Bands, Discography, and Musical Endeavors

 I do enjoy playing music!  Whether performing as a solo act or with others ... whether performing live to an audience or recording in the studio ... I simply enjoy creating, arranging, and playing music.  Over my lifetime of playing music I have been privileged to have performed and collaborated with many great musicians, songwriters, crew members and soundmen.  So many great venues, owners, and audiences... the number of great people I've met, performed with, and gained friendships with is innumerable.   A recent social media post puts that thought squarely into focus. 

So here is my look at some of the musical chapters in my musical book of life ... people, places, performances, albums, and recordings of which I have been a part.  And when possible I've included fun artifacts such as recordings and pictures.  

And the next chapters?  Well those are yet to be written, yes?    
Enjoy...  
- Stevie 

Early Years

I began playing piano at age 6 and then drums at age 10.  I performed in numerous orchestra, band, and musical theater productions throughout my school years.  It seems that music has always been a part of my life even from an early age growing up listening to everything from Beethoven to Belafonte, Motown to Rock & Roll,  Big Band to Jazz, Folk music to Techno-Pop, The Beatles to Blue-eyed Soul, Eagles to ELP, Deep Purple to Sly & Family Stone.  So many genres, bands, styles ... and I liked them all.

JUST US

At age 16 while living in Cleveland, I was recruited by John Goodworth to play drums for the St. Adalbert's Girls Choir, aka Just Us.  A Godspell-like youth choir from the Cleveland suburb of Berea, Just Us was booked multiple times on local Cleveland TV variety shows, including The Jerry Lewis Telethon, Polka Varieties, and The Gene Carroll Show.

Just Us Centennial Celebration (1973)

Just Us

I recorded the drum tracks on this 45 with John Goodworth (guitar), Gene Kunda (bass), and the St. Adalbert's Girls Choir called Just Us. Recorded at the famous Cleveland Recording Studio with Ken Hamaan as Engineer (James Gang, Grand Funk), I played on Jimmy Fox's (James Gang) drum set because I arrived late to the session due to car problems. All other tracks were finished by the time I arrived and Mr. Hamaan didn't want to setup my kit, so he pointed to Jimmy's kit in the corner of the studio where The James Gang was setup to record. That certainly worked out well for me!

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The High School GARAGE BAND with no name 

At age 17, my friends and I decided to start a rock band.  Since we were all drummers, we decided that our buddy Dave should be the drummer since he had the coolest kit: a Ludwig double-tom clear acrylic set!  I switched to keyboards/vox and my friend Carl brought his guitar.  We recruited Tommy for lead guitar work and Jim for bass.  We were the epitome of a garage band with our cobbled up equipment and less than polished sound.  I played a Farfisa Combo organ through John Goodworth's borrowed Leslie.  We only played 2 times: once in Dave's basement for his New Year's Eve party and lastly in my parents' living room for my High School graduation party [ LOL emoji goes here].  While we were far from great, our playlist was great:  Paranoid (Black Sabbath), Sweet Lorraine & Easy Livin' (Uriah Heep), Into The Sun (Grand Funk), Rocky Mountain Way (Joe Walsh), Evil Ways (Santana), China Grove (Doobie Bros).  Some of the 1st rock songs I ever learned.  

We thought we were rock stars!

SOLO and Coffehouses  

After high school, I attended college at The University of Toledo ( little did I know I would end up in the Toledo area for the next 40+ years).  While at U of Toledo, I performed solo piano at several campus coffee house concerts and also performed at the piano bar at The Southwyck Lounge in Toledo.   It was the 70's so I played a steady diet of The Beatles, Billy Joel, and Elton John.

