Press Tones

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WITR, Backseat Sally, The Press Tones, Delroy Rebob, Cappy & The Frenchmen (l-r)

WITR, Backseat Sally, The Press Tones, Delroy Rebop, Cappy & The Frenchmen (l-r)

 

The rarer shorter red cable Delroy Rebop button.

The rarer shorter red cable Delroy Rebop button.

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.

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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]
Scott Weichman aka B.B. Lummox during soundcheck at the German House.

Scott Weichman aka B.B. Lummox during soundcheck at the German House.

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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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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.

Ed Richter and Peggi Fournier

Ed Richter and Peggi Fournier

Well kids it happened. Oh My God. NEW MATH Live. PERSONAL EFFECTS Live, THE PRESS TONES Live. If you read this Blog and you missed the show you really missed a part of Rochester’s recent History. Forget Renaissance Square. Forget the new Paetec office Bldg. None of that matters! History was made last night at the German House when the greatest reunion of Rochester’s legendary Bar & Club Scorgies happened. 400 plus friends shared a beautiful experience! The Music we loved, the friends we loved we all there.
Some personal friends: The Beardsley Sisters, Bob Martin, Gary Trainer, Peggy & Paul of course. Even an old girlfriend Roxanne showed up. Dick Storms, Dwayne Sherwood, Rock & Roll Joel and a guy we called Mark Mead. The whole cast of the movie showed up. Never knew this guy (Mark Mead) but everyone always talked about him.
The Beardsley Girls

The Beardsley Sisters

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)

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SET LIST MANIA

Projectiles Set for Ray's Stag

Projectiles Set for Ray’s Stag

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.

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Never Mind The Cliches, Here’s The Bollocks

Hazy Memories From J. Laben

Cliches @ Scorgies

Cliches @ Scorgies

This might read like a bowl of Alpha-Bits as it’s really difficult, after all these years, to keep things in any kind of chronological order but here goes…Everyone deserves a “shout-out” and there are plenty in this one, plus, some observations from various “Scorgies regulars” and Cliches band mates.

I took a job with Record Theater in Gates in 1977. The guy who hired me was John Pusateri and I think he hired me because we had similar taste in music. We used to play Ramones, Pistols, Clash, etc. LPs in the store all the time, to scare the few customers that we had right out the front door. John was good friends with the guys in New Math and he convinced this sheltered suburban pseudo-punk (me) to go see this band that I had never heard of. It might have been at The Electric Circus…Big Daddy’s…The Orange Monkey… I’m not sure of the order but from the first time I went to see them, not only did I think this band was the greatest thing I had ever seen, I also liked the “scene” itself. I started going to see them every time they played a gig. These early gig locales were dumps but in actuality, PERFECT venues to see New Math in.

There may have only been 30-40 people at many of those early shows, but the people that went to see the band were also developing their own very tight community…and they were so friendly and willing to accept me into their little scene. I loved the first New Math lineup – Paul on drums, Robert on bass…Gary and Dale playing guitar and Kevin channeling Barrie Masters on vocals. This was my favorite incarnation of the band…I liked their originals and loved their cover tune choices. Over the next year or two, I started slowly convincing some of my OTHER suburban pals to come out to the shows and they also dug this scene. It seemed like something special, and it was ours- I think that’s what made it so cool to be a part of.

R.Hollands speaks: “Terry is exactly right from his description of the tape he has of New Math at the Penny Arcade. We did, every time we saw New Math and Pink Hat (Kevin Patrick) play, yell shit at the stage, constantly. I believe we derived more pleasure from yelling stuff than the actual music. But we were if nothing else, devoted. I didn’t see too many other people at these other venues voicing their drunkenness or their support for the band. Penny Arcade, Electric Circus. “You’re f—–g the dog!’ was indeed our exhortation! Funny stuff indeed.”

Meanwhile, they closed down the Gates Record Theater and offered me the chance to go work at the Midtown Plaza location. I was not yet the “downtown city animal” that I would evolve into but with some trepidation, I took the offer. I was going to college at St. John Fisher and Midtown was fairly close by so it made sense to me. It was here that I worked with Martin Edic – later of Hi-Techs and BlueHand “fame” – and we had a lot of fun at the store, too. Martin was also a part of the “new scene” that New Math was incubating so we all hung out together after work. The guys from New Math would come into the store on occasion and because I was regularly appearing at the gigs, I became pals with Kevin Patrick. It was he who convinced me that I could start a band, even though my guitar skills were limited. But I suspected that I did know how to incite bedlam, which was a requirement for fronting a band back then.

