"New Sounds for Silent Films" screening at Walters Art Gallery
New Sounds For Silent Films
Music by Jamal Moore, Ami Dang, and WUME
November 10, 2016 @ Walters Art Museum
The Walters Art Gallery, in partnership with the Maryland Film Festival, presented three short films from the Enoch Pratt Free Library's 16mm film archives as part of its "New Sounds for Silent Films" live music program. In conjunction with the museum's special exhibition "A Feast for the Senses," musicians Jamal Moore,Ami Dang, and WUME created and performed new scores for the three "silent" films (actually, though mostly lacking spoken word, they all originally featured musical soundtracks or sound effects). Regardless, the event organizers couldn't have picked three better "trippy" films to stimulate the senses. Films included: Moon 1969, Asparagus, and Time Piece. The screening was free for Walters Art Gallery and and Maryland Film Festival members.
About the films:
(Directed by Scott Bartlett, USA, 1969, 15 minutes, color, 16mm)
This is the film Scott Bartlett made with Michael Hollingshead, the guy who turned Timothy Leary (among others) on to acid with his infamous mayonnaise jar filled with 5,000 hits of pure Sandoz LSD. In it, blurred television tapes of the Apollo 11 moon trip, alternating explosions of blank and color film, music, the voice of an astrologer discussing "all-ness," love, and the stars, and abstract film patterns combine to create what the director describes as a "cosmic mind flight" and "a space-age sermon celebrating the joys of metaphysical love."
Images from Moon 69
In his study of 1960s American experimental cinema The Exploding Eye, Wheeler Winston Dixon wrote "[Scott Bartlett's films] exemplified San Francisco's preferred form of cinematic discourse for a later generation of artists, poets, writers and videomakers...The visual structures of Bartlett's films influenced the images we see on MTV today, as well as the digital special effects employed in many contemporary feature films."
According to Paul Brawley of the American Library Association, "The interrelated convolutions and spasms of image, color, and sound that filmmaker Bartlett creates is the cumulative effect of his pioneer work using negative images, polarization, television techniques, computer-film, and electronic patterns all compressed into a visual punch that directs one where he normally would not go with a film - on a trip in search of the human soul."
Gene Youngblood of the Los Angeles Times adds, "Moon 1969 is a beautiful, eerie, haunting film, all the more wonderful for the fact we do not once see the moon: only the manifestation of its powers here on earth, the ebb and flow of the waters.. fiery rainbows into a cloudy sky... men and rockets transformed into shattering crystals... creating a picture if the cosmos in continual transformation."
During his life, Bartlett was sponsored by such filmmakers as Francis Ford Coppola. Yet today, despite their undiminished impact and undeniable influence, Bartlett's films are seldom shown. Pratt also owns Scott Bartlett's OffOn (1968), The Serpent (1971), and Medina (1972). Barlett's films are also available through Canyon Cinema. (Scott Bartlett, USA, 1969, 15 minutes, color, 16mm) Check this title in the Enoch Pratt catalog.
(Directed by Suzan Pitt, USA, 1979, 19 minutes, color, 16mm)
This "candy colored animated nightmare" rocked audiences upon its release - it ran theatrically with David Lynch's Eraserhead on the Midnight Movie Circuit - and catapulted Suzan Pitt to the front ranks of indie animation. From its opening scene of a woman defecating an asparagus spear into her toilet bowl to the concluding set piece (also very Lynchian and reminiscent of the theater scene in Muholland Drive) in which the artist opens her Medusa's box to release rare wonders before a claymation audience, stunning cel animation propels its blank-faced protagonist into a world of Freudian symbolism and Jungian archetypes. Winner of the grand prize at the Oberhausen Short Film Festival.
Freudian symbolism in Asparagus
Suzan Pitt later worked on some Peter Gabriel music videos. On February 15, 2008, she made a Baltimore "Pitt" stop to present a special screening of Asparagus (on 35mm!) and other works at the Maryland Institute, College of Art.
(Directed by Jim Henson, 1964, USA, color, 9 minutes, 16mm)
Time Piece is a 1965 experimental short film directed, written, produced by and starring Jim Henson (credited as "The Man"). The film depicts an ordinary man moving in constant motion, in a desperate attempt to escape the passage of time. It is noteworthy for being a non-puppet, live-action Jim Henson production.
Time Piece received several film festival awards, including the Blue Ribbon Award from the American Film festival in 1967, and was nominated for an Academy Award in the "Best Short Subject, Live Action Subjects" category in 1966. In 2008, it became available at the iTunes store.
Henson began the project in the spring of 1964 (initially titling it Time to Go) and continued to work on it for nearly a year, between commercial projects and various Muppet television appearances. The short film premiered on May 6, 1965 at the Museum of Modern Art and was distributed through Pathe Contemporary films to arthouse theaters and the film festival circuit. It played in New York City along with the French feature A Man and a Woman.
The surrealist film, which runs slightly less than 9 minutes, follows a nameless man who lies in a hospital bed awaiting examination by a doctor through a wide range of experiences. Mundane daily activities are intercut with surreal fantasy and pop-culture references. The relentless passage of time is a recurring motif, both visually, through various clocks, and aurally, through a rhythmic percussion soundtrack which "ticks away" throughout. Key set pieces include an examination of workplace drudgery, a prolonged dinner sequence (intended as a spoof of a scene from the film Tom Jones), and a nightclub visit satirizing the striptease (including a dancing roast chicken and a marionette skeleton). The man also rides a pogo stick, shoots the Mona Lisa, escapes from prison, and gradually applies a coat of pink paint to a living elephant. He assumes different costumes and identities throughout, from Tarzan to a cowboy, and repeatedly utters the only dialogue in the film, a plaintive cry of "Help!" from increasingly incongruous and perilous positions.
Apart from the rapid montage cutting and superimposition of objects, Jim Henson used animation heavily to create an impressionistic feel. He personally animated scenes of moving patterns, anticipating those later utilized in various Sesame Street inserts. Don Sahlin supervised the use of pixilation and reverse motion to further "stylize" the movements.
A number of Henson Associates employees appear in the film: Frank Oz (as a messenger and in a gorilla suit), Jerry Juhl, Don Sahlin, and Diana Birkenfield. The rest of the cast and crew were made up of New York "bohemian artists" including portrait artist Enid Cafritz (as "The Man"'s wife)...
Enid Cafritz as Jim Henson's wife in "Time Piece"
...burlesque stripper April March (not to be confused with the musician "April March," real name of Elinor Blake, recording under that name)...
April March, "First Lady of Burlesque"
April March in "Time Piece"
...Broadway dancer Barbara Richman, and drummer Dave Bailey.
I Belong to the Blank Generation: WKHS' Martin Q. Blank
WKHS 90.5 FM: "The only High School station in Maryland on the FM Dial"
Like Johns Hopkins University's little 10-watt WJHU (88.1 FM) in the late '70s and early 1980s (and WCVT in its pre-WTMD heyday), WKHS embodies the spirit and diverse programming of "indie format" college radio. But unlike WJHU or WCVT, WKHS broadcasts from a high school - Kent County High School in Worton, MD - and beams its signal out at over 17,000 watts, meaning its programs can be picked up all over the Eastern Shore, a 60-mile radius of coverage that extends to Dover, Newark, and parts of Pennsylvania. Yes, even across the Bay to Annapolis and Baltimore. That's how my wife Amy and I started listening to, and becoming smitten with, 90.5 on the FM dial.
