It’s been almost thirty years since the Rain Parade played Scorgies. That was an incredible night, of course. Absolute Grey was the opener, and Mark Theobald was behind the mixing board. The band at the gig featured Matt Piucci, Steven Roback, John Thoman, Will Glenn & Eddie Kalwa. I had the opportunity to catch up with Matt, Steven & John at their reunion gig in Atlanta at the Earl on January 19th, 2103. They were reuniting that night as part of a fund raiser for Bobby Sutliff (of Windbreakers fame) who had been in a horrible car accident in June of 2012.
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The Antoinettes were the reigning girl group during the Scorgies era, playing out numerous times before venturing into the wilds of New York City to seek fame & fortune. The band was fronted by keyboardist Meegan Voss, whose Syracuse band the Poptarts made some noise in the CNY music scene. Meegan moved to Rochester with Margie Shears to start the Antoinettes and they were soon joined by Eastman School of Music student Kim Milai on drums and Poptarts veteran Cathy Kensington (aka Cathy VanPatten) on guitar.
Scorgies era Antoinettes, left to right: Margie, Meegan, Kim & Cathy
So, where are they now? Megan continues to make music with her husband Steve Jordan as the Verbs; Kim teaches at an elementary school and has a side career doing children’s music. Cathy Kensington works as an editor and lives in the Chicago area. Margie Shears, according to Cathy’s blog, lives in the Westchester NY area and works as a graphic designer.
According to Cathy, “after we did that demo, I left the band to follow my (then) boyfriend to Boston. The Antoinettes then added a guitarist (Sue Veneer) to replace me and a keyboard player (Magda– I don’t remember her last name) to take over that role so Meegan could devote her efforts to fronting the band. That was the band that ended up going to NYC and becoming the darlings of CBGB’s.” I’ve picked one of the best songs recorded in that demo session, ”If I Were To, ” a plaintive lament that captures a contemplative Antoinettes pining for a boy they could not have.
Click on the link below to play the song in a new window, right-click or control click to download the file.
It all started in 1984… that’s the year a 16 year old by the name of Mick Alber snuck into Scorgies to see the Chesterfield Kings…. now, some of the bands that Mick has loved over the years are rallying together to help him defray some of his medical expenses.
For many years, Mick Alber was a beloved member of the local music scene in Rochester NY. Recently, a severe flare up of ulcerative colitis has required that Mick have major, life-saving surgery.
In a better world, Mick Alber would be a legendary Disc Jockey, like L.A.’s Rodney Bingenheimer, a universally-recognized icon of the Rochester Rock & Roll scene. His friendship with long-time on-air partner Mike Murray began with a fortuitous meeting at a Scorgies Chesterfield Kings show in 1984 (Mick, 16 at the time, had snuck in). From that meeting, their partnership developed into one of the longest-running radio shows in Rochester history, Whole Lotta Shakin’ (now heard Saturdays 4-6 PM on 88.5 WRUR FM).
Whole Lotta Shakin’ has been a driving force in our music scene, a haven for local bands and a key element of “the Rochester Sound.” Over the years, Whole Lotta Shakin’ highlighted Upstate acts like New Math/Jet Black Berries, the Chesterfield Kings, The Projectiles, McFadden’s Parachute, Squires of the Subterrain, Dan Frank & the True Believers, Badenovs, SLT, The Insiders, The Hi-Risers, Frantic Frank & The Flattops, The Absolutes, The Ohm, The Moviees, The Quitters, The Thundergods, Cousin Al and The Relatives, The White Devils, The Chinchillas, The Presstones, Dark Charly & The Tombstones, Absolute Grey and others too numerous to mention.
In recognition of Mick’s contributions and in light of his medical condition, a slew of Scorgie’s era musicians have pulled together to organize “For the Love of Mick: A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Benefit” to help Mick defray some of the expenses surrounding his care. It will run from 12-9 PM on Sunday, March 6th at Abilene, 123 Liberty Pole Way.
12-12:30 Dark Charly
12:30-1:00 Big Red & the Sideburns
1:15-2:00 The Ohm
2:15-3:00 Dan Frank & the True Believers
3:15-4:00 The Chinchillas (with Beth)
4:15-5:00 The Enablers
5:00-6:00 Jet Black Berries
6:15-7:15 The Pawns
7:30-8:00 The Stan Merrell Band with Cousin Chaz & Cousin Al
8:15-Close The Imaginary Band
From Pee Wee’s notes: “Kevin has moved to New York. He came back to finish off some stuff and do this job. Everyone took their equipment home. Looks like this is really the last one. The last two songs they played were “Whiter Shade of Pale” and “Taking Care of Business”.
Not sure if that last statement is completely true; the tape cuts off 3/4 of the way through a cover of the Cramp’s “Garbage Man.” Kevin always honored his influences…
However, they did do another old cover that night that was especially appropriate, considering Kevin’s exodus to Manhattan… a cover of Del Shannon’s “Runaway”
This next tape was recorded by noted Scorgies soundman Pee wee on a Maxell XLI-S normal bias cassette tape on a hot summer’s night in July, 1983 (anyone have the exact date for this show?). No other details about this tape, just a note from Pee Wee that right channel was a feed from the sound board and the left channel was from a well-placed room microphone. The song I’m posting is from the close of the set: “Invocation,” from the EP “They Walk Among You”. I’ve mixed the tracks for your (Mono) listening pleasure.
New Math – Invocation:
Don Scorgie was fortunate to have to have a great sound system in the club, and one of the best guys at the mixing board was Alan Paprocki, AKA the legendary Pee Wee (an oxymoronic nickname ‘cuz he was sooo tall). Pee Wee mixed for Personal Effects, Delroy Rebop, the Press Tones, New Math and other national acts. . Fortunately for us, he also ran a line out to a tape deck and made some killer tapes. I’ve been tasked with digitizing the Delroy Rebop & New Math tapes. So, without further delay, here’s a smidgen of New Math live on 3-25-1983:
New Math, Die Trying:
It’s hard to pin the best way to keep in touch with folks these days. Hardly anyone I know writes letters or sends postcards anymore. Pretty much everyone (except Duane and Paul & Peggi) relies on their cellphones and either doesn’t have a land line or barely uses it. Email is old school; and Instant messaging is passe.
Having said that, I set out this past August to connect with Scorgies alumni using Web 2.0 resources and social networking and was able to contact a wide variety of Scorgies alum (like Rock and Roll Joel).
Working on a tip from a blog comment, I discovered that Meegan Voss (of the Antoinettes) continues to create and perform music in NYC with her husband Steve Jordan (of Late Nite Band and Xpensivve Winos fame). Their band is The Verbs. Great music, neat stuff. I can envision a Verbs/Atmomic Swindlers/Velveteen Fox show right now! It would rock, totally!
