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
Heads
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
Trash
Bad
I Wanna Be Your Dog
Vicious

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, 
OUR BRAND of COUNTRY.... 
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.


    
 

October 26, 2014

So the Prophets Say................ ........The Centurys - Lebanon PA 1965-67


One of central PA's bands made it into the canon of 60s punk classics with their regional hit Hard Times, but the Centurys were truly unusual at the time for their pro-war stance.

So the Prophets Say
(Billy Beard)
I bet they'll tell you that they're wise
And that they'll analyze
Your situation

They can tell you what's gonna come
And how certain things will be done
They're your
Salvation

Will the world end today
Like it did yesterday
Or will we have to wait
Till tomorrow

I will tell you when it comes
You will hear those (?) drums (?)
(?)
(?) your sorrow

These (?)
These prophets of peace 
And prophets of war
(?)

They may tell you to make a big sound
About gettin out of Viet Nam
You know you gotta right
To your convictions

But will they warn you of a coming day
When your placards might be thrown away
And they'll say
Now you've got a few
Restrictions

You may not like it if they hand you a gun
Before you turn twenty-one
And say
Now you've got to 
Be a man

But your freedoms bells stop ringing (?)
And red state song your singing
I bet you wish 
You had a gun 
In your hand

These men so good
And men so bad

These prophets so sane
And prophets so mad

(?)

Why don't you let it be known
You got a mind of your own
And you can tell right from wrong
From day to day

(?)
Cause they know you care
And so you beware
Of what the prophets say

(harmonica)


Billy Beard had been enlisted in the Navy since 1960 and other band members got draft notices in 1967.


.....


Renco 115 – 83 / So the Prophets Say
Renco 116 – Don’t Bother / Together To Stay
Swan 4265 – Hard Times / Endless Search
BB 4002 – And I Cried / Catch Me Fast



The Centurys on Garage Hangover
The Centurys on Bona Fide Records' Return of the Young Pennsylvanians
The Centurys on Nuclear Platters 
Obituary for William Beard

September 13, 2014

Circle of Shit Show.......... .........Punk Rock Invades Lancaster

MAY 22, 1984

     Editor, New Era: Lancaster is about to be invaded! The enclosed poster was found taped to one of the trash containers in Downtown Lancaster announcing a punk rock "invasion" which will convene, of all places, in the YWCA, the Young Women's Christian Association. As a Christian, it seems to me highly incongruous for such a group to be allowed to offer their obscene and filthy entertainment in a place which historically has been known as "Christian."
     ... The four-letter work on the poster should be enough of a clue to their message! Their intentions are clear -- "Punk rock invades Lancaster." My Webster's dictionary defines "invade" as "To enter for conquest or plunder; to infringe or encroach on; to spread over injuriously and progressively as gangrene invades healthy tissue." Is this what we want for Lancaster? ... I for one deplore this "punk" appearance in the Lancaster YWCA and raise my voice in opposition to it in the name of decency. --a Christian

Circle Of Shit - The Punks Are Out Tonight

     Editor, New Era: I would like to correct some misinformation.... The YWCA is not sponsoring a punk rock dance.... We were approached regarding the rental of our facilities.... Before a contract was signed, however, a flyer announcing the event was distributed and posted in public locations. We found the flyer objectionable, and informed the sponsors that our facilities were not available.... --Susan C. Eckert, Executive Director

     Editor, New Era: I am writing concerning the letter written by a "Christian," and that person's attitude toward Punk Rock music....
     ... Punk music is not invading Lancaster. It has always been here and will always be here. Just because some do not appreciate this kind of music and lifestyle does not make it unnacceptable. Punks are a very misunderstood group in Lancaster. They are deemed outcasts because of the way they dress and the music to which they listen. In a free society, this is called bigotry and wholesale discrimination.
     As a whole, punks are not violent or obscene. There are good and bad people in any group.... Concerning the word in question, used on the flyers, granted the word should not have been printed. But why condemn the concert as "obscene" when there it so much true obscenity happening around us in the real world.
     All over the world, millions are oppressed, tortured, and killed outright because what they believe is different from what others believe. Censorship is a cruel tool if used blindly, as this "Christian" would do. The history of the Christian Church shows many battles against censorship....
     What the punks wanted was a place to enjoy live music. Now they must travel to enjoy a live concert because of the ignorance and intolerance in Lancaster County.
     I have one last question for this "Christian." What would you do to the punks in Lancaster? Erect a colosseum and throw them to the lions? --Dwight Yoder, Lancaster

     Editor, New Era: ... As for what Punk Rock stands for, do you really know? It's to solve all of the problems you and your so-called society have created.
     Have you tried addressing any of today's problems? We have. By trying to throw a show with all proceeds benefiting Lancaster's poor.
     Our goal would not have been conquest or plunder. We simply wanted to have a good time, and get rid of some pent up aggression. How do you get rid of your aggression? ...
     Don't be so quick to condemn Punks or our ideals. Maybe you should take a look at yourself and your ideals, Christian. --Roger Walton, A Punk And Proud Of It

..................


In memory of John Brubaker, who passed away this week. He was a native of Lancaster County, and the singer of Circle Of Shit.

