Cloaca Melodia

My life in concerts, by Mike Sauter.


New York Breaks

The Haunt, Ithaca, NY

This was a birthday show for John Webber, organized by his girlfriend at the time. As I recall it was supposed to be a private soiree but there was a danger of not having enough attendees to sell enough beverages to appease the bar owner, so it was opened to public admission in a flurry of last-minute promotion.

The Haunt was aptly named for those of us DJs at Ithaca College's WICB. The venue was like a second home to many ICB'ers. Not only because of the many great shows there, but the bar and the station partnered for a number of activities: a weekly dance night, station DJs to act as MC for some shows, a couple of live-on-tape broadcasts, and other joint ventures of various stripes.

The New York Breaks were a local band; they eventually relocated to Boston and changed their name to Circle Sky. Later, the band's Matt Keating had a solo career of note. We used to play a song by The Breaks called "The Main Thing" (from a cart!). John Webber also reminded me that the band also did a notable cover of "Stepping Stone."

I always thought that a birthday concert was a cool concept and talked about this show on occasion for years afterward. Eventually a future girlfriend of mine would bestow upon me similar festivities.

I asked Webber for his memories of the event, and here's what he had to say:

The girl's name is Amy Cole. It was February 23 and the year would have to be 1985. I was a junior; I had just turned 22. I remember precious little, everyone seemed to be buying me drinks and who was I to turn down a drink or nine? As for my few memories, I remember it being unseasonably warm. It was a dark night, and the streets were wet- probably from melting snow but maybe from rain. I walked into the Haunt and about 50 people said "Surprise!" and then I tried to run out, but my buddies held onto me until the "Flee!" instinct died down. It was a tremendous party, I think Amy missed her calling by not being a party planner.

I remember being so pleasantly surprised The New York Breaks would play my party. The Breaks were on kind of a hot streak at the time. They had played a number of gigs at this point and their reputation as a young, exuberant band of local boys was really helping them bring customers into the Haunt; at Ithaca College it wasn't unusual to hear people calling across the quad to each other making plans to see them. Funny, it never even occurred to me to connect my upcoming birthday with their gig. Matter of fact a girl from one of my classes asked me out on a date for the Breaks Feb 23rd show but I had to turn her down because a) I had a girlfriend and b) it was my birthday and I didn't know what we were going to do.

WICB-FM, the radio station for which I was Assistant Program director had even promoted it- as a gig of course, not as a party. Everyone was so sneaky, they had me promoting my own surprise party on my radio shifts. One of our jocks, ...oh what was her name? Cat something? Sue something? Kind of a bad girl/tough chick. She was dating that little guy Mike from the Breaks. He and the band were lucky to have her; what a promoter. What else? The band went up around 10pm? I was hustled up onto the stage, I did my "Thank you's" for the party, and then I got to live one of the many DJ fantasies, I got to introduce a band I actually knew and liked: The New York Breaks. All that mic time was a truly perfect birthday gift for an incorrigible ham like me.

Geez almost all these memories star me. What about the New York Breaks, John? No memory of who was spinning records before the show started, but since maybe one third of the guests were DJ's I'm sure we had some great music. I know [WICB DJ Seth] Fenton was up there in the DJ loft, but I dunno if he was playing that WNBC pop music he loved. I can't imagine all us hipsters let that happen. The dance floor was hopping even before the Breaks hit the stage, and then their live music seemed to get even the toughest holdouts up and dancing. It was a happy crowd and the band seemed to soak it up and give it right back. Reading this, I'm afraid I sound like a pollyanna, but honestly I have nothing but great memories of that night.

And here is the handbill for the show, provided by The New York Breaks' John Sharples:

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