‘When the puppets cut their strings / there’ll be fireworks for the world to see / when the puppets cut their strings / there’ll be hell to pay in the ghettos of the whole damn world.’ — Icemakers of the Revolution
I’ve referenced the Icemakers of the Revolution in passing, but they really deserve their own press. Fuzzy and Stephen were kind enough to collaborate and make available two of their albums in digital format, the first of which contains the aforementioned ‘Upset With The Set-Up.’ It also includes another of my favorites, ‘Panama,’ and the ever-popular (and still timely) ‘Growthrough,’ a protest against the Gulf War (I).
It would be fair to say that the Icemakers were one of my favorite bands. They were a local band when I was in high school, made up of Purdue students of various stripes — undergrad, grad, and alumni. Their sound varied from full on rockin’ out to an a cappella style. I saw them in just about every venue in town that didn’t require you to be 21 (or even 18): inside the Union, outside the Union, behind Von’s, in the Armory, and innumerable times upstairs at the Wesley Foundation. Despite carrying my camera with me nearly everywhere at that time, I only have half a roll of film of them, some 10 photos in all.
The members of the Icemakers were something like angry folk rock gods to those of us who were then 5 or 10 years younger (a span that is meaningless in my adult life). They were smart, funny, biting, and they trusted us to watch their cat when they went out of town. They were also unequivocally anti-war, pro-vegetarian, anti-racist and feminist, the political fathers and mothers of the kids who warm the cockles of my heart when I see them at protests with ‘no war but the class war!’ banners. In our small town, where the most successful college programs depended on big industry and government funding, they were a sign to me and my friends that we didn’t have to grow up and buckle under, that we could be only just beginning.
Being able to continue to see Icemakers shows was one of the few things I envied the people I left behind when I went away to college. I took their cassettes with me, but it wasn’t the same as their live shows. Since then I’ve grown away from folk as a genre, but I still pull the cassettes out from under the bench in the living room every once in a while, dust them off, and rock out.