A one-off musical experiment launched for the CUTS New Music at Columbia University album circa 1983, Charlotte’s Web was a fleeting supernova born in the nebula stretching between the early-80s breakup of Columbia University’s Mystery Dates and the formation of The Nightmares.
Charlotte’s Web was a fake band, a one-off project put together by Philip Shelley for the CUTS New Music at Columbia University album in 1983. CUTS was a compilation album funded by student activities that aimed to capture some of the bands in the burgeoning Columbia music scene. This was after the Mystery Dates broke up but before Philip’s next band, the Nightmares (
Says Philip, “Tom Oritt, the guy who was behind the CUTS project approached me to record a song, and since I was between bands, I just pulled together some uptown musician friends. I was a kid in a candy store, asking all the musicians I really admired, but had mostly never had a chance to play with before—it was like putting together a crack session crew. There was a rule that they had to be mostly Columbia-affiliated for the recording.”
“I think the fake band name was a last-minute thing,” Philip continues. “Like Tom Oritt called me up when they were about to print the cover, so I just said ‘Uh...Charlotte's Web,’ maybe because the book was on the table in front of me when he called, or something like that. Obviously not a real band, we never played a gig or recorded anything else. The lineup was: Dave Capello, who I knew from the Malibu Dolphins, played drums. Steven Bernstein, also an ex-Dolphin, and now the famous leader of Sex Mob, played trumpet. Tex Lyon, who was in the Ex-Husbands, and with whom I played later in the Nightmares and the Amazing All-Girl Band, played all the guitars. Gideon Rosen, ex-Mystery Date, played keyboards and helped with the arrangement stuff. John Travis, also an ex-Mystery Date played bass—maybe the last time I ever saw him. My old CBGB friend Carrie Hamilton stopped by to sing the backing vocals.”