Sunday, July 16, 2006

STEVE ROCK: An Anniversary Of Sorts For My First Band















The Singapores, summer of 1978: Left to right: Craig Weithop, yours truly, Dave Thomas, & the late Jeff Gower.


Like a good "first love," the experiences I had with my first band were all good for all the right reasons. The Singapores were formed in Dave Thomas’ mind in early 1977 on a road trip to Chicago with Debby Sue Mikles and me to see Iggy Pop and the original line up of Blondie. Dave and I had met in late 1976 and became immediate best friends, as we bonded over this new music bursting out of England called punk rock. Dave was a Washington University student at the time, and had begun playing this new music on his Friday night show on the college’s radio station, KWUR.

Word of Dave’s radio show began to spread among those small pockets of kids in town who were also into the new punk rock, yet remained hidden in the woodwork. Dave’s show gave the first solid proof that there were other like minded people in town when it came to this music. Problem was KWUR was only ten watts—you lost reception in it’s parking lot. Soon Dave was getting calls from kids asking if they could actually come down to the station and listen to his show, cause they really wanted to hear it that much. And soon a mini-scene developed, as a dozen or so "regulars" began to hang out in the lounge of KWUR every Friday night, just to listen to Dave’s show. And in the context of those times, knowing about this music, let alone liking it enthusiastically, immediately put you on the fringes. So it was good to finally meet and be among the few fellow travelers we found in our town. And so the fun began...

About a month after that Iggy show, Dave sits me down one day and says, "You and I are starting a band!" "We are?" was the only reply I could sheepishly muster. "You bet we are!" Dave shot back. So I guess we were starting a band, whether we were actually ready to or not, cause Dave’s charisma was definitely hard to resist back then. He was the perfect gang leader, easily earning the "Cult Hero" nickname that the regulars at the station had half-jokingly bestowed on him.

Were Dave and I good enough musicians, could we write good songs to sustain a band? Uh, no. Were we musicians at all? Uh, hell no. That didn’t matter and that wasn’t going to stop us. New times, new music, new rules. You didn’t have to have the skills of a pro anymore. The kids on these 45s from England that we were scarfing up every week were no different from us we thought, and thus we took our inspiration from them.

Dave had begun to play a little guitar while in high school. His skills were rudimentary at best. I on the other hand had miserably failed my older brother’s attempts to teach me how to play guitar, but one day he brought home a bass and started to show me a few things on it. For some reason this instrument just felt more right to me, and so I plunked on it in my bedroom, trying to play along to these great new records I was bringing home by groups like the Damned & the Ramones. But who else were we going to get to join us? When Dave asked if I knew of any guitarists who might want to play with us, I said, "I’ve got just the right guy..."

I had met Jeff Gower a couple of years before at my brother’s house. Jeff was there to score some MDA from my brother’s drug dealing roommate. Now my brother and his hippie musician friends used to have regular Allman Brothers-esque jam sessions in his basement. So imagine my surprise when I walked down there one night and saw a heavily made up, platform wearing guy banging out Who-like power chords on a Gibson SG. Where did this guy come from and what the hell was he doing here? So Jeff and I immediately bonded that evening. I remember the first Tubes album being the icebreaker, which for some long forgotten reason I had brought along with me. I couldn’t believe I was meeting someone else who had heard of them! We quickly became fast friends and hanging out drinking buddies. So when I asked Jeff to join up with me & Dave, he said, "Sure, I’ll try anything once..."

The only drummer I knew besides future Love Expert Bob Trammel (who was then playing with what was to become the legendary Raymilland), was Craig Weithop, one of my best friends from high school. His coming on board was key, cause that meant we got to rehearse in the beautiful basement of his parents’ suburban South County home. And so we were off to the races. The band name? While driving around Chicago on that Iggy trip, we passed a tavern called The Singapore Lounge. I casually mentioned, "The Singapores—wouldn’t that be a good name for a band?" Unbeknownst to me, Dave made a mental note of my suggestion, and later revealed that it was at that moment he decided that he and I were going to be in a band together.

