In 2001, the day after Chuck Cuminale died, we opened a forum on the Refrigerator website. Social media did not yet exist so the forum served as a community billboard, a place where people who knew Chuck, or were influenced by him, could share memories and post tributes.
Chuck was a contributor to the Refrigerator when it was a printed broadsheet and as word spread, the responses poured in, a real testimony to the impact Chuck had made on peoples’ lives. I recently rescued the forum from the internet graveyard and moved it here. It is not too late to contribute. You’ll have to scroll down bit to see it all.
See Phil Marshall’s blog
“THE COLORBLIND JAMES EXPERIENCE: ABSOLUTELY MORE!”
COLORBLIND JAMES REMEMBERED
Chuck Cuminale 1952 ~ 2001
Posted At 12:39:55 07/11/2001
Chuck was such a huge presence, a grounding force for all creative anarchy. I felt he was a kindred spirit, that no matter how often I saw him , there was never a need for re-introduction, because there was never a need for a defense with him. He was wise, giving and alert , and so you knew he knew what love was. I wish I could be there with the rest of the city to share in thier love of him, who brought so much love to them. I feel confident that he need no prayers for his life was like a living prayer, and so is riding in holy luxury to the other side. I’m sorry for all our loss. Life, it’s all a gift , and so we should say THANK YOU.
Posted At 14:09:53 07/11/2001
Chuck, in my sister’s class but my brother’s best friend and roommate for many years colored our lives. He was old school bohemian from the get go, a beatnik in high school. He was an artist, dedicated to his craft and able to make magic out of the ordinary. Chuck was supportive and nurturing and he created a community that will long remember him as a guiding force. And then yesterday, just like in his song “Gravel Road”, he woke up in a different place.
I went down to Gravel Road to get my fortune told.
The fortune teller robbed me blind,
Now I can’t get her off my mind.
I don’t know where I’ve been since then.
I’ll never go down Gravel Road again
I went to sleep with a smile on my face
But, I woke up in a different place.
Posted At 14:13:07 07/11/2001
just got the news that my oldest best friend Chuck (color blind James) died this morning , The news brings me great sadness and my heart goes out to his family and friends . Chuck was a wonderful person and I often thought about him even though we live 3000 miles apart. Send a card to Jan and hhhis 3 sons as well as his mon Bea email if you want more information Love Kevin
Posted At 14:17:47 07/11/2001
Chuck was such an important person in so many people’s lives. His death has created an earthquake of loss to the many he touched so deeply. He was such a strong person – full of conviction yet open to the world and all the types of people who inhabit it. I think back over the years I’ve known him and remember a wonderful person who truly listened when others didn’t and expressed himself honestly. From the early days, in our twenties, when I first met him, his friends described him as a “genius”. I remember the first time I saw the band play at Red Creek in from Oswego and doing the song “America”. It was all so ahead of its time. Then the evolution to an inspirational musical leader and friend. He brought happiness to so many with his music and his being. The void in his departure will be felt deeply.
Posted At 15:03:34 07/11/2001
This is so strange- it hardly seems like 20+ years since I first met the legendary Chuck. CBJ played at Scorgies with our band (either Hi-Techs or PE, can’t remember) and completely blew us away. He just had an amazingly original way of looking at the world. My lasting impression of Chuck is that of a person with incredible compassion. He was so supportive of original music and the musicians creating it in our area, regardless of style. Its really hard to comprehend our loss. My thoughts are with his family.
Posted At 15:15:50 07/11/2001
Colorblind James is the single thread that has run through every music scene in the Rochester area for the last 20 years. Regardless of which trends came and went, you could count on Colorblind to be there with a variety of players, painting joyous pictures of the different parts of life that others typically look right past. Events such as the various tributes have been offered as a celebration of the joy of music and life, providing everyone an opportunity to share in each other’s muse. Colorblind was at once concrete and ether. I will deeply miss my friend, our friend, Chuck Cuminale. My heart is extended to Jan, John, Mark, and Paul.
Love, Bob Martin
Posted At 15:26:15 07/11/2001
Whenever I think of Chuck and Jan, it’s with gratitude that there can be people like this in the world. Thank you, Chuck, for sharing your talent, humor, and kindness so generously. I’m so sad to see you go.
Posted At 15:49:44 07/11/2001
When I heard about Chuck yesterday it took my breath away. The world is filled with interesting people, but I haven’t met any that have the gravity he had. I loved and admired him. My favorite song of his was “I Am Joe Montana.” To me, that secret hero was Chuck. He had the finest heart and mind. I can’t believe they’re gone forever, that some part of him doesn’t linger here.
Posted At 15:52:19 07/11/2001
Quite honestly, I’m still in shock. It’s hard to think of anything to add to what others have said here. Chuck was a prolific creative force without being forceful. He was a musical mentor to me. Always encouraging, always with positive advice. During the past 6 years since I’ve been away from Rochester, we only had sporadic contact, and while we were never close friends, I always thought of him as a good friend. He will be missed greatly wherever his life has touched both as an artist, but most importantly as a person. My sympathy to his family.
Posted At 16:05:50 07/11/2001
Chuck was a great talent and an even greater man. The power of his words moved me on many occasions, none more than the first time I heard him sing “I Saved Your Life.” As a long time fan, one of the greatest privileges of my life was getting to work with Chuck and the band in the studio, to see the magic of his music being created, and to get to know him better. Working with CbJE at live shows and on the radio over the years was always very special. A day after hearing the news, it still feels like getting kicked in the chest. Godspeed Chuck, and may God bless Jan and the boys.
Posted At 16:06:21 07/11/2001
Tom and I were driving the other day and on the radio played a favorite Colorblind tune from a decade ago. We knew all the words and were really diggin the memories it conjured. The band played at ourwedding 11 years ago. We are so saddened and shocked by this tragedy.
Posted At 16:15:37 07/11/2001
So I needed a new tape for the lonely/lovely half hour ride to work yesterday. I chose one with a Beatles sound track on one side and the Band’s last album “Jericho” on the other. The first song on the first side first thing in the mornin’ is ” HELP ” . The last song in the morning as I get out of the car is the Band song ” Atlantic City” with the words ” Everything dies baby, that’s a fact , and maybe everything that dies someday will come back.” Then I got the call from Bob about Chuck’s passing. Plenty of time to think about that all day. All the thinking in the world doesn’t hold a candle to synchronicity / music. I made this tape five years ago. The first song on the radio when I get back in the car to go home at night is the Band’s ” Too Soon Gone” .
Chuckles , we hardly knew ye.
Posted At 16:47:28 07/11/2001
It’s been difficult to think about much else since I heard the news. I can’t count the times that I listened to the music, laughed, tapped my toes, and left feeling better than when I had arrived. Chuck had a gift. Not just for creating music but for making us feel more at peace with ourselves and each other.
Today at lunch I saw the short article that City Newpaper must have stopped the presses to squeeze in. There was a line in there about Chuck being the kind of man that made you feel good just to be in the same room with. Now that, I thought, is something to aspire to. Love and sympathy to Jan and family.
To Chuck, many thanks and good travels.
Posted At 16:57:55 07/11/2001
Each and every time that I encountered Chuck over the years, I walked away a better person, and wanting to spend more time with him. This is because Chuck embodied so many attributes that I (we) value so highly and dearly. He was an artist, to a high degree that I could only aspire to, and his music never failed to move me. We were all so fortunate to have existed in the same time and space with Chuck the entertainer.
But more than this, Chuck was a truly lovable, compassionate, and solid human being. Intelligent, articulate, funny, and dedicated to his work, musical or otherwise. (I always loved the way he referred to a “gig” as a “job”)
My thoughts are with all of his friends and especially his family.
Brian H. Shafer
Posted At 17:01:48 07/11/2001
I’ve known Chuck since Jr. High – not real well but traveled in the same circles. From what I do know of Chuck and read here, I wish I’d known him better – teaches me something about stopping to smell the roses! I have a clear visual memory of Chuck playing Santa – I think that’s appropriate since he was a man who obviously gave so much to so many. The emotional memory that jumps out at me is the mysterious sense of peace and centeredness I always felt around Chuck – my internal reaction was always, “he seems so happy!” Such tragedies often bring old friends together and I see some names of people on this web site that I haven’t had contact with for years. One of the magical things about Chuck was obviously his ability to bring great people together – he would like that he is still doing it! Jan, it is clear you have lost a unique and irreplaceable man – my heart goes out to you.. .and to Chuck’s many beloved friends whose lives are forever changed by this.
Posted At 19:10:59 07/11/2001
chuck. i love his patience and demeanor and genius.
his smile. we used to share acoustic gigs back at snake sisters with the death valley boys. what great times. i always considered him the utimate, consumate musician.
he loved the music, and he loved to write. years ago he made me a cassette tape called “32 favorite songs”. i will pull it out again and listen…i always kept that tape and treasured it as i figured these songs must be very special considering all the music CBJ listened to. thinking so much of jan and the boys. and of chuck in his next dimension..probably hangin’ out playing tunes with bob miller and, well, hank and elvis of course… we will all never be the same.
Posted At 20:52:26 07/11/2001
Amy and I had the honor of having Chuck and the CBJE as our ‘wedding band’ back on October 14, 1989. We were both living in NYC at the time and knew and loved the band through repeated listening of their debut album. We became big fans real quick and began playing the record for our pals. Music is so important to both of us and we wanted the best band we could rustle up for our wedding in Rochester. Chuck was a close friend of Amy’s older siblings, so we had ‘an in’. I recall the conversation Chuck and I had when I contacted him about wedding reception arrangements. He was so careful to explain that they were not ‘a real wedding band’ and might not be able to accommodate all of the guest’s requests. I’m so sure that he didn’t want to disappoint anybody or hurt feelings. I also think he may have been worried that they might be asked to play ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ or ‘Freebird’ or something (and y’know they could have pulled it off!).
I don’t remember the entire set list (we were kinda busy at the time to be writing it down), but I definitely remember a rousing version of ‘Considering…Memphis’ and ‘Polka Girl’, and a Salvation Army Band take on Dylans’ Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (Everybody Must Get Stoned) which I’m sure pleased my 87 year old great Aunt Leah. The group even fulfilled two audience requests; a drunken calliope cover of ‘Once In Love With Amy’, and a rollicking ‘Hava Nagilia’ that was completely out of this world. Needless to say Chuck and crew were amazing, and a perfect accompaniment to our swingin’ soiree! Everybody danced and were whipped into a colorblind frenzy….it was all too much! For a brief shining moment we had the greatest band on earth to share on the greatest day of our lives!
I do not pretend to understand or accept tragic losses, but I do know that Chuck touched numerous people in the community in so many ways and made an immeasurable difference to the world. I also know that the event that jumpstarted our marriage would not have been the same without Chuck Cuminale and we owe him our eternal thanks. He was a special man and he’ll be greatly missed. Our thoughts and love are offered to his family.
Howard and Amy Enis
Posted At 23:14:02 07/11/2001
I’ll always remember Chuck’s kindness, generous spirit and enthusiasm. This past spring I steered some discarded Macintosh Computers to Chuck. When he ran into some problems with them, I came over to his house and we figured out what we needed to do with them to get them refurbished. He was so excited; he couldn’t wait to get them in the hands of kids who could use them.
When the benefit for Dave Cross was coming together, Chuck was right in there… we couldn’t have done it without him, and the benefit would have not been as successful without Chuck’s hard work and dedication. I’m everyone has a story or two like this about Chuck.
And of course, the music. Not only did Chuck give us the gift of his musical vision, but he helped us find the “spirit” within us all. I can say that if it hadn’t been for Chuck’s generous spirit, I would have hung up my spurs many years ago. He has given me the gift of finding the music in my heart… and that is a feeling that I hope will never die.
Posted At 23:23:29 07/11/2001
Many folks talk about a sence of musical community. Chuck created one. On many levels he will be missed. This one too will hit many folks hard . We will feel the loss for a very long time. But, we will keep the precious gifts that you gave us forever. I don’t feel that it’s possible to thank him enough . But, one last time.. Thank you again Chuck for being there and giving all that you did. I miss you and will never forget you.
Posted At 00:28:46 07/12/2001
I will never forget the image of seeing Chuck play a solo acoustic set at the Market House Music Hall on Water Street in Oswego, in the fall of 1977. That huge beard singing ‘Jesus at the Still’ has somehow managed to stay with me through all of my own musical endeavors. I couldn’t believe it when one night, Chuck asked me to replace an ailing G. Elwyn Meixner onstage at The Old City Hall where Colorblind James and the Whitecaps were playing. And the fact that he asked me with such ease, knowing that it would be fun and we’d simply have a great time…this is how I’ll remember Chuck. Breakfast at Wade’s Diner at sunrise afterwards. I was walking on cloud nine for a week. Godspeed Colorblind.
Posted At 01:05:08 07/12/2001
I spent the first eight years of my life as Chuck’s next door neighbor, and back then he was my older brother’s best friend. These were two highly intelligent, creative kids, who influenced each other’s view of the world, and therefore mine as well. Even after I moved a short distance away, I still ran with Chuck’s Manse Lane crowd. I call it Chuck’s, because in my view it WAS his crowd. He was the central force among a group of kids, a sort of unwilling leader because everyone deferred to his creative genious.
We were all in the same Boy Scout troop, and from what I could tell in our dealings with other troops, our troop was VERY different. Boy Scouts is a pretty serious affair, but not in our troop. And it was because of Chuck’s quirky humor. He constantly kept us all entertained with his ideas and odd way of looking at things, and everything and everyone was just fodder for the jokes. He and some of the other older guys (Wayne Young, Carl Hotto, Gary Provenzano (RIP)) fed off of each other. At one point Chuck (primarily) conceived of an entire parody-style religion called (if memory serves) “Wooism”, for which he composed an elaborate written Doctrine. Even though he came from a devout Catholic family, and eventually considered becoming a priest, religion was fair game for his humor. And this was from a kid in his early teens. I didn’t know anyone like him, and I was always awed by his creativity.
I can remember sitting in his bedroom at his folk’s house learning about Bob Dylan when I was maybe 13 or 14, which would have been in the 1967-68 timeframe. He was already obsessed with Dylan (shades of things to come), and could quote him chapter and verse. He would sit on his bed and read his lyrics out loud, speculating on the meaning, and raving about the poetry, a bohemian bedroom critic.
Fast forward to 1973 or so. I spent an inordinate amount of time at the house Chuck shared on Harvard Street with Brad Fox, John Gilmore and others. This is where my musical taste really began to crystallize, and it took a shape that was due in large part to Chuck’s influence. Almost any music was fair game in that scene, and that has a lot to do with why I now listen to such a variety of stuff. Chuck would keep a steady stream of folk and country going, as a counterpoint to the jazz, rock and avant garde music. Waylon Jennings was sandwiched between Tim Buckley and Miles Davis. It was beautiful. And all the while Chuck would be hanging around, strumming the guitar, sometimes scribbling stuff down. He always used to say “If you come up with some lyrics, give them to me and I’ll put them to music.” I could never come up with something that seemed worthy, because I was so used to seeing his genious that anything that formed in my mind seemed paltry in comparison, and it was. If you could stay up late enough until the parties and ruckus died down, you might be able to strum with him and learn a couple of things as he taught himself. I did that more than once and will never forget it.
