The Flashcats
H I S T O R Y

"Giant Toothbrush Night" ... "Throw-A-Pie-At-Pete Night" ...
"Night Of The Singing Dead" ... Ten tons of sand ...
Red Rose Tea bags thrown into the audience ...
30 people onstage in cowboy hats singing "Bonanza"
... Car fenders ... Motorcycle crashes ...
Bull Moose Jackson...

The Flashcats have never been your run-of-the-mill band...

Miss CindyFormed in 1979 by manager/drummer Carl Grefenstette, The Flashcats have developed a stage show that is wild, unpredictable, and often messy. With their R&B-driven rock, you can easily dance the night away ... just watch your head if Sweet Petetrumpeter Sweet Pete Loria is hanging from the balcony. Says Grefenstette, "We've done a million gigs, and the best way to keep it exciting is to throw in some surprises. Generally, only half of the band knows what's going to happen next, so it's as much fun for us as it is for the audience!"

Every Flashcat Fan has their own favorite Flashcat event: Cindy's Bug Opera ... Pete dressed in a bee suit, playing Flight Of The Bumble Bee while swinging over the audience on a rope tied to the 40' ceiling ... Sax-man Crusher's acting out Bassist Jim Jr's song, Tow Truck Boys, complete with crash effects and Cindy and Pete as angels ... the Flashcat 3-D glasses ... painting the entire front of the Liberty Lounge to look exactly like Three Rivers Stadium for The Bull Moose Jackson Victrola Tour... Cindy and Pete in one Santa suit as The-Two-Headed-Chernobyl-Santa-Claus ... Audience members with Flashcat kazoos joining Crusher singing Purple People Eater ... and, of course, everyone's favorite pass-out-the-lyrics sing-a-long Get Offa My Car!

Billboard Magazine first mentioned The Flashcats in 1980 with the release of their first 45, Baby Baby Ooo. Music News magazine called the band's first LP, Twelve Arms To Hold You "the finest independently released album of 1982!" Trouser Press said, "The LP is chock full of mid-60s type R&B so good you'd swear the tunes weren't originals." In 1983, The Flashcats won a national Warner Communications award for the video of their second 45, Appetite For Love. The next LP, Show Me in 1984, was described by The Detroit Monitor as "some of the best juke-joint music in America today."

In 1984 The Flashcats met and recorded with 1940s R&B legend Bull Moose Jackson. Grefenstette explains, "The only cover tune we ever recorded was Bull Moose's Nosey Joe, and we mentioned his name whenever we played it. One night Pittsburgh R&B DJ Howard Kozy (aka Bumble Bee Slim) told me that Moose was still alive and working in a cafeteria in Washington, DC. The next day I called him and asked if I could fly him to Pittsburgh to do a show with us. It was a tremendous success, and we developed a close relationship that lasted the rest of Bull Moose's life."

in L.A. with MooseThe Flashcats' recordings with Bull Moose, the 45 Get Off The Table Mable (The Two Dollars Is For The Beer) and the 1985 LP Moosemania! were his first in 30 years, and led to world-wide favorable reviews and revival of his career. Cadence Magazine, The American Review Of Jazz & Blues, said, "...pushed to the hilt by the first-rate Flashcats, Moosemania! is the party album of 1986!"

The Flashcats appeared from New York to Hollywood with Bull Moose and exposed him to an entire new generation of fans. Bull Moose appeared at New York's Carnegie Hall, toured Europe, and generally had a grand time in his final years. Sadly, Moose passed away in 1989, but all of his recordings with The Flashcats are available on the CD Bull Moose Jackson, The Final Recordings.

In 1994, Appetite For Love was selected by Pittsburgh Magazine as "One Of The 10 Greatest Pittsburgh Rock & Roll Classics."

Thirty years ago the band recorded its first annual Flashcat Christmas Record, which was given away free to the Fan Club Members. The yearly 45s eventually gave way to longer cassettes, and in 1990 The Flashcats Christmas Record #10 was a CD compilation of the first 10 years of Christmas songs. "When we first formed the band," says Grefenstette, "we were continually performing and recording, six, seven, eight days a week. The Christmas Record was a good change of pace, and a way for us to give something back to the Fan Club. Now, it's a part of the grand scheme of life on earth, and it couldn't be stopped even if we wanted to."

1998 brought the release of the CD Flashcats Christmas Record #18, 1991-1998, a 26-song collection of the previous 8 years' Christmas Records along with some new tunes. The song "December Twenty 5," from Christmas Record #19, was included on the Rhino Records Christmas release "Mambo, Santa, Mambo." And in 2010, The Flashcats completed an impressive milestone: the release of Flashcat Christmas Record #30. It's a 4 CD, 100 song retrospective that also includes new material. Many of the Christmas records are still available from Bogus Records.

In the early 1990s, the Flashcats decided to take a break from their 5-and-6-nights-a-week pace to allow them time to pursue other projects. Says Grefenstette, "We were branching out musically, professionally, and personally. There were new bands to discover, new cities to explore, and for some members, new children to be raised." The band members continued to be an extended family, however, celebrating memories and milestones, and sharing joys and sorrows as the years fly by.

Sweet Pete videoIn January of 2001, the Flashcats suffered a tremendous blow when Sweet Pete passed away after a long and brave fight with cancer. "It was like losing a member of the family," says Grefenstette. "Pete was like a brother to me. He was one of the funniest, warmest guys you could ever know, and things just won't be the same without him." The Flashcats celebrated Sweet Pete's talent and contribution to the band with the release of the documentary "Ladies & Gentlemen, Sweet Pete" at a benefit concert for Loria's family the following summer.

Through 2012 the band continued to perform once or twice a year. And the fans were out in full force, since they too were part of the Flashcat family. The Christmas Records continued as well, with CDs through 2010, free digital downloads in 2008 and 2011 and videos in 2012.

Sadly, though, November 2013 brought a tragic occurrence when bass player Jim Jr died in an auto accident. It is unlikely that the remaining band members will perform again under the Flashcat name.

Says Grefenstette, "Some of the best times of my life were performing with this band and I cherish those memories. I will miss Pete and Jim as long as I'm alive. But I'm thankful for the great experiences we had and the wonderful Flashcat fans we met along the way." 

 

Flashcats Airlines
Fly the friendly Flashcat skies!
(One of the band's larger props.)

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