Rich’s video for “Tilt-A-Wheel” plays like an extended version of the last scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers On A Train.” It fits the song, from MX-80’s recent, as yet unreleased album, perfectly. Mixed by Steve Albini, it is the last album recorded with the legendary guitarist, Bruce Anderson.
Bruce was a god-like figure in Bloomington, Indiana in the late 60’s when I showed up. He played with Mrs. Seamon’s Sound Band (with Michael Brecker) ( the first band I saw there), the Screaming Gypsy Bandits with Mark Bingham and Caroline Peyton (who also recently passed) and went on to form the seminal band, MX-80 Sound. The bands’ line-ups and sounds kept changing but Bruce stayed the same. I’m sure I saw every local Screaming Gypsy Bandits’ performance. Peggi and I saw the first few MX-80 shows at the local library and then left town in late ’74 before our friends, Rich Stim and Dave Mahoney, joined the band.
Somewhere in the early 70’s, Steve Hoy (that’s him on the cover of MX-80 Hard Attack) and I walked over to Bruce’s apartment to get our hair cut. It was a Zen-like experience and Bruce did a great job but Steve felt he could do just as well for less so he became our barber.
Bruce was a close friend of our close friends and those that remain gathered yesterday over Zoom for a memorial. The pain from the loss was evident. Rich Stim, Angel Corpus Christi, Dale Sophiea, Steve Hoy, Kim Torgerson, Michael Gribbroek, Marc Weinstein and Howard Thompson were all there along with members of Bruce’s family. Peggi and I learned just how special Bruce was as a person and the tributes were beautiful.
I was also struck by connections between people now scattered across the country. Steve Hoy was my roommate in the dorm (Shea 2, Foster Quad) my freshman year. Dave Mahoney was my best friend in high school and came out to Bloomington after dropping out of MCC. Rich was a former Shea resident and a friend of Steve’s. He had a crush on Andrea, then Bruce’s wife, and had me take some Super 8 footage of her behind the counter at Discount Records. Peggi was friends with Rich and Dale before we hooked up. Kim Torgerson was married to Dave. I guess I introduced them. She lived in the dorm across the street from me. She took the classic MX-80 Sound photos.
Michael Gribbroek grew up in Rochester near where Peggi and I live now. He was the first person Bruce Anderson met when he moved into the nearby Wilke Quadrangle on the IU campus. Mrs. Seamon, from the Mrs. Seamon Sound Band was the head dietician at Wilkie Quad. Michael found my blog through Andrea and follows our walks through his old stomping grounds. He told a story yesterday of the moment he knew Bruce was going to drop out of art school. They were in an art history class together, writing an essay in one of those little light blue books about how the art critics treated Mondrian. Michael looked over at Bruce and he was making cartoon-like drawings of critics physically torturing Mondrian in graphic detail.
Marc Weinstein is the co-founder of the world’s largest independent record store, Amoeba. He played drums with MX after Dave passed and grew up in Buffalo. He knows all the bands we played with there in the Personal Effects days. Howard Thompson put out the first MX-80 album while working for Island in London. Howard is good friends with Kevin Patrick, the lead singer in New Math, and he came to Rochester to produce the first single, Die Trying. I played drums on that track. Peggi and I went back to Bloomington to hear MX-80 audition for Howard and his new boss at Bronze in Dale’s basement.
Head-spinning but then again, I could have this all wrong.