August 2008

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Jim Malley (of Mercury Posters) is putting together a band flier show at the Record Archive, opening September 4th. While going though my archives, I found this New Math handout; it dates back to the release party for New Math’s “They Walk Among You” on March 12th, 1982.

I guess if the reunion had actually happened I would have had to cut the coupon out of the bottom half. If I had actually put this in my wallet, it would have disintegrated!

Coupon passed out at Record Release Party for "They Walk Among You"

Coupon passed out at Record Release Party

And Duane, you’ll have to confirm this bit of trivia… wasn’t the video for “They Walk Among You” shot on the Pittsford Sutherland High School stage using the set from “Bye Bye Birdie?”

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Pete Presstone at Abilene in 2008

Pete Presstone at Abilene in 2008 - photo by Stan the Man

One of my favorite bands from the Scorgies days was The Press Tones. Judging by the pile of old posters we rounded up, they were the first band we (Hi-Techs) asked to play with us at Scorgies. Our first show together would have been Friday June 10, 1980.

We missed their reunion at Abilene but we’re planning on catching them at the next reunion at the German House in November. It did seem sort of odd, a reunion before the reunion, but Tom Kohn said it only wet the whistle or primed the pump or one of those things. My extended family was calling a yearly picnic that we used to do, a “reunion”. And Peggi said, “You can’t call it a reunion if you do it every year”. I suspect the Press Tones never really broke up and that is their excuse. Everyone we know that saw them at Abilene said they sounded great. Bob Martin told us they were “really great”, in a way that implied that we better get our act together before we (Personal Effects) play with them. Here we’ve been spending all these years trying to get loose and now I feel some sort of pressure to get tight or least have a rehearsal.

This Friday we (Margaret Explosion) are playing at Village Gate and Ken Frank is on vacation so Bernie Heveron will be sitting in on bass. This could technically be a Personal Effects reunion because it would be an intact lineup. We might do a PE song. We’ll have to see what happens.

We got the Press Tones 45 out this morning and took it for a spin. I had forgotten that Dwight Glodell produced this thing and that it was on Dick Storm’s Archive Records. “Treat it like a Scar” sounded really good. They had a sort of dark pop guitar rock sound and this single captures it perfectly. Pete Presstone writes some great songs and Scott Presstone has a really good voice. Didn’t Scott used to play drums in the Bowery Boys or am I all mixed up?

Jim Frieze, lead singer with the Press Tones

Jim Frieze, lead singer with the Press Tones

Jim Frieze brought this photo of himself to me when I lived over by East High. He wanted me to do a poster for a gig the Press Tones were doing with the Chesterfield Kings at Scorgies. Jim was the lead vocalist for the Press Tones for a while but I can’t remember if that was before or after Scott. Maybe Scott went to Florida for a while. And it seems like Pete sang when neither one of them was in the band. Didn’t Mick Sarubbi play bass with them too in the early days? Maybe Tony Brown was still going to East High. Somebody has to help me out on the details. Anyway I hear the classic lineup is back and they sound better than ever. I’m looking forward to their Scorgies Reunion performance.

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Deep Sleep

Paul Szp of Paper Faces at Scorgies

Paul Szp of Paper Faces at Scorgies. Photos by Paul Dodd. (Click on photos for enlargements.)

One of my favorite bands from the Scorgies days was Paper Faces. They were technically from Kenmore, outside of Buffalo, but they seemed like they were from another world or Europe at least. The two main guys were brothers, Paul and Brian Szpakowski or Szp for short. Paul played keyboard and Brian guitar but the whole band seemed to always be switching instruments. Dave McCreery played a tight rhythmic guitar and George played a loose limbed bass or guitar. Bill Moore played drums like a drum machine, not a big muscular beat but a detached, mechano style that seemed very cool. There is a new band out there called Paper Faces but don’t be fooled. These guys own that name. We met Paper Faces at the Hi-Techs’ first gig in Buffalo. Debra Lary booked the show. We had met Debra when she brought The Vores to a show in WCMF’s back room. The Dictators played the back room and Robert Fripp did his Fripatronics thing there too. Both were outstanding shows. I don’t know why they don’t do that sort thing anymore.

