Merlyn's Memories...

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Merlyn's Memories...

Postby newlow » Thu Mar 01, 2007 12:38 pm

In another thread a Spooner guitarists recently wrote...Merlyn's owner Serge Ledwith <snip> and I was transported to those glory days of Board-Punks and taunting from jocks.

The Merlyn's era was a golden moment in Madison's music development. Serge was a total ass, but he brought some great acts to town and supported local acts in his own obnoxious way.

Yes, Cole Markland hunched on that corner stool is etched in my memory, but even more significant than the characters and the acts were the moments.

Climbing the outside wall to sneak into the X show.
U2 trashing my friend Amy's apartment after their gig.
The Bad Brains with a very ill Dr. No smoking spliffs.
Iggy Pop proving he was more punk than any of us lightweights.
Presenting a letter from our lawyer so my little brother could perform with us at the Black Flag gig.
Playing soccer with Burning Spear at Brittingham park after their gig here.
Monthly visits from our friends the Replacements and the Suburbs.
Minor Threat and the Necros rolling in and teaching us how to dance.

I can't think of a time when the music landscape in Madison was more interesting. We get peaks and valleys, but those days were unmatched.

The place was made up to look like a cave, brown stucco, stalactites hanging from the ceiling. People loved/hated/paid too much money to/got thrown out of the place, but no one was and has since delivered such excitement. yes, we evolved from a cave - man.

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Postby Paco » Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:05 pm

$0.50 Sunday night reggae record spins with Jah Tony.
The howling/meowing at the Stray Cats concert
My ears are still ringing from that Iggy concert, loudest concert ever, and noticing beer was only sold in plastic glasses.
The singer(?) for The Stranglers whacking some guy over the head with his mic stand.
Getting slammed into by Pauline from Selecter.
Being able to see a band standing 2 feet away from them, and them a foot or two off the ground.

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Postby harrissimo » Thu Mar 01, 2007 7:05 pm

Indeed. Merlyns was the best.

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Re: Merlyn's Memories...

Postby bmasel » Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:37 pm

newlow wrote:The Bad Brains with a very ill Dr. No smoking spliffs.

That was supposed to be a down payment for playing the Smoke-In. Never got the gig. Wonder if my raincheck's still good.

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Postby dstol62 » Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:08 pm

jazz luminaries at Merlyn's:

Art Blakey
Woody Shaw
Phil Woods
Betty Carter
Sun Ra
Dexter Gordon
Benny Wallace
Stanley Jordan
Jack DeJohnette
Dave Holland
John Abercrombie
Ronald Shannon Jackson
Pat Metheny
Dewey Redman

All in the span of a year and a half....great memories

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Postby cattyr » Fri Mar 02, 2007 11:08 am

Most of my Merlyn's memories are pretty hazy, can't imagine why. The image of Cole at the bar, though, provided an instant, vivid recollection.

I postered for them in exchange for getting in free to shows. Hours and hours up and down freezing windy State Street. I thought I was getting a great deal, and of course Serge concurred.

I do remember being sent out to score for Simple Minds, har. We were such snotty brats, consensus among our set - U2 was just "too commercial."

The nicest compliment I ever got happened there. Some random guy when I was helping my boyfriend load out his drums - "You look like a punk-rock Audrey Hepburn." (Which I decidedly did not, but ok!)

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Postby cattyr » Fri Mar 02, 2007 11:24 am

Gawd, just had another couple of flashbacks - when Dow Jones and the Industrials (band and student gov of the Perversity of Unidue, for you young'uns) were here and at the afterbar (in that house on Elizabeth St where like, everybody lived) - one of the guys asked me if he could drink champagne out of my shoe. Good drugs, them.

And whenever the Suburbs came to town, whoohoo!

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Two nighter?

Postby newlow » Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:07 pm

What bands did two night stints at Merlyn's? There were only a few. Who remembers?

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Postby Deitrich » Mon Mar 05, 2007 2:11 pm

The best rock n roll show I ever saw happened to be at Merlyns. X and The Replacements July 1982 w/ awesome Psychobilly locals, Hollywood Autopsy opening up the night.

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Postby Paco » Mon Mar 05, 2007 2:24 pm

Iggy did 3 nights.

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Postby mcmx » Wed Mar 07, 2007 8:55 am

Good memories.......

The Kitchen Tour was great, with Rhys Chatham's guitar army so loud people stood outside to listen, and Oliver Lake, Fab Five Freddy (with break dancers!), Eric Bogosian, and David Van Tieghem doing a performance piece with toy percussion that was amazing.

Appliances shows at Merlyn's were always transcendent.

Renaissance played a great show with an arena-big sound.

