Before going solo, Bill spent over 35 years as a bass player and backing vocalist with a long succession of bands…Here’s a chronology, some old photos, and audio clips from each:
Note from Bill: As I got deeper into building this site, I realized that in order to tell folks about who I am and why I play the songs that I play, it would help to give a bit of background about my influences and experiences, and how they led to my stepping out as a solo singer/guitarist…It’s for sure that the solo performer you’re seeing these days owes a tremendous debt to the musicians I’ve played with over the years and all that I learned from them. It has been my incredibly good fortune to have played in so many diverse (and really cool) bands, with so many talented and amazing musicians. Their collective influence is an elemental part of what I’m doing now.
For all the magic I shared with all of you guys, I am eternally grateful….
1975-76 “Friends of the Sacred Biostat” (I still don’t know what that means) My very first band (well, not counting “Grand Junk Railroad “, making high school buddy Mark’s parents crazy with our caterwauling in their garage) FSB was four 19-21 year-old guys rockin’ their socks off twice weekly at “The House of Zalack”. We played just 2 paying gigs, but I was hooked. My hat will always be off to guitarists Henry Seiz and Tex Green, and drummer/thunder god Mike Z. for the great times we had and especially for the “band skills” I learned from those guys. Right from the start, we were a “practice first, party afterwards” kinda band. In the music biz we call this “having a good work ethic”.
Forever and always, a huge “thank you” to Mr. & Mrs. Z. for being the coolest ”band parents” ever.Addendum: 41 years after that magical summer of ’75, the Friends of the Sacred Biostat re-united in October, 2016 for a weekend of fun and music. After many months of planning, Mike drove from NC and Tex from ME for a 4-day “Band Camp Weekend”….Lotsa of catching up (and whooping it up) many hours of serious rehearsal, culminating in a basement concert for a dozen friends, complete with first-rate digital audio recording (many thanks to Michael Carr’s Holland Studios) How many bands do you know, pro or amateur, who get their original members back together after 4 decades apart? I feel so very, very fortunate to have started out with these guys and that we’re able to do this. I nominated my amazing wife Dianne for Sainthood and am still awaiting a reply from The Vatican.
Out of Control/Memphis
Rocky Mtn. Way
1977-80 “The Lost Weekend Swamp Stompers” Like our business card said, “More or Less Traditional Bluegrass“…Everyone from Bill Monroe to Randy Newman to Jimi Hendrix was on our playlist; anything in between was fair game. We also had some pretty good originals (check out “Birdbath Ballet” below)
The ‘Stompers early days saw a few lineup changes, but eventually the pieces came together to form an inventive and entertaining little band that worked pretty regularly and never failed to surprise….sometime the audience, sometimes ourselves. Thanks to Jerome Kevin, Henry Seiz, and Mark Horvath for being part of the band’s formative years and to Dave Turner, Vern Warta, and Billy Conley for all the great gigs, your commitment to always be working toward making it better, and a musical legacy that still makes me smile. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out here to our occasional (and always amazing/amusing) guest-artiste Damien Boucher on violin and madness…(that’s him on Rain and Snow)
Knockin’ On Your Door
You Better Cut It Out
Rain and Snow
Birdbath Ballet II
1980-83 “Back In The Saddle” This band grew from the ashes of the ‘Stompers after Billy Conley moved away. Dave traded his acoustic for a Les Paul and Vern swapped his Dobro for pedal steel; we added Pete Cowley on drums and my old FSB buddy Tex on lead guitar and we were Back In The Saddle. We had ourselves a rollicking good time playing tunes by Commander Cody, the New Riders, Little Feat, Jerry Jeff Walker, and John Prine. The band’s final lineup (Dave Turner-lead vocal/rhythm guitar, Michael Carr-lead guitar, Vern Warta-pedal steel/vocals, David Spencer Hiller-drums/vocals, and myself on bass/harmony & lead vocal) was short-lived but we laid down some tunes that still have a pretty good Wow Factor. A reunion tour? Hell, yeah…anytime.
As the Raven Flies
Racin’ in the Streets
Smoke, Smoke, Smoke..