To be specific, we love the community volunteer programming at WKHS. By day, the station is run and staffed by Kent County High School students whose on-air skills are, well, high-schoolish, and whose musical tastes reflect generic contemporary commercial music (i.e., tuneless auto-tuned hip-hop, mall-friendly "indie" rock, mindless metal, dancepop divas-of-the-moment, and the like); in other words, it's pretty bad - although I swear one morning I tuned in and heard some teen-with-a-clue playing 10cc's "Wall Street Shuffle," so there's hope for the future!
"Talk Hard!" with Happy Harry Hard-on
But other than that one exception, you won't find any teen DJs as clued in as Christian Slater's rebellious pirate radio jock "Happy Harry Hard-on" in the 1990 movie Pump Up the Volume. Or even as hip as Johnny Slash on Square Pegs. (When the students and community members aren't there - summers, weekends, late nights - WKHS simulcasts WXPN radio from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. This arrangement helps to support WKHS from both a financial and a programming standpoint.)
"Calling all community volunteers!"
But on weekends and at night, the volunteers take over and the station soars. We've heard things we just don't hear on other stations. Imagine tuning in and hearing Hotlegs (the pre-Graham Gouldman group that would become 10cc) playing "Suite F.A."! Or a whole program on '60s Swedish Garage-Psychedelic music. These guys don't get paid. They are driven by a passion for what they play and their only reward, other than having the opportunity to share their music with a wider audience, comes from having listeners call in to chat, say thanks, or even request a song.
"WKHS also has a dedicated crew of community volunteers who do radio shows in the evenings. These shows are "labors of love" that consist of just about any genre of music that you can possibly imagine. Our volunteers are dedicated, knowledgeable, and entertaining." - WKHS web site
And while we generally like all their programs of "Commercial Free Diversity" - "Thrill of the Night" 1st Generation Rock and Roll (Sundays 6-8 pm with Al Miller and Dick Lillard, Mondays 6-8 pm with Ron Lockwood); Charlie Stinchcomb and Bucky Murphy's "Voices from the Doorway" Doo Wop (Tuesday nights, 6-8 pm); P.J. Elbourn's "Dixieland & Big Band Jazz" (Wednesdays, 6-8 pm); Lain Hawkridge's "Musicology" modern music "genre exploration" (Thursdays 6-8 pm); Willie "Moonman" Bacote's "Southern Soul" (Fridays 6-8 pm), Andy "The Coach" Moloney's "Music Show" (Saturdays 10 am-12 pm, Sundays 8 pm -12 am); as well as Mike Martinez's "Southern Star Country Club" (Mondays, 8-10 pm), Patrick Clancy's "One Particular Harbour" Island/Party Music show (Tuesdays, 8-10 pm), and Bill Staples' "Honky Tonk Jukebox" (Wednesdays, 8-10 pm) - it's Martin Q. Blank's "The Night Shift," which airs Fridays nights from 8-11 pm, that we LOVE.
Amy and I first discovered Martin Q. Blank and his "Night Shift" when we heard him blasting Ultravox's "Young Savage" one Friday night. We were driving home from happy hour at a local bar and, I must confess, I was a little tight and overly enthused to hear a radio station playing anything by the early, John Foxx-led Ultravox. By this time, I had parked the car in front of our house, but kept the engine running and the radio on because the good tunes just kept coming. "They must be doing a '70s Punk and New Wave set," I recall saying, as I think we heard Richard Hell and the New Yorks Dolls in the DJ's "rock block."
Previously, I recall tuning in on another Friday night around the same time and being amazed to hear Barclay James Harvest (a band that practically defines '70s FM Radio AOR; I think I heard "Poor Boy Blues" and "Mill Boys" from 1974's Everyone Is Everybody Else) and Pure Prairie League (and not "Amy"- the only PPL song everybody plays - but rather "Angel" or "Falling In and Out of Love" from 1972's Bustin' Out). It was good. It was unexpected. It was album-oriented rock that harkened back to my era of musical consciousness (for better or worse): the '70s. We wondered who was playing this stuff, but it took that Ultravox-led rock block to get us to tune in regularly and find out.
Pure Prairie League - "Bustin' Out" (RCA, 1972)
“If I was stuck on a desert island with a Walkman and unlimited batteries, my choice of music would be Pure Prairie League. The first two albums are incredible.” - Martin Q. Blank (quote from "Tuned In" by David Healey, Star-Democrat, May 22, 2005)
Unfortunately, there is a dearth of articles written about WKHS's volunteer disc jockeys and the station doesn't post their playlists or stream or podcast their shows. Thankfully, there are two good features from Maryland's regional papers. The Chestertown Spy's Bill Arrowood profiled them in his "WKHS Disc Jockeys Harken Back to Radio's Golden Era" piece (March 26, 2014) and Cecil Whig reporter David Healey interviewed Martin Q. Blank in his "Tuned In" review for Easton, MD's Star-Democrat (May 22, 2005).
Martin Q. Blank is "Tuned In"
A few years back, Martin Q. Blank got tired of listening to the same old songs on the radio. Most people would have just changed stations. He started his own radio show instead. - David Healey ("Tuned In," Star-Democrat, May 22, 2005)
"Martin Q. Blank" is actually the radio alias of Michael Coleman, son of former WKHS DJ Charlie Coleman. (If "Martin Q. Blank" sounds familiar, it's because it was taken from John Cusack's character in the 1997 film Grosse Pointe Blank.)
John Cusack, aka "Martin Q. Blank"
The Colemans were natives of nearby Chestertown in Kent County. Michael actually graduated from the high school where he now does his weekly radio show. Charlie Coleman (1952-2011) was a legendary figure at the station, broadcasting a Doo Wop show from 1988-1997 before switching over to do a Country program from 2000-2008. His son "Martin Q. Blank" made his broadcast debut in 1997 and, from the start, it was clear that good taste was in his gene pool.
From the start, he followed the advice of fellow WKHS disc jockey Charlie Coleman: “‘Don’t just play the hits,’ he told me. They can hear that every single day. Play the more obscure tracks that you don’t hear any more. They’re listening for songs they may have forgotten. The music is the most important thing, rather than the DJ playing it.” - Dan Healey ("Tuned In," Star-Democrat)
Blank breaks his three-hour "'70's, '80s, '90s & Beyond"-themed show into one-hour blocks representing each decade, starting with the '70s at 8 pm, continuing with the '80s at 9 pm, and finishing with the '90s at 10 pm. (The '70s and '80s playlists are the strongest, in this listener's opinion.) Blank has a very youthful voice, one that made Amy and I wonder how someone who sounded barely old enough to remember the '70s or '80s could know all these cool tunes from those times. So after he opened this past Friday's show with the theme song from WKRP in Cincinnati(which just happens to be one of Amy's all-time favorite TV shows - she actually sang along to it word-for-word, "Baby, if you ever wonder...")...
D-Day - "Too Young To Date" 7-inch (Moment Productions, 1979)
Ring-a-ding-ding! "WKHS 90.5 FM, this is Martin," he answered.
