An odd confluence of letters in my RSS reader led me to search this evening for a band I followed as a youngster back in Washington DC. This week's Monday Music entry on the NPR Monitor Mix blog included a video from the Nazz (Tod Rundgren's old group).
Seeing that "a-z-z" reminded me of The Razz, a DC band from back in the late 1970s. The Razz were a hard-rock band -- almost punk -- that played a snarling form of power pop. They put out a series of singles and an extended play (EP) single. I may still have several of these buried somewhere in my archive.
The group included Tommy Keene, who went on to a recording career starting in the 1980s. According to Wikipedia, his music is critically acclaimed but commercially ignored.
I insulted Mr. Keene one evening at a bar in Northern Virginia. I didn't mean to insult him. A group of us were there to see The Razz; we were fans. I was at the time a rhythm guitarist in a high-school garage band (The Ramblin' Beach Guys) and I was impressed by Keene's guitar playing. The group's other guitarist, Bill Craig, was playing a more obvious "lead guitar" role and I approached Keene during a break to tell him how cool it was to see a fellow rhythm guitarist (I was pretty young). He was not amused; he played parts just as complex as the other fellow, he was just less showy. That was my first lesson in the potential complexity in rock music.
That was one of two Razz shows that I remember specifically. I expect I probably also saw them play at the old Psychadeli at some point, but I'm not sure.
The other show that I remember clearly was a concert in November of 1978 at the University of Maryland Student Union. The Razz opened for Rockpile (Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe). Several of my bandmates and I got there very early and snagged a table at the very front of the hall. It was one of those great moments in youth when you are part of just the music you want to hear.
In looking around the web this evening, I also found that some of The Razz folks, including singer Michael Reidy, have recently been performing as The Howling Mad. Thirty years ago, I recall being told that Michael Reidy was a graphic designer and had done the artwork for The Razz' posters and record sleeves. In retrospect, I think it is the case that his graphic work, along with his group's music, influenced my tastes as a young man and is with me today.