I was able to contact Meegan through the Verbs MySpace page and we exhanged smoe pleasantries. Here’s a message Meegan sent prior to the reunion:
You know Stan, I wanted to say “thank you” to Don because he was always supportive to The Antoinettes and gave us such great gigs. Our first was opening for Marianne Faithful at Scorgies! I was trying to send a post to Scorgies but wasn’t able to get in. I also wanted to say that The Gun Club and Jim Carroll gigs were some of the best that I’ve seen still to this day. It was such a great stage to play and the room lent itself to comment from the audience. It was always a happening. I don’t remember a dull show, do you? It’s an absolute crime the place isn’t still open and rocking. There was a club in Syracuse called Jabberwocky that should never have closed as well. Do you know how lucky we were to see these incredible national acts just breeze through our small city? Steve, my husband, never ceases to be amazed that I’ve seen pretty much anyone who was anybody play in a small club with a small audience. I would love to be at the reunion but I’m in rehearsal. Our new album is about to be released so there is a lot of work to be done.
Thank you for contacting me about it. I hope you have a blast at the reunion.
p.s. tell the kid that worked at the record store that that was me and I say hi! I walked out when they wanted us to display all of John Lennon’s music the moment he was shot.
From the Jan 18th 2004 edition of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle’s Living Section; official reprint available at http://www.democratandchronicle.com/
REUNITED: Haunting light
If continents can drift 20 centimeters farther from each other over 20 years, imagine how a volatile rock band can scatter in that time. The drummer to San Francisco. The bassist to Maine. The guitarist to Seattle. The lead singer to Ithaca.
Twenty years ago, those four pieces were Absolute Grey, one of the best, most happening bands that Rochester has had to offer to the music world.
It was beyond music, even.
“It was multimedia in its earliest, roughest form. That’s how pretentious we were back then,” recalls bassist Mitch Rasor of a show at the Pyramid Arts Center.
“We had a big crowd, and on all of the walls and the ceiling we were showing these films we had made, and our friends who were filmmakers had made, to go along with the music. It was complete immersion, it was everywhere, and I was standing in the middle of it all, almost forgetting I was playing.”
Twenty years later, folks who weren’t at Scorgie’s – the center of the local rock universe, but now a shut-down, silent club on Andrews Street – probably don’t know what the fuss was all about. “There was a buzz going on about this particular band,” says Dave Anderson. “There seemed to be something exciting about them….”
Now the album that Anderson recorded hi his attic studio, the Absolute Grey debut, Greenhouse, has just been re-issued. It’s accompanied by a live recording of the band playing at Scorgie’s, speaking from an era when groups such as R.E.M. could emerge from the world of independent, underground music to become stars, their noncommercial integrity still intact.
Greenhouse is Exhibit No. 1 that Absolute Grey had the goods. And the fact that the band still has fans to
this day – such as R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, who’s quoted on a sticker on the new CD jewel box claiming “I still have the original LPs” – is Exhibit No. 2 that Absolute Grey is more than a passing moment.
They loved ‘em in Germany, where a two-CD retrospective was released 10 years ago. They adored ‘em in England, where a review of Greenhouse that is to appear in today’s London Sunday Times reads, “Squint a little and Greenhouse is stupendous….” The Scorgie’s tracks secure “Greenhouse its own little space on the lost classics shelf.”
This of a band that released only four albums in its brief lifetime, the last two on a label in Greece. We’re talking Greece the country, not Greece the Rochester suburb.
So what happened?
Rasor and Matt Kitchen, the guitarist, were students at Pittsford Sutherland High School. They went off to college. End of band, it seems.
“Beth and I tried to convince them that it was obvious we had something going on,” says Pat Thomas, the drummer; Beth was Beth Brown, the band’s incandescent lead singer, a torch shining through her band mates’ darkness. “And one more year might have been all we needed to bring it up to the next level.”
As it turned out, it’s been 20 years to bring it up to the next level. There are 10 more songs, worked on intermittently over the years, now almost ready for a new Absolute Grey release. That appears to be inevitable; the energetic Thomas will make it happen.
Perhaps the band’s premature end was also inevitable. After graduating from Sutherland, Brown was working as a clerk at Record Archive when Greenhouse was released. She was 23 and Thomas, who had moved here from Corning, was 24. But Kitchen was only 16, and Rasor 15. Yet they were already perfect rock stars. “I was too radical,” Rasor says of being kicked out of art class. As sophomores, he and Kitchen took charge of the school yearbook and used Kafka’s Metamorphosis, the story of a man who awakens to find he’s been turned into a cockroach, as the theme. “It was all gray, with pictures of, like, the chess club over decomposing leaves,” Rasor says. “The total opposite of what a yearbook is supposed to be. The seniors were furious.”
The members of Absolute Grey saved their fury for the band: “We fought like cats and dogs.” Brown and Rasor both use that phrase.
“We were so pretentious, we’d fight over poetry,” Rasor says. “We took ourselves so seriously. We were so spoiled. It’s like I wrote in the liner notes hi the CD that was released in Germany: ‘Somehow we managed to
overcome all the advantages we were handed in life to start this great band.’”
Anderson agrees with Rasor on that point.
“The guitarist and bass player were from Pittsford, and I think Beth was, too,” he says. “They had an air of arrogance about them, I must say. Matt had a very condescending tone, especially for a young kid, I thought. He was very serious; he was very intellectual about everything.
“He was the main songwriter. They were very moody, atmospheric tunes. It was kind of a downer trip, overall. But in a good way. The name says it all. Absolute Grey.”
They could see nothing but gray. Anderson recalls being in the attic studio during Greenhouse. Brown was in the basement, recording some vocals; something about the acoustics, or her needing to be alone. And he could hear her crying as she was singing her part.
“You know how they say the light in the south of France is best for painting?” Rasor says of the fuel of collaboration. “Well, being in a band… it’s the best. Being able to take ideas and turn them into songs the next day is a great, especiall in high school, when you’re filled with all of this teen angst.” Absolute Grey plunged into the Scorgie’s scene, dominated by local bands such as Personal Effects. Paul Dodd, that band’s drummer, ran Earring Records, a small label that had already released music by the Wilderness Family, the Essentials and the first Colorblind James Experience album. He agreed to release Greenhouse as well. “I remember Pat,” Dodd recalls. “He was a real hustler.”
Hustler, as in aggressive. Among the many talents of Absolute Grey was professional focus. “There was no money attached, no contract. It was just a name. A co-op. A commune. A collective,” recalls Peggi Dodd of Earring’s relaxed business ethos; she was Peggi Fournier then, a keyboardist in Personal Effects. And she was a teacher at Sutherland. Rasor and Brown had been among her Spanish students. They even recruited her to play keyboards on two Greenhouse songs. “I’d come see the band,” she says, recalling the music as “somewhat dark.”
Conceived in an attic, Greenhouse was born in the basement of Scorgie’s in the winter of ‘84. “There was a huge blizzard, and I was so worried that people wouldn’t come because the weather was so’horrible,” Brown says of the record-release show. “But the place was packed, everybody was partying, and I was so gratified.”
Less than a year later, Rasor was a student at Oberlin College in northeastern Ohio when he heard that the college radio station – which didn’t even know that the guitarist from Absolute Grey was on campus – had selected Greenhouse as its indie album of the year, over the likes of R.E.M.’s Murmur.
But that was really the beginning of the end.
“I think I can speak for Matt,” Rasor says. “We both knew we wanted more of an academic career, an arts career. Absolute Grey was about to go somewhere, but it was not quite the train we wanted to be on for all that time. I’m a little more comfortable in a library than onstage.”
Absolute Grey proved to be a springboard for Rasor and Thomas in music. Rasor has found a way to combine his interests in architecture, landscaping, graphic design, writing and music – he’s working on his 23rd album, some of which are solo efforts – with a company called MRLD, just north of Portland, Maine.
