AS63 – 32

AS63 – 32

AS63 – 32

Treat Her Right at The Middle East, Cambridge, MA

Treat Her Right
OriginBoston, Massachusetts, United States
GenresBlues, Low rock
Years active1984-1991, 1995-1998, 2009-10
LabelsRCA Records, Rounder Records

The late Mark Sandman
Dave Champagne
Jim Fitting
Billy Conway

Gust: Billy Beard

Treat Her Right brought the blues back to the Boston rock scene with a fresh new approach, one which rolled back the too-cool veneer to illuminate the blues-based origins of rock. The power and sheer joy in their sets made clear the reasons why Brian Jones and company sought an avenue for young, white class rebellion at the feet of blues revivalists like Alexis Horner- and later at the actual source: Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Robert Johnson, Lightning Hopkins. THR obtained a weekly residency in Cambridge’s Plough and Stars, the tiny Irish pub on Mass Ave. The series of shows that they played at the Plough established the band almost immediately as the premier drinking and dancing outfit in the city. David Champagne remembers those shows, as early as they were in the band’s history, as their creative high point." We took chances at those shows that we – that I – wouldn’t later on, once we were established. Indeed the band would always excel in small club situations. They were just perfectly suited to sweaty, smoky rooms that were packed with bodies crammed against one another. Some of my favorite THR shows aside from the Plough gigs were a Providence R.I. performance that I attended at a sometimes strip club to shoot super-8 footage of the band, and a NYC show at a miniscule dive that featured the Maneaters as the opener. The Maneaters were an all-female blues-rock act I’d worked with at the Fort when their producer, Peter Halsapple of the DB’s (later a key touring presence with REM, and Hootie and the Blowfish) brought them to Boston; they were a good match for THR. After that Manhattan road trip I got a bit closer to Mark Sandman. We got together whenever we could to go candlepin bowling at the alleys underneath the Middle East Restaurant. I liked Mark tremendously right from the start. His philosophy of songwriting was wonderful- less is more would be an understatement to describe it. Mark told me once that the best songs had only one verse and, if necessary, a single chorus. Mark is the kind of guy who always had something to play for you when you came by his house- some wild kind of Brazilian American music or an obscure delta blues tune, or a tape of a song written for one of his many ongoing projects. I remember going by there one day and realizing he was playing in five different bands, all of which with the exception of Treat Her Right he had started himself. It was hard to keep up…Sandman, Candy Bar, Morphine, plus side projects slipped between the regular bands. I thought of Mark as an extremely shrewd musical investor who had diversified his holdings to minimize the risks and maximize the potential for hitting the jackpot. As it turned out it was Morphine that Mark Sandman would take to the bank when THR became insolvent, and Morphine within which he would develop his songwriting formula to its’ logical, hypnotic end. The Morphine article isn’t too long, but there are a large number of Morphine pages on the web, both official and unofficial, so I know you won’t starve for lack of data. There is also a page on this site dealing with harp player Jim Fittin’s new band, the Coots. Very different stuff, a combination of blues, country swing and New Orleans-style funk and rock. Just take this link to the Coots page to check them out. As for Dave Champagne, he started a very cool band after THR called the Jazz Popes. I think Dave wrote some of his best material for that band. Although David’s post-THR refinement of his songwriting style didn’t meet with the immediate commercial success of Mark’s Morphine catalogue, I felt the material was just as interesting and unique as the latter’s… but with a few more lyrics thrown in. Dave and his wife Katie played the ocassional show together when they could get a good babysitter under the name the Heygoods. Their performances at Billy Ruane’s Valentine’s Day ’98 show at Green St, Grill and at Skeggie’s Spring ’98 Plough and Stars gig were thouroughly enjoyable, and shows at the Toad in summer ’98, and in September at Green Street Grille revealed an act that just kept getting better. Here’s a few pictures, and the Heygoods article has a lot more. You can also find a link there to the new Heygoods


Treat Her Right (1986)
Tied to the Tracks (1989)
What’s Good for You (1991)
The Anthology 1985-1990 (1998)
The Lost Album (2009)

Posted by hanswendland on 2010-03-31 02:43:20

Tagged: , Treat Her Right , Mark Sandman , Dave Champagne , Jim Fitting , Billy Conway , Billy Beard , The Middle East , Cambridge , MA , Hans , Wendland , Hans Wendland , Abstract , Photography , Abstract Photography , rock , music , performance , Blues , Rock & Roll , Boston , Session Americana

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