In later years, I didn’t get to talk to Chuck much, but every year I was watching from the wings as he choreographed the Dylan bashes with style and grace. He was like a musical shepard of sorts, gathering the herd and taking a headcount before turning them loose for another year, and recharging his own creative batteries in the process.
Being a close family friend, and someone I always looked up to as a kid, it safe to say he had a significant influence on my view of things, not just in terms of music, but the wierdness of life in general. Simply put, he made me “A Different Bob.”
Posted At 01:33:32 07/12/2001
Chuck told me years ago that someone at WITR described CBJE as “that circusy band”, and as much as he was confounded by the image, he kinda liked it. I think of him in the great circus now, his own hurdy-gurdy to turn, and if there is great joy and revelation to be found, he’ll be there. It’s hard to believe that he could have moved on, and I’m selfishly wondering how Grassroots will be without him, digging the marimba groove on a hot July day. My greatest sympathy for his wonderful family and band members.
The first time I met Chuck was when he and Gary Meixner came to my house in 1984 shortly after Chuck moved back from San Francisco. He was putting a new band together. We played some songs in my living room and I knew immediately there was something special about these guys. That was a Wednesday, and by that Saturday we were playing our first job at the Public Market, where we earned enough for groceries. Then came the Jazzberrys gigs, the Corn Hill Arts Festival on the streetcorners. Of all the playing together we did, opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Commander Cody was not the epitome of the music he inspired, at least for me. It was those
street jobs with the washboard and washtub bass, or playing for someone’s wedding in the park where I felt like I really understood music. Playing with Chuck I felt like I was discovering rock and roll for the first time. He helped me to strip away the insidious influence of the corporate music of the 70’s that I grew up with, and get right to the heart of music. I am indebted to Chuck and his wife Janet for encouraging me to go into teaching. Offstage or onstage, Chuck could see character in people immediately, which inspired him to suit them up with the perfect song, one of his or another classic. He must’ve written an album’s worth for “Rush Tattered”, long time friend and performer from Syracuse. I know that his and Janet’s sense of community will be a continuing source of comfort to the Cuminales all their lives. My only wish is that Chuck would’ve actually finished (or begun) his epic film, “Soprano Jug.”
Posted At 07:10:55 07/12/2001
Music was the catalyst, but it was Chuck that brought
us all together..an old timey guy with the spirit of generations gone by…that twinkle in his eye when the groove was going…to quote Bob, “in this age of fiberglass, I’m looking for a gem”. You were our gem, Chuck, we will miss you forever.
Posted At 07:23:19 07/12/2001
I didn’t know Chuck well, but I sure saw the band and listened to the albums enough times, to realize that in a music industry full of “famous-for-15-minutes” hacks, he was the real deal. In the past few months I’ve revisited CBJ’s music repeatedly and find that it is, like the best art, timeless. Most significantly, you can hear the type of person Chuck was through the songs;kind, sweet,low-key, articulate, intelligent, bohemian, wacky and fiercely dedicated to his craft. I am convinced that he was one of the great “lost” musicians of our generation.
Those that knew him-either personally or through his music-have traveled to a wondrous place too few others have explored. There will be no more new trips, but we’re better for him letting us visit, and selflessly sharing his unique vision. Nobody else could have led us there. Thankfully we have his music to constantly remind us of where we’ve been.
Posted At 07:49:08 07/12/2001
Two things… A few years before I met Chuck, when I was living in NYC and had absolutely no connection to Rochester, a friend played me a tape of Colorblind James. He was wild about that music. He was from North Carolina. How many random people there must be, all over the world, who never met Chuck, but love him all the same.
At a Fourth of July party 4 or 5 years ago, Chuck and Jan’s son Mark invented a story to explain why he did or didn’t do something, I forget. Mark (age 8? 9?) got on a roll, and the story spun out wildly, full of unpredictable narrative twists and loads of quirky detail. I’ll always remember Chuck with the look he had on his face at that moment: beatific amusement. Chuck loved a good story.
Posted At 09:14:32 07/12/2001
“Speak softly and carry a big guitar,” was one of Chuck’s
ways. I saw CBJ during their 1st Rochester incarnation
(with Bernie) at Backstreets -they weren’t just ahead of their time
re: roots rock or alt. country or whatever you call it, but really doing somehing
that is still entirely unique. I’ll always remember his big kind face and faded
t-shirts as long as I live. Peace to him and his loves ones.
Chas in Baltimore
Posted At 09:17:52 07/12/2001
I met Chuck and the rest of the band in March of 2000, when I auditioned for the bass chair in the Experience. Oddly enough, in my previous 30-odd years in the Rochester music scene, I had never met Chuck or heard his band, but was immediately taken by the profound feeling of family and togetherness that pervaded the sessions. My first gig with the band was a one-nighter in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which Chuck & I drove to together. We spent the hours on the road listening to music and chatting endlessly, discovering that we shared much in common, both musically and spiritually. He talked of how much his dad loved Cab Calloway, a love that was shared by both of us, as well. Colorblind was a pillar of virtue who’s strength of character was unlike any person I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. His music and his vision touched people all over the world. He was my friend and my mentor and his passing leaves a void in my life that will never be filled.God bless you Chuck. We love you and miss you terribly.
Posted At 09:24:44 07/12/2001
Who knew that going out to see my friend KevinMcD play drums for this wild band so many years ago would become an introduction to a delicious community of art, music, family, friends , thats continues to this day. I ‘ve watched Colorblind from Water street to Jackson Square, heard the songs , watched the bands change, evolve, live, , love, and still the music plays on , year after year. At 5, my now 15 year old sang all the words to Fledgling Circus on car trips. Alternated with Dance Critter and Different Bob. She started writing her own at 9 because she knows thats what folks do.
Thanks Chuck, a true genius of hip, You are missed already.
Posted At 10:20:13 07/12/2001
On June 24, Chuck called Bernie to play with him and Gary Meixner at The Spot. I was part of a small but appreciative audience that evening, so I felt okay about asking Chuck to play “Let’s Go Back.” And now, for the past two days I’ve found myself going back, to a thousand different memories, as I’m sure so many others have been doing. One thing that stands out about all of them is that, on some level, I felt that those moments were memory-making even as they were happening–another testament to Chuck’s bigger-than-life presence in so many of our lives.
Posted At 11:35:03 07/12/2001
Chuck’s was the first band I ever jammed with in Rochester. He and Jim were very nice to me, a naive young harp-player trying to find my way in City X. On stage, I always saw him as some sort of all glorious Old Testament-like traffic cop directing the Israelites as they climbed over the walls of Jericho just felled by their big horn jam. I have too many memories of him to write down right now, but I do feel like he was some sort of mysterious uncle figure to so many people, you know, the cool guy who didn’t talk about his past except through his songs which stated everything more clearly anyway. God rest his soul.
Posted At 11:39:16 07/12/2001
I am devistated and weak. I have had losses, this is by far the most profound;like the second killing of christ. I played in his band for seven and a half years. I feel so bad for his family most of all. He was an incredibley loving husband and father. I am having much trouble physically and emotionally with this. I have a very special relationship with chuck. I am Charles James he is James Charles and my first wifes name was Janet as his is. Never met anyone like him. I am 5 years older than he was but he was like a father to me in that he kept me honest. I have had a lot of dreams about him. I hope we can keep playing his music. From now on life is post colorblind. Everyone knows how deep he was. I could say more but am trying hard not to think too much about it.
Posted At 12:14:05 07/12/2001
I have so many deep memories of Chuck, that remind me of what a major impact he has had on my life, which makes this hard but somehow helpful to write. I remember walking into an Intro to Psych course at Geneseo in the Fall of ’70 and seeing Chuck, who I knew a little from high school, in the back row (of course) of the auditorium. He was a strikingly aloof student, an independent thinker, and I had the good fortune of becoming a quick friend. Months later we found an apt. in Lima NY and spent most evenings drinking beer at the American Hotel on the corner. Chuck would cook great meals with the food we’d pilfer from his mother’s pantry, filling the backseat of my VW on weekend trips. We could never bring ourselves to do the dishes so we’d just steal more clean ones from the college dining hall. Chuck would spend most of the day in bed with his guitar and a pen, writing songs. He never made the dean’s list but we learned a lot. I remember canoe trips with him in the summer, portaging from lake to lake in Algonquin Park in Canada, and one day Chuck asked, in his usual wise fashion: why are we making all this effort to travel through the park when the scenery is all pretty much the same? We ought to just stay where we are he suggested. I remember moving with him to Oswego in the early winter of ’74. We were shown the one place in our price range by the broker who said “this is what we call a cold water flat.” It was $50 a month which Chuck thought was unconscionably high given that the toilet was down the hall, it had no heat, and there was just an empty hole where the hot water faucet should have been in the kitchen sink. I saw little of Chuck after I moved to NYC but I invited him to my wedding and as I turned around at the ceremony and walked back down the aisle there he was sitting with Jan. He left the kids at home and drove down in a car with a broken clutch but when I said how surprised, as well as pleased, I was to see him, he seemed a little insulted and said: “Mark, I never thought of not coming.” Then, years later, I turn around to walk back down the aisle at my niece’s funeral and there’s Chuck, strong and supportive, with a wise thoughtful word. I’m shaking as I write this and it’s getting cloudy… goodbye Chuck, I love you.
Posted At 13:17:41 07/12/2001
I have known Chuck and his family for a long time now. I used to babysit John, Mark, ande Paul when they were babies. Chuck and Jan always made me feel at home and were always a positive influence in my life. Chuck has always made me feel good about my what little music talent I have and has tried to push me to excell in it. I will miss Chuck very much and hope that he is still playing his music somewhere, just for a different crowd. Jan, I will always be here for you if you kneed anything.
I have to write more on how many people loved Chuck and loved his music and loved his family. I read through all the above memories and it brings back so much more for me. I also remember when I was first introduced to Chuck and the Death valley boys, When my mother married Bernie I was introduced to the music scene. I loved going to all the festivals and gigs that the band had played. I had the greatest time watching the banjo and washboard make their sounds and I mostly enjoyed Chucks songs. Another Bob was one of my favorites. Sometimes I felt like a rodey. I would help with the equipment and give my two cents. I loved that part of my life and I hope that Chuck knew how much he was appreciated and loved. God bless you Chuck Cuminale and may your music lift our souls.
Gabriel D Sloane
Posted At 14:01:17 07/12/2001
Chuck, The first time I saw you perform somehow I could see the twinkle of your shaded eyes and knew that you were one of those from a special tribe. I have spent many hours listening to your music as sort of a soundtrack to my own life’s journey and even though I have only cordially met you through aquaintances, your influence on my life has been very unmistakable. Last night as I was driving home, still feeling hollow from the news of your passing, I realized the true scope of your genius from a call-in radio show. On WHAM, a conservative news, AM Rochester radio station, a caller, who had only met you in passing as a colleague in the city school district, described how wonderful you were to the kids you helped. Chuck, thank you for sharing yourself with so many and making this place a little more tolerable and most important, enjoyable. My heart goes out to your family and your family of friends.
Posted At 14:02:39 07/12/2001
Chuck’s often Christ-like demeanor was evident in his music as well as in his relationship with family and friends. Many of my good friendships started as a result of knowing Chuck and Jan over the years. The joy of playing Colorblind’s music is surpassed only by the trip I get from being a father and husband. Thanks for times I will never forget Chuck. I miss you brother, peace.
Posted At 14:05:39 07/12/2001
Dear Chuck, I’m sorry that I critized your integrity in a letter to CITY. You have always been a good but slightly odd shaped egg. And thats a good thing.
Posted At 14:31:57 07/12/2001
I’m at the Bop Shop now and I just finished taping ‘Where Or When’ for the funeral service. Apparantly it was Chuck Cuminale’s favorite song. I never knew Chuck and i wish i did. I feel like i missed out on something wonderful. He wrote great things about some of the bands i played in and always knew me by name whenever he was in the store. He seemed like he was the kind of person you felt better about yourself just by talking to.
Posted At 14:53:53 07/12/2001
I’ve known Chuck my whole life, through my parents of course, Bernie and Carol, they lived next door to us for around 8 years I think. You can never forget a guy like that, he was like a second father to me. I remember sleeping over at their house, tons of times, even though mine was right next door. Sometimes in the mornings I’d go over so early and Chuck would invite me to stay for breakfast, and I would, even though my parents had already made something for me! I love the Cuminale family, and I hope they all know, Jan, John, Mark, Paul, I will always be here for you guys, and I love you, Chuck was such a wonderful person, and he made an impact on every single persons life that he’s met.
Posted At 15:20:07 07/12/2001
I was only introduced to Chuck once and came to know his music fairly late, but the news of his passing has been an enormous, saddening shock. I can only imagine the sense of loss that those who knew and loved him, who worked and played alongside him, must be feeling now…my heart goes out to all of you. Chuck was, as has been written repeatedly here, a real presence-—he enriched Rochester immeasurably with his music and his kindness, his writing and his generosity. Without him, it would have been a much poorer place—-less magical, less eccentric, less gifted with talent and compassion and great music—-and it will take much effort and commitment to fill the space he leaves as he goes on now to some better place.
Many, many of his songs will forever charm me, haunt me, bring a warm smile or help me through some hard times, and I will be happy and proud to count myself among those the world over who love his music. My deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends, as well as his bandmates and others who will mourn his loss and remember all that he gave in his amazing life. Goodbye, Chuck—-do us proud wherever you are, and know that you will be greatly, greatly missed…
Michael “Havoc” Tomczyszyn
Posted At 15:45:30 07/12/2001
Having CBJ and his family in my life is such an honor. Although he is no longer here
with us physically, his spirit sure shines through,as you can tell, by these messages.
It’s so cool how one person has connected us all, through his kindness and his music.
I’am so grateful to be able to play his music and be reminded of that.
SHINE ON,CBJ !!!!!!!!!
Posted At 16:30:04 07/12/2001
We thought his name was “Colorblind” back in Oswego when we were 17 and going down to Water Street to hear the band play. My much-admired friend Phil would always talk of his much-admired friend Chuck and his song writing (something that Phil aspired to; something he does now to the great delight of others who much admire him in turn)…I know Chuck helped Phil and so many other musicians down their chosen roads. I remember the grace with which Chuck would greet us fans. Sure, he didn’t have to: he was the Great Musician. But he always did; he treated us as equals. Chuck was a door opener and a welcomer. I’m so sorry to hear this news. My heart to your family, Chuck, and to you. Rock on.
Posted At 16:59:25 07/12/2001
O Captain! my Captain!
