September 2008

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This is a diagram of Duane Sherwood’s light set-up at Scorgies. Apparently he wasn’t going to be able to make a gig and he may have left these visual instructions for Jeanne Perri who often helped us behind the scenes. Unlike other clubs at the time, the sound system and lights were always at Scorgies. But it seemed only Duane knew what to do with the lights.

When Duane wasn’t behind the board, even when some relatively big name band was on the stage, the lights would not be focused on the players, not clustered in any logical order so that blue and red lights would both be on a subject at once cancelling each other out, or all the lights would be flashing all the time. Duane carefully orchestrated the back row of lights to work in tandem with the front spots and he was able to produce startling results. He paced himself too. The lighting produced a mood that fit the music and punctuated the highlights. And he always saved a big bang for the right moment.


Duane Sherwood and Jeanne Perri doing lights at Scorgies

Duane did lights for New Math as well as Personal Effects and the Majestics. We took him with us to New York, Boston, Cleveland and Washington. We could hardly play without him. And it wasn’t just lights, Duane’s theatrical flair was largely responsible for the direction of the multimedia shows that we did at the Community Playhouse, RIT, the Top of the Plaza and laser light show at the Planetarium.

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It was fun going to band practice while New Math developed their sound and songs. First at a house off Park Ave. where Gary and Mark lived. Then they moved to their first practice space in the Cox Building and later to another there. I remember the first one was huge and cavernous. The second was better sound-wise and had windows that overlooked St. Paul and the side street where the Adult Bookstore resided. An easy walk down the street to Scorgies for a beer after practice. Somewhere along the way Michelle Ford, Sue Metro, Tim Dodd (Paul’s brother) and I started jamming in the closet of their practice space. We had a really long gestation period and had trouble coming up with a name (Rhonda’s Radio?) and the music ambled all over the place but we had fun (they later formed Targets). Then Paul decided to leave New Math and we joined up to form Hi-Techs with Martin and Ned. During this time, everyone lived and breathed music, whatever they were doing, and our lives are forever intertwined. So many of us from that time still are friends and share some common history. Personal Effects evolved out of Hi-Techs when Ned left the band and Bob joined us. That was in 1981. The PE story is in itself a long, involved one like any band’s. I’ll just say that we played together through the 80’s and then after a hiatus, formed Margaret Explosion which continues to play today as an improvisational, instrumental jazz band.

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Comedy and the drinking age swooped in to finish off the Scorgies music scene in 1985. It came back after a 5 year hiatus. But things were never quite the same as the crowds moved to DJ-controlled dance floors. Remember the club where Dinosauer BBQ is now? Here’s the article that appeared when Scorgies reopened:

Don Scorgie 1990

Don Scorgie says he's returning to live music because "I just enjoy it."

Hip Scorgie’s is Back in the Live Music Scene
By KAREN KRENIS

Anyone who cared about live rock’n’roll in the early ’80s cared about Scorgie’s, Rochester’s hippest, most daring venue for new music. Long before most listeners had tuned in to the Bangles, 10,000 Maniacs, the Go-Gos and the Ramones, those bands were storming the stage at Scorgie’s. And even though slam-dancing was only allowed once, the rowdy club at 150 Andrews St. is always remembered fondly as Rochester’s post-punk musical outpost…

Click here to read the article.

Caught up with scenester Jim Buhlman (a.k.a. Del Rivers) last week; he shared with me a smattering of his treasure trove. Here’s a Dave Stearns article from January 16, 1980. While it centers on Penny Arcade’s “New Wave Mondays” it highlights New Math, Cappy and the Frenchmen, Bowery Boys and King Juke. Paul, I didn’t know you were in a band that wrote songs about French Poodles!

The Music Wave of the Future

You hear the music of the New Wave. Some people feel it, too. They talk about it, in its own language. To them, New Wave is no longer just a fad; it makes the earth move. Short hair and functional clothing are taking the place of the sprayed coifs and disco suits of the ‘70s and the long hair of the ‘60s. New Wave is streamlined for people with little money and lots of energy. Is this a music, a lifestyle for the ‘80s?
By DAVE STEARNS

Click here to read the article.

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MX-80 at Scorgies

MX-80 rolled into Rochester to play Scorgies on Thursday, October 30, 1980. They had just released their first album on Ralph Records entitled “Out Of The Tunnel” and they were touring the East Coast. Martin Edic, Peggi and I caught MX-80 at Max’s in NYC and some other place uptown before their appearance here. Each show was sensational.

