Caucasian Guilt – Noh Mercy flashback

In the late seventies, I remember seeing a band called “Noh Mercy” at the SF School for the Deaf on Valencia Street (a venue now gone) featuring just two women – Esmeralda and Toni. Toni was a tough, swaggering butch lesbian who was also an on and off junkie, and Esmeralda was het but a very femme and glamorous yet tough as nails dark haired singer, magnetic and sultry, yet raw. Both women were white, yes, far as I could tell. Esmeralda went on to do her own one woman thing without Toni in time, Esmeralda then simply called her act “Esmeralda”. Noh Mercy was just drums and Esmeralda’s large voice and theatrical presence, as I remember. And was one of the earliest punk bands with a very strong female presence in San Francisco. There was another then here in town called VS. Noh Mercy had a very unique sound, with just the drums and the voice. Anyway, here, an edgy and possibly ah, offensive song for some, on white guilt. It is true that in those days, certain types of art and music happened that could probably not happen now I think, people are so much more careful to not offend — back then, in that early punk scene, I think it was all about offending and breaking through artifice. I remember this song from 1979, and saw it performed live a few times. And, well, as I’ve always said, “a little white guilt goes a long ways”, and as a non-white person — I actually, find it annoying and counterproductive. Any way, here goes:


11 thoughts on “Caucasian Guilt – Noh Mercy flashback

  1. 監視器 November 26, 2010 / 6:40 pm

    Wonderful article post on the blog bro. This particular is just a tremendously nicely structured blog post, just the data I was looking just for. Thank you

    • libertywolf November 29, 2010 / 8:12 am

      Thank you! I hope you come back to Liberty Wolf, I post usually each week at least. It’s a new project and I am enjoying it.

  2. Phillip Ranelli November 30, 2011 / 4:59 am

    Thanks for info. I am trying to track down any recordings by Esmeralda? She used to do these wonderful, wild shows at ChiChi Club on Broadway, SF. I had a live cassette from a radio broadcast in SF, Ca in 1980’s. but it broke, and I am trying to get-find information about Esmeralda and recordings of her .
    any ideas?
    I have had no luck searching internet so far.
    thank you,
    Phillip Ranelli

      • Phillip Ranelli April 17, 2012 / 3:10 am

        Thanks for digging this up – great news and they re-appear 4/22 @ Cafe DuNord. Mucho Gracias

    • nerd3d January 21, 2013 / 9:23 pm

      Hello Phillip, I think I may have had a recording of your live radio broadcast tape on a copy of a tape a friend had made at a friend of a friends house he visited on a trip to San Francisco about 1987/1988. I remember it vividly as it was one of coolest recordings I had ever heard. My friend had recorded it on a cassette making an impromptu comp featuring things like Airstrip One, Suburban Lawns, and Kate Fagan. Being a huge fan of female punk vocalists I instantly fell in love with it and played the copy (and extra copies) I had made till the tapes wore out and were lost forever.
      There were 3 songs from Esmerelda: Take Your Rapist by the Hand, Don’t Dance and Saving Myself. Each was equally incredible and incomparable to anything else I have come across since. They were recorded in front of a small audience as there were cheers at the end of the songs and each sounded as if they were accompanied by a single casio keyboard with a drum machine. I wondered if it was from a 7″ single released in the early 80’s, but have never found anyone who has ever heard of these tracks. I have emailed Rodney Bingenheimer and he didn’t remember these tracks, and have asked countless record collectors and record shop owners for the past 20 years searching for them. If these tracks sound familiar to you please confirm to me that they DID ACTUALLY EXIST and that I’m not losing my mind here. If I knew they were from a radio show or an event, I could do my best to try to track down another copy to share with friends and future generations. Thanks

      • Phillip Ranelli January 22, 2013 / 9:21 pm

        nerd3d, They exist on tape and/or a radio show, no vinyl. Esmerelda used to do shows in the mid 80’s at small places in the Mission district, Sf, Ca, and specifically at the CHi CHi club ( a real small place -lounge on Broadway , across from the Mabuhay Gardens – and she was/is awe inspiring and quite intense live!! never missed her) and she would have a casio & drum machine, sometimes one or two other musicians- all very small places or galleries, max 100 people. No records ever released as far as i know, that is why i cherished the tape ( I believe KUSF or KALX broadcast, but I am pretty sure a college radio station broadcast of a taping) of her live show. If anyone can help you check in :1) with V.Vale from Research Publications /Search and Destroy ,mag. Phone # (415) 362-1465 Vale documented the SF punk/music scene and is a cool dude ( I ran into him recently so i know he is still in SF). 2) although KUSF is now defunct see if they have an archive- I am pretty sure that is where I made my copy from (UCSF’s KUSF old radio station) , 3) KALX radio station – Berkelely ( if it was not KUSF), , 4) check in with publishers of Maximum Rock N’Roll a punk zine that started in 1977 in San Francisco and still fights the good fight. and lastly maybe folks at Superior Viaduct PO Box 193363 sF Ca 94119 ( they put out the NOH mercy disc) Please let me -us know what you find and for now the NOH Mercy disc gives us a taste.

      • Phillip Ranelli January 23, 2013 / 1:49 am

        Part 2: nerd3D please also check stations KPOO or KPFA , and possibly KFOG, but I am fairly positive that the tape was made of one of the SF Bay Area colllege/alternative radio stations in the mid 80’s (KUSF, KALX< KPOO or KPFA) that covered punk -new wave, and she was doing her solo thing in the 1980's – just thinking of how mesmerizing Esmerelda's performances were made me -re-search house for tape and I still cannot locate – DRAG – happy hunting (worth locating _ i know of no other performer/artist who does what she did) – spellbinding – phillip

  3. libertywolf April 17, 2012 / 2:11 am

    Thanks SV that is great info and I hope that helps out Phillip. I had no idea, but I am glad you found this and posted. I may purchase this myself. Great and unique band!

    • Phillip Ranelli April 17, 2012 / 2:49 am

      FYI when you click the
      This Sunday 4/22 @ Cafe Du Nord
      SF Legends NOH MERCY (Record Release Show)
      Date: Sunday, 4/22
      Show: 7:30 pm
      Doors: 7:00 pm
      Door: $12.00
      Ages: 21+
      Release Party – Sunday, April 22nd
      Café Du Nord, San Francisco

      NOH MERCY’s first show in 30+ years!
      ERASE ERRATA opens. Get there early.

      • libertywolf April 17, 2012 / 4:38 am

        If I still lived in SF, I’d be there in a whisper. Dang, I moved a few months ago! May not be away too long, but I will be away for this show. I do hope someone tapes it. Have a great time!

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