By Lorraine Kay
This Friday, John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band will be presented by the City of Palmdale in a free concert at the Marie Kerr Park on Rancho Vista Blvd. The band will perform as part of the city’s Starlight Concert Series, beginning at 7 p.m.
The band is best known for the sound track for the cult classic film “Eddie and the Cruisers”, starring Michael Pare, released in 1983. Paying their dues, much like the fictional Cruisers in the 70s as a club band on the northeast shore of the United States, with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, to hear Cafferty tell it, it was a streak of luck that landed the band the Eddie and the Cruisers gig.
According to Cafferty, unbeknownst to the band, veteran producer Kenny Vance, who sang with Jay & The Americans during the sixties had visited a club in Greenwich Village, in which the band was playing called The Bitter End on Bleaker Street. Later, in 1981 Vance took movie director Martin Davidson to see one of their shows. Davidson offered Cafferty the job of writing the music for what was to become the film “Eddie and the Cruisers.”
When the film was showcased on TV’s movie channel, HBO, during the summer of 1984, the soundtrack began selling in large quantities. This resulted in a renewed interest in the band that recorded the sound track (but did not appear in the movie itself). The boys found themselves in big demand. Ironically, John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band came to the forefront of the pop music scene, eclipsing the actors who starred as Eddie and the Cruisers. Sax player, Michael Antunes “Tunes”, did appear in the film as a member of the Cruisers.
Cafferty says the band got started while the early members were in college, but according to the singer, he first aspired to sing one day when he heard Duane Eddy singing Rebel Rouser on his cousin’s record player. “That song stopped me dead in my tracks.”
The band began playing together in the early 70s, but it was the Cruisers’ sound track that took them over the top and introduced them to a wider audience. Following the Cruisers – one and two, there has been a slew of other film offers, not the least of which have been Sylvester Stallone’s Cobra, and Rocky IV. Other soundtracks include “Something About Mary” and most recently, “Jersey Girl”.
Influenced by the bands of the 50s and 70s, like the Drifters, Jay Walker and the All-Stars, and the Motown Sound, Cafferty conquered the sound of a working-class America. Focusing on the imagery of the music he says, “We paint the songs with the colors that made us want to be musicians.” With songs that create vivid images in music and lyrics it is no wonder that Cafferty’s songwriting has become a staple in the film industry.
The band boasts a seasoned line-up with Cafferty on vocals, Antunes on sax, Robert Cotoia on keyboard, Gary Gramolini on guitar, Pat Lupo on bass and Kenny Jo Silva on drums. Together they have a sound to be reckoned with, with hits like “On the Darkside”, “Tender Years”, “Tough All Over”, “Wild Summer Nights” from the Cruiser films and “Hearts of Five” and “Voice of America’s Sons” from Rocky IV and Cobra.
The band performs regularly on the road and contributes their talents to a number of fundraisers for charitable organizations between concerts. Cafferty is currently working on new tunes that he suspects he will be releasing over the internet.
For more information regarding the concert contact the City of Palmdale’s Parks and Recreation office at 661-267-5611.