Peggi and I were good friends with Rich Stim, lead singer and sax player (pictured on the left). Rich taught Peggi how to play play sax. The first song she learned under his tutelage was Hava Nagila. And the drummer, Dave Mahoney, was my best friend and roomate for years. Peggi and I were in a band called the Chinaboise with these two in Bloomington, Indiana. Bruce Anderson, second from left, could be the best guitar player in the world and Dale Sophiea is a monster bass player. Peggi and I left Bloomington for Rochester and MX-80 eventually moved to San Francisco.

We opened for them in Rochester and in Buffalo. They made the Hi-Techs sound like a toy band with their powerful anthems, “Follow That Car”, “I Walk Among Them” and especially “Someday You’ll Be King”. We were blown away by their performances. Unlike most of the Scorgies bands, MX-80 is still around. Check out their video of “We’re An American Band“.

Here’s an mp3 of “Someday You’ll Be King”

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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 11.6.84 (Recorded by Duane and Bob)

Here’s a few bands that played Scorgies. If your band played Scorgies and you have a promo shot from those days, send it along. We’ll post it here.

Projectiles promo photo

Eric Nelson sent this photo of the Targets. That’s Robert Slide on the left, former bass player with New Math, Sue Mattraw, Tim Roberts who also played drums with 2nd Division and Trisha Knight on the right.

The Rumbles featured Lanay DePalma on guitar, Jim Huie on drums and Dee Wearne on bass and vocals.

Bahama Mama

Tom Kohn found this Bahama Mama promo photo in his archives. After Jim Kraut left, the surviving members went on to form the Majestics.

The Chesterfield Kings – Andy Babiuk (bass), Doug Meech (drums, RIP), Greg Prevost (vocals), Orest Gurin (keyboards) and Rick Kona (guitar).

L-R, Gary Trainer, Dale Solo, Paul Dodd, Robert Slide, & Kevin Patrick in front.

This photo was shot in the hallway at the Cox bldg around the corner from their second rehearsal room. Dale plucked the inspection tag off the fire extinguisher & hung it on his shirt. Back then Gary played guitar, as did Dale. Paul played drums, Robert played bass & Kevin sang.

They played shows that were months apart in those early days. Clubs didnt want them, they wanted Foreigner cover bands. The early version of the band with Paul Armstrong and Mark Schwarz was called White Riot, after the Clash single that was just out. They played one show in the hall of a dorm at R.I.T. that I recall being great, raw & raucus.

The first real New Math show was played in their rehearsal room. They played all 35 mins of what they knew in front of about 40-50 people for a show recorded & then played on WITR. (Anyone out there got that?) I still remember during the show Kevin calling out “Dale… Solo Lead guitar” at the solo of one song, as a cue.  And thats when Dale Mincey became Solo. Patti Smith was into her boxing phase so she was always talking about her “Trainer”. Gary taught Robert how to play bass, so Kevin used to put on his Patti Smith voice & say “thats his trainer…” Thats how Gary Tomaselli got named Trainer. Don’t recall the story about Robert getting Slide.

Before Scorgies, with its house sound & lights, you had to hump your PA & lights in & out of these clubs. The tiny elevator at the Cox used to close early, and so that meant carrying it all down & then back up 4 or 5 flights of narrow stairs. I don’t miss that. For sound, we had started with an amp hooked up to someone’s Bose living-room speakers and a 6 channel Teac tape recorder mixer, but then upgraded to heavy bass cabinets with horns that sat on top. In fact, looking at the photo above, I realize that it was lit with the stage lighting rig that Paul & I made in his basement.  5 floodlight sockets, nailed to a long board, with 5 wires running 50 ft to a little switchboard.  The club owners used to laugh at it when we set it up. It looks like we laid that socket board down in the hall & turned it on, resulting in those multi shadows growing behind them on the wall.

Scorgies was the only place to play, once that all got going. Those other clubs were something to get away from as soon as we could. Orange Monkey, yeeech! Penny Arcade? Who needed that? Big Daddy’s was a sort of mob disco, not a rock club at all.  They had a few shows, the Human Switchboard played 2 great nites there, with New Math opening. Electric Circus tried for a bit, having New Math a few times & also bringing in an early Pere Ubu show that was incredible.

Duane

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I grew up in Rochester but left for awhile. When I returned, I put a small ad on the wall of Record Archive which at the time was located in a small area next door to the Village Green on Monroe Avenue. I was looking for someone to play drums with and Gary Trainer and Kevin Patrick found my ad. The earliest version of New Math had Mark Schwartz on keys and Paul Armstrong on guitar. That lasted for a few gigs and the lineup changed. Gary and Kevin were always in charge.

New Math "Die Trying" cover - click for enlargement

New Math "Die Trying" cover - click photo for enlargement

The New Math single, “Die Trying”, got a lot of play on the Scorgie’s juke box. It was released on at least three labels and the photo above shows artwork for the 7 inch vinyl that was never used on any of the releases. If you click on the photo above you can can see a comp with the artwork pasted on a forty five. The double lines that arc over the hole created an optical illusion when it spun on the turntable. Without drugs you could see colors in the black and white label! I think you actually had to spin it faster than 78 to see the colors and maybe that’s why it was never used.