Posted At 17:19:47 07/12/2001
Chuck lived out what he believed in his heart. He was one of the most compassionate people I have ever known. I felt like Chuck was my long lost “big brother” the very first time we met. We shared a great deal about the trials and joys of working with young people — there was no one that he ever gave up on!! As an father, husband, friend, mentor, artist and positivistically healthy critic of life as we know it, Chuck has inspired me to cherish all the little things of life on this big ball. Yesterday morning, I had a vision of Chuck with that colorblind grin — he said “I just got to Heaven and I can’t sit down.” I think that we’ll see Chuck again. He told Jaffe that we only go ’round this earth one time, so make the best of it always. I know that Chuck made the best of this life, made our lives better and we all are inspired to do the same while we can. With sincere gratitude and immense love for a real giant…my life is significantly better for having known Chuck Cuminale.
See ya in heaven pal………………..
Mike Belmont, Principal–Finney High School
Posted At 17:54:27 07/12/2001
Chuck had that spark of creative purity and warm compassionate humanity that rarely exists together…thanks for blessing us with a glimpse of what’s possible. It’s odd, but I won’t miss you in that tradional way, because you’ll never be gone. Through your genuis and the sincerity of your soul you’ll always be amoung us. You’ll always be a part of me and those who’ve been fortunate enough to have known you and touched by your spirit, your music, your being. You lived well Colorblind. Until we meet again…..
Posted At 18:02:27 07/12/2001
It was sad to hear this news. The Colorblind James experience was a real highpoint.One of the first songs that I learned on the accordion was the Colorblind’s version of The St. James infirmary with that great solo part. Although I didn’t know Chuck-his presence was beautiful and clear and amazing, a pillar of creative stuff, -very inspiring.thank God for him during those high school years. I think I will play that song for him tonight.
Posted At 18:30:56 07/12/2001
We have been fans of Colorblinds since the first time we saw them play at Idols over a decade ago. I was fortunate to have worked with Chuck, but more fortunate to simply have met him, and gotten to know him. I found him incredibly honest, trustworthy, and insightful, we will miss Chuck and his music.
Chris & Carrie Wightman
Posted At 18:53:45 07/12/2001
Colorblind James was one of the first bands I really got into when I started going to the music scene when I was eighteen. I was a huge fan for many years then One day while I working at The Center For Youth Services I got a memo that Chuck Cuminale was going to be a counselor in my office. I was so star struck! When I met him in the office I let him know what an honor it was to have him working here and how much I just loved his music. After about a week I realized that my star struck self was being so ridiculous because he was just the most humble and warm guy that I no longer needed act wowed by his stardom but as a great guy whom I was going to love working with. Seven and half years later, after many experiences and laughs at the Center I resigned to stay home with my kids. The relationship I shared with him in those seven years and beyond changed me and the way that I look at the world. He first and foremost taught me about compassion for all people even if the kid was a real pain in ass Chuck would find the goodness in them and helped me see it too. He exposed me to so much music that he would bring to play on his tape player throughout the day. He always would smile and talk about how talented or amazing this certain band or singer was. He turned me and family on to the Grassroots music festival seven years age and we have gone every year since.. It will just not be the same this year. It is ritual that is very important to us. I loved talking to Chuck about our kids, he had such deep, deep, love for his children and when we would talk we would both get teary eyed thinking about the trials and tribulations our kids would half to go through in this troubled world and that all we could do was be the best loving parents we could, no matter how hard it was sometimes. I could go on and on about the memories and gifts he gave to me and my family throughout the years. From my husband being Col. Parker at the Elvis Presley Birthday party to letting our son play the snare drum during a song at my sister’in laws wedding. He always made me feel like I could talk to him about anything at any time. He truly loved his job and was great at it. Not because it was his job but because it was the way he lead his life. Compassion and time for allpeople, no matter how downtrodden and miserable. We used to say if Chuck had something bad to say about anyone they must be a real jerk. I am a better women having had him share his mind with me. Even though for five of the seven years I worked with him I was his supervisor. he taught me way more then I could have ever taught him. I was talking to my son about Chuck last night (who is a big fan and truly loved him and his music) I asked him If he could think of a word to describe Chuck and he said “Yea I can think of a great word but then I just think of another great word for him, he was so many things that are good’ Then he said with tears in his eyes “I wish I had a time machine so I could go back July 9th and tell ChucK not to go swimming that morning” I do to I do to. I wish I could john Paul and mark back their most awesome and cool dad and Jan ‘ moasat loving a devoted husband. Few people pass thriugh this life with a soul as pure as his. Goodbye Chuck I love you and my heart will never be the same again for truly for first time in my life it has been broken by the loss of a friend like you. Peace and music
Posted At 19:01:11 07/12/2001
In another odd way I agree with Patricia about not missing Chuck. We have been so influenced and affected by him that he will be with us for the rest of our lives.
Posted At 19:08:41 07/12/2001
whenever I was sad I would listen to CBJ and smile. It would change my whole mood like magic. Thank you Chuck for your magic.
Posted At 19:33:12 07/12/2001
Tragic indeed. I never knew Chuck, nor did I know anything about him… other than the idea he might be considering a move to Memphis. I do a radio show here in Hawaii that is extremely brutal. Punk rock..crunchy stuff in general. Somebody recently sent me a disc, “the color blind james experience”. Well, I opened the shrinkwrap only because I was amused by the name. The “sender” recommended I play the “Memphis” trac, so I fired it up. The basic idea of my show is to play the likes of Slipknot, Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit (yawn) and so on and so on. For shock value we throw in soething obscure and way out there “Put the lime in the coconut”..whatever. We proceed to talk over the trac, eventually scratching it off with disposable disregard and moving into the next set..Black flag, dead kennedys etc.
Well last week this was to be the fate of “Memphis”…trouble was, none of us wanted to yank the trac. The song, like the show was pretty hokey, I mean that with all respect, as that was obviously the artists objective..So anyway…with thousands of headbangers frothing at their collective mouth…the entire song got air, a first for us in 4 years. The reacton was..”Whoa, this is weird”…”shall I scratch it”? “No let it play”. That song perfectly represents my show, for some perverse reason it has to be heard. Tonite I’ll listen to the rest of the disc. My heartfelt aloha to all that knew and loved this man, clearly a talent and a pleasure to play @ KKCR fm Hawaii. Thank you Chuck,
Posted At 19:35:50 07/12/2001
I had the strangest, most wonderful experience today. While I was sitting at my desk this morning, I started thinking about Chuck’s music. And then, out of the blue, I started thinking about “Fledgling Circus,” a song I hadn’t listened to in a while. Throughout the day, it kept resurfacing. I carried it in my head all day long. At the end of the day, I got in my car & turned on the radio. Guess what was playing? “Fledgling Circus”As Terry Lindsay said today on his radio show, Chuck’s music is a living legacy.
Posted At 19:39:29 07/12/2001
I like remembering talking to Chuck , and what I remember is not only what I said to him about my favored topics but the way he absorbed them. They were communications I like going back over. I think he may be, actually, some kind of relay point for those particular significant thoughts., in another realm now.
Posted At 19:52:44 07/12/2001
I got the news today, oh boy. I have been sitting here in my desk, way out in Portland, OR, feeling sad for Chuck’s family and close friends. Tonight I’ll be playing some Cab and the Mississippi Sheiks and some Bob and thinking of what could have been had I not been introduced to some incredible music due to Chuck. (Not that I’d be listening to Rush, but you never know!) The great thing about these postings is that Chuck seems have spread some kind of magical pollen over everyone he encountered. We’re all infected here, and we have to spread that pollen to others now who never had the chance. Maybe I now know why I have been playing ‘I shall be released’ (from Rock of Ages, of course) all week, hitting repeat repeat repeat. Prayers to Chuck’s family and thanks to Chuck for being such a good force in the world.
Posted At 20:03:26 07/12/2001
Shocked and shattered. Yes for the music. Yes for the love. He the dishwasher to me the waitress…telling stories while looking out at the river and making all of us laugh and wonder where it all came from. Heart and mind. Market House/ Lowlife Cafe/ Rochester. Dancing with my father at my wedding while the boys played on. Surprises. Breakfast at the BTB. Gypsy vegetable soup. Thankful for knowing him. Blessed to count him as a friend. Thoughts of Chuck generate more smiles than tears.
Love and strength to Jan and the boys.
Posted At 20:16:03 07/12/2001
Chuck Cuminale, what a great guy and wonderful all around human being! Chuck definately made huge contributions to the arts and was the foundation of our music community. Through the magic of music his spirit will live on forever, he is immortal. My heartfelt thoughts go out to his family.
Posted At 21:21:37 07/12/2001
My heart goes out to Janet and their sons. I am in Seattle but will attend the ceremony in strong spirit. I had the pleasure of sharing the stage many times over the past twenty years with Chuck, even subbing for a short while in one of his bands. We had a great mutual respect for each other’s work. His keen sensibility and totally unique style of composition has been a source of great joy for me and influence on my songwriting.
What comes to mind:
a show by the Water Street Boys(sans CBJ) at the Lowlife Cafe in Oswego circa 1979(?). The band and I were both performing at some benefit or such….I was talking to Scott Regan after their set (who I recently met at the time)and the question of who influenced his own wonderful songs came up. I remember very clearly, a slightly soused Scott, repeating over and over—“CHUCK! I am nothing without Chuck! It’s ALL because of Chuck!! I’d be NOTHING without Chuck.” It was very funny, but I didn’t really get it at the time……I thought: WHO the hell is this CHUCK guy? I didn’t begin to know and hadn’t heard CBJ until soon after. What Scott was telling me that night so long ago: it took these 20 years truly understand that exact feeling.
Dennis Friscia , Seattle WA.
Posted At 21:21:53 07/12/2001
I met Chuck (and the band) in the mid-80’s, while I was doing “in-house” sound at the Warehouse, a nightclub in Rochester. This was a band I had heard about, and knew I had to see. After the gig, I needed a ride home. On the way, the band and I went to Gitsi’s for breakfast. We all had corn flakes with our meal. This night led a to frindship I will always cherish. Thank you Chuck for sharing your gifts.
Posted At 21:22:44 07/12/2001
What a tribute to such a great person. Thanks for all the wonderful music!
Posted At 22:09:37 07/12/2001
when’s chuck’s birthday?
Posted At 23:28:56 07/12/2001
After learning about Chuck I didn?t know what to say… Living 3000 miles from Rochester it?s hard to keep up with all the news. I worked with CBJ as one of the only traveling sound persons. Many years have past since then, but it still feels like yesterday. Chuck was one of many different musicians I have had the great pleasure of working with, but he was just so much more than that…. I wish we would of shot the music video for “Why should I stand up”. Chuck had the vision, when know one else did… You were so far a head of your time… I will miss you…. You have brought great joy to me andso many people that didn?t even know you…. until we meet again….
Posted At 00:05:05 07/13/2001
Just count me as another one of the many who feels truly thankful to have experienced Chuck’s wonderful music. I think every CBJ show I ever saw made me feel like I had just dropped in on something truly special, and that the rest of the world had no idea what they were missing. We all dug the writing too. Thanks Chuck.
Posted At 01:19:59 07/13/2001
You have been such a huge influence to our community of musicians. (Blac Ocean, Ampersand, Old Solar). You really took the time to listen to us and what we were trying to say. Your support and encouragement has only been rivaled by your influence musically. We will never forget the joy we got out of attending and dancing at your concerts. You will be forever remembered and revered, an encouragement to us and our futures. We’ll miss you Chuck.
Posted At 05:43:15 07/13/2001
I have not seen Chuck since the last time he toured the UK….It was a great tour and I spent the night on the floor in a hotel in London after seeing them in Bath, It was only their second (and last tour of the UK) but both myself and my mate Paul had become good friends. I e-mailed Chuck quite a few times and it was a case of I’ll come over and we’ll have a few beers……you know the kind of thing, well now it’s to late and he will be missed by all for his kind words and his music.
Russ SandersWorksop, UK
Posted At 07:15:11 07/13/2001
Got the news this morning that the Colorblind One has gone… just so sad. Aeons ago I first heard Memphis and A Different Bob when John Peel and Andy Kershaw were playing CBJE on BBC Radio 1. For years I’d been trying to get that stuff, and then finally, a few months ago, a web search turned up the StubDaddy site, and boom there was the Greatest Hits disc in my player, and finally I could catch up on all those songs. I’ve played it so much on long journeys… although none of my friends can stand it, they’re not cool enough I guess 🙂 So I thought I’d just write a note of condolence, then I came here and read all these tributes from you guys who really knew Chuck. It’s very moving. Now I know how much he was loved… We’ll just have to play the records more, and smile at the memory.
Posted At 07:20:06 07/13/2001
Chuck came to my mind about a week ago. I hadn’t seen him in a long time and I just had one of those spontaneous thoughts and it made me happy. When I heard of his death my heart broke, because Chuck was one of those rare people who make the world a beautiful place by helping you opn your eyes and see what is already there. He was so honest and lacking in artifice, and when you spoke with him you knew he could see only what was absolutely real and good and true about you, and it made you better for knowing him. I loved him, I loved just knowing that he lived among us.
Barbara Cala Greles
Posted At 07:45:24 07/13/2001
I first saw Colorblind James Experience at the Grassroots Festival about 7 years ago and absolutely loved the band. They were one of the main reasons we kept going back every year, even though we could see them a lot in Rochester, it was always more exciting down there. A couple of years ago they were playing in the small Cabaret Hall at the festival and put on another great show. At the end, I requested that they play “Picture on A Stone” and after they did, he thanked me for requesting a not so mainstream song. He thanked me! What a wonderful and thoughtful person, he will be greatly missed. My thoughts now are with his family and that they can find the strength to get through this.
Posted At 08:44:38 07/13/2001
Chuck, you the man!!! I hope you and Elvis are sharing a fried peanut butter sandwich and cranking out some good stuff while we wait to see you all again. Thank you.
Posted At 08:56:56 07/13/2001
Chuck Cuminale was a poet in the true sense of the word. He has been an inspiration to me as an artist and as a person. Chuck was one of the great American songwriters and yet was humble and supportive of everyone he came in contact with. To know him was to love him.
Posted At 09:21:44 07/13/2001
I met Chuck in Oswego in the mid ’70’s. I was into the music scene and he was the music scene. I promoted my first concert in 1980 and Chuck was the first person I called to play. He did and it was great. I moved to Rochester in 1990 to promote shows here. Again, Chuck was the first person I called. The CBJ experience played Wednesday nights in the comedy club we had in the basement of Scorgie’s…and it was great. Many times over the years Chuck was the first person I called. When it’s my time to follow where he’s gone, he may well be the first person I call. Thank you Chuck, I’m a better person for having known you and your good ways. God bless you and your family.
Posted At 09:38:01 07/13/2001
A few weeks ago I was at a party where I knew very few people. Even though I had a really nice time, there came a moment when I sat down on some steps, still in the middle of the party, feeling a little quiet and lonely…just a little…when I became aware of a presence next to me. Chuck had sat down next to me without speaking…we smiled at each other and continued to sit closely, watching the party unfold and hardly saying a word for the next 15 minutes. That’s the kind of guy he was…someone who could read between the lines, not sit on the sidelines…and ask nothing in return. We all miss you Chuck.
