This was the questionaire sent by Steve Krakow for his podcast: it serves as a bio of the band
On Nov 24, 2019, at 8:57 PM, Steve Krakow <> wrote:
Ok, here goes, thanks so much for answering these! sorry, its kind of a lot of questions!
1.when were you born/where were you were raised (and your bandmates, loosely)
IVAN: I was born in Brooklyn NY and raised in Brooklyn and Queens. All the other ban members over the year were born and raised in the midwest, I was the only foreigner.
Brian: Born 7 6 53 in Swedish Covenant Chicago Hospital
Mitch: Born and raised on the north side of Chicago in 1952.
Nick: 1947, grew up in Evanston, the home of country music USA. I can play Good Hearted Woman AND use the word lugubrious in a sentence.
2.your early/childhood/teen musical history (early influences, for your bandmates/collaborators loosely too)
IVAN: I grew up listening to Fats Waller, Django and Stephane, Suff Smith and Sidney Bechet. We used to listen to a country station from New Jersey in the car so there was a lot of that percolating in the back of my brain, which came out under sufficient Alcohol I really started creating my own style in college, I loved Robbie Robertson's guitar playing in the band and so I tried to simulate that on the fiddle. Played in jazz jams in high school. Played in a quite mediocre but fun trio in college doing a variety of genres called, “whatever we know”
Brian: Ist and 2nd Soprano soloist in Church Choir; then the Beatles; 1st band at 13; lead parts in Musicals My Fair Lady, Brigadoon, South Pacific and Tony in West Side Story; then Poco, the Dead, the Band, Bob Dylan, Jeff Beck ,Buffalo Springfield, Fleetwood Mac, Corky Seigle-Jim Schwal, Muddy Waters, Walter Williams, Mike Blasushi, Clapton, Walsh, Chicago, The Flock, XTC and early Jethro Tull; should I go on ?
Mitch: At age 5 did Elvis impersonations for friends and family. 1st album West Side Story, purchased with Vince Lentine. Imitated Beatle British accents in teens. Age 17 was given bass guitar.
Nick: Ventures, Surf music, then British invasion: Beatles, Stones, Hendrix, Cream..then Eagles, Skynrd, Asleep at the Wheel, Outlaws, Jerry Reed.
3.what line-up changes have you had over the years?
Ted Rawlings, Drums, and Brian Barrett, guitar, vocals in the first iteration; then Greg Komorski: Drums and Jonathan Stephens, guitar and vocals; then #3 Billy “Bob" Lindsley: Drums (short sub for Greg) and J.B.Smith, guitar, fiddle, vocals….Greg returned, same line-up. Leo “the Lion” Cote on guitar and vocals in the latter stages of Moondogs because Brian's day job interfered.
4.when did line-up changes happen and why?
Various reasons, artistic differences, directional changes, availability of talent, girlfriends deciding that you really didn't want to enjoy life any more, that sort of thing.
5.what bands were you all in before?
IVAN: In college”Hardly Trying”. IN Chicago, Phlagg Williams, Norman Steele, Tiny Mouse Parts, These were before and after. Most of these I was hired into because they needed a fiddle player. I was actually hired once to play piano. That was really interesting.
Brian : In Tempe Arizona I was in a very popular band named Mongo (From Blazzing Sadles) which played locally to crowds up to 500, especially on Sundays at Shannon Owens back yard on the Salt River ( topped at 22 kegs and so much smoke above the crowd the Fire Department visited once to make sure Tempe was not on fire), Then with Pat Brennan and Mike Indovina in many situations, Then the “Jam Tuesday” at Mr. Kiley's until Steve Levitt quit FreeWheel and I got the Job.
Mitch: Many bands including FreeWheel, Rhythm Rangers, Sidemen, Randy Mullins and the Virginians, Redhead.
Nick: I was in Naked Lunch with Chris Mitchell, and the two of us went on to form Baraboo; a country rock band in 1974, that backed up Tanya Tucker on her first national tour when she was 16.
6.how did the band(s) form?
IVAN: After I had unsuccessfully auditioned for Jump in the Saddle, to take Mark Feldman's place, I had decided to drop out of law school and play music for a living, so Mitch had returned from Florida. Nick and I were hanging around and we asked Mitch to join us in a band. I later ran into Brian Barrett on the EL and invited him to join the band.
7.what were you and your collaborators' influences?
IVAN: Grappellii, Vassar Clements, Tommy Jackson for country. Of course Robbie Roberson.
Brian: Country Music was very popular from BlueGrass influences and Poco was the best band I had ever seen.