And so we began to "rehearse." What a horrible racket we made with our feeble attempts to make it through impossibly complicated songs like "Sweet Jane" and "Wild Thing." But as the summer of ‘77 wore on, we actually started to sound ok. And one day Craig’s mom said to us, "You know it’s actually starting to sound like music." I also remember the afternoon she yelled down to us in the middle of a band practice, "Hey you guys, Elvis Presley just died..."

In February of 1978 my brother decided to throw himself a big birthday bash at a hotel that he and I had worked at. He was going to have his band and a couple of his hippie friends’ bands play. For some crazy reason he asked me if my band wanted to play. He had never heard us and really had no idea what we were all about, but figured the more the merrier for his party. So we jumped at the chance to play our first gig, and a wild one it was! A couple dozen of our gang showed up, and my brother’s hippie friends thought a space ship had landed. The battle lines were immediately drawn. We took the stage, and with our friends pogoing and cheering us on, it was not stop pandemonium. We may as well have been sacrificing goats as far as the hippies were concerned. Now of course I would later go on to play hundreds of better shows as an actual "musician," but that first show is still the best and most natural performance I’ve ever given on a stage...

Back in the fall of 1976, I had traveled to Memphis to interview Alex Chilton for BOMP! Magazine. One day while there, Alex took me over to watch the band practice of some friends of his called The Scruffs. Holy crap—these guys were amazing! At that post-glam, pre-punk point in time, the Scruffs were all scarves and chunky Faces haircuts. And man did they rock hard what a couple of years later would come to be known as power pop! Their lead guitarist Dave Branyan and I hit it off, and we became fast, long-distance friends. We soon started taking turns making trips to each other’s city to hang out. Dave even let me come with him to the sacred Ardent Studios to watch them cut their album, Wanna Meet The Scruffs?, which was produced by the legendary Jon Fry, of Big Star fame. Dave also introduced me to some of the old decadent Memphis "Mid-Town scene." Good times indeed.

Shortly after the Singapores’ first gig triumph, our buddy Jim Roehm, then a student at Kansas University, landed us a gig in Lawrence. Oh my god, we’re playing out of town! We had a blast and another memorable performance. No hippies hassled us this time, though Dave almost got us all killed when he pissed off a giant Native American in a bar we wound up going to after the show, and we had to hi-tail it out of there in fear for our lives!

Meanwhile the Scruffs were dying to come to St. Louis, and I was bound and determined to find them a place to play. This was still at a time when there really wasn’t anywhere in St. Louis for bands like us to play, though it never dawned on me to maybe rent a VFW hall, which would become a popular local practice for punk/new wave bands in the years to come. So I decided to give this place called Stonehenge a shot. It was across the river in Lebanon, Illinois, about a half hour away. To this day some folks still ask, "Why Lebanon of all places?" Cause the drinking age in Illinois was still 19 then, that’s why. This was as close as we were gonna get to "all ages," which was still unheard of in a club back then. And Stonehenge had also previously brought in the Ramones for their first ever appearance in the St. Louis area, so I figured they might be receptive to our little new wave cavalcade.

Of course we Singapores were gonna be on this bill, and we also asked our good friends and KWUR regulars the Welders to join us. The Welders were four girls in their late teens who had been playing together since 1975 or 1976. They were truly wonderful and an instant party wherever they went—definitely the biggest stars of our little scene.

The ever wonderful Welders. Left to right: Jane, Colleen, Rusty, Caroline.










