KEN BAKER - GUITAR
I began being taught guitar by my father when I was about 10 years old. He needed a rhythm player so he picked up a used "Sears" (Danelectro) guitar for me! Forty bucks!. Gold, with white binding around the body and a beautiful thin neck. (I guess the neck on his Charlie Christian was just too fat for my little hands, either that, or he just didn't want my fat little hands messin' with his Charlie Christian). Dad was a jazz/big band guy, with a real talent for chord melodies. However, to start me out, he went and borrowed my uncle Melvin's mandolin and we took off with such hits as Oh Them Golden Slippers ,Little Brown Jug etc.. He taught me music theory too. The teaching method went something like: "This songs is in G, 1-2-3-4. This song's in A, 1-2-3-4" you get the drift. It was sink or swim ear training. I did learn how to read the melody to the The Daring Young Man On The Flying Trapeze which I demonstrated for my fifth grade class at show and tell. I had to explain to them what an electric guitar was.. imagine. After that the sheet music went back in the closet and the ear training continued. It didn't take long for me to discover Rock and Roll, via The Ventures and Al Caolla. We started a band in the fifth grade, "The Mysterians". I wrote my first original song "Theme Song", an instrumental. (It had a haunting likeness to "Honky Tonk"). I'm sure it was the work of our guitar player Jim Beri's mother, but somehow we were permitted to do a show during a school day. But "No Dancing"! All the kids were seated in the gym on folding chairs. Afterwards, one of the most beautiful girls in the school, Barbara Ringer, asked our drummer Mark Frazier to sign her arm. I think that was the end of any hopes for any sports career for any of us. Rock On! We continued to play parties. A number of guys went out and bought guitars and wanted to join the band. I made the transition to "Professional" a couple years later in a band called "The Trolls" our show piece tune was Let"s Lock The Door and Throw Away The Key by Jay and the Americans. We played some kind of camp event at Sunset Acres in Marlboro, Oh. We made $3.00 each, which we spent before the gig (organist George Nutial's dad fronted us the money) buying radiant matching purple sweat shirts at the Discount Store. We had arrived! By this time, Dad had gotten his guitar back out and we were chopping away at old standards like Satin Doll, Caravan and continuing my ear training. (This one's in E flat...). My Dad would take me to jam sessions at his playing buddies houses and we would perform our tunes. I loved it! As you can understand, I have many childhood issues with the guitar. When I was about thirteen, dad brought home a "Harmony Rocket" bass from White's Music store. We kind of took turns playing it. I think it was originally bought for my brother Dave, but Dad ran out of steam pretty quick with the lessons, I don't think he had enough left in him to teach another kid, I was a lot of work. (sorry Dave). The bass was like magic, there were gigs every where! First with "Howard and The Rythym Kings". Dad played guitar, and I played bass. We played only the classiest joints. The Alliance Resturant (later known as the The Lamplighter), ( I witnessed my first, and only, pool cue beating). And Groucho's (we did Sundays so the crowd was kind of subdued, or healing). Groucho's was really cool, because Howard hired Billy McCrea and Jack Miller to play with us who I believe were playing with "Billy and the Blazers " at the time. I got really lucky and Dad referred my best friend Mark Frazier to Howard to play drums! It was heaven! Playing I Got A Girl Named Boney Maroney and getting paid! Weekends were never the same. Also there was "Pompi and The Toppers". Pompi was a drummer, he had a small jazz group and bass players were scarce. So my Dad and I covered for him. I truly loved Pompi, he used to book the Sebring American Legion, and the Sebring VFW on the same night, hire the guy's to play them and run back and forth all night to make sure it was going OK. Because of Pompi, I got to hang out with some great players, and quite the cast of characters. Count Heads, Jack Henderson, Ted Bowers, Duke Jenkins, that's about all I remember. Oh wait, my favorite guy, Floyd. Floyd must have been about sixty years old, a great player. He carried around a Hammond B3 with a leslie (the big one) in a Dodge van, by himself! I would get to the gig and there sat Floyd at his organ ready to go! There was no sheet music, who ever the keyboard player was would hold up fingers to signify how many flats, and off we"d go, more ear training. I think it took me two years to learn the changes to Body and Soul. I learned a lot of bass runs by starting with a wrong note and finding my way to the root. Then I would hang out outside while the guy's passed around a pint and talked about how so and so had "Let Them Down On The Gig". The waitress"s at this place we played