"Hi Martin, this is Tom and Amy calling from Baltimore - we love your show!" I said, congratulating him on the night's programming so far and telling him I was most impressed by his playing D-Day's "Too Young To Date." I actually own this obscure punk single - and used to play it on my old WJHU radio show - but hadn't heard it in over 35 years! (I doubt many people have ever heard it, for that matter. Though it reached #1 on L.A.'s KROQ and was included on the now out-of-print New Wave Hits of the '80s Vol 1 - anironically named compilation, since all the songs were recorded in 1979 - its Lolita subject matter is definitely politically incorrect and the record was briefly banned from airplay on California radio.) I asked Martin how old he was, because to me he sounded Too Young To Remember songs like "Too Young To Date" from 1979. I was floored when he told me he was 44!
I handed the phone to Amy and said, "Say hi, Amy!" "Hi Amy!" she spoke into the phone. Martin Q. Blank was very friendly and glad to hear we were calling from Baltimore. He even promised to dedicate his next three-song set at 9 pm to "Tom and Amy in Baltimore." It included selections from three of my favorite one-hit wonders: Killer Pussy, Josie Cotton and The Humans.
The callers often help fuel the show. “They turn me on to so much I don’t know about or that I forgot,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll say, ‘Man, I haven’t heard that in years.’” Some nights he doesn’t take requests but does a special show. That includes his annual “Miami Vice” night featuring songs from the 1980s TV series. Another recent show was made up entirely of soundtracks from ‘80s movies. He reaches deep to find that gem from the B side or that one- hit wonder. - Dan Healey ("Tuned In," Star-Democrat, May 22, 2005)
Martin Q. Blank is funny and self-deprecating. He frequently mentions that he is single and ad-libs lines when cueing up records. Tonight, for example, he introduced "What Do I Get?" by Buzzcocks with the crack, "Girls are always saying this to me." When he was interviewed by The Cecil Whig's Dan Healy back in 2005, Martin confessed that he sometimes wings it in the studio, bringing in a small number of records and CDs but otherwise playing it by ear based on his mood and the requests he gets. "As they're playing and the calls come in, that's when I start to pick the rest. I like to keep it loose."
For Blank, it’s all about the music — and the callers. - Dan Healey ("Tuned In," Star-Democrat, May 22, 2005)
As this Friday night's show continued, Martin played some so-so AC/DC, Journey, Boston, and Cheap Trick ("Dream Police") before returning to some older '70s gems, like Robert Gordon & Link Wray covering The Johnny Burnette Trio's rockabilly classic "Lonesome Train" and the mid-period (pre-Buckingham & Nicks), Bob-dominated (Bob Welch & Bob Weston) Fleetwood Mac playing "Hypnotized" (from 1973's Mystery To Me LP, a personal fave).
Tom & Amy's Triple-Play Dedication:
And then at 9 pm, the '80s set kicked off with Martin's three-song dedication to us: "This next set goes out to some new callers, Tom and Amy from Baltimore!"
The Humans - "I Live in the City" (IRS Records, 1980)
I'm proud to say I own all three records and they are inspired choices. As their titles suggest, "Teenage Enema Nurses in Bondage" and "Johnny, Are You Queer?" are pure novelty songs, but San Jose's The Humans were a solid New Wave outfit and "I Live in the City" is a great song musically and lyrically ("If you're gonna act like that you better get on the stage/You're looking for something, try this...She moved up to Hollywood, where she can scream - and she gets away with it!").
And there was more good stuff to come...The La's, R.E.M., Bad Company ("Electric Land"), The Bluebells ("Cath"), Rachel Sweet ("Voo Doo"), The Church ("Under the Milky Way"), The Nails ("88 Lines About 44 Women" - later used in a Clio award-winning Mazda commercial), INXS ("Mystify"), and - completely out of left-field, Canadian one-hit wonder Aldo Nova playing "Fantasy"! I can still remember the MTV music video (back in the days of yore when MTV actually played music!). Total cheese, but fun!
"...The guy knows his music. Sometimes we sit around and talk about music and he can destroy me with his knowledge.” - former WKHS station manager Steve Kramarck (quoted in "Tuned In" by Dan Healey, Star-Democrat, May 22, 2005)
I wasn't as wowed by the '90s portion of "The Night Shift," but there were some good songs here and there. Martin played Red House Painters ("Katie's Song"), Mother Love Bone, Feist, Wilco, Jules Shear, Trashcan Sinatras, and Dangermouse with Norah Jones covering The Lovin' Spoonful's "Darlin' Be Home Soon." But what piqued my interest was the first request he played, Thrush Hermit's "North Dakota." Not for the song so much as for who requested it: "My friend, Steve Randall from Baltimore."
“His CD collection is massive, and he somehow manages to lug the whole thing into the studio every week.” - Steve Randall (quoted in "Tuned In" by Dan Healey, Star-Democrat, May 22, 2005)
Apparently, Randall is a regular caller and Martin claims he has discovered quite a few bands and tunes thanks to him. I wondered if this was the Steve Randall I knew, the erstwhile bass player from the '70s punk band Ivan & The Executioners, who released the classic single "I Wanna Kill James Tailor" b/w "Biafran Boy." (The spelling of sweet baby "James Taylor" was changed, for obvious legal reasons!). In addition to Steve, this band featured my friend and former St. Paul's classmate Hoppy Hopkins (Da Moronics, Mambo Combo, Rockabilly Band, etc.) on drums. (That's him about to get his head chopped off in the picture below.)
Ivan and The Executioners (Steve Randall, far right)
"I Wanna Kill James Tailor" b/w "Biafran Boy" 7-inch (Fine Taste, 1979)
That Steve Randall (aka "Steve Scandal") had very eclectic taste and was a damned fine rock critic, as well. I lost touch with him over the years, but I wonder if he turned Martin on to D-Day and some of the other obscurities heard on "The Night Shift." Hmmm, just a thought to ponder. (If not, and if Martin Q. Blank is reading this, be sure to get your hands on this record and dedicate it to your "Steve Randall"!) Martin mentioned his friend's name several more times as he introduced new musical "discoveries," as well as other regulars whose tastes he remembers.
I admit my attention was drifting in and out during the last hour of the broadcast, until I heard something that made me stop in my tracks. Martin Q. Blank ended his show with a real stunner: He played Sinatra! (I guess that was "The Beyond" part of his show's "'70s,'80s, '90s & Beyond" format.) And not just any Sinatra, but a true Sinatra rarity, one that even this Sinatraphile didn't have on CD. I'm talking about "Half As Lovely (Twice As True)." Originally the B-side of the 1954 Capitol Records single "The Gal That Got Away," it later appeared on the extremely rare This Is Sinatra 2 LP and the long out-of-print Australian International Sinatra Society's Sinatra Rarities - Volume Two LP. I think Martin was playing it for a female caller he hadn't spoken to in a while. Regardless: Mind. Blown.
Frank Sinatra - "The Rarities - Volume Two" (EMI Australia, 1983)
It sounds like Martin Q. Blank gets a lot a call-ins, and that must be reassuring because "dead air" and "radio silence" are the things that make DJs lose sleep. He obviously has a following, and I'm glad Amy and I have joined the ranks. Now, if only WKHS would start publishing their playlists! Until then, we'll just have to continue to call in!
"When it stops being fun, you stop doing it. If there are a hundred people out there listening, then it is well worth my time." - Martin Q. Blank (quoted in "Tune In" by Dan Healey, Star-Democrat, May 22, 2005)
Martin, it's well worth our time to listen to you! Thanks, and keep spinning those platters that matter!