And so the entire scene at that time makes the long drive over to Lebanon for our little rock show, which actually turned into kind of a big deal at the time. I just about fell over when I spotted Lou Whitney and Donnie Thompson from the Symptoms in the crowd. The Symptoms had started to come up from Springfield, Misssouri regularly to play Mississippi Nights, and we had befriended them. They quickly became huge heroes to us as we stood in awe of their total rock godliness. "You drove all the way up here to see us?" I incredulously asked Lou before the show. He replied, "You bet Stevie baby, we wouldn’t have missed this for the world!"

The Welders opened the show, and I remember all of their unique Welders’ wonderfulness being particularly "on" that night. Also in attendance was then Collinsville, Illinois resident Michael Stipe, a shy newbie to our scene, who had just joined on as singer in our friend Joe Haines’ fledgling band, Bad Habits. I recall standing next to Joe & Mike during part of the Welders set, and Mike, in very heavy eye make up, was blowing kisses to the Welders and jumping up and down like a little schoolgirl during their cover of the Dolls’ "Lookin’ For A Kiss". It's a wonderful image that’s vividly burned forever in my memory. Bless that Michael guy, wonder whatever happened to him?

We came on next, and opened with our cover of Johnny Thunder’s Heartbreakers’ cover of "Do You Love Me?", which I, ahem, "sang." We immediately noticed tomatoes flying at us from the club’s balcony. What the fuck? We carried on, bashing through covers of Mott’s "One Of The Boys" and the Flamin’ Groovies "Teenage Head," as well as our primitive yet inspired originals like "Trash Can Rock" and "The Kids Are Younger Than Yesterday." Half way through our set we brought up the band’s official "den mother," Debby Sue Mikles (now of The Misses), to sing the Troggs’ "I Can’t Control Myself." Debby brought down the house.

Her Majesty Debby Sue!













But the tomatoes kept flying at us as we trudged on through our set. I recall one zinging right past my head and landing—splat!—smack on my amp, the stains from it lasting for months afterwards. I do recall Craig getting hit, cause he then came from behind the drums and made some threats over the microphone in between one of the songs. He then began to fire some drum sticks into the balcony when we resumed playing. So who was firing tomatoes at us? The best we were ever to determine was that it had to have been someone we had pissed off at that first show we played at the hotel. They must have somehow gotten wind of us playing Stonehenge and were determined to get back at us for what they interpreted as our desecration of rock music. In hindsight I give them a lot of credit—driving a half hour and sneaking in a load of tomatoes to zing at us was pretty inspired!
















Singapores rocking Stonehenge: Left to right: Me, Craig Weithop, Dave Thomas, Jeff Gower. Dave put each of those polka dots on my bass for me by hand!


So we cleaned the tomatoes from the stage and made way for the Scruffs, who blew the house down. These guys were actual pro musicians, and what a phenomenal and powerful live band they were! Sadly, their live power was never really captured on any of their records.

Memphis power pop legends The Scruffs. Left to right: Rick Branyan, Steve Burns, Dave Branyan.





We declared the evening a bonafide success and headed back to St. Louis for a communal late night breakfast at Denny’s between various band members and scenesters. I felt like I had "made it" as Scruffs drummer Zeph Paulson drunkenly kept telling me how much he "loved" my bass playing. I hit bed a happy man as the sun was coming up...

About a month or so after that Stonehenge show I quit the Singapores in a fit of shameful ego. I really wanted to be in a full-on power pop band, and I knew the Singapores didn’t have the desire or chops to be that. So I formed the Nancy Boys with future Love Expert Dominic Finocchio, ace guitarist Billy Love, and mighty drummer Jeff Evans, who I would later go on to play with in the Dave Branyan Band, B-Lovers/Turning Curious, and Blown. At that time I thought the world really needed to hear Dominic's wonderful original pop songs. We were really good, but the band was very short-lived and sadly broke up without ever having performed in public.

These days I'm still at it, playing bass in the Love Experts, Finn's Motel, and whenever we rev it up, Prisonshake . Dave Thomas went on to direct the amazing yet starcrossed rock documentary, MC5: A True Testimonial. I last saw Craig Weithop at an Al Franken booksigning about five years ago. Jeff Gower passed away a few years ago. I miss that crazy guy....

