The Student Teachers were a popular NYC band in the late ‘70s that never had an album but recorded a 45 single, a 4 track EP and 2 tracks for a compilation album. Those tracks along with a bonus cut have all come together for a 9 song CD entitled “An Invitation to…The Student Teachers 1978-80”. Their sound bridged the punk and new wave gap blending minimalist no wave and edgy garage elements into one entertaining teenage combo. It’s been 33 years since the Student Teachers parted ways but along the way they impacted many people lives including mine. They gave me a deeper music education and many coming of age lessons. Here’s where some of that all started.
Growing up I was exposed to so much music diversity on top 40 and progressive rock radio. The radio shaped the personalities of the kids in my Brooklyn neighborhood, Boro Park. There were hippie dead heads, metal kids and disco dancers. I was in between all of these sounds and found myself digging misfit styles that were pegged glam and/or punk rock. I was building my record collection and picked up many cool oddities at Outrageous Records located on the Hasidic Jewish shopping strip, 13th Avenue. Another record collecting buddy of mine, Vinny and I would hang out there and talk music with the clerk, Lori Reese who would inform us of new bootlegs, imports and singles she was bringing in of cooler bands like Roxy Music, Patti Smith, Sparks, Television, Sex Pistols and so many others. We created a bond as my music appetite was developing. It was because of her and reading about shows at CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City in Rock Scene that I ended up seeing countless bands at those clubs. It was an exciting time to be growing up in NYC as my teenage years and the music scene was formulating.
In early ’78 Lori informed us that she was in a band that was playing in the city and her new punk name was Z.B. Stripe. She and her friend Laura were fans and roadies for the art punk band The Erasers. They were a cool 4 piece that featured 3 women (and Richie Lure, Walter of the Heartbreakers brother) in the band sounding somewhat like Patti Smith fronting the Voidoids. Those Erasers shows were a big influence on the formation of the Student Teachers.
I missed the Teachers first few gigs including their debut date at some of the band members school, Friends Seminary. But I was fortunate enough to attend the band’s fourth gig as a guest of Lori’s since I drove her to and from the gig on April 23, 1978 when the Teachers opened for Teenage Jesus and the Jerks at CBGBs. The show was my first guest list spot at the club. Also on the list that night was Brian Eno who was there to see Lydia Lunch’s band as Eno would be recording them for the infamous “No New York” no wave collection for Antilles/Island Records. He did get to see the Student Teachers and seemed to enjoy their faithful cover of Roxy’s “Remake-Remodel”. I was beyond ecstatic that Eno was in the house and hounded him for an autograph along with some of the lyrics to his recent single, “Kings Lead Hat.”
After the show had ended I was standing in front of the club with the band as they attempted to hail taxis to different parts of Manhattan with their gear. I volunteered to drive them to their respective spaces and quickly became the band’s official roadie. I was so excited that my ’74 Ford Mustang was sideswiped by a taxi while driving around town. I wasn’t too concerned over the fender bender since this was such a momentous night for me!
2 of the band members came from the suburban Westchester community of Larchmont, front person David Scharff (known as JD Cruel) and guitarist Philip Shelley. The other 2 members Laura Davis and Bill Arning were Manhattan kids raised in the city. Their fans/friends either came from the Larchmont area or were city kids they hung around with. I found myself surrounded by a whole new set of obsessive music fans that were all so different from my Brooklyn friends. There was one Brooklyn-ite exception, Jody Robelo. She lived nearby me in Windsor Terrace and was also going to shows at CBs often. She and I became a roadie team for the band. As the band was getting popular quickly Jody moved onto be the band’s manager as I became the band’s driver and stage manager.
The gigs were coming rather frequently and I found myself setting up the band’s equipment (including an ironing board to hold up the keyboards) on various stages of the city’s burgeoning club scene. Besides CBs and Max’s I worked with the band on the stages of Hurrah, Tier 3, Tracks, The Mudd Club, Philly’s Hot Club, Boston’s Rat and the momentous gig at the Palladium opening for Iggy Pop and The Cramps on Halloween 1979.