in Akron,Oh loved me, the cute little white boy with the long eyelashes. They would sit me on there laps during break and tell me how cute I was. (God, no wonder I'm a mess!) The bass guitar opened many doors. "Dale Wright and The Wright Notes" a kickin' polka band, about 8 piece, pay was way above average, almost obscene for the time, sometimes $80!. (and if you think playing polkas is easy, then you've never played with a real polka band) Again, no sheet music, you tended to get more gigs if you were low maintenance. Show up (although for a few years they had to provide transportation) play, get paid. Could life be any better? In high school we formed a band, "The Six Pack", we played the usual sock hops and every other friday at Sunset Ballroom (Marlboro,Oh), opposite weekends of our rivals, "The Destroyers". My parents, God bless them, suffered two big cardboard signs in the back windows of their Pontiac station wagon (the really neat one with the back seat facing backwards) (remember no seat belts?) with "The Six Pack Combo" in huge black letters with a pink florescent background. (I'm sure THAT got us a lot of gigs). That got me through the first two years of high school. The last two years Mark Frazier (my best friend and drummer supreme) and I went big time. First with "The Purple Orange". A friend of ours, Germano Bressan had a gig with some guys from Mt. Union College at the Romanian Club in downtown Alliance, playing every Friday and Saturday night. They had kicked out their drummer, who also did some vocals (Alias, Buzz Hatton for those of you in the know) and hired Mark. Since Mark didn't sing, they hired me too. We were a "soul" band. The first night we played, I remember the owner instructing us... "If a fight should break out, play something slow". So, sure enough, about half way through the night (as in every night we played after that) someone punched someone and the crowd joined in. Our leader, Jim Eister immediately instructed us to start playing "Summertime", so we did, right up to the moment a beer bottle came flying towards the stage, hit a support post, and shattered all over us, we all took cover. The Romanian Club was a happening place. They had a Go Go girl and everything. Mark and I got to see a few of our high school teachers on a social basis there. Every gig was followed by a late night breakfast at the Fireside Inn. The next gig Mark and I got (this is how we worked our way through high school) we hooked up with "Dom Jones". Dom could wail on Delila and What's New Pussycat and a full book of standards and show tunes. We played every Friday and Saturday for what seemed an eternity at the Lamplighter on Main Street, Alliance,Oh. We would spend our breaks listening to Jimi Hendrix on my eight track player, in my '60 Chevy, until some idiot stole my tape player. It wasn't even safe to park in downtown Alliance back then! Tony Favazzo came to Marlington High School our senior year. Tony was totally cool, he played guitar, drove a left hand drive MG sports car and his parents had a small house on their lot that we could jam in. Life just kept getting better. Tony, Mark and I along with a bass player friend Mike Bailey, from St Thomas H.S. played for our senior assembly. We called ourselves "Kenney and The Drag Queens"
1969 and beyond- So...... Dreamer that I was, I started checking into colleges to study music. And excessive dreamer that I was, I chose Mt. Union college and Berkley School of Music in Boston. Now understand, I didn't know how to read music and my father was supporting a family with five boys working as a machinist in a small job shop. Don't get me wrong, it was a great childhood, but indoor plumbing came later in my childhood than most. Not to mention I was C-D student taking "Industrial Arts". Needless to say college didn't happen, so I went to work to support my music habit . I lucked out, my first job was every guitar players dream, working in a sawmill ! Ahh if OSHA could have seen us then! Mark F. immediately hit the road and began his long successful musical career by joining up with the infamous "Measles" in Kent Ohio. So Tony F. and I were on our own. We eventually formed a band named "Harvest". Buzz H. vocalist extraordinaire joined up with us and we were on our way! Buzz had a brand new "Kustom" PA system, the ones that were covered in rolled Naugahide HUGE speakers and about a million watts! (Hey, what do I know, it seemed like a million). He bought it on the "pay as you go" plan. So there were a few occasions when he had to remove it from "The Little House" at Tony's, where we practiced, and store it until a payment could be made or until they just gave up for a while. He also bought a local Sherwin and Williams paint store van to haul equipment. It was a VW with an optional crank start on the front. Eventually, the battery was done and the crank was no longer optional. Part of the deal was that Buzz was to immediately remove the "Cover the