The eternally lovely Kelly Draper, a.k.a. Rusty Welder, laid all of these old photos presented here on me the other day. She said her archives had this show down as taking place on July 16, 1978. For those of you out there who were there that night, I still love each and every one of you, and I hope your memories of that evening are as fond as mine are.

There’s nothing like your "first love"...

40 comments:

tonypatti said...

Great stuff, Steve! Thanks for posting this!

www.tobyweiss.com said...

Wait, was that Debby Sue or Debbie HARRY?!

You weaved a good tale, evoked a definite time period with both sentimentality and accuracy. This is the start of a really great chapter in your eventual book, right?

KWUR DJ said...

This is very interesting. I am the current General Manager of KWUR. Thankfully we are still around and doing about the same as we were back in the 70's as remembered here. I love hearing about these early days at KWUR and in St. Louis...

-Klax

steve l said...

'mazin! great stuff steve.

thanks for sharing the tale and the pics.

oh what a lucky man, we was!

Emmett said...

That was true and beautiful. Thanks so much for writing it.

(And, yes, I was one of the ones making the trek accross the Mississippi to that Lebanon show. A great one it was. That was the summer between my sophomore and junior years at college.)

Anonymous said...

Wow - now that was a great blog entry. Thanks for sharing your memories and all the great photos.

Big Red

steve scariano said...

Thanks, but the really big thanks should go to Kelly Draper for sharing her photos with me.

Steve Pick said...

Beautiful piece, Steve. I came along one year later, so I only heard the legends of the Singapores, not the actual music. Still, you filled in a lot of gaps in the tales I'd heard back then.

And, after knowing her for 27 years, I find out Rusty's real name!

Anonymous said...

Here's a couple of memories that I somehow retain:
-Before the Scruffs' appearance, there were little handbills on which a radio dial appeared, with a Band-Aid applied over 94.7 AKA KSHE - which was VERY punk/new-wave-unfriendly until it got too popular to ignore - that stated: "Hang on - Help is on the way!", a quote from Little River Band, I think.
-The Nancy Boys (minus Jeff?) *did* do an impromptu performance of "Slow Down" one time at Mississippi Nights, courtesy of the Symptoms/Skeletons/Morells? (couldn't tell you which one..:). I believe Debbie V has pics of that.

Mister Happy Talk

steve scariano said...

Mr. Whitney, bless his heart, did let Dominic, Billy, and I get up and play "Slow Down" in the middle of an original line-up Skeletons show at Mississipi Nights. Jeff still lived in Decatur, Il. at the time and was not there. We thus had the distinct honor of Skeletons drummer Bobby Lloyd Hicks laying down the beat for us as only he can. If Debbie has photos, there should be some choice hair goin' on in them... :) Debbie?

Stephanie said...

Good god--you were hot.

steve scariano said...

Thanks darlin', but damn that "were" word! Damn it straight to hell... :)

steve scariano said...

Thanks, Steve. And let's not forget the giant role you played in helping to take that scene further in the years to come after Dave & I split town...

Anonymous said...

I could wait for the book, but how is it you were so hip in '76 as to travel to Memphis & interview Alex? You had a good record store nearby? I'd like to see that interview again. Was it in the issue with the great Brian Wilson pic? or in the "Make your own record" issue?
Remember a zine from about 10 years ago that featured a different city's scene from a certain era in each issue?
Tanx, john s

steve scariano said...

It was all actually kind of simple. After I got the ok from the late Greg Shaw, Bomp's owner/publisher/editor, I simply called Memphis information and got a hold of Alex thru his parents. I went down there in September of 1976 and spent the weekend hanging with him. We did the interview in the courtyard of Ardent Studios. A charming, talented, yet really crazed guy. He definitely spins in a different orbit, god bless him....

