About Me

My photo

I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

BRIGHT LIGHTS! A Syracuse New Wave Rock 'n' Roll Reunion


We're gettin' the bands back together!  The 2016 edition of BRIGHT LIGHTS!  A Syracuse New Wave Rock 'n' Roll Reunion will take place on Sunday, July 3rd, at Funk 'N Waffles, 307-313 South Clinton Street in Syracuse.  The show will start promptly at 7 pm.  Advance sale tickets will be $12, and should be available for purchase soon.

As always, your hosts for BRIGHT LIGHTS! are Dana & Carl.  This year's line-up will include performances from Tom Kenny, The Flashcubes, Screen Test, The Trend, The Dead Ducks, Maura & the Bright Lights, and a special tribute to the late Norm Mattice, performed by The Richards.

Tom Kenny is Syracuse's favorite son, and one of the hardest-working voice actors in the business.  But before he was your Spongebob Squarepants, he was our Generic Comic, and our Tearjerker.  Tom started out in the late '70s as one-half of The Generic Comics, the comedy duo he formed with his pal Bobcat Goldthwaite.  He later became the lead singer of power pop fave raves The Tearjerkers, and someone should really release that band's recordings already.  Tom is as animated a performer as any character he's voiced, and believe me, this tomcat can put on a show.

Wanna know about The Flashcubes? Oh man--just take a look all over this blog!  My all-time favorite power pop band, one of the most exciting live rock 'n' roll groups in the world, and the original flashpoint for igniting the '70s/'80s scene that BRIGHT LIGHTS! celebrates, The Flashcubes can still create an intoxicating, melodic Wall O' Noise that scorches the wallpaper and fills the dancefloor.  The entire original quartet--Paul Armstrong, Tommy Allen, Gary Frenay, and Arty Lenin--will be on hand to remind you why we worship them.

Gary, Arty, and Tommy will also perform as Screen Test, the nonpareil pop trio they formed when the 'Cubes split in 1980.  Whatta band!  The funny thing about a Screen Test live show is that, whether the group is performing a great Frenay or Lenin original tune, or whether the lads are claiming some classic pop cover for their own, the songwriting brilliance never wavers.  You like Badfinger?  Big Star?  The Raspberries?  Marshall Crenshaw?  Well, get set to hear some original Screen Test tunes that you'll love just as much.

The Trend was one of the most beloved acts in the early '80s Syracuse new wave scene, a teen trio high on The Ramones and The Who, blistering through high-octane sets of originals and covers, winning eager fans with an irresistibly basic barrage of drums and two guitars. The Trend released one 45 (now a high-priced collectible) and one album, and even eventually added a bass player without diluting its no-frills rush. But it all ended in 1985, when lead singer J. Marc Patenaude was killed in a car accident. The Trend stopped on that day, but the surviving members--Paul Doherty, Larry Roux, and Ekendra Dasa--regrouped for a triumphant live set at our first BRIGHT LIGHTS! show in 2014, aided by next-wave young 'uns Josh Coy and Chloe Roach (J. Marc Patenaude's niece). The audio for that live set is available on Bright Lights Live, and we're delighted to have The Trend back for this year's show.

The first time I saw The Dead Ducks was in 1979, and they were playing downstairs at my favorite rock 'n' roll club, The Firebarn.  Guitarist and leader Danny Bonn noticed that my friends and I were singing along with the group's cover of The Kinks' "Dedicated Follower Of Fashion," so he stopped singing for a second and cupped his ear to hear us bellow, "Oh yes he is...!"  By then, the Ducks had already lost one of its original members--Bobcat Goldthwaite--but soldiered on brilliantly with a pugnacious I-IV-V punch that channeled The Who and pulverized namby-pamby resistance with guitar, bass, drums, and will.  No word on that Goldthwaite guy, but The Dead Ducks--Danny Bonn, Paul Stevenson, and Jim Spagnola--will all be with us for BRIGHT LIGHTS!, and no amplifier is safe.

Maura & the Bright Lights is a group formed specifically to play at our BRIGHT LIGHTS! reunion shows, and I don't think we'd ever want to do a show without them.  Maura Boudreau was a teenager from North Syracuse in the late '70s, and she learned about The Ramones when she saw her older brother Joe chase their younger siblings around the house with a plastic Louisville Slugger, singing, "Beat on the brat, beat on the brat, beat on the brat with a baseball bat!"  Maura is now Maura Kennedy, and she and her husband Pete perform as The Kennedys, a world-renowned coffeehouse pop duo.  At our request, The Kennedys agreed to put together a combo to play at BRIGHT LIGHTS!, and enlisted the services of Flashcubes Gary Frenay and Arty Lenin, plus drummer Cathy LaManna (able veteran of too many bands to list!) to play a set of Syracuse songs from the original late '70s/early '80s Bright Lights era. We could never, ever reunite all the great bands that played around town in those days; Maura & the Bright Lights represent those bands with pride and distinction.

Earlier this year, the Bright Lights community lost one of its own with the death of Norm Mattice. It's been pointed out elsewhere, but it bears repeating:  Norm was a rock star.  His first band, Dress Code, is fondly remembered by all of us, but his longest musical collaboration was with Paul Armstrong in 1.4.5. and The Richards.  In fact, for all the great music Norm recorded over the years, The Richards' 1995 release Over The Top was his only CD.  (And someone should really remedy that!) For BRIGHT LIGHTS! this year, The Richards--Paul Armstrong, Steve Steele, Ed Steele, and local legend Mark Doyle, plus a surprise guest vocalist--will perform a tribute to Norm, and it is not to be missed.

This show has been in the planning stages for a long, long time.  It will be worth every little bit of the effort.  We hope you can join us for BRIGHT LIGHTS! on Sunday, July 3rd at Funk 'N Waffles.  We'll see you downtown...where all the lights are bright.