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.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

BRIGHT LIGHTS! Syracuse New Wave Rock 'n' Roll Reunion 2014: Original Press Release and Band FAQ Letter


Before the successful BRIGHT LIGHTS! Syracuse New Wave Rock 'n' Roll Reunion that Dana and I hosted this past July, we hosted a previous (also successful) BRIGHT LIGHTS! yadda yadda show in 2014 at Syracuse's legendary Lost Horizon. That show was recorded for a proposed DVD release, though I don't know if that project will ever come to pass. But, in the mean time, here is our original press release for the event, as well as the letter we sent to all of the participating acts:


BRIGHT LIGHTS!  A Syracuse New Wave Rock 'n' Roll Reunion
Saturday,July 19th, 2014 at The Lost Horizon in Syracuse, NY

Alternative music had to start somewhere. Most would agree alternative started in the '70s, with the punk rock sounds of bands like The Ramones, and the grungy spirit of iconic clubs like New York City's legendary CBGB's. But Syracuse also had its own vibrant punk/new wave scene in the late '70s and early '80s, when great local indie rockers like THE FLASHCUBES, THE TREND, THE MOST, THE PENETRATORS, THE DEAD DUCKS BAND, SCREEN TEST, 1.4.5., PORCELAIN FOREHEAD, DISTORTION, THE MIAMIS, and THE ANTICS were among the many DIY acts making noise at local nightspots like The Brookside, The Jab,The Firebarn, The Insomniac, The Slide, and The Lost Horizon.

Most of those clubs are long gone now, but THE LOST HORIZON still stands, and it remains the closest thing to a CBGB's that Syracuse has ever had. In the early '80s, The Lost Horizon hosted a popular weekly new wave showcase called "Bright Lights, Monday Nights," featuring both Screen Test and 1.4.5. with a different guest band each week. And on Saturday, July 19th, the acts who created Syracuse's original alternative scene will return to the LOST for one big multi-band show: BRIGHT LIGHTS!  A SYRACUSE NEW WAVE ROCK 'N' ROLL REUNION.

Headlining the show will be Syracuse's own power pop powerhouse THE FLASHCUBES, making their first club appearance since being inducted into the Syracuse Music Hall of Fame this past March. The Flashcubes will be joined on this bill by THE TREND, THE MOST, SCREEN TEST, 1.4.5., THE DEAD DUCKS BAND, PORCELAIN FOREHEAD, THE MIAMIS, and DISTORTION, each of whom is reuniting for this show; former Penetrators lead singer Jack Lipton will perform with his current group, THE JACK PENETRATOR BAND, while Antics bassist MAURA KENNEDY will pay a unique tribute to Syracuse new wave with MAURA & THE BRIGHT LIGHTS.

BRIGHT LIGHTS! celebrates an incredible period in local music history. Over the last 30 years, Syracuse's late '70s/early '80s new wave scene has gained an international mystique; collectors from all over the world pay top dollar for vintage 'Cuse vinyl, and records by The Flashcubes, Screen Test, 1.4.5., The Trend, and The Penetrators have been reissued in America, Japan, and Italy. MAURA KENNEDY, that little teenaged punk bassist for The Antics, is now one-half (with husband Pete Kennedy) of the world-renowned folk-pop duo THE KENNEDYS, and she's coming to The Lost Horizon fresh off a UK tour. PORCELAIN FOREHEAD lead singer "Porcelana" is really singer and actress KAREN OBERLIN, now one of the leading cabaret singers in New York City, and she'll return to her new wave roots for one night only at BRIGHT LIGHTS!  (And she'll be joined by her husband, author DAVID HAJDU, on guitar.)

But the most poignant tale of BRIGHT LIGHTS! is the story of THE TRENDThe 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 at the age of 21. The Trend stopped on that day, and the surviving members have not played together since then. For BRIGHT LIGHTS!, the surviving members of The Trend will reunite for the first time in nearly 30 years, with J. Marc's 16-year-old niece CHLOE ROACH singing lead. Consider this a single-finger salute to the passage of time and the cruel whims of fate, and consider it catharsis you can dance to.  The brightest lights never fade.


WHEN n’ WHERE:  Saturday, July 19th from 8 pm to 1am  (doors open at 7:00 pm), at Syracuse’s legendary home for rock 'n' roll, THE LOST HORIZON. 

