Somehow I wound up with a back stage pass for the Scorgie’s Reunion show at the German House in Rochester, NY. I took a few photos and had good time. It was really great to see everyone.
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There is one undeniable fact. Don Scorgie had enough instinct, guts and taste to provide a platform for all of this. The whole thing would not have happened in Rochester without him. I want to thank him.
I did a series of paintings called “Local Icons” in 1988 and included him but I want to thank him here for some of the best times of my life.
We made a list of our gigs as Personal Effects by referencing the dates on the stack of old posters and cassette tapes. Hard to believe we played Scorgies over seventy times and counting. I wish we’d had a blog back then to keep track of it all.
The sound system there was one of the best of any club we played and the room sounded great. We had this General Electric blaster that we used to duct tape up to the top of the wooden column in front of the bar at Scorgies and it made some damn good tapes. Arpad transferred a few of the tapes to cd.
This thing was heavy, mostly steel, and it had separate tweeters and a solid bass output. It didn’t need any “Stereo Enhancer” setting. There were two mics in the upper corners of the front face and on top there were two good sized VU meters with separate knobs for input levels. I remember dropping it out of my bike basket and it is featured in a boat up in the 1000 Islands in Duane Sherwood’s video for “Nothing Lasts Forever“. We took it everywhere and eventually ran it into the ground.
Here is a version of Taana Gardner’s “Heartbeat” recorded live at the Peppermint Lounge on our blaster.
None of the Personal Effects material has ever been available on cd so we revisited the six releases and picked twenty songs to put on a compilation cd that we hope to have available at the show next Friday. One of the songs that made the cut was “Lucia’s Supper Club.”
I remember finding a pack of matches on Culver Road (I think) from Lucia’s Supper Club in Olean, NY. There was a gondola on the front and we were intrigued by the “Supper Club” name. We wrote a song about the place and put it on “It’s Different Out There” LP. The illustration I did for the cover sort of pictures Lucia’s the way we imagined.
Years later we found Olean on the map and drove down there for dinner at Lucia’s. We ordered Chicken Picatta and it was delicious. We brought an album with us and left it with the chef. I detailed our trip there on this Refrigerator entry. A few months later we received this letter in the mail.
Hi, I just had to write to you…
I was browsing the Internet this week and came across your info on the web. What prompted me to write to you is that I am Lucia Bardenett’s great-granddaughter. She was the “Lucia” of Lucia’s Supper Club in Olean. Oddly, this weekend we are celebrating my grandfather’s (Lucia’a son) 87th birthday. Nonna (as we called her) died in 1986, so my grandfather is really the last of the restaurant’s founding immediate family. My grandfather was her only child. He had 6 children who gave him 15 grandchildren and 2 of those have given him 3 great-grandchildren. I am the oldest of the 15.
So there’s a little info for you. I didn’t want to go on and on, but anyone who would be so intrigued by a pack of matches to write a song, design an album cover, and make a trip to Olean would probably be interested.
I am forwarding the link to your website to all of my family members (as you can tell from the above is quite a few). Could you tell me how to get a copy of that song? The mp3 version on your site won’t work for me. If you have a chance, could you even send me a copy of the lyrics. We’d be interested to see what you imagined about our family’s old restaurant.
By the way, I can guarantee Nonna would have gotten a kick out of your album cover; she was such a character! Marie Rakus Olean, NY
Here’s the cd version of Lucia’s Supper Club.
I went to high school with Chuck Cuminale. He was best friends with my brother then and they were college roommates at Geneseo later on. They both moved to Oswego where Chuck put together an early version of his band called “Colorblind James and the White Caps.” Scott Regan from WRUR’s Open Tunings took my brother’s place in the cold water flat there. Scott and Chuck played in Jug bands in Oswego. We caught the White Caps performing at the Red Creek in 1980 and fell in love with the band. We played their “America, America” 7 inch nonstop.