"Dark. Dank. Sweaty. Fetid. Subterranean. A physical eyesore in the basement of a once posh hotel long gone to seed. In other words, the perfect rock venue." - Michael Yockel ("What Is and What Should Never Be: A History of the Baltimore Club Scene," City Paper, June 19, 1987)
"It was a dump, no two ways about it...In the summer it was blistering hot, in the winter it was freezing cold. It was dark, dingy, and stunk like piss." - Adolf Kowalski ("Glory Hole" by Brennen Jensen, City Paper, December 6, 2000)
"The only reason any scene ever happened in Baltimore was because of the Marble Bar." - David Wilcox (singer, Pooba, Alcoholics, Problem Pets, Chelsea Graveyard)
(Sunday, October 9, 2016) - Roughly 40 old time punks and
rockers showed up at the Congress Hotel on Baltimore's W. Franklin Street,
curious to see what their former favorite music venue, The Marble Bar, looked
like more roughly 30 years after the doors closed for good in 1987.
The Congress Hotel on W. Franklin Street
The occasion was a photo shoot organized by Chris Kaltenbach
and photographed by ace photographer Amy Davis for a Baltimore Sun
"Retro Baltimore" feature (Sunday, October 30, 2016). This "special session of Congress" was called to see how the Marble and its (ir)regulars looked today compared with back then. (Attendees were asked to hold off posting pics on social media until the Sun article appeared but we live in the age of WikiLeaks and, well, there was a lot of leakage from that historic basement!)
The Sun hasn't set on this crowd yet
The result was a historic pic filled with so many people that it looked like a high school yearbook photo (for a school I certainly wouldn't send my - entirely theoretical - children to!). [I had originally reproduced the picture here, but The Sun told me it violated copyright and asked me to take it down. I certainly get that, but given that so many people have already posted the pic on social media, it seems rather pointless - but no worries, this dude will abide. I'm flattered that my dumb blog is even on their radar.] Go here to see the pic: Marble Bar Alums.
Some 30 alumni of Baltimore's punk scene recently gathered at the Marble, and if the old place wasn't quite as loud as it once was, its spirit has hardly been dimmed. An elevator brought everyone downstairs, a modern convenience hitherto unimagined, and everything looked a lot cleaner and brighter than people remembered. But time has not dimmed the glory of what went down here.
And who exactly showed up? The roll call of musicians appearing in the pic included: Tom Diventi, 60 (Da Moronics), Craig Stinchcomb, 63 (Judie's Fixation), Anderson, Tom Warner, 59 (Thee Katatonix), Ed Neenan, 55 (The Click) and Mr. Urbanity, 60 (Thee Katatonix), Joe Goldsborough, 52 (Reptile House), Mark Shimonkevitz, 55 (Ungrateful Bitches), Billy McConnell , 65 (Strangelove), Tom Chalkley, 61 (The Reason), Mark O'Connor, 64 (Food for Worms), Woody Lissauer, 57 (Strangelove), Hoppy Hopkins, 58 (Da Moronics), Mike Milstein, 56 (Thee Katatonix), Greg Breazeale, 55 (Beavers Cleavers), Adolf Kowalski, 56 (Thee Katatonix), Steven Reech, 50 (The Dinosaurs), Skizz Cyzyk, 50 (Burried Droog), Craig Hankin, 61 (The Reason), Scott Pendleton, 63 (Fuji's Navy), David Wilcox/Steptoe, 66 (The Alcoholics), Big Andy Small, 56 (Thee Katatonix), Steve Cavaselis, 54, (Party Dolls), Jamie Wilson, 64 (Da Moronics), John Gontrum/Johnnie Angel, 53 (Avalanche), William Sutherland/Brian Jones aka Lump(y), 60 (Judie's Fixation), Robyn Webb/Dick Hertz, 60 (Infant Lunch), Ron Weldon, 50 (Grey March) and Anthony Piazza, 58 (Eubie Hayve).
As the Sun quoted yours truly (me) in the article:
"It was just really good to see those faces," says Tom Warner, an original member of Thee Katatonix, "and to know so many people were still around."
"You can read it in the Sunday papers": Baltimore Sun, October 30, 2016
The key figure among all those faces was the one smack dab in the middle: Leslee Anderson. If Roger Anderson was the King, LesLee was surely the Queen of the Marble Bar Scene, and it was wonderful to see her return to her marble throne, surrounded by her adoring minions. Incidentally, she looked great, like she hadn't aged a day since the '80s. No doubt she was still buzzing from singing a few tunes the night before with Hoppy Hopkins' band, Baltimore Rockabilly. As Billy Poore wrote in Rockabilly: A Forty-year Journey, "I ain't seen any other chick up on a stage anywhere (that at least ain't on a major label) that can touch her live show when she's got the right, rehearsed band behind her." Late great guitarist Danny Gatton (who, like Poore, worked on LesLee's 1988 Runnin' Wild album) agreed, once telling a DC music paper, "...that girl can rock out better on stage than any damn woman I ever saw."
LesLee Anderson behind the famous (and still intact) Marble Bar, 2016 (photo by Robyn Webb)
LesLee behind the Marble Bar, sometime in the '80s (photo by Jim Moon)
Bands of Brothers
Lost in the context of the group photo was how many different bands were represented and reunited (if only by one or two members) this day. Of course, some people - like Mark O'Connor, David Wilcox, Jamie Wilson, and Hoppy Hopkins (who once famously quipped "The Marble is the first place you play on your way up, and the last place you play on your way down") - played in so many ensembles that it would be hard to list them all. Below are some of the major combos that were in attendance:
Thee Katatonix: Tommy Gunn (Tom Warner), Steevee Squeegee (Mike Milstein), Adolf Kowalski (Ross Haupt), Mr. Urbanity (Charlie Gatewood), and Big Andy Small. Sorely missed was Katatonix founder-bassist and lone female member, Katie Katatonic. Not to mention Little Kato Kowalski (John Sovitsky).
Who let the Kats out?: Mr. Urbanity, Steevee Squeegee, Tommy Gunn, Adolf Kowalski, Big Andy Small (photo by Amy Warner)
"Hey, where's Squeege? And where the heck is Katie?" (photo by Mike Hearse)
"We're still waiting for you to get in the picture, Steevee!" (photo by Mike Hearse)
Penniless & The Loafers: LesLee Anderson (also The Twisters), Greg Breazeale (also Beaver's Cleavers), Mark Shimonkevitz
Da Moronics: Tom DiVenti, Hoppy Hopkins, Jamie Wilson
Da Moronics outside Odorite, 1978: Jamie Wilson, Tom DiVenti, Hoppy Hopkins, Bill Moriarty, Dave Brubaker (photo by Paula Gillen)
Buck Subtle: Mark O’Connor and Jamie Wilson
Buck Subtle's Jamie Wilson & Mark O'Connor
Strangelove: Woody Lissauer and Billy McConnell
Billy and Woody share Strangelove
Alcoholics: Dave Wilcox (Steptoe T. Magnificent), LesLee Anderson
Steptoe and LesLee, back in the day (photo by Jim Moon)
Judie’s Fixation: William Sutherland (aka Lumpy, Brian Jones), Craig Stinchcomb (aka Dick Goesinya, Jacques Strap)
Craig Stinchcomb and William Sutherland of Judie's Fixation rock the upstairs Galaxy Ballroom
The Reason/Bruce Springstone: Craig Hankin, Tom Chalkley
The Reason at the Marble Bar: Tom Chalkey and Craig Hankin, far right
The Click/Sunday Cannons: Ed Neenan
The Sunday Cannons
It turned out to be a historic event with an unanticipated (big) turnout. And there would have been even more Marble Bar alumni - and maybe even some gal rockers like Julie Smith (Social Skill), Leslie Miller (Question 47), Ceil Strakna (Boy Meets Girl, Big As a House), Cindy Borchardt (The Beaters, The Monuments), Valerie "Onyx" Favazza (The Onyx Azza Band), and Rosalie Wampler (Multiplex, Late Show, Talk Show, Edith Massey & The Evidence, Wall Street) representing - had the photo shoot not occurred on a holiday weekend (Monday was Columbus Day) when many regulars were out of town or otherwise unavailable. Notably absent and missed were Gyro J. Scope (Ed Barker) - the gifted singer and bassist with countless groups (Outrageous, Food For Worms, Blammo) over the years, including what was essentially the Marble's house band, The Alcoholics - as well as Tommy Reed (St. Vitus Dance) and Chuck Gross (The Beaters, The Toys, Mad Habits).
