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A Question for Clevelanders


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I just bought the Choir Practice CD, and it's great! I always envied those who grew up in Cleveland listening to The Mods, The Choir, Cyrus Erie and Raspberries, etc. Here's a question for those lucky Clevelanders who did:

Which of the pre-Raspberries local bands did you ever hear? Where and when did you hear them, and who was in the band? Finally, what did you think?

Can't wait to hear the answers--you lucky ducks!

smile --Darlene

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There are so many. Cleveland was and continues to be a hot bed for music. I will start a list and I am sure I wil come up with more and others will contribute:

The Charades

Rainbow Canyon


North River Street Rock Collection

The Occasionals

The Originals

Bocky and the Visions


East Wind

The National Screw Company


The Numbers Band

James Gang

Michael Stanley Band


Lost Souls

Baskerville Hounds

Mr. Stress Blues Band


Wild Horses



Dave C and the Sharptones

Frank Samson and the Wailers

Joey and the Continentals

Tom King and the Starfires


Tony and the Twilighters




Mods (early Choir)

Rebel Kind

Mother's Oats

Kick's Inc

Tree Stumps


Cyrus Erie

Dynamite (Jim & Wally post Raspberries)

The News (Wally)

The Keys (Wally)

Secret (Wally & Dave)



Qwasi Qwa (Jesse Bryson)

And the list goes on

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Secret was Dave, Wally, Eric Robertson (vocals/guitar) and Frank M. on drums. Like the berries did Beatles covers with an A+. Eric has a great voice and it mixed with Wally perfectly. They did write some tunes and even did a demo. Frank was replaced in the band by Mark Chalmers. They were very good, A little trivia: Wally, Eric and Dave were in my wedding party and they even played for about an hour at my reception with Mark. I have the video to prove it with everyone playing in their tuxedo's.

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I was such a wee child when I grew up here that I was too young to see the pre-Raspberries bands, and lived here only a short time between college and grad school and between grad school and the rest of life...I suppose in that short time I could have seen one of those post-Raspberries bands but never did...

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I always went to see the Raspberries, when they were still a club act,(the Hullabaloo circuit)just because it was like seeing the Beatles ...They did Beatles covers....(in my opinion)better than the fab four! I never got to see the Choir live.I saw Jim B. in Dynamyte

a few times.There were so many GREAT bands back then

and alot of clubs.something you just dont see around here anymore.

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Having grown up in Mentor, I have more memories of the early days (or Olden Times, as my daughter would say) than I can remember. There used to be weekend battle of the bands at the Painesville Armory, Finlandia Hall in Fairport, and of course the Hullabaloo Clubs between the Mods and the Rockers. The Rockers were a British patterned band also, with Rey Jesionowski, Pat Hadden, Jack Freeman, Bob Krivanek, if my memory serves me correct! It was always a great time and all the guys were friends. As the Mods evolved into the Choir and we all got older they became the band to see in Northern Ohio. I remember at one point, the Left Banke contacted Dave Burke, the guy that did the super bass line on It's Cold Outside, to leave Mentor and join their band. One of the more interesting songs was with Bonfanti coming front stage to sing Gene Pitney's song, "I Gonna Be Strong" and dropping to his knees for the ending. It was great. If your familiar with the song, you'll know what I mean. I assume you're looking for trivia/background stories? Here's a good one, my good friend Rey called me up one day and said he wanted to stop by my place with a friend of his and jam. We would play several time a week and I had just bought this blonde Rickenbacker 360-12 I was really proud of. This was probably 1968ish. Well, my friend gets to my place and who is with him but Wally! To make a long story short, Wally played my Rickenbacker, Rey and I played acoustic and we did a version of Donovan's Season Of The Witch with me singing lead, Wally on harmonies and at the bridge he just took off into the super guitar break that still has my chin on the floor! Anyway, I could bore you all day with old stories. Someone else mentioned the band Dynamite, but if I remember it was David and Jim in the band. They had a great keyboard player/singer Kevin Raleigh that went on to the Michael Stanley Band. They used to a lot of Steely Dan stuff and Mccartney Band on the Run era stuff. But I don't think Wally was in that group. Used to see the "Secret" at the old Stables in Painesville. The singer Eric Robertson grew up a couple of streets away from me in Mentor and actually Eric, David and I had lunch a couple of weeks before the 1st reunion show and talked old times. Hope I didn't bore you!

