It’s been almost thirty years since the Rain Parade played Scorgies. That was an incredible night, of course. Absolute Grey was the opener, and Mark Theobald was behind the mixing board. The band at the gig featured Matt Piucci, Steven Roback, John Thoman, Will Glenn & Eddie Kalwa. Years later, Lynne and I seized the opportunity to catch up with Matt, Steven & John at their reunion gig in Atlanta at the Earl on January 19th, 2103. They were reuniting that night as part of a fund raiser for Bobby Sutliff (of Windbreakers fame) who had been in a horrible car accident in June of 2012.
The Antoinettes were the reigning girl group during the Scorgies era, playing out numerous times before venturing into the wilds of New York City to seek fame & fortune. The band was fronted by keyboardist Meegan Voss, whose Syracuse band the Poptarts made some noise in the CNY music scene. Meegan moved to Rochester with Margie Shears to start the Antoinettes and they were soon joined by Eastman School of Music student Kim Milai on drums and Poptarts veteran Cathy Kensington (aka Cathy VanPatten) on guitar.
Scorgies era Antoinettes, left to right: Margie, Meegan, Kim & Cathy
So, where are they now? Megan continues to make music with her husband Steve Jordan as the Verbs; Kim teaches music at the elementary school level and has a website devoted to music education and children’s music. Cathy Kensington works as an editor and lives in the Chicago area. Margie Shears, according to Cathy’s blog, lives in the Westchester NY area and works as a graphic designer.
According to Cathy, “after we did that demo, I left the band to follow my (then) boyfriend to Boston. The Antoinettes then added a guitarist (Sue Veneer) to replace me and a keyboard player (Magda– I don’t remember her last name) to take over that role so Meegan could devote her efforts to fronting the band. That was the band that ended up going to NYC and becoming the darlings of CBGB’s.” I’ve picked one of the best songs recorded in that demo session, “If I Were To, ” a plaintive lament that captures a contemplative Antoinettes pining for a boy they could not have.
Click on the link below to play the song in a new window, right-click or control click to download the file.
It all started in 1984… that’s the year a 16 year old by the name of Mick Alber snuck into Scorgies to see the Chesterfield Kings…. now, some of the bands that Mick has loved over the years are rallying together to help him defray some of his medical expenses.
For many years, Mick Alber was a beloved member of the local music scene in Rochester NY. Recently, a severe flare up of ulcerative colitis has required that Mick have major, life-saving surgery.
In a better world, Mick Alber would be a legendary Disc Jockey, like L.A.’s Rodney Bingenheimer, a universally-recognized icon of the Rochester Rock & Roll scene. His friendship with long-time on-air partner Mike Murray began with a fortuitous meeting at a Scorgies Chesterfield Kings show in 1984 (Mick, 16 at the time, had snuck in). From that meeting, their partnership developed into one of the longest-running radio shows in Rochester history, Whole Lotta Shakin’ (now heard Saturdays 4-6 PM on 88.5 WRUR FM).
Whole Lotta Shakin’ has been a driving force in our music scene, a haven for local bands and a key element of “the Rochester Sound.” Over the years, Whole Lotta Shakin’ highlighted Upstate acts like New Math/Jet Black Berries, the Chesterfield Kings, The Projectiles, McFadden’s Parachute, Squires of the Subterrain, Dan Frank & the True Believers, Badenovs, SLT, The Insiders, The Hi-Risers, Frantic Frank & The Flattops, The Absolutes, The Ohm, The Moviees, The Quitters, The Thundergods, Cousin Al and The Relatives, The White Devils, The Chinchillas, The Presstones, Dark Charly & The Tombstones, Absolute Grey and others too numerous to mention.
In recognition of Mick’s contributions and in light of his medical condition, a slew of Scorgie’s era musicians have pulled together to organize “For the Love of Mick: A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Benefit” to help Mick defray some of the expenses surrounding his care. It will run from 12-9 PM on Sunday, March 6th at Abilene, 123 Liberty Pole Way.
