Bold Beginnings : Louisville Punk 1978-1983

Bold Beginnings : Louisville Punk 1978-1983 (Noise Pollution) 2007.
The other day I got this CD from the uber-cool Noise Pollution Records label outta Louisville, KY. It’s called Bold Beginnings : An Incomplete Collection Of Louisville Punk 1978-1983 and it’s right up my fuckin’ alley.

To those who don’t know about the Louisville music scene, it has always been strangely cutting edge and arty for a town of its’ size and geographical location. I talk about the history of the town a bit in my !!! post. The fact is, there are many places in the US twice the size of Louisville that have never produced a Squirrel Bait or a Rodan or a even a Your Food for chrissakes.

In more “cosmopolitan” cities like Boston, NYC or San Francisco, punk rock was considered, at its beginnings, a form of rock-n-roll. Bands like The Heartbreakers, The Nuns and The Real Kids were playing rock-n-roll and they knew it. The audiences knew it too and the entire vibe of the early punk sound in these cities was, to a degree, based around returning to something that was lost in all of that awful high-minded 1970′s prog. CRIME for instance, billed themselves as San Francisco’s only Rock-n-Roll band and that completely speaks to this point.

Here in the middle of the country, punk was never and would never be considered a form of rock-n-roll by anybody. If you wanted to listen to rock-n-roll you would listen to Led Zeppelin or Sabbath or AC/DC. Punk was even more marginalized here than on the coasts. Consequently, a lot of cities out here skipped that whole rock-n-roll thing altogether because it was inconceivable that we could be or were playing rock-n-roll.

Oddly enough, what that meant is that cities like Indianapolis, St Louis, Columbus and even Chicago produced bands and scenes that were less connected to the rock-n-roll tradition. The scenes were often smaller and more polarized against the outside community at large. Judging by this CD, Louisville was certainly similar although in some ways, much more productive.

So Bold Beginnings starts with Louisville’s first-ever punk band No Fun and right away you know you are in the full-on Midwestern art-punk zone. Each song by No Fun follows a similar pattern; repeated garage chords with barked vocals by either Bruce Witsiepe or Tony Pinotti. Tara Key, who was an integral part of the Louisville scene and went on to form the great Homestead act, Antietam, played guitar in No Fun and shares vocals on my favourite song by them; “Evasive Measures”.

To say that No Fun is a revelation to me is an understatement. This was recorded in Louisville in 1978? Apparently, it was from a demo and all I can say is No Fun needs an entire CD retrospective.

Next up are The Endtables, who many of us became aware of from the Bloodstains Across the Midwest comp. The Endtables were fronted by a dude named Steve Rigot who carried the Gary Floyd flag, both in terms of size and gender-fucking. Musically though, The Endtables were something else altogether, mixing really weird guitar progressions with Steve’s David Thomas-style vocal approach. The resulting sound reminds me of a lot of bands but still sounds totally unique.

Tara Key’s next band, The Babylon Dance Band follows. They seemed to be Louisville’s great punk hope, getting write-ups in The Village Voice and such. Excellent stuff, although it is hard to follow The Endtables and No Fun. Blinders follow and if any band on this comp sounds traditional it is them. With that said, Blinders mixture of punk rock and rockabilly sounds closer in spirit to The Dicks than anything else. The Dickbrains follow with some poorly recorded live tracks. This is a shame cuz they sound pretty good and I would have liked to have heard Cathy Irwin’s (of Freakwater fame) first band with some better fidelity.

This is followed by Malignant Growth who were a really gnarly bunch of hardcore dudes from Shively, a blue collar suburb of Louisville. The three songs included on this comp are all from the Master Tape Volume Two compilation put out by Paul Mahern and that’s disappointing cuz I would have liked to have heard some other stuff by these guys. They were definitely an over-looked band in the Midwestern hardcore scene and had a lot going for them. Another band that deserves a full retrospective!

