Sunday, June 03, 2007

Marble Bar Poster Art

After blogging about the Chelsea Graveyard/Slickee Boys Memorial Weekend show at the Ottobar, I got nostalgic and dug up my Marble Bar memorabilia. Recalling that at 2005's Marble Bar 20th Reunion some guy had given me a CD full of scanned pix of old posters and calendars, I finally loaded it into the computer for a look-see. I'm posting some of the best here because, well, no one else to my knowledge has put them up there. So, for history (and old Marble Bar-ers)'s sake, here 'tis. I will try to update with more as time allows. For best viewing results, click to enlarge all posters.

Some of these were made by the bands themselves, but the calendars and Alcoholics posters were all probably made by George Wilcox or his bro David (Steptoe T. Magnificent) Wilcox. Some of these are for shows at Oddfellows Hall or D.C. bars, but they date from the Marble Bar era and feature Bawmer/Marble Bar bands.

I like seeing the listings of what bands were around during this time. Take this August 1980 calendar.

It features The Alcoholics, The Bollocks, The Breakers, The Casual Carriers (Annapolitans), The Catholics, The Dark Side, The Enzymes, Judies Fixation (from Annapolis), The Reason (rock critic J.D. Considine's band), Off the Wall, The Original Fetish (D.C.ers who secured a whole weekend slot), Reesa & The Rooters (from Philly), Root Boy Slim, The Sorrows, Tiny Desk Unit (from D.C.) and national acts like bloozers John Lee Hooker and Big Walter Horton and NYC's The Boyfriends. But who the hell were the RBT Band? (Oh wait, RBT has a MySpace page that says: "rbt formed in binghamton, ny in 1979 and attracted a large following throughout the northeast, playing landmarks such as CBGB, Maxs Kansas City, The Marble Bar and every other rathole from NYC to St. louis MO." They apparently had a Northeast college radio hit in "Facts and Figures" and opened for Iggy Pop and The Romantics. And I think RBT stood for Resonated Brain Tissue.)

This is the famous flyer that lists all the bands (local and national) who played at the Marble. Click to enlarge.

This poster announces the grand opening on May 13, 1983 of The Galaxy Ballroom, which was located upstairs from the Marble Bar on the main floor of The Congress Hotel. Onyx Azza's band provided the musical entertainment. Friday the 13th? A sign of things to come?

And this was the flipside of the above flyer:

BOY MEETS GIRL (June 1982):
This poster was probably created by the band. Who would be, left to right: Tom McNickel (guitar & vocals), Vickie Ruth (drums), Ceil Strakna (guitar & vocals) and Ira Kessler (bass). I know Ceil was a graphic artist, so maybe she designed it.

God I loved this band, and was lucky enough to get to have them on my old Johns Hopkins University radio show (this was way before Marc Steiner's WYPR crew moved in on Respectable Street - back when the station had a 5-mile broadcast umbrella and was staffed mainly by Towson State rejects!). If my memory serves me well, The Parrot Club was what became the Trenton Street Station and is now something called Wall Street. It was on Maryland Avenue across from what once was The American Revolution (or American Rev, for short), yet another rock club in that block between North Avenue and Lafayette Street, across from the gay biker bar The Gallery. Later the American Dime Museum and Atomic Books took up residence on this happening block. Anyway, I still think their music was phenomenal, as the band was blessed with two outstanding songwriters, McNick penning classics like "You Better Look Both Ways (Before You Cross the Street To My Love)" and Ceil's "I'm the Girl with the X-Ray Vision" ("I can see right through your lies"), and both having a knack for timeless cover material like Johnny Cash's "Jackson." Bassist Ira Kessler went on to join the band Elements of Design.

Sadly, a UK band called Boy Meets Girl (a duo consisting of keyboardist and vocalist George Merrill and singer Shannon Rubicam) appropriated the name from across the pond in the mid-80s; these pretenders to the throne are best known for writing two number one hits for Whiteny Houston: "How Will I Know" and "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)."

JUDIE'S FIXATION (April 1983):
The great Annapolis punk rockers circa 1978-1980 and back for a return engagement in 1983. The lineup was Brian Jones (guitar), GC Murphy (bass), Jacques Strap (drums), Phideux Phlech (guitar) and Ben Wah (vocals). Side project Oral Fixation was a JF spinoff with roughly 10 members. The outstanding artwork was by Craig W. Stitchcomb.