Chuck moved to San Francisco for a while and and started playing with his brother-in-law, guitarist, Phil Marshall. They moved back to Rochester and Chuck immediately put a band together. I remember recommending Bernie Heveron as a bass player and that seemed to work out. Bernie played with us in Personal Effects for a few years. Bernie wrote “She’s A Witch” from Colorblind James’ first lp. We asked Colorblind to play with Personal Effects at Scorgies on March 8th, 1985 and these photos were taken that night by Gary Brandt. We played together again at Scorgies in August of that year.
Gary Meixner from the “White Caps” rejoined the band in Rochester. That’s him on the left. He later went on to form the infamous “Widerness Family.” Dreamland Faces do a beautiful version of Gary’s “Crossing Lake Rielly.” Bernie Heveron is on bass. Jimmy Mac settled into the drum chair and occupied it until Chuck’s death. Chuck is shown above playing guitar and Phil Marshall is on the end on lead guitar. Phil went on to form La La Land and the Hot Heads. You can see here there is a vocal mic on all four players in the front. Each of these guys put their own stamp on this band but in the end the band was all Chuck’s. I loved this band and I miss Chuck.
The Hi-Techs were different. Our lead instrument was a soprano sax. We loved the Contortions and James White, Bush Tetras, Kid Creole and James Brown. The Hi-Techs recorded “Pompeii” in 1979 in the basement of Robert Slide’s (Robert played bass with me in New Math’s first line up) house. Duane Sherwood played synth swishes. Tom Kohn and Marty Duda released the song on their “From The City That Brought You Absolutely Nothing” compilation. Ned joined the band in 1980 and we played about twenty gigs at Scorgies before forming Personal Effects. Our first gig was opening for New Math. This was fitting as I had left New Math a few months before and we were all friends. Kevin Patrick called us at the last minute, as in the night of the show. Peggi and I were already in our pjs when he called. We used to practice a lot so we were ready. We wrote all of our material and our songs were fast. We could barely keep up with them. We had lots of songs and never did the same set twice.
Dick Storms asked us to record a single for his new Archive Records label. Dick had already put out Bahama Mama’s “Lonesome Cowboy” single. I played with New Math on “Die Trying” which Dwight Glodell recorded so we lined him up to produce the single. We did this at Craig Fennesy’s studio in the basement of his house in Hilton. We met Kevin Vicalvi there and he became our sound man and friend for life. “Boogaloo Rendezvous” b/w “Subscriptions (Are My Prescription)” became the second release on Archive Records. Bill Jones printed the cover at Asymmetrical Press on Smith Street. We started playing gigs in Buffalo with bands like the Stains, Paper Faces, The Vores, The Jumpers, and 10,000 Maniacs.
Peggi sang most songs and Ned Hoskin sang a few. Ned liked the Clash and the Boss so his songs had a sincere, working class hero vibe to them. Ned wrote the anthem, “Warren”, for Brian Horton and Blue Hand played it every time we saw them. Ned was a great rhythm guitar player and a big part of the Hi-Techs sound.
We recorded a second single for Archive called “Screamin’ You Head”. It was backed with “A Woman’s Revenge,” a funky number that was based on the Kiss and Darling photo novellas that we used to devour. You could buy them at Bertha’s on East Main near where we practiced. Bertha was too big to get up from behind the counter so she barked orders at another woman who just couldn’t move fast enough for Bertha. “Screamin’ You Head” got quite a bit of play in clubs in NYC. A Danceteria DJ named Iolo was instrumental in getting us club dates in New York and eventually our deal with Cachalot Records but by then we had morphed into Personal Effects.
One of the most interesting gigs Hi-Techs did was a live performance at Channel 31 in 1980 (before it went Fox) with Ozzy Osbourne. There was some other band on the bill too but I can’t remember who that might have been. It seems like Marty Duda had something to do with this date. They tried to record all three of us in one night and Ozzy went first. When we got there Ozzy’s roadies were all drunk. They had spent most of the night in the bar downstairs on the corner of Alexander and East. And they took forever to get their stuff taken down. We set up around three in the morning and played three songs – “Pompeii”, “Boogaloo Rendezvous” and “A Woman’s Revenge”. Here is a video of that performance. Channel 31 used the live audio in the first song and then they synced the footage of our second and third songs to the vinyl versions of those songs because they fucked up the sound. And they got Kathy Buckley to prance around as if she had anything to do with the band. That kind of bummed us out at the time.
