Bands enliven Diversions

By Gary Schlueter

For those who ventured into the surprisingly comfortable bowel of the Holmes Student Center called Diversions, last Friday was a rocking, be-bopping and comically good time.

The bill contained locally conceived “happy hunting” and a Bostonian band called “Scruffy the Cat”; neither of which were ever at a loss for rythmically pounding limbs or clapping hands.

“happing hunting”, using a non-capitalistic spelling for their non-capitalistic mentality, claims as its members – lead vocalist and bass player Matt Parker, guitarist Tim Fowler, and percussionist Tom Ellet. This trio, performing all originals with the exception of an occasional tongue-in-cheek Kiss cover, creates a larger wall of sound than would seem possible.

While the band dances wildly atop the musically sturdy bass lines weaved by Parker, I now habitually grab on to any solid object whenever I hear a Tim Fowler guitar solo slam into gear.

Playing together since 1987 (branching off from the now defunct Blatent Dissent prior to that) “happy hunting” has gathered quite a following through their local club dates and periodical basement bash fests.

This performance flowed more intensely and professionally for them than I had seen before. With another fine-tuning show next month at Andy’s Tap, “happy hunting” should be ready to let it all out at Chicago’s Caberet Metro come November 29th.

“Scruffy the Cat”, the nationally-known college-town tour monsters, finished off the show with a thump, a twang, and a smile.

This band, packed with character and characters, suggested a more danceable atmosphere before they struck their first chord. “Let’s lose these chairs, huh?” The near capacity crowd promptly responded and were all the better for it.

Consisting of Charlie Chesterman, lead vocals, guitar, harmonica; MacPaul Stanfield, bass; his brother Burns Stanfield, keyboards; Stephen Fredette, guitar, vocals; and drummer Randall Gibson, “Scuffy the Cat” picked selections from two EPs and two LPs dating back to 1986.

“Scruffy the Cat” began its evolution in 1981 when Chesterman and MacPaul Stanfield left their Iowa homes and moved to Boston where they met Fredette and Gibson. After the band’s 1987 release of “Tiny Days,” brother Stanfield was added after playing numerous live shows with the quartet.

This band enjoys itself. Keyboardist Burns Stanfield, sporting a “Don’t quit your day job” T-shirt, gave their music an important yet uncategorizeable aspect while very nearly creating a smoke show of his own.

“Scruffy the Cat” played mostly selections from their 1988 release “Moons of Jupiter.” I do believe it’s time for these guys to once again park their tour bus in a lot very near a recording studio. Only good could come of it.

Before their first song, Chesterman spat into the microphone, “Have fun, we do.”

We did.