Attack of the Jukebot
By: Katei Cranford
Oh, Halloween. A magical time when ghouls and goblins haunt the streets, kids eat too much candy, and rock ‘n’ rollers take the stage as their favorite bands.
In the spirit of spreading spooktacular cheer, Jukebot, a supergroup built from a [monster] mashup of Winston bands (Codeseven, Echo Crush, Lovecraft, Mortimer, Small Planes, and Uzzard,) will host their seventh-annual Halloween cover show on Friday at the Ramkat.
Co-presented by the Garage, the show doubles as a costume party, with opening acts from Rocket, a Smashing Pumpkins tribute, and Happy Colored Marbles: a Ween cover experience.
“We want to celebrate the gifts that Halloween and music give to us, all wrapped up in a massive party,” said co-founding Jukebotter Daniel Marshall (of Uzzard and Mortimer.)
“Jukebot comes from our love of music, Halloween and community,” he insisted.
“We started in 2012,” Marshall said, “each year brings a new batch of songs, and you never know what we’ll come up with.”
“It’s hard to believe it’s been six years already.”
Time must fly for those scaring-up fun, though the city is a different place since Jukebot began. The starkest difference for 2018 involved finding a new venue in the wake of a Winston-Salem without the Garage.
“The Garage was our home, and losing it sucks,” Marshall said. “We were a little unsure how this year would go down, but the Ramkat has been great to work with,” he said with a hopeful tone.
“We still have Jukebot, and we still have Camel City with all its amazing people,” noted Tucker Tharpe, former-owner of the Garage.
“The musicians are in it to bring friends together for a good cause,” Tharpe continued, “it’s not just Halloween debauchery.”
Tharpe sees promise in Jukebot carrying-on to a larger space. “We sold out the last five years, and since the Ramkat is so big, we hopefully won’t have to worry about turning anyone away.”
“We’re excited for our first year at The Ramkat,” Marshall said with an enthusiasm that extends to sharing the bill with Smashing Pumpkins and Ween cover bands.
Rocket, the Smashing Pumpkins tribute, will blast-in from Greensboro.
Having seen them during their first incarnation at Glenwood Coffee and Books in 2014, I can attest their Pumpkins imitation soars both onstage and off.
Owen Burd (of Irata and Lebaron), the “Billy Corgan” of the group, was the only one who spoke during our conversation. The remaining members (from Saucer and the Bronzed Chorus,) “stared off into space,” akin to the ways the actual Smashing Pumpkins regarded interviews.
“For me, performing cover shows is something that I take as an opportunity to study the music of an artist I love,” Burd said regarding Rocket’s jovial sincerity. “Learning their techniques and mindsets informs my own creative output even more than it had before.”
“I’ve talked with friends and bandmates over the years about doing a Pumpkins band,” Burd mentioned of the line-up. “And things finally came to fruition in a very natural way.”
“It’s a fun excuse to break away from the normal existence,” he noted of the ways Halloween blends with cover shows in certain circles.
“It’s the same reason that people want to be Batman or a sexy nurse or whatever on Halloween,” he said. “But for musicians, it’s also an opportunity to pay tribute to artists that have inspired them.”
Beyond bands, it wouldn’t be a Halloween party without a cash-prize costume contest. According to insider-info from Tharpe, “we have secret judges and eyeball the room. Then we pull the top costumes to the stage and let the crowd decide.”
“My favorite part of the Halloween shows is always the costumes,” Marshall said. “I think rock ‘n’ roll and Halloween go hand-in-hand.”
“You wouldn’t see so many Misfits T-shirts if it didn’t,” he quipped, “add-in the element of musicians wanting to pay homage to their favorite songs, and it’s the perfect formula for a rad celebration.”
To Tharpe, “Halloween is a night that gives adults a free pass, and musicians a chance to play music they wouldn’t ordinarily play.”
“People dressing and acting in ways they normally wouldn’t?” he added. “That sounds like a party to me.”
“We do Jukebot because we love to,” Marshall said. “Any profits from the show go to women’s shelters, youth music programs, and animal advocacy groups.”
“Come out and have a good time with us,” Marshal beckoned. “Who knows? We may play one of your favorite songs!”
Jukebot will host their seventh Halloween cover show with Rocket and Happy Colored Marbles Oct. 26 at the Ramkat (170 W. Ninth St.) in Winston-Salem.
Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd and Halloween enthusiast who hosts the Tuesday Tour Report, a radio show that runs like a mixtape of bands playing NC the following week, Tuesdays from 5-7pm on WUAG 103.1fm.