Mitch: Waylon, Willie, Merle,Eagles, Charlie Daniels, Ozark Mt Daredevils, Clapton.
Nick: Local guitarist Jerry Lee Davidson; Clapton, Outlaws, Skynryd, Eddie Boy.
8.where/when did you gig?
IVAN: We gigged in the early 80's. We were the Sunday band at Kileys for a while. We ultimately became the house band. We played the circuit, Clearwater, Minstrels, the Alley, Mothers, that disco on Clark and Diversey where Cahoots was the house band. Nashville North. We also played out int the western suburbs
I remember one place, Snuffy's. There was also a health club with a bar in it. The strangest long term gig we had was I think at the Dragon Chinese Restaurant in Lisle.
Nick: We also played at many bars that featured country: Minstrel's, Charlie's Corral, Charlie Club_(Joliet); Snuffy's Saloon, Reilley's Daughter, Deadwood Dave's, Clearwater Saloon, Iron Rail, Circle K club, Mother's, Fitzgeralds, the Phoenix, Buffoons, Gee Willikers,and Sweet Janes; some college gigs, and some private parties; a 6am bar in Cicero (yes, that's when they opened) A hotel in the Viagra Triangle where we backed up Johnny Frigo, We also played at Jane Bryne's Country fest on Navy Pier. And at Evergreen Plaza.
Mitch: Chicagofest at Navy Pier and Soldier Field. Two tours to NYC at City Limits for weeklong engagements
10.who did you gig with/open for?
IVAN: We opened as I remember for Vassar Clements (talk about nervous). I t think we opened for the Glaser Bros at Chicago Fest.
Nick: Johnny Frigo in the hotel atrium…wish I could remember the name of the place..…
Mitch: Opened for Vassar Clements at Minstrels Alley in Highwood,. Played on Schlitz Country Stage before The Kendalls.
11.any notable/funny gigs?
IVAN: What do you mean funny? Like I amuse you? Most of what is funny is also not printable. We ended up breaking down in Yorkville after the Snuffy's gig. Some local guy towed the van all the way back to Chicago.
Brian: There was a “Billie Bar” on Bryn Mawr that was interesting, Minstrel's in Rogers Park and the dedicated followers would always offer very interesting contributions.
Mitch: Played incredibly drunk at The Golden Dragon in Lisle and after a particularly wild Orange Blossom Special drummer Greg Komorski did a “Keith. Moon” and kicked the crap out of his drums to great applause and thus no encore.
Nick:Just about all of them, our Drummer, Greg was the cheerleader for mayhem. All of them were fun, until it was time to load up the equipment at 4 am in the snow.
IVAN: We did two tours of the East Coast. We played City Limits in Greenwich Village and Norwalk Connecticut. We were right down the street from the Lone Star where Kinky Friedman was playing. The first New York trip we drove in Nick's van. The second time we flew. That was an interesting trip. Our guitar player at the time was a great player by the name of Ronnie Dickens. Apparently his spouse had told him the night before we were to fly out that he's spouse had given him an ultimatum and he did not make the trip with us. I spent my first day in New York dialing for players. Through the great Kenny Kosek we were introduced to Ted Perlman a NY studio guy and he was so thrilled to be playing live he gigged with us for the whole tour.
13. tv show appearances?
We were in NY, I believe on our first trip and it was one of those national shows, like AM (insert City) or PM (insert City) and they did local.pieces before the national part. We had recorded our album and we were featured in this bit about how NYC was now country. We lip synched, which is harder than it looks because the mic was live in the room so we couldn't make any actual sound. Greg had been out all night and passed out on the drums. They didn't notice.
14.where/when did you record?
Nick: Two studio recordings: Columbia college studio (Jonathan Stephens) and the full Moondogs album: Chicago Trax; Buster Ursini engineered.
15.how many releases did you have and what are they?
Nick: Never released: the producer of the album never released the masters, and passed away before we could obtain them.
16.when were the releases recorded/released?
Nick:I have a 1/4” copy of the album and remastered it in my studio,
and is up on the website
17.tell me any pertinent info about the label that released them
Nick: No label
18.reception/reviews of said releases?
IVAN: Its an underground hit.
Nick: The band loved it!
19.what led to the end of this band and when was the end?
IVAN: Recording. That always ends a band. I went back to law school. We actually still played through my first few years of school. Eventually I got a job as a tax lawyer and that took me ultimately out of Chicago and in the last seven years to Hong Kong.
Nick: The usual: Susan and I got married, immediately pregnant, and I had to get a full timer….right away!
Mitch: Members started looking for a little stability etc.. and left for other pursuits, some musical, some in the mainstream.