Thomas lived in Denmark for a year, then used his Absolute Grey connections for a move to California, where many of the survivors of the ’80s psychedelic-rock revival lived. He now runs a San Francisco label, DBK Works, that re-issues classic records on vinyl. And new works as well, including his own solo records and, obviously, Greenhouse.
Kitchen spiraled off into a different orbit, setting down his guitar in favor of a fiddle and a civil-service job, a wife and a daughter in Seattle. The other three members of the band describe him as ambivalent about Absolute Grey,
Brown? The band’s star, with her blend of folk-rock and wailing-punk vocals, has taken the oddest – most frustrating, even – road of them all. “I’m disappointed and angry,” Thomas says, “that she never went on to do anything without us.”
Brown moved to Boston, enrolled in art school, drifted to Ithaca and started a sign-painting business, then moved to the Berk-shires and opened an art gallery. By then, she had a daughter – Indiana – with a German immigrant named Knut Schmitt.
Now she’s back in Ithaca. She and Schmitt went their separate ways years ago. Yet in a strange twist, she’s not only caring for their daughter but also the 54-year-old Schmitt, who now is battling early-onset Parkinson’s disease.
Interestingly, the 20-year-old Greenhouse has been an instrument of healing for Thomas, Rasor and Brown. It’s as though they’re seeing Absolute Grey with the clarity of the light of the south of France.
“Right now, we’re enjoying a period of love,” Thomas says of his relationship with Rasor. “But we’ve certainly had a love-hate relationship over the years. He and I have kissed and made up in a really big way.”
“And I think putting this out has made Beth realize, it’s now or never for her solo career. I sent her an e-mail recently and told her, ‘You’re probably 10 times more talented than me, but you never did anything with it.’
Indeed, recently Brown has been writing songs. She will be on the new Absolute Grey release. But her focus is on recording her own music, probably with Anderson’s Saxon Recording, and will return to Rochester this year to find some like-minded musicians to help.
It took 20 years for Brown to take the next step after Absolute Grey. “I didn’t want to do music for a while,” she says; the guitar was packed away. “You know how 2-year-olds are. They mess with stuff.”
Now Indiana is 8. The guitar is out again. Brown, who always collaborated, has discovered she can write songs on her own. “This is going to be a powerful record,” she says. “I can’t wait to do it.”
“You really need to leave that guitar out on the stand. So you can just pick it up. Anytime.”
From the lens of Dan Pusateri, enjoy!
From the March 17th 1995 issue of City Magazine, we have Luke’s Obit. I don’t have a credit for the author of this piece (H.B. Ward?), perhaps Chuck or Pat could fill in the rest of the details.
Andrew L. Ogrodowski, a lifelong local rocker known mainly as Luke Warm to his friends (and a few enemies), died on Friday, March 17, in his bedroom in his mother’s home in Greece. It was a warm spring evening and he’d been listening to the radio. He was 35.
His sudden death forces us to press the details of his life into some sort of comprehensible whole. Two years ago, when he was he was 33, Luke laughed, saying, “I’m just a guy who was saved by glitter and glam rock in the ’70’s,” as he tended bar downtown at the Abyss. As Luke perceived his life and tried – as he often did, to understand what it meant – that was no exaggeration at all.
The guy just wasn’t made to be normal. He invented and adopted the name Luke Warm around 1972, as a 12-year-old boy, to complete the elaborate stage persona he had conceived for his first rock band. After an early introduction to NYC glam rockers like T Rex, Luke gradually became the premier collector of rare T Rex records and memorabilia in the US.
Early in life. Luke stopped trying to fit in. “I remember a Red Wings game in the ’70’s,” recalled Luke’s friend and fellow musician Pat Lowerey on the phone recently. “There’s Luke walking down the stairs of Silver Stadium in a cape and full New York Dolls makeup in broad daylight. To him it was normal.”
Luke’s sense of style gave his rebellious energy an outlet and helped him find an identity. But unlike so many fashion bags, he never confused style with basic human grace. Lowerey, once the drummer for Luke’s best-known band, SLT, recalls a defining moment in Luke’s life. At one of SLT’s club dates, a band of hard core, head-shaved punks had been slated to open for them. Listening to them as SLT waited to go on, Luke appreciated the opening band’s energy at first, but then noticed that their lyrics were full of Anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist slurs. “These guys are skinheads!” he said to Lowerey.
That made him mad. “You know how some bands are too cool, like, ‘Don’t approach me?’” said Lowery. “Well, Luke wasn’t like that at all. As soon as he got on stage he just ripped into that band: ‘I Love Jews! I love fags! I live with a black chick!’ He was pointing at the skinheads and yelling into the mike, ‘We got a bunch of fuckin’ Nazis opening our show?’”
Like no one else in Rochester, Luke loved and devoted himself to the local rock scene. In the ’80’s he worked as a DJ and bartender (notably at Scorgies). But a career at the perimeter of the slam pit just wasn’t involved enough for him. His consuming love of music led him to moonlight as the music editor of Downtown magazine. Luke’s prose was as inflamed and confrontational as the music he loved. In an excerpt from the opening of one of his concert reviews (of a local band called “The Bulus“) in 1983, Luke demonstrated his fierce allegiance to Rochester Rockers.
“In this day and age when words mean nothing and dance means everything, it’s nice to see there are bands around to confront this idiotic way of thinking with an iron fist and the Bulus are that type of band. There is nothing wrong with mindless pop, rather fun its dumb way, but there should always be an imaginative, agressive edge to rock and roll to keep it on its often wobbly feet.”
Luke played guitar back then, too, but not, as most remember it, very well. Then, sometime in the summer of ‘90, Luke disappeared from Rochester’s nightclub world. For 18 months, he spent his free time practicing by playing along with his collection of blues records. When he re-emerged, in early ‘92, he was ready to form SLT – a band whose combination of power, intelligence, and expertise came close to what Luke had been grasping at for most of his life.
The band lasted little more than a year. But SLT is now legendary among Rochester rockers and Luke’s vision, infectious energy, and confidence in the band (“We’re the best rock and roll band in the world,” he used to shout) had everything to do with the legacy SLT left in its wake. Lowerey put it simply: “He wanted to combine the passion of music with intelligent lyrics and play it with such force.”
Luke’s death on March 17 cast a sad and sentimental pall over a crowd of Rochesterians known for dispassionate cool. His wake packed the Miller Funeral Home on Monroe Avenue with hundreds of black-leather rock and roll rebels. The line of tattooed, pierced and crying mourners strung itself through four rooms, heads shaking.
Luke’s mother, Helen Ogrodowski, welcomed every downcast punk who’d knelt before his closed coffin with a warm, appreciative hug. The phrase “He was a sweet guy, wasn’t he” was repeated over and over.
“He was crazy,” said Lowerey. “You could just call him up and he would do anything. If I needed him to do cartwheels naked down Monroe Avenue because I didn’t feel good, he’d do it immediately.”
“He was a great friend.”
audio clip courtesy Simon Ribas of the Presstones, see comments for details
From the J. Laben Archives. Enjoy:
What is with these weird hairstyles, this strange music? Are they serious? Are they poking fun? Or both?
