Back in 1980, when The Brighton Bar was little more than a dank, carpeted cave, the music scene was an exploding revolution and a far different animal than what we see today. Jersey was crawling with cutting edge groups all screaming to burst out and do something vital. Each was a true performer that aggressively challenged the “house that Bruce built” theory in a big way. Just walk into the Brighton on any given night and look upon the “ Wall Of Fame” and you’ll see the real Jersey music history immortalized there.
Secret Syde is one of those bands that not only helped shape that bygone era, but also had a lot to do with the psychedelic scene that you still see today. Young bands have followed the Syde’s dark and colorful acid soaked vibe throughout the decades with some fans even creating and running a website dedicated to the band and its flamboyant sounds.
The Secret Syde got their start back in 1982, channeling through a series of monikers before taking their name from a combination of brainstorming with Mark “The Mutha” Chesley who thought the spelling looked cool and reflected the band’s passion for the sounds of Pink Floyd founder Syd Barret. The Secret Syde added the “e” to the name and it’s been the same ever since. It’s hard to believe that a band that initially lasted two years has remained important to this day.
While Secret Syde was (and is) primarily known as a psychedelic band, they are also loaded with complex combinations of punk, Beatleseque pop and unpredictable experimental influences. Secret Syde is also famous for their shock and awe values, disintegrating violently with a flurry of public conflicts and splintering into several different factions and off shoots. As this is the first real reunion in 24 years, I gave members a minute to speak their mind about the reunion.
Dave DeSantis (bass): It’s unbelievable to me that it’s happening. It was my Beatles compared to all the other bands I’ve been in. Started in late ‘ 82 until ‘84. The last reunion was in ‘85. Two other attempts were made around 1990 and 2001. I’d say thanks to The Chronic sick reunion, this is finally happening. Steve, Rob and I played a few shows during Jon’s ‘Brian Wilson’ moment but it wasn’t the same. There are plans of a new album that should have some of the last stuff we were doing in ‘84. Rehearsal-wise it’s funny to relearn your own songs. There’s a hyperactive teenage speed to our studio albums and I can’t believe we pulled off song structures like that. All I know is that it sounds better now.
Steve DeVito (guitars): For me, it’s always felt like The Secret Syde had some unfinished business. I thought our recordings, even though I’m proud of what we did, could have been better. We had some great songs that we didn’t record that we’ll be performing at the show. It’s also a blast playing with Jon, Dave, and Rob again. I can’t wait for this weekend show at the Brighton bar.
Rob Angello (drums): I was at the Chronic Sick reunion and found myself standing between Jon and Dave and thought to myself, “I wonder how long it will be till I get a call?’ Three days later Jon called, ‘I wanna do a reunion with the Secret Syde.’ I said, ‘Go Fuck yourself, last time we did this you flaked out on us after three weeks of rehearsal.’ He assured me that he would behave, so how could I say no? It’s just like the old days except we stop to take Geritol and Oxygen breaks. Steve doesn’t have to leave rehearsal as frequently to urinate anymore, but Jon did have an erection that lasted through out our four-hour rehearsal, I can tell he’s really excited about the band this time around.
Jon Davies (vocals): I also went to the Chronic Sick reunion at the Brighton Bar. Greg Gory saw me there. He was kind of annoyed and lectured me. He said that instead of wasting my time cleaning toilets and rock tossing I should reform the Secret Syde and do something with my life. Greg Gory owns the Brighton Bar so he promised to pay the band well. Twenty-five years ago everyone told us the Secret Syde were ‘geniuses,’ which in business jargon means, ‘You are great but we are flattering you so we don’t have to pay you.’ The Secret Syde never earned a dime. This time at least someone was offering to pay us. I was hungry, dirty, and with no place of my own. For me, playing with the Secret Syde again was something to relieve the boring mediocrity of my anonymous, mind-numbingly dull existence of manual labor.
The Secret Syde will be performing this Saturday, April 25, at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch, New Jersey, along with Capita and Diary Of Need. For more info go to myspace.com/thebrightonbar.
Remembering Larry “Bozo” Blasco—The Stone Pony—April 7, 2009
Larry Blasco was considered by many to be the last active true member of The Stone Pony’s original production staff. Larry’s skill as light guy and guitar tech extraordinaire paved the way for many industry guys that now work for the union shops.
The memorial at the Stone Pony was well attended with many getting up and giving humorous stories and recollections. Flowers and rare photo’s adorned the front of the Pony stage and on top of that was Larry’s light console that he manned every night at the club. While an event like this always has an air of sadness, the Stone Pony staff and patrons did a stand-up job of remembering a guy who, as Tony Palagrossi stated, “Truly loved music, loved the scene and loved what he did.”
Through the years Larry served as a production manager and house lighting director at The Pony, but he was also an important part of the American musical legacy. Larry worked and toured with many notable New Jersey bands including Southside Johnny, Wyclef Jean and John Eddie.
Long-time friend and industry co-worker Arthur Kill says, “When you talk about the historic development of the ‘Asbury Sound’ and the fabled background of the Stone Pony, you have to remember that Larry was an eyewitness to it all. He was there before ‘back in the day’ ever existed. His account of events was authentic and first hand. Larry was sort of a big brother to me, and truly a great friend.”
His friends called him Bozo, a nickname he got as a kid coming home from the beach one day wearing a Bozo t-shirt with a sun burnt nose. A local police sergeant that noticed his condition gave him the moniker that followed him into adulthood. Stone Pony soundman and friend Jason Dermer had this to say: “Larry had over 25 years at the Pony and around Asbury, 10-plus years with Wyclef, and he was a good friend to all of us. Larry had some wild theories, like when he would tell anyone who listened that he had come up with a great way to rewire halos in heaven, I’m sure he’s giving the man upstairs an earful as we speak.” Larry passed away on March 30 at the age of 51.