Archive for the ‘Bands’ Category

The Mitch Ryder Show : Courtesy of George Shuba

March 14, 2015

In late 1966, Mitch Ryder broke with the Detroit Wheels and formed a 10-piece back-up band in the style of Wilson Pickett and others. This band, which included 5 musicians from working Baltimore bands, toured behind Mitch’s hit record, “Sock It To Me Baby” under the name emblazoned on the tour bus: “The Mitch Ryder Show.”

Ultimately, this was not a happy period for Ryder who suffered under the heavy production hand of star NY producer, Bob Crewe. Crewe gave the Michigan band their name (they were formerly Billy Lee & the Rivieras) and their access to Billboard’s Top 10 — “Jenny Take A Ride” made #10, “Little Latin Lupe Lu” hit #17, “Devil With A Blue Dress” his best at #4, and his final Top 10 entry with “Sock It To Me Baby” at #6 — but after roughly 2 years the ride was over for Ryder. This is how that period is described on the official Mitch Ryder website (

Divorced from the power drive of The Wheels, swamped by saccharine strings and pompous pretense (poetry by Rod McKuen and music by Jaques Brel on a Mitch Ryder album, for Chrissakes) … It was the final straw- Ryder bailed out of his contract with Crewe …

After the split, the liner notes on Ryder’s next album, “The Detroit-Memphis Experiment,” included phrases like …

“After being raped by the music machine that represents that heaven-on-earth , New York b/w Los Angeles” and “Mitch Ryder is the sole creation of William Levise, Jr.” [Ryder’s given name]

… leaving little doubt about his feelings over the Crewe experience.

Because of the short duration of this band and Mitch’s bitterness over where Bob Crewe took his career, there is very little untainted information about the band and very few photographic remnants floating around. That’s where George Shuba comes in.

George Shuba’s own website [] calls him “Cleveland, Ohio’s 1st Rock-N-Roll Photographer!”, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that he is one of the first anywhere—48 of George’s prints hang in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

George began his rock photojournalism with his first assignment—the Beatles 1964 U.S. tour appearance in Cleveland. Over the next 20 years, through thousands of photographs, he documented virtually every act to appear at the Cleveland Arena, from Aerosmith to the Zombies. This just happened to include the April, 1967 appearance by The Mitch Ryder Show. The  photos here, courtesy of George, are the only ones I’ve ever seen of the entire band with all 5 Baltimore musicians. These photos are also posted on the BaltimoreJam website.

For anyone interested in the development of rock & roll and the emerging rock concert experience through this intensely creative period, the professional photos of George Shuba are priceless. They capture the spontaneity of these performers better than any album cover, publicity shot or concert snap shot you’ve ever seen. Many of his photos are available directly from George through his website and eBay store. Here are links to George and his work:

Photo #1:
The Mitch Ryder Show, Cleveland Arena, OH – April 1967

The Mitch Ryder Show, Cleveland Arena, OH - April 1967

L to R: Jimmy Wilson (trumpet), Andy Dio (trumpet), Chuck Alder (bass), Don Lehnhoff (trombone), Mike Maniscalco (guitar), Bob Shipley (tenor sax), Mitch Ryder (vocals), Jimmy Loomis (tenor sax)

Photo #2:
The Mitch Ryder Show, Cleveland Arena, OH – April 1967

The Mitch Ryder Show, Cleveland Arena, OH - April 1967

L to R: Jimmy Wilson (trumpet), Andy Dio (trumpet), Don Lehnhoff (trombone), Chuck Alder (bass), John Siomis (drums), Frank Invernizzi (organ), Mitch Ryder (vocals), Bob Shipley (tenor sax), 1/2 Jimmy Loomis (tenor sax)

Photo #3:
The Mitch Ryder Show, Cleveland Arena, OH – April 1967

The Mitch Ryder Show, Cleveland Arena, OH - April 1967

L to R: Don Lehnhoff (trombone), Andy Dio (trumpet), Mitch Ryder (vocals), Chuck Alder (bass), Frank Invernizzi (organ), John Siomis (drums), Mike Maniscalco (guitar), Jimmy Loomis (tenor sax)




Timing Is Everything

September 24, 2012

The Lion King

June 17, 2012

This is a nice little video by Sean Gallagher, sent to me by Ned O’Byrne.
It’s about a man whose voice you absolutely have heard.

Horn Blowing

May 31, 2012

You may or may not know that I have a Minnesota (as opposed to New Orleans) jazz funeral band called Band of Praise. We had the honor of participating in a Memorial Day service here at a 150 year old cemetery (that’s “old” for Minnesota), providing eternal rest to the state’s largest population of Civil War Veterans. The 1st Minnesota Regiment played a prominent and heroic role at Gettysburg and are revered here. In connection  with the press associated with this event, local TV did a nice little promo piece for the band. I thought I’d share it here.

