Saturday, September 17, 2011

Karan Chavis Brings Good Times to Good Time Charley’s

Guest blogger: Rhonda Brinkmann

The Karan Chavis Band rocked Good Time Charley's last Friday. Photo: West Communications.

Anyone watching the Karan Chavis Band set up at Good Time Charley’s last Friday night would have doubted they could get all their equipment, not to mention the band members themselves, into the small corner of the packed restaurant. But after 25 minutes of unpacking, repacking, and rearranging, the six-person band was tucked away -- cozy, but ready to entertain.

And entertain they did. With classics including Get Your Kicks On Route 66, How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You, Brown-Eyed Girl, Amarillo By Morning, Rose-Colored Glasses, and Georgia On My Mind, they kept the crowd swaying and cheering. The eatery in the historic downtown section of Bryan, Texas, was packed from the start of the performance. Fortunately, the restaurant has a side room and the staff found places to seat more people coming in throughout the evening.

Chavis explained that she’d been battling a cold all week, but it didn’t harm her soulful style. Her voice was as smooth as the Smooth Operator she sang about. Maybe there were a few more instrumental breaks than usual. Maybe the band members stepped up to the mic to take the vocals a little more often than they sometimes do. But with so much talent on display from band members Monte Mann, Larry Seyer, Kevin Hall, David Webb, and Craig Nietfeld, the audience relished each song. When Karan did belt out a number, her voice was as strong and smooth and sultry as ever.

Good Time Charley’s is named for the historic Charles Hotel Building, where the restaurant has occupied the ground floor for less than a year. During its operation from 1939 to the 1980s, the Charles Hotel must certainly have seen its share of good times, and if Good Time Charley’s continues to bring in talented bands like the Karan Chavis Band, good food and good music will continue to thrive in historic Downtown Bryan.

[Note: Story originally published on on Sept. 17, 2011.]

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Karan Chavis: Song Styles Fit the Occasion, Two Chances to Hear Her in September 2011

[Karan Chavis and her band perform for V-Twins Rock: Motorcycle Enthusiasts & Musicians Join Forces To Fight Cancer, the 2010 Breast Cancer Awareness special event, University Towne Center, Oct. 2, 2010, College Station, Texas. Band: Monte Mann on guitar, Mark R. Harris, bass guitar, Art Kidd, drums, Ryan Murphy, Keyboards.]

When Karan Chavis sings a favorite classic rock song, she owns it. Her version of “Proud Mary” is such that Tina Turner would nod her head in approval. Chavis was singing “At Last” in shows long before the Etta James version came to the forefront. The blues are the blues when Karan belts them out as few others can. Gospel takes on a new level when just her acapella offerings are moving and powerful.

The works of Ella Fitzgerald were part of Karan’s repertoire last summer in Austin in a tribute concert performed at the One World Theatre. And yet, she doesn’t have to sing ‘just like’ someone to be given kudos. The versatile Chavis also composes her own music as well in an upbeat, powerful style that is truly her own. She's been working on a new CD project when time permits.

It’s seemingly all too rare that she perfoms in the Bryan-College Station area, because other cities keep booking her first. That’s good for Chavis, but it’s better for Aggieland that she’s in concert this weekend. And since it’s a football weekend with TAMU hosting Idaho on Saturday evening, visitors will be looking for great music, so locals need to arrive early Friday night.

On Friday, September 16, Karan and her band will be performing at Goodtime Charlie's. Music begins at 7:00 pm and will go through 11:00 pm. The downtown Bryan club is located at 201 S. Main (the old Papa Perez location). Word to the wise: nearby parking is plentiful, but get there early.

Chavis is delighted to have her band with her for this performance. Many who’ve seen her before enjoy seeing Larry Seyer and Monte Mann on guitar, Kevin Hall on drums, and David Webb on keys. They’ll all be here.

Later this month, on Wednesday, September 28th, there’s also a chance to see Karan in Austin as she’ll lend her vocals to an evening of Blues & Swing with The Fenno-Hilboldt Project. The backdrop of another colorful Austin sunset in the hills, an outdoor special event at Central Market Westgate. Perfect for a late September evening.

The Fenno-Hilboldt group consists of leader Jimmy Fenno (drums/vocals), Jamie Hilboldt (keys/vocals), Sean Hopper (bass), and Karan Chavis will sing. The evening begins at 6:30 and goes til 9:30 pm. For directions to Central Market Westgate, click here. Hilboldt and Chavis are a familiar team, having played in musical events together years ago in Austin, all the way back to even days occasionally singing on dates where Rotel & The Hot Tomatoes were holding forth with their power-rock 50s/60s/70s tributes.