world" Sherwin Williams logo and phone number from the sides of the van. Of course this never happened, which we heard resulted in a number of phone calls to the store from distraught paint store customers who had spotted the van parked at various Hot night spots in Alliance at hours not customary for paint store deliveries. I'm sure there were lost sales. Our first big gig as I remember was at "The Portage Iron and Steel Works" in the Portage lakes area. I remember the route there because I vividly remember having to get out of the VW van, packed with equipment, so it could make it up the hill after the railroad tracks on RT 619. The club owners loved us! They advertised us every weekend on the radio and we were playing there TWO nights a week! If there would have been room enough in the VW for me to sleep with the equipment, I for sure would have quit my day job. But before I could make such a rational decision, all came to an end. We showed up for a gig one night, and the doors were chained shut with some kind of warning signs hung up explaining the process for distributing assets to pay debts. Unfortunately, part of the assets was our equipment, which we had begun to leave set up at the club. We did get it back somehow. Harvest went on to other gigs, battles of the bands and a few close encounters with some local business men looking to sign the next Beatles. (There was a lot of that). As bands do, for what ever reason, girl friends, jobs, bruised egos, etc. "Harvest" dissolved. Then, I got a phone call to attend a jam session. I still remember walking down the basement stairs and having my first sighting of Jeff Alviani sitting behind a Hammond organ with an American flag painted on the back. He was a dream come true! A Hammond organ player that that learned Jimmy Smith licks and John Mayhall songs, and could play them! A band was formed on the spot along with gigs at Mt. Union college. A name was needed quickly, Hence the short lived band was formed known as "Kenney and The Rockets"! This also began my college experience. Only I was a "Townie", so my experience was limited to the college after hours scene, and the Ripple flowed! (Yow!) Then Buzz, Jeff, Tony and I hooked up with bass player, Dave Harris and drummer Don Wolfe (Salem) and formed the band "Jabberwock". Our claim to fame was opening for "The Soft Machine" at JB's South in Canton. It was a good run. We were far from stardom, but this was never a real concern to me. Because the big reason for playing, besides the obvious social factors, was what one fellow musician aptly called "The Big Chill". It was the chill you got when everything came together at a moment and sent chills down your back. You could have this happen at practice or a gig or even a jam session, so nothing much mattered for me, except to play. This probably partially explains our practice schedule in those days...... every night. Somehow, it's all a haze now, Jeff went to art school in Cleveland for a year and returned. Upon his return we hooked up with Tony and Buzz, recruited Sam Kibler for a bass player with Don Wolfe back on drums and the band of our dreams came to be, "The North Star Rockers". The little Fender amps and the Hammond L (or was it an M?) were traded in for a Hammond C with two 145 Leslies and two 100 Watt Marshal stacks. With these, along with Sam's Ampeg SVT and PA reflex cabinets that failed to fit through a few club doors, we were equipped to play the Coliseum and it took an 18 foot truck and muliple roadies (Thanks - Mark H, Dobie G, Jimmy M, Mikey B and Nick S) to transport us. Needless to say, we could blow the roof off of Leo"s in Salem, one of our favorite gigs. This band, with a revolving door of players had about a four year run. First, Buzz left, being replaced with Mt. Union College's own, Loyd Meadows on vocals, then Loyd left town, then Buzz came back to town, then Buzz left town, then Loyd came back to town, etc. etc.. Don Wolfe eventually left on drums, and was followed for a long run by Alliance's own Pat Watt. In the last couple of years Tony and I each left the band and returned a couple of times. (at separate times of course). We had a few brief encounters with "Success"such as playing a show case in Pittsburgh and being picked up by a booking agent, only to lose our status by not showing up for the first gig in PA due to an overheated U Haul. Or the "Manager" George we met in Kent. He owned a beautiful white Gibson SG Custom and claimed to have once been a great player but lost his ability due to a terrible auto accident leaving him with amnesia. He wanted to rename the band after the road that Tony lived on, Kingwood Dr. you know like the Beatles, Abbey Road. He finally got us a gig in Cleveland at a place called the Surrealistic Ink, in the Flats. Surreal should have been our first clue. But we were pumped! We had to lift the equipment up over the bar! The stage was in the middle. The people there treated us like we were