Camaro that I bought for $650 back in the 80s… it was fast and cheap transportation.  It didn't necessarily impact the style of music I played, but it did enable me to play out more.  Fast-forward to 2001 when I got the bug to get an old hotrod.  I had already given up on commercial radio and most of what was being played on the college stations. I wasn't playing in a band at the time either, but I had rediscovered rock-a-billy and started digging deeper into rock music of the 50's.  So, rather than buy a muscle car to relive my youth, I went further back and bought a '51 Ford.  My first foray back into live music was drumming with Killer Filler, playing predominantly 60's-era surf and Memphis Soul. I loved that music, but it just didn't have the same raw energy as the grittier 50's music I had really come to love.  So, when I learned the Straight 8s were looking for a drummer, I pretty much jumped at the chance to audition."  

If you were a motorcycle, would you be a Triumph, BSA or a Norton?

Robert: ‘Guess I’d have to say Triumph. But honestly that’s only because  that’s what I’m familiar with.”

Daniel: "I am gonna have to go with Triumph because I already got the jacket! lol. Seriously when I was about 14 my father and I were watching a Clint Eastwood movie, I think Coogan's bluff? Please correct me if I'm wrong. Anyway, that was the baddest chase scene ever. I was hooked after that."

Murph: "I have this old set of motorcycle trading cards from when I was a kid in the 70's, and always thought the BSAs were totally bad ass.  I guess that makes me a Vespa."

How did you get involved with the Banshee TV series on Cinemax?

Murph: "Like so many things in life and especially "the biz" (no matter what biz you are in), timing is everything and it's not what you know, but who you know.   We got extremely lucky, but we also helped create our own luck.  We had just played our annual Halloween Hullabaloo show at Motorco on a Friday night with SCOTS, and then had to truck down to Wilmington for a Zombie Party in some industrial park on the outskirts of town.  We had no idea what to expect and were still pretty jet-lagged from the night before.   But that's the show where Rick Pour (the special effects makeup artist) saw us perform and dropped our name when he was interviewing for Banshee."

Robert: ‘We have a friend who happens to be a makeup artist who ended up working for the show. He read the script and saw that it mentions a rockabilly band in the one of the scenes. It’s kinda odd too because the show is set in modern times. Anyway, he gave us a call and asked if we were interested in submitting material that he could show to the producers. We agonized over the social and moral ramifications of this for about a millisecond and said OK. A few months went by and we had all but forgotten about it and then one day we get an email asking about being on the pilot.”

How often can we expect to see and hear the Straight 8’s on the program?

Daniel: "We are towards the end of Episode 1."

Robert: “To be fair, we haven’t actually seen the episode yet so this is all conjecture. But we filmed a large portion of the climactic final scene. Honestly, if we get 5 seconds of face time I’ll be happy. The music is the bigger part though. We have about 6 minutes of material throughout the whole thing.”

Were you guys also fans of the Banshee creators other show, True Blood?

Robert: “Absolutely. At first I thought it would be lame but figured hey, it’s got nudity. But eventually I did get involved with the characters and story line.”

Daniel: "I am a fan. They used a lot of good music on that show also, SCOTS and Nick Curran (RIP) got some good airplay. It will be nice to put ourselves on the same page with those guys."

Murph: "Honestly, between the day job, family, and Straight 8s, I never watch tv."

Any other big things in store for 2013 and the Straight 8’s?

Robert: ‘Umm, yeah! New album. It’s only been forever since we released anything. Hopefully folks will still give a damn and want to hear it. We’re pretty excited about it all. The whole Banshee thing has really helped both financially as well as motivationally.”

Daniel: "The new album! It's not finished yet but pretty excited about the work so far. Hopefully we will wrap it up early this year. Buy our merch so we can get it done! We are also filling up the calender with a bunch of dates so keep your eyes peeled. Maybe if we are lucky we will get asked to come back and play the Rumble again. wink..wink.."

Murph: "Ha, the album for sure!   Really looking forward to finishing up what we started late last year.  Recording with Robert and Daniel has been a goal of mine since joining the band 3.5 years ago.  Definitely getting closer!" 

What is your favorite Bull City Rumble memory?

Daniel: "Last year the weather was just perfect, there was a huge bike turnout and a ton of great people..And then Patman broke my bass! lol..just kidding, the string popped off but it was an easy fix. It's a really laid back fun event so I look forward to it every year. I am hoping to make this year my favorite memory by actually having my Bonneville there."

Robert: “Ha! Watching the Ton Up NC guy stagger around trying to pay the bands last year. The drunkest guy in the bar was handling the finances. It was awesome!

Murph: "One year an old friend of mine came out to the show and was talking with my wife while I was on the clock.  Robert's girl noticed that the chit-chat was maybe a bit too friendly, walked over and asked my wife "soooo, who is this?".  My wife just laughed and said it was an old friend we'd known for nearly 20 years.  Not sure if she was worried about my friend or my wife, but it was cool that she cared enough to check things out." 

Be sure to watch the Straight 8's on Banshee this Friday night at 10:00pm EST (January 11, 2013) on Cinemax, be on the lookout for the new Straight 8's album and go out and see them when they come to your town.

