There are those who want to be in the band and those who are content to just be WITH the band. You’ve seen those cool “I’m with the band” people at hot night clubs sashaying past the velvet ropes, past the burly bouncers, past the persnickety man with the clipboard and the pen, checking off names. Or you’ve at least seen that drama unfold on a TV show, and yeah, it looks like a good night out, maybe even better than ordering a pizza and settling in with a DVD. Hmmm. Sure looks like fun, being with the band and all.
But what if I told you that you’re probably already with the band? What if you became aware that you walk among the band every day, at the doctor’s office or your kid’s baseball game? Would you feel cooler? I’ll bet you would, and to that end, I’m going to let you in on one of Wellesley’s little secrets.
There is a certain element in town who flounces around in all the trappings of upstanding citizenry. They have full-time jobs with benefits and commutes. They have mortgages and spouses and kids. But there’s something more. They’ve come out. Out of the garages and out of the basements. They’ve ripped off the headphones that they’ve worn while practicing so as not to disturb the neighbors, and they’ve cranked up the amplifiers. They are — gasp — musicians, and they don’t care who knows it.
Life in a band is chaotic and frenzied, as I know from reading Rolling Stone. Still, I managed to catch up with a few band members and asked them about how they juggle their day job with their creative outlet. The only criteria was that the band be made up of adults, at least one of whom currently lives in Wellesley, and that they perform in public. They were only too ready to spill the beans about life on the road, and I have got the goods on them right here:
Grounds for Divorce
They admit that the time they put into rehearsing and rocking could be Grounds for Divorce, so that’s what they named the band. Members and Wellesley residents Tino DeLollis on vocals, Haig Tellalian on guitar, Karl Hammond on bass, and Chris Schremp on drums (founding member and drummer Clint Sours is shown in this photo) make it their goal when they take the stage to create a rock dance party on the floor. To accomplish that, they have a repertoire of over 60 songs from artists such as White Stripes, The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, and Tom Petty. “All our music is high energy that you can dance to, or at least bang your head, ” says Tellalian. When not inciting that kind of riot, Tellalian works in medical sales.
The other members have similar, mild-mannered alter-egos as managers or engineers, and credit all that head banging as being part stress reliever, part dream come true. Playing monthly in front of an audience is the force that drives them to rehearse as often as four times per month. When a jamming-out fan tells them, “Dude, you totally rocked,” whatever the band needs to do to keep the ground steady at home seems worthwhile.
Catch Grounds for Divorce at these upcoming gigs:
The Sand Bar, Lynn (Sat., May 11 at 9pm)
The Chicken Bone, Framingham (Fri., May 31 at 9:30)
Wellesley Town Hall Green, Thursday, July 18 at 7pm.
Officially, the term “off label” means the practice of prescribing drugs for a condition not listed on the label. Is being in a band a drug? Maybe. If you use the band to perform, socialize, and rock on, are you wandering into off label territory? Will the Food and Drug Administration come and get you? Probably not, but even if it did, it’s unlikely that this band, which self-medicates with rock and roll, would much care. Bands in general are bad-ass that way.
Attitude aside, this group of mostly Wellesley residents, who are also medical professionals, likes to leave the pressures of life in the fast lane behind for a few hours a week and concentrate instead on making loud, fast music. Shira Doron, the lead singer and founder of Off Label, lives in Wellesley and is an Infectious Disease doctor. Cathy, “Cat” LaFave, also of Wellesley, is the band’s back-up vocalist and is a company President. Dan Weiner of Newton plays guitar and is a surgeon. Mike Davidson on lead guitar lives in Wellesley and is a surgeon. Roger Fielding, on guitar and bass, is a professor and lives in Revere. Frank Welt on drums lives in Needham and is a cardiologist, and Pinak Bipin Shah (“Binny”) from Newton plays saxophone and is an interventional cardiologist.
The band rehearses for a few hours every week, all for the opportunity to blow off some steam. When they have a gig coming up, they freak out and rehearse more, which leads to making even more loud, fast music. Their kids are split along pretty predictable age lines about whether what their parents are doing is cool or dorky. But whatever the opinion of their offspring, all the behavior their parents are modeling seems to have rubbed off, and most of their kids are musicians in their own right. Just much cooler musicians than their parents.
Off Label has played at block parties and house parties throughout Wellesley. On April 5 they were a live auction item at the Upham School auction. Check Off Label’s website for upcoming gigs.
JP Licks, Open Mic Night
If all of this sounds interesting but you’re not ready for the prime-time excitement of a club gig or the commitment of weekly band rehearsals, maybe an open mic night would be your speed. JP Licks ran an open mic night on the first Tuesday of the month last spring, and the Wellesley Square ice cream store anticipates opening up the mic again soon, probably starting in May. Patrick Hayden, last year’s Master of Ceremonies for the events, gave me the scoop about the brave souls who get up there in front of a crowd.
He says that the typical participant usually chooses to perform songs people know, but sometimes an artist debuts original work or a comedian might even try out some material. “It’s fun,” Hayden says. ” A lot of people have great skills, but you’d never know until you see them play – so this gives them a forum to actually do it. Kinda scary, kinda unpredictable, totally spontaneous. It’s as fun as karaoke, but it’s live music. Every night there’s a few pieces that really shine – and you never know WHAT you’re going to hear. Wellesley has some great players!”
The audience is typically a mix of friends and family, the unsuspecting out for a quick ice cream stop, people who wander in as they walk by, drawn by the spectacle of it all, and store staff.
Hayden is also a musician and plays in Catalyst, a new band in town made up of himself on guitar and Shira Doron and Cathy Lafave on vocals. You can catch them on May 1 at Stone Hearth in Needham and at private parties throughout Wellesley this summer.
If you’re a regular on Cape Cod, especially the outer Cape, you’ve probably heard of The Origin, made up of Wellesley residents Jamie Wyeth on lead vocals and guitar, Chris Drozell playing drums, percussion, and vocals, John Melo on bass and vocals, and David Walton on lead guitar and backing vocals. Walton says, “We are just now finishing putting together our schedule for the summer season playing mostly on Cape Cod. You can find us almost every Saturday night at Winslow’s Tavern in Wellfleet center. Oysterfest in Wellfleet (10/19) usually finishes our season. We have played this event at Winslow’s Tavern for the past six years. The Full Moon Beach party in Wellfleet takes place on LeCount’s Hollow Beach each July. It is an epic event which has been attended by many Wellesley people over the years.”
The Origin, which plays 20 – 25 shows a year, is actually two bands in one. They have a four-piece full band which plays cover music at clubs, bars and special events, and a two-man, acoustic version of the band which plays happy hours and smaller events. Mostly they try to play whatever people want to hear spanning from the 60′s to today’s music — Beatles, Eagles, Petty, Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel, Steve Miller, James Taylor, and more.
And apparently, the people concur. According to one grateful party host, “I had a number of guests tell me they haven’t had this much fun in 10 or more years. Origin plays the music you love and miss. This is a talented group who will energize even your lamest friends.”
So if you’re feeling a little suburban, maybe a bit domesticated, perhaps even somewhat lame, do yourself a favor. Log off of your computer, let the movies pile up in the Netflix queue, get out there, and party on with one (or more) of these local bands. After all, they’re a lot like you and me, and if they can set aside the time for a rocking good time, so can the rest of us.