from Mars. At the end of the night, one of the guys went to get paid. The manager opened the cash drawer exposing a pistol laying in the drawer and proceeded to short us a hundred bucks or so, while asking if there was any problem. Loyd then proceeded to his car, to find it broken into and all the luggage containing his clothes and such (I have no idea why he had luggage in his car) were stolen,...... Ah! Show Business! Upon one of our splits between Tony and I, Jeff, Pat, Sam and I went off to form our own band. Tony meanwhile put together a band with our former lead singer, Loyd. His band was named "Jasper". They proceeded to work the local scene with some success. Meanwhile, Jeff, Pat, Sam and I suffered for the need of a lead singer but continued to rehearse. Eventually, we all hooked up again with a Great idea! A Super Band! We then reformed combining all our members, two drummers, two guitar players, two keyboards! It was a monster band! We rehearsed, played one gig at the Salem country club under the name of "Fat City" and folded. The group proved to be musically great, but personally unmanageable; one of the drummers didn't even show up for the gig. In spite of all this, it was a great band! Tony reunited with Sam, Jeff and Pat adding Mike Riffle from Salem,Oh. on keyboards. They kicked around Leo's and such for a while, still under the North Star Rockers Banner until Mike left the band. Somewhere in this time, a very young ( like 16) killer sax player ,Tom Jones, from Canton, was added to the roster. It was then decided that they would change their format and go straight up top 40 funky dance music.... and make money! (a new musical concept for that time) They kept the original name, but shortened it to "NorthStar", got matching outfits and through a booking agent started playing dance clubs in Cleveland 3-4-5 nights a week. Meanwhile, I was honing my career as an industrial sewing machine mechanic and continued to play pick up jobs with Wedding Bands, Blues Bands, Country Bands, etc.. It was at one of the pick up wedding jobs that I had the very good fortune of bumping into my future love of my life and wife Sandy. She was called to play piano on the same gig. We had met before, as kids, when our dads got together occasionally to play guitar together and show off their kids to each other. Sandy's dad would have her play Flight of The Bumble Bee for us, and then my dad would have me play Caravan. Proud parents that they were! I thought Sandy was a real cutie. Sandy later confessed to me that her impression of me was pretty much a "Dork. (AH....¦True Love) Sandy later confessed to me, that upon hearing of this wedding gig and who she was playing with, she had set her sights on me! She thought I would be a Great catch!............... for her SISTER! Ah Hah, but she didn't know who she was dealing with!! Money was short and I was in bad need of new tennis shoes to wear for every day and I had no dress shoes to wear to the gig. So.... I got fronted the money for new tennis shows (my poor parents) got shiny new white ones, and wore them along with white pants and a white jacket (Look out John Lennon) to the gig! Poor Sandy never knew what hit her. Before she new it, that night, we were back at my place after the gig having pizza! The rest is history! We never did discuss her sister. Soon after that I heard that the local band "Clock Work" was in need of a guitar player! So I made a call, made the audition, and got the job! I was pretty excited. "Clock Work" was a popular band, with work, making real money! (well, you know, relatively speaking) Yaaay! I went home with my stack of albums and song list to go to work learning tunes for our first rehearsal. The next day (Honest, it was the NEXT day) I got a phone call. It was Jeff. Tony had left the band, they had gigs lined up and needed a guitar player NOW! So, I turned down the Clock Work gig, got fitted for my new dress bib overall outfit (with a glitter star on the front ?), traded in my Les Paul TV model for a Fender Telecaster, and joined NorthStar. We continued playing Cleveland dance clubs for about a year and a half. I was a FULL time musician! (I paid zero taxes that year....Legally!). It was great. Soon after the band finally split up, Jeff went on playing, eventually moving to Portland Or. and touring Japan and Europe. (see Jeff's bio). Tony, went on to record a jazz album of his own compositions meeting with some critical acclaim. I continued with my industrial sewing machine career, and my relationship with Sandy. We were married in '77. And then, the second crowning moment of my life, our daughter Jessica was born in 1978. "The Big Chill" was replaced by "The Big Thrill", sharing my life with Sandy and watching our daughter grow. Music proved to be a very good part time job. I continued picking up gigs here and there. I played a two year, two night a week gig with my long time pal Dom Parlo at the Red Lantern in Canton. I played