Dale Mincey (former guitarist of New Math) says, “This whole “Scorgiemania” phenomenon drove me to my basement to dig for forgotten memories.”
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Dale Mincey (former guitarist of New Math) says, “This whole “Scorgiemania” phenomenon drove me to my basement to dig for forgotten memories.”
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Due to a technical glitch, some posts that had been pending got lost in the shuffle. We apologize. This post was from Robert Slide. He ultimately added it as a comment but I’m putting it up here as a post. Other missing in action posts precede this one.
Before Scorgies, there were only Hair-Band and Biker clubs. I had recently come back from a trip to NYC, visiting friends who took me to the emerging punk scene in the Bowery. As soon as I returned to Rochester, I went to House of Guitars, bought a $99 Hondo bass and hooked up with my friend, Dale to play Stooges songs in his Bly Street basement. We stumbled on what would become New Math during an audition for “Guitarist ready to ride the New Wave”. At the time Kevin, who was just back from London (and calling himself New Math), Gary and Paul were playing under the name Erector Set. Dale tried out and was “hired”, Gary was switching between guitar and bass when Dale mentioned I had a bass; writing down Kevin and Gary’s phone numbers on a piece of paper from my car that had the lyrics to “Raw Power” sealed my position as bass player – which was really just an extension of Gary’s bass skills. Let me be clear about one thing – I am not a musician, I had only owed an instrument for about a month before playing our first gig as New Math in the basement of R.I.T. thanks, in part, to WCMF DJ, Suzanne King. The name Robert Slide came from my inability (without vocal prompting) to do a bass slide while trying to cover The Velvet Underground song “White Light – White Heat”. A lot of the rest has been addressed here on this blog and elsewhere. I never played with new math at Scorgies, but did play there with the band I was with after my stint with New Math: The Targets, but that, as they say, is another story…
Robert Slide, first bass player for New Math, sent this photo and note on White Riot, Rochester, New York’s first live punk rock band. Greg Prevost (from the Chesterfield Kings) got there first on record with his Distorted Levels single.
Surprisingly, I was able to find these shots of White Riot practicing in the basement of a house shared by Gary and Mark. The story behind how I got these is as follows:
I went to high school with Dale (NM) and the person he moved to Rochester with, Joanne. Both Joanne and I went to RIT (I was a year ahead of her) – during my second year there, I lived on the same floor as Paul Armstrong. We did a lot of music and partying together so I really got to know Paul. When White Riot played at RIT, Joanne saw them and got Paul’s practice address (Gary’s house) and set up a time to see them play – which is how I got these shots. Imagine my surprise when a month or so later, Dale asked me to take him to an audition, and it was White Riot (now playing under the name Erector Set) – Paul was tired of the commute from Syracuse and hence, Dale joined what was to become New Math.
Note: Paul Armstrong went on to play in a number of Syracuse bands. He played Scorgies with the Flash Cubes and New Math played many gigs in Syracuse with Paul’s bands. As Robert says, Dale Mincey took Paul’s place when the group changed its name to New Math. Mark Schwartz quit but rejoined New Math a few years later and stayed on when the band changed their name to Jet Black Berries. Kevin and Gary became the core of New Math, Gary switched to guitar and Robert Slide played bass in New Math. Paul Dodd left New Math and formed the Hi-Techs and Personal Effects.
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.
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:
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…
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
This article was published June 19, 1983 in the Democrat & Chronicle. Bob Martin’s father kept the clipping.
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 Scorgie’s, 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 magtlzine, 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 httve 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 succesful, 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.”
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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