"I'm sorry I could not attend. I am still underground." - Stoc Marcut (Scott Marcus of Fear of God), posting from beyond the grave on social media
Besides the 30 musicians who posed for the "Marble Bar Alums" photo, there were maybe another half-dozen fans and former staff in attendance, including scenesters Amy Warner (who married two MB musicians, Mark Linthicum and Tom Warner), Donna Stinnett Bowen (aka "Lady Diode," staff writer for the Marble Bar fanzine Tone Scale), George Wilcox (brother of David and creator of many stylish Marble Bar "musigraphix" flyers and calendars), Coffin Cuties magazine publisher Mike Hearse, Robin Stuprich Linton (former bartender and manager-music booker for the Marble Bar and Galaxy Lounge), and more.
Donna Stinnett Bowen, Amy & Tom Warner, Robin Linton, & Greg Breazeal
Donna Stinnett Bowen & Amy Warner
40-plus people would have been a decent weeknight turnout for a show at the Marble Bar when it was open! There would have been even more if the shoot wasn't limited to musicians and staff. I would have liked to have seen more of the Marble gals like Katie Katatonic (don't forget, she founded Thee Katatonix), Jackie the Bartender, Patti Jensen Vucci (another Marble bartender), Carol Underwood, Wendy Wallace, Michele Oshman, Susie Borchardt, Kyle Powers,Cindi Heidel, Mindi Siegel, Julie Kalthof, Lori Heddinger, Beth Sherring, Mary "Myrt" Crivello, Alice (McKee) Wilcox,Aziza Doumani, Patti Codd, Valerie Potrzuski, and Michelle Hovatter. (Not to mention Marble Bar cheerleader Pam Purdy, who passed away in 2007, R.I.P.) Unlike the hardcore scene that flourished later around town, the Marble Bar really had a close-knit sisterhood. As Robin Linton told the Baltimore City Paper in 2000 ("Glory Hole" by Brennen Jensen), "There were no classes, no fashion or attitude. It was a centralized meeting point, a musical melting pot, and the best years of my life."
I hope this rekindles memories and, more importantly in the age of Social Media, connections between those who were there, as they share stories, pics, and memorabilia in the days and years to come!
"Other than committing a crime, this is one of the only ways to make it into The Sun!" - Ed Neenan
Marble Bar, "Home of the Stars" during its heyday 1978-1985
You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello...Again!
It was a weird day. Not sure exactly where everyone would gather for the shoot, upon arriving I looked around to see if I saw any familiar faces hanging around outside the Congress. Down the street I saw a guy in a leather jacket with a cane approaching, and correctly surmised that it had to be erstwhile Reptile House guitarist and Merkin Records honcho, Joe Goldsborough. As was the day's theme, he was dressed all in black. In fact, dark clothing and leather jackets seemed to be the fashion code for all '80s rock 'n' rollers returning here.
They Stoop To Conquer: A motley crew of Marble Bar regulars reunite outside the Congress Hotel. L-R: Tom Warner, Amy Warner, Woody Lissauer, Donna Stinnett Bowen, George Wilcox, Adolf Kowalski, Robin Stuprich Linton, Ed Neenan, and "Big" Andy Small (photo by Mike Hearse)
Some people came prepared with swag, others with musical props. Robyn Webb brought a bagful of Mark Harp "Big Man" buttons (the big dude still abides!). Adolf Kowalski brought a handful of "Thee Katatonix" stickers to decorate/deface every nearby building with, as well as a flyer for the last Marble Bar show. Mike Hearse brought copies of his sexy horror magazine Coffin Cuties to distribute and have his idols pose with. Mike Milstein, Woody Lissauer, and Billy McConnell brought guitars. And Tom Chalkley came armed with his harmonicas belt.
"Are you here for the Ethical Society meetup, too?"
People gathered around the gated steps that used to be the street entrance to the Marble Bar before realizing they had to go to the lobby of the hotel to get inside. Venturing upstairs into the lobby of the Congress Hotel, I passed a table where a woman was dispensing name tags for a gathering of the Baltimore Ethical Society. (How ironic!) She didn't even bother asking if I was there for the meeting - she knew something else was up!
George Wilcox lost his marbles at the Marble Bar. (He's not alone!)
Joe Goldsborough & Mike Milstein reaquaint themselves with the Congress lobby
LesLee Anderson, Craig Stinchcombe, William Sutherland, Greg Breazeale, Tom Chakley and Amy Warner in Congress Lobby
George Wilcox, Woody Lissauer, Greg Breazeale, Big Andy Small
Leslee Anderson and Tom DiVenti meet & greet in the Congress Hotel Lobby
Mike Milstein, Mark O'Connor, Greg Breazeale and Amy Warner
Skizz Cyzyk, Tom DiVenti, and Robyn Webb
The lobby was nice-looking, way nicer than I remembered the last time I set foot there. When Marble Bar-istas weren't downstairs in the bar, they sometimes ventured upstairs to get food from the Renaissance Room, a side room to the left of the lobby...
Renaissance Room restaurant: fine dining in the Congress Hotel lobby!
"The Marble Bar had its own fanzine, "Tone Scale," and its own after hours restaurant, the Renaissance Room. Both were crummy. Both were cool." - Michael Yockel ("What Is and What Should Never Be")
"Tone Scale," October 1982. (Cover by Dave Brubaker)
Later, regulars would also check out events in the Galaxy Ballroom (formerly The Baltimore Pub) on the right of the lobby. Vermin Supreme and his Jockee Clubbe cohorts started booking regular shows in the Galaxy around the summer of 1985, before the jig was up for both it and the Marble Bar. Before that the Galaxy was utilized for various special events, including the (in)famous "1983 World Subgenius Convention" that was organized by Sam Fitzsimmons (Motor Morons) and Vermin, among others.
Galaxy Ballroom "Grand Opening" flyer
Back of Galaxy flyer: "After Hours Restaurant & Discotheque"
The Galaxy Ballroom hosted the 1983 World Subgenius Convention
Live from the Galaxy Ballroom, it's "The Larry Vega Show"!
