July 18, 2015

The Donshires (Harrisburg 1964-67)

Dave and I wrote Sad and Blue the night before we recorded it in a "real" studio (some guy's trailer studio between Mechanicsburg and Carlisle). We also recorded an instrumental, Tripline, I faked on the spot. -Jerry Musser

The Donshires played from mid 1964 until 1967, in the Harrisburg area. The band formed when Joe Caloiero and Paul Stivale, both graduates of Bishop McDevitt H.S. hooked up with Dave Still and Jerry Musser, John Harris grads. The friends practiced at Dave's house and soon were playing in the local area dances and fire halls. Initially, the band's music was primarily influenced by the "British Invasion" and American rock artists. 

A local DJ at the time, Ben Barber, had seen the band at some gigs and soon became the band's manager. The Donshires quickly became a popular band playing in the Harrisburg area. During this time, the Donshires recorded two songs at a local radio station. 
By early '66, Jerry Musser left the band and Chuck Oaks came on board. The band's music started leaning to more of a soul style and the band began playing in local night clubs like 615 (in York), The Coral Club (in Hbg) and Martini’s (in Hershey).

By Sept ’67 Dave Still started college. The logistics of trying to practice and play together became very difficult, so, shortly thereafter, the band decided to disband.
Later, Joe Caloiero joined the Legends.

-Jerry Musser & Joe Caloiero
John Harris High School Class of 1966

Lots more about The Donshires on Bands of Central PA  

These songs are included on The Legends compilation CD from Arf-Arf Records.

July 11, 2015

L.Sid... ...The Studio Tapes... ................(San Francisco 1991?-1996)

I got a message from Kim Cook saying she had a box of L.Sid tapes, including three funny little ones that she was hoping I could digitize. Kim is the sister of singer, guitarist Markus Cook who passed away from a heroin overdose in 1996, leaving a huge void among friends, family, and the San Francisco music and bike messenger activist communities. I wrote more about Markus and L.Sid... from Mercury to Jupitah in a previous post.

Those little things (they look like tiny VHS tapes) turned out to be DATs, Digital Audio Tapes, a short lived audio format that gained some traction among recording engineers in the 1990s for mixing down analog studio sessions. Unfortunately, they suffer from the same sticky shed syndrome that renders other magnetic tape formats unplayable after a few decades in damp or humid conditions.

The cassettes and DATs were a little sticky and struggled to play in the machines, but I barely managed to get an almost complete digital transfer when the third DAT finally snapped halfway through the last song. What I heard... I think... was L.Sid's almost complete studio recordings! So here, as best as I can guess, are the recordings in what may or may not be chronological order. If you know, please send me the recording dates, track titles, personnel, photos, and any other trivia about these recordings and the various formations of L.Sid.

Thanks to Natasha for the photo!
Earliest Recordings (cassette copy, recording date unknown)
Track 1
Krazy Beat
Track 3

Sonny's Rhumba (DAT master, recording date unknown)
Don't Forget Annette
Sonny's Rumble
Liz Taylor
Medium Rare Frankenstein
72 Hours

The Decolator Sessions (cassette copy, January 1993)
Basin' With Dave
New Transmission
A Fistful of Kryptonite
Vigilante 435
Track 5
Krazy Beat
Track 7
Sonny's Rumble
Suitcase Fulla Smoke
Medium Rare Frankenstein
Track 11
Track 12 

Natasha, Broiler, Markus, Luigi, Jennie, Jack, Chad
The Final Mix (DAT master, February 1993) Released on cassette as BIKE in 1993.
Side 1
Vigilante 435
Medium Rare Frankenstein
ETA (from the cassette copy because the DAT broke)
Side 2
New Transmission
A Fistful of Kryptonite
72 Hours

Music Annex (DAT master, recording date unknown) Released on cassette as Out of Town in 1993.
Jack - sax, keys; Jennie - viola, vocal; Markus - guitar, vocal; Luigi - drums; Natasha - tuba; Broiler - bass; Chad - sax
Shadow of Jazz
See Ya
Suitcase Fulla Smoke
Only Because

Pothole (CD compilation 1996)

In memory of Markus Cook and Luigi Decolator

Thanks to Kim Cook for sending me these tapes; truly a treasure from the analog abyss, and a piece of a lost friendship....

Thanks to L.Sid founder and sax player Jack Chandler for permission to share these recordings, and to Rustle Noonetwisting for digging his DAT machine out of the garage for me.