Miniture Buzzurd

The Hollow Inn, circa 1989   (L to R): Stevie, Dave, Scott, Danny O. (photo Ross Eyer)

The Hollow Inn, circa 1989 (L to R): Stevie, Dave, Scott, Danny O. (photo Ross Eyer)

Around 1985, after seeing Scott Shaull and Danny Overton perform, I knew I wanted to play in a band with them someday.  We started Miniture Buzzurd and eventually recruited Dave Foreman from Findlay, OH.   The bar owner at our very 1st show misspelled our name on the marquee and of course, much like the story of Lynyrd Skynyrd's name, we decided to keep it misspelled.  We played 70/80's rock and were a solid band and a good draw in NW Ohio from Toledo area to Bowling Green to Lima.  At our peak, we had an extended, busy schedule: 6 weeks of Th,Fri,Sat nights, then 1 week off.  We were together until summer 1990.  Buzzurd reunions have taken place, with Mark Stears taking the bass duties allowing Scott to focus on acoustic and rhythm guitar.  As it turned out, I ended up performing with each of these 4 guys in future bands.

   Classic line-up:  
- Scott Shaull (vox/bass/acousitic),
- Danny Overton (drums),
- Dave Foreman (vox/lead guitar),
- Stevie (vox/keys)
   
other Buzzurds: Mark Stears (Honorary Bass Buzzurd), Tom Jaqua (original guitarist), Russ Wangler (guitar). 

1st Gig - our name in lights

1st Gig - our name in lights

Live at The Hollow Inn

Miniture Buzzurd

One of the Buzzurd's popular destinations was the Hollow Inn in McCutchenville, OH. We recorded a live demo there with the help of our then soundman, Craig Herrig.

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Edwin Dare

Incredible musicianship in this Progressive Heavy Metal band which included Bryce Barnes, Jeff Kollman, Kevin Chown, and Tommy Kollman (RIP).   I worked with Edwin Dare as a session musician from 1990-1994, providing keyboard support both in the studio and for live performances, as well as providing live backup vocals.  Edwin Dare opened for many national acts including Dream Theater, Ronnie Montrose, Lita Ford, and Foreigner.which led to numerous regional headlining shows as the band became well known for their powerful live shows.

You may ask: what is a keyboard player doing in a Metal band?  The genre of Progressive Metal was morphing in the early 90's and keys provided a new ambience to the hard driving metal side.  I liked progressive rock and also metal, so I was thrilled to be a part of the ED process as the band developed.  My contributions were mostly carefully placed backing riffs, samples, special effects, and laying down rhythm voicings behind Jeff's solos, especially live,   My keys were an important filling out of the overall soundscape being produced by the band.  Working with Jeff in the studio I provided many special effects, strings, synths, choirs, and other fattening of the sound.  I brought those same sounds forward into the live show, where Edwin Dare had a reputation as an exciting and polished live show.  

One of my favorite live intros was Jeff's arrangement of Carl Orff's O Fortuna , which we often used to open shows.  Lights down, crowd cheers, and I started by fading in a dark, breathy synth drone on my VFX.  As lights came up and the keys crescendo'd in, they were large and in charge (thanks Kelly King for hitting' the Gas!).  While I played the main Orff theme, the band layered in choir-like vocals, guitars and drums quickly crescendoing to Bryce's "Halford-esque" high vocals thundering over the top.  On the climax note  ... Jeff added a pronounced low string tune mod up which segued into Take Your Stand.  Wow ... just wow!   I wish I had a recording of it to share because it was amazing.

performing with Edwin Dare circa 1992

performing with Edwin Dare circa 1992

On Tour w/ Edwin Dare

On Tour w/ Edwin Dare

Edwin Dare

The Unthinkable Deed (1992)

Edwin Dare

I recorded keyboards on several tracks for Edwin Dare's debut LP. Multi-instrumentalist and friend of the band, Mark Mikel also recorded keyboards on a few tracks along with songwriting and engineering.

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The Killer was one of the first songs I recorded with Edwin Dare.  The strings and choirs helped set the mood of this dark rocker.

Just a Heartbeat Away was one of my favorite songs to play live with the band and still one of my favorite ED songs ... period.  Tommy's thundering drums, Bryce's soaring vocals, and great guitar riffs.  I used my VFX to provide synths, strings, and a few special effects (a patch called Orbit at the end).  I also used a Roland sampler for the choirs and effect samples (technology of the day folks).  I remember we sampled the "Run - Scream" from the master tape so I could bring them to the live show and augment the band's live vocals.  This was a technique we used on other tracks as well, like Don't Listen To Your Head, where we sampled the reverse vocals and brought them to the live show.  While the live shows were plenty good on their own, these techniques helped to provide an important connection to the studio material during live performance.

