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Friday, December 19, 2008

Remembering The Splatter Effect: New Jersey's Own Music Paper

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to meet Spiro Ballas, the creator and publisher of The Splatter Effect. If you can remember, the Splatter Effect was a New Jersey based music paper that ran from the late eighties to the early nineties.

As a labor of love, Spiro kept the paper true to it's mission of spreading the word about the New Jersey music scene, as well as interviewing the latest and greatest bands and reviewing the key albums of the day.

More importantly, he kept the focus of the paper on the central Jersey scene. I fondly recall picking up my free copy at the Rutgers student center or at Music In A Different Kitchen throughout my New Brunswick years, keeping up on all the shows I needed to see.

It was quite serendipitous how we crossed paths. On Halloween evening, my boys attended a pre-trick or treat party at a friend of theirs. At some point I was jabbering on about the glory days of New Brunswick to a friend's wife, who I had recently discovered had been a bit of a black clothed type back in day, very fond of the Smiths and Depeche Mode. I was excitedly telling her all about the scene, the music, Pinfield, etc.

This guy who I didn't know drifted over to our conversation and nodded frequently at the mention of some bands, like The Wonder Stuff and The Pixies. He seemed harmless, but I figured he was just pretending he knew who those bands were to be polite. I ignored him, and kept on with my exaggerated tales of long ago. Then at some point he chimed in that he had met band so and so, etc, etc, and knew of The Melody.

I was a bit shocked, and inquired whether he had been in the New Brunswick scene. He casually mentioned he sort of was, but that he didn't hang out much having been too busy with other projects at the time. Then at some point I think I introduced myself and he responded that his name was Spiro. After a few moments an old dusty brain circuit fired and I said," Spiro? Where do I know that name from??" Then he matter of factly mentioned that he was the guy who produced the Splatter Effect.

I jumped off the couch and said," I loved the Splatter Effect!" And for the next half hour or so we talked about the paper and the scene and the whole works all over again. After awhile he said he was happy someone was still interested in the Splatter Effect and said he'd give me a bound copy of every Splatter Effect issue.

I didn't know what to say other than, " Wow, that would be great, thank you so much!" I was really touched by his generosity.

I mentioned that he had to attend the 3rd Annual Melody Reunion coming up in February, and that I was still in contact with Judy Kitchen.

We left the party after exchanging email addresses, and thanked him again for offering me the book. A few weeks later he delievered a huge bound compendium of the Splatter Effect. I sat down and spent an hour just leafing through the issues, looking at the old ads for Club 375, The Melody and The Green Parrot. My past came rushing back.

I want to say again THANKS SPIRO. I will treasure that book forever. It's a history book of the New Brunswick and central Jersey music scene.

Spiro gave us the Splatter Effect, tirelessly producing a great music paper that made our scene that much better, and we all enjoyed it for many years. Now, I'd like everyone to do a favor for Spiro.

Spiro has put together a couple of holiday music CD's who's proceeds benefit A Hospice Awareness & Benefit Project. I'd like everyone to check out his website and consider purchasing one of the CD's. The money goes to a good cause, and, it's something that might help out someone less fortunate.

And please make sure to say to Spiro at the Reunion party in February, and thank him in person for producing the Splatter Effect.


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