BLOWFISH & MISS LYN
by Jim Testa
Way, way back at the dawn of the Boston rock scene, even before the pubescent T Max started publishing The Noise, some anonymous wag threw together a one-page fanzine called Boston Groupie News, filled with gossip and jokes about shows, bands, and the after-hour hijinks of Beantown’s first generation of punks. Nobody would take credit for writing the damn thing, but everyone suspected a young scenester named Linda Cardinal (Miss Lyn); after all, she knew everybody and seemed to be at every show in town. At the urging of Willie “Loco” Alexander, Linda took the idea of Boston Groupie News and ran with it, rechristening herself “Miss Lyn” to maintain a mantle of anonymity. About a year later, the little DIY ’zine had become so popular that a scenester named Paul Lovell published his own parody version, The No-Good Groupie News. Before long, Miss Lyn and Paul—now known as Blowfish—started to collaborate, and together they published about seven years worth of BGN. Flash forward to 2002 and, suddenly there was this new thing called the Internet, rendering the cost and bother of publishing a paper fanzine irrelevant. Blowfish suggested to Miss Lyn that they build a BGN website and voila! Over a decade later, Boston Groupie News.com continues to cover bands and shows and all manner of punk music pouring out of town, as well as providing an archive of all the back issues. We caught up with the dynamic duo of Boston underground gossip to find out how they do it.
Noise: While BGN.com is an archival site for the fanzine, obviously what keeps people coming back is the news page with your latest updates on bands and concerts. What motivates you to keep going out to the clubs, checking out the old bands, and discovering new ones? How much of BGN is about nostalgia and how much of what you do is driven by the love of live music?
Blowfish: The main function of the BGN is to keep the ideas, spirit, and camaraderie of the early Boston punk scene alive. The years we are talking about are roughly 1975 to 1980. We don’t wallow in that and think nothing else is good, but that era affects the way we do things. I love rock and looking for good old loud rock was the reason I found the groups that became the Boston punk scene. My main motivation would be live music.If punk never happened I’d be out there trying to get a kick out of what was there. I find the only relief from horrible everyday life is that live music experience.
Miss Lyn: There are two things that motivate me… seeing friends at the clubs and the BGN! If we disbanded the BGN tomorrow, I doubt I would go out to see bands anymore. Even though I love seeing the bands live and enjoy live music much more than listening to recordings at home, I would lose the motivation to actually do it if I didn’t have the BGNto report it every week. I don’t think much of the BGN is about nostalgia… we present the past issues and interviews as historical information, as a repository for people to access the past, but we live very much in the present. I know a lot of people on the scene who bemoan the passing of “our time” and harp on about how “it’s not like it used to be”… well of course not. That was 30 years ago… things are different now… let’s move on, I say!
Noise: Clearly in Boston there is a community of—let’s politely call them veteran bands—from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, and your coverage clearly demonstrates that it’s a real community of lifelong friends and comrades. Do you get the sense that Boston’s new generation of bands has that same sense of community, or has much become too much of a commodity?
Blowfish: Ha, even back in the day it was a commodity. All those bands were selling themselves. There was lots of backstabbing to get the good deals and gigs. The new bands seem just like the old bands to me. They are all struggling and working hard to be heard though the din. There are groups of smaller groups like the house bands or the hardcore bands that play weekends in the halls and those people work together. I don’t know if every city is like this, but Boston bands of all kinds network and cooperate.
Miss Lyn: The people I see at Radio, and who used to hang at the Abbey, most definitely have a strong community. I see it all the time in their interactions in the clubs and it reminds me of being at the Rat or Cantone’s when I was in my 20s. They are friends and they are enlivened by the sight of each other and the music. They are each other’s family just as we were back in the day. It’s wonderful to see and I am really happy it still exists. The “music scene” is so huge now that there are innumerable factions within it. But within those factions, and sometimes across more than one, you can see the camaraderie and community there. About being a commodity—frankly I think there are a lot of bands nowadays who know they’ll never become famous… they do it for the fun of it, and that can be a relief sometimes! For them and for us!
Noise: Looking at the clubs, the fans, and the bands of today, what’s your opinion of the current state of Boston’s music scene? What’s changed the most since you started doing this?
Blowfish: For decades (I can’t believe I can say that) I have heard people complain that there aren’t enough clubs and places to play until now. The club scene now is way healthy, loads of places to play. There are many changes. One big one is the computer and that’s all good. For me now everything is more fun but less exciting. Not that things aren’t exciting, but nothing beats the excitement of those early days. Everything was new and we were figuring out how to do things on our own. Another element was the violence against the punk community. That was scary. You always had to be on your guard. I’m glad that ended. That one of the reasons things are more fun… no violence and a lack of stress that being older brings.
Noise: If you had to nominate a Boston musician who should have been a superstar and wasn’t (for whatever reasons), who would you pick and why?
Miss Lyn: John Felice has written some incredibly great songs, anthems really, but I say David Minehan… he had, and still does have, an amazing star quality about him. And The Neighborhoods as a band seemed to be on the brink of stardom. I never understood why they never became bigger than, say, The Cars… they should have…much better songs, better personalities and looks. I‘ve heard some stories over the years as to why… but it’s a shame they didn’t become international rock stars.
Noise: Gonna put you on the spot now: It’s been a long time, you’ve seen a lot of great acts come and go. Who was/is your all-time favorite Boston rocker, band, or individual?
Blowfish: Easy to answer—Miss Lyn. I’m so glad I met her and have been able to do the BGN for all these years. If she wasn’t there… I don’t know; I don’t know.
Miss Lyn: Everybody knows I have a soft spot for Willie Loco. Among other things, I would most likely never done the BGN if it weren’t for him.
Noise: Finally, let’s look toward the future. What are you most looking forward to in 2014 in terms of Boston music, or the Boston Groupie News?
Blowfish: So far this year, there has been all sorts of action on the scene. We are looking forward to a new interactive web site someone is starting up linking clubs with groups for the early punk years—no name for it yet. The Boys From Nowhere is a film that looks like it will be amazing and is almost finished. Let’s Go to the Rat is another movie that’s getting done. I just retired and am slowly getting over the early glow of freedom and am looking forward to getting some more info into the website—pages on Lou Miami and Marc Thor and a review of many of the early Boston fanzines that didn’t last too long. So many are forgotten.