Jim B

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No, you didn't bore me at all! I could listen to Cleveland stories all day. It's like reading Marathon Man--you feel like you are THERE! I see you're from Florence, Kentucky! I went to Murray State eons ago (graduated in 1968). I knew some people in the music department from Florence. It's a small town, if I remember correctly. Thanks for your great stories! I'm sure everyone would love to hear more of them!

smile --Darlene

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I'm glad I didn't bore you! And again there's so many stories and memories that it might be hard to keep track of them all! One of the clubs we used to go to, to see the Raspberries was the Cleveland Agora and I believe we used to go Sunday nights. They did a lot of Beatles, Who, Free, Hollies stuff. You should hear David sing lead on "Just One Look" or "I Can't Let Go". Totally awesome! The Agora was a starting point for a lot of acts in those days. I remember seeing Peter Frampton, Kiss, Rory Galleger, Bad Company all before they got big. And Mott the Hoople, hence the "Cleveland Rocks" Ian Hunter did on his solo lp. The other local club the berries would play was a place called the Utopia, in Willoughby Ohio. It was just down the street from Mentor, so it was close for us to get to. And sometimes we'd take a road trip to Kent, Ohio to a place called JB's. We'd go there to see the Raspberries, The James Gang, and another band called the Glass Harp. The Glass Harp had probably the best guitar player I have ever seen in my life, a guy by the name of Phil Keaggy. As rumor would have it, Eric Carmen was supposed to have had some conversation with Keaggy about starting a band before the Raspberries got togeather. Believe me, Keaggy is just a totally awesome player, world class, fast, clean and melodic. Just wonderful to listen to. Anyway one of my most disturbing memories of JB's was on May 3rd, 1970. The night before the kids go shot on campus. I remember coming out of JB's and seeing nothing but flashing lights and people running all over yelling about the ROTC building was burning. Well, we got out of town and I guess the next day was history. Neil Young said it all. Some of my best memories are of playing guitar with David and just sitting around and making up songs. We were room mates over the years at different places and when he'd be in town, we'd have a few cold ones and play. I esp enjoyed making up lyrics over blues progressions. You never knew where the song would wind up! David wrote a song 20 years ago called "Pick A Song" that I've been after him to record next time around. It's funny, but when I mentioned the song he said he didn't remember it! I said you've got to be kidding me, it's one of my favorite songs you've ever written! Anyway, I sent him a note with the lyrics as I remembered them and it did joggle his memory! Maybe we'll get to hear it someday! And Darlene, your memory of Florence is pretty accurate, but it's gotten a little bigger in recent years. My wife and I have a home 5 minutes from the Florence Mall (where she works) with a back yard that butts up to a farm and a deck that's just perfect for acoustic guitar on a summer night!!!

Jim B

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I saw the Raspberries and some forms of predecessor groups while growing up in Cleveland. Chesterland Hullabalo and Agora were the usual venues.

Problem was, in those young and foolish days, I really didn't fully appreciate the excellence that I was seeing. That is why I am so grateful the band reunited. And, why I am looking forward to a new CD (pleae!).

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Sorry I haven't been here for a while so I'm just catching up.

I'm from Youngstown, so I didn't get to see all the great Cleveland bands in their heyday...with one exception.

My senior year in high school, I had a girlfriend who moved away when her dad got a new job in Massachusetts (breaking my heart in the process, of course!).