Supreme, Robyn Webb and Dave Sarfaty were later responsible for the unoffical re-opening of the Marble in October 1985 when a big, seven-band Jockee Clubbe Halloween party in Mt. Vernon got shut down and had to relocate. "That was the party that got shut down when the city condemned the parking garage where the party was," Robyn Webb (who was playing in one of the featured party bands that night, Infant Lunch) recalled. "LesLee gave me the keys to the Marble/Galaxy, Dave Sarfaty booked the city trolley to meet the attendees at the parking garage and take them to the new secret location, the Marble Bar...the rest is jockee clubbe history." Below is the flyer for the party, courtesy of Kenny Vieth.
Jockee Clubbe party flyer
Time Will Not Dim the Glory of Their Hole, or "The Old Place Hasn't Changed a Bit!":
An elevator manned by impromptu bellhop Chris Kaltenbach brought everyone downstairs. It was, as he later wrote, "a modern convenience hitherto unimagined" by the crew gathered there.
"C'mon Adolf, suck in your gut so we can close the door," Mr. Urbanity pleads in the crowded elevator
It took five packed elevator trips to get everybody downstairs to the basement, but there were quite a few epiphanies as people stepped off and beheld the old haunt.
"The minute I got off that elevator and saw the place, I knew I was home!" - Craig Stinchcomb
"I never knew the Marble Bar had windows until that day. It was a Marble Mitzvah!" - Ed "Here Comes the Sun (And I Say It's Alright)" Neenan
"The ol' Marble smelled better than it did back in the day and a dead rat on the floor managed to keep us from feeling too nostalgic." - Craig Hankin
There was at least one casualty from the good ol' gang
Before the scrum of Marble Bar regulars filled the basement and gravitated to the namesake marble bar, the following images (taken by Amy Warner) were our first impressions of the long dormant room.
Stairway to...Heaven? (photo by Amy Warner)
Roomeo Void? (Photo by Amy Warner)
The Filth Column ?(Photo by Amy Warner)
Crack the Sky? (Photo by Amy Warner)
And then everybody's cameras came out to snap pics as Sun photographer Amy Davis scrambled to set up and figure out how to get 30 people in frame and still show some of that famous marble bar. (Thank goodness for wide-angle lens and, more importantly, her innate skill!)
Here's a video clip of the Marble Bar alums checking out the basement.
"People take photos of each other, just to prove that they really existed...When we were young and the world was free, pictures of things as they used to be" - The Kinks, "People Take Pictures of Each Other"
"Behold, the Marble Bar, home of the stars!"
I smell a rat...oh wait, it's just Adolf Kowalski!
Craig Hankin (The Reason) and Tom Warner (Thee Katatonix)
LesLee Anderson and Craig Hankin
Amy Warner takes her rightful place at the bar
Donna Stinnett Bowen asks, "You come here often, hon?"
David "Steptoe T, Magnificent" Wilcox (photo by Robyn Webb)
LesLee Anderson says, "Home Sweet Home" (photo by Robyn Webb)
Tom Diventi is ready to place his order
Boys with Toys: Mike Milsteen, Billy McConnell, Woody Lissauer and Tom Chalkley
Mike Milstein, Woody Lissauer, Adolf Kowalksi
Donna Bowen, Amy & Tom Warner, Robin Linton and Greg Breazeale
"Pretty darned comfortable, that Marble Bar!"
Rockers roosting on the Marble Bar
"We're ready for our close-ups now!"
Amy Warner stands a step back from the madding crowd
Steptoe, Robin, and LesLee man the bar
David Wilcox, LesLee Anderson, Robin Linton
LesLee Anderson and Robin Linton sort through basement debris
"Isn't this exciting?" asks Amy, as Robyn Webb gets ready to take a panoramic shot
The troops amass
More meandering about
Tom Diventi and William Sutherland check their phones
Sun photographer Amy Davis sets the scene
Adolf Kowalski confers with Amy Davis
30 years later and, still, "the waiting is the hardest part"
Amy Davis comes out of the shadows to snap a shot of Strangelove with LesLee Anderson
Amy Davis sheds light on Strangelove
Look at those windows! Who knew the Marble Bar had them?
Billy McConnell, LesLee Anderson, Woody Lissauer
Billy, LesLee and Woody bask in the light
Billy McConnell: Except for Rock & Roll, "We're All Doomed."
David Wilcox and Anthony Piazza pose with "Coffin Cuties" (photo by Mike Hearse)
David Wilcox, Ed Neenan (holding "Coffin Cuties" mag) and Skizz Cyzyk (photo by Mike Hearse)
"Hey, is this what the place is named after?" asks a reclining Skizz Cyzyk (photo by Ed Neenan)
Original Katatonix Tom Warner and Adolf Kowalski display flyer for final Marble Bar show
Close-up of Marble Bar Closing show (May 9, 1987)
Glory (Hole) Days
Before the gory, there was glory inside this hole. Something was happening here in the late '70s and early '80s that couldn't be found anywhere else in town. Sure, later venues like the 8x10 in Federal Hill and the post-disco (air-conditioned) Girard's would eventually siphon off the Marble base, but for a time this was thee place to be for local and touring bands.
"When Roger and LesLee took over, they wanted the Marble to be a Top 40 club, but they put on a new wave show one Sunday, and 200 people showed up. Something clicked in Roger's head, and he started booking that kind of music exclusively." - David Wilcox
The two best in-depth articles about the Marble Bar's glory days of 1978-1985 are Michael Yockel's "What Is and What Should Never Be" (a history of local music venues, City Paper, June 19, 1987) and Brennen Jensen's "Glory Hole" (City Paper, December 6, 2000). Following are some facts and quotes extracted from both.
"For a time, the Marble Bar was a scene..."
"For a time, the Marble Bar was a scene, perhaps the only bona fide one that Baltimore has ever engendered. A recurring weekend happening fed on sufficient national, regional, and local talent - and which enjoyed sufficient local support - to sustain and nurture itself. Sure, it followed trends formulated elsewhere (New York, London, Los Angeles) and it existed on the dull edge of the musical cutting edge, but it was undeniably exciting, occasionally drawing big, enthusiastic crowds which swelled with a certain self-importance as they swilled beer." - Michael Yockel ("What Is and What Should Never Be")
"...for two years, 1980 and 1981, the Marble Bar was the locus for a bona fide rock scene, a place where next-big-thing English, European, and American bands mixed with a thriving coterie of local funsters. Freezing in the Winter, roasting in the Summer, always mega-uncomfortable, the Marble Bar locked on to the burgeoning new wave...while thumbing its nose at the Beltway circuit's tired cliches and the Fish's [music venue No Fish Today] hippie haze." (Michael Yockel, "What Is and What Should Never Be")
"Given the room's squalor, it's clear that in 2000, the only thing this joint can serve up is memories. And nobody has more of those than [LesLee] Anderson. Between 1978 and 1985, she and her late husband Roger Anderson ran a rock club down here. Under their tutelege, this basement - named after its most prominent feature, that long stone bar - was Baltimore's CBGBs. It was The Scene, the bar that brought punk and new wave to a slumbering town mired in cover bands and disco." - Brennen Jensen ("Glory Hole")
Yes, during its glory years from 1978 to 1985, the Marble Bar booked some of what Michael Yockel called the "best and brightest bands to spin out of that era's punk/new wave explosion." Below is George Wilcox's famous flyer that lists all the bands (local and national) who played at the Marble Bar. Click to enlarge.
