Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thinking of Cleveland Jazz Luzius (and a Few Nice Things)

I don't really have an a image that conveys how I feel right now, but the cover of "Thinking of Little Willie John and a few Nice Things" will have to suffice. Little Willie John was an R&B sensation in the late 40's and early fifties; he signed to King records and had a string of hits for the label, most notably "Fever." The Tempo Project (which Gordy was a founding member of) will be focused in the coming months on recording songs Gordy brought to the band, and we'll try to incorporate music he wrote for other projects (like the Coffee Achievers).

Read more about Little Willie John here:

In other news:

Kevin Casey, a drummer who played with Gordy in Art Monk's Farm, is hosting the GordyStock Jam this Saturday (9/20) in Brockport. More than a few Badenovs and other friends of Gordon will be there.

Contact me via the Badenovs MySpace page for further information.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

In Memory of Gordon Luzius

Gordy and Marty rehearsing for "Night of the Flaming Badenovs"

Adam (rear), Linda Pitmon & Gordy

When I learned of Gordon's passing from Adam, it hit me hard. While not an alumnus of Scorgies per se, Gordon Luzius was a member of the Coffee Achievers, the Ken Hardly Playboys and a host of other bands over the years, most recently the Badenovs. Over the past few months I've been had the pleasure of writing songs with Gordon, Adam, Brandon and Marty in a collaborative effort we've been calling the "Tempo Project" for lack of a better name.

Gordon was a vital member of Badenovs, a kindred spirit and a good friend. I'll miss our lively discussions and his unique contributions to our music. Gordy loved swapping stories between making loud noises on whatever instrument he chose to play. If it made a sound, Gordon could make music out of it. Period. End of discussion. He was as gifted on the guitar as he was on saxophone, clarinet and penny whistle.

While some cynics feel Forty-Somethings and Fifty-Somethings should not be making Rock and Roll Music (Rosa Maria Ingrassia recommends staying at home and reading a good book as an alternative), I've always felt that too many people have pent-up ya-ya's that need to be released. Gordon got the Ya-Yas out.

Chas Lockwood reminded me today that one of our songs had its origin in Brockport. The song was originally written for Family Love Probe; the Badenovs revived it, added it to our first CD "Step On It Big Boy" and it has been a staple of our live set ever since. It's one that Gordy played with us many times over the past few years.

The lyrics have a new meaning now, and I'll always think of Gordy every time I hear the song:

"We once talked about different sorts of things;
We once talked about the troubles that life brings
now I know about about the time it takes to tell
Now I know the difference all to well

Well you told me a story
And I, I believed every word
...and I said oh no"

Note: special thanks to blog contributor Russ Lunn for the Video below, shot at the
"Night of Flaming Badenovs" show at the German House:

At the request of family members, I have removed the comment I cross posted from Adam's blog. Please accept my apologies.

Coming in from Linkedin

I've really enjoyed using the power of to network with Scorgies alumni; I've used it to pin down some elusive folks. What I can't remember, Linkedin usually fills in. If you haven't already done so, sign up. Look for "Stan Merrell" in or around zip code 14618 and join my network. Once you've joined, send me a note and I'll pre-approve your membership in the Scorgies Reunion 2008 group.

One new feature for's groups is group discussion. I posed the question "What is your favorite Scorgies memory?" and so I am cross-posting the replies here:

"Having a happy puff in the DJ booth with Luke Warm! Also the Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers show!" Brian Goodman (Cousin Al and the Relatives, Projectiles)

"I have hundreds of great Scorgies memories, but once I was downstairs standing on the dance floor with a bunch of friends, and this unknown girl walked up to us and fell flat on her face right in the middle of our group. She slowly crawled to her knees, finally got up and said, "Anyone got any acid?" My friend Bill Heywood patted his pant's pockets and said "Fresh out." Lee Chabowski (Resistors)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My first visit to Scorgies

In the early 80's I was attending RIT and DJ'ing at WITR. I was at a particularly fun party in the late Fall of 1983 (I think) when some people decided to go to Scorgies. We were all poor at the time and decided to save money on drinks by passing a bottle around before going. The bottle was apple schnapps. The bottle was empty before we left and I have a vivid memory of descending the Scorgies stairs to see Our Daughter's Wedding starting their set. By this time I was hammered and amazed to see the lead singer wearing 21 different belts. As ODW played, I got drunker and drunker as the schnapps kicked in. I was enthralled to finally graduate to the smokey downtown music scene and took in the big hair and black leather so fashionable at the time. Despite the severe after affects from the cheap liquor my first Scorgies visit made a lasting impression and I went back for many more shows until the sad morphing into Yuck Yucks.

- Andrew

SCRAM interviews Absolute Grey (link to full article below)

There's a wealth of material out there on Scorgies era bands; from time to time I will source them and post excerpts to the whole article. Here's an interview from SCRAM magazine in 2007. I'm quoting fairly extensively here from the section on the band's Scorgies/Rochester period; click on SCAM link to view the whole article:

"Scram: Let's get the basics out of the way first. How did the four of you get together?

