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The Twistin' Tarantulas

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One listen to the fiery and dangerous rockabilly that the Twistin Tarantulas play and it's easy to understand leader/vocalist/upright bass player "Pistol" Pete Midtgard when he explains '50s rockabilly as "... the original punk rock." One of the most aggressive upright bass players and a stunningly charismatic frontman, Midtgard first felt rockabilly was his destiny while playing bass in an Ohio band. He later moved to upstate New York and fronted the Frantic Flattops but a move back to Detroit in the fall of 1993 found him in a neighborhood the residents affectionately called "Ghetto Heights." He soon formed the Twistin Tarantulas as a Sunday night project, and their shows around Detroit quickly earned them a reputation as an intense, sweaty, and rocking live band. Influenced by punk rock and his idol, Lemmy of Motörhead, Midtgard's shaping of the band avoided the usual rockabilly revival clichés and heavy reliance on nostalgia, and instead focused on punk's recklessness. Some nights the band would rattle off a cover of Motörhead's "Ace of Spades," and on others an intense medley of Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's Dead," and the Misfits' "Halloween." Midtgard was the only constant in the band with a myriad of guitarists and drummers coming and going through the years. Numerous local shows and the occasional national and international tours kept the band busy until they finally stepped into the studio and released Attack of the Twistin Tarantulas in 1997, followed two years later by Welcome to Our Underworld. In 2002, Midtgard and band returned to the studio, but a rash of bad news kept them from completing the third album. Midtgard's father died, the revolving door for drummers and guitar players kept turning, and Midtgard had been diagnosed with cancer of the bladder. The frontman (who never canceled a gig because of his illness) didn't want any help paying his bills but local friends/bands like the Starlight Drifters and the Brothers Groove organized a benefit concert, and when they asked Midtgard for a name for the event he gave them Bladderfest. The heartwarming event occurred in December 2002, and Midtgard and the new Tarantulas (Gary "Machine Gun" Meadors on drums, and Marc "Stretch" Nischan on guitar) finished the third album. El Destroyo saw the light of day in 2003. ~ David Jeffries

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