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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(Article mostly Re-printed from Shindig & Freetime Magazines in the 1990’s – by Del Rivers)
I still can remember standing in The Mason Jar (a local bar known for serving beer in canning jars)…as well as Scorgies…listening to Luther and The BBB’s. What we heard was a mixture of 1960’s Retro-Rock combined with early 1980’s Power-Pop. The BBB’s were stand-outs among Rochester bands like The Bowery Boys (w/Geoff Wilson), The Insiders (w/Walt O’Brien), and The Chesterfield Kings (w/Greg Prevost). Of these die-hard followers of The Kinks, The Monkees, The Byrds, and The Who; Luther and The BBB’s stood out like a set of new Goodyear Tires instead of some cheapo retreads. The snappy Pop tunes created were on par with Syracuse, NY’s Flashcubes (w/Gary Frenay) or with any other Power Pop band that was on Bomp! or Voxx Records in the early 1980’s. Luther and his boys have progressed to that arena (musically, at times) that includes Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, or early Squeeze.
As time goes around, BBB members have followed different routes…Doug Cox, who briefly formed NYC’s Tonebenders, is now climbing telephone poles; Mike Abrams, now a family man, played a roll in both The Projectiles and The Infants; Judd Williams (known as a “legend” in Boston) plays with The Lyres, Riviera Playboys, and now tours with The Amazing Royal Crowns; and finally Jeff “Luther” Holtzman carried The BBB’s flagship through the ’80’s and ’90’s. (The BBB’s briefly changed to The 3-B’s as well). Many future members included ex-Insiders Walt O’Brien and Bob Janneck; It’s My Party/Housecats/Shakin’ Bones members Ken Peters and Hank “Blast” Karuth. In the lean years, Luther worked as a D-J for local bars and co-wrote songs that ended-up as releases from myself and/or McFadden’s Parachute.
Aside from my usual “namedroppings”, a good listen to the CD (Volume One) speaks for itself. Utilizing rare vintage instruments; Luther has created an array of cool, original Rock’n’Roll as well as some updated cover songs in the bonus set. Check out the Rockabilly-influenced “The Echo”, the yearly Christmas standard “Are You Ready For Christmas”, the Psychedelic “Knee Wash”, and aggressive Power-Pop songs like “Rest Of Your Love” and “In My Mind” – all guaranteed to become repeat listeners. (On Whole Lotta Shakin’ – we usually played his “Credit Card Christmas” which isn’t on the CD).
Despite the choking cigarette smoke, and overwhelming odor of urinals (at The Mason Jar – not Scorgies!); that time was a worthy Rock’n’Roll memory and the music is still vital today. I can’t wait ’til Volume Two comes along without the ‘smells’ attached to the memories!! Hail to the Great Rickenbacker!!
(Note: Since this article was written, Luther has retired from performing but has recorded about four other unreleased volumes of music with and without Dave Anderson from Saxon Recording. His former band mates now play as Shakin’ Bones). – Del.
I just wrote a Scorgies recollection with homage to Personal Effects on my own blog. I must say that the many nights that I spent at Scorgies were quite unique and will never be forgotten, even if they are hazy memories.
I hope that it is ok that I cross-post it here. If not, that’s cool, I will cease and desist!
Scorgies was the best room in the city for live bands. They had no chairs in the place. The drinking age was still 18 so the crowd was alive. Mark Nuj had the best sound system in place down there. You could stand right in front of the band or watch from three sides.
Click photo to advance. (from The Refrigerator.)
From September of 1981 to the very last day in February 1986, I lived in Rochester, NY and I loved every minute of it. It was a crazy time in my life.
When other contemporaries of mine were busy settling down, focusing on careers, procuring advanced degrees, getting married and starting families, nothing was further from my mind than any of that.
I wanted to live and to live very loudly. And so I did.
At that time I had no idea of the depths of my sad past, but I knew I wanted to be happy. Frankly, I wasn’t happy, but one must think of how the water cuts through the rock to form the canyon or how the sea pounds the rocks to create the sand. I was happy in process I suppose.
So while others were doing some of the aforementioned life living, I spent my free time slinking around all manner of unsavory nightspots, drinking, dancing and whiling the nights away. It was not unheard of for me in those days to be out until 2am, fall into bed in my tiny studio apartment on trendy Park Avenue and be up at and work by 8am the next morning. Oh to be 25!