Beth Brown: We were from Pittsford, one of the nicer, more sheltered suburbs of Rochester. I had been in a new wave band right out of high school in 1979 called Hit & Run. We did originals and some covers: Blondie, Patti Smith, the Cars, Tom Petty and Talking Heads. We did some recording, and one of our songs was chosen to be on a Homegrown record. Homegrown was a radio show on rock station WCMF in Rochester, which interviewed and promoted local bands. We played a record release party and were introduced to all the "cool" musicians from the city. Nobody knew who we were, but when we played all eyes were on us and we got a really good reception. Hit & Run only lasted a year. Some of the guys went off to college.

A few years later, I was living at my parents' house when I met Matt and Mitch. I came home one night from working at the record store, and my younger brother was playing Dungeons and Dragons with a bunch of guys. Matt and Mitch were among them and I thought they were really cool right off the bat. They were in a band called the Cads (what a great name) with Matt's older brother, Will. They were doing their own material and although they weren't that great, there was something so artistic and intriguing about them. They knew I had been a singer in a band, and we decided to start playing together. They were seven years younger than me, but I didn't care in the least. We tried out a few drummers and that's when we found Pat.

Pat Thomas: Matt, Mitch and Beth had already been doing a bit of rehearsing when I met them. They had one original song. I saw an ad that Beth had put up in the record store where she worked. At the very least I thought I'd check out what Beth was all about, as I'd noticed her strutting through the record store.

Mitch Rasor: We made these stupid arty posters and put them around the city. They showed a frog playing lily pads and we said we were looking for a lily pad player. Some of the lily pad players we auditioned before Pat were truly bad. Pat came in with these tight mod striped London pants and a very 1970s porn star mustache. It was love at first sight.

Pat: My memory of that first rehearsal was that Beth was high-strung and intense, Matt was kinda shy yet friendly at the same time and Mitch had a certain charming confidence. For whatever reason I was into making music with these three people, even though they had no real songs yet.

Scram: I didn't know until reading the Greenhouse liner notes that Matt and Mitch were so young. What was it like being in a professional band at that age? What did your parents/classmates think of the project?

Mitch: My parents were completely supportive. We practiced in their basement; they came to many shows. My mother and I had a ritual of going out to lunch downtown and buying a new set of Rotosound bass strings the day before every gig. The band was the antithesis of the conformity, geographic isolation and intellectual frostbite of high school. Because of the band, most my friends were older, more educated and better medicated. People in school were not aware of the band; it was a different world based in the city compared to the suburbs. Ironically, after the freedom of the band, the travel, attention and camaraderie, I found my first year at Oberlin to be restrictive and confining, even though it was a place of incredible musical experimentation, politics and intense friendships.

Scram: Pat,where are you from originally, and when did you hit town? What was your musical background prior to the move? Did you have designs on forming a band in Rochester?

Pat: Like Beth, I was a few years older than Matt and Mitch. I grew up in Corning, NY, and moved to Rochester in June 1982 to work at Kodak. Before Absolute Grey, I was in many garage and cover bands. I'd also written and recorded some of my own songs, which had a strong Lou Reed/Bob Dylan vibe. When I first moved to Rochester, I was actually searching for a prog-rock band to join. I wanted something more along the lines of early King Crimson and Brian Eno. My taste has always been all over the map, but just before I hooked up with Absolute Grey, I'd gotten a bit tired of prog and really started getting into the Dream Syndicate as they reminded me of my big faves, the Velvet Underground.

Scram: Please describe the Rochester music scene of the time. It sounds like a friendly, close-knit scene. Did touring bands make it through town often? Did you have a supportive radio station or club scene? A good record store?

Mitch: I look back on the scene with some nostalgia because in hindsight, Absolute Grey was very hip in one area code. The scene was a close group of bands, friends and weirdoes brought together by the music. Rochester did not have real artistic depth, but it was an important stop on the national tour circuit between Cleveland/Chicago and New York.

Pat: There was a great record store, the Record Archive, where Beth worked. They stocked a lot of indie-rock, etc. (Now the store is kinda lame.) There were two great college radio stations, WITR and WRUR. A club called Scorgies, where we often played, had tons of great touring bands--Dream Syndicate, Long Ryders, Rain Parade, dBs, the Neats, Love Tractor, Let's Active, Lyres, the Three O'clock, Game Theory, Alex Chilton, True West. We often opened up for these bands and/or hung out with them. Most of the local bands were cool to hang with; we had a special relationship with Invisible Party. They made one hard-to-find seven-inch single, but later split into two separate bands called Lotus STP and the Ferrets."

The rest of the article can be read here:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Alex Chilton, Pet Casket & Chaz

When Alex Chilton got booked at Scorgies, we all wanted to open for him. I coordinated a "Super" band comprised of members of Personal Effects, Absolute Grey and Invisible Party. Needless to say, the show was great but attendance was meager. Alex was bemused by our efforts but was sufficiently impressed enough to invite Chas up on stage to play "Kizza Me" with the band.

After the show we reconvened at Gitsi's and treated Alex to a Steak Dinner. Alex was impressed with our hospitality... but I think he was mostly enamored by our beautiful guest, Ashley Black (who he compared to Jean Shrimpton). has a snippet of the show; click on the link below to listen: