Skokie Band That Tried To Save High School 48 Years Ago Reunites For Pop Festival

By: Scott Samuels
Phaze Portrait Smaller
Phaze Portrait Smaller
CHICAGO - April 20, 2024 - PRLog -- Back in 1976, when five NIles East students who formed the rock band Phaze learned of a decision to close their high school by 1980, they came up with a plan to save it.  With funding from the Niles East Student Council, they recorded and released a 45-rpm record called "Save Niles East," now a collector's item on eBay.

The members of Phaze will reunite to perform together for the first time in 48 years, when bandleader Scott Samuels performs at the International Pop Overthrow Festival at Chicago's Montrose Saloon, on Saturday, April 27th, at 3:30pm.  International Pop Overthrow (or IPO, as it has affectionately become known) is a long-running pop music festival which has been held for twenty-two straight years in Los Angeles and in many other cities during its run.  The Chicago version of the festival takes place from April 19th to April 27th at the Montrose, 2933 W. Montrose Avenue.

Back when "Save Niles East" was recorded, at the radio studios of neighboring New Trier West high school, sales of the record to the students of Niles East were slow to say the least. "They played it on the PA system in school during homeroom a few times," Samuels recalled.  "It sounded awful, because the speakers in home room were not well suited to reproducing music."  The release of the song got some attention in local newspapers, a meeting with a deejay at WLS radio, and inclusion in a "time capsule" on the property of Niles East.

Though the closed Niles East was often used as high school in films such as "Risky Business," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", and "Sixteen Candles", it was demolished in stages after being acquired by Oakton Community College in 1981.

The Niles East Student Council gave the five members of the band (Samuels, Jerry Minetos, Chuck Heftman, Ed Yep, and Carl Taibl) the unsold copies of the 500-record pressing.  "We stayed together for another year after my graduation in '76," said Samuels, a singer-songwriter and performer now based in the San Diego area.  "We sold most of our copies at our gigs, and divided up the leftovers."  The record routinely turns up on eBay and other vinyl auction sites, where it fetches $30-$50 per copy as a "high school garage band classic recording."

Since then, Samuels has built a long-running musical career, releasing several CDs and touring throughout the country, with original songs that focus on the power pop genre, a rock and roll style made popular by bands like the Raspberries, Cheap Trick and the Plimsouls, among others. He has performed at International Pop Overthrow Festivals in Los Angeles and San Diego several times since the mid-1990s, and this will be his first Chicago area performance since 2016. Heftman, of Glencoe, Minetos, of Park Ridge, and Yep of Mount Prospect will be the backing band for this appearance, joined by Paul Cox of Highland Park, bass player of Chicago cover band Now and Then.

"Our set wouldn't be complete without performing "Save Niles East," Samuels said.  "We're hoping to see a lot of school alumni at the show."


Source:Scott Samuels
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Tags:Skokie, Niles East, International Pop Overthrow
Location:Chicago - Illinois - United States
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