Thursday, March 09, 2023

Get It On: A Benefit for Ukrainian Refugees in Poland

I'll never understand it: who the hell wants to pay $1000+ for tickets to some aging American multi-millionaire singing songs about the working class when you have a chance to see seventeen great local bands, many actually from the working class, for a worthy charity, for under $50? I've seen half the bands on this bill, have always enjoyed them, and in many cases have interviewed or reviewed them, including Invasives (interviewreview), Daddy Issues (Betty Bathory interview/ Daddy Issues review), Bad BeatsVanraysNO FUN, and China Syndrome (one of many interviews here). Plus you have a chance to help out Ukrainian refugees in Poland, via a charity organized...uh... wait, what does Turbonegro have to do with anything?

This ain't your grandad's NGO folks, this is a Turbojugend charity: What? 

I thought some background on this weekend's coolest gig might be in order. But before we get to people's stories, local Turbonegro fans might enjoy the clips I shot of former (and now departed) Turbonegro vocalist Hank von Hell the last time he played Vancouver, in 2019, of "Bombwalk Chic," "Wild Boy Blues," and that Turbonegro classic, "I Got Erection." It's truly delightful that a loose organization of fans of a band - started practically as a gag by the band, in homage to the KISS Army - should come together to make a meaningful difference in the world and help people in need... and that we Vancouver music fans have a chance to participate!

Commence backstory! 

From the Facebook Event Page:

Turbojugend Rescukraine is the brainchild of Wiktor Marszalek. It brings a worldwide network of 700 superfans of the Norwegian punk band Turbonegro to bear on providing rescue and relief to Ukrainian refugees in and around the Polish city of Poznan. Since the outbreak of war, the group has already helped with the evacuation of over three hundred refugees, resettling and offering ongoing support for forty-six of them including many children. They are determined to do more and can with our help. 

          All proceeds from both nights go directly to Wiktor and Turbojugend RescUkraine.

Doors at 7pm
Advance tickets $15 + s/c available here:
At the door: $20
Daddy Issues

Doors at 2pm
Advance tickets $25 + s/c available here:
At the door: $30
Gnar Gnars
Bad beats
Rebel's Rebels
Rebel Priest
Van Rays
Ophelia Falling
The Furniture
Danny Echo
David M. of No Fun
China Syndrome
If you like the work RescUkraine is doing and want to support it beyond the price of admission, you can make a Paypal donation (in USD and marked as a gift for family/friends, please) to:

Sometimes they will take specific actions as a result of requests they receive, so feel free to ask!

The following sections give background on the event, then we check in with some of the musicians...

Dave Bowes, promoter, sometimes musician, and bon vivant about town, on the germ of the event: 

Like a lot of people, I felt the urge to help the Ukrainians early on in the invasion. All the destruction and suffering we witnessed secondhand, your heart would have to be stone not to feel something for them. But I made no concrete efforts in that direction until Chris Thompson (Corporal Ninny), one of my former drummers with Fucking Unicorns came to me with the seeds of this benefit. He'd already tried to mount it at the Bullet Farm but it hadn't worked out. The Turbojugend connection is his. He is in fact a member. I liked that they were grassroots, had some connection to cool music and were on the front lines of the refugee crisis. Better than giving your hard earned to maintain a gaggle of pencil pushers in a major NGO head office somewhere. Granted, it's an offbeat charity but to my mind that makes it more attractive.

SNFU, photographer unknown, L to R Rob Johnson, Corporal Ninny, Marc "Muc" Belke, Mr. Chi Pig, taken at the Irish Heather, Gastown, 1999; courtesy Corporal Ninny

Austringer bassist (and former SNFU/ Fucking Unicorns/ Red Hot Lovers drummer) Corporal Ninny on the connection to Turbojugend RescUkraine: 

I have a Turbojugend chapter here in Point Roberts; I simply messaged [Turbojugend RescUkraine founder] Wiktor and told him last year I was going to put on a show to raise money for TJ RescUkraine. Part of the inspirations for the show comes from my time as a UN Peacekeeper during the war in the former Yugoslavia. The images hit home for sure. 

