August 2008

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One of My Favorite Shows – Willie ‘Loco’ Alexander & the Confessions, February 1982

It was chilly February of 1982 when Willie Loco & the Confessions heated up the Scorgies basement. A full house of fans who knew many of his songs, thanks in part to the repeated airplay of his catalog by Roger McCall & Kevin Patrick on the late nite ‘CMF show – Import Export.

Loco & his Boom Boom Band had played the area once before, opening for Elvis Costello in Brockport a few years earlier. Yet audience appreciation for him was so high that he received a standing ovation as he entered the club & made his way thru to the back stairs up to the dressing room.

The Confessions featured Loco’s former bandmate from his early days in The Lost, Walter Powers. It was good raucous show, loud but poorly lit (don’t blame me, I was shooting the video).

The youtube clip posted here is from the beginning of the show, the tail end of “Bebop a Lula” into “Home Is” With its great lyric “home is where the heart is, home is where the soft is”.

This messy tape should remind everyone why its so much better to record in todays digital age.


Willie Loco Alexander and Peggi Fournier from Personal Effects - Photo by Paul Dodd

Willie Loco Alexander and Peggi Fournier from Personal Effects - Photo by Paul Dodd

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From the NYTimes Obit:

“I asked him once,” said Mr. Thurman, the filmmaker, “ ‘What do you want written on your tombstone, Jerry?’ He said, ‘Two words: More bass.’ ”

I wonder how many times I’ve said that…

I was working in Record Theater in Midtown Plaza in ’78 and somehow found myself at a New Math show- at the Record Archive I think. There were only a few of us and it felt amazing to see a local original music scene starting. I met Paul Dodd and his wife Peggi Fournier at those early events (Paul was New Math’s drummer) and started jamming with Peggi, a guitar player named Sue and a singer named Michelle. Paul’s brother Tim played drums. Years later I was in band with Tim and Brian Horton called Blue Hand (another Scorgie’s story).

None of us really knew how to play- I think I might have had a guitar at that point and I still can’t play guitar. We shared New Math’s practice space in the Cox Building and really just made a bunch of noise. Sue and Michelle and Tim later got together a great band whose name escapes my ancient brain (commenters please…).

I digress. Paul and Peggi and I became friends and Paul was interested in doing something different than New Math. We were at a party on Park Ave and there was a guy I knew from Irondequoit High School there, Ned Hoskin. Ned had always been a pretty straight guy so I was a little surprised to see him wearing a Never Mind The Bollocks button, an unusual sight in Rochester those days. Turned out he was playing guitar and writing.

Al Kirstein and the Hi-Tech's Ned Hoskin at Schatzee's

Al Kirstein and the Hi-Tech's Ned Hoskin at Schatzee's - photo by Paul Dodd

Long story short, the four of us started the Hi-Techs, an intentionally poppy name that I think I get credit for. We needed a bass player so I traded my Fender Jaguar for a bass. Then the obsession began.

We practiced every night, seven days a week at P&P’s, drinking huge amounts of coffee and learning how to write, how to arrange, how to play. Before we ever played out we recorded a song called Pompeii for a compilation LP called From The City That Brought You Absolutely Nothing that Marty Duda produced. The song was a great one but we sounded oh so teeny. Duane Sherwood, who later did lighting and videos for PE, played a synth riff.

After a few months we had a set and opened for New Math at Scorgies. Even though we still had that tiny sound the music was catchy and different and it went over pretty well. By the end of the first year we had a 45, about a hundred originals (some only got placed once or twice), a following and the sound was a lot bigger. It was probably our obsession with listening to records like AC/DC’s Back In Black and ABBA’s Greatest Hits and trying to figure out how they produced those huge sounds (I’m not kidding, we really liked both records). That obsession with production was a factor in in our eventual evolution into Personal Effects.

The Hi-Techs were a really fun band with goofy dance pop stuff and darker, more intense things like Screamin’ You Head, released as the first PE record but actually a Hi-Techs session. I can legitimately say that playing in that band changed my life for the better in a lot of ways.