The interview wound up in Bomp! Magazine #18, ther big power pop issue. Click on the Bomp Magazine link in my post and you can click on and see a photo of that issue. And there was a photo of Alex that was used in the article, that was taken at that Scruffs rehearsal by my girlfriend at the time.

Debbie Jo said...

Does this mean I have to go through all those boxes of negs and proof sheets that I was just going to seal up and store in my mother in law's garage? The thought is daunting but terribly seductive. BTW, I'll always remember going with you guys and Debba Sue for Nancyboys rehearsal on Sundays and how Decatur smelled like soy sauce miles before you got there. Who knew?

Anonymous said...

Blog entry of the year! Wow, what great hair you had. What ever became of the poka dotted bass? And are they any Singapore recordings/records anywhere?

-Dave C.

steve scariano said...

I deliberately, yet feebly smashed it onstage during a B-Lovers show in Champaign during the early '80's. Mr. Thomas, btw, dramatically smashed that beautiful pumpkin orange Epiphone he's playing in that photo during the one show the Singapores played after I quit, which was also Raymilland's (Bob Trammel's band)debut show.

As for Singapores recordings, we're trying to dig something up for Matt Harnish's STL Original Wave/Punk compilation project, but don't get your hopes up...

Jane said...

Hi Steve,

This is Jane Welder, Rusty alerted me to your fascinating blog entry (And we're already referring to Rusty as Her Eternal Loveliness). It was great to hear about your history. Thanks for the nice compliments about our little group, you are too kind. The Stonehenge show was a real highlight for us, a moment when it really felt like there was a St. Louis punk rock scene.

Thanks again, Jane

Anonymous said...

Yes, Steve, well-written, with the just the right amount of sentiment and schmaltz. I truly enjoyed reading this, as I love these types of first-person accounts of the days gone by. Especially rock 'n roll days gone by, because there's a thread of familiarity running low and subtly in every old rocker's tales of the early days.
On a vaguely related note, I remember talking to a folk singer (who was bartending) when I was in my twenties and I had seen alot of rock crap already. He was telling tales of being treated like shit by bar owners, etc and then it hit me: I just have "punk rock guilt," as in, when you start out playing punk rock, you think everyone's against you and you carry that with you for a long time. Turns out that EVERY musician gets treated like crap for the most part at some point!
ENK

steve scariano said...

Hey Jane, please forgive me for not stating the obvious in my post: ALL OF THE WELDERS ARE ETERNALLY LOVELY!!!

And you ladies were indeed the stars of our little scene.

Yes that night sure was memorable, but Rusty had to remind me that Dirt Wheeler got beat up outside of Stonehenge that night. I totally had forgotten that.

Anyway, good to hear from you and I hope all is well with the family. Say hi to Mike & Ringo for me...steve

steve scariano said...

Well put, Mr. Enkler!

Dave T said...

Steve, thanks for the cool rundown on The Singapores. I wouldn't trade my experiences with you then for anything - you were a true inspiration. Like the Gyro-Copter pilot says to Max: "You and Me -- paatners! We're paatners!" We were so of the time that if we'd released an LP it coulda been called "Resonating With the Zeitgeist." So you quit in a fit of shameful ego? Whew! what a load off my mind that is -- I'd thought we'd kicked you out in a fit of shameful ego. Either way it was too bad -- we coulda been bigger than Eddie & The Hot Rods. Or Milk 'n' Cookies! ;) Instead we're just a pimple on the ass of The Screaming Mee Mees. Ironic, huh? The Indian at KU I don't remember, but it seems like we were always pissing SOMEBODY off.

