Before the trip out west, before the Appletons or the White Caps, there was an odd little trio named appropriately the Colorblind James Rock 'n' Roll Trio. Before the RnR Trio there was the Water Street Boys and going back further still, Mike Goldstein's Cold Water Revue. The WSBs can still be heard to this day with most of the original members intact.
However, my own history with CbJ began in the summer of 1978. I was 19 and had just returned home from SUNY @ Buffalo where I had finished my sophomore year. I was transferring to SUNY @ Oswego because Buffalo was too big, too unfriendly and I really didn't know what I was trying to do majoring in music there.
My sister, Janet, had been traveling out west for the past 6 months with some mysterious guy. My brother, Edward, was also living in San Francisco, killing himself handing out communist propaganda and chauffeuring big shot party leaders while he lived in filth, ate in soup kitchens, and struggled to incorporate his only other passion into this all consuming political life. My brother was a singer and his passion was opera.
Meanwhile, my parents were once again in France (Paris, to be exact) where my father was heading an exchange program. My plan was to go abroad in the spring of '79 and study at the Sorbonne. In the meantime, however, I was without family in Oswego and feeling, as I said before, directionless.
I was living in a house kitty-corner from OHS, Oswego High School, with my longtime friend Thad Iorizzo and some guy who never stopped jumping rope. Really. His quest was to get every American jumping rope. He tried to get me jumping rope but I found it much easier to simply walk.
I had known Thad since my first drunk the eve before my 13th birthday at David Sterlicht's bar mitzvah. Along with being one of the funniest guys I've ever known he was also astonishingly mediocre on both electric and upright bass. In all fairness, I was positively mediocre myself.
When Jan arrived back in Rochester, she called me up and invited me over to the cold-water flat she moved into with her, at this point, very serious boyfriend. When I got there, I was greeted at the door by a dark-eyed, curly haired man with a huge black beard that engulfed most of his face. I remember my initial thought was “who the hell are you and why are you answering the door to my sister’s apartment?” He introduced himself as Chuck and invited me in. Little did I know that within 48 hours Chuck, Thad and I would play our first gig together at the now expanded Lowlife Café.