WHO/WHAT?

2003 CD release featuring the talents of a number of musicians from the Lehigh Valley area, including:
CHAS COCHRAN - Vocals, Blues Harp (Harmonica), Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Handclapping (it's a special skill...)
RON BYRNE - Vibes, Piano
MATT COCHRAN - Trumpet
DEREK COLLINS - Bass
CRAIG "CJ" COYLE - Drums
DAVE FERRARA - Drums
TYRONE FREDERICKS - Tenor Saxophone
KASSI FURMAN - Vocals
CHRIS GANNON - Bass Guitar, Percussion, Handclapping
BETH GUERRERO - Bass
JAKE HECK - Electric & Acoustic Guitar
CRAIG KASTELNIK - Piano, Organ
VENESSA LOVELL - Vocals
DAN McKINNEY - Piano, Organ, Percussion, "Dinky Cymbal", Handclapping
GARY RISSMILLER - Drums
RANDY SMITH - Electric Guitar
"CHICAGO" CARL SNYDER - Piano
"WILD BILL" TANNER - Drums
MARK TOMLINSON - Drums
MITCH SHELLY - Double Bass
TODD WOLFE - Acoustic and Electric Slide Guitar

(See information about musicians below...)
All songs composed by Chas
Copyright 2003

RON BYRNE - I met Ron through work (day job) and we immediately hit it off. Our mutual love of music became the basis for many animated discussions. After jamming a few times, it became very clear that I had to have Ron showcase his talents on the CD, which he was very willing to do. The sound of the vibes and Ron's great playing added a dimension to a number of the tunes which obviously would not have otherwise been there. Ron is an experienced jazz musician who has played with numerous groups over the years. ;Ron has since retired and he and his wife now live in the York, PA area. I'm thrilled to have been able to have him play both vibes and piano on this recording.

MATT COCHRAN - Matt is my youngest son, currently studying music at Kutztown University. He's been playing since grade school, took private lessons from Ken Brader and played in the Easton High School Jazz Band under the direction of Carol Lutte. Of course, he just had to be a part of this project, and I was very pleased with the clever stuff he came up with. Matt has his own band called "Browntown" - visit his website (on LINKS page) and try to catch these guys...you'll really enjoy them!!

DEREK COLLINS - Derek played with Matt in the EAHS Jazz Band. He plays Bass, Trombone and Drums. Early in the project I had some difficulty hooking up with bass players. Derek came to the rescue! He laid down some very fine stuff on three of the tunes. He's also studying music...thanks a bunch Derek!

CRAIG "CJ" COYLE - Craig is a talented and experienced percussionist (and vocalist) who's played with numerous bands in the Lehigh Valley for many years. I first met him when he was playing with Chicago Carl and Jimmy Lawrence, then really dug him when he would sit in with Al G and Shades of Blue. More recently, he's has been the solid beat behind B.C. and the Blues Crew. I was thrilled when he agreed to lay down drum tracks for several of my songs...the "machine gun" turnaround in 'Freight Train' was his innovation. I was very pleased with the stuff he did. Listen and you'll agree.

DAVE FERRARA - On C.E.O. I needed to get a real "rock" drum sound with a good feel for the unusual changes. Dan had been telling me from early on that Dave would be able to get just the right feel I was looking for. He was right on! Dave was brought in for the express purpose of laying down the drum track for that song. What you hear, is what he did...and what I was looking for.

TYRONE FREDERICKS - Ty is another guy I met when Matt was playing in the EAHS Jazz Band. Way back when he was still in high school I said "I want that guy on my CD". That was way before this project even got started. I knew he would add some great stuff to the songs he played on, and that's exactly what he did. Every solo has real excitement and feeling. Ty is another music student who has played with several bands. You can also hear him with 'Browntown'.

KASSI FURMAN - I had asked a good friend and great singer, Tara Gannon to help out with background vocals, but on the recording date she fell ill. Tara called her Mom, Kassi, who was very willing to help out. Kassi is a great jazz vocalist who has gained a great deal of respect in the New Jersey/Eastern PA area. Her powerful and soulful voice so overpowered mine, that we had to turn her down and me up, just so you could hear my voice! Having her and Venessa singing background vocals was a real treat and added immensely to the fullness of the sound. Kassi periodically performs dinner shows with some great jazz musicians. Watch this site and I'll let you know when the next one comes up. You will really enjoy yourself!!