I really like this one. Looks to be a depiction of St. Vitus Dance singer Tommy Reed, Alcoholics frontman Dave Wilcox (Steptoe T. Magnificent) and the way out frontwoman of Washington, D.C.'s Pin-Ups.

I recall that my old band Thee Katatonix were once scheduled to open for The Pin-Ups (or the Stuck-Ups, as my ex used to call them), who cancelled because they thought their gimmick - a mostly Girl Group of three gals and one guy, wouldn't work playing with our lineup of three guys and one gal. So the male Kats (Adolf Kowalski, Little Kato Kowalski and Tommy Gunn) put on dresses while Katie Katatonic dressed up as a guy (as pictured below). (Shame we can't fit into those dresses anymore!)

Boys will be girls at the Marble Bar

Tommy, Katie, Kato & Adolf as The Spit-Ups

We called ourselves The Spit-Ups and each one of us played an instrument we knew even less about than our "expert" axes - I think I played guitar instead of drums, Kato pounded the skins, Katie sang, and Adolf played bass. I guess the joke was on us because the cacaphony we created wasn't much worse than a regular Katatonix set. Today, of course, our Spit-Ups sound would have been called "experimental" and we could probably get regular gigs at The Red Room and High Zero Festival.

Ha! And here's the flyer for that abortive Pin-Ups show, featuring George Wilcox's flattering cartoon renderings of the band that made we mutants feel like we were beautiful mutants.

The unnamed dude on the end was our roadie/bodyguard Al Brown, brother of Danny "Danimal" Brown (a Dundalk pal of Adolf's who once played with future Go-Go drummer Gina Schock in a combo called Scratch 'n' Sniff; Danny would also play with The Injections, as well as Thee Katatonix - everyone ended up in Adolf's band eventually!)

THEE KATATONIX (August 1980):

My old band. Ah, memories. This was an Adolf Kowalski original from 1980, with lettering courtesy of Dave Wilcox, appropriated image courtesy of National Bohemian's "Land of Pleasant Living" Troubadour, and featuring two of our then-current slogans: "Be vile for awhile with Thee Katatonix" and "The band that adds assault to insult." The latter proved rather prophetic on August 11, as our gig at Scandals in Washington, D.C. erupted into a riot and the promoter went to jail. We hung an American flag behind us, prompting somebody in the audience to comment, "I think they're political." Our set at this time also featured Adolf donning a strap-on dildo and then slicing chunks of it off and tossing them into the audience during our ditty "(I Sure Miss My) Foreskin." Perhaps that was construed as political by the inside-the-Beltway sophisticates as well. (By the way, we were anti-circumcision before it became trendy.)

THEE KATATONIX (January 1980):
Our first gig of 1980 and our first performance with new guitarist Kato Kowalski. It was also notable for being the first time we blew out a PA system, curtailing our already short set just minutes into the show. For some reason, Judies played first and Thee Katatonix became instant headliners (maybe they knew the PA was ready to blow).

On the bright side, this was the promised follow-up to an abortive gig that brought my future girlfriend, Amy Davis, together with her future hubby, Null Set guitarist Mark Harp. She had come to check out her Dundalk High schoolmate (Class of '76!) Adolf's band the week before when we were slated to play with Da Moronics at the Marble, but Katie and I bailed and Adolf ended up playing the gig with future Moronic Don White on drums and Danny "Danimal" Brown on bass. Amy ended up hooking up first with the Null Set singer Bil Dawson, then with Harpo two weeks later. Of course, it took me 25 years to finally hook up with her! I always was kinda slow - especially on the beat.)

5th anniversary poster designed by Danny of Lungfish. Adolf dated Onyx Azza. Onyx and Danny later had a baby. Three degrees of separation. That's Smalltimore. Danny's art later surfaced at the American Visionary Museum of Art, so consider it visionary.

Seattle's Sonics, San Fran's Dead Kennedys and Texas' Fabulous Thunderbirds were the big national draws this month, as well as Edith "Edie the Egg Lady" Massey's birthday party, which I believe also had a tie-in with the release of Polyester.

I went to that Dead Kennedys show. That was the one where Jello Biafro was almost electrocuted by a haywire mic. I think a make-shift version of "The Name But Not As Lame" Katatonix played behind Edie Massey at her b-day bash. That was after the original lineup, but before the classic 80s edition that had Mr. Urbanity (Charlie Gatewood). I believe this was the same band that went up to NYC to play with Edie at The Mudd Club with Sam & Dave. That lineup would be "Danimal" Danny Brown and Adolf K. on guitar and keyboards, "Reverend" Jack Heineken on bass and Big Andy Small on drums. Here's the Kats poster:

Edie Massey wasn't the only celeb to celebrate a birthday at the Marble, as Root Boy's July 17, 1982 belated b-day bash attests. (He was actually born July 9.) Root Boy passed in 1993, but he sure lived every day like it was a party.

