National Acts

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There are few performers who leave me gob smacked and slack-jawed in a  really fan-boy way. I can usually maintain an intelligent conversation with a singer/songwriter that I admire, but there are some that just leave me babbling like a fool, I’m such a fan. Alex Chilton was one of those performers.

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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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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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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)

Here’s my memory of the first Cramps show. I was in high school at the time, and after interning at WRUR during the school year, I had my own show in the summer. Now, I don’t remember every detail, but somehow I got assigned to escort the Cramps from Scorgies to WRUR so Rock ‘n’ Roll Joel could interview them on his popular “New Wave” show on Sunday night. I showed up at the club, and went to the back alley way and found the tour manager to help him find his way to the radio station. After the sound check, we loaded up the van and headed first to their motel, and then to the station.

The first stop was the motel, the Travelodge on South Avenue. No one in the band was very talkative, except for Lux, who seemed pretty nice. I’m sure they wanted nothing to do with me, them being the dressed-in-black, pre-goth rockers, and me being a pretty nerdy looking teenager. They pulled up to the motel, and Lux and the tour manager got out to check in. The rest of the band stayed in the van with me, and after a long period of uncomfortable silence, Lux returned with keys. He was eager to retell his exchange with the desk clerk, trying bargain for rooms. “We just want something nice,” Lux said. The clerk shot back: “Well, they’re ALL nice!” I laughed, but the band just sat there stoically. Then, Lux and the manager and I motored on toward the U of R to the station.

Roll Joel at the Record Archive with Dick Storms - photo by Paul Dodd

Rock 'n Roll Joel at the Record Archive with Dick Storms - photo by Paul Dodd

Joel Rosenthal was waiting for us at the station. While there were those who were still stuck in the Grateful Dead/Traffic/album rock thing, Joel was our punk rock ring leader. He knew the path to glory… and we followed him gladly. The interview was conducted in the news studio,and I was in the booth with another dj who was manning the board. Joel asked him about their recent experiences in London, and Lux replied: “London is shit. Can I say that, shit?” Joel seemed unfazed. “You can say it,” he said, “but I can’t.” “Oh no he can’t!” screamed back the engineer.

On the way back downtown, the manager dropped Lux at the hotel, then went back to the club. I told him that I was underage, but he gave me a wristband, and let me back in the club later. I tried to stay out the way, not wanting to get caught. I was only 17 at the time(the legal age at the time was 18), but I looked about 12. I stayed safely on the side of the stage for the whole show, then trouble: Lux started punching the ceiling tiles. I was right in back of Don. I could see him fuming from behind. Finally, he threw his beer bottle against the wall and went up on stage and grabbed Lux by the neck. Terrified, I backed away from my safe area, and fled the scene. That was the end of the show anyway.

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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Two of My Favorite Shows – The Cramps – Summer 1980, & Summer 1981

(above – stage plot & set list from Summer 1980 show)

The Cramps played Scorgies twice. In the summer of 1980 after their first album Songs the Lord Taught Us came out, and a year or so later for their 2nd album, Psychedelic Jungle.

Several weeks before the 1st show, their fuzz-lead guitarist Bryan Gregory had backed a truck up, loaded all the equipment into it, and disappeared into the night to join a cult in San Francisco. I think it was a long time before they saw him again.

They replaced their equipment and recruited a woman guitarist for the tour named Julian Griensnatch. The Scorgies show was her second gig in the band. The set list is reproduced here, along with the stage plot for their equipment. You’ll notice that the name of the lead guitarist is left blank, she probably wasnt hired yet when they drew it out.

New Math opened the show. Once the Cramps hit the stage, they lived up to all the rumors that had preceded them. Wild & furious, they played songs from the album as well as their Gravest Hits EP & indie singles.

At one point I yelled out a request, “Surfin Bird…!!”

“Surfin Bird??!” Lux immediately shouted back, “I’ll show you a Surfin Bird!!” and with that he pulled out his dick & swung it around for a second before tucking it back into his stretch pants. Pretty much shut me up from requesting anything else that nite.

Don Scorgie had just recently hung a new suspended ceiling in the whole club. Onstage however, the new ceiling was within striking distance of anyone raising their hands above their head. Lux punched straight up into the air once, and his fist went straight thru the ceiling, breaking a tile. That was all the invitation Lux needed & he began slowly pulling sections of it down by its thin metal frame while he sang.

Don stood at the side of the stage turning red with anger. He began punching the brick back wall of the club with his bare hands. The Cramps ended their show & Don bounded up onto the stage with fists clenched, daring anyone to applaud. Then he started punching the Cramps tom tom drums, trying to put his fists thru them. There was no encore.

Shortly after, Don removed the section of the suspended ceiling over the stage, which made it easier to hide the front stage lights.

That nite, Kevin & Gary from New Math invited the Cramps back to the house they had apts in on Merriman St. True to the Cramps legend, a bat flew into the apt while they were there. Lux caught it & humanely released it out the kitchen window. True story.