CHRIS GANNON - Chris (who happens to be Tara's husband) is a very talented singer/songwriter/guitarist whom I met about halfway thru the project. Chris has an excellent feel for 'what to play', and was invited into the studio for two sessions to lay down bass guitar tracks. I couldn't have been more pleased with what he did. He also added that interesting, subtle triangle line in 'Hoping Endlessly' in addition to loaning me numerous percussive instruments for that song as well as 'Visitor'. All in all, his contribution added immeasurably to the overall sound. Way to go, brother!

BETH GUERRERO - Beth is a talented young lady who plays bass guitar. Her father, Al Guerrero, was a beloved musician who passed away in the fall of 2002. Al was very much loved and highly respected for his talent. Beth agreed to lay down a bass track for 'Pond Scum' which was done in memory of her father. She did a very fine job, and we wish her much success in her future musical endeavors.

JAKE HECK - Jake is probably the youngest performer on this CD, alongside some real 'old-timers'!! (Not sure who's younger, Jake or Beth). But he's certainly no amateur. I had heard Jake sit in with 'Hurry Down Sunshine' at the Quadrant in Easton many years ago, and pegged him as a 'child prodigy'. When Jake joined us old guys for the Quadrant alley thing a couple of years ago, I knew I wanted to have him be part of this project. When his time came, he just blew in and effortlessly played everything with freshness and innovation. A very talented young man. 'Right Back Jack' is truly a one-take song...unlike anything else on the CD. Dan mic'ed my acoustic guitar and set up the vocal mic while I went over the basic structure of the song with Jake. When Dan started to record, we had not even gone thru the song completely, and yet Jake had the EXACT feel for what to do...incredible. You can see Jake with his band "Spirit Island' playing in the area. I believe you'll be seeing and hearing a lot from this guy!!

CRAIG KASTELNIK - Craig is one the most talented keyboard players in this region, who has certainly paid his dues and apparently can play ANY style, and play it extremely well. Craig and his wife Patty perform as 'Kato', which is how I first met him down at Larry Holmes Ringside. I was reluctant to ask him to participate, but was thrilled when he showed a great willingness to lend his talents. In two sessions Craig laid down both piano and Hammond organ tracks on three songs. I don't have to say a word...just listen! I'll mention more down below when I discuss Gary Rissmiller.

VENESSA LOVELL - Is that a great name for a singer, or what? And can she sing!! This is an interesting story (which you can read about on the WHY/HOW page). Venessa and Kassi sang their hearts out and kinda put me to shame. I should have written some songs and let them sing lead!! (Maybe the NEXT CD...). I wish I could tell you more about her, but I really don't know her. Great job, Venessa...hope to see ya again soon!

DAN McKINNEY - This is the guy who made the whole thing work. A seasoned keyboard player who has played with various groups over the years, Dan has most recently been playing with The Jim Weider Band. Try to catch these guys when you can (and get the CD's). Extremely talented and very entertaining. Dan did all the engineering on the CD in addition to playing on several songs, furnishing valuable production advise, did the final mixing and mastering, put together the CD graphics and pretty much helped make the whole thing happen. Besides all these talents, he is just a real delight to work with and I look forward to more recording work in the future. Check out his website at www.DansHouseStudio.com.

GARY RISSMILLER - Gary is almost a legend in this area. A highly-respected jazz drummer who has played with some of the best, I knew I had to at least make the effort to invite him to participate. Several of the songs have a very jazzy feel that need that "touch", especially when it comes to brush work. I had seen him with Craig Kastelnik, Tom Kozic and Nelson Hill at 2nd Avenue in Bethlehem, and they just blew me away!! I gave him a sample CD of songs I'd like him to play on and was thrilled when he called and said he was "in"!! Take a listen, you'll know exactly what I mean.

RANDY SMITH - Now here is an underrated guitar player. Met Randy by way of the LVBN Blues jams in Emmaus. I honestly didn't realize his immense talent until we got to spend some time playing together. Randy very kindly agreed to participate with me in the annual Quadrant Book Mart street performance during the Easton Blues Jam a few years ago. Randy's jazzy chord work absolutely MAKES 'Kimberly'. We erased my measley acoustic guitar track, and his chord-work became the driver for the song. He also knocked me out with the solo at the end of 'Freight Train'. What I like about that song is the way it sort of 'builds' to that point, and then it takes off!! Great job, guy!!