Here's my comments on some of the other comments:

Re: Anonymous: Yeah, you're remembering those little handbill flyer thingys exactly right -- they were done by Jim Roehm who was editing/publishing (read: typing/xeroxing) St.L's first punk fanzine/newsletter at the time -- NOIZE. If you look closely at the Stonehenge photo (wow! Thanks Rusty, I remember you bouncing around with your Instamatic!) you can see one of the bandaids on my guitar -- Steve, didn't you or Jeff have one on your hand or arm, too? Hi-concept. The Singapores did record 2 songs at the KWUR studios -- "Stayin' After School" / "Detroit Mentality". Unfortunately those recordings are tied up in my recent litigation with Wayne Kramer Saadi -- Wayne is insisting HE wrote those songs! I'm kidding of course, but the truth of the 5-Doc lawsuit is even more ridiculous. I'll shut up about that Steve -- I wouldn't want your blog to suffer any reprisals from the McBLT camp.

Re: Stephanie: Hey Stephanie -- Steve left out the fact that he was widely known as "Handsome Steve" during The Singapore days. Thank you for re-confirming my nick-naming abilities almost 30 years on!

Re: Jane Welder: I totally second Steve's sentiment -- The Welders were THE stars of that little scene. I have fond memories of your gig/events at both 4th & Pine (with The Mouldy Dogs and The Cigarette Butts - soon-to-be Sic F**ks, and Greg And Lyla) and the Florissant Civic Auditorium (wow that was WAY better than Up With People!). I've got some great Welders pictures stashed away (like your promo photo with the old guy in the mall and a photo-booth series of all 4 of ya) as well as other arty-facts from St. Louis's first Mono-Syllabic Era. Maybe now I'll get off my lazy (sod) ass and scan 'em!
It was kicks!
Dave T.

steve scariano said...

Glad you've checked in, Dave. I'll say it again, I never would have gotten on a stage with a rock band if you hadn't given me the courage and pushed me into it. And here I am 30 years later still at---so thanks!

Now to clear something up regarding the American Indian in Kansas. You, my friend, and not "we" were always pissing somebody off. It wasn't me who Bob Geldof threw out of that Boomtown Rats show, now was it? :)

Hey, shoot me an e-mail, cause just the other day Matt Harnish was telling me how much he still wants some Singapores stuff for his compilation. I told him I'd put the screws to you. So don't make me have to round up Weithop and have the two of us come up there and kick your ass over this, ok?

Glad you liked the stroll down memory lane..steve

tonypatti said...

Note to Dave:

Yeah, you can bet that there's a small group pf fans out here that would totally dig hearing those Singapores songs - no matter how raw or crude they might seem, they're still souvenirs and maybe even the better for being unpolished.

I just want to know when did the Cool Jerks come about? was that after the Singapores?

And what happened to you, Steve, after the Singapores? Now that you've once again proven how well you can write, don't lose the momentum.

Dave T said...

Pissing people off?! Moi?? If memory serves, Steve, you were usually in the immediate vicinity and had, in your own inimitable fashion, somehow contributed to what was usually a rapidly deteriorating situation. The phrase "egging-on" leaps to mind. It seems to me that some form of inebriation amongst all concerned was usually evident as well.

And if there's any ass-kicking to be done you'd sure better bring Craig cause you'll never get the job done alone, skinny man.

See why we had to split up? We just always had way too much fun together!

Hey till I saw that group shot I forgot how much Craig looked like Scott Asheton. Fantastic! and with a can of Bud, no less. If you do see that fucker tell him I want my Dad's St. Louis College of Pharmacy jersey back -- I loaned it to him one time and he never gave it back. What a great shirt that was -- blue with yellow and white shoulder stripes, "St. Louis" on the front and "College of Pharmacy" on the back. I could get a mint for it! He can't possibly get into it anymore cause I'm sure he's big as a house by now. He's probably got a can of Bud in his paw right this minute.

OK OK already, I promise I'll get on The Singapores tape thing. I'll have to get em transferred -- I've got the 1/4" "Master" (haha I use that term in its loosest sense) but I don't know whether they're half-track or what. I remember you did a great vocal job on "Stayin After School" but I sounded like a mongrel idiot on "D-Mentality". I'm sure the guitars are way too thin, too, though oddly I think we actually managed to get em in tune somehow. Just lucky, I guess.