in a few Canton bands, did a year or so working with "Avenue" with Mike Bugara, Mark Schuering and Bill McCrea Life just kept getting better! Years down the road from the "Rockers" I chanced meeting up with our original bass player, Sam Kibler. He decided to pick it up again and we formed a couple of bands over the next few years based out of the Akron, Canton Area. "Rama Jama" Sam Kibler- Bass, Myself-Guitar, Jeff Rice-Keyboard and Tenor sax and Dave Malazo- Drums Followed by "The Fat City Blues Band" Buzz Hatton- Vocals, Vince McFadden- Drums, (who left the band shortly after its beginning and was replaced by Gary Nutial), Sam Kibler- Bass and my brother in law Warren Henry and myself on guitars. A while after these bands, I eventually reconnected with Warren and a talented vocalist originally from Alliance, Krista Tortora forming "The Kenney James Trio". We did a few supper clubs in Akron and Hudson for a couple years playing standards and show tunes. John Sineri would play with us when we could use a quartet, another fun gig. Soon after that Warren picked up a gig a couple Fridays a month at The Cornerstone in Kent. We simply called everyone we knew, got who ever could make it (or showed up), and played out of a fake book all night. Huge Fun! There was an electric jazz violinist, John (something ((sorry)) from Canton, who showed up for a number of those gigs. Warren dubbed the group "The KBG" (Ken Baker Group) (notice how no one else ever put their name out in front of this stuff). Warren would hang posters all over Kent advertising the KGB, "Many Notes Will Be Played, Strings Will Be Broken". It was just Too Much Fun! Some time pass, our daughter, Jessica, was almost through college, life was Great! And I got a Phone Call! (A lot of things seem to start with a phone call, I suppose that dates me, it would start now with a text message or E mail)....anyway.... It was Mike Bugara and John Sineri, and they wanted to start a blues band with me! So the band started originally as "The Patterson Webb Blues Band" (A name coined years ago by Mr Dave Sorge, and retained all those years just for this occasion). We had a great run with Pug Duruttya on sax and vocals. Then, just before Pug deciding to leave the band , we had the great fortune of reconnecting with my long time pal Jeff A. on keyboard! Jeff, spear headed producing our CD as "Modern Roots" and here we are, ten years plus and going strong! If you enjoy our music just half as much as we enjoy playing it...¦.we're a success. Thanks for reading.... see you at the gig! **Note: Just a note concerning the "NorthStar" bib outfits with the Glitter star on the front. I have a photo of us in these outfits. (We actually purposely had this photo made and Paid for it!) For a small fee, copies of this photo can be made available to any friends or relatives who may wish to have it for a "Special" gift, or perhaps to used as leverage in a barter situation. ( if you know what I mean). ALSO....As I dug this photo out of the special archives that I have kept it in (the basement in an unmarked box) I came to notice something rather peculiar. Everyone has this Special outfit on EXCEPT Loyd, the lead vocalist! Loyd was always known for his fashionable dress and sharp sense of style, Yet, he alone, does not wear the Glitter Star outfit?? I think perhaps we were bamboozled ( By Loyd) ("Oh yeah fellows, that looks Great on you, Very Cool, I'll just wear this DIFFERENT outfit, you know , for some contrast") into this embarrassing fashion moment! I believe there is some possibility of financial restitution for damage to character, etc.. I'll keep you posted, I'm trying to catch that "I'll make them pay" advertisement on TV!
DENNY WRIGHT - BASS GUITAR
In 1955 I was 16 years old. At night I used to lay in bed and listen to the radio, "WLAC" out of Nashville, Tenn. to be exact. Hos Allen was a DJ who specialized in the blues. And even though I'd listened to and enjoyed music before this, when I heard guys like Jimmy Reed and Bobby "Blue" Bland, they changed my life!
In '59 I started playing guitar, doing Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent (The Blue Caps), and Buddy Holly tunes, till '64 when The Beatles hit America. Link Wray, The Ventures, Duane Eddy, oganist Bill Doggett (Honky Tonk), Bo Diddley and Little Richard where heavy influences on my early career.
The FIRST "Rock & Roll" band in Salem, Ohio was "The RUMBLE TONES" back in 1959 (trust me, look it up, ask anyone)! It was me on guitar, my brother Ronnie, affectionately called "Rats"("star" backwards) on drums, Terry Gorka on guitar & vocals, and Denny Cummings on bass. The name was in honor of Link Wrays "Rumble", our favorite song.
In '62-'63 I was also in a short-lived pre-Beatles soul band called "The EMBERS". This was where I got my my soul influences. We played a lot of "Stax" artists like Booker T, Otis Redding, and Albert King. Plus "Atlantic" stars like James Brown and Wilson Pickett.