Poster "doodlings" by Dave Brubaker. The big out of town bands this month were from D.C.: Velvet Monkeys, Tommy Keene (I was at that show, of course!), Tru Fax and The Insaniacs (I went to all their Charm City gigs) and Keith Campbell's Black Market Baby.

Locally there was AR-15, Dave Cawkwell's post-Accused ensemble Mission, Mikel Gael's Nuvo Blind and Leslie Miller's Question 47.

The checkered demon in the Inner Harbor? I love the S. Clay Wilson Zap comics influence on this beauty from the pen of George Wilcox!

I wonder what the video/film nights were all about. I recall seeing I film I acted in, which starred Adolf Kowalksi, down at the Marble (Chocolate Asphalt?). Wonder if it was from this period.

ALCOHOLICS (July 1982):
I guess that's supposed to be George Wilcox's brother Dave, but it sure looks like Adolf Kowalski to me. Were they beconing one and the same, like Bowie and Iggy during their Berlin infatuation?

Note the announcemet for an outdoor show at Chick's Legendary Records in Mt. Washington (a rare opportunity to see Midnight To Six clubbers in broad daylight!) Also note the gig by Switchblade, Tex Rubinowitz's rockabilly band from D.C.

ALCOHOLICS (June 1982):
Baltimore's "most staggering band" delivers their 100 proof rock and roll in yet another George Wilcox-rendered beauty.

I like this one because it names all the band members (what ever happened to Teddy Boy?) and I think the girl was inspired by one of Dave Wilcox's honeys (Jackie the bartender?), of which he had many. Note the band's gig with pre-Slim Man Timmy Campanelli's Boot Camp at the upscale (before the Marble Bar crowd wrecked it!) Girard's, which burned to the ground and is now City Cafe. I saw Boot Camp open for either Devo or The Tubes (it was some unholy union like that) at Painter's Mill. (I think Bob Lopez intro-ed Boot Camp and was pelted with pennies!)

Here's an Alcoholics clip I found on YouTube: Alcoholics - "Rotten Women"

MARBLE BAR CALENDAR (March-April 1981):
Love this one's Bg Daddy Roth Ratfink influence. Note Marble Bar owner Roger Anderson 's birthday announcement for March 14. March 1981 was a big month, with Polyrock and Julian Cope's The Teardrop Explodes highlighting the bill, followed in April by The Dead Kennedys and The Sonics.

Philly's popular Reesa & The Rooters (originally from South Jersey) drove down I-95 to make their debut at the Marble Bar on May 31, 1980 and would play there a total of eight times that year They played four more gigs at the Marble Bar in 1981, including this one with D.C.'s TruFax & the Insaniacs. Reesa Laskey sang and played guitar, her brother Larry played guitar, Cherie Rumbol played bass and sang, and Bob Z played the drums (as did a cast of thousands!). Reesa was also in Suburban Wives Club, who may have played the Marble as well.

Reesa (who now goes by the name Reesa Marchetti and is a prolific writer, editor and Webmaster - check out her site) wrote of her first experience at the Marble thusly: "When we arrived at 306 W. Franklin St., Roger, LesLee’s husband and co-owner of the Marble, led us down the short flight of stairs to the basement of the Congress Hotel. My brother and I toked regularly then, so when people began filling the hall and blowing quantities of cigarette and marijuana smoke, I felt like I had stepped into a comfortable shoe."

On her website (a treasure trove of 80s music memorabilia), Reesa added:

I often said to the audience that they were the real Rooters — and Marble Bar audiences were the best. Their enthusiasm, acceptance, and wild dancing from the first moment we played there made me want to stay.

That feeling, combined with another news story, inspired me to write “Runaway Housewives.” The lyrics had Cherie asking, “Will they be in Baltimore?”

The Rooters had a great single out, "Ultraman in Surf Villa," (b/w the then-topical "TMI" - for Three Mile Island) which came on red vinyl. Reesa notes in her journal that she met Edith Massey at the Marble and sold copies of the single to the Egg Lady to sell at Edie's store in Fells Point. She also noted that: "At every show, I would see at least one guy in the crowd who resembled the punk-cartoon Ultraman drawn on the record sleeve by our friend, Debbie. In Baltimore, a young man who identified himself as Adolf Kowalski fit the bill. He attended all our Marble shows, and at one, his group, Thee Katatonix, also performed." Adolf and Reesa got along very well.

