Thursday, February 25, 2010

Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush at St. Francis deSales High School: This Week In Toledo, Ohio, 1975

Neckties Required/No Blue Jeans
Saturday, March 3rd, 1975

By the time Mahogany Rush hit the SFS High School Gymnasium in March of '75, the Frank Marino led power-trio had two LPs in the shops and a third on the way: 1973's Maxoom, 1974's Child of the Novelty, the release of 1975's Strange Universe pending. All three LP's were initially released on former Warner Bros. promo man Robert Nickford's Kotai Records and are reissued sporadically on a variety of imprints.

PDGB is curious regarding the circumstances that led to the booking of guitarist Marino, bassist Paul Harwood and drummist James Ayoub at the all-male preparatory high school, where cover bands were the norm. Just three weeks earlier, Mahogany Rush played a gig the Toledo University* Student Union Auditorium, located just down the street from SFHS. And in August of the same year, Mahogany would be opening the World Series of Rock Festival at Cleveland's Lakefront Stadium-see update below. Even by the comparatively innocent music-biz standards of the 70's, a bona fide recording act taking a gig at a high school must have been perceived as a step backwards. As the old show-biz adage goes, "Any gig as long as the check doesn't bounce," I guess.

Or had the tie-dye elephant on Mahogany's stage simply grown too large for the jaded college-age crowd to ignore? A skilled player to be sure, the riff on 70's-era Frank Marino was, uh, he sounded a lot like Jimi Hendrix. Like in a “I wanna wear your skin after I kill you in a bizarre ritualistic ceremony” kind of way. So perfectly did Marino's guitar and vocal work capture Jimi's unmistakable tone, technique, and laid-back urban soul, rumors began to spread regarding a spiritual, supernatural or biological oneness shared by Jimi and Frank. So much so, many listeners were stunned to discover that Marino was, in fact, Canadian.


Recently unearthed Cleveland World Series of Rock (presumably unauthorized) commemorative T-shirt, confirming the appearance of Mahogany Rush. Note heedless rearrangement of billing order and subtle artistic license taken with Aerosmith type in order to maintain designers thematic "pyramid-power" statement. Actual order of bill was (top to bottom) Rod Stewart and The Faces, Uriah Heap, Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult, Mahogany Rush. Second "A" in Mahogany replaced with "O" due to totally lame Chartpak rub-on lettering sets including no more than eight of any single character except for "S." Pfffft.

*Lovingly and consistently referred to as “Bancroft High” and “High School with Ashtrays” by guidance counselors and other supposed figures of authority and influence I encountered during the totally-gross ME! decade, TU concerts were legendary. Hendrix, Joplin, Springsteen, CSNY, Pink Floyd and Badfinger are but just a few of the A-list performers who performed at the University in their prime. Later, Toledo University would earn the right to officially change it's name to The University of Toledo (UT) in exchange for removing some of the ashtrays. Sexy.