One of the many things that occupied my mind in classes during high school was making a list of possible band names. I still have it in one of my file cabinets. I gravitated towards file cabinet storage from the time I was in my mid-twenties. It turns out not many of friends were drawn in that same direction. I still have five of them; three are tall, five-drawer models, plus a pair of shorter ones with two drawers – nineteen drawers total. I have project documents in the various drawers, and, while not always labeled, I know pretty much where things are. I knew which drawer held the band names file but I’d forgotten that it was not labeled “band names.” After looking alphabetically through the stored folders, I found “N.F.G.” – as soon as I saw it I remembered I’d put those initials there standing for “Names For Groups,” the title I had typed at the top of the six-page list.
The list dates from 1970 to ’72, and among the 327 names are: Half Dog, Facepile, Electric Snipe, Von Small, The Brow Beaters, Nodding Horse Damage, Listen Blister, Nippy Calhoun, All Not Foot, Egg Drop City, Oddly Knit, Big Noise w/Hat, and Those Bad, Bad Old Knuckles. There are a few more from the list that I think would look good emblazoned on a bass drum head: Unit Mort, Pure Wow, How Did It, Lunchberg, Splash Contraption, Son of Geo-Toastie, Listen Cookie, Broomcorn, Cough On Babies, Stupid Bloody Rooster, and Geese With Coats On.
First on the list and the only one used thus far is Waldo & The Employees. I used it for a trio I was a part of in the summer of 1970. Paul Tatara and Adam Brezinski, and I created this outfit in order to play the annual ice cream social in the little hamlet of Platea, Pennsylvania (current population: 406).
Taking this opportunity seriously we spent the weekend in the Brezinski garage writing a rock opera called “Jimmy,” about a hot rod enthusiast who heard the call of rock & roll and got himself a guitar. However, he still had a final competitive race to drive, and he perished in a fiery crash. We had to work fast but luckily I had that band name at the ready. We each had stage names, too. Paul, singing and playing guitar was Knobs, Adam on the drums was Waldo, and I, playing bass while standing stock still, was Bounce. No one at that sparsely attended event cared what we were playing or who we were.
And I am proud to say that a Google search for Waldo & The Employees yields one result. In 1992 I was producing the fourth in a series of CDs called, “Lyrics by Ernest Noyes Brookings.” These featured assorted musicians each performing songs they’d written using one of the 300 poems written by Brookings (1898-1987) in the last decade of his life. That summer I was back in my hometown for a 20th high school reunion. I booked studio time to record a Brookings song with the briefly reconvened Waldo & The Employees.
I returned the N.F.G. folder to the file cabinet. It’s nestled among other folders titled “Man Who Never Heard of Water,” “Millions,” “Musical Taxonomy,” “News Items,” “Notebook Pages,” “Notes,” “Ogdensburg,” “Parties,” and “Pet Peeves.” Standing beside the open drawer I thought, I may reacquaint myself with the contents of some more of these files. Or, I may just toss them out without looking. However the more real possibility is that someone else will have to deal with them after I’m gone. I hope they at least they find something entertaining.
Artist David Greenberger lives in Greenwich, NY. His latest CD of monologues & music is My Thoughts Approximately. www.davidgreenberger.com @davidbg