Posted At 09:46:45 07/13/2001
We just recently met Chuck and the CbJE and were looking forward to what we hoped would be a long and lovely connection. As fellow avid Dylan fans, we were delighted in the spring of 2000 to discover the annual Dylan birthday bash at Milestones. We went and were awestruck by the long line of performers having their “moment in the sun” with the help of Chuck and the Band. Since we also “do” Dylan in our limited repertoire, we harbored a secret hope of being allowed the priviledge of performing at Bob’s 60th this year. We got Chuck’s number from Buzzo, called him up and he generously invited us to come to the studio and play our song. We waited while Chuck and the Band worked with countless other artists, making sure that the key was just right, that the backup was what it needed to be. Chuck was the obvious guiding spirit, so patient, so gentle, so accommodating, so determined to let this eclectic bunch shine in their own right and with their own gifts. We were flattered when they felt we could perform “Oh Sister” on our own and give them a “break” in the set, but afterwards we decided that next year we’d ask if we could do a number together. What a precious priviledge that would have been for us! We became instant fans of Chuck and the CbJE and were looking forward especially to this August’s Bluegrass Fest in Manhattan Square Park because we saw they were going to be there. We’re devastated by the news and saddened that we didn’t know Chuck long enough or well enough, but at the same time so very grateful that we had that “one brief shining moment” of being in the same room with the man. What a gentle spirit and creative quiet force; in such a short time he left such an impression on us that we feel an incredible loss. Hopefully the Dylan bash will continue, but essentially honoring Chuck at the same time. What a pair. Of course our thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family and the Band. Thanks for sharing this brilliant humble human being with all of us.
the Barrys (Rick and cath)
Posted At 09:54:04 07/13/2001
Colorblind James graciously allowed the Ratkings to play on the same bill with them a couple of times recently. We were humbled. It was a blessing from Rochester’s Boddhisatva.
Chuck Cuminale was truly a gift to his friends and his fans. It is really rare to find someone who was so in love with music. As a musician it was reassuring to watch Chuck and realize that he didn’t pursue music as a means to an ends. For Chuck music was a journey where it didn’t matter so much what your destination was, all that mattered was embracing and enjoying the ride. Chuck was and still is a guiding force in the music scene in the Rochester area. It is so rare to meet some one as supportive and encouraging as Chuck. I will always remember Chuck as a kind soft-spoken person who always had a good word for you. I will remember Chuck at my close friends wedding singing about Jesus turning water to wine.I will remember Chuck.
Posted At 10:34:45 07/13/2001
I looked at the paper the other day and froze. There was a picture of Chuck Cuminale “Mr.C” to most of the students in our class. Most of you know Chuck the musician but I remember Chuck as the most kindhearted assistant teacher I have ever worked with. We worked together at Hillside Childrens Center about 15 years ago. Chuck would show up with a loaf of French bread and a big chunk of cheese. I would bring bagels. Our 15 students would sit with us as we read the newspaper together. Chuck always had positive guiding words for these kids who had nothing. He would probably remember Tina the best. She sang for us and she always brought a smile to Chucks face. I can’t say enough about Chuck. He had such a positive impact on everyone of our students and on me. I will miss him.
Posted At 10:39:21 07/13/2001
No kindlier gentleman ever walked in through the doors of School of the Arts than Chuck. No one was more unassuming than he. He was quiet and had a lovable disposition. He endeared himself to to all those with whom he came in daily contact, and helped countless students to navigate through the rough and angry waters of life. Chuck will be missed greatly in our School of the Arts community, and by me personally. To Chuck’s widow and gifted children, I would like to extend my boundless sympathies. His passing leaves a void for us all.
Posted At 10:47:24 07/13/2001
When I heard the news about Chuck’s passing it was the kind of shock I got when I heard about John Lennon or Lowell George or BJ Wilson (drummer for Procol Harum). It was the shock of finding out that someone you always thought would be around like air or sunshine was suddenly gone. As a person I knew him only slightly better than I would know a Lennon or a George, as an acquaintance met at the occaisional gig or social gathering. But as an artist I knew him as a true original that showed me a new way of looking at things every time I saw him perform. That was all I needed to know about him, and as a fellow songwriter I admired his ability to mix humor, pathos, social commentary and anything else you care to name seemingly without the slightest effort. His songs imprinted themselves in my memory immediately. The next day I could quote entire lines of his lyics verbatim – the highest complement one can pay to a songwriter. The few performances of Colorblind that I saw were revelations that enriched my spirit. Back then I wondered why Chuck never made the “Big Time”, but now I know that long after we who knew him are long gone some one will be hearing one of his songs and chuckling to themselves.
Posted At 10:49:40 07/13/2001
Chuck is and was a great guy. He cared about everything. He helped me through alot of things.. He was always worried about me and how I was doing… He always talked about how much he loved his kids and his band. Which I personally new nothing about.. But i heard their music and I liked it… Chuck was a wonderful guy and I would do whatever it takes to get him back even tho i no its not possible.
Posted At 11:11:59 07/13/2001
I remember sitting in high school with Chuck in Man & Society class. It was the first class where the teacher let us sit anywhere. I often sat on the floor next to Chuck, leaning on the wall under the window. I was so touched by his philosophies on life. His incredible gentle spirit was something you could feel. I love his smile, how he looks you in the eye, and even his eyes are smiling and so attentive. A couple months ago at a party, I met Jan ~ I knew instantly that she was someone I would like to get to know. As Chuck was getting ready to leave, we were discussing family. I could see the love and joy in his face as he gazed at Jan across the yard, telling me how wonderful she is and sounding awestruck at his fortune of finding her and being together. It made my heart happy to know Chuck had such a wonderful lifemate. The news of Chuck felt like someone had hit me in the stomach. It does not seem possible. But I know that I’ll still see Chuck’s smile and feel that energetic peacefulness whenever I think of him. My heart aches for Jan and the boys. If there is anything I can do……
Posted At 11:15:30 07/13/2001
Fortune has not smiled upon me, nor has it bothered to learn my name because I never had the pleasure of meeting Chuck or seeing the band live. I first heard Memphis when John Peel played it on the radio and Chuck’s songs have become like old friends over the years. He knew what moved and he knew what grooved. For me it was once heard, never forgotten and judging by the tributes here it was once met, never forget. He has made a difference in all our lives. Goodbye Chuck. You’ll always be rockin as fast as you can.
Posted At 11:29:03 07/13/2001
I remember the first time I saw Colorblind James Ex., I think it was Death Valley boyz at the time, Red Creek,Rochester NY. My brother had wanted to see a nice jazz band in a smoke filled room, Jazz style, we went, having NO idea of what to expect, had not heard of this band before, or their musical style…we were hooked. My brother heard ‘Dance Critters’, and remarked about how he had heard previously a couple years in California. And the Jazz? they did some of that too… EXACTLY what my brother had in mind at the time…..fitting! The show, the band, we were amazed, smoky Jazz, circus rock, and tons of fun. Subsequently we went to every possible CBJE show for the next few years, Milestones, Jazzberrys, some club underground, that was the best one, the band, and Chuck played anything we yelled out for, we had front row tables, ‘ A Different Bob’ he even did for our enjoyment… we ‘fell away’ from the shows after awhile, but not the music. My rbother gained family and re-located, thus I lost my colorblind travel companion….My most recent show was the last (2001) Elvis B-day gig at milestones, and I had worn my ‘Solid Behind the Times’ record release party T-shirt.. I saw Chuck mingling in the crowd, but never approached him to chat, but our eyes caught and he checked the shirt out. I could tell by the look and the nod, that even after the years and poeple, he recognised me from those days of fun. I will miss the opportunity to see him play the ‘electric’ vibraphone, or whatever that lovely instrument was, or the guitar, and his song, and I will forever cherish the ‘Strange Sounds from the Basement’ whenever I hear one! I did not know him personally, and therefore cannot remark on that aspect, but I know as a performer, he respected everyone who was a fan, and he enjoyed making us happy… so Chuck, hope you get the chance to play Elvis that version of ‘That’s Entertainment’ and get them critters dancing in the heavens… you will be missed.!
Posted At 12:07:05 07/13/2001
My brother Bernie told me about meeting Chuck immediately in 1984; he was duly impressed and had clearly found a new outlet for his music, but more importantly a new friend. I heard them play dozens and dozens of times over the years and certain songs pop into my head still–like ‘A Different Bob,’ ‘Considering a Move to Memphis,’ ‘Dance Critters.’ (with everybody dancing lower and lower to the floor as the music got quieter and quieter till we all rose up again in a fit of high hilarity and pure fun. I was at the very first Dylan party in 85(?) and many others. After awhile, I couldn’t take smoke anymore–but if I went into a bar once a year, it was for Dylan night or Elvis night, for the band, for the incredible sense of community that Chuck created. It was really Chuck’s birthday–Dylan night. Having that night was one of those ways that Chuck could have that twinkle in his eyes, smile of joy, totally focusing on someone else on his own birthday. Chuck was at my house once. Steve Greene was there. We were listening to a new Van Morrison CD “I think I’ll write another love song . . .” Chuck shook his head with that big wonderful smile and said, “Just like that–so smooth.” I always meant to give Chuck my 4’x4′ Dylan poster from the days I owned record stores in Florida. Never dreamed I would not have the chance. When will I ever learn that life is short. Losing Chuck so suddenly has kept me thinking of nothing but Jan, Jon, Mark, Paul, and everybody I know that loved himHow can we carry on the great love and generous spirit of Chuck? How can we live as if each day could be our last?
Posted At 12:55:44 07/13/2001
I moved away from Rochester 10 years ago, and even though it was 9 years since I’d seen saw Chuck & CBJ when they played at my wedding, the news of his passing was still devasting to Lorri and me. I probably saw the band 60 or 70 times in a 10 year period, and every show offered up someting new, something original, something fun. I wasn’t exactly into folk or roots music at the time, but his music transcended boundaries or labels. When I asked him to come and be on Rochester Sessions, a show I was hosting at the time, he agreed immediately and soon became our favorite guest. Interviewing Chuck was like talking to an old friend: Comfortable, fun, relaxing. He’d even put me at ease when I wasn’t.
After going to 5 years of the Dylan shows, someone spilled the beans to me that Dylan’s bithday also coinsided with Chuck’s birthday. Then I got it: all those guest vocalists weren’t there to pay tribute to Bob, the were there for Chuck. He was that special that everyone wanted to be up with the band to have some of that Colorblind James magic.
In my opinion, Bob had nothing over Chuck: His words were honest, his themes curious, his insight keen. And above all that, he was always accesible. If I wanted to talk about one of his songs, or anything else, he was approachable and always had a warm greeting. He sent me some CDs recently. Even though we haven’t seen each other in nearly a decade, he never forgot that his music touched people. I’ll never forget how I’ve been touched by knowing you, Chuck. And there is no doubt in my mind that somebody loves you in heaven.
Posted At 13:31:40 07/13/2001
They don’t dance here in Boston like they do in Rochester. It could be one of the reasons that I’ve gained all this weight. I can’t begin to name the times I danced to Chuck’s music and sweat off pounds and cares and the stress of everyday living. What a pleasant surprise to have found a club in this area that not only dances the floor somethin crazy but knew Chuck’s tunes. Johnny D’s here in Davis Square has had a Colorblind sleeve on their wall of albums for years, placed among great Blues and Jazz luminaries of our time.
Having played at the same clubs for years, and shared many of the same haunts, Chuck and I never talked too much until the day he called me out of the blue to pick a song and join in at Dylan’s B-Day bash in 1993. What an honor to be recognized and included by a man of talent and creative energy. Chuck, I will miss you here on this earth. Thank you for your gifts and your music. Save me a spot on the bandstand.I will think of you every time I get up to shake that thing! Leigh and I are playing again. Do you mind if we cover Dance Critters?
Posted At 14:09:39 07/13/2001
I remember over a decade age, working at Jazzberry’s and looking forward to Colorblind James nights. No one’s feet could keep still, even with a drink tray in hand. That’s something you don’t forget. From Mare in Boston, love and thanks to Chuck and the many wonderful people whose lives he brightened.
Posted At 18:55:03 07/13/2001
My fondest memories of Chuck go back awhile, when the band had just formed here. I loved going out to see CBJ (the Experience, or The Death Valley Boys). On Weds, I played their first record upon hearing of Chuck’s sad passing. Here, 2 days later, my 3-year old son was heard uttering “I’m Persidering, I’m Persidering…” obviously he meant “considering.” Thank you, Chuck, for memories & music.
Posted At 19:38:20 07/13/2001
” Men may seem detestable as joint-stock companies and nations, knaves, fools, and murderers there may be; men may have mean and meager faces; but man, in the ideal, is so noble and so sparkling, such a grand and glowing creature, that over any ignominious blemish in him all his fellows should run to throw their costliest robes.”
“Death is only a launching into the region of the strange. Untried; it is but the first salutation to the possibilities of the immence Remote, the Wild, the Watery, the Unshored.” -both spoken by Ishmael in Moby Dick
Chuck, I’m grateful to have known you and glad I got to talk to you one last time a couple of months ago. Too bad we never got to form the Moby Dick reading group. Thanks for your kindness.
Posted At 20:39:41 07/13/2001
WELL I WENT TO THE SAME SCHOOL AS CHUCK BUTI DIDN’T MEET HIM UNTIL ABOUT 15 YRS. LATER IN SAN FRANCISCO. A MUTUAL FRIEND GARY BENNET WAS THERE VISITING BRAD FOX AND CHUCK AND AFTER HANGING OUT ALL DAY, CHUCK AND JANET TOOK GARY AND ME TO SOME SMALL HOLE-IN-THE-WALL MEXICAN RESTUARANT WITH REALLY GREAT FOOD. HE TALKED ABOUT GOING BACK TO ROCHESTER AND PLAYING MUSIC. I DIDN’T SEE HIM AGAIN TILL I RETURNED. I REMEMBER PLAYING SOFTBALL WITH HIM AND SOME FRIENDS SUNDAYS ON SOUTH AVE. RUNNING INTO HIM WHEREVER- PARTIES, BARS AND OF COURSE HIS CONCERTS. LIKE SO MANY OTHERS HAVE SO ELOQUENTLY PUT IT, HIS PRESENCE IN OUR LIVES WAS A GIFT AS IS THE MUSIC HE MADE WITH SO MANY PEOPLE.YOUR LEGACY LIVES ON IN US ALL
SEEYA IN THE FUTURE
Posted At 21:32:32 07/13/2001
It’s evident from the notes on this page that Chuck was, not through design but through a curiousity, willingness to explore and generosity of spirit, a part of many different matrixes. I first met him through music, but not his own. We were both in a tape club, and exchanged several homemade compilations of whatever we were listening to. Chuck’s tapes were always eclectic, the unifying elements being surprise, intelligence and emotion. When I heard some Colorblind tunes on other peoples tapes, I began to understand that, for Chuck, there were no musical barriers. As is clear here, there were no human barriers either. My heart goes out to Chuck’s family.