Your Food – Poke It With A Stick (1983)

Another great band on Bold Beginnings is the band Your Food who completely have flown under my radar. Apparently they released an LP called Poke it With A Stick on Whoredog Records in 1983? Does anyone out there have this? I would love to hear it. The three songs on this comp are all from it and they all have that jagged weirdness to them that I eat for breakfast. Time-wise they would have been contemporaries of bands like Pylon and I can definitely see these two bands sharing a stage.

Looking at the pictures in the 16 page booklet that accompanies Bold Beginnings, I am reminded of how gender-equal the early punk scenes in a lot of cities were. Certainly, Tara Key, Cathy Irwin and other women helped get the ball rolling in Louisville. Outré personalities like Steve Rigot also added a lot to these scenes. Once the hardcore dudes took over, a lot of the experimentation that grew out of this diversity disappeared. I don’t know if that was the case with Louisville though. Bold Beginnings ends in 1983 as arty as it began in 1978 with Skull of Glee.

The next acts I am aware of from Louisville were Squirrel Bait and Antietam, who were pretty damn creative and unique as well. After them the floodgates opened with the Louisville scene. Even in the early days, Louisville punk rock was better than most. Check out Bold Beginnings and find out. It’s even better than a “hot brown”.

This entry was posted in Art-Punk, Louisville, Midwest, New Wave, Punk Rock, hardcore, indie, post-punk. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Bold Beginnings : Louisville Punk 1978-1983

  1. behjan says:

    DOUGLAS MAXSON and also Possum Jenkins and others:

    Jeff Jobson,whose e.mail was sth. like whoispk@… sent me a video of 1979 ENDTABLES shows BEFORE their september 1979 recordings of their great 7″ep (along withe S.F. the MAIDS the cleverest lyrics I can think of handy).

    JeFF JobSON then (we communicated 1998ish to 2003 almost every week,he was in seattle or so) made an interview with singer Steve RIGOT early in 1994 that he sent me on a audio-casssette,but Mr.Rigot belongs not to the aged PUNK-ROCKERS whose memory serves minutially-well,but sill okay and fun to listen to him and his anecdotes :-)
    Before the 7″ep there was a drummer named Max Pappas before SJ Humphrey,I assume

    Guitarist Alex Durig is now a high-profile Professor on Autism in San Mateo,CAL.area, and his bro Albert an owner of a hotel in Miami and drummer S.J.Humphrey still the only one in Louisville with a business running.

    On those videos / audios however,you will have a hard time to decipher / recognize the recorded songs of their P.O.E. 7″ep…

    Well,beside our very THY ENDTABLES and the hoosiers GIZMOS,the 3rd band singing about that very moslemic/jewish ritual of CIRCUMCISION was a band from Texas: the PLASIC IDOLS who sang of “UNCIRCUMCISED TWINS” even …?!!!

    DOUGLAS MAXSON or JEFF JOBSON,
    not sure if this is not bit out-dated but if you read it,would you conjtact me,please?
    I was stupid enough to sell me SELF-DESTRUCT 2song white wax 7″ og 1993
    two years later and would try to save money for this one and an ENDTABLES original 4song 7″ep in its XEROXED red/white sleeve and xeroxed insert with the original vinyl or _better_ :

    S O M E O N E P LE A S E MAKE AN LP WITH ALL 6 STUDIO SONGS
    INCLUDING A BOOKLET, PHOTOS, LYRICS and LINER-NOTES or what-not

    what about that MR´s oF:
    rigot,durig´s,humphrey,pappas,d.maxson,r.nedelkoff,dave grubbs,jejj jobson…..?!!??!!?

    THE WORLD AWAITS!!!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Malfeitor is tellin’ you-
    That Poke It With A Stick record sat around in the closeout bin at the Streetside sorta by the FVCC for the longest time. I never picked it up even when it was $3. Don’t know why.

  3. Joe Stumble says:

    I thought I recognized the cover when I posted it.

  4. jon manyjars says:

    I have a copy of Poke It with a Stick. “Leave” is my favorite song on it. I’ll be glad to rip the rest of the tracks for you! Wolf (“my real name, not my punk rock name”) seems like an interesting guy, and I wonder if he has done any music since Antietam.