As the band’s career was taking off we were approached by Jimmy Destri of Blondie to produce some recordings. Their debut vinyl was the 45 single “Channel 13” b/w “Christmas Weather” for Terry Ork’s legendary NY indie label Ork Records in late 1978. Jimmy followed that up in ’79 producing 2 tracks each for 5 newer NYC bands resulting in a compilation cleverly entitled 2×5 for Marty Thau’s Red Star Records. The songs “What I Cant Feel” and “Looks” were the 2 Teachers cuts on that album. “Looks” was later covered by Mike Doughty of Soul Coughing on his album “Skittish.” Oddly enough he hadn’t heard the song until many years later and was turned onto the song by a friend of his. He discovered the track on the 2×5 album many years after its release picking it up as a used copy in a South Jersey record shop.
The band eventually had a falling out with Jimmy and his girlfriend, our drummer Laura Davis. It resulted into a stressful period for the group with Laura leaving the band. Laura and Jimmy’s relationship spawned a couple of co-written tracks that appeared on Blondie albums. Their first collaboration “Slow Motion” appeared on “Eat to the Beat”. There’s a line in the song “the girl in the back was doing the quake, she got a bellyache she cant concentrate” was a reference to fan at a ST show while doing their rave up song about doing a dance called the quake.
The band was evolving at that time and had become a 6 piece before Laura left the band with the addition of Joe Katz (ex-Mumps/Klaus Nomi bassist) on guitar. Laura was replaced by Hayden Brasseur who played locally with the female band Die Hausfrau. We weren’t getting much interest from other labels to release another recording so our manager Jody fronted the money for some studio time. Around that period we were hanging out often with Glen Tilbrook from Squeeze since he expressed interest in producing the band and we were big fans of his band. That unfortunately never materialized. So we went into the studio with our engineer from our previous recordings Jay Burnett. At that time period I was going to the new school for a studio engineering course considering a career in record producing. After being around 2 years of Student Teacher gigs the band gave me a vote of confidence and suggested I produce their final recordings. I fiddled the knobs some at those sessions and listened closely to the 4 songs endlessly. The closing track for me is the song that should have been the band’s hit. “Past Tense” has a catchy chorus with rip roaring guitars and infectious keyboards. It’s appropriate that the song closes the 9 track album as this music and time period is all way way past tense.
I’m guest blogging for the review stalker while he’s away on vacation. My summer holiday has consisted of me sending my son off to sleep away camp which gave me the opportunity to see more rock shows since he was born 13 years ago! The season has offered the usual summer touring from bands from now and then with many noteworthy free shows all over the New York City area.
Many of the nights have been spent reliving several harmonious music memories seeing mostly older acts and hearing songs from my youth. Over a 6 week period I took in performances from The Zombies, She & Him, Camera Obscura, The Rascals, Leon Russell,Cheap Trick, B.B King, James Hunter Six, New Order, NRBQ, Bob Dylan, Wilco (w/ special guest Ian Hunter) and a tribute to Big Star. Combined these acts performed a myriad of unforgettable classic songs including “She’s Not There”, “Sunday Girl’, “People Got To Be Free”, “The Letter”, “September Gurls”, “Delta Lady”, “Surrender”, ‘Blue Monday”, “All The Young Dudes” and so many more.
The Letter from the Big Star Tribute in Central Park on June 30
The Dylan/Wilco show was billed as the AmericanaramA fest and went down on the Hoboken pier on July 26. That was appropriate since days later and blocks away, the home of American music Maxwell’s was closing their doors.
All The Young Dudes-Wilco w/ Ian Hunter, James Mastro, Warren Haynes & My Morning Jacket on Hoboken Pier on July 26
I was fortunate enough to have had the venue be a big part of my life throughout some of my formative years in the mid-‘80s where I attended more shows there during that period then any other rock club. I hadn’t had the chance to make it back throughout the month for the final shows so it was imperative that I venture back to Hoboken one last time for the closing festivities on July 31.