Posted At 22:01:52 07/13/2001
chuck cuminale was a gifted singer/songwriter and a warm and caring human being. chuck was very nuturing to us when we began the second incarnation of the new dylans in rochester. he wrote kinder words than he could have about us in the city paper, he was generous in lending us his rehearsal space when we had none, and was always encouraging and supportive to us whenever we would hit a bump in the road. whe he recently visited me in nashville i gave he and jan my $5 tour of underground nashville, and he was like a kid showing genuine interest in every landmark and vignette. others who’ve taken my same tour have not been should i say as kind. he was frustrated when the meetings i set up for him both times he visited were not turning out the way he wished. i reassured him that i had the same problem when i first hit town. nashville needs time to grow into left of center folks like us i said. chuck’s music touched people in a profound way, and yet he marched to his own drummer. as songwriters that is all we can ask for and all we should ever do. goodbye chuck-we will miss you.
Posted At 22:23:31 07/13/2001
Posted At 23:12:54 07/13/2001
Colorblind James is a great musician. I found out today a great man was behind the music. The man rocks the xylophone. Thanks for the good times.
Posted At 01:11:41 07/14/2001
i just got in from being overseas about 3 hours ago. i had heard the news a couple of days ago, but couldn’t do anything from thailand but mourn.
for some time now, i’ve been considering a move to rochester, just so i could so see this strange band led by what appeared to be one very unique person. i first heard (and i know i’ve typed part of this on my proto webpage, but this is a succinct version) them in 1987, and had to pull over to finish hearing it. soon after purchasing the album, (the 1st one) i wrote the band. not only did i get a very kind reply, i got a free t-shirt. even better was the reply, though. once again, it was warm and very friendly. over the years, i’ve communicated with chuck, because his music has meant a lot to me, but words can’t really say it all. i think the only thing that gives me any comfort is that soon after he read my unapologetically gushing prose about what his music has meant to me, he wrote me a wonderful email thanking me. so at least, although i never got to meet the man, let alone see him perform, (oh, how i envy your rochesterites!) he knew he touched somebody. i haven’t listened to any of his tunes since i got back, since they’ve always been the one thing i could listen to that will make me happy, and i’m kinda scared. but i’ve cried during them before, and i’m really sure that in the end i’ll be happy once again. thanks, chuck, for a million smiles. and if there’s somebody you haven’t thanked for being a light for you, do it today. my deep condolences to his family; i hope my late night ramblings tell you something of what he meant.
Posted At 06:02:19 07/14/2001
Please post this close to the top if possible. Thanks.
To all the friends of Chuck Cuminale –
In loving memory of Chuck, friends of the family want to create a T-shirt to highlight the best of the wonderful lyrics, with the idea that we want to continue his legacy – todo what he always taught us to do in his unassuming way- be kind to each other.Instead of “What Would Jesus Do”, it will be “What Would Chuck Do.” All proceeds will benefit the Cuminale Children Education Fund. The design will include a picture of Chuck – we really liked the one from the website that was used at the memorial service. On the back, we want to list snippets of his lyrics – the ones that promote his message. That’s where we need your help. Please email me with your suggestions, and let me know if you’d be interested in purchasing a T-shirt. The logistics have to be worked out – but we’re hoping these will be available in a month or two. In case you’re wondering, his wife Janet is all in favor of this idea.
Posted At 09:44:32 07/14/2001
Chuck was always the center of calm and serenity in those crazy, chaotic days on Water St. in Oswego at the Lowlife Caffe, Market House Music Hall and Old City Hall. Like the Dalai Lama, Chuck was one of those rare people whose presence on the planet makes us all feel better, happier, inspired. I only heard the sad news today, read it in the Ithaca Journal. Words cannot express my tears today. I am so sorry. My heart goes out to Janet & the boys and the very many people touched by Chuck’s poetry of being.
Posted At 10:37:26 07/14/2001
I only ever saw Colorblind James play once, in the back of a pub in Leeds, England, over 10 years ago. It was a night I’ll not forget, and I am sad to think he’ll not play again, although it is reassuring to know that there are so many people with fond memories too.
Posted At 11:07:09 07/14/2001
Some geniuses of music and of humanity seem to use up their lives faster, better. The true measure of a life well lived is how long and how deeply it reverberates. Reading this message board, I’ve been impressed with how deeply Chuck’s life reverberates.
I was a long distance devotee of the CBJE. I’ve worn out my tapes and worn out my dancing shoes at a few gigs at Johnny D’s in the Boston area, where I became fascinated by the vibraphone. I turned all my musical cousins onto CBJE and we debated endlessly about our favorite songs (Why’d the Boy Throw the Clock out of the Window vs. Fledgling Circus). I even made the Pilgrimage to a Dylan night, where I got to see another side of this visionary/catalyst/conductor/community builder in action. What a blast! I’m so grateful for the inspiration to live life as a great adventure; to be true to one’s vision; to raise the flag for quirkiness and eclecticism; and to communicate deeply on many, many levels. Some deaths, like some lives, bring people together. For the loss of someone like Chuck, we need to come together with others who know how significant that loss is. I hope Chuck’s family and friends can take some comfort from reading what others have shared here. I know my grief is a tiny pond compared to your ocean. May the waves treat you gently.
Posted At 12:06:17 07/14/2001
We’ve all had a Colorblind James Experience. People the world over have had a Colorblind James Experience. Some people have known it and experienced it. Others have just experienced it, by living their lives. the acorn girls of this world, the Bob’s, all the Bobs. Whether they have known it or not. Maybe they were the other Bob the whole time . . .
Chuck’s tragic passing is just another part of the Experience. “Just?” you say . . . Chuck wasn’t just a man, but he sure was one hell of a Just man. Part of what made Chuck Just was his ability, his proclivity to bring all god’s creatures up on stage with reverence. with humility, with humor and bite and for a lucky few, with the nod.
The people who peopled his songs, The people who were persons in his life, he reminded us that we were all Just people, even Jesus, was a Just person. he reminded us that we were all just people But that was OK, it was ok to be just you, but try in little ways to be the Just you.
Chuck spoke and sang with the compassion and vision of a saint
Like a prophet he spoke to each of us, some heard, some heard not. But he was no saint, he was no prophet. Chuck was Chuck. Chuck was Colorblind. Was Chuck colorblind? Maybe, Maybe not. We knew, however, his view of the world was different. He helped us see the world differently, He would stop the music. we’d look around the dance floor, around the club, around the festival, we’d look at each other, we’d look at the band, we’d look at Chuck and then it started again. Like a Buddhist moment of awareness, he offered it to us, to look at the world for what it was for what it is. We look at the world differently because of Chuck.
I remember the first time a had an engaged conversation with Chuck, It was one of those monthly Saturday nights at the old Jazzberry’s in the old Co-op. I was a proud CBJ Junky, Wouldn’t miss a show for nuthin
Many of Chucks songs struck chords in me. I realized his lyrics were poetry, what ever that meant. I suppose he helped me see that every word spoken or written could have deeper power, could have deeper meaning. It was part of a learning process for me that
every word, every action, every reaction, could have deeper meaning. We just have to stop and let life start again.
The first conversation we had was about the song “(He must’ve been) Quite a Guy”
Hearing it you could see your all american hero, you’re average joe, you’re average chuck “born on a surfboard inventing the backyard and Marching with the Wooblies. Marching in Selma. He died of bee sting he died . . . from cover to cover, he must’ve been quite a Guy” It struck me right between the eyes that it was like a page out of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” “Song of Myself” I shared my observation, Chuck chuckled, Chuck pondered, Chuck took as the highest of compliments and said, “well thanks.” Just as Whitman, Chuck got us to look deeper in ourselves, ourselves as individuals, ourselves as people, ourselves as people living together as individuals, yet together, taking pride in ourselves, what we’ve done as a people. Yet not blind pride. Colorblind pride. Humble pride
Chuck, I look at you in the paper, the D&C, and I remember the times we spent together
you on stage, telling us to “Dance Critters” Me on the dance floor, a happy critter dancing. Chuck, I remember the times we played softball. You were always the pitcher, you just couldn’t help it, you were just destined for the mound. Chuck, I remember your playing at my wedding. You and the band cooked up one of the most kick ass versions of Ha-va-na-geela the world has ever known, thank you. Chuck, I remember our talks, sometimes in passing, sometimes stopping, sharing more than a moment. Chuck, I am so glad that I caught the last Dylan’s Birthday party at the Rongo. Wish I saw the Rochester Birthday, I’ve heard John shared the stage with you, wish I was there to see you look into each others eyes as a father to look with love and pride into your creation’s eyes and see what you’ve done, to see what John does. Chuck we have been blessed to have known you. We have been blessed to have shared in your experience. Chuck we will miss you. The music has stopped, But I know it will start again
Jan, If you read this, I want you to know you are in my prayers, in my thoughts.
I look forward to talking with you, the next time we do, seeing how you’re doing, seeing if there is anything I can do to help, even if it’s just a hug. John, Mark, & Paul, while you probably don’t remember me, though we’ve met through the years. As a father myself, I can imagine the many times your father shared his love with you; I can imagine how many times he has been proud of you. He’ll continue to be proud of you, just keep being you, just you, a Just you. and, yes, the world will have to adjust to you and it’ll be a better place. John, Mark, & Paul . . .Your dad was quite a guy
Posted At 12:48:07 07/14/2001
Chuck was a great man and he lived a great life. He was a great counselor and a great friend. I know that all his clients deeply miss him as much as I do. Everyday I went to YAC and looked out the doors of the conference room I would just happen to see his face. He would always have a smile on his face. The smile he had I’ll never forget it. I know that this is a very tragic and devastating loss for his family. But this is also a shock for everyone that was close to him. I knew Chuck as a counceler and most of all as a friend. I could tell him anything that I needed to tell him and he would listen and help me overcome things. Everytime that I would talk to him he would never be sad or even mad. He had a kind, gentle, and warming heart. I always looked forward to talking to Chuck after YAC because he would always listen to me and give me advice on how to fix my problems. Sometimes I would just talk to him about computers.
Sometimes I try not to think it happened to Chuck but then reality kicks in and reality hurts. I have lost a lot of people in my life and it hurts a lot. Some people even think about it for months and years. I know that Chuck will live on in my heart and hopefully in your’s.
Posted At 12:53:14 07/14/2001
The service was lovely and it was great to see so many old faces. As this testimonial proves, and as I have always maintained, Chuck was a singular talent; many people don’t know how difficult, nay near impossible, it is to create your own artistic ouevre, and Chuck made it look as easy as checking the mail. I wasn’t close to him but I was close with many who were, and I miss him already. This feels like some kind of benchmark; some kind of an end of an era. He left a powerful epitaph.
Jason L. Brown
Posted At 13:04:44 07/14/2001
I”ll remember your smiling face forever and hope that you are keeping good company above. Continue to send your peaceful ways to us. Love & Peace to Jan and the boys and to your mom, your bother, your sisters and all those friends and family who are missing you.
Posted At 17:12:28 07/14/2001
Chuck – I heard you on the radio in Ithaca first. Later on, to my delight found out you still played in Rochester, and what was better it was at the club I bartended at in Trumansburg, the Rongovian Embassy. Later (years) when i became the talent booker at the Rongo, I would realize that it had been too long since you had graced our club with your presence. I would call you and ask, and you were always sweetly compliant. Your shows there were always highly prized by those in the know. High class, fine musicianship, unmatched grace and humility, and a constant stream of unique amusement emanated from your stages. Clearly also from your heart. I am devastated to lose you, and my thoughts are with your family, your band, and all of those who you touched. The consolation is that those of us blessed enough to have known you will have that to hold forever.
Posted At 22:12:06 07/14/2001
When I opened the second Jazzberry’s I called chuck to show him where I was going to put the new stage and he told me it wouldn’t work and I knew I’d better change it immediately. He suggested a different place and I went with it. He also made many other suggestions about the accoustics and I knew if he was happy everyone would be happy. He had a great effect on everyone. A very serious guy with great sensibilities, not only with songwriting and CBJ, but a profound effect on many young people from the Center for Youth, his 3 boys and Janet and all the people from our community. We’re all crazy for you colorblind and will miss you like mad.
Posted At 08:40:42 07/15/2001
As a fan of CBJ, I was glad to get the opportunity to work with Chuck on ” TIME TO BURN “. His energy and insight was and remains an inspiration to me.
Posted At 09:09:00 07/15/2001
The Celebration of Chuck’s Life on Friday was wonderful and memorable.
For so many of us who live outside the Rochester area, it was Colorblind’s music and magical lyrics that initially drew us in. But for so many folks in Rochester who knew Chuck personally, he left with them such an indelible mark with his love of life, his love of people, and his love of music.
So much of what Colorblind the artist created – and what Chuck the caring individual gave – will live on with me and many others as a true and lasting inspiration.
Posted At 09:38:52 07/15/2001
Rochester lost a giant when Chuck died. I met him only a few years ago when I moved back to Rochester. After hearing CbJE a few times, I realized what a treasure that we had. After meeting him, I knew that he was a special one. I was and am inspired deeply by his poetry, the images he painted, the riffs, “when you stop and think about it” nature, the compasion he wove through his music, but most of all by his gentle ways. There was nothing for Chuck to gain by reaching out to me. He was an established figure in town, with plenty of friends and fans; I was a newcomer with few friends. But he did reached out!
You were a gem in land of stones;
A treasure without bounds;
A seeker, a reacher, a thinker; a friend.
We will have to struggle mightily to live the kind of life you’ve inspired in us. The friends and family you left behind will forever serve as a reminder of your gentle ways. Goodbye, friend.
Michael Sciacca, Bainbridge Island, Washington
Posted At 17:46:37 07/15/2001
I didn’t know Chuck well, but the man and his music were very inspirational during the brief period when our paths crossed in Rochester. He had just moved there from San Francisco and I was on my way to San Fran. I caught one of those Dylan tributes
in the late 80s and it was amazing. Phil’s guitar playing blew me away. It was great to see Bernie go from Personal Effects over to Colorblind James. Chuck, Phil, Bernie, all great guys in my book. Also saw some tasty CBJ shows at Jazzberrys as well. In the
words of Neil Young, Chuck: “Long May You Run”.
Pat Thomas, San Francisco
Posted At 08:50:54 07/16/2001
Chuck & the Band at Grassroots every year, whipping it up like no one else. With the Experience or the Death Valley Boys at too many gigs to remember. Chuck’s tapes from the tape club we were in together for a few years. Dylan’s birthday gigs…this year, in a PANIC as I forgot the opening lines of one of the songs we were doing, twice, I turned to Chuck and said, “Hey, we were going to do the other song first!” Chuck smiled that unique, tolerant, Mona Lisa smile and said, simply, as he kept vamping the opening bars, “Were we?” In so many places for so many people.There was Chuck like a big magnetic Buddha, open to it all, perceiving more than most, forgiving, accepting, loving, with compassion and humor. People are drawn to souls like that and it takes great capacity to be able to handle the throughput. To have harnessed all that and given huge gifts to us all!