The Ramones, a rock ‘n’ roll band of current popularity, have a song called “Teenage Lobotomy.” There are those who would suggest they sing from experience. Take, for example, the words to their song “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School”:
“I don’t care about history,
Rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school,
Cuz that’s not where I wanna be,
Rock, rock, rock ‘«’ roll high school,
I just wanna have some kicks,
I just wanna get some chicks,
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll hi-igh school.”
Appearance is another strike against any claims to great mental stature on the part of the band. Tight jeans, sneakers and leather jackets, a real greasy-mean look, tell you these are the kind of guys who need permission from their parole officers to go on high school field trips.
But believe the image and you’re the fool. They’ve suckered you with rock ‘n’ roll’s favorite gimmick, theatrics, to sell you rockers’ favorite message, irrever¬ence. The Ramones’ lyrics and looks are mostly suitable trappings for their brand of music — high-speed, high-energy and high-volume rock ‘n’ roll.
Boy, they’ve got their nerve. But boy, they have their fun.
The Ramones pale in comparison with some of the other music going on these days within what is called the “New Wave.”
There is Fad Gadget, the band that uses a Black & Decker speed drill as an instrument. There is CRASH COURSE In Science, whose members make music with kitchen appliances and, in one song, become robots reading a cake mix: “Extract contents for cakes in the home.”
(more vintage theorizing after the jump!)
Personal Effects super fan Ed Richter shot some great footage from stage side during the Personal Effects set. Great Pics, Ed!
Ok, all right… I’ll admit it. Like every other damn guy at Scorgies I had a crush on Peggy Fournier. I had seen the Hi-Techs live many times and oh my god there was Peggy.
One of my best friends from the late 1970’s-1980’s was Bob Martin; we were Beatles collectors and then it happened. The Hi-Tech’s changed their name to PERSONAL EFFECTS. I thought I was in. I asked Bob what the deal was with Peggy. he said “forget it, MAN! Our drummer is her man!” OH, LOL!
Well anyway, Personal Effects went on to produce the greatest local music of all time. Yes, they were the tightest, they had the best instruments and yes! They were the best.! I guess this makes me a Personal Effects Fan Boy.
I love you Peggy, Paul, Bernie and of course my close friend Bob Martin.
More photos from the show after the jump:
What a show; everyone I’ve spoken to was totally blown away. I’m still firing on all cylinders, even a few that I didn’t even know I had anymore! I saw so many smiles Friday night, so many people genuinely happy to see each other.I only wish I could’ve stopped by Abilene to spend more time with everyone. But by that time my knees and feet were in need of hydrotherapy (too much dancing and bopping around trying to say hi to everyone!)
It’s hard to say without sounding too sappy, but one of the things I took away from my Scorgies days was a sense of community, I felt like I belonged there. Getting together with everyone at the German House re-affirmed that. While it’s been said that “you can never go back” that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun trying to.
At the end of the show, someone grabbed me and asked me “Did I hear you right, did you say this is was the first Scorgies reunion?” when I replied that I had indeed said that; she replied “good! That’s what I hoped you said!” All I can say is that if Tom, Vanessa, John and the hard working BopArts crew want to do this again, I’ll be on board!
Check out some more photos after the jump:
Just like in the old days, the infamous Scorgies videographers were in full force at the reunion. While Russ Lunn was shooting hi-def in the balcony, Ed Richter was taping from the stage and from the floor. Ed sent me this yesterday but, alas, I was too tired to post it.
Here’s the best part we shot a multiple camera video of it all. With the grace of the gods it will be available soon. Special thanks to Russ Lunn for the master shots of the show. What Can I say? If you were alive and at Scorgies in 1982 and you were at the show last night you would understand my feelings.
ED RICHTER 11-22-08
(More photos after the jump)
Long overdue! I asked Victor Tabinski who should write about Zenon, he referred me to Andy Tratch of the Urban Squirrels. Thanks, Victor!
Don’t know what to say about Zenon – how can one describe the man…
I knew him as a kid [we met being in Ukrainian Boy Scouts together back in '68] but had drifted apart by high school until I ran into him - waiting in line to get into the Devo show [1st tour] at the Triangle Theater.
We caught upon things, compared musical tastes & next thing ya know we got our first apartment together on Wisconsin & Main St in the City…
The rest is history: we spent many years together rockin’ & rollin’, abusing ourselves, listening to great music, going to great shows, hanging out at great bars [Scorgie's included] with great friends, working with the Chesterfield Kings all over the country, being ski bums in Vermont, and just enjoying life at it’s best…
Zenon was my brother that I never had, could be the biggest asshole in the world, was always was willing to let you buy him a drink, would steal your drugs when you weren’t looking, and could be hell to live with/be around…but would give you the shirt off his back & loved you to death…
I can [barely] remember helping each other many a time up/down the spiral staircase by the bathrooms at Scorgie’s…We used to ride to all the bars to catch shows on my Kawasaki KZ400 [with Zenon wearing his brain-bucket helmet & clutching his beer]…I can even remember when Zenon had a stint DJing on Monday nights at the Penny Arcade [go figure]…
But most of all I remember Zenon’s “Lust for Life” [yes, just like the Iggy song] and the fact that music was such a huge part of his life: I still have his albums & listen to them [even though they're way scratched because we were always out of sorts when we played them back then]…
We lost Zenon on the 4th of July weekend over 20 years ago - fittingly he had gone down to NYC to visit friends & to see The Butthole Surfers: he never came back…
What a waste…what an asshole..what a Zenon move…
Long live the memory of Zenon Pavlovych: The Great High and Mighty Most Exalted Grand Mystical King Farouk!
By MIKE CIDONI
Three Fisher students, with one other musician from the dance band the Cliches, have gotten a little closer to stardom.
They were selected from about 130 bands to represent Rochester’s local musicians on WCMF’s second Homegrown album, a collection of one-track songs by 10 local bands, to be released around Thanksgiving, said Trip Reeb, program director for WCMF.
Seniors John Perevich, Geoff Proud and Jeff Laben comprise three-fourths of the Cliches. Drummer Tom Backus, 21, formerly of Berkeley, Calif. School of Music, completes the band -which makes “music that really isn’t punk or new wave, just dance music,” Laben said.
The Cliches formed in April of 1980 and first performed in public as an opening act for New Math in September of that year. They’ve since built such a steady following that they recently “opened for national stars The Ramones.
The Homegrown appearance will be the Cliches first “on vinyl” release.
“We did some recording last April at Sandcastle Studios that never got picked up; never made it out of the can,” Laben said.
WCMF is paying for all studio costs for recording the Homegrown track, which is being produced by PCI studio’s Todd Schaefer. Hi-Techs, Cheater, Stoney Creek, P.F. Flyers, Insiders, Little Trolls, Dark Star, Lifter and Buxx will also appear on the album.
THESE ROCHESTER ROCKERS AIM TO BREAK THE BIG-TIME SOON.
But not before they find money to feed the dog.
By MARSHALL FINE
Times-Union March 10th, 1983
Buddy the dog needs a meal. The Press Tones are trying to scrape up cash for a bag of dogfood for the enthusiastic German Shepherd that guards their rehearsal space. “We really should get Buddy some food,” says Dave Devoe, the band’s 24-year-old bassist. “Where’s the $25 left from Casablanca?” “I spent it,” drummer John Schwittek, 22, says sheepishly. “Hey, I’ll make it up.”
