Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CLT musician's life inspires CD, fest, reunions

This weekend the Charlotte music scene honors musician Chris Peigler with a two-day concert at Tremont Music Hall featuring what Chris loved - fast-paced punk rock and a long list of local bands. Chris died January 8 after a fight with kidney disease that never dampened his spirit or passion for live music.

The lineup for Friday and Saturday is indicative of how Peigler’s friendship and enthusiasm - not just for his beloved punk rock, but for local live music over the past 35 years -was regarded by a diverse musical community. Friday’s portion of the Chris Peigler Punk Party features surviving members of My So-Called Band - one of Peigler’s many bands and the one he fronted when I met him. Saturday’s acts include the reunion of the original X-Periment - a well-known funk fixture in `90s Charlotte. Saturday also includes the return of Leisure McCorkle (another familiar face from the `80s and `90s) and Antiseen, who have been around the local punk scene as long as Chris.

Friday’s acts include Chalkies, Aloha Broha, The Fill Ins, and Moenda, as well as My So-Called Band. Saturday’s all-day line-up features Antiseen, No Anger Control, sidewalks, All Rise, Dickwolf, Leisure McCorkle, IED, the Not Likelys, South Side Punx, Smelly Felly, Dirty South Revolutionaries, and the X-periment.

Local artists have also contributed to a compilation CD that should be available for sale in time for the concert. Contributors include Peigler's bands including Rogue Nations, Proletariat Madonna, and Intensive Care, active current artists like Hectagons, Biggy Stardust, Flat Tires, and Appalucia, and bands that haven't seen a Charlotte stage in years - the Blind Dates, Snagglepuss, and Baby Shaker, for instance.

The list of acts on the disc and the bill represent nearly every era of local music from the early `80s to today because even at 50 - when a  lot of music fans rarely go out anymore - Chris was as much a supportive part of the scene as he was in his twenties. He and his current band Rogue Nations still played live and you could often find Chris in the crowd taking in whatever kind of act was on stage and finding something positive to say about it.

Chris Peigler was the first person my husband met in Charlotte. After looking up record stores in the phone book he ventured from UNCC to Plaza-Midwood’s Milestone Records. There he met Chris. Chris told him about the Milestone Club and Tremont Music Hall and made suggestions where my husband’s band might play. In doing so, Chris helped lead him on his path - a path that included his career, his own music, and his future family. I met my husband at Tremont a few years later, the same place that I struck up a friendship with Chris. We bonded over a love of riot grrrl and female-fronted punk bands, which might not seem so rare for a music writer, but I can only think of a handful of friends throughout my life that shared a love of screaming, angry women.

My husband says everyone he’s talked to about Chris - people that worked with Chris’ bands over the years, played shows with him, worked at the venues he played, and those that came to his funeral and those that did not - they all say the same thing. He was the most supportive guy in the music scene. A band playing to an empty room and there would be Chris standing in front of the stage. Then he would find something positive to say about them. I don’t know of anyone who saw or heard a negative thing from him, ever.

The Facebook posts following his death echoed the same sentiment. I saw some of the same young, green punk bands that Chris did, especially during the late `90s and early `00s. I remember a few in particular that were pretty bad. For some of those kids it was their first time on stage, their first time playing with other people, or they just hadn’t found their sound yet. I imagine Chris’ encouragement and enthusiasm for what they were doing helped keep some of those bands going. I’ve watched many Charlotte teens from that era go on to make critically-acclaimed, nationally recognized music. And I bet he talked to many of them.

The topic of death comes up a lot at our house.You see, my five-year-old has something in common with Chris Peigler. He loves punk rock. I really regret that he never got a chance to chat up Chris about punk history. They would’ve enjoyed each other. The members of my son’s favorite band, the Ramones, all died fairly young. Joey and Dee Dee were 49 and 50. Johnny was 55 - all close to Chris’ age. Of course they aren’t the only punk figures that preceded Chris in death. I like to think they’re all out there somewhere rocking out, looking out for the next generation of punks. I like to think that’s what Chris is still doing too. If he's not on stage, he's up front with that smile on his face, taking it all in. It’s just a shame he won’t be here to continue to do that for another generation.

The Chris Peigler Punk Party starts at 8 p.m. Friday and at 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $7 Friday and $10 Saturday. Proceeds from the concert and compilation album will go to Peigler’s family to help care for his elderly mother and to pay for funeral costs. The above painting of Chris by Pete Hurdle will also be auctioned off, according to the folks at Tremont.

If you want to really honor Chris, come out and listen. Listen to bands you’ve never heard before. Stay in the room when everyone’s outside smoking. Accentuate the positive. And let whoever it is you dig that day know that you enjoyed their show.