$10 admission, all-ages show, tickets available now

And here's the letter we sent to the bands:

Here's a quick list of dos, don'ts, and sundry WTFs for the BRIGHT LIGHTS! gig.

 1.  Due to the number of bands involved, there is NO guest list at all.  The bands get in, but everyone else will need to pony up the ten bucks apiece.  No one’s doing this for the money, but we do hope to generate enough ticket sales to be able to pay out…something. We'll try to figure out a fair share for everyone involved.

 2.  There WILL be a merch table.  BRING STUFF TO SELL!  Captive audience!  Big reunion!  The more they drink, the better we sound!  Or something.

 3.  12 bands.  INCREDIBLY tight time schedule.  This whole thing depends on each band getting on and off within its allotted time.  The back line should make for easier, quicker transitions. Scott Dixon of the Lost Horizon will be managing this part of the production, so that things will move smoothly. You will be in VERY competent, experienced hands. I wish we had time for everyone to play longer, but that’s just not the way this type of show is set up.

4.  The parking situation at the Lost is very challenging.  Load-In is at 5:00; there is a limited amount of parking at the hair supply place just up the hill (the old 7-11, as anyone on this bill would likely remember).  Warn your family, friends, and fans NOT to park in the old Mobil lot; the owner is…what's a nicer term for rat bastard?  He probably likes Pablo Cruise, and hates The Ramones. Prick. Parking should be available at the Asian grocery and at the former Outback restaurant (on Erie Blvd).

 5.  Logistics forbid much in the way of a sound check.  Shared back line, plus the magic powers of The Lost Horizon will make it all right.

 6.  Oh yeah:  shared back line!  We got yer drums and those big cabinets that make big noise.  There will be no opportunity to move any of this equipment around during the show, so everyone will have to plop their bass player in the same spot on stage.

 7.  If you need a rehearsal space the day of the show, you may be in luck. Jeff Moleski of Moletrax Studio has offered space for bands who need it that day. You can reach Jeff at  315-383-7372 to reserve your time.  Space is being booked NOW, so get in touch with Jeff ASAP.

 8.  This is gonna be great, great fun for everyone.  We want you to have fun, but we expect you to put on a great show, too.  No one expects you to be The Beatles, nor even The Bay City Rollers, but we do ask that you take it…okay, taking it seriously may be too much to ask.  But c'mon--try to put on the kind of great rock 'n' roll show we all used to enjoy in the original Bright Lights era. You’re on the bill because we believe you're gonna do just that.

 9. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, we are NOT professional promoters and we are trying to stage a show that would normally require plenty of cash up front to buy ads on radio and in newspapers, to insure that we get a crowd. Well, we don’t have that. But what we DO have, is YOU, and all your bandmates, friends and family. In this age of social media, we have tools to spread the word that we NEVER had before. So we are asking you to USE THEM. Post the event on Facebook and any other social media site you use and encourage everyone to SHARE! Many of you are coming a long way to do this, so let’s make sure that we pack the place and not waste this precious opportunity.

 More questions?  Questions are good!  Answers are hard!  But fire away nonetheless.  I think there's a fair shot we just might pull this whole thing off.

BRIGHT LIGHTS! is Saturday, July 19th at The Lost Horizon.  Doors at 7:00, live music at 8:00.   $10 admission, All-Ages show.

Although I wrote the first and final drafts of all of the above, it was compiled with the help of the rest of the BRIGHT LIGHTS! brain trust, including Dana Bonn and Paul Armstrong, and most especially Gary Frenay.

My notes indicate that this was the final draft of our press release. We had previously planned to have Jeff Moleski's band Amerikan Primitive close the show, but they had to bow out. Local legend Dick Hummer (formerly of Machine And Hummer) was scheduled to join Porcelain Forehead, but a family emergency forced Dick to cancel. There were also complications with The Jack Lipton Band, but Jack himself was able to join 1.4.5. for a couple of songs.

The press release was sufficient to warrant an invitation for Gary, Dana, and I to appear on Channel 9's Bridge Street TV show. That was a lot of fun, but not as much fun as the BRIGHT LIGHTS! shows themselves.

Will there be a third edition of these BRIGHT LIGHTS! reunions? Only time will tell....