My switch to bass came in '64 for a common reason in those days, we got a new guitar player that was way better than me. Plus I thought 4 strings would be easier to play than 6 strings. (Doh!) The first song I learned on bass was "Love Me Do" by The Beatles. Not exactly the blues but still a 1-4-5 progression. We also got a new band name "JOINT EFFORT" That band lasted for 40 years !!! With me and Fred Flory (the guitar player that made me want to switch to bass),as the only remaining members. The best years of that band had Tom Kiliany on guitar and Rusty Hill on drums.
1988 marked the year that "NIGHT MOVES" came together. This classic rock band can play for the bikers or the country club, from " Skynyrd" to "The Temps"! One version of this band in '92, included Mike Bugara, and John Sinari, my future band mates. But now I've come full circle with my son Brian Wright on drums in the new millinium version (We're still goin' strong).
Other groups I've been known to associate my 4 strings with include "The Characters"(blues rock), and "Chasin' the Blues"(trad. blues) from Youngstown, Ohio.
Next was the "PATTERSON-WEBB Band", formed in '97, with Ken Baker, Mike Bugara, John Sinari, and sax player, vocalist Pugy Duryetta. Jeff Alviani joined in '03. Pugy left in '05 to spend more time with his family. The band became "Modern Roots" in '08 with the release of our CD "No Apologies".
Being based in Salem,Ohio, I've had quite an illustrious career (Ha-Ha). Playing music, and the blues in particular, has kept me young and strong. Its been a party for 50 plus years! Here's to another 50!!
JEFF ALVIANI - SYNTHISIZER Player/programmer
My musical life so far...It was dark and stormy night...no wait...I woke up this mornin'...AHH thats wrong too!!!! Oh well, I was born in Alliance, Ohio in '52 and started playing music in '66, when I recieved a Farfisa Combo Compact organ for Christmas. I wanted a guitar, because all my neighborhood friends had 'em, but my buddys said they needed an organist instead. And since my folks had a Hammond L-100 in the living room, that my sister took lessons on, I was told if I wanted to learn a musical instrument, there's the organ. "And So It Began".PRE 1966- As a kid I became aware of music after seeing gospel singer Mahalia Jackson on TV. I had no idea who she was, but I was awe-struck. Her singing and the music moved somthing in me. Next I saw , rock & roll piano player, Jerry Lee Lewis and early Liberace on TV. I thought they were the same person! (if you look at early pics of both, they do favor each other). Again I was fasinated by the sounds. My genetic influences were my father, and his father. My grandfather played accordion, guitar, and clarinet semi-professionally. My dad played the accordion. But they both quit playing before I was born, so I never heard either of them play. But I have pictures to prove it. I took accordion lessons at the age of 11 or 12 for about 6 months, but quit when the teacher unfortunately died. (still have my dad's accordion). I'm sure this is where I got my fasination for "shoulder kybds". Also my mother told me, when I was a baby, she would dance around the house with me in her arms while listening to her 101 Strings & Dean Martin records, (where I probably got my rhythm). The records that I bought as a kid, were related to my interests, monster and Sci-Fi movies (themes from horror movies), hot rod cars (early Beach Boys,The Ventures) and Alfred E. Neuman (songs of Mad Magazine). "Personalities" also influenced me. On the short list are: "Maynard G. Krebes" (Bob Denver), the jazz listening beat-nik on The Dobie Gillis Show. (WOORK!). "Ghoulardi" (Ernie Anderson), the famous 60's Cleveland TV horror host. (Cool It With The BoomBoom's). Ernie had a lot of hip tunes he used on his show. One really caught my ear, a screamin' Hammond organ song. It just grabbed me, don't know why, and this was before I started playing! It took me years to find out who it was. Turns out it was an instrumental version of "I Got a Woman" by jazz organist Jimmy McGriff. WOW what a sound! Lastly, a local musician named "Edd Kolakowski". He was the first guy I ever heard play keyboards live, the first guy I saw with a Farfisa organ and a silvertop Fender-Rhodes electric piano and the first guy with long hair, Beatle boots , bell-bottoms, and sun-glasses. My buddies and I were to young to get into their gigs. But we could stand outside the big sliding glass doors at the local collage student union and listen to his band "The Comin' Generation". Too Cool !!! Another local band was "Billy & the Blazers". They played at the Sat. nite swimming pool partys. I heard them play "Jack the Ripper" by The Uncalled 4, where bangin' the reverb in their Silvertone amps was part of the song. My love of the guitar noize started there. Another Too Cool !!! And of course the British Invasion of '64-'65 also affected me in a big way. But I prefered the more blues-based sounds of The Stones,The Animals, & The Yardbirds to the pop bands of the day. So before actually trying to play an instrument, I was attracted to the "Blues" and didn't even know it. The seeds where sown, and because of these influences, "I Am What I Am Today".
