Bernie and the Invisibles
Bernie Joelson - Vocal (lead), Guitar
Peter Ball - Drums
Tich Erod - Bass
I Don't Know Where I AM
Liner notes from Cleveland Confidential CD Overground Records UK
"And then there were Bernie and the Invisibles. I toured with this guy one time and he got mad at us and walked all the way home from Columbus to Cleveland, Ohio which is about two hundred miles.
His mercurial nature was responsible for the fact that his only commercially released tracks were the live cuts on the two Cleveland Confidentials. When he first started playing out at CBGBs with the Talking Heads or in our home town with us and the Cramps, it was just him and the electric guitar, hence the band name Invisibles.
Later, he got a couple of guys to play bass and drums and in fact recorded an entire album with Tony Maimone of Pere Ubu producing, featuring such classics as "Chinese Church" and "PCP". Maybe somebody will have brains enough to put it out someday.
Somebody told me Bernie was dead a couple of years ago. And then I heard he was washing dishes at the YMCA at 105th Street. I live far away now and haven't been able to check it out."
Bernie on Bernie
Yes, I formed a band a few years back called Bernie and the Invisibles. It all happened when this slush started seeping into the holes in my shoes as I waddled down the Avenues of the East Village. It occurred to me that no one in NY was interested in forming a band with me. So, as I was on the verge of pneumonia due to the seeping slush, I said, "Aha! I will call my band bernie and the Invisibles!"
I got an audition at CBGB's on January 23rd, 1978. Despite the great audience reception my "band" got, I was not asked to come back. The door-man told me my act "still needs work". So, when I was almost broke, I went back to Cleveland and met a drummer (Peter Ball) who lived in a Bratenahl mansion. Soon we were able to be a backup band for the Pagans after a very productive meeting with their Mgr. Johnny Dromette.
We got to play a bunch of seedy bars around town, which got us some exposure. Now, it must be said that half of what is written in my bio is true and half of it isn't. (I'm not going to tell you what is and what ain't.)
And, yes, I'm still alive despite almost having given it up due to a car hitting me on foot in late March of 2003. Now, I am not too disappointed that my band never "made it" by signing a big record contract or playing in football stadiums.
I was never in it for the money. I was in it because so many bands are/were both lame and have almost nothing worthwhile to say. I hope people found the Invisibles to be an alternative to all that. I was happy that I met the Pagans because they struck me as having an attitude. I like that. I wanted to prove that I could play on the same bill as they did. I hope I succeeded.
My most enjoyable concert was my debut at the Pop Shop borrowing drummer Linda from the Easter Monkeys. My least enjoyable concert was my debut at Swanky's in Athens Ohio. I saw a Beyond Bizarre program recently that said that Ohio U. is haunted with all the tortured souls of those who were lobotomized. It was creepy as hell, so yes, I hitched back to my beloved town of Cleveland! I was not and still am not angry about it. I just needed to skedaddle! I am also not too bummed out that I did not get too much wax out with bernie and the Invisibles songs on them.
I thank Mike Hudson for putting my band on two Cleveland Confidential sampler albums. If someone wishes to put out a bootleg Invisibles album that's fine with me. But as I said, I was never in it for the money. And if this album ever occurs, and you are thinking of listening to it please remember that there are many bands who have a better singer than I am, there are many bands who have a better guitar player than I am, there are many bands who have better musicians than I did, but very few bands that have had the magic my band had when we were at our best. You either loved us or you hated us. Either way, I appreciated it all...
Thank You!!! Truly,
I was fortunate enough to have played a half a dozen shows with Bernie as his drummer. Once we went down to Athens Ohio to play some college bar on the OU campus. We turned the corner onto the main drag and there was this huge banner strung across the street that said OU welcomes the Pagans and Bernie.
No one had thought of where we would sleep, so the Pagans and the rest of the Invisibles had to curl up on chairs in the lobby of one of the dorms. A cousin of mine who I hadn't seen in at least 5 years was a student there so I got to sleep in the girl's dorms and had a nice hot shower and pleasant company. As I walked out of the room all refreshed and saw my comrades I thought how the Pagans looked peaceful, innocent and maybe even cute, curled up like children.
