I bought an upright piano for $100 from Gare St. Lazare. Composer/entrepreneur/mad scientist Sparrow and self-anointed "Bob the Mover" plopped the piano on a dolly and roped it to the back of a pickup truck. Then we hauled the hulk five blocks to my one-room joint.
Now I was all set.
I hung my clothes on the struts of a step ladder, collected $65 a week in unemployment and began my career as a more or less serious songwriter.
Here's the official history, as excerpted from Dean Milano's upcoming book Chicago Music Scene 1970s
From 1975 to 1979, Huge Hart's jaunty pop music attracted critical raves, radio play and a devoted fan base. Wise-cracking singer/songwriter/piano man Hugh Hart, flanked by bass player Jim Morris, guitarist Bruce Barrett and drummer Mark Duran, charmed crowds with rock-meets-Vaudeville tunes documented in their Huge Hart Greatest Hits: Volume II album. Huge alumni also include original drummer Todd Reber plus guitarists Phil Ghallaghan, Steve Fidiuk, Roy Toepper and Ray McKenzie.
Huge Hart's first important gigs happened at Single File, run by the now dead barkeeper Fat Chuck but a cave-like basement club called the Bulls became home base. Populated by gorgeous waitresses, the place stayed open until 5 in the morning, so we played five sets on Saturdays. Cranked on Irish coffees, I'd often tumble onto the icy Lincoln Park streets, hoarse and sweaty, and head to the 24-hour hotel restaurant down the street with brand new friends for eggs, coffee, and gibberish-y chit chat before greeting the dawn,m exhiliarated and exhausted.
At the Bulls, I became entranced with Rokko and the Hat, an elegant trio featuring vocalist Annie Hat, Django Reinhardt-channeling guitarist Elliot Delman, and the act's wry pianist/ringmaster Alaric "Rokko" Jans. Rokko, who later composed the score for David Mamet's House of Games movie and shared a 2008 Tony Award as a member of the Chicago Shakespeare Company, asked me to play a loopharmonica playing imp named Speedoo in Captain Marbles' Acting Squad. I also wrote a few tunes for the show, which was directed by Robert Falls and scripted by William H. Macy. Marbles debuted at Mamet's now-defunct St. Nicholas Theatre Company and got revived in late 2008 by Chicago Department for Cultural Affairs' Store Front Theater.
As Huge Hart gained traction on the club circuit and started playing college gigs that paid real money, Chicago's Artists-In-Residence program hired me on to write musical comedies for its theater troupe. I also scored a "Comedy of Errors" production staged at Navy Pier and played piano for senior citizens. The "Hugo and Me" gig gave me an excuse to dig into the great American songbook from the thirties and forties. With Wendy - - I've forgotten her last name - - and later Sasha Dalton, we'd serenade old folks in various states of alertness with Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin's greatest hits.
Meanwhile, Huge started to rock harder. The Cars, Elvis Costello, Ramones and Sex Pistols inspired me and my bandmates with the notion that rock and decent lyrics did not have to be mutually incompatible.
We released a "triple-sided single," then wrote a rejection letters to record companies' rejecting their rejection letters. In November 1979, Huge played a packed farewell gig at the Bulls and braced for winter.