Letters to the editor of the Lancaster New Era reprinted by Death Frisbee
Circle Of Shit Black Thoughts demo available on the Internet Archive
Circle of Shit page

August 21, 2014

The Electric Love Muffin................ ...That looks like my 6th grade teacher 0_0... Mr Kaufmann is that you?



photos by Tracey Long
I must have seen the Electric Love Muffin more than any other band when I went to college in Philly in 1987. They seemed to play out every week and I never got tired of seeing them boing-boinging all over stage to their not-too-serious, seemingly apolitical speed americana.  Like a country band playing punk rock songs, and not the other way around.

demo tape (1985)
This Time I'm Gone

Playdoh Meathook (recorded 1985)
I Should Have
Blackness That Could Be Blue

Live at the Kennel Club (1986)
Backstreet Ride
Norweigian Wood

Rassafranna (1988)
Club Car
Venus
Down Easy

Second Third Time Around (1990)
Another Please
Under Candy Bridge

I eschewed the punker label when I was a teen, cuz, hey, uncool to label, right? But they were the kids I hung out with in Lancaster and Philadelphia. In retrospect punk rock had a pretty deep influence on me that has lasted into adulthood. More than just liking the music and the DIY ethic, I underwent a fair amount of political socialization through the music and the scene. It was a catalyst in my break from the political views of my family and many teachers and friends at my suburban school. Punk was my first exposure to radicalism, at least in a pop cultural sense -- entertaining, if not always very serious. But it also taught me that politics doesn't always have to be serious; radical acts can be fun! So I hung a bunch of sacrilegious and antinuclear xerox art and a huge Orgasm Addict poster on my bedroom wall. My parents were unimpressed.

The show we didn't play.... Fuckin' Bernie.
It was easy to cross over into more authentic political activism in college, take courses in third world history, make a move to San Francisco, subsist as a DIY handyman, and ultimately make a career choice... a political choice... to become a public school teacher - Radical? Well, punk might at least deserve a line on my curriculum vitae just to make sure I don't sell out.

In Rich Kaufmann's interview on LOUD! FAST! PHILLY!, he talks about his childhood, the Philly punk scene, the rise and demise of the Electric Love Muffin, his later band Rolling Hayseeds, and his solo work, but the part that resonates with me is his current experience as a former Philly punk scene star, turned suburban 6th grade teacher:
Rich Kaufmann: I remember the phrase, “Punk is an attitude,” and I really think that. Once it got its claws into you, you have to live your life sort of that way. It’s not about selling out or not selling out, or having material goods. But it is about knowing what’s important. And I do feel like those years in the punk scene, and that attitude that sort of got implanted is still with me even though I’ve become middle aged, and I have two kids, and I’m a school teacher. The idea of questioning things is important to me – questioning authority.
When I hear about the latest boogieman group, like punk rockers were, and heavy metalers were, and rappers were, I always think, "there’s something else there, that it’s not true. They’re trying to corner one group into being the bad guy, and I know that that’s probably not true."
The 80s were a tough time politically. Punks were one of the few groups that were openly against the grain and I feel like now more than ever it’s needed again…. The government has a lot of power. People need to be standing up and speaking out.
Teacher face?
It’s not like you have to do that, but I know people that are lawyers, and they still carry that attitude of like “I want to make the world a slightly better place. It’s not just about me getting everything I can get my hands on.” I teach English, but I also teach a social studies class, and I think it’s important to teach kids to be critical.  I live in a very conservative county…. So I get a lot of students who are often echoing what their parents are telling them, and that’s fine. But I always try to pose every question as to “How do you know that this is true?” If they say, “The President, or this politician, is doing this.” I say, “Well how do you know? You have to back it up.” I try to get kids to look at both sides of every issue…. They accept so much on just blind faith. They have to arrive at it by their own hard work. They need to research it and look at it themselves. And some of them really do….
I found a couple videos of us from University of Pennsylvania TV studio which are pretty good quality and I posted them up [online], and I’ve seen some of my former students typing stuff into the comments sections....

Muffin March
zkruzin Sep 7, 2012
     That looks like my 6th grade teacher 0_0... Mr Kaufmann is that you?
maseve21 Sep 7, 2012
     Lookin good Mr. K!
zkruzin Sep 7, 2012
    It is him?!?
zkruzin Sep 18, 2012
     Waiiit.... Is that a marijuana plant?
Rich Kaufmann Sep 18, 2012 in reply to zkruzin
     Nice try! It's some sort of Japanese Maple. It was in the UPenn TV studio, so you can bet they wouldn't be decorating their studios with pot plants.
zkruzin Sep 20, 2012
     That would make a lot more sense....

Support your teachers!
Badass Teacher Association - BATs
Education Voters of Pennsylvania
Caucus of Working Educators - WE
Teacher Action Group - TAGPhilly
Parents United for Public Education
Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools - PCAPS
Philadelphia Student Union
Youth United for Change
Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools - APPS

Another Philly punk teacher: Todd Shuster from The Jags and The Impossible Years

.....

Thanks to LOUD! FAST! PHILLY!, Stacey Finney, and Joseph A. Gervasi for the audio interview with Rich Kaufmann.