Hilboldt also travels the country as keyboardist and musical director for classic rock star Gary Puckett (“Young Girl”, “Lady Willpower”, etc.), and everything he plays is perfectly styled and suited for Karan’s soulful voice that embodies the blues. Fenno’s strengths and specialties include the standards by Frank Sinatra, Louis Prima, Louis Jordan, and Louis Armstrong. Chances are good, then, for Karan to sing her signature “Satchmo Blues,” where she voices both Louis Armstrong and Miss Ella Fitzgerald in echoes and answers to the lines. Two must-see, must-hear events.

For more on Karan's latest activities, check out her web site

Friday, September 9, 2011

The MOB—From Chicago, IL to Sioux Falls, SD in 30 years or less: Andantino di canzona

Fourth in a series of “How The MOB (one of Chicago’s first horn bands) landed in the South Dakota Rock & Roll Hall of Fame” in April 2011.

Andantino in moda di canzona

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” or so goes the spoken demand in “The Wizard of Oz”. Remember that? To be sure, Chicagoland is no ‘land of Oz,’ but the music scene is a seemingly close community. Many will stand at various gates, but they’re ready to welcome you inside, not keep you out. But where exactly is Command Central located?

One person who knows the answer is music researcher/historian Joseph Pytel. Pytel, or “Joe” to his friends, is today known in Chicagoland music circles.

He casts an even wider net, thanks to social media, for his ability to uncover and discover facts, figures, trivia and tidbits on Chicagoland musicians. His work is so substantial and his ‘finds’ so great, many are in awe of his research skills. People never know where, how, or when he has time to find these things. How does he do it?

Credit can be shared with the one and only, Carl Bonafede. Yes, The Screaming Wildman of 60s radio and ballroom dance fame. THE Carl Bonafede, one and the same.

Bonafede is ever the impresario, enterprenuer and a man who hasn’t seemed to age a day in 45 years. He is now revealed as one who definitely deserves some of the credit for bringing honor, long-overdue and most well-deserved, to The MOB.

After spotting on Facebook that Ana Lord and Alan Schrank had been in communication with Joe Accardi, Joe Pytel consulted with his friend and musical history mentor, Bonafede. Pytel had joined in the search for MOB members and knew that Bonafede had known Jim Holvay, since having approached him for songs for some groups he was managing in 1965.

Pytel was serving in the Navy in the 1960s and 1970s, when The MOB was “back on the road again” touring the United States and Canada, so he never saw them perform live. He was familiar with their music because Pytel and Bonafede had discussed every nuance of Bonafede’s career several years ago as Bonafede was preparing his autobiography.

Because Bonafede was in on the Chicago rock music scene from the very start, he’d known Jim Holvay was touring in one of the two Dick Clark Caravan of Stars bands that Jimmy Ford was responsible for putting together. Holvay had about 10 songs already recorded by other artists, so in the early days of The MOB, Holvay and his associates were already on the road. Bonafede traveled to meet up with Holvay and asked him if he had any songs he had for his new band. Holvay said he did.

Bonafede met up with Holvay one day while The MOB was on the road. Bonafede had brought a reel-to-reel tape recorder with him. And, with a guitar that Holvay had bought for $10 in Tijuana, he sang and played a song for Bonafede to consider. Songwriting partner and fellow MOB member Gary Beisbier supplied the voicings on the ‘answer’ part to that song. It did well for Bonafede’s group.

Bonafede joined forces with Holiday Ballroom owner and bandleader Dan Belloc, who’d already written a major hit, “Pretend,” made famous by Nat King Cole. The duo co-produced the record with engineer Ron Malo adding his own signature touches. The single wound up being played at a faster tempo than Holvay had written, but as it turned out, the public liked it. It became Bonafede’s (and Belloc’s) first and only number one hit: “Kind of a Drag.” More on Holvay/Beisbier compositions can be found on Carl Giammarese’s web site.

Bonafede’s “finds” and promotional/management skills also included young, up and coming DJs who played the dances where Bonafede would book them, places like the Holiday Ballroom.

Then as an agent with Willard Alexander and the CASK Agency, Bonafede booked performers including Mickey, Larry and the Exciters (featuring Mickey Esposito and Larry Alltop), and Ral Donner. He also produced music, over 255 records, for artists and groups including: the Rail City 5, Lincoln Park Zoo, Thee Prophets, The Delights, and more.