It was also around this time that I discovered Scorgies. I think we walked over from RT for lunch one day. It was close to Midtown…they had GREAT cheeseburgers and it was here that I had my first taste of chicken wings. Over time, I came to think that they were the best wings in the city. And I found out that bands could play downstairs. Now, they were not all “punk” or “new wave” bands. I recall seeing King Juke a number of times early on…Mose Allison…Lots of different stuff…But if  New Math wasn’t playing elsewhere, this became my hangout…Because of the jukebox – I had never seen a jukebox that had music like THIS on it – and because of Don Scorgie himself. I guess Danny Deutsch was the man who started putting the hip stuff on the juke box and he will be forever remembered as a visionary for that deed alone.

I think I had gotten in a fight in one of my early visits to Scorgies and instead of banning me for life, Don took a liking to me. I started spending so much time at the bar that I decided, in late 78 or early 79, that I might like to work there. I had zero bartending experience but Don hired me anyway. If your drinks at Scorgies all tasted like Gin and Tonics in the late 70’s, that’s probably because that’s the only mixed drink I knew how to make. But I could pour a $.55 Genny, Genny Light, or Genny Cream Ale just fine.

I started working 4 nights a week and it was awesome. I was making money instead of spending money and started meeting people at the bar who would become some of my best friends for life. D. Deutsch…The Shaffer brothers…Who could forget the “Fat Pack”? Many of the people that worked for Scorgie were also musicians…people like Vicki Crosta, who I’ve just recently re-connected with because of this website and reunion show. And I got to work with classic Scorgies characters like barkeeper and guitarist John Kralles…my buddy Clayton…The bouncers like Jimmy Houser who, in addition to working the door for The Cliches at Scorgies many times, saved me from a beating on more than one occasion. Too many people to mention, although they all DESERVE a mention because it wasn’t only the bands but the PEOPLE that made Scorgies into what it was. I even met my future wife after a gig at the bar. And all of my friends from Chili and from Fisher started hanging out at the bar, too, so we didn’t have to go anywhere else to get together and have fun.

Andi speaks: In fall of 1979 word got to me in the Mercy cafeteria that there was a bar I had to check out. Seems some of the Southwedge girls had heard my eulogy to Sid Vicious in the art room the previous spring and just knew I should be introduced to Scorgies. I blame them. Terri B and I made our way to Andrews St. in her Torino one Friday night, only to find a bland, Izod-covered crowd heading downstairs to see Duke Jupiter. So what’s the big deal? We might as well be at the Mason Jar. Peering into the windows of the main entrance revealed a far more interesting sight. There was Kim B, a junior at Mercy, draped over some short dude in a biker jacket who we would come to know as Jimmy Jazz. A girl who could pass for Nancy Spungeon had fallen on the floor. A guy who I later knew as Geoff Wilson sat alone and mysterious, staring back at us. Now THIS is more like it.”

Skip ahead to later in ’79 and with Kevin Patrick’s encouragement, Geoff Proud – another friend from Chili – and I started writing a few songs and attempting to put a band together. Proud had previously played in a “country rock” band in high school called “NLS”- it doesn’t matter what that stood for (No Longer Strangers) – and I was the sound man for his band, until I was fired for getting hammered one night behind the board and turning all the knobs up to “11” until we had feedback bouncing off the walls and ceiling of the bar they were jamming at. Originally, we called ourselves The Orfans and we were both going to play guitar so we needed a bass player and a drummer. We tried out at least one bass player – can’t recall who – but at the same time, I was going to college with John Perevich, who played and recorded with both “The Now” with “Larry Luxury” and “The Times” with Paul Dodd and the Fritsch brothers (See RIP page on this site). I asked and Johnny was in.

Except now we had three guitar players. That wasn’t going to work unless we wanted to be Foghat or something. So Proud kindly went and bought a bass, but now we needed a drummer. We tried out a few – Tim Roberts, who played in The Targets, was one of the candidates. We finally settled on the guy we should have asked in the first place – Tom Backus, whose drums we were using WHILE we were trying out prospective drummers, and who had played in NLS with Proud.

Cliches on stage

The Cliches on Stage

T.Backus speaks: “I didn’t really pay much attention to what was happening there, so I don’t have much in the way of crazy stories. I do remember us hanging up the sheets that we played behind until the crowd tore them down on Halloween, 1982. Johnny Thunder’s band using our gear and turning everything up to ten on all the amps, then watching him shoot up as soon as he got off the stage. A personal memory happened before Scorgies was popular, I would mix sound for the Tom Austin band and would have to literally push his P.A. From his practice space on St. Paul all the way to Scorgies for the gigs. That was when the stage was on the left as you walked in downstairs, and the pizza was some of the best around still. I remember Willie calling the fire marshal at the Ramones show because they wouldn’t let him due to too many people down there already.”