Around Thanksgiving 1969, she and her parents came to Cleveland to visit some family they had there, so I got to reunite with her again. It turns out that her family were friends with Otto N (I'll butcher his last name if I try to write it, but Clevelanders all know who I mean) -- the legendary owner of all the Hullaballoo Clubs in Cleveland.

Otto was there at their house that night, and he invited my girlfriend and me to the local Hullaballoo -- and also gave us our own private seating up in the light booth, which wasn't being used that night.

Well, who should be playing that evening but Cyrus Erie! As we were both huge Beatle freaks, we were completely blown away by them. "Abbey Road" had just come out the month before, and they did several of its tracks perfectly. I remember them doing some Stones stuff too, probably from "Let It Bleed," which had also come out just recently.

I wish I had more distinct memories of everything else they played that night -- given our "private" vantage point, I must confess that my girlfriend and I didn't spend every single minute watching the band! wink

But I do remember Wally playing the same Gibson double-neck guitar that he still uses today, and Eric bouncing around between guitar, keyboards and (if I'm not mistaken) drums at one point.

Overall, they were just amazing, and the whole thing is a very special memory for me.

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Wow, Mike! Those are the kind of memories I would have LOVED to have had. Being from Youngstown, have you ever heard of a polka musician called Bruno Mikos? The weekend I was to audition in Muskegon, Michigan, for my polka band, I stayed with some musicians who played polka records for me. Bruno Mikos blew me away! I later met his son first and when I told his son about how his dad's music inspired a lot of what I did on the fiddle, he gave me his dad's e-mail and I was able to e-mail the guy just recently (19 years later) and tell him how great he was! What a nice guy he is!

smile --Darlene

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I think you are right about Dynamite. I remember it being Dave and Jim and they did an incredible cover of "Couldn't I Just Tell You " by Todd Rundgren. That extensive list that was posted really took me back a few years. I thought I was one of a few who remembered Rastus. I've got their double vinyl in my collection.I can't remember if I saw Magic listed, they were fun. I remember seeing quite a few of the afformentioned bands down at The Plato, House of Bud, Pirates Cove. What a rich era for live music. Thanx for the"Walk Down Memory Road."

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Darlene, that's a cool story of your own! I don't know of Bruno Mikos, but I do know that Youngstown continues to be a hotbed of polka music. A substantial portion of Grammy-winning polka albums over the past several years have been recorded at Peppermint Productions here in Youngstown, a studio whose owner I know.

In fact, Peppermint back in the day also recorded a number of rock groups, including my own hometown favorites Blue Ash -- a simply amazing band that anyone who loves Raspberries would love too. They had an album out on Mercury in 1973 and a later one on the Playboy label. But beyond this, they recorded incessantly at Peppermint, and much of this unreleased material is now available on "...Around Again," a 2-CD set that I can't recommend highly enough. Go to www.blueashmusic.com to learn more.

Blue Ash has reunited of late to play a few selected gigs, and I was fortunate enough to see them perform in Sharon, PA just two nights before the first Raspberries show. I tell everyone that I saw both bands on the same bill at Packard Music Hall in Warren on January 31, 1974 (and I've got the tape to prove it, snared on my smuggled-in cassette recorder). I never in a million years imagined I'd see them again...and yet I saw them both within two nights of each other. That was a great week!

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Oh man, Tiny Alice. Great electric fiddle or what. Oranges and Blues, I'm sure the only song ever written about Howard Johnson's. I imbibed way too much in my youth, but I still wouldn't change a thing. One more: remember a group called Reign ? Used to do tons of medleys, Yes, Rundgren, Stevie Wonder.

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how about Sweetleaf? I ran into the lead singer

(Ron Latare(wicz)last week. I played with Norm Tischler(the sax from Tiny Alice) last month.

Rastus' guitarist(at the time he was only 17)

is real popular in Cleveland... His name is Joe SanFillipo aka"Butch Armstrong".I see him all the time

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