Thursday, August 04, 2005

Rochester, NY 1985

When I arrived in Rochester, NY in February of ’85, the Colorblind James Experience had already begun to establish itself on the local music scene. Chuck phoned me several times from Rochester to tell me how excited he was about the line-up: Jim MacAvaney on drums, Bernie Heveron on upright bass and G. Elwyn Meixner, formerly of the White Caps, back on guitar. Several times he would say that if and when I moved back east I would have a guaranteed place in the band.
The Rochester scene was exciting in 1985. The club scene featured Scorgie’s on Andrews St., Shatzee’s on Richmond St. (now called Richmond’s, cleverly enough), Shnozz's in the Village Gate Square, Snake Sister’s at 666 South Ave. (now Lux) and most importantly for the band, Jazzberry’s on Monroe Ave.
At the top of the band scene was Personal Effects (whose members are currently found playing in the morphine haze film-noir soundtrack ensemble Margaret Explosion). Personal Effects routinely packed Scorgie’s offering their fans sophisticated and moody stage lighting and tight, danceable sets. They looked and sounded very current with throbbing rhythm from drummer Paul Dodd and bassist Robin Mills and metal crunch from guitarist Bob Martin. The most unique element of the band, however, was the sheer presence, mysterious voice and ethereal saxophone of Peggy Fournier. To this day, Peggy’s haunting saxophone is one of my favorite sounds in music. I strongly suggest a visit to them at and never mind that I’m featured on their first CD “Happy Hour”.
Personal Effects helped Colorblind James Experience immensely. First off, Paul and Chuck had known each other since childhood, both families living on the same street in Webster. Secondly, before Robin, Bernie Heveron was PE’s bassist. For about a year, Robin was my housemate over on Hamilton St in the South Wedge. There was a time when the bands were very tight and familial. One Saturday night, in fact, Colorblind James was playing at Jazzberry’s and PE was playing at Scorgie’s. We decided without hesitation to be each other’s opening bands! The shows started at 10:30 and right around 11:30 or so both bands raced across town to headline their own gig!
There is a tape floating around that Susan Plunkett of Jazzberry’s financed called Live at Jazzberry’s which features Personal Effects on one side and the Colorblind James Experience on the other.


Michael said...

Boy, this is a blast from the past to the extent that I remember it at all--this is right around the time I started getting into music. My first show--coming up on 20 years ago--was R.E.M. at the Auditorium Theater on August 16, 1985, and soon after I began crawling the local venues. I have fond memories of seeing The Strip-Miners at Jazzberry's before it moved to its East Ave location. The old Pyramid Arts Center at Village Gate used to host shows, too, like the 5th Birthday Bash for the original Scene Magazine that used to be run by (now-) blues impresario Steve Grills and his then-girlfriend, whose name I can't recall now. Scorgie's was a little outside my purview, but I've heard lotsa stories from friends who were there and I'm still honored that you made it out to our (the Havoc Suns', that is) 7" release show years later when the space was renamed Token Joe's...that was '98, I think? Just thinking about the bands who played that stage before us makes my memory of that night even more special for me now...

David D. McIntire said...

This posting brought back many memories. I played in CbJE from the summer of 1987 until the Dylan birthday show of '92. The happiest musical experience of my life. Back in '85 I was working on a music degree at Nazareth College and wasn't going out to clubs very much in those days, although in prior years I'd been to lots of shows, at Scorgie's in particular. (As an aside to Michael, I was at the same R.E.M. show at the Aud. Great show, horrible acoustics.) I was somewhat familiar with Personal Effects, but didn't know any of them at that time. Someone (can't remember who) urged me to go hear Colorblind James and I went to a gig at the original Jazzberries. I remember that my instantaneous reaction at the time was that this was the only band that mattered in Rochester. I was struck by the humor and the gorgeous, epic quality that the band achieved in songs like "He Must Have Been Quite a Guy." The loose, spontaneous attitude also appealed. I also heard CbJE playing an outdoor show at the Village Gate around this same time; I worked at the Bop Shop then. This was the first time I learned of a guitarist going by the name "Rex Havoc." I had played in a couple of other groups (Anyone remember Zenith Effluvium?) and hadn't had very good experiences doing it, but I remember thinking that THIS would be a band worth joining.

Michael said...

One other (semi-trivial) comment I forgot to include before: the one time I got to see Personal Effects was actually a buncha years after this when they were doing a brief reunion gig accompanying--of all things--a light show at the planetarium. This would've been really early in '89...maybe around March? I don't know how the performance held up in comparison to their peak, but I remember enjoying the show.