My Favorite Shows

My Favorite Scorgies Shows

Colorblind James Experience with Starship Beer I went to Scorgie’s on my birthday in 1985; a friend had recommended that I check out this new group in town, The Colorblind James Experience….he described them as “a bit different” and that I would enjoy the fact that they used vibes; since I was (and still am) a Tuned Percussion player, that was a big plus.

We arrived a bit early, and found out that there was an opening group called STARSHIP BEER! I thought, “Yeah, what a far-out name” but just how far out this group was I just did not know at the time; their set started out quiet enough, but grew in intensity, and their assault was unrelenting!! Imagine elements of Pere Ubu co-mingling with The Sun Ra Arkestra, creating this throbbing maelstrom of sound and you might get just a hint at how unruly it was….most people just left the room and escaped upstairs, but I and a few other brave listeners STAYED and revelled in the sonic din that was emanating from downstairs; as the set progressed, members of Colorblind James joined in on the rumblings, then after what seemed a small eternity (which in reality was about 45 minutes in total) the “Sonic Ritual” stopped.

After a suitable break, the Colorblind James Experience came out and knocked my socks off for the first time, the first of the many many times they would do so…….later on, I found out that Starship Beer ACTUALLY HAD A RECORD, and it was called “Nut Music As Free As The Squirrels!”  Needless to say, the title does not disappoint! But groups like them & Rochester’s own HEALTH AND BEAUTY would inspire me to go from merely mucking about at home and seek out other like-minded music nuts to work with (they know who they are); years later, Phil Marshall kindly supplied me with a tape of Starship Beer’s set from that very first show….it was intriguing to hear it again, but it kinda paled in comparison with Actually Being There!

Just a few years back the prestigious ATAVISTIC RECORDS re-issued the Starship Beer album as part of their “Unheard Music” series!

Was it Just another night of Music at Scorgie’s?   I DON’T THINK SO!!!!!

Mike Rae

p.s. hey Phil it’d be great to hear that CBJE show again someday!!

It was mid 1981, I think. Pee Wee, an old friend and former bandmate as well as the soundman for New Math, called and asked if I’d be interested in trying out for a band. The band was called Personal Effects. I said sure, I’d love to.

I went to try out with them and thought it went pretty well. The songs were cool, with chord changes I’d never thought of before. In general, things were an exercise in ‘less is more’ – using a minimalist approach to tell the slices of life that the songs expressed. I was called back many times before the end of the year and kept hoping that I was in the running, as I very much loved the material and the people. In December, I had a party during which Paul and Peggi told me that we had a gig lined up at Scorgies on January 23rd (this would be ’82). I said, “so, does this mean I am in the band?” They had a good laugh… they’d forgotten to tell me that I’d been in the band since, pretty much, the second time I ‘tried out.’

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Note, I have updated the link to Mike’s Show, Whole Lotta Shakin. Mike’s show is now on WRUR FM (and simulcast on Ithaca’s WITH FM)

Scorgies Reunion Poster by Bob Martin

Scorgies Reunion Poster by Bob Martin

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 Saturday between 4-6 PM on 88.5 WRUR FM (formerly on RIT’s WITR FM).

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!”

Note: for of out-of-town friends who need to purchase tickets in advance; please call the Bop Shop at 585-217-3354 and the Bop Shop staff will help with your ticket purchases.

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!

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One of the Scorgies artifacts I came across recently was a cassette of The Royals – Live At Scorgies which was actually recorded live but with applause dubbed in! It was intended for booking the band into other bars, but with the credence of having played at Scorgies. I think my friend Jon Pirincci (of Musical Messages Agency) dubbed the tapes. I actually met the guys from the Royals literally by accident at a tent festival show that featured Roy Orbison (prior to The Traveling Wilburys). We had to wait a long time for Roy because he was “warming up his voice.” Years later I found out about his secret cocaine habit;  perhaps that could have been the reason for the long wait.

I’m not sure if I first met George “Michael” Schnell and Mick Hargreaves of the Royals at a Red Wings game or an N.R.B.Q. concert (either before or after). Regardless, we became fast friends with common musical tastes. They used to have a partyin’ apartment right across from Wegmans near East Avenue that was always filled with pot smoke, music, and bed sheets hanging over the attic ceiling (like a harem den!). They were transplants from NYC and had common friendship with the Tension guys;  guitarist Mike Pappert (from Fairport) and Swing Set drummer Dave Martin (Liebowitz), who I believe was also from NYC.