'CHICAGO' CARL SNYDER - I owe a great deal to Carl. Besides both having a 'Chicago' connection, we both have a love and appreciation for a wide range of music. First met Carl at Larry Holmes' Ringside playing with Jimmy Lawrence. His drummer, Dick 'The Stick' Klein and I had played together WAYYYY back in the early 70's (late 60's?). Carl invited me to play harp on their "Early In The Morning" CD, which is how I met Dan. Carl has always been very supportive and encouraging. Having played with some the very greatest Chicago Blues musicians, it is a real privilege to me to have him participate in this CD.

"WILD BILL" TANNER - Bill is another guy I would not have met were it not for the weekly LVBN Blues Jam at the Fire House in Emmaus. He also has been a regular at the annual Quadrant Book Mart jam in Easton. Each year during the 10-day long Easton Blues Jam, Jo at the Quadrant gets permission from the city to shut down the alley next to the store and an outdoor blues concert ensues. Every year it seems to get better. Bill furnishes the solid groove behind "Too Blue". If you want a solid, steady beat with a lot of feeling, he's the guy!

MARK TOMLINSON - Now here's a multi-talented guy!! Although you can hear him here playing some great drum licks, he's just at home playing lead guitar, bass, whatever. Mark has played with too many local and national acts to list here, yet a truly down to earth and regular guy. And he's always moving forward! Where are gonna see him next? I'm just grateful that he was kind enough to find some time in his busy schedule to set up his drum kit in Dan's studio and lay down the backbone to four of these songs. Thanks a bunch, Mark - wish you the best!

MITCH SHELLY - Mitch is no stranger to Lehigh Valley blues lovers! He is a show within a show every time you see him handle the bass guitar for 'B.C.' and the Blues Crew. I knew we needed the talents of an upright 'double' bass for several of these songs, but was at a loss as to who to approach. I learned very quickly that besides being a great electric bass player, Mitch was highly respected for his acoustic bass work. That was good enough for me! What I was NOT prepared for was the passion and innovation he displays. Like the others, Mitch was given a sample CD so he would have an idea of songs I wanted him to play on. I was overwhelmed when we got in the studio and I realized he had really WORKED on the bass parts, knew EXACTLY what to play, and had some great ideas which added much to each song. I couldn't have been more pleased with the results! If you get a chance to hear this guy play upright bass, don't miss it!

TODD WOLFE - Last, but certainly not least, is Todd. He's last ONLY alphabetically. This is another guy I met thru the LVBN jams, in his case during the brief period the jams were held at Fat Cats in Allentown. I was surprised to learn that a guy which such talent, and both national and international acclaim, could be such a down-to-earth regular guy. Always very supportive and enthusiastic, Todd has graciously allowed me to sit in with him on numerous occasions (as have many of the other musicians listed above). There are so many talented guitar players around, and so few songs on this CD with guitar solos, I wish I could have showcased the talents of many more. Nonetheless, when it came time to lay down guitar tracks, I asked Todd and he was more than willing to fit time in his busy schedule to pay a visit to Dan's studio and do some great 'slide' work, both acoustic and electric. I'm sure you'll agree, that stuff adds such a great dimension to those songs. Especially enjoyed what Todd did with 'Savannah'...it became a whole different song with that track. It's a treat to have such a talented musician and general all-round nice guy right here in the Lehigh Valley! Currently, Todd alternates hosting the weekly jam at the Bluetone in Easton on Wednesday nights with Thom Palmer on the alternate week. Bring your axe and sign up - great music, great place!


*****

Whew...that's it!! I only wish I could tell you much more about each of these fine musicians. It is really their talents that hold this thing together. Go out and support live music!! Don't get the idea that good live music can only be heard in bars and lounges, in a smoke-filled atmosphere, late at night. There are a number of venues in the Lehigh Valley area that are smoke-free, do not serve alcohol and have performances during afternoons and early evenings. Some are very upscale restaurants. In many, you can enjoy a very delicious and well-presented meal while listening to very entertaining music. Several of the people listed above are FULL TIME musicians...this is what they do!! Help them keep that music alive...get out and support live music. Thanks!!