More haggling and scrounging ensue before the money is collected. The odiferous Buddy — rescued by lead singer B.B. Lummocks, 23, from a fatal trip to doggie death row — wags his tail and the Rochester rock band turns its attention to rehearsal.
But not before someone asks, “Did you pay the rent on this place for this month?”
“No, not yet,” says Peter Presstone, 23, the group’s leader, founder and writer. “Not enough money in the account.”
The reunion is less than a week away and already we have three posters for the show. The latest is from Bob Martin and is to the left.
Bob, Simon Ribas, Pete Presstone, Gary Trainer, Del Rivers and meself will be guests on Whole Lotta Shakin with DJ Mike Murray. WLS is broadcast every Sunday between 3-7 PM on 89.7 WITR FM. Our segment will be between 5-6 pm tomorrow and we will talking about the show. If you are out of the area you can stream the whole show (with iTunes or Media Player) through the internet; the link to the show is: http://streaming.witr.rit.edu:8000/live.m3u
A note about tickets: while they are not being sold through Ticketmaster (hey, no egregious service charges), they are available at the Bop Shop ( Village Gate Square, 274 North Goodman Street ph. 585-271-3354) or at Abilene (153 Liberty Pole Way ph. 585-232-3230).
This just in (From Abilene’s website):
“Make plans for the Scorgie’s Reunion After-Party later that night at ABILENE save your ticket stub and your first drink is FREE!”
Also, If anyone out there doesn’t want to worry about driving, Jim Havalack of Quality Transportation can arrange anything from a Sedan to a Limo to take you and your freinds to the Scorgies Reunion in safety and comfort. Call 585-455-8294, mention Scorgies, and you’ll get a special rate!
SET LIST MANIA
Set lists are instant artifacts; hastily scribbled out on a scrap of paper before a gig (I used to use old band fliers). Typically, after the band had loaded in and finished their sound check, you had a little time left to scratch out a set list before the audience filtered in and then hand copy it out for other band members, unless you were organized enough to put together one before the gig!
If you were the second or third on a bill then you could luxuriate in the dressing room drinking beers put together a list of songs (or, if you were Debora Iyall of Romeo Void, you would get your set together while downing two dozen of Scorgies’ finest Buffalo wings). If your band was on the bottom of the bill, however, you didn’t have much time to commit your list to paper (especially if you were a “Last Minute Larry” like me).
I’ve acquired a few set lists from New Math, Personal Effects, Hi-Techs, The Press Tones, The Projectiles, The Cliches, Bowery Boys and Invisible Party. I’m certain that a few of the Scorgies alumnus among us will be printing them out and trading them with their pals. Check them out after the jump.
Steve Lipincott of the Earcandy Archive (from Portland Oregon, home to expatriates Jim Huie and Rob Cullivan) sent me a link today to the collage “that will go along with a post announcing the forums and a Vol 1 of a podcast” on the Flower City music scene (If you haven’t done so already, check out his Absolute Grey article here).
I guess this means that Rochester is finally getting some recognition, after all of these years. Perhaps this will shine a light on the music scene we’ve come to know and love!
Link to page here, more to come (obviously).
Wikipedia defines a fanzine as “a nonprofessional publication produced by fans of a particular cultural phenomenon (such as a literary or musical genre) for the pleasure of others who share their interest.” Over the years, there have been several publications of this type, including Greg Prevost’s Outasite and The Refrigerator.
The Notebook is a classic example of this type of self-published media. Created by Absolute Grey drummer and agent provocateur Pat Thomas, the Notebook enjoyed a 4 issue run before Pat pulled the plug. Pat was kind enough to reply to my email questions about the his fanzine days and the full interview (as well as scanned PDFs of the Notebook) are after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
There have been several posts to date referencing the Jukebox at Scorgies; today’s post is all about the singles. From the collection of Danny Deutsch, I have scanned the actual 45 rpm singles (with sleeves, if present). This is in no way meant to represent a comprehensive, all-inclusive selection of every 45 on the jukebox. However, the mix is interesting: three classic Rolling Stones singles and two each by Eddie and the Hotrods, David Bowie, Roxy Music, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Ian Dury. A few lost-in-the-shuffle artists like Genya Ravan, Willie Nile and Ian Gomm make up the rest of the mix. I’ve posted both sides of the Eddie and the HotRods picture sleeve for “Life on the Line” single because I’m certain the “B” side “Do Anything You Wanna Do” got more play. Plus, it was the last song Rock and Roll Joel aired on WRUR.
What’s missing? I seem to remember ABBA being on the Jukebox; after Danny left (ABBA being a favorite of Don’s). Anyone else care to chime in on the missing songs?
Danny deserves thanks and praise for preserving these slabs of vinyl. Take a gander at the Jukebox gallery after the jump; you might want to download a photo or two to add to your iTunes when you create your own special “Scorgies” Mix.
UPSTAIRS: or How Scorgies Ruined My Life
In fall of 1979 word got to me in the Mercy cafeteria that there was a bar I had to check out. Seems some of the Southwedge girls had heard my eulogy to Sid Vicious in the art room the previous spring and just knew I should be introduced to Scorgies. I blame them. Terri B and I made our way to Andrews St. in her Torino one Friday night, only to find a bland, Izod-covered crowd heading downstairs to see Duke Jupiter.
So what’s the big deal? We might as well be at the Mason Jar. Peering into the windows of the main entrance revealed a far more interesting sight. There was Kim B, a junior at Mercy, draped over some short dude in a biker jacket who we would come to know as Jimmy Jazz. A girl who could pass for Nancy Spungen had fallen on the floor. A guy who I later knew as Geoff Wilson sat alone and mysterious, staring back at us. Now THIS is more like it.
Senior year of high school was devoted to scrounging money off the floor of the car to afford .50 draughts at Scorgies. Tracey joined me, Kelly joined her, and it was all downhill from there. Targets, the Bowery Boys, Cappy and the Frenchmen, Delroy Rebop and New Math were our excuses for heading to the depths. After 20 minutes at my senior ball, my date (ol’ whatshisname) and I skipped out to make the New Math show.
Upstairs was our reliable house of fun. We knew everyone there by name, or by the nickname we had bestowed upon them. Blazer – he always wore a blazer….stripey! – he always wore stripes…happy smoker guy – yeah you guessed it. Our imagination knew no bounds. We became aware of a tall, hunched, hippie throwback of a dude, scraggly hair, grungy teeth, clothed in paint-stained thrift store rejects. Juraj, aka George, with his Holly Matchet jacket billowing in the night air. He charmed us with his endearing antics – grabbing our boobs and flicking lit cigarettes at us. Somehow he got across to Tracey that he wanted us to go to his house for dinner. I never did figure out how he communicated that since his Austro-Czech mumbling was mostly unintelligible. But if you happened to run into him at Ferrari Park Ave Exxon, you witnessed fleeting moments of clarity in which he could discuss music, politics and mutual acquaintances. So there we found ourselves, eating schnitzel at George’s rambling house off North Goodman. What were we thinking?
