WHERE WE COME FROM
2016 Update: Ten years on and there're a lot more changes. Mark left BLAS. Kevin Happell joined to play guitar (Pet UFO, Tarantula). We recorded and released our Cedar Knees CD. We recorded another full-length but didn't release it. Jacob left BLAS. We remixed the tracks with Joe Viers. Thomas D. Schmidt stood in on bass. Tom and Jess had a baby. Brian Freshour joined us to play bass. Brian left BLAS. Tom and Jess ironed out some childcare so we got Tom back. The plan as of now is to release a double-LP/digital release of the older recordings and a new batch we'll do with Joe as one record on Anyway Records this year. We don't have any other personnel changes planned...
2006 Update: So there's a new band. Greenhorn reformed after my return to Columbus in 2003 after a short BLAS revival. We recorded a bunch of songs and released a CD but couldn't seem to hold together long enough to make much more happen. So my brother, Mark (Isle of Pines, The Flashing Clock, Lootsville) and I did a couple of things trying to get the Bush League ball rolling again but weren't having much success. I was walking out of Target one day and just happened to run into rock-king, George Hondroulis (sweet melons, evil queens, killionaires, jack neat, et al). I was pretty discouraged about my musical prospects at the time as I just wasn't having any luck with putting a group of people together. I played with some cool folks but couldn't seem to get anything to stick for long. So I asked George if he knew any rock drummers who might be looking for something to do. I was happily surprised to find out that he was one such drummer and things just sort of came together from that. His Evil Queen's brother and long-time bandmate, Jacob Sundermeyer (Evil Queens, the Means, Killionaires, et al) readily agreed to take on the low end duties. I hadn't seen him in that role before but the dude plays the bass like he plays the guitar - he rocks. Then along came Jessie. Jess played keys with The Celebrity Pilots, Tiara, Chris McCoy & the Gospel and the Last Hotel, among others and I was (and am) thrilled she agreed to come aboard. She's also one of two principles behind the Columbus Music Co-Op, a non-profit dedicated to making Columbus a better place through music.
Original, Overly Self-Indulgent, Incomplete Bio
I was once very bored and I sat down to write this personal bio and musical history. There are a few details missing but these are all the groups I've played with that ever recorded and released anything. I had to get this down before my memory started fading...
I started, in earnest, writing, playing guitar and recording music in 1987, forcing my way into my brother's band, Two Hour Trip. They didn't really want another guitarist, much less a beginner, but they got both. I later learned we were all cutting our teeth to some extent. The band slowly disintegrated for no determined reason and we all went our separate ways. We did manage to record a decent demo tape and released a single for Columbus' own, Datapanik Records. We did a cover of a Peter Laughner song, Dear Richard, recorded in April of 1989.
Shortly thereafter, I started my own power trio, Big Red Sun with Pat McGann and Jason Sturgis. Pat stayed with me for a long time, in fact he's still a great friend and we play music together when he's in town. Jason went on to propel Train Meets Truck and started Hensley/Sturgis with Barry Hensley to further his own material. There's nothing like getting it right the first time. Saves a lot of headache down the line. Big Red Sun's claim to fame is another single for Datapanik, this time two original tunes : Compulsion b/w Faintest Clue. It came out in 1991. We ran 600 singles total with 100 beautiful, clear, red vinyl. All the records were individually hand-numbered.
Big Red Sun had some fun and played some great shows but ultimately laid the groundwork for the rock outfit, Greenhorn. Greenhorn came to be when Pat and I were without a bassist and Pat's brother Steve and my brother Mark, who were also playing together, were without a drummer. Two pairs of brothers seemed a little volatile. It was. The chemistry was so thick you could feel it like that tightness in the top of your head during a three-day hangover. Though it makes for an electric experience it was also ultimately what led to our downfall. Greenhorn collapsed amid these and other pressures on the eve of signing a deal with San Francisco's Alias Records. But that was far from the end for this group. After what seemed like three or four reunion shows, we decided that we were enjoying ourselves too much to limit our involvement to just reunion shows. So we became a band again, this time loosely organized and without the push that separated us. Though we have officially put our performing days behind us, I'm still hopeful we will someday release a vanity pressing of a collection of our work. Don't hold your breath though, cause we've always worked on another schedule.
