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Big City Music Band  1969-1975  
April 24, 1970, Koehler Field House East Stroudsburg State College (Opened for Steve Miller Band)
December 30, 1971, Boyd Theatre, Easton PA (Opened for Sha Na Na)



Founding Members:


Fred Bond- Lead Vocals, Alto and Tenor Sax
Steve Mamay- Guitar
George Berg- Organ, Piano, Alternate Vocal Lead
Dave Sestak- Tenor Sax, Piano, Flute, Vocals
Skip Hess- Trumpet, Vocal
John Albeck- Bass
Rudy Blomstrum - Manager


Subsequent Members:


Bob Scammell- Bass, Alternate Lead Vocals
Tom Sestak- Drums
Bill Pusey- Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Background Vocals
Joe Ziegenfuss- Trombone, Bass Trombone, Background Vocals
Dave "Leroy" Kenney- Flute, Alto, and Tenor Saxes, Clarinet, Electric Piano, and Background Vocals
Mike Trach- Alto and Tenor Sax
Steve Kimock- Lead Guitar
Barry Holben- Organ




Noteable Highlights:


-The group played 498 performances in a six-year span and perhaps over 250 practices.
-The first job for BCMB was on May 9, 1969 in Reading at the Crystal Hotel.
-Tom and Fred played every job
-The last job played was in 1975.


Additional Info:


BIG CITY was thoughtfully molded and assembled by selecting musicians with a common goals and dissimilar musical tastes in order to encourage a melting pot of ideas. The result was a heterogeneous group of musicians who represented many of the spectrums in the musical world- rock, jazz, country, pop, big band, and classical.

**TRACK LISTINGS FOR STREAMING MUSIC FOUND BELOW BIO**


Big City Music Band, From the very beginning, thought, created, and played together. If one word could truly describe any musical group, then that one word to describe BIG CITY would be-"Professional".

By using brass and woodwind instruments, the groups felt they had an advantage over groups composed of just basic rhythm instruments. Deeper mood, delicate musical colorings and shadings, broader balances, and additional voicing and harmonies were all possible.

The group spent as much time perfecting, practicing, and writing new material as it did in actual performance. Manager Rudy Blomstrom, when interviewed, stressed the importance of practice. "For a group to perform without adequate preparation and practice and if they are capable of giving 100% to an audience and give anything less is a rip-off to the audience. [At that time] audiences were more sensitive to quality music and knew if a group was giving [the performance] their all. That's why I demanded total commitment during a performance and would not settle for less from an artist". Perhaps this is why they had such a "together" sound. To see them perform at a concert was to believe what their manager said- total involvement musically and emotionally.

In a growing metropolis of nearly 600,000 people, the group remained a leader and innovator. BIG CITY's style and repertoire was often attempted to be copied by other groups. Their appeal was amazing, considering the overwhelming amount of junk being shoved down the public's throat by certain segments of the music industry. A group that was artistic, commercial, and personal almost seemed too good to be true. Each member took his music and his fellow musicians' music seriously. They spent hours listening to the more serious jazz artist, classical musicians and contemporary rock performers. They continued to study music at advanced school, and many of the members took lessons from world renowned teachers.

A closer look at BIG CITY revealed no superstars or former members of famous groups. Fred Bond- Lead Vocals, Alto and Tenor Sax, Bob Scammell- Bass, Alternate Lead Vocals, George Berg- Organ, Piano, Alternate Vocal Lead, Tom Sestak- Drums, Steve Mamay- Guitar, Bill Pusey- Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Background Vocals, Joe Ziegenfuss- Trombone, Bass Trombone, Background Vocals, Dave "Leroy" Kenney- Flute, Alto, and Tenor Saxes, Clarinet, Electric Piano, and Background Vocals.

The group paid its dues. From a meager beginning playing free concerts, be-ins, and various freebie affairs, the group graduated to local engagements where their following increased with each performance. After success at the regional levels, the groups then performed at the national level.

During the height of their popularity, the group entered a "Battle of the Bands" contest sponsored jointly by the prestigious Billboard Magazine and the Tea Council of America. The contest received 15,000 entries from new talent and bands across the United States. BIG CITY just missed the top six, coming in seventh. Remarkable, considering they did it on their own with little help from the media. To be ranked in the top 1/2 of 1% of all entries in the United States was no small accomplishment.

