Chuck was an old soul in high school. At an age when most of us were turning our backs on our families he shared his deep connections with city relatives who made doughy pizza for his friends. He has been dead for twenty years now but his stature remains legendary. Former bandmates, what some would call the classic, core line-up, the band that played the John Peel session, performed two sold-out shows this weekend at Abilene. Chuck’s son, Mark, sang and strummed guitar like a chip off the old block. Chuck’s wife, Jan, said he “was channelling his father.”
My brother, Mark, Chuck’s bf in HS, planned to meet us at the show. Driving up from New Jersey, he texted to say his ETA was 9:36. A counselor in Newark he got hung up helping a kid and we didn’t see him until 2:30. Mark was one of three people to have witnessed Gary Bennett’s recording of Chuck’s songs, “Live at Rising Place,” in 1976. My brother is credited with “background inspiration.”
The shows were moved inside due to the weather and no-one was drinking beer with their mask on. We are holding our breadth that it wasn’t a super-spreader. We listened to a good bit of the second set out back. It always sounds better out there. You can hear the bass notes and the mix becomes comfortable rather than harsh. The seven piece band sounded great as they knocked off two, twenty song sets in muscular fashion. Chuck would have loved it and he would have been so proud of Mark.
After the Rising Place cassette the next thing we heard from Chuck was when he played a date it the Red Creek in 1980 with The White Caps, his band from Oswego. We came home with a 45, “America, America.” Chuck’s songs were sing songs catchy but out of time somehow. He had a band on the west coast which we never heard and then near the tail end of the Scorgie days he moved back to Rochester. His brother-in-law, Phil, was playing guitar and he was looking to form a band here. Bernie had just left Personal Effects so he joined on bass.
Chuck’s music, which he liked to describe as “circus rock,” was out of step with punk and new wave. He favored the polka-like, two-beat. The melodies had an old world feel, a sound track for traveling street performers, His brilliant, wryly delivered lyrics read like modern day liturature, the Bible and poetry.