Sunday, May 14, 2006

1985: the Bop Shop


The first time I saw the Colorblind James Experience after returning to Rochester, I believe they were going by the name Colorblind James and the Death Valley Boys. Eiter that or Chuck was letting it operate under the name "The Colorblind James Band".

Chuck had hooked up once again with White Caps guitarist G. Elwyn Meixner. He had also scored Personal Effects popular bassist Bernie Heveron who had just recently acquired an upright bass and a taste for "something different". Bernie was able to point Chuck in the direction of Jimmy MacAveney who had played with such local luminaries as The Dady Brothers and The Ken Hardley Playboys.

The quartet had already enjoyed a good response playing small Rochester bars like Snake Sisters at 666 South Avenue (now LUX), Schatzee's on Richmond St. (now RICHMOND's) and of course Jazzberry's at 713 Monroe Avenue (now a gift shop). On this day, however, they were playing on the upper level of the Village Gate Square right above the Bop Shop.

During a break, Chuck and the boys brought me down to the Bop Shop where I was introduced to the youthful proprietor Tom Kohn, who was already a big fan of Chuck's music and the band's sound. Working for him at the time was a young composer, clarinetist and ex-Zenith Effluvium member David McIntire. The Bop Shop was cooler than any record store I had haunted in San Francisco and I immediately had my heart set on working there.

It would take about six months and a stormy exit from the young men's department at Sibley's before that dream would be realized. It would take another 2 years before Dave McIntire would officially join the fold. That day, however, I was happy to acquire a vinyl copy of Muddy Waters: Down on Stovall's Plantation and to realize that however little money I was to make, most of it would go into Tom Kohn's cash register.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Just for kicks, I offer up the following completey random Tom Kohn anecdote:

Somewhere around, oh, summer of '87 or maybe '88 I was going through one of those periodic "putting away of childish things" phases (at the ripe old age of 15-16, mind you, and yes, of course I was to regret this one just as I've regretted all the others) and decided that I would throw my comic book collection into the pile of things we were putting on the block at our family garage sale. I figured maybe I'd move a handful of comics and scare up a few bucks with which to feed my slightly more socially acceptable addiction to music. Well, who should saunter along to rifle through the box and offer to take the whole collection off of my hands but Tom Kohn himself? I didn't know him well, but I had at least a vague sense who he was and even at the time gleaned ever-so-dimly that, if he were interested in the entire box, that I was likely doing a foolish thing by letting them go, but I also felt sort of honored and happy that they were going to a good home.

More to the point, I'd like to echo Phil's affection for and admiration of both Tom and the Bop Shop--Rochester is a better place for the presence of both. Here in the Bay area, Down Home Records over in Albany is a reasonably good approximation of the overall feel of the Bop Shop and serves roughly the same niche, but what else would you expect from the storefront for Arhoolie Records? Aside from that, though, there truly is little to compete with Tom's wonderful store, which also does the best job of any place in town of representing local artists. Huzza!