St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute MDA Variety Show Dec. 18, 1975

SJCI Mascot. MaraudersParousia’s first ‘big gig’ was at Saint Joseph’s Collegiate Institute for the Muscular Dystrophy Association Variety Show on December 18th, 1975…  This was ‘big’ in the sense that this was our first venue outside of our neighborhood school, “All Saints” in Riverside.

At the time, Mike, Patt, and I were students at St. Joe’s.  This put extra pressure on the three of us.  We knew that if our fellow students hated our performance, we would have to deal with that blow-back everyday at school for the next four years!  Barry went to Cardinal Dougherty and Steve went to Hutch Tech, so those two didn’t have the same kind of anxiety the rest of us did.

St Joseph's Collegiate Institute

St Joe’s on Kenmore Ave

In autumn of 1975 when Mike Newell joined the band, Parousia began rehearsing in Newell’s basement on Payne Avenue, in N. Tonawanda.  It smelled a lot better than the last place we rehearsed in and we were indoors with heat and air conditioning!  Often Newell’s Mom would make us popcorn and serve refreshments.

To prepare for the St. Joe’s gig, we rehearsed several nights a week all through November & December.  We thought we were ready to change the world or at least blow some minds out with our performance.  When the night of the show came, the adrenaline started to kick-in, just in time for breaking down the equipment, loading-in and setting-up.  We stuffed everything into a station wagon and just as we were cramming my snare stand into the back, the trunk smashed down on the leg of my stand snapping it off.  >Ugh< not a good moment…

When we got to the school, we looked around frantically for something to fix the problem but all we could find was a roll of duct tape and we did the best we could to bind the leg together…. (well enough to get through three songs with me pounding away on the snare drum like ‘Animal’ from the Muppets).

Practice at Mike Newell's house Dec 17th 1975

Steve and Barry – Parousia band practice at Mike Newell’s house Dec 17th 1975

The fix didn’t go too well… just then the drummer of the school lab band, Ray DeMarchi asked if he could borrow my drum set  to play “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” in a duet with pianist Joe Grano.   “Sure”, I said… I was just too embarrassed to tell him the stand was broke!  

Not long after Ray started playing, the stand collapsed and he tried to hold the snare drum in place with his knee.  I guess I should have mentioned the damaged stand… oops!  Anyway, he was not happy about that one! 

Gerry banging on the drums at Mike Newell's house Dec 17 1975

Gerry banging on the drums at Mike Newell’s house Dec 17 1975 (Mike’s mom was ecstatic, we’re sure)

The show was now in intermission.  That gave the band enough time to repair the leg of the snare stand using more duct tape and more prayers, hoping I would have better luck keeping it together than Ray. 

After floundering around with the set up of equipment, we hit the stage.  Everyone we knew was in the audience.  I saw all my friends from Riverside, my Mom and Dad, my girlfriend.  I was scared to death; except for Mike Newell who seemed right at home in front of the stage with his bass amp.  

Patt hid behind Mike Newell so it is difficult to see him in this picture.  If you look real hard at the photo below, you can see him wearing a grey shirt standing behind Mike.  Steve was to the right of Patt and was in his own little world sitting behind the piano borrowed from the school.  My brother was to the left of me and out of the frame of the picture (although you can see his head a little bit). 

Parousia's First Big Gig at SJCI 12.18.1975

Parousia’s Performance at SJCI 12.18.1975 Portends A Musical Force To Be Reckoned With

Parousia performed three songs that night, “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull, “Chameleon” by Herbie Hancock and “Crystal City” an original tune inspired by the bass line from the song “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath.  One thing for sure, we really were different than any other act that performed that evening.  After we were done, people sat in their chairs stunned, with their mouths hanging open, “what was that?”   We performed an incredibly strange show!

I mean here we were, at this soft, mellow, fluffy charity event with upper middle class parents and their children and yet we were belting out rock songs with ‘questionable’ lyrics like “Sitting on a park bench, Eyeing little girls with bad intent.” “Snot running down his nose, greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes.” and last but not least, “Where is justice..? Up my ass!”