At another show, student Joe Clem asked Reesa to record a music video at Dundalk Community College. When the Rooters played the Marble in August 1981, they stayed overnight to do a live taping at DCC, as shown below:

Reesa & The Rooters - TMI (3:17):

Reesa & The Rooters - Vix Bidet Party (2:53):

Reesa & The Rooters - Nervous Breakdown (3:56):

BAUHAUS (November 1982):
Going for a bit of the Factory Records drab minimalism in this one.

999/ORIGINAL FETISH (April 1980):
999 - the band wot did "Homicide" - plays Bodymore, the city that made Homicide (and homicides) famous. I liked Original Fetish; before the Slickees took over, they were the DC band at the Marble. Singer Oxy Scrubbs had a (big) presence and I loved their singles "I Want To Be Gay," and "Studio 54."

HUEY LEWIS/GONG (September 1980):
Great shows. One big, one small. I was a big Gong freak in those days, but never heard of this Huey Lewis guy, who back then wasn't even hip enough to be square. LesLee Anderson loved him though, and recalled in a City Paper article on the Marble Bar that "About 12 people paid a $4 cover to see them on a Tuesday night. But I want to tell you, they played like they were in a stadium." I actually pissed next to Huey in the Marble's ramshackle bathroom, so I got to see The News up close and personal. (I remember I used the toilet and Huey relieved himself in the sink - guess he had to go!) Also in the bathroom that night was my Katatonix bandmate Adolf Kowalski, who had a more memorable encounter with Huey. In that same article ("Glory Hole," 12/6/2000), Kowalski told the City Paper "I was in the bathroom smoking dope or something and writing on the wall HUEY LEWIS SUCKS when in walks Huey Lewis. I just brought my hand down and said, 'Hey, how ya doin?' and gave him a Katatonix button, which he put on his coat."

I HATE 98 ROCK CONCERT (September 1983):
98 Crock was and is the enemy of all good taste. A noble cause, this concert.

CHURCH OF THE SUB-GENIUS (September 1983):
Another great cause was being celebrated upstairs from the Marble in September 1983: a Galaxy Ballroom service for J. R. Dobbs and his Sub-Gs, probably sponsored by The Jockee Clubbe.

I like this one with xeroxes of buttons like the kind we used to buy at Lookinglass.

This one hails the fact that "the Marble's getting a new air conditioner. God bless America!"

This one's pretty slick. Must have been produced by this DC band themselves. I'm pretty sure we (Thee Katatonix) played with them at Oddfellows Hall in Towson, too.

This show featuring Residents guitarist Snakefinger was pretty wild, plus Snake showed those weird-with-a-beard Residents music videos. Snakefinger had gone solo and released his one-of-a-kind cover of The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" around this time. A cover like no other - I remember plopping that 45 on my stereo and not being sure exactly what speed to play it (45? 33? 78?) - it never sounded remotely "normal"!

More nice futuristic artwork at the top of this one by George Wilcox (makes me think of that Gentle Giant album with the big troll head on the cover). I see Thee Katatonix had worked their way up to having a regular Wednesday night slot, the Alcoholics had dibs on Thursdays, while Rude Shoes (an early collaboration between future Mambo Combo and Shameless Mooks bandmates bassist Beefalo Bob Friedman and drummer Hoppy Hopkins, formerly of Da Moronics) ruled the Sundays.

Sunday May 30 was the infamous Flock of Seagulls show. The Seagulls reportedly didn't didn't think too highly of the Marble Bar, as Tom Cohan recounted to the City Paper: "Their manager came in and said they weren't coming off the bus-- the sound system was terrible, and they thought the place was a hole...[Marble Bar owner] Roger [Anderson] got in this guy's face and started screaming, 'You better hold up to your contract, or you can get your asses back to England.'" CP scribe Brennen Jensen added, "A cowed gaggle of Gulls eventually took the stage. (Postscript: Years later, a fading, feather-bedraggled Flock played the Barn on Harford Road.)"

The note at the end reminds readers that the pride of Derry, Northern Ireland, The Undertones were coming in September 1981. I love the Undertones but can't remember if I went to that show. I must have! What else could be more important? (Oh yeah, I was in Law School. Bad idea, that.)

