Scruffy The Cat
Gone and just about forgotten, former college-radio darlings Scruffy the Cat were one of the last survivors of the ‘80s roots-rock movement, which basically consisted of punks with a yen for bar-band sounds. Comprised of Charlie Chesterman (vocals, guitar), Stephen Fredette (guitar), Mac Paul Stanfield (bass), Randall Lee Gibson IV (drums), Burns Stanfield (piano, organ), and multi-instrumentalist Stona Fitch, Scruffy the Cat were able to sculpt their own identity in Boston’s hotly hyped music scene. However, inconsistent songwriting and lack of musical innovation prevented the group from achieving the legendary cult status of neighbors the Pixies and Throwing Muses. Nevertheless, Scruffy the Cat always found themselves on the college charts in the late ‘80s, as the band’s raw, back-to-basics arrangements appealed to campus DJs who couldn’t get enough of the Replacements found a similarly lovable drunken misfit sensibility with Scruffy the Cat. At times resembling a country version of the Young Fresh Fellows, Scruffy the Cat were local heroes but far less recognized outside of New England. The group’s 1987 LP Tiny Days landed in the Gavin Report’s campus radio Top 10, mainly due to the toe-tapping “My Baby She’s Allright”. However, Scruffy the Cat were never able to use their left-of-the-dial popularity to catapult them onto commercial stations; after all, the Triple A format — which would’ve been perfect for them – was still years away. 1989’s Moons of Jupiter was the band’s attempt at a crossover hit, but it was picked on by critics, and the group soon split up. Soon thereafter, Chesterman formed the short-lived Harmony Rockets. After the Harmony Rockets disbanded, Chesterman went solo, releasing a series of independent albums including 1994’s From the Book of Flames that toned down his punk edges for more of a country approach.