POST 1966- When I got the Farfisa and finally started to play, I was stumped. I swore the chords on the guitar and chords on the organ were not the same! It took a while to actually realize the notes were the same but the "voicing", or the order of the notes, was what I couldn't hear. Needless to say there were no rock teachers in '68, but this was the start of developing "big ears". Which have been a tremendous help throughout my career. The songs we played in my first three bands, The Half Dozen, The Symbolic Relationship (with my childhood best friend Chuck Meyer) & Rust (with Mark & Tim Roller), where radio songs of the day. Of course I liked the ones with portable organ sounds; House of the Rising Sun, 96 Tears, In A Gadda Da Vida, Incense & Pepperments and anything by The Doors (Hendrix on a Farfisa is a bitch). Then I started to hear different organ sounds that I couldn't identify. Turned out to be the sound of the mighty Hammond organ with a Leslie speaker. Chasing that sound, I got a Fender Vibratone to hook into my Bandmaster amp and Farfisa. Didn't quite sound the same. Then I appropreated the Hammond L-100 from my folks living room. Still not right. Finally I got the short Leslie 145. 90% there! I realized the spinet wasn't the same as a full size console B-3, C-3 etc. But I used the L-100 till about '71-'72 when I got a BV somebody had painted white? Good but still only 98% there . In late '72 I got the Beast, a factory black C-2 (the church model) with Trek II percussion and a "tall boy" Leslie 122. Finally 100% !! I had the sound of my idols, Al Cooper, Lee Michaels, Jon Lord, Greg Allman, Mark Stein and Brian Auger (2nd percussion, stop the Leslie). Earlier in '71, local organist, Ivan Sag, heard me play and commented on the fact that I liked to play "one finger leads" (single note runs). He said I should check out a guy named Jimmy Smith. Never heard of him!! I went down to the only music store in town the Band-Orch. They had a small record section and there I found my first Jimmy Smith album "Blue Bash" with guitarist Kenny Burrell. Lucky me! Now I knew where those other guys got their licks. My first path was set. Also in '70 or '71 I met Kenny Baker who played guitar and sounded like Eric Clapton & Mick Taylor with John Mayall (Beano,Crusade). I had been dissatisfied with the music in my first couple of bands, but didn't know why. It was because none of those guys were really into the blues. Ken was!! Do to the fact that his dad was a jazz guitarist who had Ken playin' standards at 10 yrs old. What a revelation. To this day the blues is my first love. Thanx Ken! Ken and I started the "North Star Rockers". A mainstay on the local Alliance scene till about '76. The "Rockers" went thru quite a few personal changes with me and Ken being the constants. The last version was an R&B/Disco band called just "NorthStar" (gotta go were the money is). 1977 found me in Canton Oh. playing in "Constellation" with Tim Hunt (Tim on piano & me on organ). This was my first contact with real jazz guys. We played standards and fusion tunes like the Brecker Bros. "Some Skunk Funk" & Stanley Clark's "Lopsy Lu". And lots of originals. These guys were great players, very dedicated. I learned a lot of my work ethic from them. Practice by yourself, Reherse with the band, then Practice by yourself some more...EVERYDAY! This was also the year I got my first synth a '73 MiniMoog-D (which I still have) and discovered Jan Hammer. (actually my 1st synth was a Paia 2700 kit that I built & ran thru the organ) After hearing Jan point the way and gettin' pitch & mod wheels, I was in heaven. I could finally bend notes like sax and guitar. I loved it and to this day pitch bending is a major part of my style. 1978 was the first year I went out on the road. I joined a Top 40 band called "Body Heat" out of Roanoke, Virginia. For this band I chopped a Hammond Model A (an original "A" from '38, I had to sell the C-2 in '77, starving musician crap). Probably not the smartist thing to do, but it was the only way to fit it in their equipment van. We played all the hotel lounges, the "Red Lions", "Sheridans" etc, from Virginia to Florida. It was great, 6 nites a week and finally some real money. But the nature of Top 40 disco took its toll. In mid '79 I left the band and come back to Ohio for 6 months before deciding to pick up and move to Portland Oregon. (I had an old friend from my first band, Chuck Meyer, who now lived there). I put the Hammond A back in its case and took