(The border between Poland, left, and Ukraine, right)

Wiktor Marszalek, Polish Turbojugend RescUkraine founder on the function of the organization and its accomplishments: 

The idea itself was born in the first days of the war when we found out that our friends from the Ukrainian Turbojugend needed help. 

Who are we? We bring together people we know or have met around Turbojugend chapters. We are based on the values that Sailorettes and Sailormen (all Demin Demons) know. We have added just one element to all of these - selfless help and solidarity. At present, our group has more than 700 people from all parts of the world. Almost every continent has own representation in this crew. 

(a rescued dog)

How do we work? We operate from the grass-roots network, without any state support. Sometimes we use formal channels through friendly people or NGOs. We do the whole thing free of charge in our private time. We act on three levels: 

1. Local in our village and in Poznan. We help Ukrainian families from official matters to finding their way in a new situation. We take care over 20 Ukrainian kids in our area, and five families. 

2. We operate on a national level based on our network of contacts. We act as administrators on the aid forum supporting initiatives, but also reacting to critical situations that refugees unfortunately face. We support children in various initiatives by giving them opportunities to develop. 

3. On an international level helping people from Ukraine with the most necessary items. From evacuating people from places of danger to taking care of them in their new safe place. Preparing parcels or taking part in organizing humanitarian aid convoys. We try to make each of our actions as transparent as possible, which we have proven many times. We describe all our actions in a group on FB. Unfortunately we don't go beyond fb and insta because we don't have the strength or time for that anymore

Our achievements (short list of most important actions): 

1. Creating an amazing network of mutual help 

2. Participation of people connected with Turbojugend in the evacuation of civilians over 300 people 

3. Direct involvement in dozens of evacuations from individuals to families. 

4. Support and accommodation of 46 people (Poznan, Warsaw and others) and 43 animals (cats, dogs, snake and horse) 

5. Possibility to provide 5 additional places for refugees. 

6. Volunteers in Kutte at the border or train station giving direct help 

7.Support in critical moments - helping to raise money for a generator for the hospital shortly after the bombing 

8. Delivering 50 tons of donations directly to the border. 

9. Preparing over 2000 different meals / welcome packs at the railway station in Poznan 

10. Providing food to animals in Ukraine - over 1000 kg of food 

11. Providing over 400 kg of food to rescued animals that are already in Poland 

12. Delivering parcels with clothes and cleaning products to humanitarian points and refugees places 

13. Medical examinations and visits to doctors: paediatrician, gynaecologist, psychologist, dentist and ophthalmologist. 

14. Delivery of dozens of packages to Ukraine 

15. Purchase of food, cleaning supplies, underwear and clothing, containers for belongings, and help in finding oneself in a new situation. 

16. Organising Easter and Children's Day and Christmass for refugees 

17. 3 scooters, 5 notebooks 2 tablets for kids 

18. School trips for the kids to the mountains and to Torun and half-day camps. 

19. Assistance in finding a jobs, flats also to gather stuff in new places like used washing machines, furniture etc 

20. Support friends who are on the first line of duty eg. combat medic or people who risk own lives to evacuate people or deliver help as far as possible. 

And many more... What can you do ? You can prepare packages, which we will give either directly to the needy or locally, we support kids who have found themselves in a new place. We happen to send parcels to our friends in 4 different locations as well as we happen to send parcels close to the front line to liberated areas - in the case of parcels we always ask for direct contact.

Wiktor on connections with Dave, Corporal Ninny, and Vancouver

A year ago we founded this Turbojugend RescUkraine team which brings together fans of the Turbonegro group from all over the world. Many people started to get involved in various forms. Among these people was Corporal Ninny from Vancouver. This acquaintance began to gain momentum, all the more so as a number of common themes emerged, unfortunately concerning conflict and relief. We have nothing in common with Vancouver except the dream of one day visiting Canada. We have a Polish friend in Vancouver, but she is not involved with the aid group. We receive a lot of support from all over the world, there have been benefit events in Hamburg, Germany and Helsinki, Finland, and there are plans for one in Warsaw, Poland, and one in Vancouver, which is actually the biggest event in the history of the group. For the future we also will send parcels with food to Zaporoze region and medical supplies to Hulajpole...

The musicians speak!