1984-89 “The Mt. Pleasant Garage Band” Like they say, when one door closes, another one opens. Back in the Saddle disbanded in late 1983; I was crushed…I thought we were just hitting our stride, but that’s how it goes with bands. It’s kinda like being married to several people at once. You married folks know how it can sometimes be difficult to keep just one spouse happy…now try doing that little high-wire act with 3 or 4 people at once. After a few weeks of being bandless, I was invited to replace the late Wayne Miller in the Garage Band. Thus began my introduction to several hitherto unexplored (at least by me) musical genres and several of my most favorite songwriters/artists. Once again, I was fortunate enough to find myself among fine musicians. Multi-instrumentalist / vocalist/audio effects wizard (and sadly now departed) Dan Balde, Tom Salvito on rhythm/vocal, Dennis McGrath on percussion/vocal, and, at times, either Tom Blatz or Dennis Freiwald on fiddle. (We went fiddle-less for a while before finally adding Brunetti on accordian and keys. Sadly, Jerry is also no longer with us) The Garage Band dabbled in a lot of different styles and tended towards tunes that were unfamiliar to a wider audience, so we never really became local “mainstays”, but our small cadre of loyal fans and especially our fellow musicians really loved our “sound”. Here are few tunes from 25 years ago. They still sound pretty good to me.
I Can’t Work
Make the World Turn Around
White Line Confrontation
Whiter Shade of Pale
1990-2003 “The Buffalo Hollow Bluegrass Band” Once again, my phone rang in a very timely fashion. The Garage Band, though artistically very satisfying, was populated by, shall we say, several very Alpha males, each with his own Very Definite Ideas About How Things Should Be. Anybody whose known me for more than 5 minutes knows that I’m not wired that way, so….
Thanks to an old buddy, (also now sadly departed) Fiddlin’ Bill Huber, I was offered the bass spot in the Buffalo Hollow Bluegrass Band, with whom I had a long and happy tenure. It was my pleasure and privilege to spend 13 years with these great guys: Ciro Lopinto-guitar, banjo, accordian, vocal; Chuck Winch-banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, vocal; Bill Huber-fiddle, mandolin, vocal. After Bill passed suddenly in 1999; his spot was most ably filled by Pete Becker on mandolin, guitar, & vocal. We were a 5-piece during my initial years with the band, with gifted luthier Mike Terris on banjo, guitar, mandolin, dobro, (he built them all) and vocal. In 2004, Ciro and I both moved from the Hunterdon County area at about the same time and that, as they say, was that.
Under the Boardwalk
You Don’t Miss Your Water
2005-2012 “the co-dependents” Most folks considered us a classic rock band…but “the co-dependents” were a whole lot more than that, both musically and to me personally. Late in 2004, I arrived in to Kansas after a lifetime in New Jersey. I spent the first several months here like a fish who’d suddenly found himself in a much smaller pond after a musical lifetime of swimming in a veritable musical ocean, one teeming with dozens of bands, hundreds of good musicians, and all manner of venues and opportunities. After six months of musical exile, a chance encounter with the “bassist available” card I’d posted at Emporias’ Flint Hills Music http://www.flinthillsmusic.com/ connected me with one Christopher Wade Crump. Wade was also a transplant, and likewise desperate to fill his own musical vacuum. He spotted my card, called me, and we hit it off instantly, like separated-at-birth brothers. Despite the substantial age difference between us, we somehow knew dozens of the same tunes and harmonized like we’d been singing together all of our lives. Soon, we had enough songs rehearsed to start playing out.
One night on Wade’s porch, while musing about the circumstances that led to our partnership…two castaways, washed onto the same little “island”, how we were each dependent on the other to sustain our musical lives…Wade suggested we should bill our act as “the co-dependents”. After two years as a duo, we finally found a dependable, steady drummer in Taylor “T-Bone” Everhart. The three of us rocked the Lyon/Chase/Coffey/Osage county area until October, 2012…blowing audiences minds with the improbable segues that became our trademark (Going from the Flying Burrito Brothers to Badfinger to Merle Haggard to the Stone Temple Pilots was pretty typical) “the co-dependents” were: Wade Crump-lead guitar, lead/harmony vocals, harp. Taylor “T-Bone” Everhart-drums, and Yours Truly on Fender bass and harmony/lead vocal.
Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number
I Can See Clearly Now