Danny Deutsch and Scott W. behind the bar (two of the more sympathetic bartenders – don’t ever tell your troubles to Jeff L. or John K. – they’ll laugh at you), and assorted bouncers who were all named Joe could be counted on for a shout out. Where everybody knows your name. Danny was always so kind as to have my gin & tonic waiting for me at the end of the bar. And then came Ohio. I left for the wrong college, got a radio show there, had some farmer groupies and never went to class. I brought with me tapes of Rock & Roll Joel’s show. Peter, Tracey, Molly and I, and maybe John Sw., visited Joel in his studio that summer, under the pretense of being a band from East Germany called Revolutionary Sled. (I had heard that term out of Jim McKay’s mouth when he was covering the bobsleds in that year’s Olympics.) Joel was gullible.
Summer of ’81 brought interesting characters to upstairs Scorgies. The girls and I noticed the westsiders: a Chili gang and one Aq boy Tracey had long scoped out. And Peter had united with Bill C and Bill R from Hit & Run. Jason came with the Pittsford package. We all joined forces, in a matter of speaking.
We pursued our many hobbies that summer. Angleo perfected the sport of shoving down the hottest wings Tim or Pat Shafer could cook up. Wings on the table, pitcher in hand, red rimmed eyes, and us laughing at him. Willie played Ferry Cross the Mersey 13 times a night and I beat oh yes I beat Jeff L. and Phil J. in a bowling table smackdown. Phil, in his lucky Member’s Only jacket, with sidekick Marvin nearby. Craig, Terry, Richie, Proud, upstairs dwellers all until another opportunity came along to yell PINK HAT at the band downstairs. I met Stan that summer, long before he became the local folk hero he is now.
The weeks, months and years get blurry. Kelly died and we got hit with a big shot of reality. The Presstones offered to play a tribute show in her memory and Tracey arranged for the money to be donated to a scholarship fund at Kelly and Tracey’s alma mater, Nazareth Academy. Tracey went back to college in NYC and stayed away (or did she?) and I stayed at Scorgies, making a long series of bad boyfriend decisions. But Beanie and Maggie and I had fun upstairs. We artistically added to the bathroom graffiti and made some lame attempts at studying between bowling games. At Christmas that year, Proud strolled through the bar gifting everyone with Joan Jett cut-out LPs.
One weeknight a particularly bad actor rolled in and got belligerent with most of us there. He got in Steve Nuke-em’s face one too many times and next thing I knew they were throwing each other around the barroom, smashing through the lined-up video games that Scorgie was using as room dividers. Everyone piled on but Scotty got him out. After we settled down and had ordered another round, someone yelled, “He’s back with a gun!” and everyone freaked. Last I saw before hiding under the shuffleboard game, Scott was smashing the guy on the head with a barstool as he walked in. I have no idea how that was resolved – but I don’t think we ever saw that guy again. I’m not sure if Dave King ever left the Gallaga machine.
Each week new and fascinating individuals made their way to Scorgies. Pete Presstone met some chicks from Greece. They chain smoked and chewed gum at the same time, but if Pete said they were ok, well…then ok. Karen and Erin made themselves known in their shorty leather jackets and mini skirts and were welcomed into the fold. Chris Ph. and Jackie could be seen through the windows, cruising in Chrissy’s Electra the size of an above-ground pool, looking for a parking space. Chris, the epitome of retro glam and Jackie, pulling off a blend of Merry-Go-Round meets Mod. Ashley in her leather and long hair, quietly reading her book upstairs amidst the mayhem.The height of Mohawk Mike’s hair topped Jackie’s bangs. Dirtbag, sort of like a Scorgie’s Pigpen. Huge scary Joanne threatened to put a hurt on everyone. Cousin Al in his trench coat. Laura the Sibley’s model. But some chicks just couldn’t be tolerated. Like that big Kim girl, the first of the cutters. Karen was ready to take her on but we talked her down. Jason wanted to see it happen.
Bad blood had been bubbling up between the Shafer girls and the Byrne Sisters. Don’t know who was playing that night but we were crammed in upstairs. It was hard to move between the tables and the bar when suddenly someone lunged and chaos ensued. The only true girl fight I ever saw take place at Scorgies was going on at full throttle and the fans went wild. And this wasn’t just hair pulling. Fists were flying and a pulsating, kicking, frenzy of acid-wash jeans rolled on the floor. Tables overturned, beers spilled, and grown men stood on chairs for a better view. I hid in the corner by the payphone. Dorie, neither a Shafer nor a Byrne, took some for Team Shafer and ended up with stitches. Definitely worth going out that night.
At some point Scorgie opened up the other side at night for more room and we tentatively ventured in. The bathroom was not very fun over there. We sat in booth seats at longer tables but only when we couldn’t fit in the main barroom. Some guy on that side called me the Sounds Great Tape Girl and he looked surprised to see me there. Please. The WITR djs showed up in sweaters and sneakers and no leather but we let them stay. The kid we called Charlie Brown turned out to be Mike Baldwin. I watched on Saturday nights as a creative and enterprising regular routinely pulled from her pockets the Sharpie color appropriate for the night’s cover charge stamp. She had mad stamp-replicating skills.
I don’t remember how or when it ended. Other bars opened, we saw bands at Snake Sisters and Idols. At some point we seemed to have all just wandered away. I went to a job interview in the early ‘90s and the young boss-to-be examined my resume, then looked at my face, then back to the resume, then to my face. Suddenly she shrieked, “Oh my GAWD I remember you. You were the queen of Scorgies!” I’d never seen this woman before in my life. I came home to tell Terry it was time to leave town.
From the girl on the left.
Folks, we’re getting into the busy season here at Scorgies Reunion Central. As the deadline for the November 21st reunion at the German House approaches, our highly unpaid all-volunteer staff has been burning the candle at both ends sifting out the wheat from the chaff. Expect to see more “over the transom” memorabilia sorted out and posted over the next few weeks.
Having said that, here are some items to examine:
I guess Simon drank four less beers the night he was given these chips! Not sure if he’ll try to use these at the German House.
Reader Gretchen W. Cohen sent us this picture as PROOF that she was at the “It’s Different Out There” record release party… There was a photo booth at the event and I’m certain a bunch of pictures were taken that night. As soon as more pictures come in I’ll add them; it should be quite a rogues gallery!
A nice photo of famed WRUR D. J. Rock and Roll Joel in his usual garb with Claire Bader at his side (thanks to Duane & Robert for the ID). Claire Bader worked with Gary Trainer at St. Johns (see comments for more information). I’ve heard from Joel, and he has also tracked down fellow WRUR D.J. Frank Spencer. Frank reports that he will be attending the reunion as well. if you haven’t already done so, join the Scorgies Reunion 2008 group on Linkedin.com. Clicking on the link will bring you to the sign up page.
I’ve had this photo for a while with no article to affix it to. At first, I though I’d add it to photos of Dave Stearns and Marshall Fine to create a “rogues gallery” of Rochester music critics but, alas, i couldn’t dig any up. Apres TU, Steve has written for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and of late for the late New York Sun.
Russ Lunn is a multimedia artist and videographer who worked with Personal Effects, Absolute Grey and Invisible Party. He video taped several bands at Scorgies and worked with Steve Black on a music video for Personal Effects. Russ debuted his agit-prop video installation War/Music/Dance at Scorgies. Jim Denault left Rochester and is a highly acclaimed cinematographer whose work includes the films Boys Don’t Cry , Maria Full of Grace and was nominated for his work on HBO’s Carnivale.
