StrayHeart Memories

StrayHeart Memories

The 1980’s music scene in the greater Modesto area kicked off with a bang on the heels of an already growing, electric 1970’s music scene led by area band legions like the Milk house Boys, Silvermoon, Homegrown, The Lights and so many others.

I moved to the Central Valley from the Bay Area in the fall of 1980 and fell in with local musicians Vern Gragg, Bill Morris, and Denise Heltzel. They had already formed an original music-based power trio of sorts they were calling Taxx. By the end of 1982 Taxx had morphed (as so many musical experiments do) into a club band called Metro. Metro’s repertoire included a 60/40 blend of radio hits and original Boggsie music. It was a time of musical self-discovery and awesome experimentation as I truly came into my own as a songwriter. (Even amid MTV, hair bands, hair spray, the New Wave movement, and of course “Jenny Jenny”)

By 1983 Metro became Strayheart and started to draw significant local audiences and regional support from clubs like the Rock Shop in Sacramento, to the Brickworks in Stockton, the Club in Turlock, and C.T. Bucks in Merced, with regular appearances at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz and various San Francisco/Bay Area hot spots.

A Friday night at the Vintage in Modesto was your ticket to great local music and groups like Collage drew an eclectic new wave crowd (a signature sound of the 80’s) and always a good time. I recall a story from a musician friend that he had been at the Vintage in the later afternoon on a Friday evening that Collage was slated to play. The band gear and instruments were all set up. However, there were huge blobs of tin foil ‘eggs” all over the stage. The story has it that once the room filled up, these tin foil eggs, “hatched” and front man/guitarist, Tim Lechuga and his Collage cohort broke into their first number. Just one example of amazing creativity from a simply inspired Modesto music scene.

Strayheart recorded a single (remember them?) which was featured in the hometown greatest hits album by KZAP Sacramento in 1984, and later (1985) after a very successful Alaska stint, a four song EP was released – which prompted bi-coastal management and extensive travel. I think we actually discovered the college circuit – long before it was labeled as such.

I simply cannot rattle off specific details about the many talented musicians and bands that made up the 1980’s music culture in Modesto – too far back – too many minutes have passed. I can tell you with honesty, that the comradery and openness, openness to the success of others – was truly magical. Sure, there were rivalries and oppositions – that is natural in any creative environment – but for the most part – we each fueled one another’s art and, in the end… made each other that much better.

And that, is what a vibrant music scene is all about.


Keith Boggs
aka Tiehead



Posted in: music, news

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