Stay tuned for more from Kim's box of tapes cassettes: Markus and Jack's 1983 Phoenix AZ band Open Market, The Proj, and L.Sid Live on KUSF (in the nude)....

March 21, 2015

The Left.... (Hagerstown, MD 1983-84)

You're So

There were a few smallish towns just south of the Mason-Dixon Line like Frederick and Hagerstown that spawned music that traveled up the DC/Harrisburg punk rock axis. This local scene passed just west of my hometown Lancaster and competed for hegemony over the central PA sticks with the NY and Philly scenes. York, PA's Bona Fide Records provided the medium, but The Left remained pretty rural, and as far as I know, never really penetrated the urban hardcore scenes.
Innervoid: What gigs do you have planned?
Jim Swope: ...A possibility of another "farm" gig is always there. This has been our biggest setback trying to get gigs. If anyone feels sorry for us, you can hire us for a small, exceedingly small, unbelievably small, small fee. In fact, we might consider paying you to let us play.... bales of hay, sacks of beans, or empty beer bottles!
In mid-sized Lancaster, I was a few years behind the times, just discovering '77 era punk rock and the Stooges in the early 80s, but I grew up watching Monkees reruns, so The Left were a solid outfit with Jim Swope playing some of the best 60's psych punk guitar ever.

I still love 'em, I do... and these are some of my favorites:

HELL - It's the World
Youngster on the Force
Fuck It
5:00 AM

Last Train to Hagerstown

Band members went on to form The Dusters, Monster Rock, and the Voodoo Love Gods and had tracks on Bona Fide's The Deadly Spawn compilation.

Buy THIS from Bona Fide Records: Jesus Loves The Left. It includes their complete discography plus 4 unreleased tracks.

The Left on Facebook

Their first album cranked loudly in the pickup is the exact duration of a run to my local neighborhood 7-11. Hit it!

Artwork by Fat Pat and John Hornick
"Your So" is from Bona Fide's Train to Disaster compilation.

I'm on a hunt for the proto-Left demo tape by the Embryonic Magnetos.

March 8, 2015

High School USA 1959............... ......to School Reform 2015

I heard High School USA last week in the car on RDV, the great doo-wop station Radio Delaware Valley. It could use a little updating. Tommy Facenda made around 30 versions of his one-hit for different cities and AM radio markets. This take covered Philly area public and parochial schools.

These days school closings, privatization, and union busting by corporate funded proponents of "school reform" are attempting to destroy public education in the USA, starting with distressed communities of color in cities like Philadelphia.

Sing along!

Olney - Divided & charterized, Teachers fighting to re-unionize 
Southern - Budget and staff cut/ absorbed students from closed schools
Kensington - Divided into 4 smaller schools, staff and budgets cut
Northeast - Staff and budgets cut - College admissions decline
Penn - Closed in 2013
Edison - Staff and Budgets cut - Students walk out
Bishop Neuman - Merged with St. Maria in 2004
St Thomas Moore - Closed in 1975
Franklin - Staff and Budgets cut - Students march on City Hall
Bok - Closed in 2013
Roman Catholic
St. Huberts

Bartram - Staff and budget cut - Plagued by violence
Lincoln -Staff and budget cut
Cardinal Dougherty - Closed in 2010
West Philadelphia - Staff and Budgets cut - Students walk out
Germantown - Closed in 2013 - Building sits vacant
Frankford - Staff and budget cut
Gratz - Charterized
Dobbins - Staff and budget cut

Overbrook - Biology classes eliminated
St Bonaventure
York - Under threat of charterization
St Maria - Merged with Neuman in 2004
Thomas More - Closed in 1975
Father Judge
Central - All NTAs laid off. Counselors reduced from 8 to 3

Photographs by Jill Saul, Pilar Berguido, Kate Devlin, and Tieshka Smith
©jillsaullphotography all rights reserved
More can be found on the Philadelphia School Closing Collective.

February 21, 2015

...The OOgies............................... ...................(Lancaster 1991-92)

The Oogies are about the fourth generation in the gloriously convoluted inbred Gamber/Rex dynasty of Lancaster garage punk/metal bands: the Bodies to Last Knight to the Real Gone to Jack Lord's Hair I to II to III to the Oogies to Jack Lord's Hair IV and finally back to the Bodies....