So much has been written about Johnny Thunders (see Geoff’s and J. Laben’s posts for additional details). Great image, and I’l sure it will stir up powerful memories for those who still have working grey matter.
Mark worked at TPI with Paul Klee (and Jim Havalack, albeit briefly). He would later go off on his own, and was the defacto house sound man for Scorgies. Always an exacting craftsman, he had an impressively low-octane approach to getting the job done. I’ve never worked with a sound man who got a better house sound than Mark (though I never, to my recollection, worked with Pee-Wee). In this picture, from the J. Laben collection, it looks like Mark is running the fog machine while Sarah Todd (who is now married to Mark McDermott) is running the momentary lights while attired in some sort of ball gown.
I’ll be back in a bit to post some more. Note: if you want to see your stuff up on line, register at the link and POST! Can’t wait to see it!
By Ed Richter
Wow. A Scorgies Reunion. What can I say? After all these years?
Is it true? Sure Is. I am best friends with Stan Merrell. He says it’s true.
I am best friends with Tom Kohn. He says it’s true. OK, I’ll be there.
What do I remember? I remember getting dressed up. Doing my hair and getting together a couple of girls and heading down to Andrews street.
The stories are in hundreds. Don Scorgie always made the biggest hamburgers in Rochester. He also had a knack for picking national bands about a week before they hit it big. He also gave many local bands their first chance to appear on stage.For some strange reason Don liked me. I got free hamburgers.
But best of all I became Scorgies House Videographer. Yep. I still have all the videos I shot. I shot Personal Effects, New Math, and the Press Tones, The Chesterfield Kings and of course the Tinglers. At the time I shot the Press Tones they were calling themselves The Pistoleros. The song they were doing at the time was called “Pistol On My Hip“. I also shot the Waitresses, the Comateens (they did the Munsters Theme) and other national acts that appeared inthe Rochester area like the Divinyls, Billy Idol.
As far as local bands went, one of my favorites was the Tinglers: featuring Bill Curchin as Lead Singer and Cliff Owen as Lead Guitarist. They were the center of the band, and both of them touched me later in my life in a special way.
After Scorgies, Cliff went to law school and was a Assistant District Attorney under Howard Relin. Now he is part of the team at Fiandach & Fiandach. He represented me on a recent legal affair I was involved in, and he’s a nice guy.
As for Bill Curchin, yeah, he touched my life recently. Sadly, he died in 2006. Bill how could you do this to us??? Bill was the real essence of cool. He taught me a few things about being cool. ”Just be cool and you stay cool”. Whacky statement I guess you had to know Bill. I miss the guy.
Anyway I have tons of Videos and photographs I took at the time and will try as hard as I can to get them together for all of you to enjoy. I will write more soon.
I leave you with a few photos of The Tinglers and Myself.
Ed Richter 10/08
However, I am ill qualified to properly memorialize Luke. His life was bigger than my memories, and so I asked Pat Lowery (ex Party Dogs, Family Love Probe, Five Star Buffalo, Bulus, Lotus STP, SLT, Big and Pretty, Hotheads, Rat Kings) to pen a fitting Tribute to Luke.
Here it is (with help from Chuck Irving):
Turn Me Up-T-Rex
The first time I met Luke I was at Scorgies about to take the stage in a band named The Party Dogs. He was working as a dj or something but all I knew was that he was bugging us, asking a lot of questions and hangin around. I didn’t know at the time he would prove to be our only fan that night and a much needed confident. The Party Dogs were not for the weak of heart or for the weak of mind. We were not a local band playing dress up on the weekends, or like most bands able to run back to the suburbs at the end of the night to the comfort of their Blondie posters, and rice cakes. As we hit the stage the sparse crowd of local snobs moved away like scared rabbits. Even the owner the big bad Scorgie himself took refuge among his constituents. Only Luke stood alone in the middle of the room screaming at the top of his lungs as we ended ” I Politician,” with kwami Joseph slamming down on his talking drums and R.U. Sirius screaming; “fuck off,” to the posers in the back. That was my first introduction to the man that would later lift me off the back of my drum seat with a guitar style that both destroyed and created its own universe. He was the Zen madman Ginsberg wrote about and ” The Tyger” Blake burned onto the page. That was 1980, our paths would meet again off and on through the next decade.
I never knew Luke’s real name. I had heard people refer to him as obnoxious Andy, but to me he was always Luke. Luke loved old blues guitarists like John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Howlin’ Wolf. He also loved Marc Bolan and could easily bridge the gap between these different artists. It was in the showmanship and the bravado they had in common. For a little over three years Luke stayed in his room and practiced guitar and in his own way conjured up a synthesis of styles based on what I call the primordial howl, or as I have written about before-The Big Fuck. Most of us fear the big fuck. We prefer the safer small fuck. Hendrix embraced this feeling, as did Cobain and a few others.
In 1990 or soon after, Luke and Chuck Irving had an idea for a band. They needed a drummer to fill out the roster of Chuck on bass, Luke on guitar, and Mark Marianetti (aka Thing) on vocals. My first response was your kidding, funny idea guys but no thanks. I was forty years old, fat, bloated and out of shape and had been through the local rock band thing too many times already, plus I was suffering from alcoholism and a huge drug problem. I wasn’t worried about Chuck I knew he could play and Thing was already a local legend but the last time I had seen Luke play he was terrible. But fate has a mind of her own and eventually Luke’s relentless persistence paid off.
I would acquiesce for the time being. I would show these guys what punk rock was all about and get a laugh-throw down some beers and a few lines and that would be it. We were in Pat Moschiano’s basement and at first it was terrible. I explained to them that I was a songwriter and an artist and maybe we should try and play a song. Luke was like a caged animal. He was sober at the time and had been sober for three years. Man he was pacing around chain smoking and fiddling with his guitar. He was also mumbling to himself and the whole time his guitar was making this hellish racket. I was listening to Chuck tell me how the song went and then I counted it off. From that opening beat I was in trouble. Luke’s guitar coiled around my neck and was choking me, while Chuck’s bass line was mocking me to play harder while throbbing this current of Hades through my skull. Thing was singing through an amp, but was so loud he sounded as if he was channeling God into the room. Later I would find out he was channeling God. My heart was going to blow I knew it. This was it I thought; these fucks are going to kill me. I kept pounding and Luke’s guitar kept climbing higher and higher and when he began playing the lead to The Hunger everything faded out. I was then suspended above my set, above the laws of earth. I was free! When the song ended I slumped over and grabbed my chest. Luke was so concerned and kind to this beat up old fuck and I was grateful. He looked at me with those huge eyes covered in sweat and mascara and said, ” Pat are you OK, do you need anything, man you look terrible.” And that was the genesis of SLT.
Fourteen years after the band broke up there is a new cd in the works. The cd is being produced at Saxon Recordings and is nearing completion. The songs have been selected from various recording sessions. This will be the first time people will be able to listen and experience the explosive nature of this definitive punk band at the height of their powers. There is also a new CD of songs in the works that will follow. Yes folks SLT lives! Luke can be one persistent spirit. Take a listen and judge for yourself the strange plane his guitar playing was framed from.