Bernie recorded material for a full length Lp at Styrenes Studio with Titsch and Peter. Bernie had been unhappy because Johnny Dromette had promised to release something but it wasn't happening. Maybe the recordings in question are those Hudson wrote about as having been produced by Tony Maimone
In any event, they recorded just about all their songs in two days of sessions, without any need for "a producer" and the tapes sound great. If anyone from the band wants to see the stuff released, I'd be more than happy to oblige.
Well let's see... I have a Bernie story.
My sister Laurie and I met Bernie in I would say end of 1978 or very early 1979. (My memory is a bit fuzzy too.) My story is so relative to this site because after our initial meeting where I gave Bernie a big Birthday Kiss...
He then out of the blue came over to my parents house one Friday evening.(this was March of 1979). I was somewhat exhausted from working my mail room job at Motch and Merryweather Sawblade Mfg. Inc., but there was the knock on the door and low and behold it was that Bernie guy.
Well we hung out in the basement of the house for a while just talking, I probably gave a swift introduction to my parents for Bernie but at the time they were like glued to their Lazy Boy Recliners and not much interested in anything except making sure we were not smoking pot, of course all the siblings definately were, and their were six of us.
Anyway there was no way we were going to hang out at my folk's house so I assembled my needs for the evening which included a warm bottle of beer hidden in the rafters of the basement and whatever was left from my stash of smoke. ( Bernie did not partake in any of this) So, he suggests we take a bus to Mike Hudson's house which we did and I think that was around East 200th street in Euclid somewhere, Or did we walk? ( it was a very rainy evening I might add.) I think we were a surprise visit there but never the less we all pile into this car and drive to a party in Richmond or Highland Hts.
The Party was in honor of David Thomas's girlfriend Lynn who was going back to England. I remember being quite high and fascinated at all the guest... Band people and all. People I had seen around but too shy to really talk to. I am left somewhat alone because Bernie had been talking to some friends. I ended up talking most of the night with Tony Maimone and his buddy Mik Melon. (Does any one remember this party?
Ties were handed out and a single played constantly which was Tv O.d. Tv O.d.) The evening was pretty good but I was a bit ruffled when Bernie tells me he is leaving with Johnny Dromette and asks Tony if he would drive me home...I hardley knew the guy but I thought his friend Mik was kinda cute.
So Tony drives me home. Very gentle man like I might add. The next day he calls and asks me if I would join him for a film at the Art Museum. and I did. We went to the Plaza later and their was his friend Mik, in the parking lot passed out from the evening before. Good thing there was a matress by the dumpster.
Well after that Tony and I hung together for about eight years got married and the whole bit. Now he lives in Brooklyn. So maybe this story encompasses more of the people in the scene of the day, and living at the Plaza was one of the most rewarding times of my life. I miss alot of the people there, some have passed on too.
But thanks to Bernie whom I still see once in a great while and always has some words of wisdom to share, my life had taken a turn on a path that has been filled with many a great time. I have been really lucky in some ways and I am still learning about alot of the twists and turns of that path and all it's avenues.
I first met Bernie at a restaurant where we both worked, myself a busboy and he a dishwasher. I'd first heard of him five years earlier from my dorm friends/bandmates (at ohio U.) who'd worked/hung at the Drome record store.
We started to talk a bit about music, and at one point he told me something that I will always remember, that dishwashing had taught him him everything he knew about rock 'n roll (maybe it was vice versa, no matter). If you've ever really washed dishes, then you've seen the connection.
Not too long after this, my group had a gig at the Pop Shop and we could choose our own opening band. I asked Bernie and he agreed to do it. The set was a treat - Bernie singing and playing one of our guitars and Linda Hudson from the Easter Monkeys on drums.
It was great, someone was heckling Bernie, but his comebacks made it seem like the heckler was a plant (example: "Hey Bernie, where are the invisibles? Bernie's answer: "in New York" at which point he launched into his tune "In New York". Perfect. I still see him around every once in a while; it's always good to see him.