12-12:30 Dark Charly
12:30-1:00 Big Red & the Sideburns
1:15-2:00 The Ohm
2:15-3:00 Dan Frank & the True Believers
3:15-4:00 The Chinchillas (with Beth)
4:15-5:00 The Enablers
5:00-6:00 Jet Black Berries
6:15-7:15 The Pawns
7:30-8:00 The Stan Merrell Band with Cousin Chaz & Cousin Al
8:15-Close The Imaginary Band
Scorgies was a place for music and community. I wasn’t allowed. Luke Warm hated me and I could see why. No one in that joint gave me the time of day. And none of my buddies ever wanted to venture into downtown at the notorious “Scorgies”. I remember driving my buds around town to every lame ass dance place in the burbs until I got fed up and got the complaining pricks out of my car and into mommies bed just before midnight. Not getting laid at 19 will get a kid a little ornery I guess.
Once in awhile I’d go downtown to Andrews Street and just hang out till last call. Later I hooked up with some WITR guys and eventually did a show at the station. I remember the John Cale show since we drove him to the gig in either an AMC Pacer or a Pinto after an on air interview. Saw the Press Tones a lot and Colorblind James and The Ramones and so many Personal Effects Shows. Caught a few of the earlier gigs like The Cramps and New Math. Was a semi-regular in 84-85 for awhile but most of the crew I hung with wasn’t interested in the downtown scene. Eventually I lost a few friends suffering through pitchers and Donkey Kong one night at The Vineyard at Pittsford Plaza.
I remember lusting after Andi and getting hammered with my WITR partner Mike Baldwin. Later I spent some years working with Uncle Roger at WCMF and watching a high school classmate play drums with bands like The Projectiles (Brian Goodman).
But like I said I wasn’t a regular. I watched bands all over town in all sorts of different venues, often with an eye towards getting laid. Scorgies wasn’t about scoring, although I probably stumbled out of the place taking a girl home a few times. For a time I lived pretty close to the place. Often I’d find a place to park (very hard at times) go in for last call and walk the couple of blocks home.
You’d always find a friend in that place and very often some good music. And you’d also find someone in there who’d like to cut you or spit in your drink. I loved it.
From Pee Wee’s notes: “Kevin has moved to New York. He came back to finish off some stuff and do this job. Everyone took their equipment home. Looks like this is really the last one. The last two songs they played were “Whiter Shade of Pale” and “Taking Care of Business”.
Not sure if that last statement is completely true; the tape cuts off 3/4 of the way through a cover of the Cramp’s “Garbage Man.” Kevin always honored his influences…
However, they did do another old cover that night that was especially appropriate, considering Kevin’s exodus to Manhattan… a cover of Del Shannon’s “Runaway”
This next tape was recorded by noted Scorgies soundman Pee wee on a Maxell XLI-S normal bias cassette tape on a hot summer’s night in July, 1983 (anyone have the exact date for this show?). No other details about this tape, just a note from Pee Wee that right channel was a feed from the sound board and the left channel was from a well-placed room microphone. The song I’m posting is from the close of the set: “Invocation,” from the EP “They Walk Among You”. I’ve mixed the tracks for your (Mono) listening pleasure.
New Math – Invocation (recorded live @ Scorgies)
Don Scorgie was fortunate to have to have a great sound system in the club, and one of the best guys at the mixing board was Alan Paprocki, AKA the legendary Pee Wee (an oxymoronic nickname ‘cuz he was sooo tall). Pee Wee mixed for Personal Effects, Delroy Rebop, the Press Tones, New Math and other national acts. Fortunately for us, he also ran a line out to a tape deck and made some killer tapes. I’ve been tasked with digitizing the Delroy Rebop & New Math tapes. So, without further delay, here’s a smidgen of New Math live on 3-25-1983:
Here’s New Math performing Die Trying to a very enthused audience!
Ever so slightly off-topic, but who besides me fondly remembers WSAY? 1370AM? It was the radio-station that was so bad it was good; so awful it was great? If there ever was such a thing as “underground” radio in Rochester, this was it! You’d be rocking out to, say, anything from Talking Heads to Van Halen, and suddenly a priest and two nuns would start reciting Rosary! Good times!
WSAY: By the 1970s, WSAY had become, in effect, a free-form radio station. Brown had little input into the music played on the station, leaving the choices in the hands of the DJs, who played everything from blues to country to heavy metal, interrupted promptly every night at six for the daily reading of the rosary (one of several paid blocks of time on WSAY).
In the spirit of the Little Rascals, as in, “Hey, let’s put on a show!” now comes your chance to turn that frown upside down, and start cashing in on the baby boomer nostalgia. Instead of just moping to your friends that, “hey, I used to play there,” you can now say, “Hey, I own it!” That’s right, the original temple of it all is up for sale. Anyone want to go in halves?