I asked a fairly generic set of questions to the musicians performing who I had email contacts close at hand for. There are lots of stories not represented here!

Orchard Pinkish and Betty Bathory of Daddy Issues courtesy of Betty (is it a Dave Jacklin pic? Bob Hanham? Dunno).

1. Betty Bathory (Daddy Issues)

Allan: Will you be doing anything special for the Ukrainian benefit, related to the situation there?

Betty: Everything we do onstage is "special" but yes Rich will likely be wearing his helmet this time.

Do you have any ties to Ukraine, Ukrainian refugees, or Russia?

I'm half Ukrainian. I think its the bottom half, my dad always tells me i have my mothers vagina.

It's cool and slightly weird that a Polish Turbojugend chapter is involved. Do you ever cover Turbonegro? (It would be pretty funny to hear you do "I Get Erection," I guess).

We do not. There's MORE than enough Turbonegro covers going around these days. We prefer to twist the content of songs you didn' t know were about your dads cock ("Love Gun" by Kiss) or Ted Bundy ("Be My Baby" by the Ronettes), so you are haunted by the visuals of what we portray onstage everytime they come on the radio. Or somethin'.

2. David M. of NO FUN

Allan: What will you be doing for the show?

Pete (Campbell), Dave (Dedrick) and I will be presenting as a trio for a 15 minute set worked up specially for this show. We will be playing four NO FUN classics and adaptations and one new cover version. I will make one amusing comment, and Dave and I may sing an impromptu Russian Army song that we wrote with S. Prokofiev.

Tell us about your ties to the Ukraine?

I have many distant relatives in Ukraine I'm sure, but my grandparents left Ukraine, via Austria, around the turn of the previous century with the intention of never going back there and they never did. My parents were born in 1920 and 1922 in Saskatchewan. I alone of my family was born in B.C..

Any connections with Turbonegro or Turbojugends?

I know almost nothing about Turbojugend, but bless them for wanting to help victims of war.

I see that The Night Smells Like a Dog is the most recent NO FUN release to appear on CD through Atomic Werewolf. What's next?

I do not know what is next from Atomic Werewolf, but Kent was asking about expanding “The Beatles of Surrey”, so I pulled out the various planned versions from my archives.

3. Cam Alexander, the Bad Beats

Allan: Very cool to see the Bad Beats again - this will be the first time I've seen you since the last hiatus. 

Cam: Yeah, so the Bad Beats have been back together for probably a year and a half now. Adam and I had been back to writing songs for awhile, so when things started opening up again we started to book some shows. We've been relatively quiet lately. Just working on a new record.

Anything special for the occasion, re: the situation in Ukraine?

We are just gonna stick to the usual plan, do our thing. We're going to kick ass as hard as we can and make some bucks for some people that really need it. We don't have any ties to Ukraine, no, but of course we feel terrible about their situation. I don't think you need to actually have Ukrainian ties to feel empathy for them, the horror of this war.

Any comments on Turbonegro or the Turbojugend connection? Will you be covering any of their songs? Any fave songs of theirs?

We won't be playing any Turbonegro songs... That said, and I can't speak for the rest of the band, but I am definitely a big Turbonegro fan. I was never a Jugend member, but I think what Wiktor is doing is really commendable. He's trying to do his part to make the world a kinder place, and that's beautiful.

Favourite song is a tough one. I'll go with "Good Head."

4. Tim Chan, China Syndrome

China Syndrome with guests, Bowie Ball 2020, by David Jacklin

What will you be doing at the show? Are any songs being chosen especially for the event?

We will be playing a half hour set of songs from our most recent album, Hide in Plain Sight, and a couple of new ones. We haven't chosen anything specific for the event, just want to pack in as many songs as possible into our short time slot. This will be our second 'official' gig with our new keyboard player Greg Kelly, who also plays in Coach StrobCam -- it's been absolutely fantastic having Greg in the band, he's the new secret ingredient in our sound!

Do you have any ties to the Ukraine I should mention, or are you impacted by the situation there?

Our drummer, Kevin, and his wife Erian have assisted in housing and helping many Ukrainian refugees and immigrants get settled in Metro Vancouver. In doing so, their Ukrainian friends have become very supportive of our band and we've had some great audiences at our recent gigs thanks to them. Some of them will be coming to this gig. Such nice people!

