October 1999: The WMBR concert report for the week ended with “Oh yes, there’s a Dictators show in Middletown, Rhode Island, on Saturday.” What better excuse could there have been for a road trip! After checking the map to find out just where the hell Middletown was, we hit the road, and finally stopped for info at a 7-11 on Rte 138, which was really the only way in or out of this podunk. The very helpful girl behind the counter said, “Well, I never heard of your band, but the only place they could be playing is Sebastian’s. Take a right, go behind the Ames, and you can’t miss it.”
To me and anyone from Massachusetts, “behind the Ames” was either where the dumpsters were stored, or where the homeless set up. But we weren’t in Mass. any more, Dorothy, and behind this Ames, sure enough, stood Sebastian’s, a bowling alley/billiards/nightclub, the entertainment mecca of southern RI.
The first thing we noticed when we walked in was that there was a drunken dwarf staggering around the place. Or maybe he was the last of the Oompa Loompas. In any case, the little person, who we shall refer to as Stumpy from here on in, was falling down drunk, and staggered from table to table, at one point literally resting his head on our table while exclaiming “Yer purty!” to my date for the night.
Our entertainment needs for the night were pretty much fulfilled right there. I mean, how many times in your life do you get to use the line, “Oh, yeah? Well at least I wasn’t hit on by a dwarf!”
It got even better once the Dictators took the stage. Stumpy’s buddies made sure he was front and center for the set, and kept picking him up by his armpits and plopping him on stage, right in front of the Handsome One. Maybe they thought our boys were going to break into “Stonehenge,” and needed Stumpy to dance at the mandolin break. So here’s Stumpy, swaying to the beat, engaging in song-length staring contests with HDM, while the rest of the band played on with “WTF is this?” looks on their faces. After about three songs of Stumpy stealing the spotlight, HDM finally broke stride, walked over, and ruffled his hair, as one would do to a 3-year-old when putting him to bed. Finally satisfied, the cronies removed Stumpy, and our boys were finally free to continue the set. Manitoba’s comment was, “That was right off the cover of ‘Strange Days!'”
Stumpy disappeared into the back of the room for the rest of the set. Our final view of him was while we on our way out the door. He was curled up in a booth, on top of a pile of women’s coats, snoring loudly.
Many bands have horror stories they can tell about encounters with bad promoters, or groupies, or managers. Many have dealt with prop or equipment malfunctions. But only the Dictators can say they were once harassed by a dwarf.
No, he didn’t pay half price to get in.
0/23/99 set list:
• 1. New York, New York
• 2. Haircut & Attitude
• 3. Master Race Rock
• 4. Science Gone Too Far
• 5. Baby Let’s Twist
• 6. Savage Beat
• 7. The Party Starts Now
• 8. Weekend
• 9. What’s Up With That?
• 10. Minnesota Strip
• 11. Who Will Save Rock & Roll?
• 12. Faster & Louder
• 13. Sonic Reducer
• 14. I Am Right
• 15. Stay With Me
• 16. (encore) Borneo Jimmy (1st appearance since 1986!)
— Salvi C.