I promise I'll look into it. See what you can do about that shirt.

No, YOU Rock the Bop!
DaveBoy

steve scariano said...

Cool, Dave. Let me know if you need any help on the technical end of transfering that tape, etc. I should have access to sources if you don't. Keep me posted...steve

steve scariano said...

In response to Mr. Patti's questions:

Yes, Cool Jerk was after the Singapores, but that's Dave's story to tell.

As for me, after the quick demise of the Nancy Boys, Dave Branyan asked Jeff Evans and I to play on some recordings he was making at Ardent with Jon Fry. He had quit the Scruffs, and was doing a solo thing. Scruffs manager Henry Loeb was paying for the recordings. So here I am in my first real "professional" recording situation in a real studio, and it's with Jon Fry at fucking Ardent!!! Not too much pressure! And Fry had me play my bass through the same Hi-Watt head and Marshall cabinet combination that Chilton had played on the Radio City album---GEEZUS! Thankfully I was told this information after my parts were finished, otherwise I don't know how or if I would have gotten through them. :) We even played a show in Memphis, but the project soon came to a halt when Loeb ran out of money to pay for the recordings.

A few months later I got a call from Jeff saying that he was playing with friends Nick Rudd and Berni Proeschl, and that they needed a bass player. So I drove up to Decatur, and after the first original song that Nick played for me I freaked and knew I absolutely HAD to play with these guys. They were everything I had been looking and hoping for.

So I started to drive up to Decatur twice a week to rehearse, and was in absolute Monkees-at-the-beach-house band heaven. We called ourselves the B-Lovers. After 9 months of solid rehearsing we played our first show in Champaign, where a strong scene was happening, centered around this really great rock club called Mabel's. I moved there in September of 1981, thus starting another rock journey that led me into many, many, many great friendships with all sorts of incredible people, many of whom I still consider family today. And best of all I got to play the wonderful songs of Nick Rudd---one of the greatest songwriters and guitarists the midwest has ever produced...

Dave T said...

Steve, tell how you/we first met Jeff Evans. That's a good story.

I have a hazy vision of you and me and Jeff G. as The Singapores auditioning a drummer in the family basement of Jane and Caroline Welder. Were we auditioning Jeff Evans? Or was that Andy Williams? Why did Craig leave? And was that the very last time that you and I ever played together? Or am I totally confused and that was a Cool Jerk thing -- cause Andy did become the Cool Jerk drummer and he lived near The Welders and knew them but he also did that last Singapores (in name only - it was never the same without you) gig at the Beaux Arts Party at Wash U. But then it gets confusing too cause Jeff Evans also did one gig as Cool Jerk's drummer (at that Peacock Alley Community Center - east of Grand near Hiway 40) but that was after Andy quit I guess. And I think maybe you helped us set that up with Jeff, cause I think you were already playing with him then. Cool Jerk packed up and drove to Decatur to rehearse with him just once before that gig.

Are you sorry now that you brought this all up? ...Dave T

Anonymous said...

Didn't you and Jeff meet at a Kinks show, at Kiel Opera House? Or are memories blurring together? Dave, remember the Cool Jerk show in the basement of that embassy mansion in the Central West End? And then there was the one at that club at Westport Plaza, of all places...Of all my mashed-up memories, our encounter after many many years in Chicago stands tall! I'm "anonymous" in this blog, or sometimes known as "Happy Talk" but in non-cyberspace, I'm Steve Carosello.

steve scariano said...

We did meet Jeff Evans a the Kinks-Blondie show at Kiel. I'll tell the story when I have more time or when the power comes back on!

That masion in the West End was scenster Nick Moon's house.

Anonymous said...

