When Phil 'n the Blanks stopped playing, my kids were heartbroken, especially my two daughters, Chloe and Gwen. They loved Blanche and thought she was the coolest. I kept the Blanks' rehearsal space at Belmont Metal Products (which now has been turned into expensive condos) to launch new musical projects and to throw some fabulous music parties.
I then called Lee Da Budda, ex-guitarist from Bohemia and Dave Allard, ex-bass player from my old band, Slip, and the "Vidiots" were formed. With help from my friend, Jeff Dahm, I produced a video for the band on a budget of $23. It was aired on Channel Eleven's prestigious, "Image Union" in 1991.
The Vidiots started out as a musical outlet for us just to be able to keep creating music. Our first songs were about televisions and videos. We then expanded into a free form jam band and kept on for several years happy just to make music. After the Video aired we played out at a few clubs - Beat Kitchen, Club Stodola and Andersonville Mid Summer Fest. We were about to record our first record and then Dave's wife, Colleen died from cancer and Dave withdrew from music for a while.
Lee and I were joined by other bass players for the next 20 years and moved rehearsals to my House Vidiot World Headquarters in 1990. Various musicians came and went including Eric Kister from Phil 'n the Blanks, Dav Richards, Bill Anderson, Laura Braun and Frank Catania but basically it's been Lee and me for the last 25 years.
Back in 1986 I was also in an original band called, "Norma Jean" with three female lead singers - Barbara Barrow, Karen Porter and Kathleen Smock. The "Flying Fish" artist, Michael Smith, who wrote, "The Dutchmen", along with Pat Flemming on guitars rounded out the group. The were really incredible with some great songs and vocals.
I was in a cover band called, "XLR8" with a fellow carpenter, Tom Trotter for a year.
Then came the "Hightones", a great 7 piece band that had a really strong lineup. Raul Hardiman on baritone sax, Barbara Gillies on baritone sax, Lee Da Budda and Bill Pecko on guitars, Carl Pedigrew, a luthier for Lakeland Guitar Company played bass and the local legend, Jim Desmond sang lead vocals and played the harp. The Hightones produced the cd, "7X7" and sadly the band fizzled out after a few years, never living up to its impressive roster and potential.
In 2003 I became a television producer at CAN TV and produced the greatest tv show of all time called, "Guitar Talk". People would ask, "Why would a drummer do a show about guitars?" Well, after playing drums in so many bands for so many years, with so many knowledgeable and opinionated guitarists, I found their conversations about guitars, strings and pick ups very fascinating and I thought others would too.
Guitar Talk was a two part show. In the first part of the show I would interview a band and have them bring their favorite guitars. We would talk about make, model, year, price, pick ups, strings, any modifications to the guitar and all the stuff guitarists love to talk about. I asked them about their sound and would have them play so that people could hear what they were trying to sound like.
In the second part of the show we would go interactive. I would play drums with the band. We would play a few songs.We would flash on the tv screen what key we would be playing in and there would even be a place for the tv viewers to play along with the band.
The Vidiots' CDs - "High Definition" and "Channel Surfing" can both be found on www.cdbaby.com.
It was a great show with some fantastic musicians who brought interesting guitars and some prototypes of guitars that weren't even on the market yet.
I called Dave Allard and his band, "Back in the Day" to be one of our guest bands. He had so much fun on the show he said, "You know, we should get back together and finish recording the Vidiots album." So, we did.
At DNA Studios Dave, Lee and I finished recording, "Channel
Surfing" on Vidiotic Records in 2006, sixteen years after
The Vidiots don't play out too much - once or twice a year. Same old story - great music, no draw. All our fans are asleep by 10:00 pm!
While at CAN TV I had a chance to co-produce and play in a very unusual semi-improvised musical called, "The Mojo Sisterhood". It is a very trippy sort of music, dance, acting, improv hour and a half mind blowing show. It was there that I met Laura Braun, a singer/song writer/actress who starred in the show. I was impressed with her ability to write lyrics. I thought she would be great with the Vidiots since the Vidiots were really into free form jamming. She joined us for a few sessions and could improv vocals to our music right on the spot. Laura played with the Vidiots for a short while but unfortunately had some differences with Lee and quit.
Laura asked me if I would play drums for her musical writings and we started a duo called, "The Pheremoans". We are now a trio with multi instrumentalist, Bill Haley. We've been together for four years. We have some summer gigs coming up. We always play at the Michigan Peace Fest in Lacota, Michigan every July. We will soon have our own website.
My wife, Peggy, who has written songs and sings vocals for the Vidiots has been married to me for 32 years. Our kids, Mo, Chloe, Gwen and Joe are all grown up now. I've been a union carpenter for Local 13 since 1986. This has enabled me to buy a home on the southwest side of Chicago, raise four kids and keep playing music. Being a carpenter, remodeling my home and playing in the two bands, the Pheremoans and the Vidiots keeps me pretty busy and out of trouble.