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By the time I saw Willie Alexander, he had been around the Boston scene for 15 years. I knew his songs “Mass Ave” and “Kerouac” from the “Live at the Rat – 1976” album. We went to see him because he was one of Eric’s favorites.

On the AllMusic web site bio, they say he is known as the answer to the trivia question: “Who took Lou Reed’s place in The Velvet Underground?” But Willie is so much more than the answer to a rock trivia question. The most common word I saw used when researching this post was “survivor” because of the number of years he has been involved in music in the Boston area (over 30 years). But in the 80’s, Willie was also incredibly popular in France, so it isn’t only in Boston that we know of “Willie Loco.” His albums were released on the New Rose label. The single, “Gin” shown in my photo was more popular in France than in the US.

I have the Mass Ave cd, which features Willie’s song, and I believe somewhere I have the “Live at the Rat” LP, but my albums are packed away and I can’t get to them. I did manage to dig up a couple of singles I bought on sale at Strawberries for inclusion in this post. Kind of sad to see the price of $.19, but most people who ever saw him would say his performances were priceless.




Let’s face it, the letter “V” is a tough one– even trying to think of national bands is tough (the one-hit wonders The Vapors came to my mind). So I opted for Mike Viola who I think I probably saw once, opening for someone else I liked. He got a bit of press in the 80’s Boston Music Scene because of his age at the time (14 years old). Boy’s Life and The Outlets had been there before him (though they were not quite as young), but achieved more success at that time.

My reaction back then mirrored music writer Brett Milano’s as he expressed it in his 1996 article.  (I mentioned before I wasn’t a Stompers fan.) Beyond his age, he just wasn’t memorable for me. With research, I did find a blog with some Mike Viola and the Snap music.

A funny thing happened as I researched Mike Viola for this post…He interested me! One of the things I learned was that he wrote songs for and sang the title track for Tom Hanks’ 1996 movie, “That Thing You Do!” He also wrote songs for Russell Brand’s movie, “Get Him to the Greek.”

I listened to a series of songs on YouTube. I’m an 80’s power pop girl at heart, and he really fits the bill. I can see critics saying his music is rather derivative and generic (listening to Strawberry Blonde I actually heard a little XTC, “Mayor of Simpleton” kind of sound, but then, I always loved THAT band), but it is fun music.

And to think I could have seen him way back when…




I have so many Trademark stories…way too many for this post. They were definitely a “go-to” band for Jane and me; we went to see them just about every weekend for a while. We eventually got to know them and thought they were a great bunch of guys. Not too long after we started seeing them, I bestowed upon them my ultimate compliment: I drew a picture of them; like the Atlantics, they signed it for me.

Right from the start, there was this “meant to be” kind of vibe. We discovered them because Jane worked with the sister of the guitarist, Matt Langone. Jane didn’t know her well, but when she mentioned her brother’s band was playing in Randolph and that she was going to see them, we decided to check them out. We loved them right away: great harmonies, great danceable songs, and LOTS of energy. We were hooked! I don’t remember ever seeing Matt’s sister again, but I’m happy she gave us the impetus to see the band.

Then there was someone Eric knew who knew the keyboard player, Jack Moran. She brought me into the dressing room at a gig and introduced me to him. I don’t recall her name or if I ever saw her again either.

Then came the final coincidence. I became friends with a girl named Julie who worked in the same building I did. I introduced her to Jane and we all became friends. Soon after that, Julie started dating a guy in a band. Lo and behold, her boyfriend was a drummer in a band whose guitarist was the cousin of The Trademarks’ bass player, Rick Hollowell. They played together a couple of times, including a gig at a frat party, and a gig at BC (not events we would have found in The Phoenix). We became official “followers.” We knew the band member’s girlfriends too (not well…I don’t think they really liked any of the girls that followed the band), and it turned out to be a very fun time in our lives. There are lots of personal stories I won’t get into here, but we were depressed and aimless for a while after they decided to break up the band. 

Fast forward to the present: the lead singer, Dave Morrison is a poet. He published a book of poems called “Clubland” about his experiences playing with The Trademarks and other bands; one of his poems was read by Garrison Keillor on his radio program. Matt still plays in a band called the Trash Mavericks.

I will always be rooting for their success.




