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Vinegar Creek Constituency: Off-mic Ravings

My favorite accidental band names and their origins.

Posted on January 30, 2011 with 0 comments

People are often flummoxed by the last word in our name. In fact, I'm not sure I could have come up with a band name more thoroughly flummoxing to the people at large if I'd tried (which, incidentally, I did not). The word "constituency" is long, unwieldy, and has too many small, moving parts that might be harmful if accidentally swallowed by children. Some brave souls attempt to deal with this monstrosity of a moniker on its own terms, often resulting in fascinating accidents. Here are some of my favorite creative substitutions I've heard or read:

Vinegar Creek Contingency

Vinegar Creek Constitution

Vinegar Creek Conservancy

Vinegar Creek Conspiracy (This one originated with a live radio performance in NY state. Months later, at a show in New York City, the same variation appeared on the bill. Apparently, this conspiracy is based in the Empire State).

River Creek Constituency

Vinegar Creek Conservatory

I'm pretty fond of these variations; they show that people are using their heads to work it out instead of simply dropping the offending word (making us simply "Vinegar Creek," which lacks distinction and could be any band that has a banjo and a dude in tie dye). I've often been asked how the band came by such a clunky name, and I've always evaded the question. I ought to be- and probably am- ashamed of myself. Here then, for the first time, is the real story:

It's often been said that VCC formed as a pickup band on the main stage of Lancaster's Chameleon Club to open for Appalachian guitar legend Larry Keel. This is false. The band was actually assembled years ago by a small-time Lancaster political candidate named Horatio Roosevelt Beiler Jr. to perform on the back of a mule-drawn flatbed while he gave awkward, long-winded campaign speeches full of excruciating puns and grievous historical inaccuracies. Beiler was never elected to any municipal office (though he ran for all of them) and had few supporters, but the few he had were nothing short of rabid in their zeal. Every Sunday evening, H.R.B. and his supporters (i.e., his constituency) would gather on the peaceful green banks of Vinegar Creek (which has since been filled with gravel and completely forgotten by everyone) to give voice to their unlikely political dreams and aspirations while the string band led them all in repeated singalongs of "High Hopes." The whole cacophonous affair would last late into the night until the participants, drained at last of all earthly energy, went home sweaty, hoarse, and disgusted with themselves. This ritual went on until the band went off on their first tour or the candidate went off to serve his first prison term; no one remembers which came first. That, friends, is the story of the name Vinegar Creek Constituency, and it's not unlikely that you won't find a word of it that isn't untrue.