Saturday, November 21, 2009

9 Maple Ave. Saratoga Double-Header

Long before the CBJExperience was formed, Colorblind booked us a gig in the dead of winter at a bar in Saratoga named 9 Maple Ave. (now a restaurant named MERA)-a double header (Fri & Sat nights). The tio consisted of Colorblind James (vocals, Guild guitar), G. Elwyn Miexner (vocal, ragetime Hawaiin guitar) and Thaddy playing a Kay double bass. After passing through the bar area there was a set of French doors that led to a back-room where Folk Music flourished. After Friday night's gig I was told that Margot and I would be staying the night with a woman named Lena--the owner of Lena's Caffe; where Bob Dylan played the first gig of his first tour.
We were led up a set of wooden stairs to her flat. Lena was a creepy looking old gal who sat in a winged back chair, chain smoking like a chimney. Her Majordomo was a balding older man that directed theatre in Saratoga; he waited on her hand and foot. He seemed to be in awe of her. Her Majordomo led us to a brass double bed, and just before we enter the bedroom he said, "Be careful, there if broken glass on the floor...I dropped a light bulb and haven't swept it up." Great, so we did the slow shuffle to our bed." Every once in a while a beam of light would appear on the wall opposing our bed, then the figure of a head and eye would appear like a closet Peeping-Tom--Majordomo was keeping a watchful eye on us; Creep factor 9. Had there been a trapeez and a rocking chair in our room, I would have given him a show: the infamous Flying Philadelphian Fuck; I imagined Majordomo cuffing his carrot in a freakin' frenzy with his eye glued to a peephole in the wall--probably covered by a painting of Elvis on black velevet.
Saturday night's gig was one to remember; a gang of 20 bikers came into the bar during our last set. As life would have it, a real to life bar fight broke-out; reminiscent of a Slim Pickens Western movie. A dangerous place for a wooden instrument; we planned our escape. We all made it out; instruments intact.
The thing to remember about Colorblind is that he was way ahead of his time; original Folk Music with a Rock-A-Billy twist. Ominous songs lamenting love lost, German Girls, the Ultra-Modern Boy, Kojak Chair, and cryptic lyrics,"Solid Behind the Times:...Cream of the only hat that ever fit me soup."

Sunday, January 04, 2009

WALLY THE WHALE: Starship Beer meets the Colorblind James Experience

The famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) Scorgies gig from 1985. Don Scorgie, owner and proprietor, was FURIOUS with Chuck for having Starship Beer open up for us. Their set featured one song only, Wally The Whale, which began with frontman P.J. O'Brien chanting "Wally The Whale" with a bucket on his head and ended 40 minutes later with the entire Experience on stage, each of us playing the wrong instrument. Me? I was on drums. Most of the crowd walked out but the core audience that remained loved it.

Starship Beer pioneered what they referred to as "nut music" and their first release, Free As The Squirrels, featured liner notes by Chuck. It was recorded above the Market House Music Hall on Water Street in Oswego, New York and came out in '79.

P.J. O'Brien is an artist and poet who received the kind of respect and admiration from Chuck that Chuck meted out to a scant few. Kevin Whitehead, Starship's guitarist, is NPR's jazz critic.

To this day, the loyal few whose eyes were opened that night will laugh, remember and for a moment feel again the delirious euphoria created that evening.