This article was published June 19, 1983 in the Democrat & Chronicle. Bob Martin’s father kept the clipping.

Don Scorgie in Scorgie's Window

Don Scorgie in Scorgie's Window "I liked it when 60 people were in the bar and I knew 59 of them." - Photo by Burr Lewis

By Andy Smith Democrat and Chronicle

Don Scorgie smiles as he recalls the time he threw Elvis Costello out of Scorgie’s Saloon. As Scorgie tells the story, the English rocker came to Scorgie’s, at 148 Andrews St. downtown, after his first Rochester concert at the Auditorium Theater in 1979, and demanded to be treated like a star. (According to some witnesses, Costello snapped at Scorgie to get him a cigarette.)

“That obnoxious little – – – ,” says Scorgie. “I don’t take that sort of thing from anyone, I don’t care who they are. I just sent him right out the door. This business gives you plenty of reasons to lose your temper – and plenty of ways to release your frustrations.”

For the 35-year-old Irish native, business has meant owning the city’s leading showcase for New Wave rock – a style that evolved from the more violent punk rock and is characterized by experimentation, rebellion and emotional intensity. It’s an odd position for a man whose own musical tastes run to Neil Diamond, the Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison.

Somewhere along the way, Scorgie’s developed a reputation as a tough bar, although Scorgie is quick to tell you it isn’t true, adding that he hasn’t seen any customers with pins through their cheeks – a punk fashion in several years.

There have been some memorable incidents, though. There was the time in 1981 a punk band called The Cramps played Scorgies, and their lead singer, one Lux Interior, began pulling down chunks of the ceiling tiles.

“I don’t think they realized I hung that ceiling myself,” says Scorgie. 441 got on stage, kicked their drums around and threw them off.”

Shaun Irons, manager for the local band Personal Effects, was in the audience that night. Irons doesn’t remember actually kicking drums around, but he does recall the club owner’s climbing onto the stage to halt any possibility of the band’s doing an encore.

When Scorgie isn’t throwing bands off the stage, he is occasionally up there dancing with them. Scorgie has become a fan of reggae, the rhythmic music of Jamaica, and has been known to get up on his stage and dance with reggae bands like the I-Tals. (He hasn’t danced lately. Scorgie says – he has a bad knee.) Scorgie, who sports a reddish beard and a bit of a paunch, lives in a house he is renovating near Kodak Park. He was married last year; he has no children.

Scorgie is the kind of bar owner who likes to know his customers. I liked the early days at Scorgie’s,” he says. -If there were 60 people in thebar, I knew who 59 of them were. Now that’s all changed.”

ON THE STAGE in Scorgie’s basement music room audiences have seen everything from Jamaican poets to obscure New Wave bands from England and Los Angeles. The Go-Go’s played at Scorgie’s before thev made it big; so did an LA band called X that has since made a name for itself in New Wave circles. The music room at Scorgie’s. which holds 200, has a fine sound system and a certain primitive, exposed-brick ambiance that makes it appropriate for rock music.

And Scorgie’s became a home base for a series of local bands interested in New Wave rock, such as New Math, the Press Tones, Personal Effects and the Cliches.

IT ALL HAPPENED pretty much by accident. Scorgie himself, when he goes home and listens to music, puts on soft rock or country music – he never set out to be a musical innovator.

Scorgie was born in Ireland and moved here with his family in 1957, when he was 10. He worked construction jobs and was a bartender around town before opening Scorgie’s with two partners, Gary Ludwig and Earl Cupo, in 1977.

The building was an abandoned plumbing warehouse, Scorgie says, adding with some pride that he was one of the first new tenants to move into the St. Paul-Andrews Street area. “I figured there would be people here and that the neighborhood was on the way up,” Scorgie says.