  5. jon manyjars says:

    Hey, look what I found:

    http://members.iglou.com/maxson/Music/YourFood/YourFood.html

    I also googled Wolf Knapp; looks like he played most recently with a NYC band called Stretcher (but he isn’t in that band now).

  6. Tom says:

    Where in KY were the Drooling Idiots from? I think they only put out a tape and that’s all, but I may be wrong.

  7. Tom says:

    I found it. Drooling Idiots were from Paducha, KY, and put out 4 demo tapes. I’ve heard 1 song. Great stuff.

  8. Joe Stumble says:

    Thanks Jon….Douglas emailed me this morning and is going to send me the Your Food material. I will hopefully be doing a writeup on them shortly as they were a very cool band.

    Malfeitor mentions it above, but I’ll reiterate that back in the day the “Poke It” LP was in the bargain bins in St Louis a lot. Never heard it but I think even back then I would have liked what Your Food was doing as it seems similar to early Pylon, early Get Smart! and The Embarrassment to me.

    Douglas also informaed me that No Fun did a shitload of studio recordings and Tara is currently mixing them down for release. I still am amazed that that stuff was being played in Louisville in 78.

    Tom — You got any Drooling Idiots? I was in Paducah last summer for an arts fest..its a pretty cool little town. I am suprised that there would have been interesting music back then from there though. What’s in the water down there?

  9. Joe says:

    Joe,

    I’m a lifelong So. Cal-er, so I have no comment on what’s in the water in Kentucky….

    I have one Drooling Idiots song that MRR played a long time ago. If you go to their website under SPECIALS, download the 1/10/84 show. The song is in there. I cut it out for play in my iPod.

  10. Tom says:

    Obviously I don’t even know my own name, evidenced by the last post.

    Oh, I forgot to say “great post,” as usual.

  11. Possum Jenkins says:

    NICE POST!!! The Endtables EP is one of my favorite records of all time. Totally unique guitar noodling and singing that I never get tired of listening to. But this comp CD included “They’re Guilty” which I think is the weakest track on their EP. The singer does kind of sound like David Thomas– when I first heard the stupendous “Process of Elimination” song on the Bloodstains Across The Midwest LP back in ’95, I though he kind of sounded like Ernie (of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street). The singer was selling an extremely rare sleeved copy of the EP about a year ago on eBay. I e-mailed him back and forth a few times and asked him if there were any other unreleased Endtables songs (other than their EP and the posthumous “White Glove Test” 7″ released in ’91) but he said no. On the KBD Yahoo! Group a few years back someone said they had some live video of the Endtables- that would nice to see, maybe I should search YouTube for it. Steve Rigot is a painter/artist- here’s a link to the bare bones website for him: http://www.geocities.com/deatrickgallery/rigot.html

    - TONY

  12. Possum Jenkins says:

    “41france” is ex-Endtables singer Steve Rigot’s eBay handle if anyone is wondering.

  13. Joe Stumble says:

    Hey Tony — the myspace page for Bold Beginnings is going to have some Endtables videos coming soon. You can check it out at:

    http://www.myspace.com/boldbeginningslouisvillepunk7883

    I agree that “They’re Guilty” is the weakest track on the 7inch EP but its a great EP! Do you have a copy of the track Circumcision? It’s the only Endtables song I haven’t heard…

    Love the opening line of the Defectors by the way…”I pledge allegiance to the flag of any country that will accept me…” I’m quoting from memory (at work) but you get the gist.

  14. Joe Stumble says:

    Tony — Douglas Maxson (Your Food) and Michael O’Bannon, both musicians on Bold Beginnings, are also on that gallery site you sent.

  15. Possum Jenkins says:

    Hey Joe, I actually have a vinyl copy of the Endtables EP (but with only photocopies of the ridiculously rare sleeve and insert) so, yes, I have the track “Circumcision”. It is a whopper of a track, massive guitar crunch. And whacky lyrics. Other than the Gizmos’ “Gimme Back My Foreskin” it’s the only punk song about circumcision I know of. “Circumcision” was also on KBD#10 but let me know if you need an mp3 of Circumcision– click on my above Google profile to contact me “off list”. Ya, the opening line of “The Defectors” is pretty memorable for me too– he totally sounds like Ernie on that song I think. So cool. Yeah, thanks for the link to the various Louisville punk sites, I can’t wait till they post the Endtables video on the MySpace page.

