Merlyn's Memories...

Who's making noise in and around Madison? What's new in the business of making music around town? Review shows and CDs here. Please keep all hype in Hype Exchange.
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Postby werewolf » Fri Sep 05, 2008 1:05 pm

say, if anyone is interested...
a site just put the '82 r.e.m. show from merlins up for download. find it at:

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Postby mcmx » Fri Sep 05, 2008 7:33 pm

werewolf wrote:say, if anyone is interested...
a site just put the '82 r.e.m. show from merlins up for download. find it at:

...and here's the, the beginning of the story. During the first set of their October '81 show, Dave Reiss scrounged up a blank cassette somewhere and we went back to the sound booth where Dave Kao, Merlyn's house guy, popped it in midway. The edit in the middle of "Carnival" is because the tape had to be turned over in the middle of the song! A bit later Pete broke a string on the black Rick and had to change it on stage (!) causing a delay during which Michael improvised some vocal weirdness for a while. It was only a 45 minute tape and that is all there is of that night preserved, although they did two full sets with encores. There is a notable 'faster' version of Rockville on it. I made a copy of Dave Reiss's master, and in turn made a copy of mine for Rich Menning at Atomic Records, and it was dispersed to the world from those humble origins. Jammy transferred it to CD for me a few years ago, and I still have my cassette.

When they came back the following April 24, 1982, we were prepared, and even got the band's permission to tape the show....they signed with IRS a week later. We got the whole show, and for weeks there was nothing else on my stereo. In the early 90's it appeared on a German bootleg CD titled "Carnival Of Sorts". There is also a great board tape of the entire 1985 Stock Pavilion show. I've heard tell of a board tape of their whole '83 Headliner's show, but have not heard it.
All through those years their manager, Jefferson, had a girlfriend named Sonia who lived on Spaight just up off Willy, so they would usually hang around town a few days.

Hot Ptah
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Re: Merlyn's Memories...

Postby Hot Ptah » Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:05 am

Some other great acts that played at Merlyns included bluesmen Jimmy Johnson and James Cotton (a very memorable July 3, 1980 show from Cotton), the Plasmatics, the Egg Lady from "Pink Flamingos", Dekunkt (a killer show!), Sonny Fortune.

I remember that the Art Ensemble of Chicago really packed the stage with their huge array of percussion instruments.

I interviewed Koko Taylor and Wynton Marsalis for the Daily Cardinal in the dressing room at Merlyns. It was a small room, not very nice, to be blunt about it. Wynton said some very candid things about other musicians. He was very young then. Koko Taylor was as nice as could be.

I also remember the dance nights, which were really fun. There were nights when a DJ would play only classic Motown records. Everyone could dance to them.

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Re: Merlyn's Memories...

Postby kcimpl » Wed May 02, 2012 7:43 am

I lived in Madison from 1977-1985. My favorite memories of Merlyns were the Wednesday night Soul Night and the Sunday night Funk Night. Everytime I'm back in Madison I walk by the door that led up to Merlyn's. It was a blast!

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Re: Merlyn's Memories...

Postby iwiw99 » Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:37 pm

The Suburbs are playing the Majestic on 9/8/2012.
Yikes. At least I won't have to be in HS bright and early the next day.

Tom Brody
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Re: Merlyn's Memories...

Postby Tom Brody » Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:44 am

The title of this gossip blog is, "Merlyn's Memories." And so, here it goes!!! I lived in Madison, WI from Sept. 1980 to Sept 1984. My apartment was just a couple of blocks from Merlyn's, namely, on Gorham near the intersection with University Avenue. Since I was already familiar with rock'n'roll clubs and with jazz clubs, I wasted no time in getting familiar with Merlyn's. To summarize, in 1968 I saw Cream at their first American tour at Fillmore West, I saw Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead at Winterland, I saw Sonny Stitt at Keystone Korner, I saw Dave Holland and Sam Rivers at Keystone Korner, I saw Cecil Taylor at Keystone Korner, and so on and so forth. And so, early on in my stay in Madison, I saw Art Blakley with Wynton Marsalis (only 19 years old), I saw Randy Weston, I saw Arthur Blythe, I saw Art Ensemble of Chicago, I saw The Ventures, I saw Killing Joke (playing on same bill as Violent Femmes), and I saw Gun Club. And then, there is list of bands playing at Merlyn's that I deeply regret not seeing, such as Bow Wow Wow, and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. At the time that I saw Art Blakley at Merlyn's, a man at my little round table was making a cassette tape recording on a large portable recorder. After the concert was over, he went to the record store below Merlyn's (where he worked) and sold a copy of his tape for $25.00 to another guy at the same table. Anyway, the guy with the tape recorder was passing around a reefer and I took a puff. Then, something unusual happened. I noticed that I was able to distinguish more clearly every note coming out of Wynton Marsalis' saxophone. I had read about the claim that Mary-Jane could improve one's perception of music, and now I was experiencing it as an actual fact. Okay, regarding The Ventures, during the mid-1960s I learned to play electric guitar by listening to their records. Anyway, when they played at Merlyn's in the early 1980s, during intermission NOKIE EDWARDS pushed his way through the crowd on the way to the men's room and, on the way, he slightly pushed on my shoulder to get through the crowd. THAT WAS THE ONLY TIME IN MY LIFE THAT A "ROCK GOD" TOUCHED ME. Also, during the concert with The Ventures, some boys in the crowd were doing "pogo dancing" too vigorously, and the lead guitar player told them to calm down. How very, very much I regret not attending more concerts at Merlyn's. On the other hand, I was able to exploit to the very fullest, my membership in a folk-dancing group in Madison, called THE KICKAPOO CLOGGERS, led by Mr. Bill Kreamer. We were a group of a dozen locals, and we had our own bluegrass band called STONE SOUP. We performed in Capitol Square, at Edgerton bluegrass festival, at Jefferson County bluegrass festival, at Delavan agricultural festival, in back of Memorial Union, at Kahoka MO bluegrass festival, at Oscar Meyer Theater, and at several other venues. Yes, during those 4 years in Madison, I drank deeply from the most glorious of the best of pleasures that were available to humanity, and attending those evening concerts at Merlyn's were among the most glorious of glorious. --Tom Brody (Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley in the year 1980)

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