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Lew Bundles

A Couple Of Wally Thoughts

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Not sure if we posted this one here...

Ex-Raspberries' guitarist Wally Bryson relishes the opportunity to play live

By Jeff Piorkowski

“There aren’t enough clubs. There aren’t enough rock’n’roll shows,” rants Wally Bryson while looking forward to his next onstage outing April 13 at The Winchester Music Hall.

A guitarist’s guitarist, the spirited Bryson doesn’t do as many shows as he once did, so he relishes the opportunities when they arise.

“That’s how rock’n’roll should be heard,” he said.

And, when Bryson does take the stage, it’s like a history lesson in Cleveland rock’n’roll.

“We’ll just be getting together and playing some rock’n’roll,” he said during a recent telephone interview. “We’ll be doing stuff by The Choir (“It’s Cold Outside”), The Raspberries (“Go All The Way” and others), some Tattoo and Fotomaker, and something from ‘Refreshed,’ the album I did with (former Raspberries) Scott McCarl and Dave Smalley. It’s a cross section of my career.”

All of the above groups with which Bryson was involved had degrees of national success and all were boosted along by his dynamic fretwork.

At 62, Bryson no longer is part of the Sittin’ Ducks, his local band of 12 years. So, he said, he waits for some of his favorite local players to become free to accompany him during a couple of shows per year.

Taking the stage with him at The Winchester will be accomplished local musicians Billy Sullivan (guitar), Bill March (once of Beau Coup on bass), drummer Ed Brown, and keyboardist Rich Spina.

“They’re usually backing Peter Noone (of Herman’s Hermits), but Peter had to go back to England to do some things, so they’re available now.”

Bryson will also do a couple of numbers with his son, New York guitarist/songwriter, Jesse Bryson.

Born in North Carolina, Wally Bryson moved with his parents to Cleveland at about 4 years of age. As a youth, he was immediately taken by the sound of the guitar.

“I was born of rock’n’roll,” he said. “I remember first hearing Duane Eddy and Al Caiola (a noted session guitarist and solo artist who had hits with the theme from ‘Bonanza’ and ‘The Magnificent Seven’). My mother used to play the radio while she ironed.”

Having played with bands since an early age has given Bryson a load of stories to tell of guitars he’s owned, places he’s played and brushes with fellow musicians. He reminisces back to the mid ‘60s when his sister lent him $250 as a down payment on a then (and still)-rare Gibson double-neck guitar.

“It cost $1,150, even back then,” he said. “Made in Kalamazoo. I played it on ‘Go All the Way’ and other things. I had a double-neck before Jimmy Page did.”

In the next sentence, Bryson recalls playing a Cleveland date with the Yardbirds, Page’s band before he joined Led Zeppelin.

“I was waiting (back stage) to see Jeff Beck (who preceded Page in the Yardbirds) and this Jimmy Page comes on. I didn’t know who he was. We talked and he was a real nice guy.”

Speaking again of the double-neck, Bryson said, “Pete Townshend showed me how to play the intro to ‘Substitute’ on it back stage. We were playing the (Cleveland) Music Hall, The Choir, The Blues Magoos, The Who, and Herman’s Hermits. I remember watching the show backstage with Peter Noone.”

Pioneers of the power pop sound, The Raspberries, which included Brush High grad Eric Carmen, became the pride of Cleveland in the early 1970s, scoring several national hits and appearing on such shows as “The Midnight Special.”

Referring to another guitar from his past, Bryson said a guitar he gave Carmen for his birthday in 1970 — a used Gibson Melody Maker he bought for $50 — has changed hands over the years and is now the main axe used by rocker Joan Jett.

The Raspberries gained international attention in 2004 when they reunited for shows at Cleveland’s House of Blues, in New York City and in Los Angeles, recording a live album (“Live on Sunset Strip,” released in 2007) as they did so. The group last played together at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum event in 2009.

“It was a great reunion, it was good to play those songs again on stage,” Bryson said.

When asked if The Raspberries would play again, Bryson said it doesn’t look likely.

“I don’t talk to Eric much at all,” he said. His relationship with Carmen has been bumpy.

“I’ve known him a long time,” he said. “We don’t mix very good.”

Bryson, who has worked for Cuyahoga County with the mentally challenged the past 26 years, doing so now in Euclid, said, “I don’t want to start any trouble (in terms of past Raspberrries’ difficulties). I just want to play a rock’n’roll show.”

That’s because when he’s onstage and the fingers are flying and the guitar is soaring, everything is fine in Bryson’s world.

Wally Bryson will perform a 9 p.m. show at the Winchester Music Hall, 12112 Madison Ave. in Lakewood. Tickets are $15. Call (216) 226-5681.

—Cleveland.com, April 12, 2012 

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Don't think I've read that one before—could be because I've collected so much stuff over the years, or just senior brain fade. :spin:

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My preference is to always paste the story into the Message Board instead of just a link. That way, if the original link changes or expires, we still have the article archived here at EC.com!


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