Can't Break Me (1994)

Edwin Dare

On the 2nd LP by Edwin Dare, I worked closely with Jeff Kollman in the studio and recorded keyboards on many tracks for this CD. I again provided live support for what was now the powerful and polished Edwin Dare live shows. Bands like Edwin Dare, Mark Mikel, The Affair and others had the country buzzing about the Toledo music scene as possibly "the next Seattle?".

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Feel The Power, the opening track on the LP, became one of ED's most powerful songs and show openers.  I used a brass synth to augment the main power riffs on this songs.  I also provided live backup vocals.

Don't Listen To Your Head is one of the song written by Mark Mikel for Edwin Dare.  Also one of my favorite ED songs.  I added dark strings and synths in various places throughout the song.  We sampled the "Calling Me" reverse vocals from the master tape so I could bring them to the live show.  

Jeff Kollman & Kevin Chown

During my time with Edwin Dare, I also performed live with Jeff Kollman and Kevin Chown supporting their solo LPs, "Schizoid" and "Fruedian Slip", respectively.  Jeff and Kevin have both gone on to be successful professional musicians living in LA and performing with some of the music world's biggest names, including a recent LP and tour with Alan Parsons.  Over the years, Jeff Kollman has returned many times to his home town of Toledo, OH to perform and I have had the privilege of being invited to play with him on multiple occasions.

Edwin Dare Reunion (well, sort of)

Bryce, Jeff & Kevin returned to Toledo in 2012 for an Edwin Dare concert performed at the former Roxanne's venue, where ED had taken Toledo by storm in the 90's.   (Tommy Kollman did not make the trip and we lost him to the great gig in the sky later that year.  I still get sad about that).  I was again invited to provide keyboard support.  After Jeff, Kev, and Skeeter played some Cosmosquad tunes, I stepped on stage and the foursome played a few fusion/jazz instrumentals:  from Jeff's Solo LPs and a couple by Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats (a band in which Jeff and Kevin had performed together after Edwin Dare).  For the finale, Bryce took the stage for several headlining Edwin Dare tracks, including the powerful opener Feel The Power.  It was a fantastic, bombastic night of fun and remembrance.

2012 (L to R): Stevie, Kevin Chown, Bryce Barnes, Skeeto Valdez (kit), Jeff Kollman.

2012 (L to R): Stevie, Kevin Chown, Bryce Barnes, Skeeto Valdez (kit), Jeff Kollman.

Mark Mikel

Mark Mikel is one of those rare multi-talented musicians who is skilled at songwriting, studio engineering, playing all musical instruments, and live performance.  His vocals are what Alan Parson has called "Lennon-esq" ... a rare breed for sure.  Mark is good friends with Jeff Kollman and the Edwin Dare family, having written several songs for ED.  I joined Mark in 1994 when he was booked as opening band for Bad Co. at the Toledo Masonic Auditorium and he needed help covering live keyboards.   Soon after, I joined his Mark Mikel Hallucination band full time and while I was in the band from 1994- 1997, I provided keyboard support both in the studio and for live performances.  The MMH live shows included material from his LPs "Marikesh", "Sorghum Pudding", "The Idiot Smiles", "Blatant Ripoffs".  While Mark Mikel's live shows were about his original music, he always like to cover 1 somewhat complex track at each show (just 1) ,.. a deep track that no one else played, like: Yours Is No Disgrace (Yes), Make Me Smile (Chicago), and I'm Just A Singer (Moody Blues).  Mark has gone on to a successful professional career in music, performing as a Toledo favorite and also working with well known professionals, such as Corky Laing (Mountain) and Alan Parsons (AP Project, Pink Floyd, Ambrosia) as well as Jeff Kollman.  On Alan Parson's 2019 LP "The Secret", Mark wrote and performed (along with Jeff Kollman)  a song called Fly To Me

The Idiot Smiles

Mark Mikel

I recorded keyboards on several tracks for this CD working with Mark in his studio.

