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1985​ show dates

nov 7 — canal street tavern, dayton oh

nov 16 — gilly's, dayton oh

nov 21 — canal street tavern, dayton oh

dec 14 — gilly's, dayton oh

1986 show dates

jan 11 — jockey club, newport ky

feb 8 — walnut hills, dayton oh

feb 13 — stache's, columbus oh

feb 21 — jockey club, newport ky

feb 26 — bogart's, cincinnati oh

feb 27 — canal street tavern, dayton oh

mar 3 — the plaza, cinicinnati oh

mar 14 — bogart's, cincinnati oh

mar 15 — brookwood hall, dayton oh

apr 5 — walnut hills, dayton oh

apr 18 — o'hooley's, athens oh

apr 21 — the plaza, cincinnati oh

may 9 — paycheck's, detroit mi

may 17 — disco club, lexington ky

may 20 — wright state university, dayton oh

jun 13 — gilly's, dayton oh

jun 14 — jockey club, newport ky

jun 20 — metroplex, atlanta ga

jun 28 — walnut hills, dayton oh

jul 25 — disco club, lexington ky

aug 29 — building lounge, dayton oh

sep 6 — bogart's, cincinnati oh

sep 19 — ohio university, athens oh

sep 27 — canal street tavern, dayton oh

oct 3 — miami university, oxford oh

nov 1 — canal street tavern, dayton oh

nov 20 — the plaza, cincinnati oh

nov 22 — building lounge, dayton oh

nov 28 — bogart's, cincinnati oh

dec 13 — the plaza, cincinnati oh

dec 28 — gilly's, dayton oh


1987 show dates

jan 23 — o'hooley's, athens oh

feb 21 — great scott's, lexington ky

feb 26 — miami university, oxford oh

mar 7 — mcsweeny's, athens oh

apr 10 — bogart's, cincinnati oh

apr 16 — mcsweeny's, athens oh

apr 25 — the plaza, cincinnati oh

may 1 — ohio university, athens oh

jun 13 — the plaza, cincinnati oh

aug 8 — the plaza, cincinnati oh

aug 14 — the phantasy club, cleveland oh

sep 18 — sudsy's, cincinnati oh

oct 3 — university of dayton, dayton oh

oct 10 — club stodola, chicago il

the pleasures pale

dayton oh 1985-1987

This is a pop group whose message rides atop its music with all the rapture of a Harley jacket on a nun. [They] straddle their genius-simple songs with an off-handedly delicate yet unafraid attitude that makes for music fiercely independent of any waves, trends or scenes. This quartet knows all about R&B, all about country and all about soul. But what's really hip is they mix, distort and exploit with a devil-may-care approach that pushes their music into virgin territory. This is truly new American music. So said the 1987 press kit bio for The Pleasures Pale. 


In September of 1985, as B Pictures drifted apart, singer/lyricist Jeffrey Bright began meeting for songwriting sessions with bassist Luis Lerma and guitarist Mitchell Swann in Bright's rented house on Marcella Avenue in North Dayton. Lerma was already established as a prominent rockabilly figure in the Dayton underground, having played in The Lucky Strikes, among others, and Swann was loosely associated with the burgeoning Bob Pollard/Guided by Voices Northridge scene. Sans drums, the trio penned a handful of promising songs.


Swann's friend and then occasional  GBV drummer Tim Payton Earick sat in on a couple of 4-track recording sessions and soon the band had a name and a demo tape. Jeff Keating, of Dates XXX renown, was recruited as permanent drummer and the first incarnation of The Pleasures Pale was complete and performing live in early 1986.


The press bio continues…


Our intent is to make very human music for very human beings, music that is actually completely played by human beings [at a time when electronic music was dominating pop music]," says Bright. When listing his influences, he unashamedly admits to having been reared on Elvis Presley. Style wise, he states, "I've always had an affection for country crooners. My father listened to Buck Owens and George Jones. However, it was only after I had made it through my less-than-pleasant formative years that I realized how much I really like that music — the simplicity of it all. I do feel that The Pleasures Pale get back to the heart of that music, but with an obviously different lyrical slant and intensity.


When asked to reveal inspiration for his words, Bright replies, "I write mostly from my own experiences and mistrials, or some cases, lack of experience. I guess I use my imagination a lot. I write and sing because I have some definite things I want to say; things I think are important or helpful or could be a source of refuge." He sites as a goal, "To make heroes and heroines out of misfits." And holds as a motto, "Destroy all debilitating stereotypes and myths, especially concerning sexuality and gender roles." Then futher, "I'm out to promote sensitivity, sure, but a guy still needs to have some guts. Personally, I find the general perception of masculinity to be both a great disappointment and burden, but I can't really find any purpose in androgyny or asexuality, either." And finally, "I think I've recently re-found my sense of humor after several dark years … I consider what I'm doing a to be a comic drama, a sort of slapstick melodrama."


While Bright provided a surfeit of verbiage, the music was the product of Swann and Lerma's unique chemistry and uncanny ability to blend and shape various stylings into a single song.


Again, to the press bio… 


Although raised amidst the strains and guitar twangs of country music, the soft-spoken Swann professes to be infected by R&B, soul and dance grooves. Whether on his beloved semi-hollow Telecaster or 12-string Rickenbacker, the man is a flat out rhythm monster. But what sets him apart is a master's touch at weaving in leads and melodies. Add to that Lerma, who, having played in numerous top-notch rockabilly bands and is a walking encyclopedia on such matters, contributes more than just a root to the songs. His lines are a genius of melody and countermelody, drawing from early rock, blues and country progressions. That's not to say Lerma doesn't invent. His fretless Fender Jazz and double-picking stamp a unique signature on every number. Not only that, he sports a display of way-cool tattoos and leads the band in hairstyle changes.


With Keating in on drums, in spring of 1986, the band started work on a full length LP at Dayton's ReFraze Studio. Recorded in fits and starts, and as money allowed, the project stretched on into the early part of 1987.


Midway through the year, Keating stepped out and was quickly replaced by original drummer Earick. The switch marked a distinct change in the band's sound. Keating's tight, inventive drumming gave the band a crisp pop vibe. In contrast, Earick's kinetic, wildman stylings — a la The Who's Keith Moon — pushed the songs toward a heavier, looser, and more intense brand of what would within the coming years come to be called Alternative Rock. 


Shortly after Earick's addition as drummer, looking for an even more expansive sound, the band began to work in Lerma's brother Terry on keyboards and Eric Olt as second guitarist. Excited by their new, fuller sound, the Pale returned to ReFraze to record four new songs, and the world seemed full of promise.


Then, in the fall of 1987, with one of the new songs mixed and in the can, tracking finished on the other three, and the full-length LP on the way — and with major label attention from Capital and Geffen at the doorstep — the band fractured. What began two years prior and appeared headed for a bigger stage was undone by the divisions and squabbles — they always seem insurmountable at the time but petty in retrospect — that have snuffed out so many other ascendant musical dreams.

The LP, entitled The Pleasures Pale!, or simply "!", was finally released on 12-inch vinyl and cassette by Cincinnati's Heresy Records in late January 1988 — fully three months after the breakup. It's unfortunate the record was not afforded the touring support from which it could have greatly benefited, nor the widespread exposure it deserved.


But, when one door closes, another opens...


Read on

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