The Oswalds

1988 and 1989, New York City


Tom Adelman – vocals, acoustic guitar, songwriting
Mark Donato – drums and vocals
Stephen Lewis – guitar and lap steel
Mark Lerner – bass, mandolin, vocals

After Oswald Year One, new folks were added:

Henry Hample – fiddle and banjo
Charlie Shaw – drums (replaced Donato)
Laura Cantrell – vocals

Early on, we had some help from Bill Fink and Frank Randall (guitar).

Earlier band adventures with Tom Adelman (in college) and Stephen Lewis (in junior high and high school) will come up at some point in this blog (why am I doing this out of order? I forget), but suffice it to say that 1988 began with Tom finally arriving back in NYC so we could make the band we’d always talked about. For the prior couple of years, I’d been recording elaborate home 4-track collections with Tom whenever he’d visit. He was a gifted and prolific songwriter, and while we searched for a drummer, we started playing some shows as a duo right away, open mic nights at ABC No Rio and a space called Cafe Bustelo on E. Houston St., in a scene that was more about poetry and the nascent antifolk movement than the rock and roll we wanted to play.

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GHE (A Good Hot Enema)

Summer 1984, Washington DC

GHE flyer.

Flyer for what may have been our only gig. Artist unknown.

I promised these entries would be in no particular order. As I happen to have very little visual or audio documentation of GHE, it’s an easy group to begin with.


Eric Karten – guitar
Pete Fettner – drums
CJ DeMarco – vocals
Mark Lerner – bass

In 1984, I dropped out of college at Columbia after 2 years. The plan was to go back to DC for a summer and earn some money, return to NYC with my then songwriting partner, Dan Eilenberg, find a cheap place to live, and “make it big” in music, be the next Leiber and Stoller. That’s not exactly how it worked out, but more on that in another post.

Somehow making money in DC during the summer of 1984 still left time for me to play in 3 bands. One was GHE, a hardcore band that either was or wasn’t a complete joke. I couldn’t tell. This may say more about me than about GHE. The hardcore scene in DC was largely a mystery to me. It seemed to be mostly people a year or two younger than me (one year was a big deal at that age). It was people’s little brothers. Also, I liked pop music way too much to really get into the scene. I wanted to play bass like Bruce Thomas, like Paul McCartney. I didn’t want to thunk away on 16th notes with a pick.

I knew Eric and CJ from high school. They were close friends with each other. CJ was a legendarily odd guy. At the time, I believe he listened exclusively to Frank Sinatra and hardcore punk. We were pals, but I was more than a bit confused by him. Eric seemed to be doing the band more for a lark. His taste was (and is) pretty wide-ranging. He will pop up on this blog in some other posts.

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