On the website for Susanne Tabata’s Bloodied But Unbowed, local punk scribes Scott Beadle and Les Wiseman offer a concise definition of the Vancouver punk tradition of ‘fuck bands’; a practice that began “of necessity” in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, when there were too few bands to fill slots at gigs.
To solve the problem, “a headlining band would invent an opening act. The band members would trade instruments and play ‘out of position’“—such as Pointed Sticks vocalist Nick Jones drumming for Rude Norton, or Joey “Shithead” Keithley’s own drum tenure, under his alternate nom de guerre, Flab Jiggle, with Wimpy and the Bloated Cows.
It was at the 2010 debut screening of Tabata’s documentary that retired Vancouver sports journalist and former Smilin’ Buddha attendee Jack Keating decided that the fuck band tradition stood in need of revitalization.
“I got the idea, ‘Why not form a band playing that style of music?’” Keating explains, in a call to the Straight. “So J.F.K.”—it stands for Jack “Fucking” Keating—“is a fuck band with no limits, featuring Vancouver punk rock circa 1977-1983, and rockabilly from 1955 to 2013."
Once inspiration struck, Keating had no problem recruiting musicians to fill out the lineup.
"Joe Rotundo was playing with the Modelos at Falconetti’s, and I mentioned the idea to him and he said, ‘I’m in!’ And I mentioned it to Richard Chapman; he’s with Northern Electric, and he thought it was a great idea, too."
In short order, J.F.K. was joined by bassist Brian Goble (the Wimpy of Wimpy and the Bloated Cows, and a member of Rude Norton, DOA, the Subhumans, and the Trespassers); Bob Beaudine (of the Mud Bay Blues Band, and veteran of fuck bands both vintage, like Buddy Selfish, and ongoing, like the Frank Frink Five); boogie-woogie pianist Mike Van Eyes (also of the Trespassers and the Epics) and Keating’s nephew Kevin Keating (JP5, Kreviss).
J.F.K. is set to play its third-ever gig, headlining the End-of-Summer Rock’n’Roll Blowout at Chapel Arts (304 Dunlevy) on Friday (September 6).
Fuck bands don’t have to be comprised entirely of first-generation Vancouver punks, Keating thinks. “Basically anyone could form a fuck band, because you’re just doing it for the fuck of it!” he says. But J.F.K. gigs tend to weigh heavy with celebrities, some dating back to the very start of the local scene.
“For Friday’s show, we have special guest vocalists I, Braineater and Dennis Mills, who used to be in the Jazzmanian Devils and Rhythm Mission. He’s going to do a couple of songs with his sax. And we have Eddie Dutchman, the king of the Liquor Kings; Bob Mercer from the Masses. He used to be the editor of the Georgia Straight! And Dolly Haze, who’s this new person on the scene who has this great voice…“
Past J.F.K. gigs have also featured guest appearances from Randy Rampage, Billy Bonito, and Swank/Deadcats member Gord “Gorehound” Smithers. Keating didn't rule out other guests come Friday. Also on the bill are openers Reid Jameson, a rare performance from vintage garage troglodytes the Furies, and the rockabilly-infused Stingin’ Hornets, featuring Buddy Selfish himself, Ian Tiles, as well as former Ray Condo lap steel sideman Jimmy Roy and Trespassers Howard Rix and Mike Van Eyes.
“Some of the best musicians in the city are going to be there,” Keating enthuses. “It’s going to be a great night of rock’n’roll.”
One person not featured is Keating himself. “I could get up and read a poem or something, but as of this second, I haven’t appeared onstage," he says. "But I created the band. And as they say, it’s a fuck band with no limits, so you never know!”