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Mark is a skilled multi-instrumentalist and often records some if not all of the tracks himself.  Even though Mark is an excellent keyboard player, he and I have different styles.  He liked the way I laid down the organ groove to Going To a Love-in, the first track of "The Idiot Smiles" CD, and it made the cut.  I'm also credited with playing Rhodes on the track, but honestly it was just a piece of ear-candy that Mark came up with.  He told be to play the main riff on the Rhodes, which he had routed through his Wah pedal and a Fuzz box to his Fender guitar amp.  He close-mic'd the distorted amp and I played the riff while he worked the Wah pedal with his hands ... "tiny fingers rubbing your brain ..." about 2:30.

I arrived for a recording session at Mark's studio one day and at some point I shared with with Mark that I had created a new synth program on my VFX.  It was a screaming sawtooth synth I called "Tarkus", because it reminded me of Emerson's synths on the ELP track called Aquatarkus.  I was noodling around with it and Mark, also an ELP fan, liked what I was doing so much that he went to the control booth and started the tape machine recording along with a backing track playing.  I asked "what should I play?".  He said "just play whatever feels right, like what you were doing before [when you were noodling around]."   Mark always liked to have a little ear-candy on his LPs, and my 1-take synth noodling ended up at the end of the LP's final track called Pacificus (Half Man, Half Ocean)Pacificus is an epic, soaring track on which I had already recorded the piano track and to finish off the song and album in style, Mark added the surprise, ear candy reprise of Bad Mouth.  

Give the whole song a listen because it's still one of my favorite Mark songs.  Go to about 6:00 for the ending and reprise with synth.    

Blatant Ripoffs

Mark Mikel

The album was mostly a collection of songs from Toledo artists and covered by The Mark Mikel Hallucination, as a tribute to the Toledo Music Scene. At the time, Mark had engineered or produced many Toledo band's original LPs and these were his favorite songs from each of them. Some live Mark Mikel tracks were also included. The CD cover was purposely designed to mimic The Beatles white album; a blatant ripoff? No, just classic Mark Mikel. Anyone who knows Mark, knows that The Beatles are a #1 favorite band. I recorded keys on 2 of the tracks before moving on to the next chapter in my musical adventures.

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Dr. Ike in for Scott

After Scott left TnG, we recruited a young man whom we had seen perform many times at the Thiel's Wheels Summer Concert series.  Dr. Ike joined Tongue n' Groove around 2008.  Before I left TnG in 2010, we played my final concert at The Cube in Findlay, OH, opening for The Guess Who.   Here is a Fan-Cam video from that concert of our live cover of The Who's Won't Get Fooled Again.  As luck would have it, I joined Dr. Ike again in Big Red Deluxe almost 5 years later.

Stevie's final show with TnG April 2010

Stevie's final show with TnG April 2010

Tongue 'n Groove

In 1997, I was asked to perform in Findlay, OH at a homecoming concert with former Miniture Buzzurd bandmate Dave Foreman.  Dave was returning home from Florida and a back-up band was put together that included many of Dave's former bandmates including Scott Shaull, Chip McClurkin, Holly McConnell, Tony Cole, and Adam Nation,  The concert was booked at a club in Findlay called Moondoggies owned by Bob Freed (great-nephew of Alan Freed ... yes THE Rock-n-Roll Alan Freed!).   The concert was a success and the band's chemistry was so obvious, that once Dave returned to Florida, the back-up band decided to continue performing ... and Tongue n' Groove was born.  As a founding member and original keyboard player of the band, I performed with Chip and the numerous line-ups in TnG for 12 years until April 2010.    Aside from the original line-up, several of the other musicians I had the privilege to play with were Dave Foreman, Mark Stears, Rob Sexton, Jeff Gaskins and Dr. Ike.   As it turned out, Dr. Ike and I would reunite in 2014 in Big Red Deluxe.

Original TnG lineup (L to R): Adam, Stevie, Tony, Chip , Scott, Holly

Original TnG lineup (L to R): Adam, Stevie, Tony, Chip , Scott, Holly

The Ronco Sessions (2004)

Tongue 'n Groove

We recorded 8 tracks at Flag City Studios in Findlay, OH as a demo, but several tracks quickly became my favorites as they showed the power of this line-up and why the band was a perennial festival favorite.
- Scott Shaull (vox/guitar/acoustic);
- Chip McClurkin (drums/vox);
- Stevie Eyer (keys/vox);
- Dave Foreman (Lead guitar/vox);
- Jeff Gaskins (bass/vox).