We released a string of singles and kicked it all off with two tracks for a Datapanik compilation CD, Bumped by Karaoke, to which we provided, Sassafras Tea and The Dreamer. This was followed shortly after by another Datapanik 7", a bit of real sadness b/w The Progress. We were picking up momentum and, bolstered by a scene that was as prolific as it was talented, we contributed a song to the first Anyway Records compilation 7" Shell. Gaunt, Belreve and V-3 shared the grooves with us and this was the start of something beautiful. The Cowtown E.P.'s came out punching and this was the start of our relationship with Bela, one of Anyway's enigmatic founders (the other being the late Jerry Wick of Gaunt). Anyway Records had picked up where Datapanik had left off and has put out a slew of fine records to date. Unsure of what was happening, our next single came out as a joint effort of both labels. 1992's Conversations With Myself b/w Callous garnered great reviews and the grumbling rock machine kept humming. So we kicked out another 7", this time on Anyway. Through the Thick of It b /w Chastity was recorded in the summer of 1993 and was supposed to be the prerelease of two album tracks. That record never came to be for God knows what reason. It was too long ago. So we motored on, though the wheels were starting to come off. Mostly due to the success of the New Bomb Turks and Gaunt, Engine Records re -released all the Datapanik singles on a CD. Convenient for those without a turntable, I guess. I still have plenty of vinyl copies of our singles in the basement, so it surely wasn't for that reason. 1993 also saw a track contributed to Eardrop Production's, For Your Ears Only sampler, a live version of the anthem, Leadhead. Later that same year, Ajax Records of Chicago formed a subsidiary label, 3 Beads of Sweat and Greenhorn gave Tim two tracks for their initial single. A concept 7", Liar's Song b/w Lover's Song came out of the same recording sessions as the Through the Thick of It record, now affectionately referred to as the Steve's Garage sessions. The records were individually hand-numbered and 500 were issued. The sleeve features an original work by NY artist, Sharon Anderson and the Barbie Doll imagery contrasted nicely with the testosterone -fueled skronk within. In another attempt to get the music to the masses, Get Hip Recordings of Pittsburgh re -released the Anyway singles on a compilation CD in 1994. That disc included two of the Anyway 7-inches mentioned above, Conversations With Myself b/w Callous and Cowtown EP, Volume 1. Strangely, our other work was not included... hmm, I'd never thought about that before.1994 brought the beginning of the end for Greenhorn and the band slowly disintegrated, but not before contributing a track to Pop Narcotic's, Why Do You Think They Call It Pop? EP. Beautifully packaged and released on two 10" platters, we handed over a ripping version of Paul Simon's, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover and shared space with Boston's Kudgel and southern deconstructionists The Grifters on our slab of vinyl. This and the Ajax 7" were released after the demise of the band but the connections proved fruitful for my future endeavors.
I recorded with Columbus band Moviola in my spare time and made my way onto one of their 7" singles playing slide guitar on Lookin' In, which was released in 1994. I also began a musical relationship around this time with Columbus' whiskey-soaked diva, Jenny Mae. She released a great record on Anyway which I unfortunately did not contribute to called There's a Bar Around the Corner... Assholes in 1995. She didn't have a regular band at this time though, so when she had a show, she'd make a few phone calls. You never knew who was going to show up. After the release of the record and the subsequent critical acclaim, it became clear she needed something a bit more stable. So she assembled a band and we rehearsed regularly. A novel idea, I know. We ended up recording another full-length for Anyway and this time I was invited along for the ride. It may be one of the finest recording experiences of my life, if only because of the dextrous editing of Jeff Graham who made me sound as if I could actually play the guitar. Don't Wait Up For Me came out in 1998 and we spent a couple of years doing weekends on the road in support of that effort. We are still waiting for Jenny so we can record the follow -up. Still waiting... but we recorded an additional track for a 7" for American Pop Project. I'd Do The Same For You was conceived in a moment at Moviola's practice space/studio and Jenny and Ted Hattemer and I knocked it out. I think there may have been other tracks recorded as well but I can't recall at present.
But I skipped an important step which preceded my full -time involvement with Jenny Mae by a bit... the Bush League All-Stars. I assembled the All-Stars in the wake of the crumbling giant Greenhorn and started as a three piece but soon expanded to include guitarist/songwriter Sean Beal of Big Back 40, Train Meets Truck, Feversmile, etc. The rhythm section of Matt Gramly on drums and Dan Cochran on the bass guitar had come together to help Greenhorn find it's resting place as the McGann boys evacuated. They stayed on to form the backbone of the All Stars and record Old Numbers with me. Pop Narcotic had wanted to do a full-length with Greenhorn prior to our demise but after hearing a demo of the new Bush League stuff extended the offer to us. I was thrilled to say the least and before long we traveled to Chicago to work with Bob Weston of Shellac and Mission of Burma on our CD. The tracking took place in two long days with a third devoted to mixing. Weston quickly displayed his genius and the mixes were complete by the end of day three. The Mashed Potato EP also came out in '95 and included Pencilweight from the disc and Cut From Years, which was recorded in Dan Cochran's kitchen using a single mic. German label Glitterhouse Records produced and distributed the CD for sale in Europe in early 1996.