Posted At 09:31:16 07/16/2001
Its odd- I read this article this morning and Chuck was the first person I thought of forwarding it to…as a writer he always was so direct. This was dramatically evident as people at the memorial service read from his lyrics. For those who couldn’t make the service, here’s a brief description: Hundreds of people jammed into a high school auditorium. A traffic jam outside as cars lined up for blocks. Inside, practically anyone involved in the music scene, family members and friends and more. One after another getting up and telling stories, sharing grief, reading their thoughts. Extremely powerful stuff, especially G. Elwin’s pledges, the kids Chuck counseled testifying and two young daughters steadying their fathers as they tried to tell their thoughts through their grief. Finally some live music and a lot of conversation and support. Jan and Phil (ask anyone about ‘the nod’!) were so strong. It was beautiful.
Posted At 10:49:46 07/16/2001
I first heard The Colorblind James Experience while attending a grand opening party for friend’s travel agency in Santa Ana, CA. He had the radio tuned to a LA new wave radio station around 85′ – 86′. The song was “Dance Critters”, it must have moved me at the time because I remember it to this day. In fact, I mentioned that first exposure to my brother when he took me to a show at The Red Creek several years later (I hadn’t heard the band since, but recognised that song when it played). After several beers, we ended up dancing and perfecting (with liberial amounts of booze, and many subsiquent shows)what we have come affectionatly call “the Colorblind James dance”. I can safely say The Colorblind James Experience has become a musical favorite of mine over the years, having seen them perform a couple times a the Red Creek, once as a 3 piece “jug band” at the Corn Hill Fest, at the “Solid Behind The Times” record release party (where I asked the band to sign my tape, I remember joking with Chuck at the time, that it might be valuable some day).
I remember an all electric performance at a comedy club they played, My brother, his girlfriend, my future wife and I attended. I remember having a front row table, dancing and having Chuck and the band grant every request we made. Including a great version of “Rocking as fast as I can”. I returned to NY for a vacation recently and found a copy of the greatest hits CD at Buzzo’s in Geneseo (that was July 7th), I was so thrilled to hear some music from albums after the “Solid…” album as they’re so hard to locate here in Florida. Then shocked and deeply saddened when my brother forwarded me the news. My only hope is that the band (and/or family) might, in the future, consider releasing some live or previously unreleased music. We love you Chuck, thanks for the great times!
Posted At 12:21:54 07/16/2001
“I’ll never get tired, I’ll always love you, I’ll never get tired.” Chuck, I will never tire of the memories of you around the “hood”, being a father to your babies, a great husband to Jan, a friend and confidant, always, a house oozing music, a hug when I was in despair, a joke off the cuff, many actually, a mentor in music and life to me and mine. You were strong, yet so graceful in all you said and did. I was blessed to have you as my neighbor and friend and will be always grateful for your presence in my life. Even now as I think of you, I don’t think of you in death, I think of you as a warm presence next to me, guiding me in the world and telling me not to cry. Thank you Chuck. And thank you for your beautiful family whom I will always be close to. Jan, thanks for opening your heart and home to everyone. Thanks for your friendship to me and my kids. Thank you John, Mark and Paul for your friendship and graceful manners. I love you all. I’ll never get tired, even when I’m old, I’ll always love you.
Posted At 12:31:42 07/16/2001
I was devastated when I finally heard the news on Sunday via an e-mail from Chris at StubDaddy. If I’d known earlier I would have gone to the service… Chuck was a great man, an American musical genius and one of the finest people I ever met. I’m proud to have known him and to have seen him perform so many times over the years. There were more opportunities to do so that are now mere regrets. So much more I could say… so long old friend. I’ll consider you moved to Memphis.
Dan Aloi, Horseheads NY
Posted At 21:00:16 07/16/2001
Sunny California has not been sunny this week. My friend Gump has gone. It’s like the wiz said to the tin man” it’s how much you are loved by others “ . He left us a rich man, and we are all, a lot richer for knowing him .
Posted At 21:44:57 07/16/2001
I had the difficult job of leading the Celebration on Friday afternoon at the high school in Penfield. We knew that there would be a lot of people, but it was amazing to see an overflow crowd on hand. It caused us to start much later than we expected. Thank you to all of those who shared from the heart, it was a powerful testimony to Chuck’s life. What made the experience difficult for me was knowing that after a time we would have to conclude the time of sharing, so as to allow time for the guests who brought music. My sincere apologies to anyone who didn’t get a chance to speak. I hope that you will put your thoughts here for others to read. We probably could have kept sharing stories, poems, music and reflections all the way to midnight and beyond!
The first time I met Chuck he and Brad were at Gary’s house (1978?) heatedly debating the possibility of their collaborating in a band (they didn’t). It seemed to go on for hours. At the time I hadn’t heard a note of Chuck’s music, but I could certainly feel his passion for it! The best part was that Chuck had his mandolin with him. He let me give it a try, and I was hooked immediately – a great gift! Soon after I bought my own.
It still hasn’t gotten me out of my day job as a preacher!
To conclude the celebration on Friday, I read this quotation from the liner notes of “Colorblind James Experience Greatest Hits!”: “When the Colorblind James Experience does finally cease to exist, it will be quickly and completely forgotten — except, perhaps, by a few diehard idealists, who’ll remember the group’s weaknesses as virtues, and its failures as indicative of some higher purpose”. Thank you to all of the diehard idealists who were moved, are moved, and will be moved by Chuck’s friendship, writing, music and spirit! And thank you, Chuck, for giving us a glimpse of that higher purpose!
My prayers go out to Jan, Mark, Paul and John; Chuck’s mom, sisters, and brother; the kids who counted on him in his work; and band members who feel adrift. Blessings and peace to you who are reading from this web site.
Posted At 11:21:43 07/17/2001
I just got back from vacation and heard the news about Chuck. Even though I never got to know Chuck well, I never crossed his path when he wasn’t being lighthearted and inclusive.(two of my favorite traits) His music and lyrics never failed to make me feel great and to know that CBJE was still around whenever I got back to Rochester was always comforting in some way. What a huge loss to everone.
Posted At 11:40:25 07/17/2001
OK, here’s a couple memories:
“We’re having some technical problems, to go with our other problems…” — Chuck at the Rongo, 8.21.98.
GrassRoots ’96 or ’97, I imagined myself being in love when the band played “Where or When.” I think the shy little hippie girl next to me felt the same…
Chuck closing the ’99 Bobfest at the Rongo with “Tiny Montgomery.” He is among the many I have to blame for my Dylan obsession to this day.
(I recently — just a few weeks ago — sent Chuck a tape of some Dylan covers I’d been compiling. I hope he got to hear it…)
The speeded-up-to-infinity live ending to “Deal With the Devil” (is that the title?) at GrassRoots ’98.
Taking my son Michael, a fan ever since I played him “Dance, Critters” and “Memphis” from that ’98 Rongo show, to meet Colorblind at the Thursday night show at GrassRoots. Then my girlfriend and I attending the Sunday morning “service” at the same festival. All Bible songs! It was inspired.
Having lunch and good chat with Gary Meixner at GrassRoots last year. I found the Wilderness Family LP and CBJE’s debut LP just a couple weeks before at Record Archive.
I remember the good things. And I’m still pissed at Red House for not including the Experience on “A Nod to Bob…”
Posted At 13:45:22 07/17/2001
Thank you everybody for posting so many wonderful stories. I only knew the music, but that’s a wonderful thing to have known. Memory: digging through the cassette bin at the Tower Outlet store in SF I found a new copy of ‘Strange Sounds from the Basement’ for $.99. The coolest thing was, it had a Japanese price sticker on it! It had been to Japan and back, just so I could hear this very hard to find gem, and heck, at a bargain price no less. Talk about a generous spirit.
Posted At 16:05:43 07/17/2001
I never knew Chuck but wanted to say how much joy he brought to my life through his music. I think back now about the first time I saw the band at the original Jazzberry’s. I think about going out to buy a Michael Hurley CD on the strength of Chuck’s review in City. I think about the Grassroots fest dancing with my two daughters in the dust of the Grandstand stage as the band ripped through “Dance Critters”… when Chuck said ‘dance’ we all shouted like mad and fell down laughing! Most recently Chuck and company helped provide the soundtrack to a camping trip to Stonybrook. Not all music sounds right in the great outdoors but Chuck’s was right at home. Among those gathered around the campfire was a 13 year old Korn fan who started warming up to the band after paying close attention to “A Different Bob”. Later my daughters tried to sing along; they have yet to master the rhythm but they know all the words to “She Took the Ring Off The Dead Man’s Finger”. To my great delight I recently discovered Chuck and I have mutual friends so I was really looking forward to getting to know him or even to shake his hand and say “thanks”. I guess that’s what I’m trying to do here instead. I’ll cherish my last sight of him… belting out “Forever Young” with a stage-full of friends at Milestones.
Posted At 19:42:13 07/17/2001
So, it’s September,1965 and I’m sitting in 9th. grade homeroom on day 1. I look around the room and think to myself “Who the hell is this cat?”. Of course,it had to be that budding Bohemian, Chuck Cuminale. Ironically, we formed a decent friendship what with Chuck’s idealistic utopia and my wise-ass cynicism. Chuck always searching for something deeper, higher, brighter, more far-reaching than most of us. After high school we regretfully grew apart and only recently had our paths started to cross again with the “Live at Lima” project and the cold water flat in Oswego and Saratoga and San Francisco and the Euro tours and so many other long strange trips taking place in between. And now he’s gone again, no doubt searching for something deeper, higher, brighter and more far- reaching.
Posted At 20:15:26 07/17/2001
For those who keep track of such things, the decorations at Chuck’s post-memorial service gathering at the home of Scott Regan and Sue Rogers included purple napkins and gold napkins, purple flowers and gold flowers. (Per Chuck’s song, “Purple and Gold.”)
The Great Northwesterner
Posted At 22:06:27 07/17/2001
Woody Guthrie once said something to the effect that he hated a song that made a man feel bad or that he wasn’t any good and that he would spend his life fighting such songs. Chuck always struck me as a similar kind of artist; his music made you feel good about yourself and the simple little things in life. Even on an off night, a Colorblind show made you feel happy—there was none of the rock star attitude that’s common to so many other performers. A Colorblind show always made me feel at home, that the people on stage were just like me and my friends. I’m not a religious guy but Chuck’s songs to me personify the Golden Rule—”Do unto others as you’d wish them to do unto you” and “Love thy neighbors as thyself.” Rather than preaching, Chuck’s lyrics and stage presence seemed to be gentle reminders to be good to one another and enjoy everything. His passing is a great loss to my wife Debra and I. We are glad we got to know him and we thank him for his music. Our thoughts and prayers are with Janet, John, Mark and Paul.
Posted At 23:44:52 07/17/2001
Our second tour of Europe was in many ways a disaster, but with Chuck’s leadership it was -musically at least- a triumph. On the day we were to play in ultra-hip Manchester Chuck threw out his back. He could not move an inch without suffering severe pain, but he refused to even think about canceling the gig. He got on stage, locked his legs, arched his back, and led us through a blistering set. We did have some fans there, but most of the audience was prepared to hate us. By the end of the set Chuck had everyone there enthralled, even though he literally did not move the entire night.
A great man is gone. We were lucky to have known him.
Posted At 08:53:56 07/18/2001
I’ve known Chuck for over 25 years and I don’t think a day has gone by where I haven’t thought of him or one of his songs. One of my favorite memories of Chuck was working with him on a children’s play called “Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas”. Our little children’s theatre group was called Animal Crackers Unlimited and we performed regularly in the Market House Music Hall in Oswego, New York. We only did a few performances but the show was magical. Gary Meixner was Emmett Otter, Seth Cutler was Harvey Muskrat and I was Doc Bullfrog, along with what seemed like a cast of a thousand other animals. Chuck and Donna (our fearless leader) created the character of Colorblind Mole. In the play Colorblind Mole came out of hibernation for an exclusive appearance at the Waterville Christmas Talent Show. Chuck had written this beautiful Christmas song called “Jesus Was Born On A Night Like This” that he sung in the show. Well, naturally Chuck just wowed the crowd and won the talent show. Every time Chuck played that song the whole cast would be singing and dancing backstage. That song would become my favorite Christmas carol and whenever I hum it to myself it feels like Christmas.
Happy Trails Chuck, We Will Meet Again.
Posted At 09:00:39 07/18/2001
I am saddened today to read about the passing of Chuck Cuminale. We were not “close friends”, just acquaintances, so why would this be? Some explaining is in order. The beautiful thing about being a part of the original music scene in Rochester in the late 70’s and early 80’s had less to do with the music , and more to do with relationships and memories. Music was the common thread that brought together so many different people, both women and men, young and older, from so many different places, with so many different musical tastes and preferences…And this enabled many of us to form life long friendships, bonds, and memories that geography and time will never be able to break.
I count those days as the “best days of my life” (they were certainly the most fun) and Chuck was a part of “those days”. Think about it; How often do you sit around with old friends and regale them with stories about things that happened last month? But stories from 15, 20 years ago? Bet that happens alot.
So I wasn’t “close friends” with Chuck…My band never jammed with Chuck and CBJE…But he was certainly a long time acquaintance and someone who always made me feel like we were closer friends than we really were. I bet others have this same feeling about him. He had a gift for words and music, but also, a gift for being a quality human being. So I am saddened today, more than 1000 miles from Rochester- any loss is tragic, isn’t it? – but you will always be able to talk to and visit with Chuck…just throw on a “Chuck” record. And when you talk to him, he’ll listen. That’s the beauty of music…It is eternal life.
My thoughts go out to his family who I do not know. His journey hasn’t ended, it is just beginning.And thanks for letting me write this. I feel a little better already.
Posted At 12:39:29 07/19/2001
Dan Aloi was good enough to write an article in thanks, recognition, and tribute to Chuck in Elmira’s Star-Gazette. Following is my response to Dan, which pretty much sums up my feelings.
Hello Dan, Thank you for sending the link to your Star-Gazette article. I was very pleased to see Chuck’s work, and his high quality of character, so well recognized in the press. I have been a fan of the band since 1987, after I first heard ‘Considering a Move to Memphis’ on RIT’s college station, while I was still in high school. I was fortunate enough to have met with and talk to Chuck after some of the gigs I attended.
A native fo Rochester now living in Philadelphia, I was disappointed to see that there was no write-up (that I could find, anyway) in the Rochester D & C about Chuck, beyond just the obituary. So, I sent in an editorial in tribute to him myself, and was told by an editor that it would appear some time this week. Since I only get the digital edition, I’ll rely on my family to let me know when it prints. It is so good to know that other folks out there realize what a good man Chuck was. And for those not fortunate enough to have met him, at least they still have the opportunity to listen to some of the great music that he blessed us with.
Andy Clarke, Philadelphia
Posted At 13:26:14 07/19/2001
Here is the story from the U.K. newspaper, The Independent. All I can add is, what a great songwriter… I’m glad I had the chance to hear him sing at Caffe Lena last year. My condolences to his family,
Chuck Cuminale, 18 July 2001
James Charles Cuminale: guitarist, vibraphonist, singer and songwriter: born Oswego, New York 1952; married Janet Marshall (three sons); died Rochester, New York 10 July 2001.