Hi-Techs – “Pompeii,” “Screamin You Head” and “A Woman’s Revenge”
(From the Channel 31 show “After Hours,” recorded sometime in 1980-81)
To view this video in high quality, go to YouTube and select the “watch in high quality” link.
This is a diagram of Duane Sherwood’s light set-up at Scorgies. Apparently he wasn’t going to be able to make a gig and he may have left these visual instructions for Jeanne Perri who often helped us behind the scenes. Unlike other clubs at the time, the sound system and lights were always at Scorgies. But it seemed only Duane knew what to do with the lights.
When Duane wasn’t behind the board, even when some relatively big name band was on the stage, the lights would not be focused on the players, not clustered in any logical order so that blue and red lights would both be on a subject at once cancelling each other out, or all the lights would be flashing all the time. Duane carefully orchestrated the back row of lights to work in tandem with the front spots and he was able to produce startling results. He paced himself too. The lighting produced a mood that fit the music and punctuated the highlights. And he always saved a big bang for the right moment.
Duane did lights for New Math as well as Personal Effects and the Majestics. We took him with us to New York, Boston, Cleveland and Washington. We could hardly play without him. And it wasn’t just lights, Duane’s theatrical flair was largely responsible for the direction of the multimedia shows that we did at the Community Playhouse, RIT, the Top of the Plaza and laser light show at the Planetarium.
MX-80 rolled into Rochester to play Scorgies on Thursday, October 30, 1980. They had just released their first album on Ralph Records entitled “Out Of The Tunnel” and they were touring the East Coast. Martin Edic, Peggi and I caught MX-80 at Max’s in NYC and some other place uptown before their appearance here. Each show was sensational.
Peggi and I were good friends with Rich Stim, lead singer and sax player (pictured on the left). Rich taught Peggi how to play play sax. The first song she learned under his tutelage was Hava Nagila. And the drummer, Dave Mahoney, was my best friend and roomate for years. Peggi and I were in a band called the Chinaboise with these two in Bloomington, Indiana. Bruce Anderson, second from left, could be the best guitar player in the world and Dale Sophiea is a monster bass player. Peggi and I left Bloomington for Rochester and MX-80 eventually moved to San Francisco.
We opened for them in Rochester and in Buffalo. They made the Hi-Techs sound like a toy band with their powerful anthems, “Follow That Car”, “I Walk Among Them” and especially “Someday You’ll Be King”. We were blown away by their performances. Unlike most of the Scorgies bands, MX-80 is still around. Check out their video of “We’re An American Band“.
Here’s an mp3 of “Someday You’ll Be King”
I grew up in Rochester but left for awhile. When I returned, I put a small ad on the wall of Record Archive which at the time was located in a small area next door to the Village Green on Monroe Avenue. I was looking for someone to play drums with and Gary Trainer and Kevin Patrick found my ad. The earliest version of New Math had Mark Schwartz on keys and Paul Armstrong on guitar. That lasted for a few gigs and the lineup changed. Gary and Kevin were always in charge.
The New Math single, “Die Trying”, got a lot of play on the Scorgie’s juke box. It was released on at least three labels and the photo above shows artwork for the 7 inch vinyl that was never used on any of the releases. If you click on the photo above you can can see a comp with the artwork pasted on a forty five. The double lines that arc over the hole created an optical illusion when it spun on the turntable. Without drugs you could see colors in the black and white label! I think you actually had to spin it faster than 78 to see the colors and maybe that’s why it was never used.