it to Oregon along with my first Rhodes piano & the MiniMoog. I later traded the organ for my SCI Prophet 5 rev 3.2. Nobody wanted organs back then. I arrived in Oregon in Oct. of '79 and 8 months later realized I had moved to within 50 miles of the only active volcano (Mt St Helens 5-18-'80) on the North America continent. Good move!! This is when I got the name for my solo act/ production company; "Volcanix". I also began to write my own music for the first time. In fact I wrote my first tune on the day the volcano blew! (still have some ash in a bottle) From '80-'83 I worked in various fusion bands, (for the music) "Pulse" with Clark Salisbury (guitar) and Top 40 bands (for the money) "HotFun" with Stevie Mays (comedy/bass). I also worked with guitarist/vocalist Ike Willis, of Frank Zappa fame, on his 2nd solo album "Dirty Pictures". I'm proud to have had a small part in the "Zappa" Legacy. Late '83 I caught a big break when I hooked up with funk cats, Bruce Carter (drums), Nate Phillips (bass) and Doug Lewis (guitar) from "Pleasure" (a Portland based national act) and helped start a new band called "CoolR". This band would make a self-titled recording on "Ode/A&M" records, produced by Lou Adler in '88, and go on an 8 month tour of Japan in '89-'90. This was my first truly professional band. We were very popular and well-respected in the '80's downtown Portland scene. Ultimatly the band failed to break into the national market, due to lack of interest and promotion by the record label, and split-up in 1990. "CoolR" is now being inducted into "The Oregon Music Hall of Fame" in Oct. of 2009. It only took 20 years! What a great honor! Around '85 I bought my 2 Roland Axis shoulder kybds (My Babys). These have been my main controllers from then to the present day. Due to Jan Hammer I've been kinda obsessed with strap-on keys. So much so that I chopped my MiniMoog (You Did What? Ya big dummy, Keep me away from power tools!) and also modified a Prophet Remote. My Axis' are aslo heavily modified, with the help of Larry Church, kybd repair tech to the Portland stars (Tom Grant, Jeff Lorber), mostly because nobody built what I wanted. That year I also got my Yamaha DX-7, the first of many FM synths. Around this time, '86-'92, I started to write lotsa weird and wacky tunes with my good buddy Craig Hess (drums/keyboards)(R.I.P-2010) under the name "Lectro Luggage" aka the "Granite Twins". The floodgates were opened! After "CoolR" finished, within 6 months, I hooked up with soul-blues vocalists "Bobby King & Terry Evans". They were the former background singers for Ry Cooder. Yah, back to my first love, the blues! Bobby King left in '91, but I was fortunate enough to continue with the "Terry Evans Band" for the next 12 years. We did 5 nationally distributed albums (I got to record with Ry Cooder & Jim Keltner) and toured 15 countrys including China, Australia, Jamaica and all over Europe, Scandanavia and the US. But all good things come to an end and I left in 2001. From '00 to '03 I also worked in a very successful Northwest country band, "The Revolvers" with singer/songwriter Jeffrey Dean Taylor. Yeah a "country band", its only blues with a twang! It was a good time band. In '03 I moved back to Ohio to help take care of my folks. In '05 my dad passed away along with Jimmy Smith & Bob Moog. Three big influences in my life and career, 2005 was a tough year. From '03 to '05 I played in up to 6 bands at the same time, "Mr Freelance Musical Ho"! During that time I joined up with my old friend Ken Baker in his blues band "Patterson-Webb". In '05 I made PW my only band. Monster players, great songs, killer originals plus I started singing lead (for the first time since '68), the decision was easy. I've continued to write my tunes with the philosophy of "turn on the gear- write a song- its the law", so consequently I have about 13 CD's worth of material. About half are finished with melodys & solos, the rest are rhythm tracks. They're not all great, but you know you have to write 50 songs to get 5 good ones! The "Patterson- Webb" band turned into "Modern Roots" with the release of "No Apologies" in '08, produced by me. I've also started to gig with my original live-looping solo act "Volcanix" and put up a MySpace page, www. myspace/strongwrong.com. So the last 2 years have been very productive. My next goal is to put out a CD of my original stuff. So thats it, not the end, but ongoing... ever changing... ever learning... ever challenging. The way it should be!