Brian : A real need to sleep after nine months.
20.what bands were members in after this band?
I was in a number of bands some mentioned above and when I moved to Wisconsin, I played with the wonderful singer songwriter, Doug Thompson. I got to play a gig with the Western swing band, Ida Red, who's steel player later became the steel player for Asleep at the Wheel. In Charlotte, I was with Delancey Street, and then Woody and the Stragglers, a western Swing band. With D Street we recorded an album, Obsession which we sold off the stage and at local record stores. That was recorded by the great Mark Williams of Reflections studio. With the Stragglers we recorded an album, Carolina Boogie.
Brian: FreeWheel for 12 years, Strange Brew, a number of sit-ins with Billies in Cicero (Don Walls from the Sundowners liked me and provided my phone for bands that needed guitar for the night. These jobs would go until 6 am and although I was told I would get $75 for the night and wouldn't have to sing; I would by the end of the show, so I would go to the Juke Box and write down the titles to about 3 to 6 six songs, play standard chords and make up the words on the spot ( I got lots of compliments for my interpretations of the songs ).
Mitch: Nashville North house band, Bourbon Cowboys. Johnny Frigo's Hitmen. Elvis guy Rick Saucedo etc…
Nick: I opened a studio and got into midi recording and jingles, so I was sort of my own band.
21.what are all members doing now?
IVAN: We all continued to play music in various aggregations. I played in a duo in Hong Kong with a Scotsman by the name of Dave Colquhoun, am alt country band, Ma & the Young Bucks, and the Banyan Bay All Stars. From 1987 until the present date, I worked as a tax lawyer doing international corporate tax by day and music by night. I just retired and am looking forward to playing music.
Mitch: These days still gigging with country and classic rock bands. Solo performances on guitar,Harmonica and vocals. Released original material on ITunes and still writing.
Brian : Commercial Real Estate Broker and author of over 65 songs recorded in my home studio, occasional shows as a soloist with my acoustic.
Nick: I built and ran several recording studios in the loop (Radio City Recording at 230 N. Michigan..Carbon Carbide/Hard Rock building; then 445 E. Ohio.) created jingles, became a voice-over, and am the local station voice at Fox 32…..and have an album of vulgar songs and comedy bits: which includes “the Horserace”, my one viral hit. Now have a pro home studio, doing VO and working on a variety of music projects.
22.any other info you think is important?
IVAN: We are in the process of doing a new recording of one of Mitch's tunes. “Let me Roll”. Hopefully we will get back together for a reunion concert this year.
Nick: The original songs were pretty outstanding; Mitch really knows how to craft a great tune.
Brian : Mitch can carry a heavy load between his originals and copy stuff; Nick , Mitch and I could harmonize pretty well.
23.any crazy tales of excess? ha
IVAN: Well one that I can share comfortably. We were playing the Dragon I think five nights a week. I was working full time days and going to law school at night. By the end of the week I was exhausted and at the same time fueled by Jim Beam (still my favorite to this day). On stage I would wear shades so that I could close my eyes between songs and take a five second nap. Well the bartender had poured me something called an orgasm in a large beer glass and I chugged it, being the man of moderation that I am. I closed my eyes after the first song and crumbled into a heap by my amplifier. Mitch notices me at the end of the song and tells me to wake up. Now I'm not saying that everyone was drinking a lot but our guitar player, JB who was standing next to me said, “Hey man, that was a really weird fiddle solo9 you played on that last tune.” I was passed out at the time.
Mitch: Just the usual escapades involving mood enhancement before, during and after gigs. Once while gigging in NYC I ended up at a party in New Jersey and had to take a cab back.
Brian: no comment
Nick: Outside of roguish behavior towards women….which was acceptable in the waning days of the 70's, (and expected, might I add) we were a pretty conservative group that did not drink to excess, (except on special occasions…see “the Dragon”..above) Or the night the Chicago Outlaws showed up at Kiley's and I broke the ice by saying “Really great you guys could stay out so late on a school night” and they bought 8 rounds for the band…..and we had to chug it as a matter of pride…and self preservation. I don't remember much after that.
24. what makes your music unique and special?
IVAN: Great songwriting, good musicianship, three and four part harmonies, and we were like a family. We could intuit one another on stage and inspire each other.
Mitch: The fiddle. At one point when J.B. Smith was in the band we had twin fiddles which was a blast. Country enough to satisfy the genre but rocking enough to satisfy Chicago
Brian : Honesty and freedom to contribute according to our skills, desire and taste.
Nick: The originals. And if we ever get discovered, we will be the first “new” country rock band from the 70's.