I was working as a graphic artist at Multigraphics (in the same block where KrudCo now is) so the artwork for the single fell into my lap. I think Kevin found the design that we used for the front cover in an old art book and I recreated it. In the photo you can see Robert Slide and someone else in one of the small photos on the desktop. I was thinking that Robert took this photo but it may have been Corrinne.
The back cover of the sleeve went through a few revisions and someone had the idea to have each person in the band contribute a two inch square piece of art. I seem to remember Dale never getting around to submitting his piece so Gary suggested that I put a zero in there. I could have that all wrong. Maybe someone else remembers.
The first release was on Reliable Records in England. Howard Thompson produced this single with Dwight Glodell engineering at PCI studios, across the street from East High. Howard went under the name “Howard le Canard” for the deed and he was instrumental in getting it released on this London label.
I had already decided to quit New Math before going into the studio but I waited until the recording was made before announcing my intentions. The same night we recorded these songs Peggi was at Max’s Kansas City for the Cramps and I really wanted to be there. Bryan Gregory was still in the band and we were crazy about them. All we had were two purple and green Vengeance singles (both produced by Alex Chilton) that we had picked up at the House of Guitars. The HOG kept the import and underground US singles in a locked cabinet upstairs in the hallway and you had to get Greg from the Chesterfield Kings to unlock it if you wanted to paw through the offerings. I remember picking up three early Pere Ubu singles and an early Devo version of Mongoloid and all sorts of great stuff .
I met Kevin for lunch and a Heineken at the old Manhattan restaurant near Midtown and told him I was jumping ship. I had a great time in this band but I wanted to do something different – like make music with my wife (you know what I mean). Peggi sings, plays sax and keys and we formed the Hi-Techs not long afterward but that is another story.
Die Trying was re-released on CBS in England with the same b side, “Angela”, and eventually Dick Storms released it in the US on Archive Records. This last sleeve was designed by Duane Sherwood and it had a different b side, a Dale Mincey song called “(I) Can’t Get Off The Ground”. New Math did a gig with Human Switchboard and Dale eventually married their keyboard player, Myrna.
A few weeks ago I was talking to Gary Trainer at the Village Gate Courtyard between Margaret Explosion sets and he was saying how lucky we were to have a place like Scorgies. We were trying to recall some of the places we played before Scorgies opened. The rock clubs mostly had commercial hard rock bands at the time and you needed a manager or booking agent to get you into the clubs. We worked with Jim Armstrong and even gave him credit on the single. He had some rock solid advice that stuck with me like “don’t let the crowd hear you tuning up (or playing anything for that matter) before you hit the stage because it spoils the performance”. NRBQ did this better than anyone by running on stage and starting as soon as they touched their instruments. Howie from Six String sales booked some club along the river and we did business with him too. Pelican booked bands at the time and Penny Arcade would book an original band but then have the bartenders wear t-shirts that said, “Punk Rock Sucks” or some such nonsense. Like they would know. They were in cahoots with the ultra conservative, formerly “underground” WCMF at the time and they did everything they could to hold back change eventually giving in to playing such “adventurous” new music as the Cars or the Pretenders.
We played the Orange Monkey out in Henrietta and the Electric Circus on Dewey and Big Daddy’s on Lyell and some place that Howie booked along the river. Scorgies was better than all these places by a mile. They had their own sound system and lights. All you need are these two things, an empty room and a bar and you have the perfect rock and roll club. I played with New Math for a year and a half and but had already left the band before they played Scorgies. The Hi-Tech and Personal Effects played there many times with New Math and we are all still friends today.
New Math got along fine without me. Bobby “Bam Bam” McCarthy played drums for a while and then Roy Stein joined. They released many more records and eventually changed their name to Jet Black Berries. When I saw Gary, he had a bunch of old New Math posters that he was giving Tom Kohn to scan for the Scorgies site. They should be up here soon.
Listen to Die Trying
One of my favorite bands from the Scorgies days was The Press Tones. Judging by the pile of old posters we rounded up, they were the first band we (Hi-Techs) asked to play with us at Scorgies. Our first show together would have been Friday June 10, 1980.