Now I know I should say The Stompers but, similar to my experience with the Fools, I never really liked them. They always struck me as arrogant, and yet, they are obviously talented or they wouldn’t be still at it.

No, I’m choosing a short-lived band I went to see several times called the Sex-Execs (great gig memory: Sex Execs and Lou Miami at the In-Square Men’s Bar).

I found two of their songs on YouTube:  “My Ex”  and Tami-itis. They really did dress in suits like on the photo at the left and the “My Ex” video. They made very danceable music, and they had a saxophone and a harmonica! Great stuff!

I found this brief Sex Execs history on the web site for saxophonist Ed GershonGershon was quickly inducted into the Boston power pop/soul/punk band the Sex Execs in 1982. The Sex Execs included guitarist/saxophonist/double-visionary Sean Slade and bassist/producer Paul Kolderie, who have gone on to produce dozens of rock hits, including the recent “God Bless the Go-Gos.” Also aboard was harmonica wiz Jim Fitting (later of Treat Her Right and The The), and drummer Jerome Deupree. According to Wikipedia, musician/producer Joe Harvard and members of the Sex Execs, engineers Paul Q. Kolderie, Sean Slade, and Jim Fitting built Fort Apache Studios as a collective in 1985. 

Not sure I would really call them “punk”, but I agree with the “power pop/soul” part of the description. Listening to their music now, there are elements of other 80’s bands like ABC. And yet, their image preceded the early 90’s lounge revival that produced bands like Squirrel Nut Zippers.

The band was a finalist in the 1983 WBCN Rock and Roll Rumble. Unfortunately for them, they were up against Aimee Mann (who I LOVE) and “Til Tuesday, who would go on to be signed to a major label contract and achieve national success.




There were a few Boston bands beginning with “P” (such as the Pixies or Pastiche), but I’m choosing Private Lightning. Jane and I went to see them many times at Uncle Sam’s in Hull.

As with many of the other bands I have written about like The Atlantics and Neighborhoods, they had a major label contract but it didn’t lead to success. The album just didn’t do them justice. Seeing them live was an uplifting experience; they weren’t a dance band but there was energy! I agree with the review I read online…the talent is evident through the production flaws. While searching for links for this blog, I found a story written by one of the members describing his experience with the band. (I also found a wonderful music blog that mentions a lot of the same bands that I have.)

Private Lightning had a different sound than most of the other bands I went to see at the time, less punk or new wave, and more…artsy, dramatic, and orchestral. I loved the lead singer Adam Sherman’s soaring vocal style and Patty Van Ness’ violin. It was music to sing along with…like Meatloaf. Physical Speed is such a summer driving song!

Looking back at it now, I think they just didn’t fit into any niche. As far as I’m concerned, I didn’t get to see them enough.




Tom Hauk and Bruce WilkinsonBy the time I saw The Atlantics for the first time, they were the biggest local band around Boston. (here’s a little history written by one of the band members; you can listen to some samples here). They already had a major record label contract and an album that was poorly produced, but I didn’t know that at the time. I simply reacted to what I saw and heard: their harmonies were great; their songs were catchy sing-alongs; and their live shows were full of energy. They were one of the first bands my friend Jane and I went to see regularly (we always had a “staple” band that we saw on the weekends; during the week we checked out future “staples”). I liked them so much I gave them the ultimate compliment (for me); I created a drawing/cartoon of their promo picture; they autographed it for me.

During the time of my Atlantics fandom I went on a blind date. Although the first date wasn’t great, I said “yes” to a second one in an effort to be mature and give things a chance. The second date was a concert: Foreigner at the Cape Cod Coliseum — the opening band, The Atlantics — a deciding factor. On the telephone before the show I bragged to my date about how great The Atlantics were. Boy, was I setting them (and myself) up for failure; the date was a disaster. I was meeting him there and I got stuck in traffic, almost missing The Atlantics altogether. As I entered the arena at the opposite end from the stage, I saw them looking tiny and lost. By the time I made it to my seat, they were finished (in more ways than one). My date was not only angry that I was late, but I made him sit through a band that “sucked”; how could I possibly like them??! Things did not progress for us, or for The Atlantics, who hung it up not long after that. It was time to find a new favorite.



et cetera
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