Brainhammer (1991 cassette)
The One Before
OOgie Theme
Excess Is Not Abuse

Feedback Is an Act of God (1992 CD)

Love It To Death was a cleverly split single with Deadlove on the short-lived Web Of Sound Records, run out of the Lancaster record store of the same name.

Mark Gamber - Vocals
Rex Litwin - Guitar
Erik Sahd - Drums
Drew - Bass
Tim McDermott - Bass

photo by Laura Cotton

February 3, 2015

Fucked Up Bouncing Devil Bagels..... .....Tape Oddities.... (Lancaster mid-80s)

You never know what you'll find when you play out the leftover tape on the end of a cassette side. Sometimes it's the most interesting and weird stuff, like the dusty records stuffed under the bins at Stan's Record Bar: cutouts, promos, and wonderful crud that most normal people wouldn't buy. Here are a few cassette artifacts from Lancaster that haven't seen the light of day for nearly thirty years.

1. John Bear (Johnny Scrotum) of The Bodies and Last Knight solo ode to ..uh... Bagels.

2. Nobody's Fools tongue-in-cheek hessian riffs (complete with cowbell) eventually became part of the Jet Silver & the Dolls of Venus set.
Pick Up Some Chicks
Rock Today
I Love the Devil
...and their shot at hardcore:
Leave Me Alone

3. The Jet Silver & the Dolls of Venus b-side filler from guitarist Rex Litwin included some more hessian exploitation with authentic Last Knight tracks and "Dean Fox's Hair" Too Fucked Up To Drive, which later became a legit Jack Lord's Hair song.

4. Rex, Russ, and Nate's I Wish I Could Bounce from the same cassette seems to be an early foray into the strange tape-echoey world of Charms Du Crane.

January 30, 2015

We could be having a lot more fun... ...........hanging out in a wax museum.... Penal Code (Lancaster 1986)

In August of 1986, the remains of The Bodies and The Real Gone briefly stitched together a band in my parents' basement and called it "Penal Code" in honor of the local top 40 cover band known as "Color Code." We managed to slop through one or two practices and catch it on this old eaten cassette. The elements of Jack Lord's Hair were all there, and we even wrote a couple originals, including the brilliant Wax Museum.
I got my knife
I got my axe
I got my rack of baseball bats
We could be having a lot more fun hanging around in a wax museum
Whack off the head
Go rolling in the aisle
Come on baby won't you make me smile
oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah

I got my knife
I got my axe
And all the kids got baseball bats
We're gonna have have a lotta fun hanging out at the wax museum
Whack off the head
Go rolling in the aisle
Come on baby won't you make me smile
oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah
99th Floor
I Wanna Be Your Dog

Mark - vocals (The Bodies)
Tommy - drums (The Bodies)
Rex - guitar (Last Knight and The Real Gone )
Tom - bass (The Real Gone)

December 21, 2014

James "Rebel" O'Leary............... ......The Man... The Legend (c1930-1994)

 We wish to take this time to welcome you to our world, 
Come travel with us, share our thoughts, 
memories, our past, our future, our DREAMS, 
until we meet again....

I met the Rebel at his annual 39th birthday celebration in 1986. He had stopped at aged "39" some years back; no one really knows how many. This was an event not to be missed, not just for the Reb... and his family backing band... and his 30 pounds of jewelry... and his wig, but also to see their regular opening act, the Yahoos, play Sister Ray and destroy their instruments on stage to the uneasy amusement of the Rebel, family, and friends. It was such an odd match-up, but one that everyone seemed to enjoy. Then again, The Rebel was just a little out of place just about anywhere he went.
Gus Aguirre: They would walk around the York Mall Friday night... .. a lot of kids would make fun of them.. but looking back.. this guy had a great attitude and always had a smile... he did what he wanted to do...and didn't give a hoot about what anyone thought!! Pretty punk rock if you ask me!! Rock on Rebel!!!  
The only studio recording that I know of was the Southbound 81 single sold at the annual Fan Fair in Nashville, right down that lonesome highway, along with this VHS tape of a special aired on Cable TV of York:

The Man - The Legend (1986)

The following interviews feature the Rebel excerpted from the 1986 video interspersed with 2014 recollections from Bob Campbell of the Rebel's opening band, the Yahoos.
Rebel: Well I originally got in music when I was about approximately between 5 or 6 years old. My brother and I, we was on a ranch; I was born in El Paso, Texas, and there we have two things: They give ya a guitar and they give ya a gun; learn ya how to shoot it....