  16. Wolf says:

    Hey it’s Not My Punk Rock Name Wolf here. I have about 35 copies of Poke It With a Stick in my basement. Maybe I’ll get them to Doug if he wants to handle some mail order. I’m kind of slack on that stuff.

    Just have to say its a pleasant shock to hear anybody’s interested in this stuff. Not that I don’t think it holds up; I think it does, but then that’s me talking.

    Well since jon manyjars asked: After leaving Antietam I did mercenary tours with Christmas and Opal (playing what became the first Mazzy Star album), and later Mecca Bodega, an interesting tribal folk rock crew. For my own thing I got a degree in Jazz Performance and led a jazz group in NY for a couple years, then co-lead a Tool/Pantera/Soundgarden type group for 5 years before hanging it up. I play guitar on my front porch now. North Jersey Hillbilly.

    Wolf

  17. douglas maxson says:

    To clarify on the Endtables: unfortunately they recorded only the 6 songs on the EP and posthumous single. Interestingly enough, I got a bunch of raw dumps from a friend earlier this year; one disk included what must’ve been the rough mix of the session. All 6 songs, in different order, with the lead guitar overdub track blasting across the songs. The oddity was this ubercool 30 second intro to “Process of Elimination” that got cut from the vinyl (trying to squeeze too much time onto a 7″ 33-1/3.)

    To clarify about the EP…this has been a huge collectable among vinyl fetishists for years. Last year a copy topped the $1000 mark on Ebay. The “standard” cover is printed on deckled stock. Unfortunately someone unscrupulous with some disks but no covers started selling them with photocopies covers. Ironically, the first 50 copies released did in fact have color xerox covers; back then color xeroxing was enormously expensive, so they switched to commercial printing, and pulled the original copies from the stores. It was these original releases that Rigot was selling. But he’s out of the market now after suffering an enormous hassle from some Japanese dude who hadn’t read the description and kept harrassing him about “my precious, my precious”–I wound up giving Rigot one of my 2nd run covers just to get the guy off his back (in return for a mint copy and several of the original original covers–damn straight!)

    There is video of an ET show, shot by a guy named Jeff Jobson…cool for grainy b&w…mikes go out on one song, then someone turns off the lights…Jeff’s supposed to be working on a project using his videos, period photos, contemporary interviews…

    There is very little listenable live tape. In the abovementioned disks was I think the audio stripped from Jobson’s video…diehards’ quality (about on par with the Dickbrains stuff on Bold Beginnings) but interesting in that it’s mostly not the recorded songs:
    1.Break the Bank/Break the Figurine
    2.Kentucky
    3.When Beauty Meets Ugly (“this is a song about a problem we all encounter every day”)
    4.Helsinki (“this is a song about Finland”)
    5.Europe (“this is a Continental song…are there any Europeans in the audience?”)
    6.No Bed
    7.Trick or Treat (with Tara Key as guest vocalist)
    8.The Mother (“Virgin Mary/You’re my mother/Mother Mary/You’re my mom”)
    9.Twelve (any other songs written about “Pretty Baby”-era Brooke Shields?–”I’m twelve/not a sex symbol…”

  18. Brushback says:

    (almost) Funny– I saw Bastro cover “Circumcision” at CBGB’s years ago, during Bastro’s very first show (the same lineup had played together before, but it was their first gig with the new name “Bastro”).

    I taped the show, and it was actually the best-sounding live tape I’d ever managed up to that point. The tape got traded around a bit, but I don’t have my copy anymore.

    Anyway, David Grubbs had introduced the song as by the Endtables, but I didn’t know who the Endtables were (I’m from the Northeast, sue me), so it went over my head. Great song, though. Plus, now I know who the Endtables are.