“I’m considering a move to Memphis / With my hair all aglow. / When I arrive in Memphis, / I’m bound to meet up with someone I might know.” So opens the droll ditty by the quirky American act the Colorblind James Experience. With its bouncy rhythm and rambling narrative namechecking Elvis, Graceland and jug bands, the song proved a huge favourite on John Peel’s Radio 1 show and even made the Festive Fifty, as voted by the listeners, in 1988. Chuck Cuminale, as Colorblind James, fronted this loose collective who, during their 20-year existence, released six studio albums and attracted a cult following in Europe and on college radio in the United States.
As Cuminale explained to Sounds magazine in 1988,
Colorblind James is a name I’ve used since 1975 when I was doing my solo coffee-house kind of thing. It’s a reference to Blind Willie McTell who’s probably my favourite songwriter of all time. As well as a nod in the direction of someone like Blind Lemon Jefferson. But it’s this white guy trying to do this sort of thing so it winds up being washed out. Instead of being blind, I’m just colourblind, which isn’t a whole lot of handicap.
Cuminale played guitar, vibraphone, keyboards – “all to the same level of incompetence”, he would joke – and delivered his lyrics from a battered back ledger. “I’ve got a real limited voice. I just got plain sick of embarrassing myself trying to sing melodies and I realised I could get away with just reading the stuff,” he told interviewers. A fan of Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley, he thought nothing of playing three-hour sets of his two favourites on their respective birthdays.
Born in Oswego in New York State in 1952, Cuminale released a single with his first band, the Whitecaps, before moving to San Francisco in 1980. While in California, he met Phillip Marshall (guitar, banjo, dobro) and his sister Janet – whom he later married – but found little success with his peculiar brand of Americana. Three years later, they drifted back east and settled in Rochester, adding Jim McAvaney (drums, washboard), Ken Frank (acoustic bass), Dave McIntire (clarinet, saxophone) and John Ebert (trombone). Between 1984 and 1987 the group recorded a track whenever they had $400 saved up from gigs.
“I’ve always dreamt of that little small-town orchestra sound,” Cuminale later reflected. The group pressed 1,000 copies of their début album, Colorblind James Experience, releasing it on their own Earring Records label:
We sent out 300 promotional LPs to the US media and one to Europe, to John Peel. We weren’t expecting a lot so it was surprising the way it happened. I think our music is pretty oddball. Featuring the rather morbid “Why’d the Boy Throw the Clock out of the Window?” and “Gravel Road”, the album incorporated polkas, trad jazz and Yiddish music, and clicked with listeners to John Peel and Andy Kershaw, who gave “Considering a Move to Memphis” a lot of airplay. Cuminale recalled:
I just liked the phrase. I drove through Memphis once and I wasn’t at all impressed. It was OK, you know. I guess I wanted to conjure up the odd feeling of a poetry reading and a parody of that. It’s about some not very with-it guy who has a lot of dreams and not much else going for him. It’s just a bunch of little rhymes based around a feeling of alienation and not being able to fit in.
In 1988 the Colorblind James Experience fitted right in. The Fundamental label picked up the British rights to their album which made the indie charts and the six-piece took time out from their day jobs – Cuminale worked as a teacher – and toured Europe. The following year, the group issued The Peel Sessions EP and their second LP, Why Should I Stand Up?, while developing their even more acoustic side as the Death Valley Boys. This was eventually documented on the Strange Sounds from the Basement album, released in 1990, but was received less favourably.
The group issued a further three albums – Solid behind the Times in 1992, I Could Be Your Guide, 1996, and Call of the Wild, 1999 – and carried on playing grassroots festivals but never quite recaptured the public’s imagination.
Posted At 23:07:44 07/19/2001
Not being a friend or family member of Mr. Cuminale’s (and, for that matter, not even knowing his real name), I wasn’t aware of his passing until a message from Dan Aloi arrived in my mailbox. Consider me just a devoted fan.
I had corresponded briefly with CBJ several months back about his music and about the possibility of getting the excellent first album on CD. I also tried to convince him of the importance of him and his band making a visit to central Texas, but that visit never materialized, unfortunately, or at least not that I’m aware of. I was happy to be put on his mailing list, though, to receive notices of his local appearances in the distant Northeast, even though I would of course not be able to attend those gigs.
So I never caught ‘the Experience’ live or met Chuck Cuminale in person, but I did eventually find a used CD copy of that classic first lp, much to my delight, and I now have that timeless music in my possession again, alongside several other fine CBJ releases. (I unwisely sold the first lp several years ago in a massive vinyl purging that accompanied one of my many interstate moves following college, and have regretted it ever since, until I finally found the CD.) I’m saddened to receive the news, but glad to still have all the great music. There’s nothing else quite like it.
Joe, Austin, TX
Posted At 10:45:09 07/20/2001
to see a world in a grain of sand
and a heaven in a wildflower:
hold infinity inthe palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour
Posted At 15:39:42 07/20/2001
Got the news a couple of days late. Came back home to San Francisco from a vacation and had messages from people I hadn’t seen in 10, 25 years. Still wandering around a bit like a zombie. Wish I could have gone to the memorial service.
Like many of the people whose names I’ve read here, I know Chuck from the old days — Webster, Oswego, Saratoga Springs. And Chuck and Jan’s early SF days, living in the big purple house on Henry St. I always counted him as a close friend and a tremendous influence, but somehow the years slid by, and I can’t believe I haven’t seen Chuck and Jan since their older two boys were little. It’s so #!? classic: you just assume you’ll always have time to visit another time, to write another letter.
So I did what anybody would do. I went on a binge, poring over old photos and sketches and even sat up and read through our high school yearbook (1970. I thought I’d feel depressed afterwards, but instead I just feel rich. Great memories: Chuck and Norm Ladd singing “Come Together” in class, like a manic chant. Chuck and Gary Bennett and others effectively dismantling the fraternity system by inviting every guy into their new “Pink and White” frat. Rattling off to Cornell in a van that leaked carbon monoxide. Standing on the side of a lacrosse field with Chuck, and Joan, and Wedge, talking about what music would go with the scene. Anticipating music videos? No, Chuck’s idea stretched beyond that. He talked about how cool it’d be if you had a slot in your head where you could slide the record right in.
Big plans, big dreams. We were going to make movies, we were going to bust into Fort Knox, we were going to buy Sava’s. Live at Lima. Later, the birth of the Cold Water Flat: Chuck repeating the landlord’s daughter’s explanation (“It’s called a cold water flat”) just as Mark Dodd was reading “Howl.” Remember, Mark? How after you saw it, you said, “This will reduce Lima to a footnote.” The wonderful irony of how that dump became a magnet, a place people connived to move into. Great times, great music, great laughs. Staying up late listening to his records. Flo and Eddie; Captain Beefheart; Lmabert, Hendricks, and Ross. Jolson was the secret weapon, to close down the party if it ran too long.
Chuck and Scott singing “The Rat Came in the Room” and “In My Old House” on the porch at Saratoga in the middle of a rainstorm. Chuck and Janet in that place in the Tenderloin where they first stayed, and later, C & J at my wedding, wearing matching purple high-top sneakers.
And always Chuck was a great friend, truly supportive, a great encourager. I still feel encouraged by him. I’m sure he would enjoy/is enjoying seeing how so many people are reconnecting as a result of his sudden exit. It just wasn’t like him to live the party early.
Susan Miller Silva
You’ve been gone a little over a week now but it feels so much longer. We’re all kind of getting by here, doing what we can to help each other out, sorting out feelings and such as we attempt to go about our day to day.
My son is doing well. He’s closing in on 9lbs and I’m afraid to report he has my temper! I think you experienced that on more than one occasion as I did yours. Roy’s a good kid and I’ll be telling him all about you in years to come.
We’ve had a stretch of hot weather lately. I know how much you liked that. We keep Roy stripped down to his diaper as there’s no air conditioning in our current apartment.
I had lunch with your oldest son John the other day: wings at Richmonds. He’s a great young man and I know how proud of him you were. Just the look on your face at the last Dylan show. Thankfully, some astute observer was videotaping the night and John’s been able to see just how close to Heaven you were that night. Your proudest moment, right?
Mark has been tearing it up on your red Guild guitar. He looks so much like you and with that guitar strapped on, it takes my breath away. He blew me away the other day as he sat down and confidently ran through the changes to “Let’s Go Back”. Then, through the basement door, I heard him playing AND singing the song. It was a powerful moment for me.
Paul’s been hanging out with friends and being a typical nine-year-old super-intelligent kid. I think he’s wondering just who’s left on this earth who can help him with his wonderful cast of characters from Professor Clockwork to Dr. Negative! You were his Dad, his best friend, and in his own words, his hero.
I’m happy to say that Roy has got some great and gifted cousins to watch him grow and help him along his way. If I could ask for anything, Chuck, it would be your gentle manner, deep understanding, and your ability to guide as I take my own steps into fatherhood. Please check in with me from time to time. My dreams are always open.
Love, Your Brother -PHil
Posted At 18:28:58 07/21/2001
I put out CBJE “Solid Behind The Times” cd on my label, Red House Records several years back. I never met Chuck but we talked on the phone quite a few times. It was always so pleasant and I enjoyed his good nature and wonderful humor and love of music. I was always hoping I’d get to Rochester to a gig or the band would come out this way. I heard the news and it has made me so sad for Chuck, his family and his many friends and fans. I’ve been playing his music every day and it is just so good to hear it and know that we’ll always have it. Every song he recorded was a “Greatest Hit”. His death has made me think about life and whats important and whats not. I miss him.
Posted At 21:05:16 07/21/2001
I am so very sorry to about about Chuck. He was an oasis of sanity, compassion and common sense when I had the priviledge of being one of his co-workers at the Center for Youth some years ago. Being with a fellow practicing artist, him the musican and artist; me merely an artist (and music appreciator) added a common dimension in allowing others, especially young people to connect in life by focusing on the positives, like one’s talents.
His sense of humor was endearing and profound. In the midst of organized chaos at the Center, the administrative directive arbitrarily focused on the vital issue of “disallowing” counselors to wear jeans. During an informal team meeting, Chuck giving the issue all the attention it deserved replied:”We should all wear our Bathrobes to work..then maybe they’d be happy with jeans”. He always helped keep things in perspective.
Aside from comparing notes and suggestions on cases, I enjoyed comparing our life’s parallels of: growing up in this area, raising children, Penfield/Webster stories, living in S.F. California in the 1980’s, life’s twists of returning as townies back in the ‘burbs in Penfield. I recall how happy and thrilled Chuck was during the process of moving his family to Manse Lane. The times I truly saw him ecstatic and at peace were when he was singing; playing his guitar, with his family close by in attendance, sons dancing, and wife Jan, chasing at least one of them. Chuck’s face would always light up whenever he was talking about his sons or wife who all cared and loved each other so much. Chuck agreed he had the “coolist family”. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Posted At 18:10:36 07/22/2001
I never met Chuck Cuminale, but I loved the Colorblind James voice and music. I collected all the cd’s (not an easy task!) and I was priveleged enough to see the band live in Edinburgh (I live in Scotland). I listen to Colorblind James and the boys when I’m feeling blue and it picks me right up. It’s a sad loss, and I feel for his family and friends.
Posted At 18:29:06 07/22/2001
I was shocked to read the news the other day, albeit a week after the fact, in the Globe and Mail obituaries. I never met Chuck but we exchanged a couple of letters and a few emails, wihich is closer than I have ever got to a music hero of mine. In 1990, I was extremely fortunate to have heard a song from Colorblind James Experience on late-night CBC radio (I think is was, “Why’d the Boy Throw the Clock Out the Window?”) and later found the CD. With titles like “Considering a Move to Memphis” (from which I had just returned on a trip) and “Fledgling Circus”, how could I resist? I loved it every minute of it, and sang it’s praises to everyone I could. And every release since has been as great. I managed to see him play live only once, in Toronto, (perhaps his only trip here) in 1992(?). Later I talked my wife into a road trip to Rochester and a crazy drive around the city looking for the elusive 24 Goebel Place address so invitingly printed in the CD sleevenotes. Alas, no one was home, but we left a note in the mailbox and received a postcard a couple of weeks later from “CBJ” saying “sorry we missed you”. Years later, once I had email, I tracked him down again and mailed to him a couple of photos of our visit and told him how we played “…Memphis” at our wedding (and a couple more weddings too). He sent me back a copy of “I Could Be Your Guide” as a wedding gift.
Anyway, I sure wish I had a chance to take him up on his offer to come down to Rochester for a show (and even stay over at 463 Manse Lane). From the tributes I read here, I can only think, (He Must’ve Been) Quite a Guy. Condolences to family, friends, and other fans like me.
Posted At 21:15:46 07/23/2001
It’s been a couple weeks- The blow to the chest feeling went to disconnected disbelief to the beginnings of reluctant acceptance- Now the way is clearer,my departed contemporary. I’m changed yet again by your ways- You were always the first to act in our jug band brotherhood-
I miss you Chuck
Posted At 09:08:05 07/24/2001
I remember arriving in San Francisco. Our second stop was Chuck and Jan’s. Chuck was overcome with grief over John Lennon’s death and had to excuse himself. SF nearly killed us but at Chuck and Jan’s we could always find sanity and a good meal. Kevin was the first member of the original CBJE to go, and now Chuck. Hey, guys, start without Phil and Thad, they won’t be there for a while.
Posted At 14:23:45 07/24/2001
Just heard today,still very shocked. How can it be, that the singer in a band I saw once can have this effect? I put up some web pages about the band and somehow he found them. Thanked me for doing it 🙂 He sent me the new CD’s when they came out (and a handwritten not to apologise for it taking so long!!!!) From reading all these comments, he was obviously loved by most people that met him. My thoughts are with his family.
Posted At 15:07:04 07/24/2001
I was looking through my quote collection today and found these two:
“…This world is not conclusion;
A sequel stands beyond,
Invisible, as music,
But positive, as sound…”
“Until the sixth grade, I wanted to be pope, and then the Beatles came along…” (Colorblind James)
Posted At 15:45:30 07/25/2001
I remember one night back in 1985 when my friends dragged me down to Jazzberrys to catch this band who had some guy in it who was colorblind and played the vibes. I was hooked after that show. Two weeks later while I was embarked on a Med Cruise with the U.S Navy Chuck’s voice came blasting over the sound system in this little hole in the wall juke-joint in Barcelona, Spain! The name of that juke-joint’ was none other than the world famous (at least for us sailors) ‘Bob Dylan Bar’!
As a Live Sound Tech both on the road and here in Rochester at Milestones, I have had the great experience to work with Chuck on many occassions. Chuck never got an attitude when his monitor may have not been loud enough,,,Chuck always made a point to thank me everytime I worked for his great band. He was one of the most professional, kind, and generous musicians I have ever worked with. But, Chuck was more than just a great musician and songwriter. He cared about the people many others forget,,,that’s his way.
Some people, if they are lucky enough, have moments of greatness in their life when they realize the secret to their success is not how good ‘they are’, but how good they are to others. Chuck had this one figured out a long time ago.
I will see ya down the road Chuck, in heaven you will always hear your monitors! Thank you for giving me the chance to work with you, thank you to my friends in Colorblind who welcomed me into that great place known as ‘The ColorBlind Family’.