Bob Campbell: I had been following Rebel and the family band for quite a while before they started having the regular birthday parties.  I was always into different music from my friends and could appreciate the Rebel as sort of a local version of the Shaggs. See, while others talk about how bad they were, I didn't really see it that way. One thing I got to understand about them is that they were very consistent in their quirkiness. One listen to a song like 'Ring of Fire' and you think about how they got it wrong with misplaced riffs and odd fills, but after I saw them several different times I realized that this was their "style." They played those same riffs and fills each and every time. Rosettia's steel guitar riffs were consistent in their wide, sweeping spaceship like tones for example. 

Rebel: I'm called a rebel because I broke from a part there of music. These days when I go back, and I'm speaking twenty years back, I ___ different upbeat country. Them days it was more or less a personality in music more-in-less the music itself. Now you call it "easy listening" and so forth. Them days it was "upbeat" country, which they almost considered you "rock." It isn't rock, but they considered you on a ___. And I enjoyed myself very much in my new style, and I was called "Rebel" because I broke from part of standard positions in music.

Bob: Because the Rebel and the Rebelettes were consistent, us regulars could really get into it. For example, during the chorus of "Your Cheating Heart" the great Hank Williams song, the band would launch into almost a march feel. Our group of fans would pound the table, buddababumb, buddababump', building up with volume and intensity until the climax where the last line of the chorus was sang and they went back into a more traditional country feel.   
Rebel: I do like original country music, and I write quite a bit myself, but I think everything should be alive and have feeling in it.... I have to get in the mood, in other words, it's like you do anything else. I gotta feel the music in my body and soul. When the[re are] musicians around me, you can feel em. It's like walkin in church; you know it's there or it isn't. So that's the way I feel about a musician; either he has it or he doesn't have it. It takes a special kind of breed of people to be a musician.
Bob:  I got invited to the birthday parties and eventually asked to put something together and play a set. So, in 1984 the Yahoos made their first appearance. We were a loose collection of musicians who patched together songs like White Light/White Heat, Folsom Prison Blues and the Mr. Ed theme song. We all dressed up a little weird (or a lot weird for some of us) but played a fairly normal set of tunes. And our instruments were pretty standard except for the electric banjo made out of a piece of plywood and played through an envelope filter. So, the Rebel crew invited us back.
Rebel: It gives you a great feelin inside, and it still does when I go out into the full house.... If you can give yourself to people; if they can enjoy you; you got it made. ...I sing from within. I don't sing for money. You have to have money. It's a real rugged life; it ain't easy.
Bob: The following year, 1985, the birthday show moved to the local firehall, possibly in part because our tuxedo wearing guitarist accidentally smashed a light at the last place. Fueled on by our success the year before, several of us formed the Lost Yahoos and dressed a little crazier, played a little more weird stuff and used a drum machine. During this show, the three core members proceeded to destroy our instruments by hatchet and drill during Folsom Prison Blues.  First we donned masks of some sort, launched into the intro riff and immediately began the mutilation process. I had a power drill behind my amp for this part. Part way into this I had arranged for 2 friends who had played with us in the Yahoos, come up on stage and tie me up. This was our big finale.

Rebel: There used to be in the older days where I can remember when I first started you'd grab a guitar and strapped it on your back, and a few guys'd jump in the car and you went to the Wheeling Jamboree, even Nashville. You also went into a club or something, and you had a few drinks now and then... maybe it got a little rough in the olden days, little more than it is now. ...You was wilder maybe.
I've been in a few fights in my life, sometimes in self-defense. Never went out of my way to pick one. I guess I've had to 'fend myself in my life; even playin musicians sometimes your own musicians 'll get a little 'tight or somethin, or a little jealous....  
Bob: We played two more years for the Rebel and then the shows stopped. You could always count on a big set from the Rebel featuring the other band members singing a few tunes. Certain songs I always looked forward to especially the Rebel Boogie, which had every Rebelism in it, the chromatic downward riff, the Keith Moon like drum fills, the higher warbly riffs and of course the sweeping pedal steel guitar, drenched in reverb and sounding like a rocket taking off! Hamilton had that driving beat and odd sense of fills that made the song so much more exciting.
Well whenever I come in town
All them girls stop and look around
Some'll shiver, some they'll shake
Say "Good Lord! The Rebel ___

Hubba hubba hubba
Rebel: I think if I had to say anything [that] caused most of my scenes -- I'm not an addict, or I'm not a man to go out an, what you say, get drunk or something like this. I take a drink; there's nothing wrong with that, and I don't buy anything else -- I guess my weakness would be women I imagine. But I also have an answer to this: I say, if God made anything better'n ladies he kept it to his self. So that's the way I part on this question.

