My beloved Steve Scariano messaged me last night, asking for my email because he had a belated birthday present for me. The next thing I know I have a recording last night of Ernie playing guitar and singing with Nick on a cover of REM's Don't Go Back to Rockville. Here's his message:

I'm helping Gina put together what we all hope will eventually become a permanent Nick Rudd music archive. For the past month I've been going through and archiving boxes and boxes I have of Nick related cassettes. So much stuff! From the very earliest days of B-Lovers in 1981 to the final days of Blown in 1994. A great chronicle of Nick in his twenties and thirties. Lots of live and rehearsal and studio recordings, and lots of Nick's amazing home demo recordings. It's been quite overwhelming emotionally for me, re-discovering all of this stuff I've had sitting in boxes over all these years. And I'm convinced now more than ever that he really was a genius. Next up is going through the mountain of Jans Project cds I have. Lots of studio and live stuff, and I think we recorded every damn rehearsal we ever had. 

Anyway, this is from a Turning Curious show at Mabel's on November 12, 1984. Last song of the night and Ernie guests on guitar and vocals with us on a cover of REM's (Don't Go Back To) Rockville. If I was ever told why Rockville, I don't remember, so maybe Ernie can refresh us on the story of how and why this came about? I know it was something he and Nick cooked up while they were behind the counter at Record Service. As you can hear, we really didn't bother to learn the song properly. I think we learned it in the soundcheck. Sure sounds like we don't know it. But hey, Ernie and Nick are great singing together! So sweet. This was the only time Turning Curious ever played Rockville. Enjoy!

Ernie and I excitedly muted our current episode of My Kitchen Rules and played it. Tears rolled down our faces. They weren't all sad tears, but tears just the same. Owen popped in from a trip to the grocery store and looked alarmed at the two of us sitting there crying. I waved to him that it was ok and handed him Steve's email to read. He got a huge grin on his face and kept saying, "Dad, no WAY, no WAY, that's YOU?"

Mabel's 1984. I was 22. I'd just graduated from the University with that oh so valuable degree in art history. I was taking a year off before grad school and was working full time at Record Service with Ernie and Nick. It was a pretty good year. We were on the permanent guest list at Mabel's and got free tix for most other shows if Record Service was selling them. We seemed to know enough waitstaff to merit free drinks or food at restaurants when we went out. We had no credit card debt and could pay all bills on record store wages. Ernie and Nick had started playing together with Mark Enloe, a friend of Nick's. They never got beyond rehearsing but Ernie loved it. They called themselves Buckethead (prior to the other Buckethead of course) and as Ernie recalls it they were going for a cross between Nick Young and Husker Du. 

I know, I know. Neil Young and Husker Du.

By the following August we left town for Michigan so it came to an end, although knowing Nick he would have moved on anyway. Neither Ernie nor I can recall what led to Ernie doing this song with them. It's hazy in our memories…maybe the haze will clear, maybe it won't, but hearing this made our hearts full.

I was 22, Nick was maybe 24 or so…Ernie a bit older. As I struggled to express myself to Ernie last night I said there was so much hope ahead of us then. I stopped though because you can be hopeless when you're young, but I guess what I meant was there was so much FUTURE ahead of us. Good and bad, but it was all there waiting.

I wish I had a picture of this night but maybe it's just as well because the picture of I have in my head is so fucking beautiful that it hurts. Nick and Ernie singing, Jeff, Steve, and Berni. So beautiful.

Thanks for sharing, Steve. Such a gift. Such a wonderful gift.

Here's a picture of Ernie and Nick last fall at Huber's. It was a few weeks before Nick was going to open for the Peter Holsapple Combo show. Nick confessed to us that he had thought of canceling, and I said, "Oh, lord Nick….we knew that," and we all laughed.



One thought on “A Birthday Gift: Turning Curious, Nick Rudd and Ernie in 1984

  1. I live in Rockville, MD, site of the song’s namesake and was told that one of REMs members (not sure which) while in Athens, Ga, fell for some girl who’s family was in Rockville. There was some write up that I read recently about this. Not sure where. And F.Scott Fitzgerald is buried here (in case you were ever curious).