Oh yeah, people were shocked… and yet we realized that meant people noticed us and talked about us, even if some of the words they used to describe us were, “disgusting”, and “frightful” – – we learned that when it comes to rock’n’roll, any press is good press, if it makes a lasting impression.

St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute MDA Variety Show Itinerary

St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute MDA Variety Show Program from 1975

After this show, we were officially not “nice boys” anymore… and it was true, Parousia, who had started out as a bunch of school boys who worked for the neighborhood church, suddenly turned to the ‘dark side’.  Adults who once looked upon us with favor now began to turn their backs.  They thought we were “headed down the wrong road” and in the realm of rock musicdom, that was a good thing for adults to think about us.

Parousia first Band photo session Dec 1975

Parousia, excited about the “deal” they just signed in blood down at ‘the Crossroads’

A band somewhere between altar boys & vampires...

A band somewhere between altar boys & vampires…

Parousia with the 1st official band logo

Parousia with the 1st band logo

Mike Newell on Bass Guitar

Mike Newell on Bass Guitar

Two months after the St. Joe’s gig, the band grew again when we recruited lead guitarist John McGovern to join up with Parousia. This acquisition allowed us to expand our repertoire to include covers of harder-edged contemporary rock classics and gave us the talent we needed to have a fighting chance to compete with the bigger rock bands in the area for gigs at school dances and local outdoor music events.

John McGovern joins Parousia Feb. 08, 1976

John McGovern, lead guitar – the next musician to join Parousia February 08, 1976

2 comments for “St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute MDA Variety Show Dec. 18, 1975

  1. Barry Cannizzaro
    April 16, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Let me make this “short and sweet.” I have no regrets in changing our “nice boy; grandma loving” image of our band to a Rolling Stones: The Doors,The WHO, “bad boy image” of our group, beacuse after all; like good ‘ole Eric Bishoff used to say from the World Wrestling Federation; “controversery creates CASH baby”; and anything can happen in the WWF; as well as “you got to shake things up a bit in the WWF.” Well, so much for that idea; we never really made much cash; but boy did we create some controversy (i.e. at the Holy Angels School Dance: D’Youville College: Riverside Park; and last but not least, at the St. Joe’s talent show; please reference the web page links for these show comments). Man you should have seen the looks on all those mild mannered; tame benign; housewife little faces in the crowd that night. They were aghast with horror; just like “a deer who got caught in the headlights.” Missioned accomplished baby! Rock on’ pilgrims!

    “Da dimwit himself”


  2. Barry Cannizzaro
    December 11, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    Wow ! Do these “pics” bring back memories or what! I remember shocking all those poor mothers and family members “out of their gord and socks” sitting in the crowd as I sung one of the lines to Jethro Tull’s song “Aqualung” at St. Joe’s High School that night on stage that went like this : “Snot dripping down his nose.” The audience couldn’t see where that despicable and repulsive sound/lyrics came from because as my brother Gerald North Cannizzaro had stated; I was obstructed from audience view by all the equipment. Lucky me; or I probably would be facing the merciless;vitriolic; unbridled RATH of all those angry; screaming; vengeful; otherwise very mild; conservative and domesticated mothers. What a “Frankenstein’s monster” little mob they were ! Man; did they sound pissed ! After all I was their “human spoiler alert” “dissing” their safe; familiar comfortable little worlds by; as Peter Gabriel in the song “Family Snapshot” most eloquently put it “waking up their empty shells” and” burning into their memory cells.” But of course; THAT’S WHAT I DO BEST; AND I”M DAMN PROUD OF IT; right Mr. Matt Gurnsey (inside joke. That’s coming from your “dim witted guitar player” from Riverside Park during that one eventful Independence Day Parousia celebration concert). AHHHH; such sweet memories ! Seasons Beatings players ! Peace out !

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