When Joe Pytel approached Carl Bonafede to ask him what he knew about The MOB and tell him how there were some people looking for members, but to no avail, Bonafede had an idea. He filled Joe in on how the band came to be formed, and turns out Bonafede had pictures (from the old days as a booking agent), and instructed Joe to “put the whole kitchen sink up on the wall, and see what comes back."

Bonafede may not have known how to use the Internet or personal computers, he had Joe (and later other talented social media friends) to help with that. What Bonafede had was an undertanding of how to get the word out and the power of promotion of a good cause, at which he was most accomplished as a behind-the-scenes kingmaker. At Bonafede’s suggestion, Pytel started creating YouTube videos of The MOB, to get more people talking on the Net.

Pytel purchased The MOB’s music from eBay, and in beloved vintage record stores, including Chicago favorite, Beverly Records. Joe initially used photos that Bonafede had given him of The MOB in the early days. Later, Joe connected with Alan Schrank, and even more video creations ensued.

Fortuitiously, it was not long afterwards that people started talking more about The MOB. That ultimately led to Ana Lord getting an e-mail from someone who suggested where she could find Al Herrera. No, there’s not an exact dotted line between the two events, but the buzz, the furor, the air of excitement about The MOB, and “finding those guys again” was ably assisted by the resources and wisdom of Carl Bonafede and his mentoree, Joe Pytel.

“How do you find all this stuff?” is a question that has been posed to Joe about 20 times in the last few weeks. Pytel’s researching skills are versatile. A devoted Chicago Blackhawks fan, Pytel can just as easily talk hockey stats as the classic rock music that he embraces. If he likes it, he learns everything he can about it.

Pytel honed some of his graphic skills working at his job for a printing specialty firm, plus his sons taught him a few tricks they knew. He’s a natural at figuring things out. His wife, Thaiz, is always an enthusiastic supporter of whatever it is Joe is researching at the time, so it’s a family affair, this passion for Chicago music.

His e-mail sign-offs can vary from “Chicago Joe” to Joseph, to JayJay331, his YouTube user handle found on more than 100 uploaded ‘finds’ of music where he’s created video montages set to favorite songs from the 60s forward.

For examples of Joe’s work in behalf of making the music of The Mob (and a substantial number of compositions penned by James Holvay and Gary Beisbier) rise to the forefront, visit this link, which is his personal YouTube channel.There you are going to find a lot of gems.

Everything that goes around comes around, and there are times when everything old is new again. To seven men, founding members of The MOB plus two more recent MOBsters, the renewed enthusiasm and excitement for their music can be traced back to several researchers, including Ana M. Lord, Joe Accardi, Mike Baker, Alan Schrank, and a few more who remain for someone to discover. But, add to that group the names Bonafede and Pytel. They’re two more of the heroes of Chicagoland Rock and Roll, on the road to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Joseph also has a great sense of humor:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The MOB—From Chicago, IL to Sioux Falls, SD in 30 years or less: Andante

Third in a series of “How The MOB (one of Chicago’s first horn bands) landed in the South Dakota Rock & Roll Hall of Fame” in April 2011.

Andante to allegro

Know this: Ana M. Lord is a one-woman dynamo. A powder keg of excitement, quick mind, strong organizational skills, a sixth sense for timing, true determination. That’s Ana Lord to anyone who has met her, even one time.

Who she is to The MOB, a beloved 1960s R&B/soul/rock horn band, may be best described as the unseen hand of a guardian angel. For over 30 years, her presence escaped the knowledge of seven men from Chicago, who would one day come to know of her gifts and talents in their behalf.

Some 10 months ago, October, 2010, to be precise, James Holvay opened a letter he’d received from Don Fritz, President of the South Dakota Rock & Roll Music Association, informing him that The MOB had been selected to be inducted in their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. A formal ceremony was slated for April, 2011 at the Ramkota Exhibit Hall in Sioux Falls, SD. The Association wanted the band to attend, and perform in a grand finale concert.

Cue theme music: “Gotta get back, back on the road, back on the road again”, a song that is perfect accompaniment, featuring Jimmy Ford’s killer trumpet solos.

