Saturday, April 25, 2009

Leroy Tangents

A few years ago Valerie and I went to a fund raiser at BB’s Blues and Soups. Our friend Dennis was in danger of losing his farm so we all got together and threw a party.

This was when I first learned of our buddy Dave Gebben’s cancer and it would be the last great laugh I would have with him.

Our good friend Mark O’Shaughnessy has owned and lived in the building forever. In the late 70s and early 80s my band Wax Theatricks played there all the time. It was called Heart Break Hotel then.

Geoff  Seitz came up to me at the party and asked if I remembered him. I was floored. He used to drum for Leroy Pierson and they were one of my favorite bands in St. Louis. He played with Leroy and Russ Horneyer when they were a three piece. Leroy’s band has never been as good since. In spite of the fact he ended up with Dominic, Tracy and Benet (Wax Theatricks) as his band. They had a drunken, barrel house energy you had to experience to understand. I really miss them!

Geoff’s real passion was violin and he’s become renowned for making them. The photo is from a recent Post Dispatch article Valerie found for me. I think Geoff still sits in with Leroy on fiddle occasionally but I really miss his wild drumming.

Russ was my favorite bassist. Everything he played was perfect and nothing was there that shouldn’t be. His silence was as powerful as his sound.

I would eventually have the opportunity to experiment with a three piece band that included Russ and Mike Long. Mike was a punk/power pop drummer, Russ was master of reggae and blues and I was into my heavily processed psychedelic guitar and synthesizers. I wish I could have kept my shit together. It only lasted a month or so. It could have been great but I’m so damn easily distracted.

Mike is currently performing with Red Ass Jones and the Gold Bondsmen. He sings and plays a cocktail drum set up. He goes by “Shorty Long” and his son Miles also plays in the band. Two other buddies, Wrangler Wren and Ray Brewer, are part of the group. Valerie and I go to their every other Saturday happy hour gig at The Shanti in Soulard. These guys are funny as hell. Check ‘em out:


The Leroy Pierson Band was pretty much the house band at The Oyster Bar in its heyday. Sharon and I tended bar as the band played. We all got drunk out of our minds and went through the war together.

Leroy knew one of my dad’s best friends. A guy named Bob Koester. Tracy and I stayed with him in Chicago in the late 70s. Bob’s a blues producer. He runs Delmark Records. It used to be Delmar Records until he moved from St. Louis in 1958. The first thing he said to me when we arrived on his doorstep was, “Yer not as tall as yer dad are ya?”

He took us night clubbing in the wildest parts of Chicago’s south side. He was so respected in the music scene that all doors were open to us. He had a movie theater in his house where he’d run 16mm cartoons from the 30s and 40s that were too blue for circulation. He also had a recording studio and we listened to old tapes of my dad and his buddies partying. He also played incredibly blue stand-up comedy from the 50s that could never be distributed.

Tracy and I later learned from Iggy Pop’s autobiography “I Need More” that Iggy lived in Koester’s basement.

In the mid 90s my ex and I were visiting friends in Chicago. I called Koester. Instead of the beer and piss soaked south side bars we ended up in high class Jazz clubs. I hadn’t seen Koester since the 70s. The first thing he said was. “Yer not as tall as yer dad are ya?”

I actually have a lot of stories about Leroy but this is getting to be a long post so just one more for now.

Years ago Benet and I would go to Off Broadway on Tuesdays for open mic guitar night. The owner played drums for the jam sessions and was a big fan of Benet’s. Everyone would get pretty drunk and sometimes the jams would get pretty sloppy. I remember one guitarist getting very drunk and becoming incredibly offensive. He finally fell backwards into the owner’s drums. This was the last straw and one of the most spectacular bar fights I’ve ever seen broke out. It was right out of a John Wayne movie. People were thrown across tables and I think I remember someone swinging from a chandelier. A quick thinking bar tender threw “I’m Gonna Stab That Bitch with a Great Long Rusty Nail” by Leroy on the CD player. It was the best live sound track moment I’ve ever had!

If you’re not familiar with Rusty Nail check it out;


...Sharon said...

"If your mind is scattered, it is quite powerless." -Dalai Lama

...Sharon said...

Leroy's 'Rusty Nail' CD's & LP's in a used, good condition are selling for $55 - $115 on Amazon!

Since I haven't owned a turntable since the late 70's, my copy is "unused & perfect" and of course it's autographed. I know, I know... priceless!!!

...Sharon said...

Oh, and we were NEVER "drunk out of our minds" while working. However, that would occasionally be our condition just before dawn. But never while working. We were professionals. Seriously.

Doggie said...

I stand corrected. Do you remember riding that long bar like we were captains on the boat as waves of customers would spray across the bow?Leroy churned out a violent storm!!!

...Sharon said...

uh, yeah.... like we were kung-fu fightin'!

...Sharon said...

...while battling fierce red tides of cardinal fans!

dominic schaeffer said...

i cut my eyeteeth playing sober w/ Leroy, Geoff and Russ.