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(L to R): Jeff Gaskins, Chip McClurkin, Scott Shaull, Stevie, Dave Foreman

(L to R): Jeff Gaskins, Chip McClurkin, Scott Shaull, Stevie, Dave Foreman

Duo with Scott Shaull

While I was performing in Tongue n' Groove, long time friend and bandmate Scott Shaull invited me to perform with him as a duo.  We performed at the 2003 Findlay Balloon Fest and continued to perform together off-and-on for several years at various venues in the Findlay area.  Scott and I would eventually reunite our SnS duo about 15 years later.   As has happened often in my life of music, while playing with Scott, I met someone I would play with in another time:  Scott's guitarist friend Jerry Natal, who would join my blues band in 2016.  

Tina Lee & Random Blues

Somewhere during the Tongue 'n Grove years, I got the itch to play The Blues.  I saw an ad in The Toledo City Paper for a blues band looking for a keyboard player.  The band was Tina Lee & Random Blues and  I guess I passed the audition, because quickly after we met we played a short set at Mickey Finn's on January 28, 2007 for the Black Swamp Blues Society Memphis Send-off Party for winner "Josh Boyd and The VIPs".  They played the closing set and were amazing.  The opening band was a duo called Lucky Brother (Mark Lemont & Tim Oehlers) and they were so good.  The 2006 Lucky Brother CD is still in my rotation.  And as luck would have it, the BSBS vice-President at the time was old friend Greg Harley from my Edwin Dare days!  Small world after all ?  yes. 

In 2008, TLRB headlined a Blues Jam showcase at The Rumpus Room in East Toledo (down the street from Tony Packo's).  It was a cold March night and while we played it snowed ... hard.  We went in with no snow on the ground and came out to 6" of snow and still snowing!  Driving home on a barely-plowed I-75 at 1 in the morning was quite the experience.

With Tina Lee singing lead vocals, TLRB was able to perform many female oriented blues selections from artists like Koko Taylor, Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, Lou Ann Barton, and Debbie Davies.  It was so refreshing to play songs by female artists and it reminded me of how much I enjoyed the first TnG line-up with Holly McConnell where we played many female artist songs.  I enjoyed my short time with TLRB, but decided to leave the band in 2009 to focus on Tongue 'n Groove.   The Blues "itch" was not gone, however, and would catch up with me years later.  And guess what ... Greg Harley would be part of that too.

Black Swamp Blues Society 2008 ad for Blues Jam feat. TLRB

Black Swamp Blues Society 2008 ad for Blues Jam feat. TLRB

Sabbatical

In 2010, after decades of performing, I was ready for a break.  After leaving Tongue n' Groove in April 2010,  I took a nearly 5 year sabbatical, taking some time off to re-energize my love for music and revisit my musical roots.  During the sabbatical, I was invited twice in 2012 to perform with Jeff Kollman, Mark Mikel, Bob Revels, and others.  While I enjoyed the one-off performances, I quickly returned to my much needed time-off and my musical research.  As it turned out, the break did in fact re-energize me!

Big Red Deluxe

Stevie, Fritz, Mark, Dr. Ike, Joe

Stevie, Fritz, Mark, Dr. Ike, Joe

In October 2014, former Tongue n' Groove bandmate Dr. Ike contacted me needing a keyboard player for his New Year's Eve show with his current band.  I performed with the band that December 31st and the chemistry of the band was undeniable.  I felt energized and was certain that my sabbatical was now complete.  I was ready to get back into performing.  Fortunately for me, several days later the band invited me to join Big Red Deluxe full time.  

I have been performing with Big Red Deluxe since NYE 2014 and the band has developed into a big draw, festival favorite performing all across North and Central Ohio.  The band often performs with a fan favorite 3-piece horn section called The Groove City Horns.

Solo & Duo again

Buzzurd Blues Project

UB Bluesin' It