The band was complete. We came up with about 10 originals and filled in the rest with Ramones, NY Dolls, old 60’s band covers and we were ready to go. We opened for New Math in 1980 at Scorgies for our debut and they couldn’t have been nicer.

Cliches opening for New Math @ Scorgies in 1980

Cliches Debut Gig W/New Math

Within a year, we opened for anyone that came through town, and then started headlining Scorgies as Don was quick to figure out that a) We could draw people, and 2) that our fans drank. A lot. Scorgie was a happy guy when his cash register rang.

G.Proud speaks:“I remember one night at the bar Andi and Tracey (Kimono Girls) had taken some Valium or something and were being very silly and I went down to the other end of the bar to order some drinks (Don was bartending and he never moved from the front corner so you had to go to him). When I came back theywere both asleep. I wrote the song “Valium” when I got back to Culver Rd. that night. Actually, I think I had already a verse or two, but needed a chorus. I never did thank them for it.”

Cliches shows were a blast. It didn’t matter how we played, just that we played. We played with TV’s set up on stage so that people could watch “the game” while at the gig. From our audience, we had backup dancers (The Clichettes)…backup singers (The PAWS)…and would let anyone that wanted join us on stage for a song or two. John Kralles of the band Passenger (at the time), best known for bartending at Scorgies for years and for hating every band that hit the stage, including us, would join us onstage to play guitar for encores on a few occasions. Luke Warm would get up on stage and sing background vocals – OK, SCREAM background vocals. The shows were a friggin’ blast. The front of the stage, a veritable train wreck. We even played a weekend where The Hi-Techs opened for us one night, and The Chesterfield Kings opened up for us the next night. The Cliches didn’t host a party without the guys from The Press Tones in attendance. Everyone in the bands got along great. Sometimes, of course, we didn’t always get along with the people that came to the shows to HARASS the bands, but we’ll leave the “Famous Scorgies Fights” for another post.

C Laben speaks: “I guess one of my favorite Don Scorgie stories is that he saved my ass from getting kicked or killed more than once. There was the one time where Me and Angelo (or Rich) were playing doubles in shuffleboard against a couple of idiots and we won maybe $5.00 apiece – but before they paid us they tried skipping out. I saw them in a car out on Andrews St. and I ran out after them. The guy that owed me was in the passenger seat and he had the window down and he was taunting me as they were driving off. So being the smart lad that I was I dove head first into the window and started punching him as they were driving down the street. Scorgie saw this and ran out the front door and grabbed me and pulled me out of the window. He told me it wasn’t worth it – and brought me back inside and gave me a free beer.”

And the after-hour parties were even better. We ended up in the studio sometime in early 1981 – I THINK it was Jim Havalack’s Sandcastle Studio – recording an 8-track demo of “Television Addict” b/w “Disposable Music”. Kevin Patrick produced it for us and I can’t say this for sure, but I believe the only recording outside of New Math or Jet Black Berries with Kevin Patrick vocals would be THESE two recordings. Listen carefully…Kevin sings background vocals on “Disposable Music” and you can clearly hear him ask “Hey man, you got a dime for the bus?” at the beginning of the song.

[audio:http://www.greendoch.com/mp3/Disposable.mp3|title=Disposable Music|artists=The Cliches]

We snuck into the second WCMF Homegrown album in late 1981 on the basis of this demo, but then crossed everyone up when we got to the studio and decided to record “Riverview Restaurant” instead with Todd Schaffer (sp?), who worked with Backseat Sally, producing. Called “Embarrassingly stupid” by Times-Union Music Critic Dave Stearns, it was the highlight of our band’s existence. The review, I mean. I don’t care about the record itself. But we ended up winning Dave Stearns over in the end.

Dave Steans - Tip Off (Times-Union)

Dave Stearns Tip-Off (Times-Union)

We graduated from college in 1982…Hung around playing until March of 1983 when we played a “Farewell Show” at Scorgies…and that was it. We had to move on with “real life”…jobs, careers, etc. I bartended on and off with Scotty Weichman, Pat and Tim Shaffer and Vicki at Scorgies until around 1988, even winning a Democrat & Chronicle Best Bartender in Rochester” poll. Obviously the ballot box was stuffed but it wasn’t stuffed by me. Undeserved, perhaps, but I’LL TAKE IT.  It’s still on my resume.

