In One Ear: Notes From the Local Music Scene


Matt Gromala, Columnist

There was overwhelming reader response to my last walk down music memory lane, which means readers want to know more about regional music history.  There is much more to learn and explore, and perhaps the information might even inspire more people to preserve historic venues, or visit contemporary ones to breathe life back into the local scene.

Lest We Forget: Sea-Sea’s

Sea-Sea’s was a venue in Moosic that seems like it was open forever – well not forever, but a long time for a local venue, at least by today’s standards.

I can’t seem to find any mention online of the place prior to the ‘90’s, but as I was writing this, my dad chimed in that he remembers drinking there a few times in the 70s but he’s not totally sure.

I wonder why.

Whenever it opened, the place was one of those venues you hear about but you never had the chance to visit. It closed at the turn of this century, when I was in Kindergarten.

But as much as I heard about Sea-Sea’s, I realized I didn’t really know a lot about it. That’s the reason I decided to write about it and educate myself about a storied space of immense importance to the scene at one time.

“I would never compare anything to CBGB, but Sea-Sea’s was our CBGB,” said Walter Phillips, Stroudsburg, who spent much of the ‘90’s going to shows there.

The story of Sea-Sea’s is one for the newspapers, and it is told there in many editions throughout the years. An article in The Times Leader from 2000 detailed the owner’s efforts to fight an injunction by authorities that shut the doors permanently. The building burned down a few years later.

But I’m certainly not here to trash an historic venue long after its demise.

Sea-Sea’s provided a place for local acts to hone their skills and for locals to catch live acts on the weekends. My buddy Connor’s older brother, Brian Langan (now a resident of Philly) who used to be in a band called Wonderdog, played Sea-Sea’s many times, including the band’s first show ever.

Langan has fond memories of the place. “I remember drinking a lot of Arizona iced tea and the pizza being pretty good and there being a volleyball court out back,” Langan said.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wackiness at this place. Many of the stories are utterly unprintable, but I’ve included some others in a separate section at the end.

Sea-Sea’s didn’t just showcase local acts; it brought well-known bands into the area.

“I know Quiet Riot played there once. A lot of bands that got ‘warped tour big’ played there, like Reel Big Fish, The Toasters, Earth Crisis, Hatebreed,” Langan said.

Other acts that graced the stage at Sea-Sea’s include Agnostic Front, Burial Ground, Dropkick Murphy’s, Cannibal Corpse, Type O Negative and so many others. It really was a Who’s Who of the hardcore and punk genres.

Honestly, a list of every big act to ever play there would probably fill the entire paper.

Bobby Keller, of Scranton, also has fond memories of the place and the acts that played there. It sparked his love of music. “I think I was 15 the first time I went. My older brother was always going and telling me about all the awesome bands he would see, like Weston.”

In fact, Keller is now the Entertainment Director at Ale Mary’s in Scranton, and he promotes shows there whenever he can. (On Dec. 3 he’s bringing Michale Graves, formerly of The Misfits, to Ale Mary’s for an acoustic show.)

One of his fondest memories was a show with Boston-based Hardcore band A.C., during which the lead singer got so amped up that he started throwing chairs into the audience and ended up hitting a member of the band Society’s Threat, also playing that night.

The legacy of Sea-Sea’s is that of a place that, as I said, let bands hone their skills. It had an energy all its own, a place people came back to, week after week, just to hear live music.

But much like the ‘memba berries in this season of South Park, we can’t dwell on the past. For the scene to grow and thrive, yes, the lessons of venues past are valuable, but the scene is ever changing and evolving. Still, a joint that welcomes young musicians to experiment and share their art is a thing many musicians and fans long to see once more.

“We need a place like Sea Seas again, some place for all the young bands to play. That’s what it was about,” said John Rasimovich of Scranton, who also a frequent flyer at Sea-Sea’s in its time.


“This One Time at Sea-Sea’s…”

The place was memorable, both to the musicians that played there and the people who came to listen or just to enjoy a few drinks. In all of my interviews, I asked the question, “What memory of Sea-Sea’s sticks out the most to you?” Many of them can’t be repeated here, but a few can, and here they are:

“Personally my craziest memory was when One King Down was playing and they called me out to dance. So of course I had to do it. I moved for maybe five seconds and wrapped some kid in the head and broke my arm,” said Walter Phillips, Stroudsburg.

“Someone stole my favorite Propain long sleeve in 1998 there. Someone probably still has it, and I want it back,” said Eddie Michael, Wilkes-Barre.

“The time I booked Bad Luck 13 to play there it was with the Murder Junkies, who were G.G. Allin’s ex back up band. It was crazy. Bad Luck was like an event, not just a concert. There were garbage cans flying everywhere, even a barbed wire baseball bat in the pit. Someone was throwing old 78 records around. Good times,” said John Rasimovich, Scranton.

“Strife was playing and sound got messed up. No P.A. system, they kept playing with only the audience doing vocals,” said J.C. Simonetti, Scranton.

I’ll end this with two longer memories. I tried edit them, but some of the meaning would have been lost, so I kept in all.

“There’s the time a bunch of us moved a car that was blocking the car of our friend Russel from The Unmarked Cars. Now he’s in Modest Mouse. One of my favorites is when we had a ridiculously early load in for one of those all day festival things. We were the first ones to show up, and we heard someone ripping guitar solos. We realized the sound was coming from inside but then looked up and saw the sound guy, his name may have been Rocco, wailing solos on the roof through a wireless system. I asked [the owner] what was going on and he said, ‘Oh it’s his birthday. We let him do this every year.’ But I guess my favorite was the second show I’ve ever gone to. It was Chuck from Weston’s last show, and the place was packed and going completely bonkers. That really sucked me in to the entire scene. It was a really important and fun time in my life. There’s footage of it on YouTube,” said Brian Langan, of Philadelphia (born and raised in Scranton).

“In a grand scheme perspective, the prevailing memory of that place is what an enormous role it played in my life. It literally altered the course of my life in a pretty dramatic way. Not only was it a place that I’d regularly go to, but with how [the owner] let me book so many shows over the course of years, it opened up so much more for me. I had my bands, mainly R.S.B. but also some side bands. And with being able to book shows, I was able to help my own band get more out of town shows because I was able to offer bands from other areas shows here. It’s been amazing to see how many people I’m still friends with have gone on to accomplish impressive results with their own bands. And if it wasn’t for Sea Sea’s, I wouldn’t have had such a big part of my life,” said John Leonardi, Scranton.