The Mystery Dates were born in the waning months of 1980, a case of uptown meets downtown, when Philip Shelley, guitarist and principal songwriter for the CBGB-scene’s fave teen art-poppers the Students Teachers met Daniel Wattenberg, lead singer of the Casuals, the reigning surreal funk band on the Columbia scene. With both of their respective bands in the process of falling apart, the two made a pact to join forces when the time was right. Alas, the partnership between the two, while creatively fruitful, was destined to be brief: While some bands were built to last - on the road 250 dates a year, tinkering onstage, tweaking their live show to pique a faithful audience, The Mystery Dates spent longer in the rehearsal room than on stage. The sticky wicket for these Columbia University boys, you see, was finding that always-elusive bassist, a problem that has plagued bands since "Methuselah and the Samaritans" hung out their shingle just after creation. Ironically, the mysteries woven into the lore of this early-eighties Columbia University conglomerate continue to fascinate both music fans and conspiracy theorists alike. Did the world-famous venue Max's Kansas City shut down forever minutes before a Mystery Dates gig (true) mainly to avoid the band's playing there? (mere speculation) Did a leading British weekly rave about the band's final gig (true) to celebrate the band's impending demise? (again, pure conjecture) Whatever you believe, The Mystery Dates certainly inspired rabidity in their fans with witty lyrics in songs like "Wicker and Palm," wherein a besotted summer week at the Cape turns strangely dark, "Winter is coming to this place / Can't predict the weather here / How come there's no Maypo for breakfast, my dear?" Alas, after so many hours logged in rehearsal rooms and so precious few on stages, the band was perhaps best remembered for their impromptu take on "The Joker" during an extended string-change at a gig on Columbia's campus. The man who sparked the avant-garde rendition that made all the papers? The bassist they had searched for so mightily, for so long. Ironic? Sure. But who are we to question the mysteries of The Mystery Dates?