Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: Tommy Flake @ The Flatiron, Greensboro NC - You can't make this stuff up

Photo by Allen Martin
They had to twist my arm. I heard about Tommy Flake (aka Randy Seals) performing at a local bar and, while I loved his latest CD, Second Skin, it was Friday night as I was tired from a rough week's work.

Some friends dragged me downtown to The Flatiron, a local watering hole and dive bar. I hadn't been there in a while and soon discovered that, despite my friends' assurances, it was still pretty much the dump I had remembered.

They'd made the whole thing up.

Photo by Allen Martin
Standing alone with his guitar, Seals started the evening off right with an excellent cover of Cheap Trick's "Auf Wiedersehen". Any reservation I had about dragging myself out on a Friday night were now completely gone. A little rough around the edges by design, their buzz-saw guitars and driving
rhythms took the crowd through some favorites like "Just Where They Want To You", "Life Remains", "Miles From Over", and "Collapse", all from his latest LP, Second Skin. Matty Sheets' bass helped drive things along with David Pike's drums and Mikey Roohan's (aka "Driveway") harmonica flourishes. Imagine combining Cheap Trick's pop sensibilities with the edginess of Foo Fighters and you've got the idea of what Tommy Flake are all about.

While I enjoy hearing stuff I'm familiar with, it was the brand new material that was most impressive. I imagine we'll hear "Dream Being", "The Mend", and "Please (Don't Wake Me)" on a forthcoming release. They were some of the better songs in a very impressive set, so let's hope so.

There is something great about dive bars, something that makes the experience special. Everyone kept referring to "Driveway". As it turns out, that's the name band member Mikey Roohan has gone by most of his life. And so I had to ask. "What self respecting adult goes through life with the name Driveway?" I got my answer from someone at the bar, and it was one I hadn't expected.

A veteran of the local music scene and former band mate of Roohan's had quite a story. Apparently, back in the day when Greensboro was as at it's musical peak in the 80's, Roohan and the band would play a few sets and retire to a one of the guys' homes to have a few too many drinks and celebrate a successful show. One morning they woke up to find Roohan missing. Not knowing where he could be, they wandered out into the front yard only to find Mikey face down in the driveway, passed out from having overdone it the night before. From that moment on he was referred to as "Driveway".

You can't make this stuff up. But I digress...

When you consider where Tommy Flake aka Seals came from, his new music is particularly  impressive. Having started his career as the drummer who replaced Brad Elvis in The Elvis Brothers, a
late 80's radio ready power pop band signed signed to Portrait, he cut his teeth on polished melody driven pop. His next band, The Beatifics, were of similar ilk and equally impressive for their ability to write melodies that work their way into your psyche. After a few more stops, musical and otherwise, Seals has come out the other end of the tunnel with a unique blend of his learned pop sensibilities and an edgy anxiety that gives his sound an urgency. Its well thought out and yet spontaneous.

The latest CD from Tommy Flake, Second Skin, is available as a download  here. Check out the Tommy  Flake website and find out if their coming to a dive bar near you. And, if the new music isn't a good enough reason to get out to seethem at a venue near you, then...

I'll make something up.

This guest post is written by Richard Rossi, a blogger, illustrator and joke writer from Greensboro NC. You can find his childrens books at and on his website,


johnnybgoode said...

I enjoyed ready the Tommy Flake piece. Speaking of live shows by great power pop bands, is there any chance you can dig up some information on the latest Plimsouls tour? I can find nothing concrete online, although it appears they are on tour as second gun to Colin Hay, of Men at Work fame?

Any info you can provide would be appreciated. Thanks

Curty Ray said...

Here is what I have

Peter Case and Paul Collins


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