I never knew Andy Ogrodowski. Andy died on St Patrick’s Day 1995. Most people didn’t know him. They only thought they had seen him, or had a conversation with him, but I know that isn’t true. I know that isn’t true because most people are small fucks and it isn’t anyone’s fault. There is no one to blame, there never is. Big Fucks, Tygers, Lost Boys, White Niggers, Shadows-the name doesn’t matter, they all seek the high wire. Their love is not easy, so let it go…you never knew Luke. The only thing I do know is when he played we laughed like we were getting away with murder, cause we were. He would look at me lift up his guitar and say, “Ready!”
From the Gary Trainer Archives comes this wry piece penned for the press kit of “Die Trying.” Link to .pdf of press kit here:
Kevin Patrick writes:
“New Math is a band from Rochester NY, formed in fall 76, At that time, even Newsweek hadn’t yet distorted new wave into the contagious disease it was to be tagged for almost two years following. Yet, local bands playing original songs thru minimal equipment were seldom tolerated in the major metropolis, not to mention the smaller “burgs’ of America, And as radio fought to preserve the past -believe it – so did the club owners. Unfortunately, they were the ones with paychecks that literally allowed bands to survive day to day. It was real rough in the beginning, but then times changed. And somehow, New Math survived it all, finding they’d built up a healthy following around the New York state area in the process.
Founding members Kevin Patrick,, Gary Trainer and Dale Smeadley were eventually solidified by Bob McCarthy and Mark Schways and were accepting gigs anywhere; the circus, shopping mails, weddings, church socials and even a car wash grand opening. The usual ploy was claiming they were whatever type music was required for the occasion, and thereby shocking bystanders. In addition people began learning about their spicy pasts,’ Dale for instance, played the part of a child from Saturn on an early Star Trek feature Kevin solicited rock stars autographs thru the mail and just recently scored the final signature of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, Gary lost his job in the purchasing dept. of St. John’s Nursing home by ordering $1700.00 worth of guitars and amplifiers thru his office, and ‘butch’ Bobby has been arrested more than once for hustling pool game wagers in gay bars to make ends meet. The resulting recognition got the band some opening slots for national acts passing thru the area. Response was more than favorable, and the confidence gained thru work with bands such as John Cale, Ultravox, 999,, Damned, Willie Alexander and Eddie and The Hot Rods, gave New Math the ultimate chance to move the forefront of their local territory.
Always thinking about their financial situation, the band began asking audiences for contributions. Its been a great gimmick, backfiring only once at a gig with the Ramones. They, were becoming extremely annoyed as the opening band (NM), filed past for a second encore, and so, instructed their road crew to scarf up the change that some 1200 people had showered the band with – and ultimately refused to give it back at the end of the night. Yet, with their odd earnings, the band managed to record “Die Trying” and “Angela” in a 5 hour session at Christmas ‘78. After we did the recording we found we didn’t have any money to press it. Luckily, Reliable Records in London loved it, and put the thing out. The resulting press and radio play in the UK gamed attention from major labels, and the band has finally signed with CBS0 Sure we still think about money, but don’t worry as much8 We just finished some more songs – unrushed -in the studio and they are stellar.’ promises Dale.
The real thrust behind New Math is still the same guiding light that started them out in ‘76 – to make people dance and watch them have fun. They do it everytime – so catch them as soon as you can. Oh yeah, chant “New Math adds up” to yourself in your spare time as well!
CBS 7916 “DIE TRYING” 12.10.79
The scene in Rochester needed to be recorded, pressed to vinyl and then distributed to the masses. Today’s post is an article from Rochester’s City Magazine profiling local entrepreneur Richard Storms and his label, Archive Records.There’s a growing movement among rock groups to perform their own works. And local recording facilities are helping that thrust.
by Gregory Lewis
One of the more fascinating aspects of the revival of creativity and energy in the rock music scene is the tremendous upsurge in recording activity that we are currently experiencing. In Rochester that activity centers on a newly formed record label, Archive Records, and on several local bands, including New Math, Bahama Mama, and the Hi-Techs.
Sifting through the voluminous scans from John Pusateri’s archives, I see that there were quite a few venues that “experimented” with Punk and New Wave. Ultimately it took a club like Scorgies to make it as viable venue for non-mainstream music. By the time I moved to Rochester in 1981, most of the other clubs had reverted to the tried and true “traditional” mainstream acts. It didn’t help that there was little, if any, radio support for music outside of the realm of “Corporate Rock.”
My memories of the Orange Monkey are limited. It’s proximity to R.I.T made it a logical choice for a venue. It also seemed to be the headquarters of the Little Trolls. The doors shut in the early eighties and then turned into the China Gate restaurant. The Electric Circus was located in the heart of the industrial part of Dewey Avenue and Big Daddy’s was at the corner of Lyell and Dewey, near the old Tent City. That part of the city is still in decline after 30 years; the side streets are dotted with curbside memorials for the victims of street crime.
Another long-gone club… was this the club that later became Idols?
The Penny Arcade has had some great shows in the past and continues to persevere into the new Millennium. My post-Scorgies band Lotus STP had one disasterous gig there with the Fertility Rite Brothers in the late eighties. Fittingly enough, Clayton was working there at the time and saw fit to heckle us. Made us REALLY nostalgic for Scorgies!
I found this flier for the Parliament Lounge in my collection… I believe Rock and Roll Joel and Jim Havalack tried to turn this Bowling Alley/Bar into a viable venue. Suffice to say the owner had other ideas in mind! More to come in a later post from Joel!
Another one from my collection: Ruth and Irv’s Astrological Fish & Steak (everybody loved the name). unfortunately, they were destined to fail. What was a plus for drinkers (all drink prices $1.50) was a minus for things like profits. This is the original paste-up for the gig flier. Cousin Al, Da Huh (feat. ex-Cappy Mike Houser) and the legendary Bulus. Note the reference to the Brian Bram Show. The Ruth and Irv’s site would later be the home for the original Idols.
Of course, I have to throw a MAJOR shout out to Schatzees, the club whose claim to fame was that they featured the “best bands in the world that would play for the door.” Schatzees would later morph into Richmonds, which carried on much in the same fashion. It was not uncommon to stumble into Schatzees on a lazy Sunday & catch Ten Thousand Maniacs and see Natalie Merchant whirling like a dervish
Somebody’s got to teach a class: “Building a Buzz 101″ (perhaps a night class at MCC) for aspiring Rock and Roll Stars. Note the recycling of clips from the Times Union, Freetime Magazine and the Democrat and Chronicle.
That’s it for today folks… I’ll add more to this post soon.
I guess, in a sense, we all found fulfillment of a sorts in a New Wave band; either by watching our local heroes at Scorgies or actually finding the nerve to get up on stage and make noise of our own. John Pusateri sent me this article, along with a TON of scans documenting the early scene in the late Seventies. I’m posting this article first because Gary’s story is, in essence, everybody’s story.
HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL
By Sarah Kortum
In 1970, Gary Trainer (now bass guitar player and song writer for the popular, local new wave band New Math) found himself standing on the Pacific Coast highway, guitar in hand, hitching a ride up to San Francisco. One month earlier, he had graduated from East High School, wearing a peace symbol on his graduation gown.