5. Rob JL/ the AK-747s  

Brief introductory sentence: I've actually never seen the AK-747s, but I have a few of their songs on old Not Yer Buddy comps. I was still surprised at how good their last album, released during COVID was - they seemed to really up their game, musically. "OK Boomer," in particular, is a great tune. Take a minute, if you don't know them, and check that out... there will be vinyl at the show! 

Allan: What will you be doing at the show? Are any songs being chosen especially for the event?

We are gonna play songs about the futility of war, the absurdity of the human condition, and the inevitable destruction of regular people at the fringes of empires. So, 'movies'.

Do you have any ties to the Ukraine I should mention, or are you impacted by the situation there?


It is something that Wiktor's organization is a Turbojugend. Will you be doing anything related to Turbonegro's music for the benefit? (Any stories or opinions about Turbonegro...? Favourite songs by them? I saw Hank last time he was in Vancouver...).

I am glad that Turbonegro brings happiness to people. I used to wear a lot of denim too to the point that one of our bass players called me Dr. Denim once and I laughed very hard at the Bob the Angry Flower comic about Denim Man, so I feel that we have that in common. However I no longer wear lots of denim, with the exception of jeans.

That part of my life is over.

5. The Vanrays 

I asked the band all the same questions, and got a quick reply from Eric. If you haven't seen them lately, the Vanrays new album is great, as is the live show! Bandcamp here... 

Eric Lowe (drummer, impossible to photograph live behind a band that large): The Vanrays aren't planning anything special for the show, and none of us have a direct connection to Ukraine. But we jumped at the chance to be on this bill and do what we can to help people affected by this war.

ALLAN'S ADDENDUM: As an added way of supporting the cause, I've rooted through a closetful of t-shirts that I no longer wear, either because I don't fit into them (some are only XL and too small, while others are XXXL and too loose) or because they're for bands I don't listen to much or because they just don't fit my aesthetic these days. In one case (Russian folk metal band Arkona), I'm selling the shirt because there is an icon on the back - a sunwheel - that is sometimes given political meaning (it's a proto-swastika, in fact, though more associated with paganism than anything political); without understanding more about it, I just don't feel comfortable wearing it (and I have another Arkona shirt anyhow). There's even a Bison shirt (top left!). A couple of them are rather rare; the Winks shirt was handmade for me, in fact (but I've gotten a ton of use of it). I'll have a merch table and will be selling them, with 100% of the proceeds going to Turbojugend RescUkraine. If you want to donate cool, clean t-shirts (most of mine are rock or horror themed), you're welcome to bring them to my table and I'll flog them for you! (Dave Bowes will be bringing some vintage Iron Road t-shirts, as well).

Prices for the lot vary - mostly I'm asking $20 each, a couple of the more worn out or rough-looking ones (like that Redbubble Phase IV t-shirt, the art for which is falling apart, or that homemade Winks shirt, which is 20 years old) you can have for $10. The Nomeansno Kill Everyone Now shirt I'd like $60 for - though again, all of the money is going straight to the cause. Note that the Fuck You Pigs t-shirt - which I like, but just don't have the jam to wear in public - was actually smeared with Betty Bathory's fake GG Allin poop at the BB Allin show I wrote about!  

All shirts have been laundered, though some are a bit wrinkly in the photo!  I'm re-laundering a couple of the wrinklier ones as I write! Bring your used (clean) rock tees and a very simple price list and I'll sell them for you!

See you at the East Side Boxing Club!

Wiktor's announcement for the show is here; Facebook page here; tickets for Friday here; tickets for Saturday (starts at 2pm!) here. Note that to the best of my knowledge the lineup on this blogpost is accurate; a few initially-scheduled bands that have since dropped out, like Spidercracker, are still on the website, but will not be playing. Also, a big thanks to the Invisible Orange and Mayo for donating the use of their ticket site for this occasion! Dave says thanks!


1 comment:

Allan MacInnis said...

Not many shirts left, tho lotsa Iron Road ones from Dave and a couple cool donations from Betty B. Maybe someone else will donate something?