I was working as a graphic artist at Multigraphics (in the same block where KrudCo now is) so the artwork for the single fell into my lap. I think Kevin found the design that we used for the front cover in an old art book and I recreated it. In the photo you can see Robert Slide and someone else in one of the small photos on the desktop. I was thinking that Robert took this photo but it may have been Corrinne.

The back cover of the sleeve went through a few revisions and someone had the idea to have each person in the band contribute a two inch square piece of art. I seem to remember Dale never getting around to submitting his piece so Gary suggested that I put a zero in there. I could have that all wrong. Maybe someone else remembers.

The first release was on Reliable Records in England. Howard Thompson produced this single with Dwight Glodell engineering at PCI studios, across the street from East High. Howard went under the name “Howard le Canard” for the deed and he was instrumental in getting it released on this London label.

I had already decided to quit New Math before going into the studio but I waited until the recording was made before announcing my intentions. The same night we recorded these songs Peggi was at Max’s Kansas City for the Cramps and I really wanted to be there. Bryan Gregory was still in the band and we were crazy about them. All we had were two purple and green Vengeance singles (both produced by Alex Chilton) that we had picked up at the House of Guitars. The HOG kept the import and underground US singles in a locked cabinet upstairs in the hallway and you had to get Greg from the Chesterfield Kings to unlock it if you wanted to paw through the offerings. I remember picking up three early Pere Ubu singles and an early Devo version of Mongoloid and all sorts of great stuff .

I met Kevin for lunch and a Heineken at the old Manhattan restaurant near Midtown and told him I was jumping ship. I had a great time in this band but I wanted to do something different – like make music with my wife (you know what I mean). Peggi sings, plays sax and keys and we formed the Hi-Techs not long afterward but that is another story.

New Math Die Trying covers

New Math Die Trying covers

Die Trying was re-released on CBS in England with the same b side, “Angela”, and eventually Dick Storms released it in the US on Archive Records. This last sleeve was designed by Duane Sherwood and it had a different b side, a Dale Mincey song called “(I) Can’t Get Off The Ground”. New Math did a gig with Human Switchboard and Dale eventually married their keyboard player, Myrna.

New Math at the Orange Monkey 1978. Robert Slide - bass, Gary Trainer, guitar, Paul Dodd - drums, Kevin Patrick - vocals, Dale Mincey - lead guitar.

New Math at the Orange Monkey 1978. Robert Slide - bass, Gary Trainer, guitar, Paul Dodd - drums, Kevin Patrick - vocals, Dale Mincey - lead guitar.

A few weeks ago I was talking to Gary Trainer at the Village Gate Courtyard between Margaret Explosion sets and he was saying how lucky we were to have a place like Scorgies. We were trying to recall some of the places we played before Scorgies opened. The rock clubs mostly had commercial hard rock bands at the time and you needed a manager or booking agent to get you into the clubs. We worked with Jim Armstrong and even gave him credit on the single. He had some rock solid advice that stuck with me like “don’t let the crowd hear you tuning up (or playing anything for that matter) before you hit the stage because it spoils the performance”. NRBQ did this better than anyone by running on stage and starting as soon as they touched their instruments. Howie from Six String sales booked some club along the river and we did business with him too. Pelican booked bands at the time and Penny Arcade would book an original band but then have the bartenders wear t-shirts that said, “Punk Rock Sucks” or some such nonsense. Like they would know. They were in cahoots with the ultra conservative, formerly “underground” WCMF at the time and they did everything they could to hold back change eventually giving in to playing such “adventurous” new music as the Cars or the Pretenders.

New Math at the Electric Circus on Dewey Avenue in Rochester, NY

New Math at the Electric Circus on Dewey Avenue in Rochester, NY

We played the Orange Monkey out in Henrietta and the Electric Circus on Dewey and Big Daddy’s on Lyell and some place that Howie booked along the river. Scorgies was better than all these places by a mile. They had their own sound system and lights. All you need are these two things, an empty room and a bar and you have the perfect rock and roll club. I played with New Math for a year and a half and but had already left the band before they played Scorgies. The Hi-Tech and Personal Effects played there many times with New Math and we are all still friends today.

New Math got along fine without me. Bobby “Bam Bam” McCarthy played drums for a while and then Roy Stein joined. They released many more records and eventually changed their name to Jet Black Berries. When I saw Gary, he had a bunch of old New Math posters that he was giving Tom Kohn to scan for the Scorgies site. They should be up here soon.

Listen to Die Trying

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