Scorgie opened the downstairs music room in 1979. Initially, he says, he booked everything from blues (including a performance by John Lee Hooker) to folk music to rock. The club became a home for the local New Wave for several rea-sons. One was that several of the bartenders at Scorgie’s were connected with area bands – Jeff Lavin of the Cliches, Scott Wakeman of the Press Tones, John Kralles of Passenger.

WHAT’S MORE, many of the bands had their practice lofts near Scorgie’s. So musicians naturally hung out there, and it seemed a logical step for them to start playing at Scorgie’s. “In 1981 we decided to concentrate on New Wave music,’ says Scorgie. “‘We wanted to differentiate ourselves musicaby from the rest of the city. I started to like the music, too, although I didn’t know enough about it to bring the groups in myself.”

Danny Deutsch, now an account executive for Freetime magazine, was one of Scorgie’s bartenders and helped him book many of the bands that have given Scorgie’s its musical identity. “We were able to try things you couldn’t do elsewhere,” says Deutsch. “Scorgie’s has provided a place for a lot of bands that otherwise would never have had a place to play. I think Scorgie might have been taken aback (by the music) a little at first, but now he’s enjoying it a lot more.”

THE MUSIC ITSELF has not been a money-maker for Scorgie”s, although once people are inside, the bar can make its profit on drinks. “We don’t make a penny at the door,” Scorgie says. “Either we lose or we break even. We’re just trying to bring in the people. All in all, we might not get rich, but we’re doing OK.”

Paradoxically, as the New Wave sound – and the area bands who create it – grow more acceptable, it does not help Scorgie’s. As the bands grow more successful, they can get bookings at clubs with larger capacities, such as the Red Creek Inn, that can afford to pay more than Scorgie’s.

But Scorgie notes that there is more to the Scorgie”s Saloon than music. The upstairs bar, done in a quasi-nautical decor with pictures of ships on the walls and fishnets hanging from the ceiling, does a thriving lunch business among people who work in the area.

There is also a crowd that stops in at the upstairs bar for a drink or two after work, Scorgie says, that is totally different from the people who come to listen to music on weekend nights.

And Scorgie takes pains to point out that even on those nights, his bar is not a rough place inhabited solely by punks wearing black leather and safety pins through their ears.

“We have a much worse reputation than we deserve,” Scorgie says. “We’re still the punk bar in the city, and we haven’t had a punk here for three years. The day of the punk rocker is gone anyway – I haven’t seen anyone with a pin stuck through their cheek in a long time.”

Scorgie say’s the fact that the upstairs bar and the downstairs music area, which has its own bar, are separate helps keep the peace at Scorgie’s – ‘Me drinkers stay up at the bar, the people who want music go downstairs and everyone is happy.”

We discovered how to game the jukebox at Scorgies so you could hear your selection first even if other quarters were in before you. Since practically everything on there was good it was just a matter of taste. We figured out that the machine played all the A sides from left to right then reversed and played all the B sides from right to left. So you just looked at what was playing and chose songs you wanted to hear that were next in that order.

Don’t ask me why this was important or how compulsive you had to be to figure this out!

If you search for “Blair Buscareno” on Google you will (hopefully) find his posts on the BOMP mail lists and text archives of articles he wrote for his fanzine, “Teen Scene.” Here’s his post from the “Do You Remember Scorgies?” blog:

“I’m fairly sure my first trip to Scorgie’s would’ve been in the early Fall of ’84, as a sophomore at the U of R. (Freshman year, I’d seen the BBBs and a couple other local bands on campus, but didn’t have anyone to go to shows with off-campus. In the summer of ’84, however, I ran into Matthew Kaplan at a Mosquitos/Lyres show at Irving Plaza in NYC. When school started up again that fall, we went to tons of shows.)

As I think back, things kind of blur together…Some absolutely mindblowing Chesterfield Kings’ shows, with Janice going nuts. The Vipers a couple times, once with the Mosquitos. The Lyres. Rain Parade, Long Ryders… So many amazing shows.

