Song Of The Day: 'Little Dudes' By Pee Shy

Post by: Rick Ellis 30 May, 2021

If you're a fan of odd, catchy rock/pop, the 1990s era was a golden era. It's not there's not stuff that is just as perfect being released in 2021. But while today's budding bands are releasing their stuff on Bandcamp, the 1990s was the last gasp of music labels signing bands they didn't understand. They knew the public's tastes were changing but they didn't know why or how. So the big labels signed all of these quirky bands that either weren't quite ready or were probably too fringe to break big nationally. 

Tampa's Pee Shy is the perfect illustration of that trend. The band began as a duo - local bookstore owner/poet Cindy Wheeler and community radio DJ Jenny Juristo. They began playing at Tampa-area poetry readings in late 1993 and within a year, they had added two more members, released two home-produced EPs and in December 1994, they were featured in Interview Magazine and that publicity sparked a bidding war between Sony & Polygram.

That would be a remarkably fast career path for anyone, but it was especially challenging for a band whose sound was an unpredictable mash-up of accordion, clarinet and quirky beat-poet voices. Their music was often great, but even in the best of circumstances it would be a tough sell to audiences who had no idea who they were. It didn't help that when "Who Let All The Monkey's Out?" finally came out in 1996, alternative rock was exploding, making it an even bigger challenge to get attention.

"Little Dudes" was the lead single off the album and despite some good reviews, the song and the album sank without a trace. Wheeler said in several later interviews that the album sold less than 1,000 copies during its first four months, despite the positive press and a solid job of production by Galaxie 500 frontman Dean Wareham. Written by Wheeler, "Little Dudes" was about the tendency of her and Juristo to date much younger men and the song is a great example of Pee Shy's sound at the time: catchy, odd snippets of seemingly random music that you can't get out of your head.

On the other hand, some of the lyrics of the song bordered on creepy in 1996 and seem downright unsettling in 2021, especially when you watch the video below:

"One drinks beer and one drinks gin/We like the little boys & not the men
We keep our eyes open for the little dudes/because they never try and tell us what to do"

"Where are you little dude?/Don't you know I'm in love with you
Well, I ain't old enough to be your mom/But you were six years old when I went to the prom"

"You hardly have to shave around that smile/Please don't think I'm a pedophile."

Despite the commercial failure of "Who Met All The Monkey's Out?," Mercury released a second album, "Don't Get Too Comfortable," in 1998. Produced by Brad Jones, the album's more guitar-driven pop sound garnered the band solid reviews and the song "Mr. Wheeler" received airplay on a number of college and alternative rock stations. 

But by the end of the year, the band broke up for reasons that were never explained by either Wheeler or Juristo, other than some vague comment along the lines of "it was time." Eventually, Wheeler and Pee Shy bassist Mary Catherine Guidera founded the Brooklyn-based band The Caulfield Sisters. Jurristo continues to record and perform as a solo act under the name Go Jenny. Drummer Billy Orrico is a New York based television and film sound editor. He's received two Emmy nominations for sound editing, including for work on HBO's Boardwalk Empire.


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Last modified on Sunday, 30 May 2021 17:06