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What did we think we were doing? The beats were funky and chomping. Mike on guitar was doing a sort of low-rent James Brown vibe, Herm was putting his Farfisa organ through a phase shifter. We had a two-brother percussion team, and I was playing a clunky Guild bass guitar through an Acoustic 301 cabinet that was as tall as I was. In front, Chris Kelley was at the mic, singing, "Excuse me, do you have change of a Kennedy half?"

We were in a basement on Duval Street in Brighton, Mass. Or maybe it was all a weird dream. Maybe it didn't really happen. Then again, the evidence exists in a box of dusty cassette tapes, so maybe it really did happen after all.

The year was 1982. The aura of Grateful Dead hung over the Boston College campus like a cloud of day-old patchouli. Herm had returned from a trip to the Holy Land, and we both had ideas about starting a band that played original material. We recruited Chris Kelley from the Elliot Mouser Floating Blues Band to be our baritone singer, and we already had a happening rhythm section. We weren't exactly "going punk" or "going new wave," whatever that was, but something had to change.

The results were decidedly weird. All these strange songs came rolling out. Songs that would never be properly recorded -- titles like "Centipede Crawl," "The Baby Elvis," "Careers," "Zap-Pow," the aforementioned "Excuse Me," "Living in Fear," "Slice of Heaven," "Feel It" ... those titles won't mean anything to you, but they're all rushing back to me like an involuntary memory. Revisiting these old tunes is a head-trip, and for the first time in half a lifetime -- a strange symmetry at work here --  I'm relearning these tunes on the bass guitar.

The fact is, Rods and Cones will be performing in Boston for the first time in 22 years on Thursday, Feb. 11, at House of Blues. As we prepare for the gig, Chris Kelley has been sending us MP3s of rehearsals of these odd songs that we used to play at the Inn Square Men's Bar in Cambridge.

Why didn't we go to some little eight-track studio for a day and document what we had? This is lost history. So much goes unrealized. Why didn't we record all that stuff? It was our strange, early period. We could have made an oddball record to make Captain Beefheart blush. Instead of recording everything, we spent months and months (and months) doing overdubs and mixes on one tune, "Round Room," which was released on a vinyl compilation, and which holds up pretty well.

Rods and Cones went on to change and to go through two or three distinct phases. Mike left the band, and when Gary came along, we became more "rock" and more acceptable, and that stuff was just as valid. But it's the early material that gives me the willies.

When we appear on Thursday, Feb. 11, we will have Mike and Gary in the band at the same time, for the first time ever. And we will be playing tunes from our early, middle and late periods. I'll be switching between bass guitar and keyboard. (That's a story for another day.)

This past weekend, Rods and Cones spent two intensive days rehearsing this material. Since I have sworn a blood oath to not tell you anything specific about what we will do, all I can tell you is that you really ought to come to this show.

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