This is Halloween...

Welcome to our nightmares and fantastical dreams.

Each year for a few we've done something over the top in our garage on Halloween while tying in a snapshot of the story of God Himself from some pretty unique angles. Preachy? Not so much. Bizarre? Sure, why not?

I learned from the best long ago, generosity gets attention. (No matter where you lived in my neighborhood growing up, on the last day of October you visited the guy handing out Happy Apples.) We also know people love a show. So we try to go big with both.

Here you'll see what a classic rock couple with a taste for the creepy and strange can do with a regular garage, a little imagination and a lot of time.


2009: Spiney & the Backbones

This was an event 2 years in the making.

While visiting Gatlinburg, TN in 2007, we came upon Ripley's Haunted Adventure, and a character out front luring guests inside. His name was Stumpy, shipped fresh from Transylvania, a man at the head and shoulders, but merely a spine mid chest to pelvis. We gawked at the illusion and watched passers by do the same for a good long time before deciding we just had to recreate that. 

> The Backstory 
The Carnival of Souls presents Sideshow #9: Spiney & the Backbones.

Spiney and entourage, it turns out, were another sideshow tied into the one that so mysteriously appeared the year before, a memory and remnant from a time gone by.

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends.

Watch the slideshow. (A 404 may pop up, but it still plays.) On mobile, click "View all" below.:

> The Setlist
• KarnEvil #9 - Emerson, Lake & Palmer
• Sideshow - Alice Cooper
• Welcome to My Nightmare - Alice Cooper
• No More Mr. Nice Guy - Alice Cooper
• Vengeance is Mine - Alice Cooper
• Nothin’s Free - Alice Cooper
• Gimme - Alice Cooper
• Unholy War - Alice Cooper
• Cleansed by Fire - Alice Cooper
• Run Down the Devil - Alice Cooper
• Can’t Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me - Alice Cooper

Freaky Facts: Sideshow #9 was a reference to the first two songs listed above.

As mentioned previously, the Carnival of Souls is a double reference to a classic b/w horror flick, and a lyric in Alice Cooper's "Stolen Prayer" off his "The Last Temptation" concept album. Based on a graphic novel written with Neil Gaiman, this is the story of a young boy tempted by a Showman around Halloween. Several songs in the setlist also came from that album.

> The Trick
It took some time to get this box to work. A carefully studied night time photo revealed the Ripley's box used mirrors for their illusion, but we went the simpler (and, may I say, more back breaking) route. We purchased a chiropractic model spine, a shirt from the local Goodwill and scrounged up a lot of wood for this, using old paint and decorating with props we already owned. As designed, I effectively became a puppet with an attitude.

As for The Backbones, our band members were primarily youth from our church. Some of their family members helped pass out treats or assisted behind the scenes since this was such a big operation, and neither of us were exactly free during performance time. We had all the tracks laid to our tunes, save for guitar and vocals, in case anyone needed to fall out. This came in very handy for practices and people coming and going.

We did an extra night this year, one for friends and family who wanted to see the whole show and set but couldn't make it out on Halloween night. That night we learned first hand U2's Bono was right. Rock 'n' roll really does stop the traffic. (Watch their version of "All Along the Watchtower" in the "Rattle and Hum" film for that reference.)

Freaky Fact: Clearly we have a thing for Alice Cooper. We even met the guy a few years back at a fundraiser for his Christian based Solid Rock Teen Center. He's been a big inspiration for a lot of what we've done, and this year we found a number of ways to tie in his stuff. We even referenced a rare photo of Alice as The Controller, a character much like Stumpy formerly featured in his shows.

Here's a view of Spiney in action. This was actually a rapidly filmed entry for a contest with Alice's then new song "Keepin' Halloween Alive!" which didn't actually make the setlist. While we didn't get to develop this as we would have liked, it'll give you an idea of what went on that night. (FYI, that pumpkin took at least 4 hours to carve up. And, yeah, I really memorized all those lyrics.)

> The Treat
This was our first year creating a giveaway that tied in a bit to our performance. We gave our standard candy and pretzels, but included rock 'n' roll duckies in the bag. The paper inside the bag was both two sided with the band logo and, really for the first time, included a true Gospel summary. Check it out (view in Google docs):