Eric Nelson got in touch after reading this, & emailed me the following great pic from the show. He reminded me that Lux had smashed 2 beer bottles together, shattering them & cutting himself on the chest. I remembered it immediately, and even recalled asking Ivy after the show if Lux was alright, with her replying “oh, he does that stuff all the time…” Thanks Eric.

Eric Nelson's Cramps pic 1980

Eric Nelson


The second show, a year later in 1981, was another crazy event. I think the way it happened was Danny had originally booked the Cramps into some bar restaurant out in Henrietta that was starting to have bands. Something happened at the last minute and that place cancelled. Danny moved the show to Scorgies (I think he was also booking Scorgies at the time). Don wasnt very happy about The Cramps coming back to his club. The Cliches opened that show.

Having met them the year earlier, Kevin & I went down to Scorgies in the afternoon to see them soundcheck. They had arrived & their equipment was set up but the band was nowhere to be found. We stood in front of the club trying to decide what to do when the funniest site emerged. The Cramps had been up the hill & over on St Paul, so they were walking back to the club. During the Psychedelic Jungle tour, Lux wore his jet black hair combed & sprayed straight up like a voodoo god from a 1930s horror movie. It stood up over a foot above his scalp. The first thing we saw, looking up the hill from Scorgies, was Lux’s hair bopping up & down as they crossed St Paul. Everything else was out of view. We stared at it for a few seconds as the rest of Lux & the band appeared.

Their new guitarist was Kid Congo Powers, and he was sick. Not only in the Cramps sicko-rockabilly way, but intestinally as well. The stage was covered with fake cobwebs, burning votive candles, and deep green & blue light. There were skulls sprinkled around the drum kit. The brightest thing on the stage, tho, was Kid Congos bottle of Pepto-Bismal which was glowing bright pink as it sat on his amp. He was swigging it all nite.

The show was great, with that heavy druggy “Sit right down and make yourself uncomfortable” swamp vibe. Lux’s hair standing straight up & Kids hair standing straight out. Both effects courtesy of the case of industrial beauty parlor spray I saw in the dressing room. Big cans, like spray paint, totally toxic looking with a generic gray label. Ivy said they found them in a beauty supply wholesale place in the south.

They opened with Don’t Eat Stuff off the Sidewalk, and played most of Psychedelic Jungle, including The Natives are Restless, which they never play anymore. They did Drug Train, & a lot of earlier stuff.

That second show was also not without incident. Someone stole the bands new digital guitar tuner, and then their next day transportation plans to Ohio (the next gig) evaporated, leaving the band stranded in Rochester. Kevin let them use his credit card to rent a car and I took them shopping at a 1950s interior furnishings store I knew down by Bulls Head. That day cemented what became a long term friendship that resulted in Kevin signing The Cramps to his Medicine Label at Warner Records, when I worked there with him in the early 90s. We made the album Flamejob with them.

If anyone has great pix from this show, email one to me at & I’ll post it here.


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One of My Favorite Shows – The Gun Club August 8, 1984

I saw them twice at Scorgies, once in April of 1982, and again in 1984. The first show was a few months before the release of the Miami album, and the set was peppered with songs from it. There is a tape of that show that is still floating around on the internet somewhere and it’s great. Raw & fast, with a live sound as piercing as the Miami album would be. New Math opened that show.

But the favorite Gun Club show I saw was in 1984, when The Las Vegas Story came out. It’s still one of my all time favorite albums. A bunch of us in the New Math crowd were nuts about them by then so we were all excited when they rolled into town. Kid Congo was back in the band, fresh from his stint in The Cramps, the already legendary Pauline Morrison was on bass, and this time around Jeffrey Lee Pierce played an old dented boy scout bugle looking trumpet kinda thing, really beat up & bent. In reading the history of the Gun Club, this brief “trumpet period” is considered a really special time to have seen them. Jeffrey would dedicate solos to dead jazz trumpeters, and then launch into blowing the horn in a style that could be politely called primitive. He didn’t play it for many shows. He told us he’d just gotten it the day before, but who knows what he considered to be ‘the day before’. Congo complained that Jeffrey played that thing in the car all the way from Niagara Falls.

Kevin recorded the show on his little mono tape recorder, and its the only show he ever recorded. Heres a chunk of it from the middle of the set. This might be a big one to load but worth the price of a cable modem. Also worth it to make sure you can play it thru something with some power. It starts with a trumpet solo dedicated to Fats Navarro, then launches into a blistering version of Preachin’ Blues, & followed by Calling Up Thunder.

I asked Kevin why New Math didnt open the Las Vegas Story show & he said “After seeing how good they were the first time, I wasn’t gonna make that mistake twice.” He & Congo ate a whole chocolate cream pie after the show.

If anyone has good pix of the show, email them to me & I’ll post ’em


Gun Club Live at Scorgies


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