We missed their reunion at Abilene but we’re planning on catching them at the next reunion at the German House in November. It did seem sort of odd, a reunion before the reunion, but Tom Kohn said it only wet the whistle or primed the pump or one of those things. My extended family was calling a yearly picnic that we used to do, a “reunion”. And Peggi said, “You can’t call it a reunion if you do it every year”. I suspect the Press Tones never really broke up and that is their excuse. Everyone we know that saw them at Abilene said they sounded great. Bob Martin told us they were “really great”, in a way that implied that we better get our act together before we (Personal Effects) play with them. Here we’ve been spending all these years trying to get loose and now I feel some sort of pressure to get tight or least have a rehearsal.
This Friday we (Margaret Explosion) are playing at Village Gate and Ken Frank is on vacation so Bernie Heveron will be sitting in on bass. This could technically be a Personal Effects reunion because it would be an intact lineup. We might do a PE song. We’ll have to see what happens.
We got the Press Tones 45 out this morning and took it for a spin. I had forgotten that Dwight Glodell produced this thing and that it was on Dick Storm’s Archive Records. “Treat it like a Scar” sounded really good. They had a sort of dark pop guitar rock sound and this single captures it perfectly. Pete Presstone writes some great songs and Scott Presstone has a really good voice. Didn’t Scott used to play drums in the Bowery Boys or am I all mixed up?
Jim Frieze brought this photo of himself to me when I lived over by East High. He wanted me to do a poster for a gig the Press Tones were doing with the Chesterfield Kings at Scorgies. Jim was the lead vocalist for the Press Tones for a while but I can’t remember if that was before or after Scott. Maybe Scott went to Florida for a while. And it seems like Pete sang when neither one of them was in the band. Didn’t Mick Sarubbi play bass with them too in the early days? Maybe Tony Brown was still going to East High. Somebody has to help me out on the details. Anyway I hear the classic lineup is back and they sound better than ever. I’m looking forward to their Scorgies Reunion performance.
Don Scorgie is obviously the key figure in this whole story but probably not in the way you might think. I don’t think he was much of a music fan at least not like I am or most of you are. When I first met him he was behind the bar at street level on Andrews Street. And that fact that he was on that side of the bar had nothing to do with who was doing the drinking.
I was playing drums with New Math at the time and we rehearsed around the corner in the Cox Building on Saint Paul. I think our rent was 100 bucks a month. Geoff Wilson from the Bowery Boys was the elevator operator in this building in later years but it was pretty much deserted when we moved in. We got in the habit of stopping in Don’s place after practice for beer. I tried not to drink too many because I had to ride my bike back home.
Don was sort of an old salt like Popeye the Sailor man. He had nautical theme going with rope railings and he had a fish net hanging from the ceiling that was just beginning to collect the Spanish moss style dust clusters that became such a fixture here. The guy who rented him the juke box when he opened this place was probably the one who picked out the 45s. It was just generic mid seventies crap. I think Kevin Patrick, who was working as record promo guy at the time, talked Don into stocking the juke box with the good stuff. In later years, it seems Danny Deutsch, who now runs Abilene, was in charge of the tunes and at some point it seemed like every time you walked into that place you heard Bobby Darin’s “Mack The Knife”. But it wasn’t Don calling the musical shots.
One night after rehearsal Don took us down to the basement at Scorgies where he had just installed the first section of green indoor outdoor carpeting on the step up section next to the bar. It was the first time we had set foot in what people think of as Scorgies. He had a few picnic benches down there and he told us he was planning on setting up an indoor putting green. This was going to get people down in the basement of a century old building? We laughed at the idea.
I remember us, and it was probably Kevin doing most of the talking, trying to convince Don that what he had here, an empty room with no chairs or tables, was the perfect rock and roll club. All he needed was a stage and a sound system. So Don built the plywood stage and he eventually rented a sound system from Mark Theobald. Mark mixed the bands if they didn’t have their own guy. New Math was the first band to play here but I had already left the band at that point and was playing with the Hi-Techs.