St Mary’s School For The Deaf Benefit Concert at the Cambria Town Hall

Cambria Town Hall: Parousia Performs a Benefit Concert for St. Mary’s School for the Deaf in Beautiful Downtown Cambria, NY – March 19, 1980

The Cambria NY town line, where you don't know whether you're coming or going!

The Cambria NY town line, where you don’t know whether you’re coming or going!

When we told our agent Dave Buffamonti to book our first gig with new keyboardist, Eric Scheda, someplace “out of town so the band could work off the rough edges”; we never dreamed it would be a Town Hall in Niagara County.  I never even heard of Cambria before until we were asked to perform there at a benefit concert for the deaf.  It’s a town in Niagara County.  In comparison to Buffalo, it is way the hell out there…  More precisely, it is west of Lockport and northeast of Sanborn, NY.

Where is this alleged Cambria NY?

Where is this alleged Cambria NY?

Now I know the reason of this gig begs the question, “Why are we performing a music concert for the deaf” … I mean, who would hear the music right?  The show was put on for the people who worked for St. Mary’s and not the hearing impaired.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Now that we cleared that up…

Parousia at the Elmwood Avenue Art Gallery 1980

Parousia jumping for joy at the thought of playing a benefit concert for the deaf.

Parousia risked life and limb to play at this God-forsaken place.  No one knew exactly where it was, not even the local residents.  It was a thirty mile drive from Buffalo.  I was riding in the equipment truck with our ‘new’ roadie, Paul (a friend of Kim Watts).  He was a classic punk-rocker with safety pins in his face, spikey hair, leather pants and a matching dog collar with studs, etc. and then of course Bob Lowden, ‘nuff said. 

We got lost on the way out there and had to stop at a farm house to ask directions.  I swear, it was like watching an old show from the 50’s.  When I got to the door to ask for help, an old man answered – he looked like Mr. Ziffle from the TV show Green Acres.  He took one look at us then turned and shouted back to his wife, “Hey Martha, come look… it’s a freak with sunglasses (me) a nigger (Bob) and a kid with a Dog collar around his neck (Paul)”.

Racist comments aside, the old man wasn’t much help in finding the place… he gave us directions to the fire house and we wanted the fire hall, which eventually we learned was the Town Hall.  It took us way too long to find it but we eventually did and put on our show without lighting!

The Cambria Fire Hall (where we were sent), NOT the Cambria Town Hall (where we were to play).

The Cambria Fire Hall (where we were sent), NOT the Cambria Town Hall (where we were to play).

Yeah that’s right… the lighting company we hired (L&S lighting, Dave Stock) never showed up!  Poor Dave, he spent hours looking for the place and when he couldn’t find it, he just gave up.  The client noticed our light show never showed and docked us $100 from our pay.  We had little to say other than “it wasn’t our fault, really… please sir we really need the money”, but it didn’t matter to him, he had us.

Parousia Benefit concert  St. Mary's School for the deaf 03.19.1980

Cambria Town Hall, host of the Parousia Benefit Concert for St. Mary’s School for the Deaf – March 19th, 1980

On the up side, we were happy to find out that the audience was packed full of people who could hear quite well.  We put on our full show, with costumes and props, playing Jethro Tull songs like “Cross Eyed Mary” and “Hymn 43”, where we change a six foot Crucifix into a giant Bingo Card!  Then we blew their minds with “White Punks on Dope”, “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “the Ballad of Dwight Fry”.  I’m sure it all would have looked much better with our stage lighting. Gr-r-r-r.

Dave invested so much into his lighting system, this is all he could afford for business cards.

Dave invested so much into his lighting system, this is all he could afford for business cards.

Anyway, its important to note that this was our first gig with our new keyboardist Eric Scheda, and it was one hell of a baptism!  Eric joined up with us back in December.  The band rehearsed with him for three months and by the time we played his first show, we unleashed every “keyboard heavy” song we had on him and Eric nailed it!

Keyboardist Eric Scheda. First gig with Parousia, March 1980

Keyboardist Eric Scheda. First gig with Parousia, March 1980

With Eric in the band, we were able to expand our repertoire with original tunes like “Lucifer’s Lament”, “Revelation” and cover songs “Long Distance Runaround”, “Perpetual Change”, “Hoe Down”, “Toronto Tonto’s”, “Hold Your Head Up” and “Squonk”.


1 comment for “St Mary’s School For The Deaf Benefit Concert at the Cambria Town Hall

  1. Barry Cannizzaro
    September 9, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    One defining characteristic about the Cambria gig that I remember had to do with a friend of our girl lead singer Kim Watts. His name was Paul; he was a hardcore punk rocker; and he loved wearing and showing off his dog collar. He also loved to “shock the monkey” so to speak; freaking out “the very conservative establishment” whenever he got a chance to do so. That’s why I liked this dude; he was like me; a real freakin’ rebel! YEAH BABY! My recollection of the incident at the farm house that my brother Jerry had so eloquently spoke of was a bit different. I believe myself; my brother Jerry the drummer; Bob (our African American bass player. [YEAH; I’m being politically f#n correct as I can. I don’t want to start any more firestorm incidents like what happened in Ferguson, Missouri; if you get my drift], and of course Paul , “the dog collar wearing punk rocker” had stopped at a gas station on our way to Cambria to get directions to the fire hall. At that time an gauntly, grissled old (shit kicker) man came over to our vehicle and asked if he could help us; in getting us gas or the like. All of a sudden his eyes got real wide like he was gonna have a heart attack or something; and he said in a shaky but loud voice: “holy shi.!; is that a boy wearing a dog collar?” At that point he summoned who I presumed to be his wife and said: “Hey Martha; get over here; in this car I see a boy wearing a dog collar if you can believe that (who was Paul); a freak with sun glasses (who was my brother Jerry); and an f#n NIGGER!” Wow I just probably pissed off Al Sharpton; Jesse Jackson; and the whole African American community; and I’m damned proud of it? Anyway; I laughed so hard at what this man said being in the back seat with Bob; that I NEARLY HAD A HEART ATTACK MYSELF! I just couldn’t help myself. The old man was gracious; and didn’t insult me at all. I guess I was the “most normal looking” one of the bunch with just my afro-like bushy hair. Yeah right. Well; we finally left there and got to the fire hall. We set up our equipment and played our tunes for the folks there. I specifically remember playing “White Punks on Dope” by the Tubes as one of our grand finale songs; and when we did so; Paul, “the dog collar wearing punk rocker boy” went ballistic on the dance floor. He looked like the roadrunner on crack baby! Flying all over the place; bobbing his head up and down like “the incredible drinking bird”, Paul was! Ah; what a time pilgrims. ‘Dem farmers really got their fields shook up with us that night; good ‘ole Parousia.” Nuff said players! I hope you enjoyed reading “your friendly neighborhood dim witted guitarist’s” comments today. Remember to “shock someone out of their gord today”; it’s your civic duty to do so; plus it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Peace out!

    Barry ‘da dimwit!

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