MARBLE BAR CALENDAR (April-May-June 1981):
Love the Krazy Kat drawing! Many big shows listed, including NRBQ, Psychedelic Furs, 999, Dead Kennedys and Gong.

The President and The King!

MARBLE BAR CALENDAR (September 1980):
Chick Veditz of Mt. Washington's Chick's Legendary Records was an early champion of the local music scene - especially his good buds The Slickee Boys - and it was only fitting that he got his own night there. Every Thursdays Chick played tunes and girls got in free. Cheep cheep!

Far-out, man. the Kats go psychedelic.

Hot as hell at the Marble this night.

As Scott Williams recalled, in a December 2000 letter to the Baltimore City Paper about Brennen Jensen's Marble Bar article "Glory Hole": "Holdsworth's bass player announced after a 30-minute delay that due to the lousy sound system they'd be coming on in a moment, but, 'We're never going to play this scumbag hole again.' The place just erupted with cheers."

Marble Bar Band Links:
DC and Surrounds Bands
Black Market Baby
Chelsea Graveyard
Thee Katatonix
Thee Katatonix Videos on YouTube
Mambo Combo/Rude Shoes
RBT (MySpace)
Reesa & The Rooters (Relive the 80s)
Reesa & The Rooters (Terminal! Mag, Nov. 1980)
Reesa's Marble Bar Journal
Reesa & The Rooters Videos on YouTube
Moronics singer Bill Morierty's Poetry
Slickee Boys (Twin/Tone Records)
Slickee Boys (Wikipedia)
Slickee Boys (Ear Candy Mag)
"Suburban Wives Club Can't Be Beat" (City Paper 1985)
Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital (Mark Jenkins & Mark Anderson)

Related Marble Bar Links:
"Glory Hole" (City Paper retrospective)
Marble Bar Documentary (Richard Taylor)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Those flyers take me back. I, of course, was too young to go to those shows, but I nevertheless would pick up those Marble Bar calenders at local record stores and wish I could go. I didn't discover I could hitchike downtown and sneak into that place underage until 1983.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Tom - this is Ceil Strakna.

I'm really happy to have found this page - I remember most of those fliers!

I think Vicki designed that particular BMG flier (she did most of the early ones - I took over later when her managerial duties started getting in the way of her artistic ones). I think I have a collection of BMG fliers somewhere ... I had access to a good copier and lots of brightly colored paper at the company I worked for at the time. This was pre-computer graphics! Vicki is the one with the art degree ... I just learned it all by osmosis.

I received an email from a BMG fan yesterday - boy, was that a shock! Somebody named Gary, asking whether I had any recordings of the band. Sad to say, there just isn't a lot of material around, but my husband Dave Wright has a box of all the cassettes he could find of my music (dating back to when I was around 17), so I might be able to dig up something.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RBT was a very popular band on the upstate NY college circuit. My fraternity hired them for a part on our front lawn at Cornell in 1983 which was cut short by a visit from the paramedics to tend to their drummer who wasn't feeling too well. You were close with the name. RBT stood for Re-fried Brain Tissue. Their cover of White Wedding was 10x better than the original.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Bill said...

I wish I still had the poster for the Cramps at the Marble,great show at a great place.

10:23 PM  
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5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at the Alan Holdsworth show and remember both bands being unhappy with the sound but, i loved the old bar and wish it could be restored..

9:38 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

I stumbled on your site today. Thanks for some great memories. We always found out who was playing at he MB through The City Paper. One of the most memorable shows was Christmas eve 1983, I think. If I remember correctly, the headliner was Kill Santa, but there is no record of a band by that name ever playing at the bar. I always contended they just changed their name to get a gig on Christmas eve.
I used to like getting to the bar early, because they had the best jukebox ever. I also remember when the ballroom opened upstairs. I think we ate up there. Between The MB, The Club Charles and Fells Point, those were the best years of my youth. Thanks for sharing.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Magnus1964 said...

I'm so glad King Bayern Munich found your page. He's added the robotic point of view that I couldn't have imagined back in 1983. I remember hanging out at WCVT and drifting down to the Marble Bar with some of the staff from the station. I saw Boy Meets Girl on a night when they were trying out a video system. Ceil asked if they could get "Leave It to Beaver" on the TVs (the "Still the Beaver" TV movie was on that night). When they reopened the Galaxy Ballroom all too briefly, I played there with Big Cam and the Lifters during my short stay with that band.

Thanks for bringing back these great memories, Tom.

1:59 AM  

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