Five Years and a Look Back at How It Started!
It has been five years of the Wild West and more recently the Feast Of Noise. In those five years we have put together a range of shows in Westchester, developed a presence on the web and simply seen and heard some pretty cool rock and roll music and bands. It all started, however, with the intention of making one particular show or set of shows happen. The Wild West started with the idea of bringing from England one amazing guitarist that I had seen play 22 years before. The guitarist was Bernie Torme.
I had seen Bernie play with Ian Gillan of Deep Purple fame back in December of 1980. In February of 2003 I had found Bernie’s CD, White Trash Guitar over at Vintage Vinyl. I had not thought much about the man and his music in some time, but it was very cool to find a recent CD. and it was not long before I was checking the web to see if he was online. And he was!
Anyway, I found a very cool site, www.bernietorme.com , which he developed and still maintains. (He is redoing it right now but it is still there!) It is a site that is rich in stories, recollections, opinions, pictures and music. Not only had I found that he is still alive and well but that he had in the last twenty years a pretty amazing and productive career.
Now the CD I had found had a little postcard, which was mainly to join a mailing list. Somehow, in my mind, I had twisted it to the idea that I could offer my services to bring the man over to the US for a tour, which had never happened. Bernie had toured with Gillan, had become Ozzy’s guitarist on the Diary of a Madman Tour after Randy’s tragic accident, and worked with Dee Snider in Long Island for a year or so on what was to have been Desperado but he never did a proper solo tour of the US despite his two solo bands; the Electric Gypsies and Torme.
So long and short, with finding him online and having this silly idea in my head that I could help him do a tour that he should have done back in 1986; I wrote him an email. I figured, what the hell, I will send it and see what happens. Probably nothing, but one never knows.
Two or three days later, he wrote me back!. The man wrote me back! Wow! How cool is that! The wife says I was already star struck. If I was not before the note, I probably was after it. I now had an a very nice note from him. It touched on some of the history and in the end saying he would, if I was serious, take me up on my offer of putting a tour together. Well, for the next four years, up until early 2007 I did try to bring him over to the US. It never happened.
Today Bernie Torme has an amazing new band, GMT, which has a bit of success in the UK and is now signed with Coallier Entertainment, located in NY. So I hope that if anybody can bring him over here, it would be Danny Stanton and his mates. Meanwhile, I will continue to tinker with a show here and there in the wilds of Westchester.
Five years later and as you can see I still think that correspondence between myself and Bernie Torme is or was amazing, And the years and experiences that followed it have been some of the best! Looking back at what transpired I only hope to continue what we are doing! Perhaps no US Torme tour but along the way we have and will continue to explore a bunch of other stuff!
Regarding this note today; this note on how and where the Wild West and the Feast of Noise began; we end this note with Bernie Torme’s email response to me, and finally my original note to him. We end it, where it all began.
From: Retrowrek/ Bernie Torme
Subject: Re: Hello. . .
Date: March 24, 2003 6:56:16 AM EST
To: Bob Schaffer
man if you saw the Gillan US tour, you really are one of the few!
Post Ozzy i never made over to play in the US, though I lived on and off in Long Island and Woodstock for over a year when I was working with Dee, he just would not gig. No unannouced things or try outs or anything, other than one club in Birmingham in england, which was really good. Real shame. So when the record company hung us out to dry we had nothing at all to fall back on other than reputation, which does not really carry you too far..
The long and short of it is that i tried to sort out some gigs around New York two or three years ago, but it was just too logistically difficult from here: and frankly what i do was not too fashionable at that point. i do not at this stage have any connections worth anything on a practical gigging level, everyone I know is doing rarified stuff at quite a high up level or has left the business entirely.
I’d love to get to do some gigs over your way, i get a lot of requests from punter/people in the US, i suppose the only problem is some of them are in NY some in LA, some around Chicago, Ohio, Texas, you name it, thinly spread! So each gig might have about 5-10 very keen fans and bugger all else!
So i am quite open to your idea, but it might be very difficult to pull off realistically. But if you are up for having a go, please let me know if i can assist in any way at all. I’d love to do it.
Subject: Hello. . .
Date: March 22, 2003 3:42:27 AM EST
I remember you from a concert outside of Philadelphia way back in December of 1980. Was a cold and icy night. You were playing with Gillan back then. I was a youngster, and snuck in the club which I have to sadly say was pretty dead. No one really knew what Gillan was about. But I remember you, your Strat, and your tremolo noises and effects!, Also recall McCoy, and Colin Towns (?) I think – on the keyboard and of course Gillan singing. . .Anyway, now history.
When Randy tragically died on that plane, I knew you would be Ozzy’s man. I was bummed when you left the tour. My buddy saw you, and i was pissed! I had tickets for a show the week after you left. All I remember is wondering who the fuck was Brad Gillis. .
Then I found Torme and the Electric Gypsies. . .at least the vinyl. But you never, as far as I know, ever made it over here for a tour – not even New York. I did not know that you were in Desperado. . . shame on me! Anyway, it is a new century, and now that I know you are still making music, any chance you will come over to New York?
What would it take? why not make a leisurely trip to the states? Be a nice trip down memory lane for me and just freshen things up around here period! I will even go so far as to make you an offer. . .I have no idea whether you have any connections here, I am sure you do. . . but if you want a fool to give a crack at finding a few venues for you. . .doing the legwork for a small tour. . . call it what you will – let me know.
Who am I? Today I am a middle class working stiff living outside New York city. Little working cash, but intrigued with the idea of putting together such an event. I was way back in the mid eighties doing lame covers of Thin Lizzy and UFO, I was the singer and manager. .did a few shows. . kind of.
Anyway, if you are curious, write me back. If nothing else, please put me on your mailing list and give me a reason to find my way back to L’Amours over in Brooklyn. Hope all is well!