As we come to the tail of end of summer here, there’s a song that always comes to mind. The song: I Wanna Be A Lifeguard. The band: Blotto.
I Wanna Be A Lifeguard – Blotto
Coming from Albany, New York, the band Blotto came out with some of the best examples of mixing music and humor. I have very limited patience for “novelty” songs but Blotto’s best songs hold up well (IMO).
Starting in 1978 as a “post-hippie” comedy jugband called The Star Spangled Washboard Band, they eventually morphed in a music that combined new wave and soul/R&B, with comedic themes. As part of the joke – and as an homage to the Ramones, the band members took the name “Blotto” as their surnames, making them sextuplets of different mothers (there’s Bowtie Blotto, Sergeant Blotto, and Broadway Blotto, Blanche Blotto, Cheese Blotto and Lee Harvey Blotto).
They began to get a following and began playing in the New York City area clubs such as The Ritz, SNAFU, and My Father’s Place. New York City radio station WNEW-FM began playing their initial recording of “I Wanna Be A Lifeguard,” as well as the Dr. Demento Show, They began touring frequently especially among Northeast college towns.
They self released two EPs on their own Blotto Records label and with the assistance of video production students at SUNY Albany, they produced an early music video for “I Wanna Be A Lifeguard”. The video was played on the first day the MTV aired and for a while was in frequently rotation. Eventually, Sony put out a “Video 45” on VHS that featured three videos from Blotto including including “I Wanna Be A Lifeguard”.
As much as I like “I Wanna Be A Lifeguard”, I think Blotto were at their best with a song from their first EP called “We Are The Nowtones”, a brilliant send-up of the all purpose lounge lizard bands you would find playing at that hotel bar just off the highway. This song shows that these guys had skills as they would quick change through different musical styles in the course of a single verse.
We are the Nowtones- Blotto
In December 2020, a June 1980 show from My Father’s Place in Roslyn, Long Island was released on Spotify (“Blotto: Live at My Father’s Place 6/26/1980” ) that provides a listen to their fun live shows at a time when the band just started to tour. Check it out.