‘Sometimes You Can Fix Something’
Mick Hargreaves and the King Guys’ show in July at the Grey Horse Tavern in Bayport was supposed to be the first stop of many for the newly formed band, but the show, titled “a Mid-Summer Night’s Hoot,” turned out to be the only one on the “shortest debut tour ever,” Mr. Hargreaves said.
The singing, songwriting bass player and band leader was beaten with a crowbar in the parking lot of the Grey Horse and left with life-threatening injuries, including a fractured skull. After days of intensive-care hospitalization, weeks of home care, and months of getting his hands back on his bass, guitar, and harmonica, he has taken the steps to a full recovery that will lead him and his band to the Stephen Talkhouse stage in Amagansett tomorrow night.
Mr. Hargreaves not only survived the attack, but found a new appreciation for life that he said has a lot to do with the local music community, which came through for him during his recovery, and which he feels he can trust.
Mr. Hargreaves was in his Jeep that night dropping off a friend after a late-night trip to the diner. She had come to the gig to support his new band. When they left his vehicle, he saw a face, which turned out to be that of a former love interest of his passenger. That is the last thing he remembers about the incident. Left with bruises and lacerations across his whole upper body, he said, “When I came to, my head was stapled together.” His first words were to tell his sister to cancel the band’s next scheduled gig: “I had my wits about me, so surreal, bizarre.”
His attacker is in jail awaiting trial.
The morning before the attack, in Montauk, Mr. Hargreaves was helping Joe Delia put the final touches on lyrics for a demo of a song called “Crystal Ball.” He sometimes plays bass with Mr. Delia’s band, Thieves. The song is about not being able to see into the future. Even though it now seems a bit eerie, he can laugh at the irony, he said. “Without laughing, I wouldn’t have made it through.”
He has enjoyed “hiding in and amongst the music.” He found a kind of magic in a lot of what happened since the attack, he said. Strangers came forward with gestures and words that canceled out the horror show, he said. The King Guys are among those trusted musicians whom Mr. Hargreaves likes to surround himself with: Mike Bifulco on wurlitzer, Gary Dawson on guitar and vocals, Don Mangels on bass, and Jeff McLary on drums and vocals. He said the band has the ability to communicate without words whether they’re playing rock, blues, country, Americana, folk, rockabilly, or pop music.
Mr. Hargreaves has also enjoyed returning to the stage with other musicians, as their guest and also as a solo artist. At a September benefit held for him at the Stephen Talkhouse, Mr. Hargreaves joined many musicians onstage to sing and play guitar for supporters.
Recording songs during the fall and winter months has been part of his recovery, too. Among them was his track and video contribution to “Major Glitch,” certified in 1996 as the “Guinness Book of World Records” longest pop song ever recorded. The lyrics he wrote pushed the just-released track over the three-hour mark. The catchy phrase “Sometimes you can fix something” is creatively enhanced with lyrics from musicians of diverse styles, genres, and personalities. In his track, Mr. Hargreaves offered that sometimes you can fix something by “hitting it hard,” “staying awake,” and “turning up the bass.” His recording included the operatic soprano vocals of Sally Stryker, drums by Tom Ryan, and acoustic guitar by Chris Butler, the song’s creator, of whom Mr. Hargreaves is a longtime fan.
Jim Turner, another South Fork musician, has also added a track recently, and Mr. Hargreaves hopes that more musicians will get involved. The compilation can be heard online at Majorglitch.net.
He has also had fun gathering equipment to complete what he calls his “Lantern Sound Recording Gig.” With the mobile creation, he can go anywhere and record himself, or another artist’s work. Mr. Hargreaves also teaches private and group music classes and has a rock band class at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton, at which he jams with the kids and teaches them secrets, shortcuts, and the etiquette of being in a band.
When not in practice sessions with the King Guys, most of his attention lately has been focused on mixing his album, “Redemption Center II: Relics, Hell Licks & Psychedelics.” He said he has been “redeeming stuff from off the shelf,” such as the singles “Bridget” and “Can’t Keep Track of You Blues,” and has also included East End musical guests such as Gene Casey of the Lone Sharks and Matty Liot and Mark Schiavoni of the Montauk Project. The next plan is a full record with the King Guys, he said.
“I am surrounded by talented, knowledgeable people,” he said. “It trickles down. . . . We all learn from each other.”
In addition to Friday’s 10 p.m. Talkhouse performance, the band’s upcoming gigs include some local venues, the Rodeo Bar in New York City, and a return to the scene of the crime, the Grey Horse Tavern. “Quality performances and quality venues,” he said, “we’ll pitch our tent there.”
A full listing of shows can be found at mickhargreaves.com.