Ana Lord presently resides in the Bahamas, an advertising sales agent, who began her professional ad career from 1972 to 1987 in San Antonio, Texas with a group called TMC (Total Marketing), which was affiliated with the famous J. Walter Thompson Agency. Maybe it was there that she learned never to take ‘no’ for an answer.

About her first MOB sighting: “I first saw them perform in 1967, they were a fairly new group (having come from three different groups to form this unique conglomerate). It was in Jacksonville, Florida, where she heard this band, and it literally changed her life forever.

Says Lord, “I’d just turned 15 years old, and they were booked in to this club called The Forum. They were there for a two-week engagement at the Forum and as I had a modeling assignment there (they thought she was older), I fell in love with them, saw them every night. Then they left and I didn’t hear about them for 2 years.”

The next time she saw them was in Miami, when they did an engagement at The Marco Polo Club. “It was amazing. I was then in ‘MOB mania’. I saw them a couple of times but then I was busy and that was it. I didn’t see them again,” until one time later in Washington, DC.

“But off and on I kept thinking about them, wondering where they were”, she explained.

In the 1980s, “I was living in San Antonio where I was an advertising sales agent for this large firm, and a client in San Antonio wanted a really big group (like the Mob) for their special event. I remember trying to track them (The MOB) down. At the time I remember I was told that they had gone their separate ways. Some of them were in LA; they were all over the place. The guy I spoke with wasn’t too friendly and didn’t want to give me too much information.”

It was there her search hit a dead end. “I tried to find them and I couldn’t. We had the Internet back then, but there just wasn’t anything really there”. She had moved to the Bahamas from San Antonio for her career, and at a greater distance, you’d think that would have been the end of it. Nope. “Lo and behold, 2005, I was looking at the Internet trying to find them again”. Determined to find whatever she could find about them she finally hit on something that gave her hope. “I came across Joe Accardi’s Beloit Club Pop House (web) site. He had a whole page dedicated to The MOB with a photo, but he had not heard from any of them in a very long time, either.”

Another guy shared with her that “he’d heard through a friend of Jimmy Ford’s whereabouts, that he might possibly be somewhere in California”. Lord and two of her colleagues who had met her in this endeavor got busy. “We started to post...Alan Schrank and Joe Pytel were there, we started to post on Joe Accardi’s site (Club Pop House), asking ‘please, if anyone had any information on the MOB, please post it.’”

For researchers with doubts, forget it. The web retains virtually everything we post. This case is no exception: ( The picture was posted October 16, 2006, and Accardi had been contacted by Holvay to share the correct ID (and spelling) of the names of his fellow MOBsters. Also on the page are Ana’s posts (see her there as ‘Twiggy’).

That would be the only single valid source for “who are these guys” to be found on the Web for several years. That’s an overwhelming realization when you look at the Internet today...The MOB, The MOB, The MOB everywhere. Well, actually that’s just been in the past two years. And longtime MOB fans have Lord, Schrank, Pytel, and Accardi to thank. Accardi took his collective memories of the best days of music there and published “Beloit’s Club Pop House (Images of America: Wisconsin). It’s available on Amazon.

When I’d noted to Lord, that in my own research 3 years ago, I’d seen her post on Mike Baker’s page as well, she said, “Yes, I posted there”, she laughs, “correct”. “We posted everywhere; it became an obsession with me trying to find the guys.” Dogged pursuit of a relentless researcher; got the visual?

Baker’s site is an excellent source of info for MOB aficionados, complete with some old press photos and some helpful timelines for who came into the band when and stayed for how long. It will be noted later, but it’s poignant to note that “Little Artie” Herrera was an original founding member of The MOB, with a powerful voice and great performing style. Yet, service to his country came first, and he left the band early, drafted to serve during the Vietnam war. The good news is he made it home, and the better news is that he made it to South Dakota. More on that later.

Lord continues, “In 2006 we were still posting, ‘where are the guys?’ We had some hopeful contacts”, but none of their leads turned out. One red herring was that Al Herrera was in San Diego with a car dealership, but when Ana checked that out, that went nowhere. It almost looked like the end of the line. “We couldn’t find them”, she stated.

In 2007 the 20th post on Accardi’s site read:

“Ana... Says:

November 29th, 2007 at 7:42 pm I have asked this before but got no reply. Does anyone know where any of the members of the Mob are today and how to get in touch with them? It would be so great if we could organize a MOB reunion. I would willingly contribute whatever it takes to make it happen.”

