No. 2
March 2005
Firefly Journal
Because the End Times Never End and Everything is Still Possible
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The Blue Dot


1 injured (fell on her ass from dancing too hard),
several others report having their pants rocked off.

by Belle Butane

Nestled between the villages of Mendocino and Fort Bragg on the Northern California coast is the tiny Caspar strip, home to the only night club for miles, the Caspar Inn. It’s a venue notorious for hosting acts the management likes to call “the rockin’ blues;” bands that in this kid’s experience are neither rocking nor blue. Generally, if you want to hear good live music around here, you make your own in a neighbor’s garage. So you can imagine, or you will in a moment, that the Blue Dot show on May 21 was as refreshingly cool as a fridge-fresh ginger ale on a parched mouth the morning after too many whiskeys.

The Blue Dot is a four-man act using keyboard, synthesizer, sax, trumpet, drums and guitar to create a sound they call “lounge punk.” They are fronted on vocals, keyboard and synth by Aaron “Double A” Stauffer, formerly of the band Seaweed, a melodic grunge act of considerable influence who put out several albums in the ‘90s on Sub Pop and Merge. Doing double-duty on the drums and trumpet is Dave Sinclair. Sinclair’s an accomplished manimal of percussion, and you can pretty much bet if he’s playing, shit’s gonna fly (musically speaking.)

(Stauffer and Sinclair have another band, Gardener, with Eli Donahue and Stauffer’s sister Sarah. Gardener is a poppy jangle-y rock act built around brother-sister vocal harmonies, and is on maternity leave now since Sarah just had a baby. I assume that with the new baby and Aaron’s young daughter the Stauffer siblings will form the ultimate family band and hit the road in a psychedelic school bus. Gardener’s been sorely missed.)

Having fun at The Blue Dot.
Having fun at the show.
The Blue Dot and the YBs join forces.
The Blue Dot and the YBs join forces.

The Blue Dot’s Mickey, on guitar and sax, has really big hair and a funny girlfriend, and I like that in a person. On bass is Scotty, formerly of Bagpipe Operation. The truth is, I didn’t know I was going to be reviewing this show, so I didn’t take notes. But I’m glad I didn’t know, because it might have stopped me from having so much balls-out fun.

Following a strong performance by Seattle’s YBs (who made Mendo’s metalheads gather up front and listen close, which doesn’t often happen at Caspar), The Blue Dot took the stage rocking sports coats and homemade t-shirts, each bearing a single big blue dot. This band was serious about not being serious; they’re in the business of having fun. Stauffer half-schmoozed, half-heckled the audience from behind his big electric 1970s Wurlitzer Annabella and 1980s Roland synth JV30. Wry and absurd. It was a nice balance, like your big brother’s best friend who was hilarious but also kind of a dick, and it created tension that grabs attention.

At the start of the set people stood on the dance floor uncomfortably. At best you saw a hipster with arms folded give the occasional head-nod-with-non-committal-foot-tap; a little move I like to call “The Record Store Clerk.” Then, introducing the number “Pan-American Apple,” Stauffer instructed, “This is a dance song,” with a look and a mock-arch tone that dared people to stop looking so cool. The melodies that followed from Stauffer’s keyboard and vocals cinched a danceable belt through the loops of this band’s man-pants, and soon kids dipped their toes in the shallow end of the dance floor. As The Blue Dot played on, kids waded further and further out onto that floor, until they were full-on swimming and splashing around.

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