Friday, July 17, 2009

Ripped off and pissed off, Silent Cinema speaks up

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2009 at 11:03 PM

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In March 2005, Portland, Ore., rockers the Decemberists were relieved of a trailer full of musical equipment outside a gig in their hometown. This being the Decemberists, said trailer contained not just guitars and drums but also an Eberle acoustic bass ($2,000), an Olympic hurdy gurdy ($1,900) and several vintage keyboards valued at several thousand dollars apiece. The band lost more than $70,000 worth of instruments in all.

Interviewing frontman Colin Meloy several months later, I tried approaching the topic with humor: “Is there a Decemberists song to be written in there somewhere, the larcenous trip of the poor hammer dulcimer?” Meloy was having none of it. “I don't even want to qualify it. I just want to leave it be. … They were actually expecting there to be construction equipment inside. I think that they were really disappointed to find $70,000 worth of musical equipment; they didn't know what to do with it. I wish they would've just turned around and given it back. But instead they had to sort of throw it, hither and yon, to all sorts of houses of ill repute all over Portland. We even found a bunch of guitars on the side of a logging road — the cops found a couple of my guitars, the hammer dulcimer, and Chris Funk's telecaster in a ditch.”

Instrument theft has become an all-too-common problem for touring musicians. Iggy Pop, Dinosaur Jr and the Brian Jonestown Massacre are three of the higher-profile acts to have been victimized in recent years, according to StolenGear.org, a Web site founded in 2006 to report and track filched equipment via detailed descriptions and serial numbers.

Local outfit Silent Cinema joined this unfortunate fraternity last weekend, and as with the Decemberists, adding insult to injury, the theft occurred in the band’s backyard. “As many of you know we were robbed of a large portion of our gear this weekend in New Orleans, and we are on a mission to retrieve it,” the group wrote Tuesday on its blog. “We (are) asking anyone with any information or any connections to local music stores, pawnshops, or mob bosses, to help us out.” (It seems Silent Cinema has maintained its sense of humor better than Meloy did. But then again, this is New Orleans.)

There are three ways concerned citizens can help: check out the descriptions and serial numbers of the lost gear and lend a vigilant eye; attend Silent Cinema’s benefit show at One Eyed Jacks tomorrow (it's been a rough month); and “forward this to any blogs, publications, music stores, pawn shop workers, etc that you might know,” the band asks. “Feel free to post it to your facebook, myspace, twitter etc. If you know who is in possession of our equipment, feel free to fax us their name, address, phone number, and a list of their worst fears.”

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