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The Huntingtons & Durango 99


On Friday December 17th 1999 fourteen bands gathered at CBGB in New York City for a Ramones Competition. One of the bands playing was Durango 99, also known as The Huntingtons. What you'll find here is not an interview but a story about this event, written by Huntinton member and Ramones devotee, Cliffy.


"With butterflies in our stomach and awe inspiredness in our minds we arrived at CBGB's at 3:20 PM on Friday, December 17, 1999.  We got out and were quickly escorted inside, where we were introduced to a guy named "Bubbles." Bubbles was  the stage manager for the Ramones for most of their career. He's currently working for Iggy Pop and had just gotten off a tour with Diana Ross.  He gave us the ins and outs of how everything was gonna go down that evening and informed us that Joey would be there soon to soundcheck with us. In the mean time we would be free to take new band portraits with Tim Owen throughout the club.  We finished the picture taking and then got on stage to do general line checks and guitar tone and volume checks.   Everything was cool so we proceeded to soundcheck a song or two.  We did Durango 95 and Bonzo Goes To Bitburg.  Joey walked in midway through Bonzo.  He said he was impressed and asked if we'd like to try a song or two with him.  Of course
we said yes!  He came up on stage and we were all introduced and shook hands.   We proceeded to do five of the songs we would be playing with him that night.   It was amazing.  We were tight and he sounded great!  He commented that it was fun and that he was looking forward to doing the show.

We packed up and Arturo Vega, the man responsible for the Ramones seal logo, Ramones T-shirt manufacturing and all live concert lighting came over to us and invited us to a special pre-show party that was to start in a few hours. We passed those hours away and then headed over to Arturo's place for the party.  We got there and there were Ramones videos on the TV and famous and important people all around the room.  It was ridiculous, it was surreal. It was like...the thing that couldn't possibly be happening and yet it was. Chris Stein, the guitarist from Blondie was there; Michael Alago from Palm Pictures, Andrew Fischel from College Music.com, C.J. Ramone, Tommy Ramone, Monte Melnick, Danny Fields, Joey Ramone...they were all there and they all seemed to know who we were!  Again, it was amazing!  We handed out copies of File Under Ramones and Get Lost to many of them and promised to mail out copies to the remaining on Monday morning. 

It was getting close to show time so we headed back over to the club.

The crew at the club were treating us differently than the other bands in the competition.   They were letting our friends in early and they were letting us go to Ramones members only rooms.  The time came for us to play our four Ramones covers and we took the stage and busted 'em out the way the boys themselves woulda done it.  The crowd went crazy.  C.J. Ramone was watching from the side of the stage (we were the only band he watched) and when we came off he was there to pat us on the back and was shouting about how great we did.  He even came backstage with us to pose for a few Tim Owen photos.

Band after band after band did their four song sets and then the competition was over.   Joey and C.J. Ramone came out on stage and thanked everybody for coming (there were over 500 people there and the capacity is only 300). Then Joey said he was gonna play a few songs with Durango 99 (that's what we were called for this show) and the crowd went nuts!  We came out and played seven songs with Joey Ramone doing all lead vocals.   I did the backups at his request.  We played I Just Wanna Have Something To Do, I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement, I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You, Beat On The Brat, Garden Of Serenity, Blitzkrieg Bop and Surfin' Bird.

The kids were going crazy; they were pushing to the front, they were stage diving, they were jumping up and hugging Joey in between songs.  It was THE show.  Afterwards we went back stage to pose for some more Tim Owen photos...this time with Joey himself.   Tim also took massive amounts of photos during the show.

It was now time for the post-show party.  We headed back over to Arturo's place.    Arturo sat us down and gave us some of his version of Ramones history.   He then took a bunch of pictures of us for the website (http://www.officialramones.com) and proceeded to tell us that he would love to recommend us to all of his Ramones overseas concert contacts and that he'd love to do some design work for us (sort of a Huntingtons seal or something).  He waxed eloquently about the magic of us with Joey.

It was getting late and we decided to make the 2 1/2 hour trek back home. It had been a good night...a very good night.  We are blessed...

Cliffy Huntington"