"Goodbye Marble Bar, 1978-1985" (flyer by G. R. Wilcox, 1985)
Enlargement showing some of the many bands that played the Marble
As the "Goodbye Marble Bar" flyer attests, high-profile Marble Bar national acts alumni included Iggy Pop, Johnny Thunders, The Cramps, 999, Psychedelic Furs, X, Squeeze, The Talking Heads, R.E.M., The A's, Polyrock, Bauhaus, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Dwight Twilley, Comateens, Dead Boys, A Flock of Seagulls, The Dickies, 20/20, Huey Lewis and the News, Alan Holdsworth, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, John Cale, The Bush Tetras, Dirty Looks, The Searchers, Eddie & The Hot Rods, Rubber Rodeo, Robin Lane & The Chartbusters, X, Oingo Boingo, Tommy Keene, The Fleshtones, Butthole Surfers, Urban Verbs, The Ventures, The Minutemen, The Teardrop Explodes, Romeo Void, and more.
"The Marble is the first place you play on your way up, and the last place you play on your way down." - Hoppy Hopkins (Da Moronics and countless other bands)
Locally, the Marble banged the drums for Da Moronics, Judie's Fixation, Oral Fixation, Thee Katatonix, The Catholics, The Accused, Rock Hard Peter, Bangah, Null Set, Cabal, The 45s, Poverty & Spit, The Casio Cowboys, Beyond Words, Nuvo Blind, Industrial Dance Band, The Weasels, Tommy Keene, Grey March, Acrylix, Dark Side, The Beaters, Onyx Azza, Beaver's Cleavers, Edith Massey, The Beatoes, Fuji's Navy, The Sunday Cannons, Mission, The Reactors, Blue Car, The Click, RBT, Boy Meets Girl, Human Remain, Scratch 'n' Sniff, The Boatniks, Ivan & The Executioners, The Razz, Burried Droog, The Monuments, Here Today, The Breakers, Alter Legion, The Motor Morons, Van Gogh's Ear, 1/2 Japanese, The Skeptics, Reesa & The Rooters, Zehn Archar, Shameless Mooks, Richard Taylor & The Ravers, Sluglug 3, Baltech, Infant Lunch, Reptile House, Fear of God, Jerry's Kids, Boys in the River, The Young Professionals, Tru Fax & The Insaniacs, Tex Rubinowitz, Strangelove, The Nighthawks, Root Boy Slim, Tiny Desk Unit, Black Market Baby, Off the Wall, Slickee Boys, Original Fetish, Bad Brains, Velvet Monkeys, and so on, and so on.
Around to see and support - as well as to photograph, videotape, write or create art about - many of those performances were die-hard scenesters like Marty Benson, Keith Worst, George Ches, Steve Blum (aka "Studnutz," "Dr. Ray Blummo"), Rafael Alvarez, Steve Randall (aka "Steve Scandal" of Ivan & The Executioners), Rod Misey (WCVT radio DJ), Mark and Ed (Lizard) Rosen, Ronnie Barker, Michael Tolson (aka "tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE"), Chick Veditz (of Chick's Legendary Records fame, who spun records once a week at the Marble for awhile), and Adolf Kowalski's mysterious shutterbug pal known only as "Lou Reed." Let 'er R.I.P.:
Unfortunately, some very important major players from the scene are no longer with us. The fallen include Roger Anderson, Stoc Marcut (Scott Marcus of Fear of God and Jerry's Kids), Mark Harp (Mark Linthicum), "Pope" Croke (Tom Croke of Infant Lunch, Mo Fine's All-Blind Orchestra and Furniture Falling Down the Stairs), Vaughn Keith ("Ben Wah" of Judie's Fixation), and Pam Purdy. May they continue to sing, play and dance up in The Cloud.
Roger Anderson died of a heart attack April 26, 1984 (City Paper photo)
Stoc Marcut died in 1995 (photo from his Facebook page)
Mark Harp died December 24, 2004.
Vaughn Keith died April 22, 1990 (photo by Jim Moon)
"Pope" Croke died December 26, 2012 (City Paper photo)
Pamela Purdy at a City Paper party (photo by Joseph Kohl). Pam passed in 2007.
Oh, and lest we forget, John Waters film star Edith Massey sang at the Marble Bar with various backing groups, including Edie and The Eggs (featuring Dundalk native and future Go-Gos drummer Gina Schock) during her foray into "punk rock." Edith passed away October 24, 1984.
Edith Massey (here backed by Thee Katatonix) died October 24, 1984.
They Live To Play Another Day:
A number of Marble Bar veterans are still at it. Skizz Cyzyk (Go Pills, Garage Sale, The Stents, ad infinitum) and former Moronics Hoppy Hopkins (Mambo Combo, Baltimore Rockabilly, among others) - whose rockabilly band played the night before the photo-shoot with LesLee Anderson guesting on vocals! - and Jamie Wilson (Barrage Band Orchestra, O'Malley's March, Buck Subtle & The Lonely Planets, and way too many others to list!) may be the most active, with Ed Neenan (E. Joseph & The Phantom Heart, E. Joseph and The Sparrows), Bob "Beefalo" Fiedman (Mambo Combo), Craig Considine (Almighty Senators, Rumba Club, Boister), William Sutherland (Darla Jean and the Somethin' Or Others), Chris Ciatti (Batworth Stone), Craig Stinchcomb (Kelly Locklear Jacobs Band), Billy McConnell (Life On Mars Band), Gyro J. Scope (Skunkpuppies), Joe Manfre (12 Gauge Sunrise, Harlan County Kings), Rosalie Wampler & Dave Zidek (Harlan County Kings), Julie Smith & Tom Cohan & Greg Breazeale (Go Dog Go!) also still rockin' on. The "Classic American Songbook - Marble Bar Chapter" is being kept alive by Chelsea Graveyard, led by David "Steptoe" Wilcox with fellow MB survivors Mike Milstein and Henry Lingenfelder; and, yes, they still "scream at midnight." Until last year, The Motor Morons (Sam Fitzsimmons, Craig Stinchcomb, Tom DiVenti) could always be counted on to play the SoWeBohemian Festival, where former Marble-related groups like Thee Katatonix, The Beatoes, and The Mark Harp All-Stars (Robyn Webb, Chris Dennstaedt, Ben Watson, Chris "Batworth" Ciatti, Ceil Strakna, Cindy Borchardt, David Wilcox, Bob "Beefalo" Friedman, Bill Dawson, Dave Zidek) have resurfaced in recent years. Tom DiVenti also periodically resurfaces as T.T. Tucker (and with Jamie Wilson in his Bum Rush Band). Former Accused drummer Mike Fiore has resurfaced as a guitarist in Black Velvet Express and Johnny Barefoot. David Cawkwell of The Accused and Mission is now in When Thunder Comes. Erstwhile Blue Car bassist David Cawley (Berserk, Nu-Beats, Order Now!, The Lumpies, Young Prufrock Alliance) now entertains the masses with Skizz Cyzyk in Garage Sale. Woody Lissauer (Strangelove, Cubic Feet) never stopped playing and is his own one-man band. Mark O'Connor until recently was playing with Buck Subtle (whose ranks at one time also included former Moronics bassist Chuck Freeman) and B.L.A.M.M.O., whose stellar CD recordings are well worth checking out. And Mikel Gehl (Nuvo Blind, Neige, Love Riot and many more) still plays with Lisa Matthews in the popular kid-rock band Milkshake. Probably the most high-profile alumni of the Marble Bar is Gina Schock, who went on to find fame playing drums with The Go-Gos after playing here in Scratch 'n' Sniff with Danny "Danimal" Brown (who also played with Thee Katatonix, Edith Massey and Cabal) and backing Edith Massey in Edie and the Eggs.
