back home


I Could Be Your Guide

Cover design: Aldert Mantje

Rita Coulter: vocals

John Ebert: trombone

Gary Holt:bass guitar

Charles Jaffe: keyboards

Colorblind James: rhythm guitar, vibraphone, vocals

Jim McAvaney: drums

Tommy Tramontana: lead guitar, background vocals

The Colorblind James Experience is a seven-member band from Rochester, N.Y., whose instrumentation includes guitars, bass, drums, keyboard, saxaphone, vibraphone, banjo, and trombone. Besides having received little public recognition and even less financial reward, the Experience has made intelligent, heartfelt and original music virtually uninterrupted since its birth in San Francisco in 1980.

The music of the Colorblind James Experience is an odd combination of elements; Rock & Roll, Jug Band Blues, folk, country and western, jazz, gospel and polka are part of the mix. It's always been a difficult sound to describe. An early critic dubbed the music: "The sound of the working class ascending to heaven." An unimpressed college radio deejay once described it as "circus music" and for a time the band reluctantly accepted the moniker "circus rock." Colorblind himself would probably call it music, if he could get away with it.

After toiling in obscurity in San Fransisco for four years, Colorblind moved the operation back to his hometown of Rochester, N.Y. The band's fortunes took a sudden turn for the better when, in 1988, English deejays Andy Kershaw, Liz Kershaw and John Peel began playing the Experience's eponymously-titled first album. The resulting demi-furer brought the CBJE to Europe for extended tours on three occasions, and gave the good citizens of Great Britain, Germany, France, Norway, Holland, Switzerland and Belgium the opportunity to witness the band live.

The Experience followed their debut with Why Should I Stand Up? which also garnered praise from the critics and reached #4 on the British independent charts. Stand Upwas followed by Strange Sounds From the Basement. That album was credited to CBJE and The Death Valley Boys, which is actually the same band as the Experience, but in an all-accoustic format. Though the unanimous favorite among the bandmates, Strange Sounds was met with a less than enthusiastic response from the music business community and the public at large.

Another album Solid Behind The Times was released on the Red House label of Minneapolis in November of 1992. Though the album followed Strange Sounds' path to obscurity, it was one of five albums nationwide nominated for Record of The Year at the May '93 NAIRD (National Association of Independent Record Distributors Convention.

In 1997, Death Valley records released I Could Be Your Guide

click here for Holy Modal Rounders



If experience has taught me anything, you're probably reading this in the bathroom. AFTER DARK: nature's laxative. Maybe you didn't even pay for the newspaper. You just found it on the floor inside a stall at a bus terminal, and you said to yourself, "Hey, I think I'll read this thing about Elvis Presley. While I sit here. Right where it all ended for the King."

Presley is where AFTER DARK starts the new year. His January birthday has made him the first AFTER DARK subject of the new year for three years in a row.

Presley himself was an after dark man. He'd sleep 'til the afternoon, shoot out a TV set, put on a show, party all night and fly the Lear-Jet down to the 7-eleven for an Eskimo Pie.

Fortunately, the Colorblind James Experience will not be celebrating the King's infamous and ignoble departure from this world, which involved toppling from the throne after his body gave way to 30 odd prescription drugs wandering through his bloodstream. That's the bad stuff. What you'll hear Saturday at Milestones is the good stuff, when the local music community celebrates Presley's songs in honor of what would have been his 64th birthday.

As is often the case with the Presley parties, Saturday isn't actually the King's birthday: it's really the day before, Friday. Saturday's show splits the date difference with an all-Elvis night tonight with Albany's Lustre Kings at Dinasaur Bar-B-Que.

Bear in mind: it's not Fat Elvis that these shows will celebrate. It's dangerous, hip-shaking, lip-curling,ground-breaking Elvis.

The late Col. Tom Parker will be at Milestones to emcee, although Chuck Staropoli doesn't quite look the part of the King's Svengali. "He's kind of thin," concedes Colorblind James' lead singer Chuck Cuminale, who organizes the event.

You might not recognize the songs either. Performers such as Carol Heveron, Geoff Wilson of the Earthlings, folksy Bob Halperin and ex-Colorblind James guitarist Tommy Tramontana don't always deliver the King's versions. And people such as Phil Marshall, Chris Schepp, Ethan Lyons and Rita Coulter don't always pick the familiar Elvis hits.

A lot of the sun years stuff will be aired out, too, such as BABY LET'S PLAY HOUSE, MYSTERY TRAIN and THAT"S ALL RIGHT MAMA. Stan Merrill from the local bands Lotus STP and Invisible Party, will be there. "His job," says Cuminale, "is to close the show with BURNING LOVE.

For its part the Colorblind James Experience will play BLUE MOON of KENTUCKY. "That's my current favorate," says Cuminale. "And a couple of gospel things. RUN ON. "SWING DOWN SWEET CHARIOT>

"The really cool thing with Elvis," he adds, "is you can sing all kinds of songs, because he covered so much stuff. I just found a Web site that included everything he ever did on stage, even if he mumbled a couple of lines." Songs like The Coasters' LITTLE EGYPT, a few Creedance Clearwater Revival songs like PROUD MARY and lots of Bob Dylan, such as TOMMOROW IS A LONG TIME and ALL I REALLY WANNA DO.

The Colorblind James Experience is a seasoned band. It will go from Presley's birthday celebration to Bob Dylan's birthday party in April, then to a Hank Williams party planned for September. And, of course, the Colorblind James Experience can go to its own music. On March 20th at Milestones, it celebrates the release of THE CALL OF THE WILD, the band's seventh release.

It's a patient band, too, a part of the Rochester scene since the mid-80's, hanging on when most others have given up. And Cuminale's a forgiving guy, celebrating Presley while dismissing his lousy travelogue movies and the fact that, for a gifted singer, he made a lot of poor quality songs.

Presley's management refused to release anything if it couldn't get a piece of the publishing rights. Presley couldn't get the great songs he needed, so he filled the void with drugs, Eskimo Pies and fried peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches.

It's no knock on Stan Merrill, but there are damn few people-Tom Jones yes, Barry Manilow no-who could make a hit out of BURNING LOVE.





CONTACT: Charles Jaffe


back to top