I’ve loved music, particularly rock n roll, for as long as I remember. The radio
station thatI listened to when I was a kid (WLS) in the early 70’s always played a
great variety of music.
Some of the songs that I loved back then (still do) were Make Me Smile (Chicago),
Hello It’s Me (Todd Rundgren), Bang A Gong (Marc Bolan) and many of the “one hit
wonders” that were getting airplay. My parents had a decent record collection in our
house.Those records ended up in my bedroom where they spent countless hours
circling on mysuitcase record player. Some of my favorites were:
The Who (Tommy and Meaty, Beaty, Big, and Bouncy),
Foghat (Fool For The City), Kiss (Destroyer), The Beatles (Sgt Pepper),
Queen (News Of The World). The first album I ever bought with my own money was Cheap
Trick At Budokan. I listened to that a few times.
I’d always wanted to play the guitar. I’ve always loved the sound of the instrument and the way it looks. They come in all shapes and sizes and I love them all (well, most of them). I started playing guitar in 1983. I was introduced to Tony Obrohta in the high school cafeteria. He’d already had a few years of guitar playing under his belt and was kind enough to show me a few guitar riffs. The first riff (a short repeated phrase, frequently played over changing chords or harmonies or used as a background to a solo improvisation) that he showed me was the intro to Led Zeppelin’s Bring It On Home. Not a bad way to start. Day Tripper and the blues intro riff to Jimi Hendrix’s Red House were a few others. I was on my way. I spent most of the mid 80’s lifting the tone arm of my turntable because I was replaying sections of songs trying to learn them “by ear.” Records were scattered everywhere. I didn’t have carpet, I had vinyl.
I joined my first band Full House (I didn’t name it) around 1988. We played a variety of covers (recording or performance of a new version of a song originally performed by someone else). It was a good learning experience, they were much older and had a lot of band experience. They were great singers and it was cool seeing how a group of singers can harmonize together. I don’t remember gigging much with this band. My recollection is we played some divey bar in LaSalle, IL a few times a month. My stint with Full House was short lived.
While I was in Full House I was also going to a junior college. In 1988 I decided that I wanted to go to
“real” college and major in music. I pursued a music degree at Southern Illinois University from 1989 – 1992 studying classical guitar with Joseph Breznikar. During that time I also pursued a degree in playing my own riffs and rocking with other musicians. In 1990 I played in a funk trio called Bum Funk Egypt. That’s when I started making up my own riffs/songs and the other two followed along. We played a lot of college parties, and even opened up for Foghat at Gatsby’s. Lonesome Dave Peverett told me, “you’ll never get any airplay with a name like that mate.” He was right.
The following year, 1990, while still at SIU, I received a call from a drummer saying that I was playing
the “Battle of The Bands” at Hangar 9 in a few weeks with him. Apparently we were going to be a “supergroup” with a collection of the best musician from each band the previous year. He was an incredible drummer, so I was pretty excited. I don’t remember saying that I’d do it, I only remember him saying I owed him money for the entry fee. I think I paid him back. The name of the band was Groove Swamp. After a few rehearsals with this so called “supergroup” there was nothing there musically, at least nothing that I had envisioned because they were great improv/jam type players and we couldn’t come up with anything that sounded good. Then a few weeks later something clicked and we were writing 4 or 5 songs every time we got together. We toured the blocks of Carbondale, IL playing college parties and bars. And we won the Battle of the Bands. Our prize was 10 hours of studio time. You can hear it on youtube, check out Groove Swamp.
Around 1992, Groove Swamp disbanded and I became disinterested in playing classical guitar. So I did what every person does when they become disinterested in classical guitar and their band breaks up. I joined the United States Marine Corps.
After my stint as a reservist in the Marine’s I was ready to rock again. In 1994 I was living in central Illinois and relocated to the Chicago area to hook up with the rhythm section of Groove Swamp. We became Yahoo Thirst (not a country band) with a female vocalist. We played all of the great rock clubs in Chicago many times, The Metro, Double Door, The Dome Room, Empty Bottle, etc. We got to play some shows with some cool artists at the time Local H, Jill Sobule (she wrote I Kissed A Girl) and others that I can’t remember. We recorded a CD, also on youtube. Check it out. We disbanded around 1998.
I moved to Wisconsin in 1999. The following year I met Rooster Rich Heft at a music store in Madison. He was playing the guitar strumming the chords and singing Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix and as I was playing next to him I politely played the guitar solo. As I was leaving the store he invited me to come play with his band Quest that were playing that night, and needed a guitarist. Quest was a variety band, with a lot of the variety being Motown. I ended up playing with Quest from 2000 – 2008. I don’t think I was ever officially asked to join the band. I was always told when to show up. So I did.
Around 2009, me and a few members of Quest merged with some other musicians, which eventually would become The Retro Specz. I enjoy playing music with Paul, Greg, Ted, Thomas, and Erika. We have a lot of fun together. Long live rock!!!
Kurt pees his pants while listening to Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog on 8 track...