Anyway, I did get married to Linda in July of 1983 and the wedding guest list was basically made up of 70 people from Scorgies – customers, co-workers, band-members, cleaning crew, etc. – and I think we even snuck in a few relatives. The best part of the wedding reception? We had a “cover band” hired to provide entertainment. Well, at some point they took a break and Don Scorgie, after a few drinks (Can you believe it?), grabbed the microphone and started chanting Cliches, Cliches, amongst other incoherent ramblings. You don’t say no to Scorgie when he’s into the tequila. We hadn’t played together in about 4 months but with the bands permission, we used their equipment to play 2 or 3 final songs. In tuxedos. There are a few pictures floating around. What an affair!

If you’ve met him, you HAVE to love Don Scorgie. Some of the best times of my life. The early Scorgies days.

The End.

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That’s what Johnny Thunders said when he read the front cover of the kick drum the night we opened up for him. I can’t remember if it was before or after he blew up Peter’s amp, but he said it. I might have had a tape as proof, maybe I gave it to Peter, but I don’t know where it is.

As a preliminary post though, I thought I’d mention the speed of the band, one thing we were accused of a lot. There were some songs that went by real quick, and I figured I’d use what is on this site, and some stuff from board tapes I salvaged. If you check the video section, you’ll see New Math doing “They Walk Among You.” Not their fastest number, but it’s up there, and it clocks in at around 120 beats per minute (bpm). And if you check the first video by Personal Effects, “Darlin,” a more uptempo number, it whizzes by at around 155 bpm. If you check the song below called “Who Needs You” from a recording in the early 80’s, you’ll notice a much more brisk tempo, one that tops out just shy of 260 bpm. Not all songs were that fast, of course, and nothing will blaze by that quickly on November 21 at the German House, because we’re all older and bloated. And not to sound too much like Grandpa Simpson on the front porch yelling at neighborhood kids, but back in the day we were loud and fast, like rock and roll is supposed to be. More stories to come, of course, but I figured I’d get at least one post up before I’m pushing up daisies.

“Who Needs You” by The Press Tones 

[audio:http://www.frontiernet.net/~bribas/whoneedsyou.mp3]

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Pete Presstone at Abilene in 2008

Pete Presstone at Abilene in 2008 - photo by Stan the Man

One of my favorite bands from the Scorgies days was The Press Tones. Judging by the pile of old posters we rounded up, they were the first band we (Hi-Techs) asked to play with us at Scorgies. Our first show together would have been Friday June 10, 1980.

We missed their reunion at Abilene but we’re planning on catching them at the next reunion at the German House in November. It did seem sort of odd, a reunion before the reunion, but Tom Kohn said it only wet the whistle or primed the pump or one of those things. My extended family was calling a yearly picnic that we used to do, a “reunion”. And Peggi said, “You can’t call it a reunion if you do it every year”. I suspect the Press Tones never really broke up and that is their excuse. Everyone we know that saw them at Abilene said they sounded great. Bob Martin told us they were “really great”, in a way that implied that we better get our act together before we (Personal Effects) play with them. Here we’ve been spending all these years trying to get loose and now I feel some sort of pressure to get tight or least have a rehearsal.

This Friday we (Margaret Explosion) are playing at Village Gate and Ken Frank is on vacation so Bernie Heveron will be sitting in on bass. This could technically be a Personal Effects reunion because it would be an intact lineup. We might do a PE song. We’ll have to see what happens.

We got the Press Tones 45 out this morning and took it for a spin. I had forgotten that Dwight Glodell produced this thing and that it was on Dick Storm’s Archive Records. “Treat it like a Scar” sounded really good. They had a sort of dark pop guitar rock sound and this single captures it perfectly. Pete Presstone writes some great songs and Scott Presstone has a really good voice. Didn’t Scott used to play drums in the Bowery Boys or am I all mixed up?

Jim Frieze, lead singer with the Press Tones

Jim Frieze, lead singer with the Press Tones

Jim Frieze brought this photo of himself to me when I lived over by East High. He wanted me to do a poster for a gig the Press Tones were doing with the Chesterfield Kings at Scorgies. Jim was the lead vocalist for the Press Tones for a while but I can’t remember if that was before or after Scott. Maybe Scott went to Florida for a while. And it seems like Pete sang when neither one of them was in the band. Didn’t Mick Sarubbi play bass with them too in the early days? Maybe Tony Brown was still going to East High. Somebody has to help me out on the details. Anyway I hear the classic lineup is back and they sound better than ever. I’m looking forward to their Scorgies Reunion performance.

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