Bob: The Rebel was always showing pictures of him with famous celebrities.  Anywhere from genuine, to cardboard cutouts (Dolly Parton, Elvis) and a couple where he saddled up to a performer and got a shot of him with them as they were rushing out the back door photo bomb style. Ray Eicher, the teacher here [at Campbell's Music] who worked with the Rebelettes (guitar lessons), asked for a picture of Rebel with Isaac Hayes. Now Ray did this tongue in cheek and never expected Rebel to be able to pull it off, but damned if he didn't. It was genuine too. Rebel must have caught up with him in a back lot and got the picture!!

Rebel: ...They say, "Hey Reb, Do me another number, will ya?"  That's what you live for.
Oh tonight the Rebel Star is shinin. 
Oh the snow and rain is coming down.
I can smell those hamburgers fryin
And them dishes rattlin all around

They call me country
But Rebel is my name!

I jumped out of teen years a couple years ago. When I say you come nineteen,  then you become twenty-teen ____ they all say. But after that you become umpteen. See I'm getting around that line where you're umpteen like Jack Benny see. I'm gonna drop at thirty-nine and I'm gonna stay there, see! If anything I'm going backwards; I ain't going forwards, ya know. But I consider myself a teenager, like umpteen.... If you feel old, you can be nineteen year old and be old. Me I'm alive; I only live once. And I am gonna try and enjoy it. And I think I'm going to make my mark. People know I was here anyway.
The Rebel passed away in 1994 (at aged 39 of course).

Thanks to the Yahoos' Bob Campbell who also recorded under the names Ben Wah, Donovan's Brain, and Scattered Limbs for Bona Fide Records. He is currently the second generation owner of Campbell's Music Service in York, PA and their online store CMusicShop.com.

Thanks also to Tory O'Leary for inspiring my earlier post on the Rebel: "Leave My Grandpa Alone!"

Thanks to Yahoos sit-in drummer Rustle Noonetwisting for providing the Rebel video and postcards, and for inviting me to the Rebel's birthday party.

Stay tuned for more of the Rebel. I'm hoping to hear more from the O'Leary family!

November 22, 2014

Jack Lord's Hair ...... Season 2: ...... The Difference Between Trash and Garbage ..........................(Lancaster 1988)

The second season of Jack Lord's Hair starts to show a little maturity, not quite as silly as Season 1: War of the Monster Trucks, but with tongue still in somebody's cheeks. I'm off being a college kid, and Russ Cox takes over on bass, followed by Rick Bard on second guitar. JLH gets darker, grungier, and Rex gets more Johnny Thundersy seeing as he's moonlighting with Jet Silver & the Dolls of Venus. 

Just Add Water

The Difference Between Trash and Garbage

Rustle Noonetwisting: [The show in Philly] was actually the finest JLH performance I've seen, broken bass drum pedal notwithstanding. That lineup with The Gurn Twins Rex Thunders and Rick just being Rick circa 1988 (much to the bewilderment of the jaded Phila punk crowd) juxtaposed against the tall skinny short-haired wiseacres M. Gamber was a sight to behold.
Mark Gamber: That bewilderment made it all worthwhile. F 'em if they can't take a joke and on at least a couple of levels the Hair was a damn funny joke. Half punk rock show, half stand-up comedy act, 100% entertaining. Even from the stage! Maybe especially from the stage. Never did see that girl again. She was the kind-of-cute friend of a way-freaking-cute but not punk rock girl I worked with at Mars Electronics in Folcroft back around the time of the Challenger explosion. I don't remember the incident as much as almost getting fired for telling the "7-up" joke a couple days after it exploded. Oops....

Stay tuned for Seasons 3 & 4 of Jack Lord's Hair, when things really get weird....


..Jack Lord's Hair prequels, sequels & spinoffs:.. The Bodies, Last KnightThe Sinister Lampshades, The Combat Hamsters, Substitute, The Obvious, The Real Gone, Fred, Penal Code, Bachelors With Guns, The Oogies, Charms du Crane, Jet Silver & the Dolls of Venus, Rocknoceros, Blue, The New Regency 5, Mud Pie Sun, The Chelsea Squares, Trio Agave, Gone to Seed.