Some Legendary Shows:
Iggy Pop, The Psychedlic Furs, Squeeze, 999, The Ventures, A Flock of Seagulls - all standing room only gigs packed to the gills...The Dead Kennedys' Jello Biafro almost getting electrocuted when is microphone shorted...Adolk Kowalski writing "Huey Lewis SUCKS" on the men's room wall just as Huey Lewis comes in to take a leak - and then shaking his hand and giving him a Katatonix button!...Mark Harp shaving his beard onstage with the Casio Cowboys...Thee Katatonix blowing out the sound system 10 minutes into their first gig with Judie's Fixation...Rootboy Slim passing out in the dressing room...Thee Kats later transgendering into "The Spit-Ups" after DC's snooty all-girl Pin-Ups pulled out of a gig...Judie's Fixation frontman Ben Wah (Vaughn Keith) opening beer cans with his teeth...Da Moronics singer Don White banging his mic and ad-libbing "Spinal tap, I got a spinal tap" during technical difficulties...Edie Massey doing her "punk" show with a last-minute pick-up band...and so many more come to mind.
Johnny Thunders (January 29, 1982)
In January 1982, ex-New York Dolls Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan (both now deceased) stumbled into town to play a besotted show before a rowdy Baltimore crowd. During the set, Thunders verbally abused the crowd (who gave it right back). [Jim Moon was at that show and has some great pictures of that and other Marble Bar performances on his Flickr page.]
Johnny Thunders at Marble Bar (January 29, 1982) - photo by Jim Moon
Johnny Thunders Band at Marble Bar (January 29, 1982) - photo by Jim Moon
Tom Cohan (Zehn Archar): "This friend of mine had a beer can in his hand and - lovingly - just kinda tossed it [at the stage], as if to say 'Come on, Thunders.' But the hand of God took that beer can. It just floated across everyone's heads and smacked Thunders smack-dab in his forehead. I even have it on tape. You hear Thunders going, 'Oh, you Baltimore children are so mind-expanding,' and then all of a sudden you hear this 'pop.' He just looked at the crowd, said, 'Thank you, children,' put down his guitar, grabbed his Jack Daniel's off the top of his amp, unplugged, and went out the front door." (Quote from "Glory Days," City Paper, December 6, 2000)
Michael Yockel: "Easter Eve, Saturday, April 5, 1980, is the Marble Bar's night to remember. Squeeze bounded into the place with D.C. rockmeisters The Catholics, and the place was wall-to-wall wavers. You couldn't move. With nearly 600 people crowded into the place, the Marble perspired to Squeeze's slappy new wave pop, as keyboardist Jools Holland ping-ponged off the walls."
999 (April 23, 1980)
999/Original Fetish show at Marble Bar (April 23, 1980)
David Wilcox: "For me, the 999 show [April 23, 1980] was a real high point. There were probably 550 people there, and they were on each other's shoulders. For the first time, you felt like something was happening here." (Quote from "What Is and What Should Never Be," City Paper, June 19, 1987)
Dead Kennedys w/ Black Market Baby (April 16 1981)
LesLee Anderson: "One of the best shows was the Dead Kennedys. We had
600 people come through the doors. I looked up from packing beers behind the
bar, and kids were just flying around like wild fish--this place was mass
lunacy. Oh, and I'll never forget how [head Kennedy] Jello
Biafra left his pants here. I had to mail them back
to him. They were soaking wet and full of holes, but he called me up and said
he had to have them the next day. I offered to wash and dry them, and he said,
'Absolutely not!'" (Quote from "Glory Days," City Paper, December 6, 2000)
Dead Kennedys with Black Market Baby flier (DC Public Library, Special Collections)
Roger Anderson with Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra
There are so many more that I can't think of at the moment. Watch this space...
Never say Goodbye, Say "Ciao!"
"Well, that was fun! We must do this again in 30 years!"
Marble Bar Milestones:
Thanksgiving 1976: Scott Cunningham and Jack Voss opened the Marble Bar; Voss later left the partnership. Cunningham named his club after the club's 72-foot long marble bar.
May 1977: A photo of a Loose Shoes Rhythm Band gig at the Marble Bar appeared on the cover of the first issue of the City Paper, then called City Squeeze.
Fall 1977: Scott Cunningham and Steven "TeeVee" Feldman (Loose Shoes singer) started booking music seven days a week at the Marble Bar; major acts like Talking Heads, Squeeze, Pere Ubu, and Eddie Money played there.
November 1978: Roger & LesLee Anderson took over the Marble Bar after Cunningham had a falling out with Congress Hotel owner Sam Palumbo.
Easter Eve, April 5, 1980: Nearly 600 fans packed the Marble Bar to see Squeeze; DC's The Catholics opened. (Squeeze had previously played the Marble on June 4, 1978.)
April 23, 1980: Over 500 people turned up to see UK punk rockers 999; DC's The Original Fetish opened,
May 1983: Roger & LesLee Anderson opened the Galaxy Lounge in the Congress Hotel lobby-level room formerly known as the Baltimore Pub.
April 26, 1984: Roger Anderson died from a heart attack. He was 37. Tom Cohan: "When Roger died, something went missing from Baltimore: club owners who loved rock 'n' roll. We were left with people who were out to make money. Roger was the only club owner I ever met who was actually a rocker. He had a fire for it."
1984-1985: LesLee Anderson and long-time Marble employee Robin Stuprich kept the Marble open and continued to book bands
December 1984: Someone broke into Marble Bar and stole LesLee Anderson's wedding ring and Dobro guitar
May 31, 1985: LesLee Anderson officially closed the Marble Bar with a farewell concert featuring her band The Twisters, Off the Wall, and remnants of Roger Anderson's old band, Clear.
June 1985-November 1985: Marble Bar bartender Robin Stuprich, her husband Ed Linton, and Joe Gary started booking no-alcohol, all-ages hardcore shows (Bad Brains, Dead Milkmen, Henry Rollins, Butthole Surfers) at the Marble Bar.
November 1985: Vermin Supreme (Scott Taylor) reopened the Baltimore Pub as "The Fabulous Galaxy Lounge."
December 1985: Vermin Supreme reopened the Marble Bar, booking bands from the Roger/LesLee days.
Summer 1986: Former WHFS DJ Clara Petrini took over running the Galaxy Lounge
Late January 1987: The Marble Bar closed again. Three "final night" farewell shows ensued.
May 9, 1987: "Marble Bar Closing Night III" put the club to bed at a show featuring Thee Katatonix, Da Moronics, and Human Remain.
All over but the shouting: the final Marble Bar show (May 9, 1987)
Some Marble Bar Bands-Related Records:
Leslee "Bird" Anderson - "Runnin' Wild" (Renegade Records, 1988)
Bruce Springstone 12-inch (Cold Cuts Records, 1982) - art by John Ebersberger
Bruce Springstone 12-inch back cover - art by Tom Chalkley