Saturday night, downtown Akron live music venue Musica will play host to a couple of veteran area bands. Well, one veteran band and a veteran of the scene and his newish band.
First up, the Bizarros, whose salad days were during the late 1970s when Akron was being called “the new Liverpool.”
Bizarros singer Nick Nicholis, guitarist Jerry Parkins, bassist Don Parkins, keyboardist Terry Walker and “new” drummer Martyn Flunoy (he’s been in the band for more than a decade), released one record on (now defunct) major label Mercury Records, a few singles, a split album with the Rubber City Rebels and some tunes on local indie label Clone Records (conveniently owned and operated by Nicholis). Then, those pesky responsibilities of adulthood crept in (you know kids and jobs to pay for kids and stuff) and forced Nicholis to abandon his rock-star and record-label-kingpin dreams and embark on the quintessential Reagan-era yuppie transformation, becoming a stockbroker in the early 80s.
But about 23 years and a couple of grown children later, the band of friends reunited, recorded a solid album — Can’t Fight Your Way Up Town From Here — in 2003 and periodically have been playing shows ever since. However, the band holds no illusions about being discovered or finally hitting the big time.
Nicholis said they just enjoy playing and hanging out together, keeping their chops honed and writing songs for when gigs do pop up.
“For the last 10, 12 years since Martyn’s been in the band, we practice once a week whether we have a show or not. That’s why we’re tight and always have new songs,” Nicholis said. “You know how some guys go to clubs or organizations or go bowling, well this is what we do.”
Last year, Washington, D.C.-based label Windian Records released Bizarros-Complete Collection 1976-1980 on vinyl (it’s also available for download at iTunes and Amazon) which, as you can surmise from the title, is a collection of all the band’s known releases, some live tracks and unreleased demos for an album that never came to fruition. The compilation’s 26 tracks bolster the group’s local legend as a darn fine indie rock band (before indie rock was a thing).
For Nicholis, having the band’s catalog given the deluxe treatment was a bittersweet first listen.
“It brought back a lot of great memories. One of them was our [original] drummer Rick Garberson … He was such a good friend and such a great drummer and he died too young,” Nicholis said about Garberson who died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning when he was in his early 20s. “So there’s a little bit of sadness. Not only was he a great drummer, he made everybody laugh.
“There’s that feeling, but then also the feeling of pride of what we did when we were in our early 20s. I was real happy about the whole deal,” he said.
In addition to the band’s classics, the Bizarros will debut four new songs. They’ll also play some tunes from an entire album of new songs they recorded a few years ago, but as they are admittedly “technologically challenged,” they aren’t quite sure what to do with their latest magnum opus. Nicholis said he hopes eventually to release the songs in some format. He described the works as “arty-farty kind of songs rather than the raw kind of stuff that 25-, 26-year-old kids pick up.”
Also on the bill are the Bad Dudes, led by former Teacher’s Pet guitarist/singer Kal Mullens, who also played with Hammer Damage and served a brief stint in a twin guitar version of the Bizarros.
The Bad Dudes recorded a self-titled album a few years ago featuring Mullens’ Hammer Damage buddies — guitarist George Cabaniss and bassist Scott Winkler. It’s primarily a guitar bar-chord driven, garage- and hard-rock-flavored collection with tunes such as the garage-punkers Little Mystifier, Vengeance and Sweet Marie along with a few stylistic surprises such as the funky blues-rock tunes Can’t Shake Your Love and Keep on Running and some tuneful radio-ready rock such as Party Favors and the goofy old-school rocker Is Elvis in Hell.
There will be several decades worth of Akron rock on stage, so soak it in kids.
‘Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny’
That old Zappa quote leads us to this week’s jazz offerings.
First up is a relatively new-to-the-scene smooth jazz/R&B cat named Michael Egleton who has just released his debut album, That’s Alright.
Egleton, a Barberton native residing in Akron, will perform his songs on Friday night at Sonnets Espresso Bar & Restaurant in Wadsworth.
His music dwells in the smooth jazz/adult contemporary R&B realm mixing jazzy instrumentals with some cool Egleton-sung R&B tunes including Out of Time Again, which has a toe-tapping ’80s feel, and the gentle wistful ballad The More Things Change.
For anyone looking for a full evening of jazz and food, this month’s Jazz and Wine Total Experience will be a pre-Valentine’s Day concert and dinner featuring saxophonist Eddie Baccus Jr., son of famed Cleveland jazz organist Eddie Baccus Sr.
The Washington, D.C.-based Eddie Jr. has a pretty impressive resume, studying with Joe Lovano, touring with Lester Bowie of the avant icons the Art Ensemble of Chicago as well as being a longtime member/songwriter for smooth jazz veterans Pieces of a Dream.
Baccus Jr. has recorded two albums, Touch Me In The Morning and Smooth Jazz Does Motown’s Greatest Love Songs — and has played alongside famous folk such as Grover Washington Jr., Luther Vandross, India.Irie, George Benson and Stevie Wonder to name a few. He’ll be playing with Brian T. Wheatley (aka “Spyder”) and Craig Alston of Washington, D.C., and Cleveland’s own Alphonso McDuffie and Kevin Byous.
There also will be between-set music provided by DJ Lo-Key and a dinner that includes salmon, surf and turf, pork chops and of course, wine.
If you’re a fan of smooth jazz, line and hand dancing (I’m gonna learn that stuff some day) and a cool atmosphere for grown folks, head to the Holiday Inn on Medina Road in the Montrose area of Bath Township for a fun and funky evening.
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at 330-996-3758 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s also on Facebook as Malcolm X Abram. … Go figure.