This place was a scene unto itself and was also the venue for many a great band both local and national, international. Eventually it became my number one night spot.
This meant sauntering in and trying to look cool. I can’t imagine I ever pulled this off, but I did my best. One had big hair and wore lots of black, I think that was key. That and looking almost bored, as if you just happened to walk in unexpectedly.
I would usually be with my friend MG. My friend MG and I are no longer friends and I must say that of all my lost friendships, I mourn this one most profoundly. MG was the single funniest person I have ever known in my life. We were friends from December of 1982 until early in 2002 and I do not think the wound of loss will ever fully close.
Anyway, M and I would get into my one of our cars and head off to see what the night held for us. Generally from 1983-1986, that meant first stop was Scorgies.
After entering the smokey bar space, courage would be mustered to go to the bar. Why courage? The bartender never really liked us. Maybe he was that way with everyone, but total disdain was his usual response. Even when the place was empty, he’d generally ignore us until he had no choice. He was a real local character and he has left this mortal coil. He went by the name of Luke Warm and you can about him and his passing here. I hope that Luke is resting in peace.
Once some drinks were consumed and if it were a show night, one would stumble down the stairs to the very dark and even more smokey show space in the basement. Low ceiling, black walls (to my recollection) and always the spot to experience some great music.
There was a local band that played there a lot and to this day I love love love them and their music. Oh it is very dated and very 80’s, but ahhhhhh- I can never get enough. So many memories are tied around Personal effects and their music. You can read more about them right here as well as listen to some of their songs and see some videos. (I will have one for you at the end of this post – the song “Nothing Lasts Forever.” My favorite song of theirs is “So So Hard” but no vid for that one, but here is the audio.)
I recall some of the shows I went to at Scorgies but sadly many of them are faded due to what had to be too much beer and not enough sleep.
Except that I was getting older and in 1985 when I got to hear Alex Chilton in February and The Replacements in August I was 27 and nearing the bend to 28 years old. And my recollection of either show is shaky at best.
There were other nightspots – Idols opened in 1985 I think. While Scorgies was more of a punk place, Idols was definitely a true 80’s dance club, although it had its own punky edge.
I once went on a date there with a guy that I met through work, he was so knowledgeable about music! While we were there a song came on and he said “This song always makes me think of being at such and such.” The such and such indicated he was a young teen when the song came out.
I asked him, “How old are you?” and he looked at me and said “21!” WTF? “How old are you?” he asked in return? “27.” Ohhhhh…. We remained friends but that was that. (We each thought we were around 23 or 24.)
Another place that I spent a lot of time at in that last year was right across the street from Idols, it was called The Liberty and it was a very chic gay bar. My friend MG and I would traipse back and forth between the two – going from one environment to the other.
Such was my life in those days. If I wanted to live out loud was definitely doing so, but sadly in ways that were not healthy for me.
That said, I can’t imagine I would change too much. What happens in the past is what makes you who you are when you finally start to pay attention. Which is how I have come to see things as a 51 year old theology student, church secretary, stepmother and suburban resident.
Nothing lasts forever, as the song says. Enjoy.
Stan mentioned a “Where are they now” section so I thought I would write this!
I left Rochester in 1994 and moved to Albany, NY
I got a job selling drums at the big music store here Drome Sound. Within 2 weeks of moving here I was drumming in 1313 Mockingbird Lane Albany’s garage band! While in 1313 we released 2 45’s both of which I got to sing lead on the B-side! 1 45 even had a song I had written!!!
My son was born in 1996 and I did the stay at home dad thing! Susan from Susan & The Surftones had just moved to Albany & was out the last 1313 show. She approached me and asked if I wanted to join the band. We did a few CD’s for the German Gee Dee label & a 45 for a Belgian label. We also did 3 tours of Europe while I was in the band.
The 1st was in 1997. It was 8 shows in 10 days and was only Germany.
The next tour was 2000 and was a 1 month tour that took me to Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and the next tour in 2001 was also 1 month and was some of the same but also adding Denmark.
(Thank god I have an understanding wife!!!)
After those tours I try to make it to Germany at least once every 3 years. This year I went & also visited Prague, CZ.
Now I run the mail order dept. at the local record store Last Vestige ( www.lastvestige.com ).
