June 14, 1989 - June 1992
Lemont,  Joliet, Chicago, the World...

Dan Sopher and Paul Kamp met at a local dive bar, Reflections in Frankfort, Illinois, in early June 1989. On a bit of beer, the two discussed starting a band based on shared "likes", Husker Du, Replacements, Smiths, REM, the Cure, and as a counterstatement to the current popularity of hair metal acts. The first gig (6/14/1989, with Mark Blachowicz on bass) was only a few days later, and sure enough the gig was shared with hair metallers "Blue Steel". The club owner invited Busker back for the next weekend's opening slot. Busker played 15-20 shows around Chicago that year with Chris Klein joining on bass in mid-December. On 12/29/1989 that lineup, which played together for the next 11 years, did their first show (at Reflections).
Busker in 1990, Sue Egizio

Demo Uno Cover
The band did their first studio recording, after a couple of amateur 4 track efforts, with Jeff Islinger at Hairbear Studios in Alsip, Illinois. Demo Uno was finished in October 1990. It was sent it to New Route magazine (N.Y.C.) and to the band's surprise, Busker Soundcheck was picked as one of the Top Five new bands in the U.S.  Busker played regular shows at places like PJ Flaherty's in Evergreen Park, occasionally with two other bands from the southside of Chicago, Boom Hank and the Poorboys. All three bands were gauging their progress by the gigs they were getting from clubs in Chicago, in particular Metro, and any mentions in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Entertainer and Daily Southtown.
In 1991, Busker Soundcheck played the Saturday night Midwest Music Conference showcase at Metro. This was a 2 AM slot, but because Urge Overkill, Poster Children and some other big shows of the weekend were letting out around 1 AM, the venue was packed. Both the Reader and New City hinted strongly that the new band was the smash of the conference. This was the same treatment the press had given a band called the Smashing Pumpkins the year before. Busker Soundcheck also played a showcase at the New South Conference in Atlanta that year with "big hype" response, most notably by Paul Sachsman, editor of Musician magazine.

St Paul Minn, 1991 Great White North Tour, orange van - 
Chris Klein on tripod
Touring in the early years was always an adventure. Busker made trips north through Wisconsin and Minnesota (Great White North Tour in '91), southeast (Mason-Dixon tour fall '91) and elsewhere in late 1991. Busker played their first show in New York at CBGB's in the winter of 1991, barely arriving through a 17" blizzard. The band was unknown, yet there were great shows, and support from radio and press. Detroit was a notably good city (kudos to Sue Summers) usually playing two nights at Finney's on Woodward and landing a spot on the "Fistful of Chaos" compilation. Orbit magazine called Busker Soundcheck "one of the top four unsigned bands in the world" (in response to the New Route article). 
By mid 1992, Busker Soundcheck had played over 200 shows and were set to release their first single.  A few quotes:
"Busker Soundcheck is not easy to pin down...they can startle you with an in-your-face garage sound and still be melodic enough to have you singing along with the words, which happen to be much better than average... a hot tip: they are a band you will hear from in the future."   Chicago Flame 5/91
"They may seriously run the rish of spontaneous combustion... raucous on stage antics and anthem-like melodics from three riveting musicians...Busker Soundcheck's conquering of the garage band genre is what every garage band hopes to sound like when they start out...If they continue to improve at this exponential rate, Busker Soundcheck may approach a height almost nose-bleed inducing."     IE 4/91
First Press Shot - 1990 Sue Egizio

Farmhouse party in Mokena, 1989, Mark Blachowicz on bass
In the early 1990's  "college rock", a.k.a. "alternative" or "underground" represented only a tiny fraction of music sales. There was a decent club scene, but in many cities "alternative" night was usually a Monday or Tuesday. Busker Soundcheck jumped into touring, promoting and recording, inspired by other regional bands the Poster Children, Didjits, Material Issue, Bad Examples, Babes In Toyland, and Goober and the Peas. 
REM and other bands helped defined the college/ indie rock format, in terms of radio play and touring, U2 broke the barriers down on radio, and Jane's Addiction showed that there could be loud, exciting hard rock outside the borders of heavy metal. The Smashing Pumpkins 1991 album "Gish" was a landmark release, further redefining the college rock/ alternative format, and helping to pave the way for the monumental "Nevermind" by Nirvana in 1992. "Alternative" was about to go "mainstream".

Soundworks Studio 1992, photographer unknown, 
after a late night in Milwaukee

on to next phase - Mid 1992 to Mid 1995
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