George Schnell was a meticulous guitar player who eventually opened the Studio At The Village Gate recording studio. He’s known for recording bluesman Chris Beard and was briefly a Country Music DJ; and still spins  at Jeremiah’s Tavern on Monroe Avenue. Mick Hargreaves used to videotape bands for local cable TV then moved to NYC with The Diljoys and formed the Tonebenders with guitarist Doug “Davies” Cox. He later became a member of the Grip Weeds and is presently a solo artist.  By the way, one former  Royals member, drummer Joe Minotti, is currently in  Joe Hendrick & The Mudflaps.

George told me that he envisioned the Royals as a cross between 10 CC and Dave Edmunds. Eventually, as all bands seem to do, the Royals came to an end (much like Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe’s band Rockpile). George Schnell continued on with variations of the Royals; but by then it was pretty much a party house band providing studio support for his original songs.

The. tape Live at Scorgies had covers of Dave Edmunds’ Dear Dad, Nick Lowe’s I Knew The Bride, the Beatles One After 909 & Honey Don’t and Elvis Presley’s Little Sister. The originals were Get Me Out Of The Red and Let’s Jag. Get Me Out Of The Red was played extensively on local radio stations. The Royals came close to releasing a 45 single (or album) of Are You A Dancer?” b/w I’m Falling that was produced by Jeff Tyzik (yes, it’s the same big band RPO leader!). Upon listening it’s apparent that the Royals, like many other bands, could have been on the cusp of having a hit record. And like the other Scorgie’s bands – maybe they could reunite eventually for a night or two – this time for real!

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Hello fellow Rochester rockers. I just found out about this site…thanks Stan…wow, I haven’t heard some of these names in years. It’s great to see my fellow bandmates from The Now (Larry and Steve) being remembered. If I wasn’t down here in Auckland, I’d definitely be there for the reunion.  Have a drink (or two) for me.


Marty Duda

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Johnny Thunders at Scorgies - Photo by J. Laben

Johnny Thunders at Scorgies - Photo by J. Laben

I remember The Heartbreakers show at Scorgies.

Richard Hell and Walter Luhr had dropped out for that one.

I really wanted the Bowery Boys to open one of the 2 shows but we were’nt part of the clique that had started and were more or less getting squeezed out of the scene we helped create.                                         Egomania was’nt my thing so I layed low. Most of the new people made me sick, they weren’t even musicians, but scenesters with instruments.

It’s funny though because the poster says “featuring Walter Luhr”. I don’t remember him being there.

I hung with them in the dressing room before the show and on the way to the stage, I asked Johnny to play “Can’t put your arms around a memory”  in the set. He did and dedicated it to Walter.

I remember hearing Johnny saying “This ones for Walltah”

As I recall, it was Johnny, Luigi, Big Tony, and Jerry Nolan.

They arrived early evening and I helped Jerry and Johnny score some naughty stuff and we spent about 20 minutes at my bands practice place.

While waiting for the man we jammed on some blues, Afterwards, Jerry said Johnny wants to know if I want to join there band. It was wierd because Johnny was standing there looking at me like  Jerry was his interpreter. I politely declined and explained I had a band already (and wasn’t into that naughty stuff that kills people). It was exciting hanging with them but the thought of joining a band of junkies was a real turnoff for me. I was battling depression and barely clinging on to life as it was. I was never into getting famous at all, but I sure like it when we made some bread playing rock and roll.

The landlord liked getting his rent as well.

Johnny gave me a, DON’T YOU KNOW WHO WE ARE, YOU STUPID ASS ? kind of look.

I didn’t care. I hung out with them again in the dressing room later that night but few words were exchanged. The contract had them going on about midnight and they rolled in at about 5 after One.  Scorgie was really pissed but they played a very hot set. There is a tape floating around somewhere of that show. I think Big Tony (bass) came into the upstairs dressing room first, followed by Luigi (2nd guitar).        I was freaked out by Luigi because he came in, sat down, put his feet on the coffe table, pulled out a switchblade and started cleaning his fingernails.