Paul Szp and Dave McCreery of Paper Faces at Scorgies

Paul Szp and Dave McCreery of Paper Faces at Scorgies

The place we played in Buffalo was called the Masthead and it was tiny. It was us, Paper Faces and a handful of patrons. Late in their set George started making up lyrics about the spots on the floor of the bar. He had us all looking down as he described this overlooked universe. We were sold on these guys and booked a gig for them at Scorgie’s with the Hi-Techs. We must have played ten times with them at Scorgies (judging from the Posters section) and many more in Buffalo at the Continental, McVans and the Schuper House. Buffalo seemed so much tougher than Rochester. The bars were open til four so the night was long. Hookers roamed the streets outside the Continental and people said Bud, who managed the place, ran around in a Nazi uniform. All I know is, we had to ask him to shovel off the stage before we set up our equipment because the German Shepards he kept in there shit on it. They had a dj and a dance floor upstairs so the bands had to compete with that crap. It was all worth it. We went back to to Paper Faces’ rehearsal place one night and partied til the sun came up. We met Mark Freeland and Tony Biloni through the Faces and Toni took us to a party with Tony Conrad from the pre VU days.

George Scherer of Paper Faces at Scorgies

George Scherer of Paper Faces at Scorgies

Paper Faces released a killer 45 with a beautiful sleeve of their popular song, “Riding A Bomb”. “In the distance I see people praying. Give us what we need, carbonated liquids. We all need each other’s company.” and the refrain, “I’ll be hungry in the morning. I’ll be hungry in the morning.” David Kane produced it. Margaret Explosion did a gig with his “Them Jazzbeards” a few years back. I liked the b-side, “Deep Sleep”. We played it tonight. I wish I had one of those Crosley turntables so I could rip singles like Kevin Patrick does. Paper Faces have been in a deep sleep long enough. I wish they would come back.

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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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One of My Favorite Shows – Mutabaruka, May 25 1983

Jamaican dub poet, Mutabaruka, came to Rochester in support of his first album,”Check It”. His band was a collection of crack JA session players led by noted drummer Benbow Creary.

His style was a bit confrontational, lecturing the chattering audience between songs on subjects like apartheid & slavery, but as the sound clip will show, it was the real deal roots-wise. Paul reminded me that he entered the club & walked up onto the stage barefoot.

Personal Effects opened the show and Mutabaruka’s keyboard player borrowed Peggi’s keyboard. The track offered here is a killer version of “Angolan Invasion”.

Scorgies was a great sounding room for reggae as the clip will show. Its a pity more of the Jamaican acts passing by to Toronto didn’t get in there.

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


Mutabaruka Live at Scorgies

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One of My Favorite Shows – THE RAMONES – May 9, 1985

The place was oversold & packed tight, you couldnt squeeze another drop of sweat into the room. One of those shows that, if there’d been a fire everyone would have been a goner. Hot as hell inside, and once they went on the whole place just exploded into moshing & surfing under massive blasts of Red White & Blue light.

It was the Too Tough to Die Tour, which was considered a comeback album of theirs in the 80s. They had just played town a few months earlier, opening for Billy Idol at the War Memorial. Richie was drumming then, and thats a part of their career that gets overlooked. For my money he was the closest thing to Tommy.

They played like a fury and the body to body compression was so severe that it kept jamming my Walkman recorder. Only 3 songs survived on tape & I’m presenting 2 of them here: Blitzkrieg Bop and Rock & Roll Radio

If you want to get a sense of how crowded it was, compare the audience here with the other clips. Unbelievable.

If anyone has pix from this show, email them to me & I’ll post ’em.


RAMONES Live at Scorgies


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