Over 20 years ago Kevin Ellis and Chris Noonan dreamed of a jazz band that would sound awesome technically and reach the hearts of listeners. When the two musicians joined forces, they began a dream journey down the long and winding road that recently took an eventful turn.
A working band since the early 90s, guitarist Frank Huston and keyboardist John Hoekstra along with Ellis on bass and Noonan on drums, became a staple at Davy Byrnes, and then Brewhaus, among other local venues of the time, plus played with some big names in jazz fusion. Joe Calandrino became an integral part of the sound after Houston left, but the band couldn’t find a replacement for Hoekstra when he moved away. Left with a legacy of great performance, yet no future of a band unit, Ellis and Noonan kept the aspirations alive while performing with others, always believing in the dream of Dreaming in Colour.
In February of 2011, they made the move to approach famed producer/keyboardist Jeff Lorber. When Lorber and Calandrino connected to exchange ideas, magical, musical sparks began to fly through emails laden with music concepts and challenging arrangements. Songs came with input from all band members, including several Lorber collaborations and co-writes. Noonan even found a rough demo of a long forgotten Hoekstra song that became a tune he called “Yearbook.”
As the project progressed, the group experienced the album of a lifetime coming together right in front of their ears. With additional playing from renowned saxophonists Eric Marienthal and Nelson Rangell, Lorber’s steady production and inspired keyboard work intertwined with the particularly tasteful and smooth work of the band to make The Dream Merchant. The record features 11 songs rich in rhythm and texture, balanced by powerful and sensitive performances, enhanced by sound quality and altogether created with a heartfelt love and devoted desire to making music that sings with the sound of beauty and inspiration.
The hard work and caring creativity paid off as the record has received airplay on six continents (nothing in Antarctica as of yet), in several countries and many American cities on valid jazz stations. The response, according to Ellis and Noonan, has been nothing short of wonderful and amazing. This Friday, to honor the combined album effort, Jeff Lorber and Eric Marienthal come to Springfield to join Calandrino, Ellis and Noonan for a concert extravaganza at Donnie’s Homespun. Please drop by to experience an excellent show and a realization of dreams coming true.
On Saturday, Dwayne Dopsie returns to Donnie’s Homespun as the Vinegar Hill venue hosts another all day New Orleans-style (known as NOLA to some) party. Dopsie headlines and other acts include ZZ Tripp, The Untouchables, Alligator Wine, DJ Crazy D, Annatomic, E-Holla, Brooke Thomas and the Blues Suns, plus a reunion of sorts for Mike Burnett’s Suns of Circumstance as John Walter, the Suns original bassist, joins in as he passes through town.
I played with John in the last and longest version of The Strand/Condition 90, our new wave-punk-rock band that existed from 1983 to 1986. What started as The Strand with me, Tom Woolsey, Marc Guerra and Tom Kinney, morphed into Condition 90, including drummer Tony Berkman and keyboardist Tom Persinos with Walter on vocals and guitar and me on bass and vocals. With John in town, we’re having a Condition 90 Celebration Sunday, at the Brewhaus from 8 to midnight, doing our best to remember songs we haven’t done for nearly 25 years. For out-of-town folks or those unable to attend, we’re streaming live online, courtesy of Rhyno Ranch at www.southernfryedradio.com with a video to view later. ‘Things are Looking Up’!
Contact Tom Irwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.