I thought to myself, maan, these New York dudes are pretty tough.

I recalled this to Luigi and he laughed, it is but a vague memory to him now but he remembers giving the knife to Angella Bowie as a gift.

(I remember my ex drummer Scott coming in the dressing room too and remarking on how he should have stayed on drums or something of that nature. He had jumped the Bowery ship to sing for the Prestones, and he was perfect for that band so it all worked out fine.)

So Jerry, Johnny, and Big Tony are dead now, and I have been playing a few shows with Luigi lately here in New York.  We live near each other in Alphabet City.

My latest band (The Bowery Boys) has played a few shows with Walter Luhr’s band The Waldo’s.            Walter is a very smooth rocker and a cool guy. He still plays songs by Johnny Blunders.                              (as he so endearingly refers to him)

I prefer to see musicians grow old gracefully rather than die too young, leaving so much left undone.

I hung with Johnny briefly about a month before he died, when he came to Rochester to play at Jazzberries and record with the Chesterfields. I gave him the mini statue of liberty pin off my leather jacket and he immediately put it on his leather jacket. He looked very empty in his eyes and I was sad for him when I left. He signed some albums for my girl (at the time) Diane. He spelled it DIE an.    I still have the albums.       Johnny died about 4 or 5 weeks later. I was shocked but not suprised.

The set he played at Jazzberries was stellar. A focused, mature, fairly sober Johnny Thunders and a great sax player (who also is passed on). There is a video circulating.

POP CULTURE IS A KILLER SOMETIMES.                                                                                                                 Children beware.                                                                                                                                                            Peace                                                                                                                                                                      {:->

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While I wasn’t a ‘regular-regular’ at Scorgies the way Simon Ribas, Jason Brown, or Andrea Kohler were, I sure did hit the club on opportune nights.  Besides the Ramones show, which blew me away, my best memories from my days at Scorgies were easily the nights that Cleveland’s I-Tal played down under Andrews Street.

I-Tal sounded and felt a lot more like a reggae band right off the boat from Kingston, or Montego Bay, rather than an indigenous band from the ‘Mistake by the Lake.’  I-Tal had a groovin’ guitar player, killer roots rock rythems, and reliable percussion.  Many a night I closed my eyes on the dance floor, and let their hypnotic music wash over me.

I recall one time I-Tal played Rochester, but not Scorgies.  I went to Bulls Head Plaza, to a basement club, and grooved all night.  Does anyone recall the name of that club?

Look forward to seeing some of the old crew on Friday, 11/21/08.  Thanks.

Chris Wilmot, Co-Publisher,


New Math, Live on Channel 13’s Morning Break

At the height of their popularity, New Math were asked to play live on the WOKR-13 weekday show, Morning Break.  A  typical AM TV show for housewives, with some news, community calendar, maybe a cooking segment  & usually some kind of live remote from somewhere around town.  I have no clue who thought that the average housewife or retiree would want to see New Math, or how the appearance was even set up.  I just remember being told it was gonna be live from Scorgies, and I had to be there by 8AM to set up for a 10:15 broadcast.  I made arrangements to go into work late & had the guys in the AV club at Sutherland High set up the video machine to record it for me.

I remember internal chatter going back & forth on what 2 songs they should play, with one idea being to re-write the lyrics to “The Pipes of Pan”, changing it into “The Pots and Pans”.  They settled on “American Survival” first, and then “They Walk Among You” after the short interview.  

We decided to use a chemical fog machine without telling the shows producers, so I got that set up & hidden under the drum riser before the TV crew showed up.   As the drum & bass breakdown in the middle of the song arrived, I hit the fog switch & let it flow to the point of overload.  The cameraman had to retreat from his closeup of Roy, to a long shot from the middle of the dancefloor, as he couldnt see anything in the dense cloud.  This was a one camera shoot so he did all the moves live, & did a pretty good job. The fog gag turned out to be an even swap, deception-wise, as the TV crew didnt tell me that they were gonna process the video feed with the ‘strobing’ feature of their video time base corrector, back at the station, during the instrumental sections of the song. 

