I’m sure Bernie has a lot more to tell; he was a crucial member of both Personal Effects and Colorblind James. Before I started working with Chas in Invisible Party, I hung out with Bernie and wrote a song with him. Bernie is a great songwriter and performer as well; his performance of “The Great Northwest” for WXXI’s “On Stage” Colorblind James Experience tribute was spot-on.
Nevertheless, here’s a sampling of Bernie’s recollections. I’m sure I can get him to expand on this in subsequent posts:
“I was struck by Peggi and Paul the first time I met them at Dwight Glodell’s house – they were “walking art.” Dwight was doing some recording for them and I was in a studio project band with Dwight producing, writing, singing, and playing keyboards, Ethan Porter writing, singing and playing guitars, Kevin Vicalvi doing most of the writing and playing guitar, keyboard and singing, and Jay Porter on drums later replaced by Joe Opipari. I played bass mostly. Atlantic records financed a demo recording of this group called “Claylinks” but when it was shopped around lots of producers including Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire, said it sounded “jazzy.” That had a ring of death to an eighties producer who was trying for more of a Philadelphia Soul/Lionel Richie sound. Joe “O” and I were relieved of our duties to be replaced by a more rockin’ bass and drum section to our dismay. The education I got from working with all of these guys was priceless and indelible.
Back to Peggi and Paul. Sometime in the spring of ‘81 Martin Edic left Personal Effects and when Peggi and Paul and Bob Martin needed a bass player to replace him they asked Dwight and Kevin and Ethan who recommended me. I was thrilled to get a call having heard them as the Hi-Techs, intrigued by their unique posters about town, and the memory of meeting them at Dwight’s. What followed was somewhat of a blur. They had done so much work to get PE established and defined as an artistic, New Wave, fun loving, groove oriented, “quirky,” moody, trend-setting, ambiance-shifting, Rochester band. I was a bit skeptical about how I would fit in, but P & P had a way of getting at the essence of a personality and bringing it out in clothing style, hair (yes, we cut each other’s hair), and playing.
We practiced a lot. Paul, Peggi, and Bob all wrote and they considered their songs to be “slices of life,” like polaroid pictures almost, not precious little essays to guard and protect. They encouraged me to contribute. Like many other good bands they collaborated with other writers, spawned lots of wannabe bands, had the coolest parties (a standalone record player in their backyard with a cache of great ’45’s), and put everything they made at Scorgies back into recordings and promotion – highly disciplined folks. PE was a huge part of the landscape of Scorgies. “