I was up there for a holiday visit & went by Scorgies to take a photo for posterity. I don’t know how long it’s been since it closed for the last time, but the 2nd floor windows are broken out. I shot a couple of panoramic photos & decided to post them as a bookend to the reunion show. Sort of a reality check. I’m sure everyone will recall that the further door on the left was the original entrance to the upstairs bar, and the nearer door on the right led to the restaurant side as well as the stairs down to the live room. Those who were in bands will also recognize the alleyway side entrance where they would load in.
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New Math, Live on Channel 13’s Morning Break
At the height of their popularity, New Math were asked to play live on the WOKR-13 weekday show, Morning Break. A typical AM TV show for housewives, with some news, community calendar, maybe a cooking segment & usually some kind of live remote from somewhere around town. I have no clue who thought that the average housewife or retiree would want to see New Math, or how the appearance was even set up. I just remember being told it was gonna be live from Scorgies, and I had to be there by 8AM to set up for a 10:15 broadcast. I made arrangements to go into work late & had the guys in the AV club at Sutherland High set up the video machine to record it for me.
I remember internal chatter going back & forth on what 2 songs they should play, with one idea being to re-write the lyrics to “The Pipes of Pan”, changing it into “The Pots and Pans”. They settled on “American Survival” first, and then “They Walk Among You” after the short interview.
We decided to use a chemical fog machine without telling the shows producers, so I got that set up & hidden under the drum riser before the TV crew showed up. As the drum & bass breakdown in the middle of the song arrived, I hit the fog switch & let it flow to the point of overload. The cameraman had to retreat from his closeup of Roy, to a long shot from the middle of the dancefloor, as he couldnt see anything in the dense cloud. This was a one camera shoot so he did all the moves live, & did a pretty good job. The fog gag turned out to be an even swap, deception-wise, as the TV crew didnt tell me that they were gonna process the video feed with the ‘strobing’ feature of their video time base corrector, back at the station, during the instrumental sections of the song.
After American Survival ended the TV reporter introduced them as “New Wave”, and Kevin had to correct her “No, its New Math”. This was followed by a lame interview, as she asked them why they wore such strange clothes (as the clip will show, they werent wearing anything strange). Then after the band played “They Walk Among You”, they took phone calls from the housewives. Equally lame. I remember one housewife saying “I’d rather listen to a love song.” and Kevin saying “Well, then you should do that.” I have that all on tape somewhere buried deep, but it’s probably better left buried. I just kept a copy of the performance stuff accessible.
So here’s American Survival. I thought it came off great, and the video recording of it stands the test of time. The bands soundman Pee-Wee did a mix with grit, that must have woken them up at the senior home. Worth turning up loud thru the stereo. It showcases the band at their best, playing at the best place to see them, Scorgies. To me, its a perfect snapshot of what it they were like back in the day. In addition, it shows how far ahead of its time Gary’s song was. Take a listen to the lyrics and then apply them to todays headlines of economic collapse. Even tho it was written about the Reagan 80s, its spot on 20+ years later.
If you click on the link you can see the clip in Hi-Res. (I would let either version load fully before playing).
New Math: American Survival, Live
As the overnite DJ on WCMF, he had a special relationship with everyone working trick shifts at Kodak, or the other factories, or the 24hr Wegmans, etc. In the early days after college, as I was job hunting, I did a lot of short term factory work, often on overnite shifts. No matter where I was working, his show was always playing in sync out of countless small radios, echoing all over the warehouse floor.
He started a show called Homegrown where he played local bands tapes or indie singles, had them come in for live interviews, and always talked up their shows. This led to a series of Homegrown compilation albums where many of the local bands had their first (and sometimes only) recordings released.
He & Kevin Patrick started up a late nite show on ‘CMF called “Import/Export” where they played a lot of the UK singles Kevin was collecting as well as good stuff coming out here that the station normally wouldnt touch. National recording acts that passed thru to play Scorgies often stopped by ‘CMF after their show to talk with Roger.
He wasn’t at a lot of Scorgies shows, because he was on the air at that time, but I can’t think of another local media personality that was as supportive. He was never malicious, even in private he would never say anything negative about any local band. I remember Paul & Peggi & I doing an impromptu little collaborative recording & performance project called the Three Stools. We recorded 3 or 4 songs in my bedroom. I knew Rogers tastes in music enough to know he wouldnt like this stuff at all. I also knew him well enough to think that he would tell me that he didnt like it. There was a lot he could pick apart about it, but when I asked him what he thought all he would say was “I love the concept”. A true gentleman.
I moved to NYC & hadnt seen Roger for well over 10 yrs, when I ran into him unexpectedly at 6:30 AM one morning during a visit home. I was leaving the East Ave Wegmans with coffee, as he was coming in, having just gotten off the air. It was literally like we hadnt talked in a week, it was so great to see him.
Roger was murdered near Bulls-head a few years ago. Killed on the street at nite, in a crime that was never solved. Maybe others can shed some light, but to me it seems like there wasnt much effort to solve it. I never heard much about WCMF leading the charge or putting pressure on the city to go the extra mile in finding the killer. He definitely deserved more.
One thing I know for sure, there isnt a band in Rochester, then or now, whose path isn’t somehow easier because of Roger McCall and his support for local music.
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.
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[audio:http://www.click2vu.com/scorgieMp3s/BrokenEnglish_TimesSq.mp3]
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org & I’ll post it here.
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 email@example.com
Gun Club Live at Scorgies
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mutabaruka Live at Scorgies
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. email@example.com
RAMONES Live at Scorgies[audio:http://www.click2vu.com/scorgieMp3s/BlitzkreigBop_Rock_n_RollRadio.mp3]
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.