I wasn’t planning on getting too deep into the Grays’ east coast backstory but I dipped my toe in and now I’m getting more and more curious with each big hair photo and video I find.  Always fun to see what Jellyfish types were doing in the 80’s.  Hello Beatnik Beatch (Andy & Roger), late era Three O’Clock (Jason) and Producers (Tim). I thought I’d put these important historical artificats on its own page, filed under B for Beantown.

The Buddy System’s 1988 self-titled LP. Could Weezer have ripped the cover off more? I mean that is BLUE.

Los Angeles’ Buddy Judge migrated north to Santa Cruz where he ended up forming the new wave band The Four Cats that ended up becoming The Buddy System in Boston in the early 80’s. They put out a self-titled album on Chameleon Records (Dramarama, Mary’s Danish) in 1988, played all over the northeast and toured the U.S. with General Public in 1986.  In Richmond, Virginia, they inspired one Joe Sokohl to write the greatest concert review ever written.
As their MTV Basement Tapes winning video “Go Back To Hollywood” video (sadly taken down from Youtube) dramatically illustrates, the band lacked direction quite literally and, by 1988, were looking for a new rhythm section. Their manager Matt Mac Haffie invited his old friend and bass player Jim Haggerty to audition and Haggerty recommended one Dan McCarroll for the drummer seat. The two had known each other since they were three years old.

The Kingpins featurin’ Jim Haggerty & Dan McCarroll (’round 19/20 years of age)

They both ended up joining the band and were seen posing on several Boston staircases shortly thereafter.

The Buddy System, Boston band with Buddy Judge and Dan McCarroll plus singer/guitarist Ron Baldwin c/o bassist Jim Haggerty (upper right)

The Excerpts from New Haven, CT: Jon Brion, Spike Priggen, Dean Falcone,1980 from Spike Priggen’s blog.

Sadly, the band was coming to the end of its rock life and Jon Brion played bass for some of their last shows.  Brion was a New Jersey music fanatic who dropped out of school at 17 to play the rock full-time.  His New Haven, CT band the Excerpts (1980-85) were somewhere in the Cheap/Knack world. Check out Spike Priggen’s blog to see more early Excerpts photos from 1980.  Bandmate Dean Falcone recently posted a grip of great pics, including shots from the band’s 1981 trip to Japan on his Facebook photo page.

There’s an Excerpts Myspace page with a decent band bio and video of an entire 1982 show. Check out  the clip of the band tearing up “Living At The Movies” in New Haven in 1982. Sounds like something he’d come up with off the top of his head at Largo. They also somehow ended up  appearing in the low-budget 1983 movie Disconnected.

Some time after moving to Boston in 1987, Brion began dating Aimee Mann.  Judge and McCarroll started doing duo shows as “The Bud & Dan Show” and opened up for Til Tuesday.  As a result, Brion and Judge ended up in the last touring version of Til Tuesday. Foreshadowing Brion’s future chaotic solo shows, Mann noted in 1989 that “they’re such good musicians that we use a much looser approach on stage. For example, if someone yelled out for ‘Stairway To Heaven,’ these guys would play it.”

Here’s video of Brion in the last Til Tuesday video “Everything’s Different Now

He also appeared in the background of a Letterman performance of “Rip in Heaven” (taken down recently)

As Brion wanted to start something to feature his own songs, he began doing shows under the name The Bus Kings with Judge, Mann, and, occasionally, McCarroll on drums.

Buddy Judge, Dan McCarroll, Jon Brion & Aimee Mann play NYC’s China Club as The Bus Kings in 1990. That’s pretty much the Grays with a taller, girlier bassist, folks. c/o Patrick Pierson

By 1991, Brion, Judge and McCarroll had moved to LA which is where he met Jason Falkner while he was still in Jellyfish and then…..




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  3. I was at the ‘Til Tuesday concert at MIT, maybe ’86 or ’87?, when they said the opening band didn’t show. We waited forever and then these guys were introduced as “The Traveling Bus Kings.” It was amazing!!! They played everything the audience requested (for $1), swapped instruments back and forth, hit EVERYTHING! No one thought much about it until Aimee Mann wandered onstage and they all started playing all the ‘TT songs we’d come for. It was BRILLIANT!

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