Most of my time is spent selling records to the Russian!!!
I started Thee UMMmm… a 60’s garage band & also Das Schmucks a 3 pc Turbonegro cover band.
I also play drums and sing with The Knyghts Of Fuzz, & Big Kombo and I do a Russian WW2 re-enacting thing www.3rdriflediv.org & http://www.myspace.com/3rdriflebrigade
Looking forward to A Projectiles reunion! The Last attempt was on a day when Rochester decided to have a MAJOR snow storm!!!
Cousin Brian Goodman
Buttons seemed to be a cheap and easy way to promote bands and causes back in the day, and here’s a few from the collection. The top left is from WITR and reads “Rock N Roll Party,” although I can’t remember if that was a show, or just a promo button from the station. To the right of that is a Backseat Sally button, though the colors seem to have faded over the years. In the center is a Press Tones button, a personal favorite, as I always like the deco style text. I would have worn it to the reunion, but I just uncovered it the other day. Bottom left is a Delroy Rebop button, with an image of a microphone. Last time I saw Del was in NYC many moons ago. Finally there is a Cappy and the Frenchmen button, and though it didn’t scan too well, it reads “Th – Th – Th – There’s a Thing” across the top, a reference to a song of the same name, with “And It’s Called Rock’N Roll” across the bottom. Just to the right of the WITR logo on the button you can make out “89.7 fm”, and at the end of the word “Frenchmen” is a picture of the Eiffel Tower.
From the March 17th 1995 issue of City Magazine, we have Luke’s Obit. I don’t have a credit for the author of this piece (H.B. Ward?), perhaps Chuck or Pat could fill in the rest of the details.
Andrew L. Ogrodowski, a lifelong local rocker known mainly as Luke Warm to his friends (and a few enemies), died on Friday, March 17, in his bedroom in his mother’s home in Greece. It was a warm spring evening and he’d been listening to the radio. He was 35.
His sudden death forces us to press the details of his life into some sort of comprehensible whole. Two years ago, when he was he was 33, Luke laughed, saying, “I’m just a guy who was saved by glitter and glam rock in the ’70’s,” as he tended bar downtown at the Abyss. As Luke perceived his life and tried – as he often did, to understand what it meant – that was no exaggeration at all.
The guy just wasn’t made to be normal. He invented and adopted the name Luke Warm around 1972, as a 12-year-old boy, to complete the elaborate stage persona he had conceived for his first rock band. After an early introduction to NYC glam rockers like T Rex, Luke gradually became the premier collector of rare T Rex records and memorabilia in the US.
Early in life. Luke stopped trying to fit in. “I remember a Red Wings game in the ’70’s,” recalled Luke’s friend and fellow musician Pat Lowerey on the phone recently. “There’s Luke walking down the stairs of Silver Stadium in a cape and full New York Dolls makeup in broad daylight. To him it was normal.”
Luke’s sense of style gave his rebellious energy an outlet and helped him find an identity. But unlike so many fashion bags, he never confused style with basic human grace. Lowerey, once the drummer for Luke’s best-known band, SLT, recalls a defining moment in Luke’s life. At one of SLT’s club dates, a band of hard core, head-shaved punks had been slated to open for them. Listening to them as SLT waited to go on, Luke appreciated the opening band’s energy at first, but then noticed that their lyrics were full of Anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist slurs. “These guys are skinheads!” he said to Lowerey.
That made him mad. “You know how some bands are too cool, like, ‘Don’t approach me?'” said Lowery. “Well, Luke wasn’t like that at all. As soon as he got on stage he just ripped into that band: ‘I Love Jews! I love fags! I live with a black chick!’ He was pointing at the skinheads and yelling into the mike, ‘We got a bunch of fuckin’ Nazis opening our show?'”
Like no one else in Rochester, Luke loved and devoted himself to the local rock scene. In the ’80’s he worked as a DJ and bartender (notably at Scorgies). But a career at the perimeter of the slam pit just wasn’t involved enough for him. His consuming love of music led him to moonlight as the music editor of Downtown magazine. Luke’s prose was as inflamed and confrontational as the music he loved. In an excerpt from the opening of one of his concert reviews (of a local band called “The Bulus“) in 1983, Luke demonstrated his fierce allegiance to Rochester Rockers.