There was a solid year somewhere in the mid nineties during which you could have seen me at every single CBJE show. At least the ones within a two hour drive of Rochester. I bought a tiny, broken, antique toy xylophone at a garage sale once with every last cent that I had and took it to Chuck’s house as a gift, although I’d never really formally met him, just badgered him and the band to play this song or that at the gigs.
I took guitar lessons from Phil, although I really wasn’t interested in learning much except how he played CBJE songs, and if I could coax him play into playing in private. Thanks, UP, for putting up with me. I wrote a lame review of ‘Strange Sounds’ for Freetime that I unashamedly used as an excuse to conduct an extensive interview with Chuck, during which I held him hostage on the telephone for no less than an hour. I stayed much too long at Chuck’s house a few times, weasled my way into an invitation to play at the birthday party only to cancel out of cowardice, called his house from bars at inappropriate hours, and generally became real pain in the ass. I couldn’t help myself.
Phil asked me once at a bar (where, of course, he had to buy) “So, what do you like best about the band?” I was too nervous to answer then, and I still can’t quite put a finger on it. Something about the chemistry, the oddity, the artistry of those six guys (the lineup I most enjoyed – Chuck, Phil, Jim, Ken, Dave and John) struck me. Cooler than the Beatles, Dylan, XTC, R.E.M. and Uncle Tupelo combined, and they lived right in my back yard. I just couldn’t help myself.
I dragged my wife (then fiance) to all of those shows, and whatever other friends I could corral. I pressed a tape into the palms of Leo Kottke and Mitch Easter when the band was label-shopping ‘Solid!Behind the Times.’ I told everyone I knew about them, and dubbed them tapes if they showed any interest. Chuck said something to me on that hour-long tape that has always stuck in my head. He said, “We’re just a local band; we’ll always be a local band.”
Thanks, Chuck. I haven’t seen you in years, and I miss you already.
Posted At 05:13:30 08/02/2001
Its wrong to say I knew Chuck, but I loved his music and I wrote fan cards to him a few times and was amazed when he took the time and trouble to write back and take an interest. I met him briefly when he did a gig in the Mean Fiddler(?) in London about 10 years ago. My girlfriend and I had hitched there all the way from Liverpool to see him and the band. Not only was this the best concert I’ve ever been too, Chuck kindly asked the band to play an obscure B-side that I shouted out from the audience and later shook hands with me and offered advice on setting out on a music career – I was gigging about under the name of Bob Cookie at the time . There was no reason for him to do this and I suppose I just got a glimpse of someone who you all knew and obviously loved.
My deepest sympathy to all who loved him.
Posted At 08:16:57 08/05/2001
I am a CBJE fan from England. In common with his many British fans, I first “experienced the Experience” on John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 Show. He played “Considering a Moe to Memphis”. The moment I heard it, I was hooked. It was the most funny, innocent, yet downright funky song I’d heard in a long time. CBJE went on to record a number of sessions for John Peel’s programme and they remeained a cult hit over here for a long time. I was browsing for lyrics when I found out about Chuck’s untimely death. I only wish I’d have had the chance to see the band play live. He was a unique individual.
Posted At 08:34:45 08/09/2001
I am writing on behalf of the LaMonica family. Chuck was our second cousin. My mother, Aunt Helen and Chuck’s grandmother, Aunt Connie were sisters. We knew Chuck more as a family member than a musician, however we did go to see him perform several times in Rochester. We never realized what a significant musician he was, not only in our community, but in places around the world and how he touched so many lives. As my brother Jimmy stated at the memorial service, “Chuckie was the best kept secret in our family”.
I’d like to relay a little story that my 92 year old mother tells us so often. Whenever she’s having dinner with any of us and she especially likes what we’ve cooked, she always tells us what Chuck used to say to his mother when he was a little boy – “Ma, you’re the best cooker, you make the best baloney sandwiches”. This is just one of the fond memories we’ll always have of him.
Our love and prayers are with Janet, John, Mark, Paul, Bea, Linda, Laurie, Kathy, Joanie, Ellen and Joel.
Posted At 13:10:45 08/11/2001
Our family discovered Chuck’s music ten years ago at a time of tragedy for us. It helped us and will help others since it has the heart and soul of humanity at its best.
Posted At 07:53:48 08/16/2001
I just hope you have gone “down the road to ecstasy”
God bless you good man.
Posted At 18:50:14 08/20/2001
I first saw The Colorblind James Experience on my birthday in 1985; they were playing at Scorgie’s, sharing the bill with the whacky Starship Beer….though the Starship managed to drive all but a few “brave souls” with eclectic hearing tastes out of the room, manycame back to hear the CBJE….their eclectic quirkiness, along with the vibes, called out to me to follow this band’s progress….after all, wot was this Colorblind James fellow on to, anyhow?The group would later do a series of Thursday nights atThe Warehouse; for $1 you would get 2 sets of CBJE tearing through some great music and mayhem: the rollicking rendition of “Gloria” complete with Bernie’s Public Market monologue, G. Elwyn’s delivery of the jug standard “Wild About My
Lovin'” and the deliriously slow cover of “Round and Round” coupled with “Mole in the Ground” complete with funny band member references….my old friend Leigh Kimmelman was soundman that night, and he graciously allowed me to document that show onto cassette, God bless’ m….that was the start of a very long Rochesterian project.
As I continued to see and record the group more and more, I slowly got to know the members of the group, though for a few years Chuck was the enigmatic “Colorblind James” to me; it wasn’t until around 1989-90 that I started to get to know him better, for he had become a regular at The Blessed Thistle Bakery, so my friend/employer Mark called me out from my breadchores and made the intros. I’ll always remember that Chuck was a regular sort of guy, and he always seemed interested in how you were doing as well; during my BTB days I was having trouble coping with “girl problems” and I remember Chuck talked some of it over with me, even inviting me along to a hootenanny in Ithaca with his old friends from his Oswego days….later, Chuck’s generosity extended towards letting me stay over at the house a few times, rather than me driving back out to Brockport, only to get up and bake the bread once again! I feel privileged to have gone along with the band during their “potential career” phase; I was with them at The Wetlands gig in NYC, the night that we watched Bagdad be pounded by smartbombs, and I was also with them when they played the 1991 Mariposa festival in Toronto, backed by the gaudy Las Vegas-like water fountains and the majestic Toronto skyline. When the band entered what I call their final phase, I was starting to play music more and record shows less often; Chuck, as Uncle Phil would say, played his cards for musical success (suck-sess?) and chose family and community over the grueling route towards stardom…..still, when I could, I’d go see them, and still record them every now and then.
In 1996, I was flattered, sooprized and honored (all of ’em at once, really) when Chuck asked me to sing a song at The Elvis Presley birthday party; as I was once again smitten by pangs of love, I chose “Don’t be Cruel”….though I was put at ease during rehearsals, I was a bit nervous onstage, but Chuck and the group (along with the friends in the audience) made me feel cozy and right at home…..I would later perform some Bob Dylan renditions, and feel REALLY FLATTERED that Chuck referred to me as one of their favorites for those b-day/tribute gigs. I went to the last CBJE gig at the Bug Jar; the group turned in a short but spirited set, even though Brother Jaffe couldn’t make it…..I remember a warm greeting from Chuck, along with our usual exchange of tidings, though none of us knew wot would surpass a few days later. It would be futile for me to build up some grandiose tribute to Chuck; while he was not my best friend (and vice-versa) he was an incredibly good friend, and I am still having trouble coming to grips that he is gone, though his presence will shine on in all those he touched…..it is still hard to believe that such a humble, regular sorta guy could be such a treasured cornerstone in our Rochester community! I Guess it reflects upon what kind of town Rochester is. Sorry we never swapped the xylo for the vibes, Chuck…..guess the recording project you offered to produce will hafta await some other timeworthy juncture……I can only hope that your heavenly timber supply tides you over well, and that we’ll all see you again sometime. May God bless Jan, the boys, and all others who’ll need some extra strength in our times of loss.
Posted At 13:04:14 09/01/2001
I was very sorry to hear about Chuck passing away. I liked his music very much. He was always really nice to me. My sympathy to his family.
Posted At 20:08:02 09/04/2001
We were in Charlotte N.C. way back in 1989 when we heard ‘Considering a move to Memphis’ on the radio. It is one of those performances which immediately register in the brain, at least that is what we experienced. Even though we never heard this tune ever since, we just had to hum ‘considering a move to’ certain moments in time. We always wanted to know who the artist was and through the internet we found out..yesterday!! Yes, it took us some time to come up with the idea to use the internet for this query. So now we know who this singer with the intriguing voice was…But it also very sad to hear about Chuck’s death, which comes over as a bit of a strange coincidence. What a shame we didn’t find out earlier about the Colorblind James Experience – reading through the contributions posted here, we realize that Chuck and his art will be sadly missed.
Gill & Richard
Posted At 13:22:47 09/14/2001
ONLY TODAY ON A CHANCE LOOK AT A WEBSITE DID I HEAR OF THE DEATH OF CHUCK CUMINALE.
Posted At 19:01:48 09/14/2001
In this surreal week of trauma in the country–Sept 11 but a few horrific days ago–I searched for news of friends in New York and somehow came across the outpouring for Chuck Cuminale, whom I remember as a positive soul on this earth. I’m sorry to hear he is gone. Our paths crossed in the early 70s and 80s, when I was part of the Mahoney clan and running around and returning to Rochester regularly for kinship and much goofing-off ship. I remember meeting Chuck and Janet, in San Francisco in the late 70s and 80s, and there was much laughter and music talk. I would listen to his tapes over and over in one beat up car or another. One about throwing the clock out the window still comes to mind if I curl up and get very, very still. The outpouring of love for him speaks volumes.
Posted Monday, April 1, 2002 9:36 PM
I have listened to so much music in my life. I have over 6000 cd’s and records combined and still, I always end up listening regularly to but a few. Colorblind James Experience would always be there. Kinks Kronikles, a Beatles here and there but thats the company I put Colorblind in. It just was so much more than most music. I have tried to do this with my band but just do not have the soul that Chuck and the group had. I will miss looking forward to more music from them. There music is and was needed for me and others who knew that Colorblind James Experience were the real thing. Take care Chuck and Thanks. My heart goes out to your family and friends.
Dave (The Zambonis ) Schneider
Posted Friday, November 2, 2001 5:51 PM
I saw the Colorblind James Experience in the very early 90’s at the Wetlands in NYC, and had to buy the self-titled cassette. Although I’ve kept going back to it over the years, I always assumed they were one of those club bands you never hear from again, so I never tried to find out more. I was playing it in my car the last couple of days, and the very lack of info on the cassette (not even a date) made me decide to look. And then I just happened to read about his passing in the #96 Oct/Nov 2001 issue of Dirty Linen. A little more internet research has made me aware what a huge figure he was. And having heard there were a half-dozen more albums, I will definitely seek them out. It’s just too bad there won’t be any more.
Posted Sunday, July 14, 2002 6:11 PM
I was one of those college kids back in Oswego, NY who would catch Colorblind James and the White Caps playing in some dive downtown, then years later at places like Shifty’s in Syracuse and Johnny D’s in Somerville, MA. It seemed like everywhere I went, Chuck would show up with his brilliantly absurd persona, surreal lyrics, those totally dance-able rhythms and beats and proceed to whip up the crowd into a swirl of happy mayhem. I left that part of the country behind me long ago, and I could never explain The Colorblind James Experience to anyone else. That studio-produced vinyl LP doesn’t capture it, nor does that CD from some used music store in Denver. Yes, everywhere I went, Colorblind James found me, and reminded me that music–like life–is supposed to be fun.
I just learned on a recent trip home that Chuck has moved on to that place where the music never needs to stop. Chuck, if you can read this, you never knew how you touched my life, but I’m forever grateful for the joy you brought to me.
Timothy Piazza in Evansville, In
Posted At 10:25:15 12/20/2003
Yes, time has passed, yet, the loss and the memories still resonate. Wow… Chuck’s music turned my head around in so many wonderful ways. I heard music differently after seeing my first Colorblind gig. Really. He accomplished this not by preaching or telling anyone else how to be or what music to like or WHATEVER… he accomplished this simply by being himself and expressing himself with warmth, honesty and generosity. I ALWAYS felt like I “belonged” at Colorblind gigs. This is saying a lot, considering how clique-ish things can get in music circles. I attended a Colorblind show on my first visit to Rochester, when the city seemed huge and sprawling and intimidating. I’d come to the city to see a “name” band at a now-defunct club. Chuck and the band virtually erased my impression of that “name” band they opened for (just doesn’t feel right to name names). I think the word “warmth” comes to mind when remembering seeing and hearing Chuck’s songs. Those lyrics never sounded like the usual, cynical, self-referencial hipster jive, more concerned with being cool than with just sharing stories and having gosh-honest FUN. I had fun, and I had songs imprint my imagination and create quotes to share with friends. It’s funny, though, my clearest memory of Chuck has nothing to do with music. Well, almost nothing. I was attending a folk festival and, early Sunday morning (after a roudy Saturday night) I stumbled out of my tent to the porta-loo’s. There, just ahead of me in line, Chuck was escorting his kids to “answer nature’s call”. He was so gentle, patient and REAL with them… It just made me feel glad to be human. He is missed..
Posted At 17:38:00 03/07/2003
I recently heard about Chuck Cuminole’s passing… I’m just a couple
years behind the times. I’ve been a fan of the CBJE since the early
nineties when I heard ‘Considering a move to Memphis’ on a Elvis
tribute show on a NYC radio station when I was in high school. Hearing
the song and trying to find out about this mysterious band from upstate
NY was an interest of mine over the years and it feels like a part of
that thread of my life is over. I wrote to the band once to see about
getting a copy of their already out of print first album. I got an
apologetic letter back from Chuck that he didn’t have any copies of the
album left for sale. I was thrilled, I didn’t think there was really a
guy who went by Colorblind James! I hung the letter up on my wall to
show it off. Reading about Chuck’s life and influence on his community
has been very inspirational. Thank you all who knew him for posting
Posted At 14:17:23 08/16/2003
Recently an old Rochester friend, Greg Smith, from 20 years ago, gave me a copy of every Colorblind recording he had. I hadn’t heard this stuff since then, and have lived in NYC for a couple decades. Hearing the music hit me with a wave of memories, I don’t know how I would have remembered had it not been for this excellent, and wildly special and funny music. I want to thank every member of Colorblind, and Chuck, for creating that amazing world of dancing and fun during my high school years. You guys really made it great. There hasn’t been anything like it since.
(a belated) goodbye to Chuck. Thanks for the music.
Sue Havens (The Fun Factory)
Posted At 11:43:09 08/29/2006
It didn’t matter what record: All Colorblind James sounds kept the feet jigging and toes taping. I’m just sorry I never made it to Memphis cos then I’d be able to say: I’m Considering, I’m Considering . . .
Thanks to all the band for making those wonderful songs.
Does anybody have any bootlegs of the shows: I saw them in London in 80’s but never saw a copy of that one?