Then in early 2010, Lord received a post from a gentleman in Austin, Texas. “Ana, I know that you are looking for the MOB”, and he suggested a web site where to look. She continues, ”I went in there (to the site), and saw a post that referred to Al Herrera. It read, ‘Al is doing well, he’s in Chicago and he might be on Facebook’ and that was all it took.”

Immediately, Lord picked up the phone and called Alan Schrank, sharing, “I believe I found the first good lead”. Alan was on his way home and Lord recalled, “I think he almost had a heart attack” with that news. “By the time Alan got home, I had already gone on Facebook and started looking for Al”. Keep in mind it had been 40 years since she’d seen Herrera’s face and a fast Internet search notes there are 443 people named Al Herrera on one search site. Yes, it was going to be a long night for Lord.

“Facebook had a whole bunch of Herrera’s—I went through every one of them,” looking for the man belovedly known as Big Al. It took forever, but then she spotted it, a 1960s photo of a man sitting on a couch. “I clicked on it and lo and behold, it was Al Herrera.” “Oh my God,” she exclaimed.

“In the meantime, I’d already put feelers out to find Mike (Sistak). And next, I get this e-mail saying Mike Sistak is somewhere in Oregon”. I called Alan back and said, “Alan, I’ve found the guys; let’s go and start creating commotion on FB (Facebook).” Understatement of the year, 2010, grand prize winner.

Lord said, “I contacted Al Herrera. He was shocked, simply shocked to hear from me”, and then Alan Schrank came on board with gusto.

Ana explains, “You know, Alan who is a person who has loved The MOB even more than I do, and that is almost impossible. This man had every old photo, every cassette you could imagine, then he had tapes, every song that he could have found somewhere, anywhere. I have no idea where he found some of the songs, and he had a huge collection.” Lou Rawls once told Holvay that “in order to have a hit record you have to have all the stars in the sky line up in just the right way.” Something like that was going on for Messers Holvay, Sistak, Ford, Herrera, Herrera, Beisbier and, ultimately, Maligmat and McCabe.

Schrank said, “Ana, I am going to do a MOB (Facebook) site.” She replied, “Go for it,” and they were off. Lord said, “Then we learned that, wait a minute, South Dakota is having a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Let’s start a campaign to get the MOB in there.”

From there on it was smooth sailing. “After we found out (about the award process), Mike (Sistak) came on board. From there we learned where Bobby (Ruffino) was, tracked him down, then we learned where Jimmy Soul was, tracked him down, then we learned where Jimmy Ford was, and, of course, tracked him down”. So, the order of discovery was Al Herrera, Mike Sistak, Bobby Ruffino, James Holvay, and Jimmy Ford. Reminds you of the classic movie, “With Six You Get Egg Roll”. Well, in fact, a new movie that could be written, “With Seven (plus Lord, Schrank and Pytel), you get to South Dakota.”

“You can imagine our joy, and if you go back to FB you can see our early posts from 2010. Photos were being put on there from everywhere. Songs were being plastered all over YouTube (thanks to Joe Pytel, see Part V of this series). Between Joe (Pytel) and Al (Schrank), it was amazing the things they did on YouTube”, Lord says.

“Next, we started in on Facebook. We were saying, ‘Okay we’ve got to get the guys back together again. We’ve got to get the guys inducted’. And we put out messages: “MOB Fans: this is what you need to do, you need to call Don Fritz (SD R&R Music Association President) and Terry Tausz (Treasurer), and let’s start a campaign to have them included for the induction for their 2011 group.”

You can then imagine the process wherein she and her well-organized team began an intelligent campaign of letters supporting the nomination packet, noting facts, figures, and relevant information. There’d be exhibits, photographs, press clippings. Clearly, the SD R&R Music Association had likely never seen anything like that before.

The most incredible reality is that none of the MOB members were doing any of this, to try to seek any honor for themselves. They were likely as overwhelmed by their newfound appreciative audience as one could envision. A few band members scrambled to find some pictures, but the music came from Joseph Pytel sitting on the computer and purchasing CDs, mp3s, and he was a four-star eBay watcher. It was truly a 100% fan-driven effort, which makes it all the more priceless.

When asked if she’d ever been to the famed Mocamba Club in South Dakota, where The MOB had set attendance records in their heyday of the 70s, Lord replied “No”, but that she’d heard stories about it, how wonderful the club was. She did, however, refer to an audio CD of a live show recorded in 1969 at South Dakota’s Mocamba Club that “Jimmy Soul” (Holvay) had sent her as a gift.