The time I showed up to see Absolute Grey w/the Cucumbers and saw The Cucumbers onstage when I arrived. I thought I’d missed the Grey, but when I saw Pat, he said, “Oh no…*We’re* headlining.” I’d automatically assumed the out-of-town band would be on top of the bill, never even considering that it was the Grey everyone would really be paying to see.

I met tons of wonderful people at Scorgie’s: Lynn Dell, Chaz Lockwood, Anna Christian, Suzie Mainzer, Olivia Smith, Dave Anderson, Brian Goodman…The list goes on.

I loved many things about Scorgie’s…Walking in by the bar, going back to a jukebox that had records by the Chesterfield Kings, the Lyres, the Vipers, etc. Being able to get bar food. (Living as I do in the NYC area, bar food is extremely rare.) Then going downstairs for the shows. The set-up down there was fantastic, too. The tables on both sides of the dance floor. The stage in front and bar in back. And I remember Scorgie’s as the first place I ever saw 60s TV show clips with rock’n’roll bands on them. Stuff like The Seeds on the Mothers-In-Law.

I also remember the mid-80s as a great time for live music in New York State, in part because the drinking age was still low enough (18, then 19) that just about anyone could get in somehow. (It didn’t hurt that the driver’s license was an unlaminated piece of cardboard with no picture!) And girls had even less of a problem. Geez, I look back at that list of people I met at Scorgie’s and it hits me that *none* of those girls was of legal drinking age when I met them. In fact, I think Olivia was 14.

Things never seemed the same to me after Scorgie’s closed. And, really, I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a rock club that appealed to me in the same way. (And this is from someone who’s spent his entire adult life constantly going to shows.) Even now, I know for a fact that Scorgie’s is one of the greatest clubs I’ve ever been to. And I’ve hung out in some great ones…Maxwells in Hoboken, CBGB’s, Magnetic Field in Brooklyn, various venues throughout the Northeast on a regular basis, as well as ones in many other places. But Scorgie’s was something special.”


Chas Lockwood, Jim Huie, Stan Merrell, Pete Latham, Andy Hargrave

L-R: Chas Lockwood, Jim Huie, Stan Merrell, Pete Latham, Andy Hargrave. Photo by Russ Lunn

The distance from point “A” to point “B” was very short in those days…  I started hanging out at the Record Archive after moving to Rochester in 1981. I became friends with Rock and Roll Joel and became a disc jockey on WRUR FM. Joel really introduced me to the Rochester Scene. The first band I remember meeting and being in awe of was the Press tones. Pete and Simon came down to the station with Karen, Andi and Molly in tow. I was impressed.

The summer of 1981 was very important to me; I spent most of my time either working at the Record Archive or spinning records at WRUR. I would usually take any empty slot on the schedule, but held a regular slot entitled “Pipeline” (later “Primetime”) which aired after “Radio One.” After my shift at WRUR was done, I’d stop by Scorgies to see what was happening. The next band I befriended was Personal Effects. I loved their sound. They had a great single (as the Hi techs) on the Archive label “Screamin’ You Head” which we gave quite a lot of airplay to. It was great getting to know them during this highly creative and formative time in their life.  My co-worker at the Archive, the incredibly sardonic Mike Holm, had joined them on guitar. I was deejaying at the Red Creek part time and caught that line up; it reminded me a bit of Gang of Four, one of my favorite bands. When Bernie joined the band I recognized him because he had worked  with my friend  (and future band mate) Andy Hargrave.

After I had been on WRUR for a while, regular listeners started to come over to the Record Archive and hang out in the Back Room. That’s how I met Pat Thomas (Absolute Grey) and Brian Goodman as well as other miscreants and misfits. Much to my surprise, Brian Goodman stopped in one day to ask me to manage his cousin’s band. As Brian told me at the time, he suggested to his cousin Al that they should “ask Stan the Man to manage the band. He can be Stan the Manager!”And that’s how I became manager of Cousin Al and the Relatives.

