I'd seen Trixie A. Balm's tag on CREEM mag articles before I ever landed in these parts. I assumed she was a sagely older hepster a la Lillian Roxon or Gloria Stavers, so it was a bit of a shocker when a sweet young girl turned up at CBGB's to interview the Cramps back in the day. Trixie was, of course, the nom de plume of Lauren Agnelli. She was a tiny, enthusiastic gal who dined on sole slaw covered with Sweet & Lo, washed down with hot tea and lemon. These things, we remember. Like I said 20,000 words or so ago, Trixie turned up at my 9th Street abode right after the Great Blackouts, New York City's, and mine. She had a lad with her, Shawn Brighton, who was, absolutely, the first of the new crew mod pack. The pair had formed a band called Nervus Rex with bassist Lewis Eklund and they wanted me to pound the skins in their new combo. This was bizarre, thought I, to fall from the tree and get picked up by a ghost bird before sinking into the sump.
They wrote their own material for the most part, loved the British Invasion groups (especially the Zombies) and the Everly Brothers, played Rickenbackers, and wanted to get out and play.
Shawn's dad was Nicholas Krushenick, the "father of abstraction", a contemporary of Andy Warhol, creating fantastic, enormous colorful paintings that today hang in museums and private collections the world over. Nervus Rex (no "the") took to practicing at Shawn's family's loft in Soho, which was part artist's studio, part home, and now, part band practise joint. Both Shawn's mom and dad were amazing people. I'd never met grown ups like them, people who encouraged making a racket well into the night.
Shawn was a super talented guy, with a splendid voice and no qualms about sporting Beatle boots smack in the middle of punk-a-rama. He and Trixie sounded great together. Lewis had played bass for years but didn't hold his proficiency against me, although I sure did feel exactly as incompetant as I was. For the rest of the summer and into the fall of '77, practiced all the time, hung out together, and started gigging at Max's and CBGB's.
Just recently, I heard from Shawn, who is a fine artist in his own right. He's painting, writing music, and most importantly, writing about his life. He's an incredible person whose story must be told-- his childhood was spent watching, his father's struggles as an artist, living through the leanest of times and learning that only through conviction comes any sort of vindication. Shawn met everyone in the art world before he was out of grammar school; his memories are filled with detail and emotion, truly a unique and telling view of the art world through the eyes of child growing into a man.
Cool photo of Shawn, 1975 "Just before I had all those mangy locks cut off!"
More on the formative months of Nervus Rex to come. Shawn passed along some cassette tapes of the first few shows, and I know I have a small stash of clippings in that Pandorific old Seventies Box!
Set lists and old masking tape
Oh, dig this off Youtube this week, sound added. Here's Trixie and me and a bunch of gals in Lisa Baumgardner's GIRL PACK college shortie. Incidentally, the striking T-straps were scored at a crazy sale at a shoe depository, er, warehouse, downtown. A small space ad in the Village Voice announcing a clearance sale in an old warehouse resulted in a near riot when women and girls descended on lower Manhattan from all five boroughs, desperate for old shoes. Wish I'd have had a movie camera-- dames were waging tug-o-wars and bopping each other over the noggins as box lids flew back to reveal every shoe lover's wildest dreams. Another obsession for another day. Here's the flick...