  19. Joe Stumble says:

    Yeah i should post that Endtables 7incher now that I have it in its entirety. Its great stuff and Circumsicion (which I had never heard before) is awesome.

  20. douglas maxson says:

    circumcision

    the child is born
    he’s taken to the hospital
    his skin is snipped
    and his cock’s revealed
    they do it for hygiene

    i hear girls talking about circumcision
    i hear boys talkin’ circumcision

    the boy grows
    the boy’s a man
    he’s so happy he’s been cut
    he’s so glad to be safe
    he masturbates with ease

    i hear women talking about circumcision
    i hear men talkin’ ’bout circumcision

    the man gets old
    the man is ancient
    his penis is a grossity
    it hangs to the floor
    stretchy and formless
    but it’s clean

    i hear priests talking about circumcision
    i hear monks talkin’ circumcision

    …imagine being blown away hearing lyrics like that when you’re 19! stretchy and formless, but it’s clean!

  21. Possum Jenkins says:

    Ya, the Circumsion lyrics still sound out there in 2007 so I imagine that 28 years ago back in 1979 they left an impression!

  22. anonymouse says:

    The Drooling Idiots were indeed from Paducah, most of the members had grown up in Lone Oak but they shared a shotgun shack for a long time. They were a damn good band live, and guitarist/singer Brent Starkey is still playing music in Louisville (Brain dead, Mrs Frazier, Dead City Rejects, Parlor Tricks currently.) Fast Eddie from Braindead was another western KY transplant, and I’m thinking John Taylor was as well. It’s been a long time!
    Other Paducah punk bands from the early 80s included LSD, Signal 30, Drunk Drivers, Oral Punishment, Box Lunch, and various Wheeler Underwood projects like MC2.

  23. Joe says:

    @anonymouse…If anyone has any old Paducah-core I would love to check it out.

  24. I dont see any mention of the Poor Girls up here.. Malignant Fucking Growth was paralleled by some more Avante Garde Punk sounds really. Richard Hell was mixed in this crowd to a certain degree as well. I was around back in the day as a child and had the priviledge of seeing No Fun, Falconetti, Circle X, End Tables, Flotsom Jetsom and a whole host of mash up line ups of locals during that time. Its pretty clear that there is a gap in the interest of accurate documentation of these times and the people who really made this scene a one of a kind deal… Squirrel Bait was actually preceeded by some seriously real punks from all over the city… Hate to leave them out!

    A great person to set folks straight on this would be Wink… played in the Blinders with his brother and tends bar at Seidenfadens currently…

    The best account of those times with regards to the Louisville School of Art and the Avante Movement in Louisville comes from Rik Letendre and it can be found here: http://www.dustedmagazine.com/features/846

    Theres a lot more to the history of Louisville than what is documented by most of local publishing which has been afforded by the priviledge few…

    You heard it here first.

  25. I dont see any mention of the Poor Girls up here.. Malignant Fucking Growth was paralleled by some more Avante Garde Punk sounds really. Richard Hell was mixed in this crowd to a certain degree as well. I was around back in the day as a child and had the privilege of seeing No Fun, The Life of Falconetti, Circle X, End Tables, Languid and Flaccid and a whole host of mash up line ups of locals during that time. Its pretty clear that there is a gap in the interest of accurate documentation of these times and the people who really made this scene a one of a kind deal… Squirrel Bait was actually preceded by some seriously real punks from all over the city… Hate to leave them out!

    A great person to set folks straight on this would be Wink… played in the Blinders with his brother and tends bar at Seidenfadens currently…

    The best account of those times with regards to the Louisville School of Art and the Avante Movement in Louisville comes from Rik Letendre and it can be found here: http://www.dustedmagazine.com/features/846

    This has been edited for accuracy and attitude… its all real…

  26. Sluggo says:

    Probably a little late on Joes’s downloadable Paducah-core request, but there is plenty of just that here:

  27. John Wurth says:

    For more information and MP3′s of the Paducah punk rock scene from the 80′s and 90′s, check out this site: http://fauxtoeshop.com/paducahmusicexchange/index.php

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