Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Colorblind James

A musician, songwriter, poet and brother-in-law by the name of Chuck, aka Colorblind James, formed a band years ago called Colorblind James and the White Caps in Oswego, New York. They were as scrappy an outfit as you could imagine: among the five members, only one had any previous experience in a rocknroll band.

Kevin McDevitt, RIP, was the self-taught Bonzo-influenced, big time drinking drummer who ultimately discovered the beat Chuck had been looking for: the polka 2-beat. Terry O'Neil stared at his shoes and held the chaos together with his hollowbody electric bass. G. Elwyn Meixner slashed away at his vintage Telecaster locked on the treble pick-up. Colorblind James scrubbed the heavy guage strings of his 1960 Guild T-50 guitar like a hopped-up tenor banjo player in a 30's jugband. And Rush Tattered shimmied and swaggered and yelped his way through songs that Chuck had specifically written for him: "Sophisticated", "Too Hip to Praise the Port City" and "If I Could Play the Tuba".

The music was fast, fast, fast. The sets were neverending. The gigs sometimes started at midnight and ended around breakfast. Whoever was still at the club would join the band for eggs and coffee at Wade's diner as the sun would rise over Oswego, the Port City itself.

The music and the dancing was inspired by the punk/rockabilly movement of the mid/late 70's but it went beyond that, way beyond that. Looking cool was for NYC. The band and the dancers didn't give a rats ass how they looked. The playing was hard and intense and the dancers were tireless and drenched in sweat. It was absolutely awesome to experience or just to watch from the sidelines.

I would sit in periodically but my time was mostly spent with my sloppy, speed happy fusion band called the Generics: plain-label fusion music. No matter what I played, I knew I wanted to be a part of that crazy intensity that, to this day, no band has ever equalled.

Colorblind James and the White Caps put out one 45rpm record: America, America/Blind Girl. The songs were great. The recording? Awful! Chuck was ready to take all the copies and dump them into Lake Ontario. Fortunately he never did. They turn up every now and then. Ya gotta be pretty die-hard to want one, though.


cleek said...

great to see this blog.

i've been a fan of CBJE since i first heard you guys back in the late 80's.

Phillip Henry Marshall said...

Thanks. Where did you hear the band? UK or US?

cleek said...

US. i went to RIT, '88-93.

i wore out my cassette of the first CBJE album. you wouldn't happen to know where i can find a CD copy of it, would you ? (been looking for years)

FYI, Joe T from Carbon Records told me about this site.

Phillip Henry Marshall said...

I've seen them turn up on ebay from time to time. Unfortunately it gets booted alot too.