The last time Lord had heard the band was in Washington DC, in the 1970s. She didn’t ever live in South Dakota. She’d never been to the state to know of their significant place in musical history for live music and particularly dynamic show bands. Boggles the mind.

Have you ever imagined an advocate for a cause dear to your heart more passionate, more determined, more devoted? Likely the answer is ‘no’. So anyway, that’s how it all came about. Lord says of what happened next, “From that point forward, it became mayhem, because we were all so excited”. It’s additionally poignant that two of the MOBsters, the dynamic writing duo of James Holvay and Gary Beisbier would compose a song that would never see the light of day (released to the public) at the time, and yet, today, it almost seems custom-written for Ms. Lord. The song? “All I Need”:

“...I’ve been lonely so long; I thought I’d never see the light.

Until you came along, I was always so uptight.

You opened my mind, set it free; it’s meant a lot.

Won’t you to listen to me?”

All I need is someone to love me like you, girl”. © Holvay/Beisbier (see related video)

The song was previously unreleased and stored away in a vault for years. But it did make it onto a special CD, “The MOB: The Heritage Sessions” (released 1995, Sequel Records). Naturally, Joseph Pytel found this track, and created another of his signature custom videos. Great music stands the test of time, no matter how long it has remained undiscovered.

The excitement in her voice some two years later still contains the inherent joy in Lord’s discovering something that had been a goal of hers for over 20 years. The subject of her search had been imprinted on her spirit ever since she was a young model. You never forget who, and what, is important to you during the development and maturity processes of your life.

And often, those who are inspirations of and to the hearts of music fans are entirely oblivious of the impact their work product, their talents, and their gifts to audiences can truly have.

Make no mistake. Lord is not a fan/groupie/fanatic/zealot to be dismissed or dumped into a category that is anything other than exemplary, stellar, and accomplished. It’s easy for perjorative thoughts to arise, particularly for female fans of music bands. Ana Lord is a lady, a gentlewoman, an educated person who simply refused to give up on a dream she believed in. Fortunately for the young men from Chicago, her faith in them, and her resolution that they were deserving of being lifted up and honored was far stronger than even their own self-image could possibly contain, and it remained thus for over 30 years.

Let’s be frank. Musicians have egos, if not pride. And thank goodness for that. If musicians don’t believe in themselves, you wouldn’t want to buy a ticket to hear a group of people standing there with instruments going, “uh...we’re not very good; you really don’t want to hear us, do you?” That said, musicians are often the most vulnerable and hardest on themselves when the applause dies down and the fans go away. If they have a life outside the music, they’re fortunate. Jim Holvay, today a successful Los Angeles-based business executive, has been known to say, “in life, wouldn’t it be great if everyone worked in an office where your boss came in at the end of the day and had everyone give you a standing ovation?” Imagine how people would feel about their jobs.

Ana Lord did just that, through her intelligence, her dedication, determination, and her indefatigable spirit, and the love of pursuing a mystery. Among other things, Ms. Lord is a modern-day Nancy Drew. It’s easy to see her in mind’s eye, driving the pathway in her sporty roadster, on a conference call with Alan Schrank, Joseph Pytel, and Mike Sistak about “wouldn’t it be great--if?”

The only sad note in this musical montage is that Ms. Lord was in the Bahamas on business the night of the induction ceremony and could not attend the very event that she had such an integral role in creating. If you’re wondering, she is safe from Hurricane Irene, and you can be sure that if The MOB is ever given another honor, or chance to perform for an audience, the band will have reserved front row, center, for Ms. Lord and her chosen guests. You can count on it. The story continues on the road to South Dakota.

Next...The Screaming Wildman, and his friend Joseph Pytel, work behind the scenes as, one more time, impresario Carl Bonafede helps make magic happen. That’s Part IV of “The MOB—From Chicago to Sioux Falls, SD in 30 years or less.” And remember the words of Alan Schrank, “The party’s not quite over.”

From the Heart, and for the Soul, of Chicago Music—Joseph Pytel’s Video Tributes to The MOB

Supplement to The MOB (4)—From Chicago, IL to Sioux Falls, SD in 30 years or less: Andantino

A Video Gallery of Music of The MOB, beloved Chicago horn-rock-R&B-soul band created for the Love of the Music crafted by Joseph L. Pytel, Jr.

Formula for Success—Add these four elements, and what do you get?