Music by the Electric Love Muffin on Mike Eidle's Freedom Has No Bounds and Jeff Fox's Razorcake/Barracuda Magazine Podcast

Photos by Tracey Long and Seven Morris
 









July 18, 2014

Billy Synth & the Janitors... ........ ...Punk Rock Janitors (Harrisburg 1978-80)

The great central Pennsylvania musical oddball Billy Synth sent me this 1978 EP after posting the last tapewrecks retrospective of his music. The Janitors were started by Billy and Bernie, the Capital City Mall custodian, who apparently lost his job for wearing spandex pants to work, or so the story goes.... Billy seems to have been the singer early on, with Bernie taking over as they turned into the Punk Rock Janitors. Please correct me if I'm wrong and send me details if you have them.

Everytime You Give Me a Call
Rock & Roll Casualty
Captain Groovy
Misty Lane Fadeout
Billy Synth: When I bought my Arp Odyssey synthesizer.  We first had a group called Blue Ice, and we recorded one 45....
I eventually left Blue Ice because I liked the new wave scene and wanted a strictly punk-oriented band.  I hooked up with Bernie, the original "punk rock janitor" (yes, he was in another punk group AND a janitor!), another friend, Mikearama, and Dave Tritt on drums.... [Attacking the Beat]
At some point the Janitors got together with Half Japanese and played a set of outright insanity that was released as an EP:

Hartzdale Drive Destruction
Billy: I can't remember how we first connected, but Bernie & I from the Janitors went down to see Half Japanese with our instruments, and when we got there, we just started playing.  I mean, it was 1, 2, 3, 4, and we all started playing ANYTHING.  No rehearsal, no NOTHING!  That's how it came out.  Sooo strange!  [Attacking the Beat]
After Billy moved on to play with the Turn-Ups, Bernie took over on vocals and they re-dubbed themselves The Punk Rock Janitors. Harrisburg's Tina Peel (later known as The Fuzztones) had them as an opening act for many shows.

Work to Live
Just Once
Rob Doorack (Fuzztones roadie): The zenith of the Janitors' career came when the Fuzztones secured the audition gig at CBGB for them and a couple of hours of time in a small recording studio the same day....
That night the Janitors played to a nearly empty CBGB. The audience consisted of a half dozen Japanese tourists, the Fuzztones, their crew, and a few friends. The Janitors didn't care, they were completely awestruck by standing on the same stage where their heroes the Ramones had played. You'd have thought they were playing before 50,000 people. Danny was so nervous that he threw up before going on.

...The band played like they were possessed, careening around the stage madly, jumping in the air, completely uninhibited. At one point Bernie leaped off the front of the stage and crashed down onto the club's concrete floor on his knees without missing a note. Danny played a solo lying on his back with his head in a kick drum. When the Janitors had blasted through every song they knew they just stopped. Those of us in the audience were too stunned by what we'd seen to even applaud. For a moment we just stood there like sheep, mouths agape in astonishment and wonder.

The Janitors went back to Harrisburg the next day and broke up shortly after....
[Audio Asylum]
The complete Punk Rock Janitors CD is available on Sin Records.
Thanks to Pat Phos Martin and the Bands of Central PA page for the links and info.

May 24, 2014

The Woods ............... (NYC 1985-87)

Linda Smith was in a real band in NYC before she retreated back to her Baltimore home with her 4-track recorder to make some of the most spare and pretty pop songs ever to grace a mail order cassette tape. The Woods have barely seen the light of day since they made music, but these tracks stand out for their time in both lyrics and sound.

Brian Bendlin and bandmates have recently dug up recordings and photos and are posting them here along with a little history:
The Woods was a postpunk pop/rock band in NYC in the 1980s. The founding members were Brian Bendlin (drums, guitar, vocals), Peggy Bitzer (bass, guitar, drums), Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer (guitar, vocals, cello), and Linda Smith (guitar, vocals); at other times the band also included Susan Brewster (guitar, vocals) and Antonio Tatum (bass).
In 1985 The Woods released a single on Mark Dumais' Justine Records, Miracles Tonight /Love Me Again This Summer (produced by Bill Carey), which enjoyed a fair amount of airplay on indie radio stations and jukeboxes in the NYC area. They were perhaps best known for their intricate harmonies and the fact that the instrumentation included cello, both of which were unusual in the indie music scene at that time.  


The band played a number of shows at a variety of NYC area venues, including CBGB's, the Pyramid, and Maxwell's, and played live (with interviews) on WFMU and WYBC (Yale University radio).
At the time the Woods parted ways (in late 1987) they were recording an album; it was never released....
Hairy Condescension
Far Away
Never Before
So Long Before Now
Two By Two
Any Second
The Woods went on to various other artistic pursuits: the home recordings of Linda Smiththe paintings of L. M. Smith, Girls Ranch, Trouble Picnic, Two Houses, TV Goodbyes, Y'all, and rock musical "Lizzie," based on the story of Lizzie Borden.


Thanks to Brian Bendlin and the contributors to the Woods Facebook page and to Linda Smith for sending the songs.

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