I soon found out that managing Cousin Al was akin to Captain Lou Albano managing NRBQ (they got the idea first; Cindi Lauper stole the idea from them). One part actual managing and 10 parts showmanship. I joined them for their gig on “Up All Nite with Brian Bram” and coordinated a video appearance for them on my cable access show “Wild Future” but the novelty was wearing off. Brian Goodman left the band to join the Projectiles. Jim Huie from the BBB’s joined the band and took Brian’s place. The next Relative to leave was Pete Badore (he  later Joined Frantic Frank’s first band). All replaced Pete with Pete Latham (a re-Pete occasion, natch). Ken “Cole” Stahl was added as lead guitarist, leaving Chaz playing rhythm.

At this point I wanted (as a manager) take the band to the next level. Joe King Carrasco had played Scorgies (he was a wild front man!) and had a video in heavy rotation on MTV (remember “Party Weekend”?). I felt that Al, with the right material, could go far. I had given Al some ideas (anyone remember “Cheese Dog?) and had  ideas for publicity pictures.  But Al wasn’t too keen about my ideas as they didn’t fit the Jan and Dean model of what a surf band should be like. He was a purist, god bless his surfin’ heart.

Around the same time,  Jim Huie and Russ Lunn needed a roommate for a house they were renting on Richard St. I moved in, stopped “managing” Al and soon discovered I was forming a band with Jim Huie, Chas Lockwood and Pete Badore, the original bassist from Cousin Al (Al soldiered on with Ken “Cole” (actually Stahl) and Pete Latham, recording Chaz’s “Surfing on the Barge Canal”). One day, while working at the Record Archive on Monroe Ave (the first satellite store), I made Pat Thomas a mix tape entitled “Invisible Party” which then became our band name. We were aching at that time to catch up to Absolute Grey and play out.

This iteration of Invisible Party would later go on to record the first single released by Dave Anderson’s Jargon Records. Like Cousin Al, we too would lose Pete Badeore as a member. True to form, Pete’s shoes were filled by Pete Latham. Later on, we would flesh out the sound with the addition of Andy Hargrave on guitar. This is the lineup in the picture above. However, I think our antics had started to catch up to us and our landlord decided it was time to sell the house we had been renting.

Looking back, I guess i would say the one thing I remember most about Scorgies was opening for the established local bands and headliners like the Neats, Willie Alexander and 10,000 Maniacs. Great shows with our friends Absolute Grey; they would cheer us on as much we would cheer for them. A good opening slot gave up-and-comers like us tons of exposure. Take a look at the list of shows archived on this site and you’ll notice that Paul and Peggi provided a lot of bands their first Scorgies exposure. Opening for Personal Effects was like playing ball at a class AAA club, honing your talent until you would get called up to play in the Big Show.

All in all, there was an air of potential possibilities back then.


Peggi and Bernie from Personal Effects at the Community Playhouse for "This Is IT" show.

Peggi and Bernie from Personal Effects at the Community Playhouse for "This Is IT" show.

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. “

Stan The Man DJing

Stan The Man Dee-Jaying at Top of Plaza PFX Show

In the 80s it was Wild Future all of the time… deejaying at Scorgies, Red Creek, and Casablanca and on the air at WRUR FM. For a little while, I also hosted a cable access show *called* Wild Future that aired on Pittsford’s public access channel. The Wild Future crew was led by the very talented (and somewhat demented) Russ Lunn back when he was the AV Supervisor for Pittsford Central Schools. I think Duane helped him get the gig. Later on, Russ passed the AV torch to me and I became the “New Duane” at Pittsford Sutherland High School. More on that later…

Tell us about your first time at Scorgies.

Hipsterdufus says: “The first band I saw was King Juke. However, after that I was a regular both upstairs and down stairs. Thru the years i saw The Hi-Techs (Personal Effects), New Math, The Cliches, Hummer and The Machine (very funny), Meat Cleaver and the New Toys, B-Girls, Romeo Void,I can go on all night…….”

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