After American Survival ended the TV reporter introduced them as “New Wave”, and Kevin had to correct her “No, its New Math”.  This was followed by a lame interview, as she asked them why they wore such strange clothes (as the clip will show, they werent wearing anything strange).  Then after the band played “They Walk Among You”, they took phone calls from the housewives.  Equally lame.  I remember one housewife saying “I’d rather listen to a love song.” and Kevin saying “Well, then you should do that.”  I have that all on tape somewhere buried deep, but it’s probably better left buried.  I just kept a copy of the performance stuff accessible.

So here’s American Survival.  I thought it came off great, and the video recording of it stands the test of time. The bands soundman Pee-Wee did a mix with grit, that must have woken them up at the senior home. Worth turning up loud thru the stereo.  It showcases the band at their best, playing at the best place to see them, Scorgies.  To me, its a perfect snapshot of what it they were like back in the day. In addition, it shows how far ahead of its time Gary’s song was.  Take a listen to the lyrics and then apply them to todays headlines of economic collapse.  Even tho it was written about the Reagan 80s, its spot on 20+ years later. 


If you click on the link you can see the clip in Hi-Res. (I would let either version load fully before playing).
New Math: American Survival, Live

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Personal Effects opened for John Cale at Scorgies on Nov. 6, 1984 – the re-election day of Ronald Reagan for his second term as President. It was great that we got to open for him as I was/am a huge fan. He was in a state from the get go and held the entire place spellbound during “Heartbreak Hotel.” He had a bunch of TVs set up on the stage with the election coverage coming in (or was it static?)  and he was ranting “4 More Years! 4 More Years! 4 More Years!” as it became clear that that’s what we were in for with 49 of the 50 states voting him back in (Minnesota went for Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro – 24 years ago the Democratic party had a woman for VP on the ticket. It’s only taken that long for the Republicans to catch up.) It was really depressing news but John Cale brought us with him into another dimension that night that kept us suspended in his musical reality before the political unreality sank in the next morning. It was, for me, the most memorable, fantastic show I experienced at Scorgies.

Listen to Heartbreak Hotel at Scorgies on 11.6.84 (Recorded by Duane and Bob)

Probably My Favorite Show – Marianne Faithfull, October 1, 1983

When Marianne Faithfull played the sold out 500 capacity packed basement of Scorgies in the fall of 1983, it was during a tour for the album “A Childs Adventure”. Don Scorgie was looking forward to the show based on his memories of her from the 1960’s when she was Mick Jaggers girlfriend. He probably expected something closer to a socialite fashion model than the chain smoking junkie dressed in thrift store cast-offs that showed up.

They were literally thrift store cast-offs, as Marianne had gotten on the tour bus in Manhattan the night before without a stitch of clothing beyond what was on her back. She had spent part of the afternoon prowling the downtown Rochester thrift stores looking for things to wear.

The rest of the tour had been booked into small & mid-sized theaters, and this was the only club date. As a result, Marianne was really nervous as the show started. She was making her way towards the stage from the back of the club, during the intro to Broken English, when she suddenly ran into the Mens Room to hide. In the recording below, Don Scorgie can be clearly heard yelling “Marianne… We’re over here!”

Once on stage however the jitters soon left and she delivered a tight & intense set, rolling around on the stagefloor, knocking over drinks in complete abandon. She played a handful of songs from her new album plus faves like Guilt, and Lucy Jordan. She delivered a great version of John Lennon’s Working Class Hero, and ended it all with a fiery version of Why’d Ya Do It?.

After the show, out on the tour bus, she held court with the few fans lucky enough to get aboard. She had 2 joints and a cigarette in-between the fingers of one hand, taking turns smoking off them. I got my “Sister Morphine” single sleeve autographed. She had never seen it before.

Years later, Kevin Patrick became her A&R rep at Island so he & I got to know her pretty well. At one point Kevin said, “You know Marianne, I met you first in Rochester when you played a little club there called Scorgies. Do you remember that?”

Marianne thought for a moment & then, rather wide eyed, answered “Noooo…”

Check out the first 2 songs of the show: Broken English & Times Sq


Marianne Faithfull Live at Scorgies

Tom Kohn's shot of Marianne at Scorgies

Tom Kohn's shot of Marianne at Scorgies

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