This first pic is of "That Masked Band" as it first started out.
As you can see we were a trio. Lou Masa on Keyboards, Al Morgon on Bass and yours truly on drums. We had a steady gig at the local Holiday Inn, performing 5 nights per week.. We would start with a dinner set of mostly instrumentals... Old jazz standards, pretty laid back. Then we would move to some moderate stuff the second set and what would pass for dance music the rest of the night. Keep in mind that this was in the late 70's and early 80's. : )
Ok, Ok where did we get the weird name... Well while we were rehearsing and refining the act we had performed at a variety of pubs, clubs and where ever we could earn a buck, and hadn't really settled on a name yet. We thought of using "The Lone Strangers" but since "The Strangers" are so well known we used the funnier name... after all who was "That Masked Band" anyway????????
We actually did rather well and after a few raises we added a fourth member, Tim Leftwich on guitar. We expanded our repertoire and our performing area.. We still played mostly at Holiday Inns and Sheratons, but instead of just one we worked several in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia...
Musical styles included light jazz to top forty, including
everything from Satin Doll, Misty, Masquerade (even Baby Elephant Walk)
to Leo Sayer, Billy Joel, Elton John, The Beatles, Joe Walsh, Bozz
Scaggs, and too many Bee Gees tunes... All In all a lot of
tunes and fun times.
I ended up out in California and worked for a short while with an Elvis impersonator, and with another top forty band in the Bay area called "The Sting" which was a 9 piece band which had a very nice horn section (trombone, trumpet, & sax). Then... I went country... Working with Deby Dee and the Swift Kicks Band. This was the first country band I worked with and was really an eye opening experience.
When we first started out we had a steady gig at a local restaurant/night club that went very well, and led to a tour. We first toured nightclubs and added a couple more musicians and stated working the fair and festival circuit encompassing most of the western states.
We even made a tour of Alaska and Canada, which would set me on a path years later in which I eventually met my wife Solange.
Deby Dee eventually teamed up with J.K. Coltrain a country singer-songwriter from West Virginia and I worked as the drummer with that show too. I also worked with J.K. Coltrain as a soundman and produced a couple of sessions for him, one of which had some chart success...(J.K. Coltrain "West Virginia" Studio 7- 1986)
J.K. and I remain friends to this day.
You can check out his web site at http://www.jkcoltrain.com/
Shortly after J.K. and Deby Dee went their separate way I joined a group called the American Eagle Band,
featuring (from left to right)
Rob Lavender on Drums and vocals
Dale Crockett - Guitar and Vocals
Matt Henry - Piano
Frank Frazzini - Bass and Vocals
Mark Monroe - Harmonica, Saxophone and Vocals
Though members of this band changed from time to time over the years the basic format and musical style remained the same. The American Eagle Band performed in nightclubs and other venues for over 8 years, including
The Opryland Hotel - Nashville, TN
The Rose Room - Nashville, TN
Dirty Sally's - Columbus, OH
Country Jubilee - Columbus, OH
The Ohio State Fair
The Golden Nugget - Thunder bay, Ontario
The Maple Leaf - Timmins, Ontario
Christmas concert at Willis Auditorium in Delaware, OH
Here is another old Promo shot of the American Eagle Band
couple years later.
If you'd like to know more about The American Eagle Band,
check out the
While living in Cochrane, Ontario I had the distinct
of working with Mike Connors, a singer/songwriter originally
from Nova Scotia...
The band was called "Mike Connors & The Trappers" (see the next
photo for the whole band) In addition to being a very
talented entertainer Mike
also happens to be a great guy. In fact Mike is the godfather
my son... We had a lot of fun at local gigs as well as on our road
enjoyed every minute of working with him!
The Trappers, a country band that played mostly the top country dance hits, but we did some of the old standards and favorite tunes from over the years.
We were lucky to have found this combination of musicians,
things pretty much just clicked from the get-go.. With Mike Connors up
front, Roger Cheff on Bass, Gil on lead guitar, and myself on drums we
had a nice tight sound for a 4 piece country band. While Mike
Connors was definitely the lead singer and front man, we all did some
singing and a lot of joking around, keeping the sets fun and
entertaining. We played regularly around Northern Ontario and
over into Quebec from time to time.
A Brief bio
American Eagle Band
copyright Robin Lavender 2006