Past Jam Connections

May 5, 2012

I like connections … synergy … things that enrich or expand an experience. The Jams themselves are all about connecting — with old friends and musical experiences, but also with the atmosphere and locations where those experiences and friendships were created. In that regard we’ve always tried to make a connection with each Jam venue.

Jam 1 Friday night in 2001 was held at a small bar – because we’ve all played plenty of bars, large and small – and the connection went further because the bar, Stingers at 6900 Belair Road, was owned and operated by the cousins of keyboard player Mike Foreman, Jim and Joan Boyer. Mike was a key contributor to that first Jam. We packed a lot of people into that little place.

formerly Stingers Sports Bar, now Overlea Station

formerly Stingers Sports Bar, now Overlea Station

Jam 1 Saturday was held at what was once the Alcazar Ballroom – now a part of the Baltimore School for the Arts. Many of us had played at the old Alcazar, and Jam stalwart, Don Barto, was teaching a class there at the time of the Jam so he made the arrangements. Even the less-than-ideal acoustics couldn’t dampen the high energy of about 35 musicians plus about 50 guests.

formerly the Alcazar Ballroom, now part of the Baltimore School for the Arts

formerly the Alcazar Ballroom, now part of the Baltimore School for the Arts

Jam 2 Friday night in 2002 was again at Stingers. Jim Boyer, Elvis Impersonator, came to the party, and Trudy Morgal introduced us to Joe Vaccarino who was compiling band information for a book. The next day Jam was at Overlea Hall, another place of employment over the years for many Jam participants. It made for a higher priced ticket than we generally like to  have, but the food and OH staff were both outstanding and a great time was had by all — roughly 50 musicians and 250 guests. The Mello Men organized a “Reunion Within a Jam” and big band music was introduced into the mix.

formerly Overlea Hall, now The Overlea Event Center

formerly Overlea Hall, now The Overlea Event Center

Jam 3 in 2005 was a search for an intimate bar atmosphere with more room than Stingers. Joan Boyer had passed away and Jim sold the place, so our old bar was no more. We went with all one day instead of 2, and we did it at Bobby B’s on Turkey Point Road. There was a double connection at Bobby B’s. Proprietor Bobby Berger played tenor sax and knew some of the musicians involved – connection #1. The other connection was the club’s history, as it was once called Hoffman’s and was owned by singer and fellow jammer, Al Hoffman, whose own band, Charade, played there regularly. Many of us played at Hoffmans in the ’60s.

Bobby B's. the bar.

Bobby B’s. the bar.

Jam 4 in 2008 was back at Bobby B’s, but this time in the large show room instead of the bar. The connections were only strengthened with great music … and the bands play on.

Bobby B's Palace

Bobby B’s Palace

TV & Echoes Reunion – UPDATE

May 28, 2011

Plans continue to solidify for the much-anticipated August 20, 2011 first-ever reunion of the original Tommy Vann & the Echoes. Members of the Mihalos family are planning to attend in honor of George Mihalos, owner of Hollywood Park and Club Venus, and long-time manager and producer of Tommy Vann & the Echoes.

IMPORTANT: The official website for tickets and information for the reunion is:

Phone numbers for tickets are:
Walt Anderson 410-254-7530
John Sankonis 410-967-6376

The Tommy Vann & the Echoes Reunion is a production of:
The Entertainment Network
P.O. Box 5852
Timonium, MD 21094


Tommy Vann & the Echoes To Reunite

April 15, 2011

The following is an email we just received, forwarded by Sam Towers.


Tommy Vann & The Echoes…the band that started it all. It was the band to go see back during the 60s. They first got together in 1962 and played at places like Hollywood Park and Club Venus. This is going to sell out so if anyone is interested, let me know. Advance ticket sales only. First come, first serve.

“The Reunion”
Featuring The Original
“Tommy Vann & The Echoes”

August 20, 2011 • 8 p.m. ~ Midnight
Bowleys Quarters Banquet Hall
900 Bowleys Quarters Rd
Bowleys Quarters, MD  21220

Tommy Vann & the Echoes

Added Attraction
“Annie B & The Boyz”

Included are Beer, Wine, Sodas, Chips & Pretzels

Portions of the Proceeds to Benefit
“Wounded Warrior Project”
Thank you for supporting
our 50th Year Reunion!


Information can be found on Tommy Vann’s Website and Facebook Page.

Too Good to be True

March 13, 2011

I was playing with the band “Touch” on the boardwalk near 7th street in Ocean City during the summer of 1973. The other members in “Touch” were “Bungalow”  Bill Davis on keyboards, Walt Bailey on guitar, and on drums and lead vocals, switching off as needed or desired, were “Raunchy” Rick Peters and Trudy Cooper.

