There are few performers who leave me gob smacked and slack-jawed in a really fan-boy way. I can usually maintain an intelligent conversation with a singer/songwriter that I admire, but there are some that just leave me babbling like a fool, I’m such a fan. Alex Chilton was one of those performers.
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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.
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.
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Personal Effects super fan Ed Richter shot some great footage from stage side during the Personal Effects set. Great Pics, Ed!
Ok, all right… I’ll admit it. Like every other damn guy at Scorgies I had a crush on Peggy Fournier. I had seen the Hi-Techs live many times and oh my god there was Peggy.
One of my best friends from the late 1970’s-1980’s was Bob Martin; we were Beatles collectors and then it happened. The Hi-Tech’s changed their name to PERSONAL EFFECTS. I thought I was in. I asked Bob what the deal was with Peggy. he said “forget it, MAN! Our drummer is her man!” OH, LOL!
Well anyway, Personal Effects went on to produce the greatest local music of all time. Yes, they were the tightest, they had the best instruments and yes! They were the best.! I guess this makes me a Personal Effects Fan Boy.
I love you Peggy, Paul, Bernie and of course my close friend Bob Martin.
More photos from the show after the jump:
Just like in the old days, the infamous Scorgies videographers were in full force at the reunion. While Russ Lunn was shooting hi-def in the balcony, Ed Richter was taping from the stage and from the floor. Ed sent me this yesterday but, alas, I was too tired to post it.
Here’s the best part we shot a multiple camera video of it all. With the grace of the gods it will be available soon. Special thanks to Russ Lunn for the master shots of the show. What Can I say? If you were alive and at Scorgies in 1982 and you were at the show last night you would understand my feelings.
ED RICHTER 11-22-08
(More photos after the jump)
Tonight we played the Scorgies Reunion, along with New Math and The Press Tones. And it was a blast. All three of us played our asses off. The Press Tones played first and just absolutely rocked the house. Jeff Laben of the Cliches got up and did Riverview Restaurant with them and it was just like being at Scorgies again. The Press Tones were in great form – tight, exciting and showcasing their songwriting prowess.
New Math was up next. They opened with We Walk Among You (at least that’s the way I remember it), and I was dumbstruck. The band sounded great musically, but when the vocals started I really had to look twice to see if it was Kevin Patrick singing. I mean, I knew it wasn’t, but the fellow that was up there REALLY channeled Kevin’s vocal sound, style, delivery and tenor. Scary, almost. But before New Math, The Targets, with Sue Metro, did a couple of songs. Lots of fun. I’ll confess that they were a time before I became part of the Scorgies scene, but is it ever too late to become a fan?
We (Personal Effects) hit the stage pretty close to 10. First of all, it felt just as relaxed and natural as it always did when we played. I don’t know what it is about this band, but I’ve never felt nervous playing with them – just excited and joyous. And tonight, that seemed to come through. We played one of the best sets we’ve ever played and it didn’t matter that it was 20 years later.
The one really cool thing is that, for me, it brought closure to a time that sort of never came to a proper end, but lets it remain timeless. Tonight, it was great to have the last gig we never had. Great to run into long-not-seen old friends. Great to still be able to rip it up and pull off a great set. Tonight it was clear – we are just a rock and roll band who really loves playing music together. Sure, we may play again as Personal Effects. But if we don’t, we just closed the perfect door.
Thanks to the entire community for the opportunity to do this – with special kudos to Tom Kohn, The Press Tones, New Math, the other members of Personal Effects (past and present), Duane Sherwood, Stan Merrill and everyone who came together to pull this off tonight.
PS: I just wanna give a special thanks to Ken Frank who is the bass player in Personal Effects (and Margaret Explosion). He REALLY brings great bottom to both bands and we could not have done it without Ken.
Photos by Nicholas Gerber
We made a list of our gigs as Personal Effects by referencing the dates on the stack of old posters and cassette tapes. Hard to believe we played Scorgies over seventy times and counting. I wish we’d had a blog back then to keep track of it all.
The sound system there was one of the best of any club we played and the room sounded great. We had this General Electric blaster that we used to duct tape up to the top of the wooden column in front of the bar at Scorgies and it made some damn good tapes. Arpad transferred a few of the tapes to cd.
This thing was heavy, mostly steel, and it had separate tweeters and a solid bass output. It didn’t need any “Stereo Enhancer” setting. There were two mics in the upper corners of the front face and on top there were two good sized VU meters with separate knobs for input levels. I remember dropping it out of my bike basket and it is featured in a boat up in the 1000 Islands in Duane Sherwood’s video for “Nothing Lasts Forever“. We took it everywhere and eventually ran it into the ground.
Here is a version of Taana Gardner’s “Heartbeat” recorded live at the Peppermint Lounge on our blaster.
Tags: Personal Effects.
It was mid 1981, I think. Pee Wee, an old friend and former bandmate as well as the soundman for New Math, called and asked if I’d be interested in trying out for a band. The band was called Personal Effects. I said sure, I’d love to.
I went to try out with them and thought it went pretty well. The songs were cool, with chord changes I’d never thought of before. In general, things were an exercise in ‘less is more’ – using a minimalist approach to tell the slices of life that the songs expressed. I was called back many times before the end of the year and kept hoping that I was in the running, as I very much loved the material and the people. In December, I had a party during which Paul and Peggi told me that we had a gig lined up at Scorgies on January 23rd (this would be ’82). I said, “so, does this mean I am in the band?” They had a good laugh… they’d forgotten to tell me that I’d been in the band since, pretty much, the second time I ‘tried out.’
SET LIST MANIA
Set lists are instant artifacts; hastily scribbled out on a scrap of paper before a gig (I used to use old band fliers). Typically, after the band had loaded in and finished their sound check, you had a little time left to scratch out a set list before the audience filtered in and then hand copy it out for other band members, unless you were organized enough to put together one before the gig!
If you were the second or third on a bill then you could luxuriate in the dressing room drinking beers put together a list of songs (or, if you were Debora Iyall of Romeo Void, you would get your set together while downing two dozen of Scorgies’ finest Buffalo wings). If your band was on the bottom of the bill, however, you didn’t have much time to commit your list to paper (especially if you were a “Last Minute Larry” like me).
I’ve acquired a few set lists from New Math, Personal Effects, Hi-Techs, The Press Tones, The Projectiles, The Cliches, Bowery Boys and Invisible Party. I’m certain that a few of the Scorgies alumnus among us will be printing them out and trading them with their pals. Check them out after the jump.