“In this day and age when words mean nothing and dance means everything, it’s nice to see there are bands around to confront this idiotic way of thinking with an iron fist and the Bulus are that type of band. There is nothing wrong with mindless pop, rather fun its dumb way, but there should always be an imaginative, agressive edge to rock and roll to keep it on its often wobbly feet.”
Luke played guitar back then, too, but not, as most remember it, very well. Then, sometime in the summer of ’90, Luke disappeared from Rochester’s nightclub world. For 18 months, he spent his free time practicing by playing along with his collection of blues records. When he re-emerged, in early ’92, he was ready to form SLT – a band whose combination of power, intelligence, and expertise came close to what Luke had been grasping at for most of his life.
The band lasted little more than a year. But SLT is now legendary among Rochester rockers and Luke’s vision, infectious energy, and confidence in the band (“We’re the best rock and roll band in the world,” he used to shout) had everything to do with the legacy SLT left in its wake. Lowerey put it simply: “He wanted to combine the passion of music with intelligent lyrics and play it with such force.”
Luke’s death on March 17 cast a sad and sentimental pall over a crowd of Rochesterians known for dispassionate cool. His wake packed the Miller Funeral Home on Monroe Avenue with hundreds of black-leather rock and roll rebels. The line of tattooed, pierced and crying mourners strung itself through four rooms, heads shaking.
Luke’s mother, Helen Ogrodowski, welcomed every downcast punk who’d knelt before his closed coffin with a warm, appreciative hug. The phrase “He was a sweet guy, wasn’t he” was repeated over and over.
“He was crazy,” said Lowerey. “You could just call him up and he would do anything. If I needed him to do cartwheels naked down Monroe Avenue because I didn’t feel good, he’d do it immediately.”
“He was a great friend.”
audio clip courtesy Simon Ribas of the Presstones, see comments for details
Really enjoyed the show. Left without getting your #. You know us unemployed have to work together.
Don’t let the hair fool you I’m old enough.
Lou the Italian
First off, let me just say thanks to everyone involved with the Scorgies Reunion. I am sure my fellow Press Tones feel the same way (although some have trouble typing). Peter had our set planned out pretty good, clocking in at around 42 minutes, which would have allowed us a brief encore. For whatever reason, we ran long, and got yanked off the stage (set times were pretty rigid, and I’m not complaining, just letting you know), before we got the chance to do another number. So for your listening pleasure, here’s a live cut from when we played Abilene over the summer. It’s a song we usually finished the night with, called “Go Insane.” Back in the old days, Peter would take the solos, and at the end of the song, just leave his guitar in front of his amp until it started feeding back and annoying people. And then he’d wait some more before unplugging it. Flash forward, and now I do the lead work, and on this occasion, I started bending the strings pretty far, and so Peter started doing whale noises through the mic. It was a hoot.
Anyway, you paid for it, so here’s the song. . .[audio:http://thepresstones.com/mp3/insane.mp3]
Somehow I wound up with a back stage pass for the Scorgie’s Reunion show at the German House in Rochester, NY. I took a few photos and had good time. It was really great to see everyone.
no images were found
Like most people, I have a scattering of old newspapers, cassettes, videos, and records cluttering up my closet space. When I have the time, I try to convert cassettes and videos to CD’s, DVD’s, or stick it in a file on my computer (for YouTube or some other proper place down the line). Old mags and news clips get into bags like comic books or binders. All this takes a bit of time and expense, which I currently do not have. I only hope that when I kick it, that the cool stuff doesn’t end up in the trash. I already lost cassettes and videos due to deterioration; even some early Sony CD’s with labels won’t play anymore. A friend of mine has a cassette of John Cale playing at Scorgies. I’m hoping that he will preserve stuff like that. I have some video of Rick Baker & The Commercials now on DVD that I’m dying to upload. Many friends have bootleg cassettes of The Insiders that are impeccable. My suggestion is to preserve these things, only if you have the time or if the stuff is worth it in your heart. The best way, for now, is to get it on the internet so other fans can check it out. I thank Stan The Man, Tom Kohn, and others for getting this web site out. It may be a good starting place for your posters, stories, and a few website links to bands that are still at it! It doesn’t hurt to use a professional studio, if you have some bucks to convert and properly preserve stuff as well (not quite like the Eastman House working on 1920’s films, but to make stuff watchable and/or audible!).
Tags: Del's Corner