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One Night Stand 

If you don't remember Bobbo, you're forgiven. The Baton Rouge post-punk band from the early 1980s only played a few parties in New Orleans. "New Orleans was always a really hard town to play," bassist Mark Redding says, so they played the handful of punk clubs in Baton Rouge with bands like the Shitdogs, Our Favorite Band, and Dash Rip Rock.

After Bobbo plays The Big Top on Saturday night, the odds are you won't hear from them again, either. The band isn't getting back together. They have families, they have jobs, and they're in their early 40s. Redding has a construction company, while drummer Michael Maling handles industrial audio visual. They've played together in a number of bands over the years (including one, the Glick Brothers, with me), and when they haven't been in a band, they've met in one another's garage or shed just to play.

Guitarist-singer Tim Prudhomme continued in music. As the singer and songwriter for San Francicso-based F--k, he has recorded 19 albums, the most recent being the new Those Are Not My Bongos (Future Farmer). Now living in Memphis, he also plays in a children's band called the Luv Clowns and a trio named Staff -- "You've seen our T-shirts in the clubs," he jokes -- that has an album coming out in December.

Neither Redding nor Prudhomme remember exactly how the band got together. "I think he was having a party," Prudhomme recalls. "I can't remember why we started playing. I think he picked up the bass and I've always been one who enjoyed playing with beginners." After a dozen gigs with a variety of drummers, Redding says, "Mike came up and said, 'Y'all are good, but you need to ditch the drummer.' Then Mike was late for the first practice."

During the band's heyday in 1984, Bobbo drew 200 or so people at shows because, according to Maling, the band had personality. "Any band from Baton Rouge at the time (played) 98 percent covers, and a few originals that sounded like a band from England," he says. "Bobbo was the only band that was writing originals that were really raw. The only other original music in town was hardcore. But who in the world in 1983 covers 'The Great Pretender'? Tim had such a weird sensibility."

Prudhomme looks back at the band's songs with mixed feelings. "I was listening to some of them last night and cringing, mainly at lyrical problems," he says. "I am the culprit in those, so I may have to change a few before we perform. I didn't realize I was a bit of a sexist at the time. They're still catchy tunes, most of them."

Like much music from the '80s that seemed progressive in its moment, it takes a little imagination to recall a time when Bobbo's songs sounded unusual. Prudhomme's loud, spare guitar, Redding's melodic bass and Maling's often-busy drumming recall Boston's Mission of Burma at times, a sound that hadn't yet been absorbed into the vocabulary of rock 'n' roll. When he reviewed their tapes, Prudhomme admits, "I did hear a little Replacements, which we were listening to at the time. At the same time, one of the reasons I got into the Replacements was because they sounded like what we were into anyway."

As is so often the case, Bobbo recalls the war stories fondly. They laugh about playing the venerable Baton Rouge bar The Chimes under names like Glide and the Satintones when they got last-minute calls after a touring band canceled. At an ill-fated gig in Port Allen, they opened for an all-girl band called the Parallels. "What qualified them as New Wave was that the guitar player wore leather pants all the time," Redding laughs.

They also opened for the Lyres and Jason & the Scorchers, but the highlight was opening for the Replacements in Lafayette. "They just found out they were signed to Sire," Maling says. "We opened our set and (Replacements' guitarist) Bob Stinson is sitting on a drum case on the side. When we play our first song, Bob throws a full beer and hits me in the side of the head!" Stinson embodied the spirit of anarchy, so for Replacements fans, this was a sign of acceptance. "I hit my snare and I have this brand new, really cool [drum] head -- rrrrrip! -- at the same time. Luckily, Clarke Martty (the original Dash Rip Rock drummer) was there to pop another snare on and I staggered through the set. Paul (Westerberg, the Replacements' singer) loved it."

Like so many bands, Bobbo didn't break up so much as fade away. Maling had graduated while others were still attending LSU. The three briefly considered loading up the van and heading out on the road, but it never happened. "I moved back to Florida," he says. "I was sick and tired of Baton Rouge and having jobs I hated." For that reason, he says, laughing at his own cliché, Bobbo lacked "closure."

click to enlarge Early '80s Baton Rouge post-punk band Bobbo (Michael Maling, Tim Prudhomme and Mark Redding) reunite for one night Saturday at The Big Top.
  • Early '80s Baton Rouge post-punk band Bobbo (Michael Maling, Tim Prudhomme and Mark Redding) reunite for one night Saturday at The Big Top.
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