DIY Punk and Outlaw Poetry In Rockford, Illinois

I have never been a social creature. I certainly was not very social when I returned from the Marine Corps and started attending community college right about the time grunge rock was hitting. The people of the city I live in are famous for grumbling that there is nothing to do, but I don’t find that has ever been the case. In the 1980’s it seemed every major band in the world was coming to our Metro Centre, including the Rolling Stones.

But what also was always happening was there was a smaller, less organized music, art, and cultural scene that has always been unique and energetic. Former Rockford citizen David Ensminger writes about a particular era in that scene in his forthcoming book Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick To DIY Punk In Rockford, Illinois, 1973-2005.

I collaborated with David on a couple of zines, and he is a very talented person who went on to make his mark in Houston. He researches and writes about the punk scene like no one else. I have never considered myself a punk, or even really a fellow traveler, which is probably why he refers to me as a surrealist in this interview for a French blog.

I’d say right about the time his examination of Rockford’s cultural scene ends, 2005, is when I really started becoming a more social and involved person, mostly because I was General Manager of a bar named Castaways, where I booked the bands and special events, including Zombie Night, and was also the publisher of Zombie Logic Press. I’m not sure if I made it into the book the way I did in the interview, but it was nice to think I was remembered for making a contribution, even during a time when I just wasn’t interacting with other people very much.

At nearly fifty, I find myself far more likely to find my way into a basement punk show on Saturday night than I ever would have 25 years ago. The days when I would self-described myself as a Surrealist are long gone, but I would never go so far as to describe myself as an Outlaw, either. I feel comfortable being an Outsider, even if I do tend to see someone I know and have probably worked with at every stop now. The music scene in Rockford is far less punk now, and even less metal, and probably more roots/Americana as it seems to be everywhere now, but there are surprises like King of the Demons, and their iconic frontman/shaman Jesus Correa. With Rick Zillhart on guitar and Mickey Rosenquist on drums, they had a great couple year run recently and were/are my favorite Rockford band.

Zombie Logic Press has several books in the pipeline, all from Rockford writers, and I have to admit some will be the furthest thing from Outlaw or punk, but this is a city represented by many different points of view. I sometimes wonder if in the future when books like this are written if Zombie Logic Press will be remembered. It’s not much of a factor in why I do what I do, but it’s nice to see your name once in a while.