"I used to play in rock bands," says 2008 SDMA nominee Bob Bartosik. "The most notorious being Housecoat Project, which made a couple albums and toured the USA several times." The jazz saxophonist also did soundtrack music for a 2007 documentary film about author Hubert Selby Jr., It'll Be Better Tomorrow.
Bartosik received an SDMA nomination in 2008 for Best Jazz Album, for his record Double Triple. "All instrumental songs on the CD," says Bartosik, "except I'm doing vocals, my best Tom Waits, on the classic public domain tune St. James Infirmary. I learned St. James Infirmary from Dodo, a 85+ year old singer and ex-burlesque dancer who I used to perform with in San Francisco. Raising a glass to Dodo now, wherever she may be."
In 2008, Bartosik released a Christmas album with Reverend Stickman, combining holiday instrumentals with a few vocal tracks. Songs include “Carol of the Bells,” “Santa Claus is Coming To Town,” and “Sleigh Ride.”
Regarding his old punk band Housecoat Project, “Our first guitarist Eric Rad died onstage mid-song at the Mabuhay Gardens, from an apparent heart attack,” says Bartosik.
After not playing for 20 years, Bartosik and Housecoat Project reconciled for a July 2009 reunion show in San Francisco that included singer Meri St. Mary (sister of Matt Resovich, of Black Heart Procession and the Album Leaf) and guitarist Jay Crawford, who had replaced the late Eric Rad (best known for manufacturing ZZ Top’s custom guitars). “Meri, Jay, and I hadn’t played together since 1988, but I had built a MySpace page for the band, and that got Meri and I back in touch. She had become clean and sober…the main issue that caused our breakup was her drug use. It’s hard to tour with a junkie.”
The group’s unreleased 1988 album came out in October 2010, courtesy of Subterranean Records, the SF label known for launching Flipper and the Dead Kennedys. “We recorded the album immediately after a national tour that had the band on the verge of breaking up. Our first album Wide Eye Doo Dat had been successful on the indie charts, but the next recording sessions killed the band. After the tour, we should have just taken time off.”
“It’s very strange for me to have such an old recording being released now,” says Bartosik. “I play so much better now, but I can hear my first inklings of my jazz playing coming out on this album, like a very rough Coltrane quote in one tune.”