Patty Donahue - lead vocals; Chris Butler - guitar, vocals; Tracy Wormsworth - bass; Mars Williams - saxophone; Dan Klayman - keyboards; Billy Ficca - drums; Ariel Warner - background vocals
Although the late Patty Donahue, lead vocalist for the quirky new wave band the Waitresses, was the front woman who got most of the attention, it was actually guitarist/vocalist Chris Butler who was, in many ways, the heart and soul of the Kent, Ohio based band. It was Butler who assembled the band when he and Donahue were signed to a record deal after shopping a couple of homemade demos. And it was Butler who wrote nearly all the band's material. Being a fan of all styles of music and being attracted to groups that made complex, arrangement-driven rock, Butler set out to form a band that would fall somewhere between the challenging musicianship of Frank Zappa and modern punk-ism of Blondie. In 1980, he and Donahue assembled an act that included (in addition to themselves) Tracy Wormsworth on bass, Mars Williams on sax, Dan Klayman on keyboards and Billy Ficca on drums. Combined with backing vocalist Ariel Warner, they were called the Waitresses. Within months, they had become darlings of the Cleveland-Kent, Ohio music press and a top draw at clubs like the Agora Ballroom.
The demo that snagged Butler the deal with Polydor was a song he had recorded with Donahue called "I Know What Boys Like," which was a breakout radio hit upon the release of the record Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful? Another song, a seasonal holiday tune called "Christmas Wrapping," scored the band another radio hit, which is still played regularly on FM stations across the U.S. during the Christmas season. Upon the success of "I Know What Boys Like," the band was invited to perform on the King Biscuit Flower Hour, at the legendary My Father's Place club on Long Island. "For the Waitresses," says Butler, "being asked to perform on the King Biscuit Flower Hour was a big thrill. Back in Kent, Ohio, for many of us who were musicians, King Biscuit was required listening." Adds Butler, "At the time, I was amazed they were doing new wave bands like us!"
The Waitresses were formed nearly a decade after Butler, with his classmates Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh, protested the Vietnam War against the National Guard while attending Kent State in May of 1970 (Casale and Mothersbaugh, of course, would go on to form Devo). After this show, the Waitresses returned to the studio to write and record a second LP, which failed to have the impact of the band's debut. Members grew restless and started to leave, and 18 months after the success of "I Know What Boys Like," the Waitresses had crashed and burned.
After the band's dissolution in 1983, Butler went on to write and record several successful records, and Donahue became an A&R rep for a label. Sadly, she died of cancer in 1997, essentially putting an end to any attempts to reunite the band. Among the highlights of this show are: "Wise Up," "I Could Rule The World?," "I Know What Boys Like," "Pussy Strut" and the bouncy new wave epic "Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful?" with its perfect line, "What's a Girl to do? Scream and screw?"