AM DJ Was My Host

Chuck Cuminale aka Colorblind James opening for Personal Effects at Scorgies in 1985. Photo by Gary Brandt.
Chuck Cuminale aka Colorblind James opening for Personal Effects at Scorgies in 1985. Photo by Gary Brandt.

The headline in the “Local Beat” section of today’s paper reads “Colorblind James Experience Reunites.” I wish! Chuck Cuminale, aka Colorblind James (both colorblind and real name, James), song writer extraordinaire, lead vocalist and rhythm guitar player, has been dead ten years now. Chuck insisted that the lyrics to his songs be included in any lp or cd package. They address life’s big themes and read like poetry, dark and funny and sweet, a world away from trendy punk or new wave of the day. Chuck was humble but opinionated. He knew exactly what he wanted in a backing band and he ran a tight ship.

Gary Brandt took this photo of Chuck when Colorblind James opened for Personal Effects at Scorgies in 1985. Gary worked at Midtown and MotoPhoto and used to shoot black and white film and run it through the color processor at work to achieve this look. It was Colorblind’s first gig at Scorgies and Bernie Heveron, PE’s former bass player was on stand up bass. The band had recently settled in Rochester after a stint in San Francisco and Phil Marshall, Chuck’s brother-in-law, moved back with the band on lead guitar. Gary Miexner, who was with Colorblind when we first saw them at Red Creek in 1980, was back in the band as well. Jim McAvaney was the perfect drummer for Chuck’s theatrical numbers.

Chuck is seen performing “Considering A Move To Memphis” above. The band could move mountains and continued to do so with Ken Frank, now with Margaret Explosion, on bass. Tonight, with Chuck’s son Mark standing in for his father, they pay their respects at Abilene.

Chuck gave us a copy of their first 45 at that Red Creek gig. Jan Marshall did the cover art. This is the B side.


Wednesday Night Ritual

Black birds in trees
Black birds in trees

Most of the birds are getting out but the smart ones are hanging around for this beautiful Fall weather. It’s not Indian Summer because we haven’t had a frost but that’s only a technicality because we live so close to the lake.

We were headed home from Peggi’s mom’s apartment with the last load of stuff to get rid of and we head this clanging under the car. I couldn’t even see out the back window because the big, green ,overstuffed, lift chair took up most of our cargo space. We stopped at the bank and I crawled under the car. Our tailpipe had broken off where it meets the muffler so I stopped in Jerome’s to have them take a look at it. They put the car up on the lift with the lift chair inside of the car and reattached the tailpipe. Further up the exhaust chain we noticed the heat shield on the catalytic convertor was falling off. I find these in the road all the time while on my bike but I’ve given up collecting them.

We don’t really have a piano player in our band unless Pete LaBonne is in town. Fred Marshall sat it a couple of weeks ago and he sounded great. Jaffe from the old Colorblind James Experience used to come all the time but we haven’t seen him in months. James Nichols threatened to come last week but didn’t. Maybe he’ll stop by tonight. He always sounds great. There’s no piano in the song below but the Little Theatre Café’s grand piano was sitting right next to us when we recorded the track so if you listen closely you’ll hear it vibrating sympathetically.

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Beyond Considering

Janet Marshall kitchen
Janet Marshall kitchen

We were standing outside the fence at the Rickie Lee/Dr John show when Jan Marshall walked by with her son and his friends. She recently bought a house near the park and we walked there to see it. You can tell it is a work in progress by the sight of paint brushes in the sink. Jan and her late husband have had a string of cool houses and this song came to mind.

Considering a Move to Memphis
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

I’m considering, I’m considering
A move to Memphis, a move to Memphis
I’m considering, I’m considering

I’ll visit the Graceland mansion and set my face in wax
Then go back to my motel room to file my income tax
I’m considering a move to Memphis and this much I know
When I arrive in Memphis, I’ll have to spent my dough
I’ll walk down to Beale Street to watch the jug band show
I’ll shake hands with Gus Cannon, he’s someone I should know
I’ll get myself a motel room that’s not too small to see
I’ll get one with a private bath and a black and white TV
Memphis isn’t all that big, at least that’s how I found it
Why, it took only an hour and a half to walk completely around it
Memphis isn’t all that big, it isn’t all that wide
Still, it is the kind of place where a country boy can hide

I’m considering, I’m considering
A move to Memphis, a move to Memphis
I’m considering, I’m considering