(1) Music by The MOB;

(2) Current-day reunion photography by Alan Schrank, plus his collection of vintage photos;

(3) Personal photos from the Mike Sistak Collection; and,

(4) Internet Ingenuity and Graphic Arts Wizardry by ”Chicago Joe” (aka JayJay331) Pytel

RESULTS: A video collective like no other, in tribute to The MOB, a favorite Chicago horn-rock band, revered and beloved for over 40 years by many across the United States and Canada.

See the accompanying story for more on the master of Chicagoland music montages. Here’s a sample of some of Pytel’s most creative videos set to music (found on YouTube) by The MOB:

All I Need (Holvay/Beisbier)

Back on the Road Again (Holvay/Beisbier)

Disappear (Holvay/Beisbier) [Arranged by Gary Beisiber]

Everyday People/Love Power (Sylvester “Sly” Stone)/(Warwick/Bacharach/Sager)

For a Little While (Holvay/Beisbier)

Goodtime Baby (Holvay/Beisbier)

I Dig Everything About You (Holvay/Beisbier)

I Feel the Earth Move (Carole King)

I Wish You Would Leave Me Alone (Holvay/Beisbier)

Love Has Got a Hold on Me (Holvay/Beisbier)

Make Me Yours (Bettye Swan)

Maybe I’ll Find a Way (Holvay/Beisbier)

Money (That’s What I Want) (Janie Bradford/Berry Gordy, Jr.)

Once a Man, Twice a Child (Holvay/Beisbier)

One Way Ticket to Nowhere (The MOB)

Savin' My Love for You (The MOB)

Tear the House Down (Beisbier/Holvay)

The Worst That Could Happen (Jimmy Webb)

Try A Little Tenderness (H. Woods/J. Campbell/R. Connelly) [Arranged by Holvay/Beisbier]

Two and Two Together (Holvay/Beisbier)

Where You Lead (Toni Stern/Carole King)

Who’s Shaking Your Jelly Roll (The MOB)

Looking ahead:

In Part 5 of this series, you’ll meet Alan Schrank, a dedicated, talented Sioux City (Iowa) photographer, who has maintained treasured photographs and music memories of The MOB for safekeeping over 40 years. When called upon to help, Schrank answered in a flash with camera and on Facebook. His onsite coverage of The MOB’s reunion week is included in the next installment.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The MOB—From Chicago, IL to Sioux Falls, SD in 30 years or less: Overture

Second in a series of “How The MOB (one of Chicago’s first horn bands) landed in the South Dakota Rock & Roll Hall of Fame” in April 2011.


What’s in a name? In music, it’s not everything. Sometimes it’s the only thing. In music, fans and friends remember your name and associate with that name who they believe you to be, individually and collectively. Presently, there are four different ‘bands’ known as “The MOB”. So, when you hear that The MOB was recently inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association Hall of Fame, did you know which one it was? The MOB, yes, but which one?

No, it’s not:

(1) the latest version of The M. O. B., with Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Steven Tyler and Jonny Lang (just some rock superstars, collectively for a single recording). The collaboration reportedly occurred so these four could record “Sharp-Dressed Man” for a ZZ Top Tribute Album (ZZ Top: A Tribute from Friends”, set for release October 11th)

(2) Then, there’s the Orlando, Florida-based band calling themselves “The MOB” (, who play classic 60s, 70s, and 80s (3 guitars and drums, no horns). Since the recognition to the ‘real’ The MOB, the Floridians might best be thinking up a new name.

(3) Add in The M.O.B. from Rice University (as in Marching Owl Band, the ultraclever academic set who creates musical and media havoc every fall football season, ( By the way, they don’t march “ever”. They’re not going to change their names, but they’re too funny to watch to ask them to find a new name. No confusion when it’s a band with a (great) attitude for poking fun at their competition compared to a band with a great attitude having fun playing music.