The celebration started off with a block party that had 11 street closed off with beer and food stands. Raucous party tunes blared throughout the street as various DJs from the club’s 30 plus years (Guy Ewald, Charles Charas, Gaylord Fields, Vince Brnicevic, Billy Miller, Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan) took turns spinning records while the crowd built up throughout the evening to pay their respects to the club. Hundreds of people were packed into the bar spilling onto the street. Both the Individuals and the Bongos were booked to close the back room. I was lucky enough to pick up tickets for the earlier set from the Individuals. The band was in fine form and had a blast playing as one of the final bands on the Maxwell’s stage. They brilliantly recreated the sound of the early ‘80s NYC rock club scene. I stood there and realized, this is the sound that’s categorized as post-punk. I flash backed to watching bands in that same room and other NYC area clubs in the ‘80s. I realized after seeing so many remarkable bands, hearing various legendary songs and reliving magical music moments over this summer season this tiny back room of a bar/restaurant was where so much of ’80s music was born influencing me and so many others.
It reminded me that there were so many punk and new wave spin-offs incubated and championed at Maxwell’s. Alt-country, grunge, power pop, roots rock, college rock, garage, paisley underground, shoe gazing and the most peculiar named genre, indie rock were all heralded there. That ubiquitous tag came from the countless acts that recorded for scores of independent record companies. Twin Tone, SST, Slash, Homestead, Enigma, Dolphin, Frontier, K Records, Ace of Hearts and Hoboken’s own Coyote and Bar/None were just some of the bigger players in the growing soon to be coined “alternative” music business.
Adding to the sounds and styles were cities and towns the labels and music originated from. Musicians arrived from all over the USA. They piled in vans and drove miles to play at the club. Some performed at Maxwell’s numerous times over several years. They traveled from Los Angeles, Portland, Minneapolis, Athens, Boston, Seattle, Chapel Hill and many other American regions. The list of acts I’d seen (or heard from the front bar!) is endless and in no particular order.
The Replacements, The dbs, Husker Du, X, Alex Chilton, Meat Puppets, Long Ryders, Pylon, Dreams So Real, Tommy Keene, Young Fresh Fellows, Redd Kross, Gun Club, The Three O Clock, Jason and the Scorchers, The Dream Syndicate. Dumptruck, Miracle Legion, Del Fuegos, EIEIO, Soul Asylum, The Chesterfield Kings, Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper, Game Theory, Let’s Active, The Neats, Ben Vaughn Combo, Leaving Trains, Guadalcanal Diary. The Minutemen, Rain Parade, Green on Red, The Wipers, Daniel Johnston, Camper Van Beethoven, The Bodeans, 10,000 Maniacs, Beat Happening, Rank and File, The Lyres, Dinosaur Jr, Galaxie 500, The Morrells, True Believers, Fetchin’ Bones, Big Black, Southern Culture On The Skids, House of Freaks, Naked Raygun, Salem 66, Big Dipper, The Dead Milkmen, The Dogmatics, Swimming Pool Qs, Drivin’ N Cryin’, Green River, The Flies, Pontiac Brothers, Giant Sand, Scruffy The Cat and many others.
Some bands traveled from overseas: Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians, The Go-Betweens, Hoodoo Gurus, The Lime Spiders, The Fall, The Mekons to name a few.
And then there were those from the NY/NJ metro area that kept the venue thriving as opening acts for many out of town bands or headlining the club and packing it with their family, friends and fans:
Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, The Feelies, Mofungo, Syd Straw, The Nightmares, The Raunch Hands, The Wygals, The Clintons, Pianosaurus, Laura Cantrell, The Scene is Now, Deep Six, The Last Round Up, World Famous Blue Jays, Beat Rodeo, Gutbank, The Vacant Lot, Fleshtones, Das Damen Del-Lords, Hugo Largo, The Raybeats, The Golden Palominos, Phantom Tollbooth, The A-Bones, Crazy Sunday, Chris Stamey Group, Soul Attack, The Ambivalent Brothers, House of Usher, Leap of Faith, Fish & Roses, Winter Hours were just some of the local names that kept the scene and spirit alive.
There isn’t one room in the NY metro area that could boast all of these accomplishments showcasing quality music with integrity for over three decades.