I’ll find a favourite restaurant and eat there every day
And at the nearby bowling alley I’ll bowl my cares away
Some days I’ll order chicken, some days I’ll order fish
Some days I’ll have piroshki’s, that’s a Polish dish
And after bowling twenty frames, I’ll sit and have a beer
Perhaps I meet a pretty girl who is a barmaid there
I’ll get a job at a steak house, wash dishes, mob floors
Yes, I know I won’t get rich
Memphis is the kind of town that won’t feel like a trap
Besides, I kind of like the way it sits there on the map
I’m considering a move to Memphis, that’s Memphis Tennessee
It worked for Elvis Presley, why can’t it work for me?
The people in the restaurants there will all use forks and knives
They won’t take decongestions though for fear of getting hives

I’m considering, I’m considering
A move to Memphis, a move to Memphis
I’m considering, I’m considering

I’ll ask the lowly sparrow, up in his lofty perch
“Would you please direct me to the local Baptist church?”
I’ll attend the Wednesday meeting and there I’ll speak in tongues
I’ll shout and holler “praise the lord” ”till I nearly burst my lungs
Someday I’ll return to Memphis in my own private jet
I’ll remember my first visit there, that’s if I don’t forget
When I arrive in Memphis I’ll put a sign out on the door
“It’s ok to disturb me, that’s what I came here for”

I’m considering, I’m considering
A move to Memphis, a move to Memphis
I’m considering, I’m considering

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It Has Something To Do With Truth

Chuck Cuminale in wood by Jaffe
Chuck Cuminale in wood by Jaffe

We had a good time listening to an ABBA cover band a few years ago. It was interesting and a hoot at the same time. The Leonard Cohen movie, “I’m Your Man”, only had one song performed by him in it. They should have just made an MTV video. Cover bands are usually sort of sad.

Everybody was saying how much they enjoyed Billy’s Band at the Jazz Fest but I kept thinking about how much better Tom Waits would have been in person. Even when the band is the same but the main dude is missing, it just doesn’t work. Van Halen without David Lee Roth? After Sun Ra died, Marshall Allen took the Arkestra on the road but Sun Ra without Sun Ra?

And we broke one of John Gilmore’s concert going rules this evening by listening to a recording of Chuck Cuminale playing solo at Rising Place in Rochester in 1976. John says, “Never listen to a bands’ cd on the day of the show”. I missed Chuck Cuminale tonight at WXXI and maybe that was the idea. He had a perfect sense of rhythm and timing in his guitar playing and vocal delivery. This is all laid bare on this solo performance. And then of course, he was a poet.

Musical director, Ken Frank organized other former CBJ members (Rita Coulter, Phil Marshall, Charles Jaffe, Jim McAvaney, Bernie Heveron, Rush Tattered) and Chuck’s son Mark for this performance and their stellar performance almost made Jaffe’s wood inlay Chuck portrait (propped up behind the band) come to life. Julia Figueras asked Mark what he thought his father’s legacy was and he said “it has something to do with truth”.



Water temperature in our neighborhood pool reached 68 degrees today. If it was warmer out I’d be in there. I read Thursday’s and Friday’s New York Time this morning, brewed a cup Yogi Rejuvenation tea and headed down to the basement to paint. I got one that I like a lot. Again, I had plans for it but I didn’t get there.

I have to look around for an alternative to Yogi Tea. They changed the graphics on the boxes. It’s now glued shut like a small fortress and the tea bags are sealed in a type of paper that is almost impossible to tear open. I started to do the yoga stretch that is pictured on the box and I read, “Before doing this exercise or participating in any exercise program, consult your physician”. My doctor would live that.

We rode downtown with our neighbors last night to hear a band of Eastman students outdoors at the Village Gate. We sat down in front of Bodhis Cafe and Monica and I both ordered hummus and cucumber sandwiches. Peggi ordered chicken and I think Rick had something called “Big Bertha”. After dinner we rode over to Abilene where a Cajun band was playing on the deck. Danny has a pretty comfortable spot here. And the juke box is a sight to behold with Colorblind James Experience and Personal Effects first two record. We were checking it out with Mrs. Colorblind. There is a pretty cool podcast of the CBJ’s Dylan night from 1992 at that Colorblind link. Brian Horton does a version of “Dark Eyes” shortly before his heroin od.