One of many great memories of John Kuzma from 1981
We made a valiant attempt to get the major labels interested in us by playing in New York City but they were all taking a pass. One of those gigs we played was at the infamous Bottom Line on 4th St. on the lower east side. The Bottom Line was a big time gig for The Hooters. We weren’t indie enough or punk enough for CBGB’s so The Bottom Line was one of our gigs to make some sort of buzz in NYC. Bruce Springsteen played there early in his career, and that was good enough for us.
At that time bands from Philly had to go showcase for labels in NYC. Label A&R people rarely if ever came to Philly. It wasn’t cool to come to Philly. Getting some kind of press in NY was crucial. I say it like it was life or death but that’s what it was to a band like ours.
There was an unspoken business element to our existence that was, if we didn’t make something happen we wouldn’t be doing this very long. I for one loved the band and felt the urgency.
The gig at The Bottom Line was memorable for one reason only, John Kuzma. He left me with a memory that will be with me til’ the day I die. I want you to know one thing about Kuzma. He is one cool cat. He smoked his cigarette between his ring finger and pinky, made it look like an art. He could be a real gentle guy and a real bad-ass.
The Bottom Line wasn’t a big place. It looked to me like it held maybe 300 people at best. It was a rectangular shaped club with a stage that stood about 4 feet high. Tables were butted up against the stage. So, when you bought a seat you were right up close and personal.
It wasn’t a full house but there were people seating in the seats at the front of the stage. John had this statuesque way about moving on stage. That night, he decided he’d walk out on to the tables while playing his guitar solo, it was a bad move. He was doing a real rock star routine, the right arm up in the air like Pete Townshend, while playing with his left hand on the neck of the guitar, simultaneously taking puffs of his smoke with his right.
So John walks out on the table cool as can be and WAMMO. The table flips from underneath him. He went flying. All I saw from my vantage point were feet. I could see his head stock of his guitar. It was one of those smash BAM BOOM moments but we never stopped playing. I kid you not. John gets up slowing as if he meant to do it. Cool as John can be. His cigarette in his hand as if it never left and it may not have. Not a lick of embarrassment just vintage Kuzma. As if he was saying, “yea I meant to do that” It was one the funniest things I ever saw happen on stage and he made it look cool. That was John Kuzma.