Better Than The Orange Monkey

New Math performing at the Orange Monkey in 1977. Robert Slide - bass, Gary Trainer - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums, Kevin Patrick - vocals, Dale Mincey - guitar
New Math performing at the Orange Monkey in 1977. Robert Slide – bass, Gary Trainer – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums, Kevin Patrick – vocals, Dale Mincey – guitar

Tom Kohn from the Bop Shop asked 4D Advertising to develop a site for Scorgies, the old rock and roll club on Andrews Street. He is planning a reunion for November 21 at the German House and he wanted people to be able to share their memories of the place and the many bands that played there. I wrote this short little piece to to kick off the blog on that site and I’m throwing it up here to encourage people to contribute to the site.

Don Scorgie is obviously the key figure in this whole story but probably not in the way you might think. I don’t think he was much of a music fan at least not like I am or most of you are. When I first met him he was behind the bar at street level on Andrews Street. And that fact that he was on that side of the bar had nothing to do with who was doing the drinking.

I was playing drums with New Math at the time and we rehearsed around the corner in the Cox Building on Saint Paul.  Geoff Wilson from the Bowery Boys was the elevator operator in this building in later years but it was pretty much deserted when we moved in. We got in the habit of stopping in Don’s place after practice for beer. I never drank too many because I had to ride my bike back home.

Don was sort of an old salt like Popeye the Sailor man. Being next to the river he had nautical theme going with rope railings and a fish net hanging from the ceiling that was just beginning to collect the Spanish moss style dust clusters that became such a fixture here. The guy who rented him the juke box when he opened this place was probably the one who picked out the 45s. It was just generic mid seventies crap. I think Kevin Patrick, who was working as record promo guy at the time, talked Don into stocking the juke box with the good stuff. In later years, it seems Danny Deutsch, who now runs Abilene, was in charge of the tunes and at some point it seemed like every time you walked into that place you heard Bobby Darin’s “Mack The Knife”. But it wasn’t Don calling the musical shots.

One night after rehearsal Don took us down to the basement at Scorgies where he had just installed the first section of green indoor outdoor carpeting on the step up section next to the bar. It was the first time we had set foot in what people think of as Scorgies. He had a few picnic benches down there and he told us he was planning on setting up an indoor putting green. This was going to get people down in the basement of a century old building? We laughed at the idea.

I remember us, and it was probably Kevin doing most of the talking, trying to convince Don that what he had here, an empty room with no chairs or tables, was the perfect rock and roll club. All he needed was a stage and a sound system. So Don built the plywood stage and he eventually rented a sound system from Mark Theobald. Mark mixed the bands if they didn’t have their own guy. New Math was the first band to play here but I had already left the band at that point and was playing with the Hi-Techs.

This is just the way I remember it. That doesn’t mean this is really the way it went down.


2 Replies to “Better Than The Orange Monkey”

  1. I remember that dusty nautical theme clashing with the juke box…did he ever take the nets down…they’re probably still there…my brother told me that he recently almost bought a car from Don Scorgie at Hoselton’s or Piehler’s [i think] …and he wasn’t very talkative about the bar…will he be at the reunion?

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