It was a space and a moment in time that will never be recreated. I feel lucky to have been there when both the club and I were coming of age. It’s bittersweet that Maxwell’s is gone but its legacy will continue to live on through the music and the influence it had on a vast group of music fans that sometimes fit into a small room with a legal capacity of 200 people.
Soon enough review stalker Dave returns from his extended holiday in the sun. Before he gets his blogging groove back on I have one more guest posting of summer playlist tones for y’all. Here’s 4 more that reflect upon the time of year.
Appears the unusual heat dome has broken and the temps are now near 90 degrees in most parts of the country. That’s a bit of relief after the sweltering 100 degree dog days of last week. Some of that was broken up with a scattering of precipitation. Every time it rained it poured and each time I kept humming this oldie but goodie. Next time it rains this summer hum this chestnut and try and get it out of your head.
Summer Rain video by Johnny Rivers from the album Realization (1968)
The Fiery Furnaces have been making some nervous art rock for over 10 years. The Brooklyn based duo have had moments of greatness on some of their albums. But it appears Eleanor had to leave her brother behind to record her sweet NYC tribute album. Included on her debut album, ‘Last Summer’ are songs about city ‘hoods Bensonhurst, Roosevelt Island, Coney Island and Owl’s Head Park. The lead track ‘My Mistakes’ could be the summer song of 2011. Check out the video and you’re sure to be sold with its inspiring imagery and catchy melody. It’s a hook laden beauty of a tune.
My Mistakes video by Eleanor Friedberger from the album Last Summer (2011)
When it comes to songs about this time of year fellow Brooklyn-ite George Gershwin nailed it. In 1935 he wrote the music for the American folk opera ‘Porgy & Bess’. The hit song from the show has been covered countless times by so many including Janis Joplin, Sonny & Cher, Billy Stewart, Peter Gabriel, Sam Cooke, Brian Wilson, Sinatra and numerous others. But when Terry Hall took a stab at the classic in ’82 he ho-hummed his way through it while his “Fun Boys” from The Specials chanted away. An inspired and inventive take on the standard that sums up the season quite nicely whatever year it is. Hush little baby don’t you cry.
When Jack White married British super model Karen Elson he may have subconsciously had plans to record her. Once the 6 year marriage ended her debut album was released. She had been singing occasionally over the years with Robert Plant, Cat Power and with the NYC “cabaret” group, the Citizens Band. The album is a haunting countrified treat that includes a song about the season that Bananarama (The Fun Boy 3’s girls) also complained about back in the’80s. This is not that happy new wave ditty but one that is extremely sad and blue. It’s a tearjerker that may require a tissue. Can’t help but wonder, did she write this for Jack?
Cruel Summer video by Karen Elson from the album The Ghost Who Walks Out (2011)
While Dave’s away I’m filling in with some stalker style posting. So while the review stalker soaks up the sun and catches those great big waves of the Pacific the NYC pavement soaks up the heat and humidity making it time for more songs inspired by the summer and the weather.
With 90-plus degree temperatures in most of the country this week I cant help feeling and singing this song. It’s the Velvets at their most poppiest. It’s sure to get stuck in your head especially throughout the heat wave. Who really loves the sun? Not everyone.
These new brit-rockers channel the Ramones clocking in at 1 minute and 39 seconds of sheer pleasure. They even name drop and mention that great Queens thoroughfare, Cross Bay Boulevard! Joey would be so proud. And all for the love of this pretty Danish face. Guaranteed satisfaction after watching this clip.
Norgaard video by The Vaccines from What Did You Expect From The Vaccines (2011)
Mods rule as they collect soul singles, tear up the dance floor and wear real cool clothes. Witness all of that as The Who were captured here live from London’s Marquee Club in February of ’65 while being filmed for a French TV documentary, Les Mods as they rip through their version of the classic Martha Reeves and the Vandellas song about the weather. Try not to break out in a sweat.
Heat Wave video by The Who from A Quick One (Happy Jack) (1966)
It’s time to chill out with the wind down track for a hot summer’s day. It’s so beautifully haunting. Follow it up with a big ol’ glass of ice cold chardonnay or sparking rose.
Summer Wine video by Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood from Nancy & Lee (1968)
Stay tuned for part 2 sometime next week. Try and keep cool.