The CD received great reviews but progress was stunted by the departure of the band en masse, due to artistic differences. Hee, hee. I gathered together some Columbus veterans including Eddie Mann of Ugly Stick and Don Hartmann and Mike Travis of Gunshy Ministers and we hit the road. We learned as we went and things tightened up quickly. The style of the band had changed dramatically from a backbeat heavy, groove oriented feel to an in-your-face, on-top-of-the-beat focus and some of the older material had to be reinterpreted. I also wrote a lot of songs for this new band. The style of the band forced me to dramatically change the style of song I had become accustomed to writing and this turned out to be a really good change and things rolled along for some time. The result was melodic and straight -forward with touchstones like the Replacements, Dream Syndicate and X.
We recorded first in Boston's Cold Room with Darron Burke in May of 1995. One track from this session made it onto a compilation from Darla Records; Little Darla Has A Treat For You, Volume 2, and our track was S.S.E. The other tracks were slated to be released on the ill-fated and, ultimately, archived, Academic EP for Pop Narcotic. The same held true for the second Bush League record which was recorded later that year. The band returned to Chicago to work with Master Weston once again but the tracks have never seen the light of day. Pop Narcotic closed their doors in the first quarter of 1996 before either of these efforts was released.
So after 1997 saw the release of Jenny Mae's second LP and '98 disappeared in a drunken haze, what then? I got married in1995, had a couple of beautiful babies, reunited with Greenhorn and Jenny Mae on occasion and moved out of Columbus. In 2000 my family and I moved to Wooster, Ohio, which is technically closer to Cleveland than Columbus. I had begun to stagnate musically in Columbus and after several attempts to get something started I decided it was time for a big change. The Rub was a short-lived but vibrant project that consisted of the McGann brothers doing what they do best and Don Hartmann of the All-Stars playing rhythm guitar. We recorded the basic tracks for a full length for this configuration but it died in the water. Lack of funds and assorted odd forces steered the Rub into the ditch. I also began work on a solo project with Jake Housh of Moviola and recorded several tunes with him in his various studios. This experience was pivotal in that it ignited a flame which I thought was all but snuffed out. This in turn led me to pursue another tack altogether.
Wooster is not known for it's music scene but my family followed a work opportunity. I met the Peachbones shortly after moving to Wooster at a Greenhorn show in Columbus. When I found out they were from a town which was only 20 minutes from my new home I formulated a proposal. I tentatively e-mailed the Peachbones asking them to back me up for some shows and possibly some recording. They were excited about the idea and we never looked back. The Peachbones released their own full-length, Big, Ohio in 2002 and have been engaged in various projects since. I had completed the tracks I started with the Rub for release as a Bush League All-Stars CD, but like so many others the project got derailed. The Peachbones guys added tracks to the sessions to bring them up to date but most of that material has yet to be released under the All-Stars moniker.
I also recorded with the All-Stars at Joe's Garage in Massillon, Ohio as part of an internship for an aspiring engineer. We served as her musical guinea pigs while she learned her way around the mixing console and in return we get to keep the recorded result. The mixes sound good but I haven't done anything with the tracks to date. Vern Miller, who played bass with the Peachbones when I met them, has since moved on from both bands and, the last I heard, had a good gig as the music director at a church near Cleveland. When Vern stepped out, Steve McGann stepped in. He was a logical choice as I've played with him on and off for longer than I care to admit in writing and he is one of my favorite people and bass players, bar none. This version of the All-Stars was especially compelling to me because the Peachbones guys (who were still in the band) had really gotten comfortable with my material and the addition of Steve furthered that. Sadly, a change in my personal life would have a hand in disassembling this group.
My family decided to move back to Columbus in the summer of 2003 and I decided it would be best to try to establish something local at that point. It was a no-brainer to add Steve's brother, Pat on the drums. Together, they are better than Sly and Robbie and they hammer like Bonham and Jones. Sean Beal came back into the picture at this time too and heard rumours he was playing a show with us before he'd even played any of the songs. But the man is a true pro and one practice later he was on stage like he'd never missed a day.
So there you have it, my bio. I feel a whole lot better getting it off my chest, too. I'd like to say I'll update and rewrite this as it happens but that would be a lie. If you have anything to add though please, email me.