The Joy Division show that almost happened, sadly cancelled due to suicide. Ian Curtis R.I.P.

The mood at the Stranglers show was eerie. Danger in the air. I remember the bass player beaning someone with his blue Precision.

The Ventures played a surprisingly loud rockin' set to a full house that was half slamming punks and half middle aged guys in truckers caps. Lots of friction between disparate elements at first, but nicely defused by the band.

I still have flyers for Angelic Upstarts, Translator, Alley Cats, Flesh Eaters, Bush Tetras, BLACK FLAG, Killing Joke, Fleshtones, Gun Club, John Cale, Tom Verlaine, Raybeats, Rockats, Snakefinger, Replacements, Appliances, X, Fear, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Suburbs, Nina Hagen, Nico, Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers, Pete Shelly, Flamin' Groovies, and HUSKER DU.

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Postby stumbles » Wed Mar 07, 2007 11:45 am

The best, the best. I think it's funny that I must have been sharing sweat with the lot of you on the dance floor at the time, and yet the veil of anonymity on the forum keeps me from knowing who you all are. I was the cute one.

The Stranglers were truly scary, not faux-badasses like Fear. Although do I recall that they ridiculed Wisconsin beer drinkers as wimps, as opposed to their hard cider drinking toughness. I didn't quite understand that insult.

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Re: Two nighter?

Postby thomaswilliam » Wed Mar 07, 2007 1:04 pm

newlow wrote:What bands did two night stints at Merlyn's? There were only a few. Who remembers?

Pat Metheny played two 2-night stands
As Falls Witchita.. tour (w/Nana Vasconcelos)
80/81 tour (w/Redmond, Haden and Motian!)

The night John Cale left the stage inexplicably after only 20 killer min. and Serge stepped up to the mic, to explain JC had "throat problems" note:He sounded fine, it was prolly some other condition..
To avert a near-riot (people were PISSED) a gracious offer of 1/2 admission refunds quelled the angry hoards.
Can anyone remind me who opened? Appliances?

lots more Merlyns stories! I lived there.


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Postby edsville » Wed Mar 07, 2007 10:30 pm

I worked at Merlyn's from Jan 1 1980 until it closed. I ran lights for Spooner and and the day after a new years eve gig there I went in to tear down. The place was trashed and Cole was cleaning the huge mess in his slow but steady way. I offered to help clean up and couldn't believe it when Serge offered me a job! Besides doing the stage lighting I also had turns at taking money/checking I.D.s at the door, bar backing, bartending, cleaning for Cole if he needed a day off, postering, security, coat check, whatever. Anything Serge wanted I was happy to do because I was making $4.00 an hour at the coolest place I knew. Sometimes while working security we would have to throw out underage (under 18!) board punks like newlow who would somehow sneek in to join in the slamming on the dance floor. They were in local bands like the Bloody Mattresses, the Screws, or the Monads. Other jobs were helping load in the band gear up the front or back stairs. Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark pulled up on State Street with a semi trailer full. Humping gear up the steps with lineman from the football team that Serge had hired to augment security. I remember the Stray Cats show as the sweatiest. There were 700 people in a 320 capacity club on the hottest August night.
Two bands that had two night stints there were Spooner and the Replacements. I went down the basement to check my old posters for some of the other acts who played there. I don't think these were previously mentioned and might jostle a few old brain cells: Split Enz, Billy Idol, REM (twice), Joan Jett (twice), Joe "King" Carrasco, The Blasters, A Flock of Seagulls, Medium Medium, David Johansen, Simple Minds, Romeo Void, Violent Femmes, The Dickies, Revillos, Bow Wow Wow, Luther Alllison, Steel Pulse, 999 and The Alley Cats, Koko Taylor, Iron City Houserockers, Psychedelic Furs, The Go Go's, Ultravox, The Professionals, Gang of Four, the Persuasions, The Specials, Men Without Hats, The db's, Raybeats, Wayne Kramer and Air Raid, James Chance and the Contortions, The Waitresses, Wynton Marsalis, Jeff Lorber Fusion, Panther Burns, Jools Holland and his Millionaires,The Art Ensemble of Chicago, and a triple bill of The Damned, Replacements, and Appliances.
It was great while it lasted. Purses got stolen at dance nights, acts with big guarantees (Billy Idol) didn't draw well, and Serge and Delihla split up. Money got tight and they couldn't make rent. ( I think it was $3000 a month). It closed down and I took home Cole's trusty Electrolux and the Merlyn's front door wizard. The end of an era....... until G.S. Vigs came along.

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Postby Uncle Jimbo » Thu Mar 08, 2007 9:25 am

Gang of Four rocked pretty hard and Bow Wow Wow with Annabella was bellissima.


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