My sister ( Ida) was down at the ocean during this particular week and, as we lay in the sand getting a tan one day, she says to me, “Donna likes somebody in your band.  Guess who”?  Before we go further, I had better introduce you to Donna.  Donna was a beautiful Greek girl wilh hair below her waist and a face and body like a Grecian goddess.  If she wasn’t the most beautiful girl in Ocean City that week, then she was tied for first place with whomever else qualified.

Getting back to my sister’s question, I replied without hesitation, “Well, Ida, you had better tell Donna to get in line behind all of the other women in Ocean City for a shot at Raunchy Rick because EVERY female in this town is head-over-heels in love with him”.  “It’s not Raunch,” Ida told me.  “Well”,  I said, “I’ll let Bungalow Bill know”.  I said this because whichever chicks Raunchy Rich rejected, ALWAYS went with Bungalow.  Walt and I usually ended up unwilling bachelors, or monks so to speak.  “It’s not Bungalow either”, said my sister. I gave her a hard stare.  “OK Ida, lets have it NOW!”  Ida smiled and said, “Yep – it’s you Sam”.

I was stunned!  Donna, the Greek goddess was attracted to me!  I could hardy beelieve my luck, but I wasn’t a fool.  I acted immediately, found Donna and took her to dinner before the gig.  After the gig we went back to my rented room at the Majestic on 7th street  and had an incredibilly romantic night.  Things couldn’t have been better.  The next morning we woke up and went down to breakfast.  Still not beieveing my incredible luck, I found myself staring at her, from the tips of her toes, to the top of her beautiful black hair and down again to her georgeous (uh-oh) YELLOW EYES!!!!!

I told her what I was seeing, she looked in a mirror to confirm what I had told her and we bolted to the Ocean City clinic.  As I suspected, her blood tests revealed Hepatitus B but luckily, mine were clean.  While she was rushed to GMBC in Towson (via ambulance) and quarantined, I had two very painful hemoblobin shots, (one in each butt cheek) as a vaccine and limped around that day.  I never saw her after that and never dated anyone that attractive again, EVER.  Looking back, I guess it was a freak accident of sorts, as if the universe made a mistake, noticed it’s mistake and corrected it immediately!.  One thing is for sure – the whole time, underneath it all, I was feeling that it was too good to be true anyhow!

“Raunchy” Rick aand Trudy Cooper at Woodstock

Raunch, rest in peace

An Esquires Inquiry

January 11, 2011

One of the fun parts of maintaining this blog and the accompanying website is the surprise emails and unexpected questions we get. Last week this came our way in the form of a smeared, 45 year old Polaroid from Ned O.,  a former Baltimore musician living in Pennsylvania. He had found our website while looking for mates from his first band, the Chauntels, which led him to us. He sent some photos of Frank James & the Outlaws for us to post, and included this Polaroid:

The Esquires (Dulaney north)

Ned didn’t remember who these guys were or why he had the photo, but he was curious. We got curious too, so we started digging. It was a fun project. We emailed the photo to a few people; some rang a bell with one or two faces; others recognized nobody; someone put 2 & 2 together and suggested somebody else who might know more. Sure enough, Steve S. came through big time. We feel pretty solid on everybody except the sax player … maybe you know these guys and can help fill in the blanks. Following is what we think we know:

The band is The Esquires from Dulaney High School (not to be confused with the other Esquires fronted by Al Hoffman).

The photo is circa 1964-65.

The guys, from left to right, are:

  • Jim Bennet – trombone
  • Tom Chalker (?) – tenor sax
  • Ric Connolly – drums
  • Ron Dorfler – guitar
  • Wade Randall – bass
  • Rex Little – trumpet
The guy with the glasses and Lufthansa bag is Ric Connelly, drummer, who was in various permutations of The Esquires over the years. He died young, in 1988. The Lufthansa airline bag Ric is holding is a promotional item from WCAO radio. Denny Picasso (singer with Dynamics, Majestics, Hitch-Hikers) got a bunch of them from WCAO DJ Paul Rogers. Denny handed them out to anyone who wanted one, and Ric got one.
We weren’t sure of the photo was taken at 8:05, or if we’re looking at a typical  high school clock.

If you recognize this photo or or these people, or have additional information, please post it here. (comments)

Have A Funky Christmas

December 19, 2010

I introduced this unconventional Christmas tune last year, so for this year I’m linking to the video. The song is a 1989 recording by Groove Thangs, a well-known south Florida funk institution. The video, as much funky fun as the tune, is by Groove Thangs guitarist,  John “Bonefish Johnny” Stacey.

I hope you enjoy the video, and please accept our wish for a warm and joyous Christmas holiday, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

Peace for the New Year.