Reprinted from Terminal!, November 1980.
*At the Marble Bar, Baltimore
-by Laurel Wyckoff
No doubt few Philadelphians have had the opportunity to experience Baltimore's famous Marble Bar. It was in this dingy cavern beneath an unsavory hotel on Franklin Street that I was able to see South Jersey's Reesa & the Rooters in concert. They have been given a great deal more attention to out of town than in the Philly area, even after their recent single release. The band's previous appearance at the Main Point before a disappointing crowd, with the added handicap of wretched sound people, gave no indication of the revel they can inspire on the dance floor. The Marble Bar is frequented by as many orange-haired, leather-clad gentlemen and vinyl mini-skirted girls as you would see in your neighborhood bar. The opening band, Tiny Desk Unit, kept the crowd leaning against the 20-foot slab of broken marble or lounging around the long rows of rickety cardboard tables that surround the dance floor. Their music was slow moving, heavy and morbid for the most part. No fun to dance to.
By comparison, the Rooters were a breath of fresh air in those grimy walls and foggy atmosphere. There was an immediate frenzy on the dance floor. The Rooters’ music is happy music, all for fun. Not only is it easy to dance to, but it makes you want to dance.
Reesa's costume that night was a collegiate outfit covering the parochial-school uniform matching bassist Cherie Rumbol. Larry, on the other hand, dressed simply to match his guitar style, which incorporates the most basic elements of rock, which lends a simple clarity to the songs without resorting to cliché. His writing is clever and concise, using devices like a drooping minor second chord progression to represent the infamous meltdown in "TMI." The band's momentum is provided by drummer Bob Z, whose solid upbeat energy drives the band with a polished quality. Reesa's flexible, somewhat bluesy voice pulls off the more sarcastic and satirical songs like "Eating Media" and "Ice." She also sings an interesting version of "Day Tripper." For songs which require closer attention to pitch, Reesa backs up Cherie, who sings "Ultraman In Surf Villa" from the new single.
Reesa keeps contact with her audience by running screaming into the crowd during "Nervous Breakdown" or jumping onto the dance floor with her guitar. Her playful spirit is not profound or innovative, but it is full of life and good fun.
(Original photo, taken by my mother, Edith Laskey, of band performing outdoors in Philadelphia. The pic appeared in this fanzine.)
*At Omni's, Philadelphia
-by Sean Dunhill
"Hey, Cherie,” Reesa deadpanned to one of her songs, "I don't think we're going to get paid tonight." It was a very barren night at Omni's: hardly any of the regulars had shown, and where were Reesa's own fans? The people she really calls the Rooters. I usually see this many people at Omni's at only about 9 p.m.
There is an old standard I've heard about bands: you can always tell them by their covers. This is so because that is when the band is really playing for themselves. During Reesa's two sets I heard Nick Lowe's "Shake That Rat" & "Let's Eat, "So Tired, and "Ca Plane Por Moi." So you get the idea; this is a straight unpretentious pop band, and a lot of fun. Particularly when you consider that Reesa is the front.
The first set was the better of the two. Unfortunately, the audience was not drunk enough to: realize that. They stayed lined up at the bar or in the back, simply watching. I love the looks on their glazed eyes. It reminded me of the time I had downed one Jack Daniels too many ... only this crowd hadn't really started drinking yet. This meant that highly enjoyable numbers like "Chinese Dancing" were left to waste while the audience drank up the courage it needed to get onto the floor. It got so bad that at the end that when Reesa saw that the dance floor was going to be left barren, which is one king-hell frightening experience for any band, she quickly had the band switch closing numbers to one of her other covers, "Nervous Breakdown" and then proceeded to have one across the dance floor. From one end to another, Reesa hurled herself, displaying her panties, shivering and shaking and finally sinking her message into this very numb audience.
"What do you want me to do?" Reesa demanded at the start of the second set, "play 'Whip It' or covers of Blondie? Is that what we've got you to do to get you to dance?" She then followed this tirade with a heavy metal (really!) version of "TMI." This time the audience got the message I guess. About 12 to 20 people would always be on the floor, and from there on, several would stay on for the rest of the night while others would come and go. I guess Reesa did know what her audience needed after all.
During this set, the band debuted a new number. With Cherie on vocals, 'Pierre Curie" is a slower piece than what is normally expected for the band, but Cherie is really opening up as a vocalist, and this song displayed her voice well. Keeping up with their oriental tradition, the band closed with the Sadistic Mika Band's "Talent Scout" and managed to salvage what would have otherwise been a really bad night for the band. They saw that all that came for the night were deadbeats so they played for themselves. They also were very good.
It amazes me that at times you ...
(Editor's note: Sorry, the end of the article has been lost.)
Two new singles are of more than passing interest.
The Suburban Wives Club's "Casual Cat at a Laundromat'' has a jittery, scratchy guitar riff, slamming drums and the earnest screech of lead vocalist Reesa, who used to lead a local band called Reesa and the Rooters. The other members of the Club — drummer Ann Frances and bassist Cherie Rumbol — supply a firm rhythm and pleasantly hoarse back-up vocals.
By itself, "Casual Cat at a Laundromat" might be considered little more than a nicely conceived novelty tune, but the flip side of this single, "Guru Eye," demonstrates the Suburban Wives Club's range. "Guru Eye" features an ominous, rumbling guitar figure, and the lyrics are both. sarcastic and surreal — very good stuff indeed.
INKLINGS By TIM WHITAKER
SUBURBAN WIVES: Household chores for Reesa (left), Cherie and Ann Frances
THE STRAIGHT SCOOP
SUBURBAN WIVES: GETTING DOWN ON LAUNDROMAT LOVE
Rock 'n' roll's answer to Erma Bombeck — that's what they're calling the Suburban Wives Club, the female rock trio from South Jersey that's playing local clubs.
"We put the group together mainly for fun," says Reesa Laskey, the self-declared queen of South Jersey New Wave. In real life, Laskey, 34, is a Woodbury, N.J., housewife.
"I've had various musical incarnations, but this time I wanted a group that reflected my real concerns — diets, exercise, chocolate addiction and fat thighs."
The Wives have also produced a single — "Casual Cat at a Laundromat" — about the joys of dirty laundry. "I have big hopes for our act," says Reesa, the lead singer.
"But I still sing at weddings, and even deliver singing telegrams from time to time. A housewife like me always has to look out for a rainy day."