About the BackUp Band
The BackUp Band is a rocking rhythm and blues act anchored in Cleveland, Ohio. The band features the notorious guitar duo of Tommy Shaper and Neon Don Buchanan providing a tight, twisted, twang infested musical backdrop for the irreverent vocals of the righteous Reverend Lawrence J. Newest member, keyboardist Keith Chelm, adds a new dimension to the bands sound. Drummer Joe Alessandro and bassist Craig Clasen stabilize the turmoil with their tight fisted rhythms. On any given night the band is joined by sax players, Norman Tischler, Jefferson Rice, or Rob Williams to round out the bands sound.
The BackUp Band was formed in 1983 when former Generators, Neon Don and Stutz Bearcat booked a date at the famous Euclid Tavern without actually having a band to play it. Don called a "band members need band" ad and found his high school bandmates, keyboardist Mark Murphy and Lawrence J. practicing in the basement with Tom and Joe. They played that gig and 1000 more after that. Stutz was the first of a long line of bass players that lead up to Craig Clasen who has solidified the band’s sound for most of the 90’s.
Both Tom Shaper and Neon Don Buchanan have a long list of credits to their name and have crossed musical paths in many places. They actually began playing together in 1973 in "Frankie Flame and the Firebirds" and each spent a year with Dave Morrison’s "Aces & Eights". Don gained his rock reputation as lead guitarist for the Generators, recording several records for the Buzzard label in the early eighties. He also toured with Buzzy Linhart. Tom, on the other hand, is a devout student of jazz, blues, swing, surf and hillbilly twang adding a completely different dimension to the band’s sound . He has toured with Deborah Coleman and has two solo recordings to his credit. His latest CD, "Over Budget, Late But Great" features Lawrence J. and Neon Don as well as the Roomful of Blues horn section and many of Cleveland’s finest musicians.
The eclectic front man and soul of the band is Lawrence J. This guy is the hardest working man in show business. No wait, that was James Brown. But like JB, he feeds on a crowd and will not be satisfied until they are worked into a frenzy. His passionate vocals fuel the rest of the band to produce what Ken Advent of Scene Magazine calls an "Intense, Inspired, Superb, Outstanding Act."
Their new CD on Wilbert’s Records, "The BackUp Band Volume 1", contains three original songs and eight covers by artists that are at the root of the band’s style: Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, Ray Charles, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Chuck Berry. Recorded at Wally Cleaver Recording in Fredricksburg, Virginia, the CD also features the barrel house piano of Mark "Spider" Murphy, the "Titan of the Telecaster", Mr. Bill Kirchen of Commander Cody fame, and Artful Dodger keyboardist Peter Bonta.
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