Cellblock 15 Year Reunion

May 11, 2010

By L.Ramage’

l_72dca8f0acd74efba9da8c6a38df04b1Mike Vagnoni and I talk often about one the best era’s in music which was in my opinion was the 80’s into the early 90’s.  This was my generation as I was in my early 20’s when the disco era was winding down.  I was freshly divorced and hitting the club circuit and well life took on a new meaning as there was this exciting vibe in the mid to late 80’s.  Women dressed very well,  I’m gonna go with “slutty”!  There was no better way to describe our attire. We all looked like street walkers. I was no exception. The shorter and more skin tight the mini skirt, and the higher your “F-Me” boots stiletto heel was and preferably with a chrome pointy heel the better and hotter you felt! For the guys? The tighter the jeans, preferably black stretch jeans or ripped and torn stone washed the more your chances at scoring were (they called those jeans Nut huggers by the way). If you had the money, you bought your clubbing and band attire at “Warrior” custom clothes store in the Northeast.  Back then? Going out was an event. And? The best part was you had someplace to go almost every night of the week!  From the Telford Inn, To the Galaxy in New Jersey to Gahooleys  to our beloved Empire Rock room on the Boulevard.
After the Empire was closed down, the rockers or metal heads some may call us had no where to go. Fortunately that era had Lori Gallagher (RIP) and that lady went to the owners of the then club “Cherrys” at the entrance ramp of Bristol Pike and Woodhaven Roads.  She talked the owners Jimmy and Teddy into allowing her to revamp the club and they did into this penitentiary style decoration and atmosphere complete with hand painted cinder block walls, barbed wire fencing and prison cat walks in the suspended ceilings. Thus the club “Cellblock” was born around 1990. It reminded me of something you’d go through in an amusement park.  Hoppy Riddle was always the sound man and Ronnie Hammil on lights and Tracy was the light girl/spotter. Lori first booked the club until the end of 1991 and I went in till the fire destroyed the house in June of 1995.  The first National I booked was Dee Snider’s “Widowmaker” in early 1992.  Hoppy and I figure we  worked with 46 National Acts when all was said and done.  I tried to figure out how many local original bands I worked with from Thursday to Saturday nights and it had to be in the hundreds.  Some of the top bands we nurtured along the way were: “Naughty Jane, Mr. Bones, MetalWolf, Roughhouse, American Pie. Dollhaus Puppets, Das Rhein, CreekRoad, The Jury, Teachers Pet, Dezire, Taken”  and just so many  label ready, as far as I was concerned .  On our good nights we would see about 400 or so come in the door,.  Towards the end though, those numbers were dwindling rapidly.  I often wondered what happened to everyone and those bands. I still have all their CD’s and press kits.
That’s the thing, back then the bands really made an effort and worked hard at promoting themselves. You don’t see much of that anymore.  I was interning at a Kloss Recording Studios for a while and so many bands were spending the money and time to get a polished CD made to get shows and maybe make a few bucks. Back then? You couldn’t leave the “Cellblock” without having your car really plastered with so many band fliers trying to get you out to a show. They’d send you a post card too to remind you! Some even picked up this lost art of using the phone!  Now with the Internet? Everyone just does an email blast and hey download our latest song if you feel like it. They got lazy these bands.  When I was working a National? I used to drive Teddy’s BMW and he’d jump out and plaster every telephone pole or Store window we could get away with with posters about the shows…and it must have worked! They came in droves! I totally believe in advertising!  I would advertised every  big show in the “Inquirer” and”Out on the Town” (that’s how my column started way back then BTW)  as well as “The Aquarian” Advertising has gone way with the Internet, sadly and I think when people don’t see or hold something in their hand to remind them of an event or something they forget about all the things that are saturated on the Internet.
We had a reunion some years back, one night at the Pirates Den and the next night at the Whiskey Tango, it was the only way I could get so many of the bands a chance to play. Well as time goes on and it’s amazing that these guys still stay in touch and so we have about 6-7 bands that want to get back together for one night of going down Memory Lane. On Sunday June 6  from about 5- midnight  at the Whiskey Tango; we are going to get together again with these actual musicians that graced the Cellblocks Stage: “Surrender Dorothy, KRANK (yes with Frank) Instinct, Chain Saw Jane, Shock Tank Kittens and members of Savage Attraction.  There will be some give aways, CD’s etc.  and I’m working on a guitar to Raffle. It will be just a nice time to get people together that used to come out to the club and everyone is welcome!

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