'"Monkees-at-the-beach-house" band heaven'. Man, you are a natural, a born writer. Get on that book already!
The tape I want to hear is from when Jeff returned for the show with Love Tractor. Correct me if I'm wrong here. I remember that night as when I finally got the mix right and everything was in tune with the room. smiley.
-jay sherman

steve scariano said...

It sure was great to have Jeff back with us, wasn't it? And that show was in St. Louis at Heartbreak Hotel, which was our favorite place to play besides Mabel's. I have some pictures from that night---Jeff was wearing a really cool Sparks t-shirt! As for as a tape from that night, boy I dunno if one exists, I'll have to check my archives as well as get Nick to check his.

Cynthia said...

oh man.....loved the pictures....loved the post....loved the comments.

thank you, thank you, thank you.....

Anonymous said...

Steve, here's another fuzzy memory of mine, a different St. Louis show was videotaped (?)! Now, where's THAT tape?

Caroline said...

Hey Steve,
Not sure if you would remember but that was Andy Williams (who we went to high school with) that you guys auditioned for The Singapores in my parents basement in Florissant. A bunch of us (Andy included) had planned to go on a picnic that weekend but Dave Thomas said to Andy – “Do you wanna go on a picnic or do you wanna be in a band?” So we spent the afternoon sitting on the basement steps watching you guys put Andy through the hoops. The only time I remember meeting Jeff Evans was when The Nancy Boys practiced in the same basement a few months later (although I’m not sure why … I guess you guys practiced wherever you could).
But the reason I wrote in was to thank you for posting your recollection of the old days and of that Scruffs/Singapores/Welders gig. That was a fun day for us. It brought back memories of us gals cruising around Lebanon, Illinois trying to find some place to purchase underwear to throw on stage at Dave T.; us playing Space Invaders with the guys in Raymilland while waiting for the non-existent sound check; watching Stephanie’s eyes roll back in her head after taking a swig from the flask of Debby Sue’s “nerve juice” before going on stage; Stephanie dedicating “Leader of the Pack” to Cult Hero/Dave Thomas; balloons falling on us during “Funtime” … yep, those sure were some fun times all right.

P.S. I’ve passed the six month mark and despite the strange weather, I’m still loving living in STL again.

Caroline (Welder)

steve scariano said...

Yeah, there's a guy here in St. Louis known as "Bootleg John" who has been taping everything here in town FOREVER, and he's still at it today. He taped that show, which was another showed we played at Heartbreak Hotel. Now at that time Jeff was the only one in the band who owned a vcr, and he had Beta. He may still have it, I'll have to check with him. I can't recall if I ever got a copy made onto VHS, but I'll check my archives as well. We should really try to find it, cause it features our good friend, the late Joan Bouise, singing "Suspicious Minds" with us.

steve scariano said...

In response to Caroline:
Yes, those two separate drummer auditions in your basement were exactly as you remember them. When we Nancy Boys audtioned Jeff, I recall being stunned when he showed up and his drums were in cases---HOW PROFESSIONAL! At that point in time 'ol punk rock me didn't even know drum cases existed! :) And I still recall the total Keith Moon like thunder from Jeff from the very start of the very first song, which was "Slow Down". He was simply amazing, and looked amazing doing it as well...

And Mr. Thomas, we Nancy Boys loaned you Jeff for that Peacock Alley gig. Dunno if Andy Williams was playing with you guys yet or not, or why he couldn't make that gig, but I do recall everyone being blown away by Jeff's drumming that night, and me going around saying, "Hey, he's the drummer in MY band!" :) And I recall you guys had Joe Haines' PA that night, and him showing me how to run sound. That was a fun night. You guys did a kick ass version of The Clash's "Clampdown".

Anonymous said...

Loved it and lived it Steve. If your interested, I have all the original band pixs and flyers from "the day". Thanks for sharing! Pam

steve scariano said...

Cool. I know many people who would love to see what you have.