To stay up to date on all things Straight 8's go to their website at and be sure to "Like" them on the Facebook.

Ton Up NC = Riding, Restoration and Racing of Vintage Motorcycles

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Shops of the Past: Casa Beeza

Casa Beeza had it all, split level storage, two-story ceilings, skylights, parts department, several workstations, tools out the wazoo and an ample stock of BSAs. But as has been said, all good things must come to an end and so it did. Casa Beeza owner and TUN*C core member, Alex, fell victim to the allure of the left coast, packed his shit up and took off this past year for greener pastures. It goes without saying that Alex is deeply missed and so is his shop. Here are some pictures of the glory days...
Good night Casa Beeza.

Ton Up NC = Riding, Restoration and Racing of Vintage Motorcycles

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Retro Moto TV

Be sure to check out Retro Moto TV. Starting January 5 and 6, 2013 it will air in 5 min. clips as part of  PBS's Motorweek program and later on the Velocity Channel beginning January 15, 2013. The show is hosted by TUN*C's internet pal and Smoke and Throttle creator, Matt Smith. Judging by the trailers, this will undoubtedly be the best vintage motorcycle show on TV. So watch it and then email to let them know that you want to see more, because there is more...

Ton Up NC = Riding, Restoration and Racing of Vintage Motorcycles

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Salad Days: DC Hardcore Redux.

TUN*C (front center) representing at the Dag Nasty show on 12/28/12. 
(photo by Nalinee Darmrong)
The weekend of December 28, 2012 was destined to be legendary. Six bands from my favorite music scene were reuniting for a weekend of shows to celebrate the legacy of the Washington DC hardcore/punk community and to raise money for the yet to be released documentary film, Salad Days: The Birth of Punk in the Nation's Capital.

The sold-out weekend of music took place at the Black Cat in Northwest Washington DC, a club collectively owned by several notable DC musicians including: Dave Grohl (Scream, Nirvana, Foo Fighters) and Dante Ferrando (Gray Matter, Ignition). Glancing around the room pre-show, it was like a who's who of DC punk rock history, where at any given moment Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat etc.) might be to your right and HR (Bad Brains) might be to your left.
Kingface 12.28.12

The weekend of shows started on Friday with DC's punk answer to hard rock: Kingface. Fronted by DC punk scene veteran, Mark Sullivan (Slinkees, RLSOT, Sevens), Kingface has always been a scene enigma, with their unapologetic blend of Van Halen and Nugent worn proudly on their sleeve, they rocked through a solid set of hits that musically contrasted much of what was yet to come.
Dag Nasty's 12.28.12 setlist
Dag Nasty was up next to play what was arguably the most anticipated show of the weekend. The band played with the original line-up of Shawn Brown, Brian Baker, Colin Sears and Roger Marbury. Twenty-seven years later, Dag Nasty managed to channel the youthful angst most of us were feeling when we first heard their music. That night we were all teenagers again, at least for 45 minutes. Here's a video of the full set minus the instrumental "Mango":

Friday night concluded with a set by one of Washington DC's oldest punk bands, Black Market Baby. The band, which originally formed in 1980, played an amazing set which was punctuated by an appearance of HR to cover the Bad Brains tune: "Right Brigade."
HR joins Black Market Baby on stage 12.28.12
When Saturday rolled around, I debated even going to the show. Friday night was so amazing, I didn't want to tarnish the memory in anyway. The evening started with Youth Brigade, the original DC kind, who ironically opened with a cover of "Sink with California" to further confuse those not in on the joke. The set was highlighted by an all-star rendition of DC punk's favorite cover tune: "Stepping Stone."

Youth Brigade's set was followed shortly afterward by Government Issue, a band that over the years has had an ever changing line-up of DC punk notables i.e. Brian Baker, Mike Fellows, J. Robbins, Pete Moffett, Steve Hansgen and an ever evolving sound. The GI we saw on Saturday focused mostly on their hardcore punk material, complete with quirky attire and nostalgic anecdotes by front-man John Stabb.
Government Issue 12.29.12

To wrap up the weekend of music, Scream took the stage. Scream which at one point, famously included Dave Grohl as a drummer, played with the finesse and poise of a band not together just for a reunion, because they were not. Scream reunited in 2009 and has stayed active since with an upcoming release in the works. Throughout the show, vocalist, Pete Stahl, paced the stage with the energy of a 10 year old off his Ritalin, while his sibling, Franz, lept and stomped along with each power chord (all the while wearing a Crossroads Triumph shirt). It was a befitting end to an evening of vintage punk/hardcore, a reminder to us all that we are sometimes only as old as we feel.

Scream 12.29.12

Look at us today, we've gotten soft and fat, waiting for the moment, its just not coming back. So serious about the stuff we lack, dwell upon our memories, But there are no facts. But I stay on, I stay on, where do I get off? On to greener pastures, the core is getting soft. Do you remember when? Yeah so do I. They call those the Salad Days, the good old days, what a fucking lie, I call it a lie.     

Ton Up NC = Riding, Restoration and Racing of Vintage Motorcycles