So far, that’s three, and it’s still not THE “The MOB,” who took Sioux Falls, South Dakota by storm in April as they received an honor some 30 years in the waiting. Don’t even go trying to sort out the choices of their band on YouTube (without a guide where to search). Confused? Not if you know who you’re looking for: no, no, the real The MOB and their music. A beloved band of Chicago natives, formed in 1966, bringing together members from more than three professional bands. The group played for 14 years, toured as faithful road warriors, and amassed a large fan base who, seemingly, forgot all about them after the music ended. Or so they thought. Members of The (Real) MOB from Chicago (see photo and hear one of their classic songs in a tribute video, attached) and their stage names by which they introduced and identified themselves:

Mike Sistak (Mike Paris)

James Holvay (Jimmy Soul)

Jimmy Franz (Jimmy Ford)

Gary Beisbier (Gary Stevens)

Bobby Ruffino (Bobby Cheese)

Tony Nedza (Tony Roman)

Arturo Herrera (Little Artie)

Al Herrera (Big Brother Al)

For fans of the horn band that was created in Chicago in late 1966, you’d be hard pressed to forget their best work. Now you know their names, and CORRECT identity of which version of “The MOB” was celebrated this past April, in Sioux Falls, SD, with more than 2000 people had the privilege of hearing The MOB in person, in their first reunion in 35 years.

Check out Part III of “The MOB—From Chicago to Sioux Falls, SD in 30 years or less”. And remember the words of Alan Schrank, “The party’s not quite over.”

The MOB--From Chicago to Sioux Falls, SD in 35 years or less: Prelude

The following is the first in a series of “How The MOB (Chicago’s first horn band) landed in the South Dakota Rock & Roll Hall of Fame” in April 2011, and how one woman’s spark of ingenuity brought four strangers together in a single goal. Their mission? To give the gift of remembrance to 7 men who likely thought they’d long been forgotten, overlooked, disregarded and worse yet, cemented into obscurity.

Lord, Bonafede, Pytel, and Shrank—Ever heard of them? Probably not. No, they’re not a Michigan Avenue law firm, but they’re a powerhouse group nonetheless. They are behind-the-scenes movers and shakers who made their acquaintances two years ago, via Facebook, not in person, and managed to make some pretty exciting things happen for musicians who had not been together, much less seen each other, in 35 long years.

No, there was no acrimony that had broken up one of Chicago’s first-ever horn bands better known as “The MOB”. It was just that the music business had moved along without them, despite multiple attempts to harness the attention and support of national labels. As a fall-out to lack of results measured in vinyl sales, the young men, some newly married, had to face their futures square on. They could either remain traveling troubadours living in the world of “the band”, while playing at having a real life, or they could get off the road, find ‘real’ day jobs, and delight their families by settling down, once and for all, and getting perfectly serious about their futures.

‘Real’ life wasn’t such a bad alternative, but a choice was necessary—one or the other. You really can’t keep one foot in one world, and one in the other. When you’re on the road 250-300 nights a year, your home life can easily implode, as some members of the band known as The MOB would come to realize. The final trumpet sound was heard on New Year’s Eve, 1980, at the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. And with that sound, ended an era for a beloved band of Chicago natives, formed in 1966.

The group that had been the amalgam of three professional band entities had sought fame and fortune and toured as faithful road warriors for 14 years, many sacrificing personal lives to do so, and amassed a large fan base who, seemingly, forgot all about them after the music ended. Or so they thought.

Not the case. Memories of The MOB, their music, their songs, their countless 45s demos and singles, some LP albums, continuous club-booking and attendance records, in fact did not die, not completely. It’s possibly still unknown, by even some of the band members, how the 35-year musical drought ended and how their ‘old’ life came back to life one more time and culminated in one unforgettable night in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Those responsible ‘movers and the shakers’ are not names known throughout the music business, not really. But it’s often those outside the key lights who make big things happen. Their secret? Passion. Because they are passionate about their subject, these ‘kingmakers’ invested hours of hard work, for days, weeks, months, and even years, overlooking obstacles and frustration, to reach their goal. It’s a story worth sharing.

How ‘this’ version of The MOB came to find itself in Sioux Falls, South Dakota the third week in April, 2011 is also a poignant tale. Four separate independent variables intersected to revive the enthusiasm and the memories, for a groundbreaking reunion attended by over 2,000 people. And the kicker is that only one of the four kingmakers actually got to attend the awards evening they’d made possible. The best news is that the one who ‘did’ make it is a first-class photographer and graphic artist, so the pictures made up for the others missing the show. And there’s a DVD to talk about as well.

This, then, is the series on a superb Chicago horn band that waited politely for some 35 years to be heralded formally by a group of appreciative music afficionados, not in their own home town of Chicago, but in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The next story introduces The MOB, its members, and helps clear up some of the present-day confusion of “Who really is a (real) MOB member?” or “Who can truly call themselves a music MOBster?” To quote Alan Schrank, “The party’s not quite over”. Check out Part II of The MOB--From Chicago to Sioux Falls, SD in 35 years or less“.