BIG CITY "came of age" at the Harrisburg Rock Festival, a marathon festival attended by over 20,000 music devotees. To quote editor Tom Hagan writing an editorial critique: "By far the biggest ovation with to Big City Music Band who played twice before a wildly enthusiastic crowd and who, in addition, received a standing ovation and an unprecedented encore." With a total of twenty acts on the billing, this had to be a turning point in their career".

Other successes followed quickly- New Jersey Rock Festival and Moorestown Rock Festival: "After a few minutes of horn blasts and guitar scales, BIG CITY was tuned, and they tore into their first number with an exciting mixture of hard rock and liberal jazz improvisations. The momentum grew; kids got up to their seats to dance. The group had them singing. One group jumped on stage to sing; everyone was clapping and stamping their feet. Audience and performer all became one huge group." The audience personally became involved emotionally with BIG CITY'S music performance. The good vibes came off long and strong.

BIG CITY negotiated with a number of record companies for release of their independently produced album. The group, through their manager, Rudy Blomstrom, arranged to have the talented, young producer, Charlie Lagond of Eastman School of Music, listen to the group in a private audition. Lagond, a top-ranked jazz and pop musician and arranger, immediately saw the group and began to write material for the album.

Trying not to be influenced by the other trendy sounds around them, the groups sound evolved like an insect going through its embryonic stages of development- from a few, small, simple chords to the addition of words, the wearing of the melody line, embellishment with brass and woodwinds, the right coloration of synthesizers, wind chimes, choral effect- a full grown, beautiful work of art. Since the group had total control over each recording session, mixing and mastering, the album was not what some sound engineer thought the group should sound like, but was the true sound of the group as it existed.

The album was typical of BIG CITY- ahead of its time. They used methods and innovations rarely used by the run of-the-mill rock groups. The mood of their album was a throwback to honesty in preparation, pride in craftsmanship, and a study in good taste. They displayed true artistry for all to hear. And when they said all, they meant all, for the album covered all the musical tastes of an audience. Driving solid rock, jazz improvisations, a tinge of country and western, reflections of contemporary thought, big band rock, and moods of pure relaxation. Truly and album- something for everyone.

The group did remarkably well considering they had been one of the few contemporary groups who had a successful career even without a record. The group was together for several years, working continuously in the best engagements and concerts. They played twenty-three major concerts in nine months, sharing third and second billings to acts like Grand Funk, James Gang, Alice Cooper, Van Morrison, Redbone, Dreams, Sha Na Na, Jerry Jeff Walker, Livingston Taylor, Delaney & Bonnie, Steve Miller, the Illusion, Earth, Wind & Fire, Edgar Winter, and many others. EVentually, Big City went on to play 101 concerts- either opening act or lead act. They played in six states and twenty-nine college campuses. Amazing, simply amazing. Twenty-three major concerts with name groups. Remember, this was done without a lot of publicity, without the super hype of the big name relations firms, without a recording contract. What then, we can ask rhetorically, did it for them? Simple- their music carried them!

Ralph Gelason, the dean of rock editors, writing in Rolling Stone Manager, wrote: Beneath it all, is a real truth. And that is that, no matter what connections a manager may have with booking agents and ballrooms, no matter what the other clients he has, the thing that has to do it in the end is the music. If the music is right and strong enough, it will carry the band further then any agent can walk. And if the music does not make it, no agent or manager or combination of both can." Manager Rudy Blomstrom talked with Ralph Gleason who agreed to listed to Big City's album. He sent the band encouraging words.

The group played 498 performances in a six-year span and perhaps over 250 practices. The first job for BCMB was on May 9, 1969 in Reading at the Crystal Hotel. The last job played was in 1975.


TRACK LISTING:

1. Sad Little Tune (1:36) (Reprise) Last song on album.
Lyrics by R D Laing; music by Charlie Lagond.
Sung by the "Great One" Fred Bond, Harpsicord by Dave "Leroy" Kenney

2. New York (7:11) (Dreams) - Live at Odysseus, Bethlehem, March 26, 1970.
Ensemble Vocals- Bond, Scammell, Berg, Kenney;
Trumpet solo- Skip Hess; Bass- Scammell;
Guitar solo Mamay;
Trombone- Zigenfuss;
Organ-Berg;
Alto Sax- Bond;
Drums- Tom Sestak

3. One Fine Morning- (5:54) (Lighthouse)- Live at Odysseus.
Horn Arrangements- Hess;
Lead Vocals- Bond;
Backup- Scammell, Berg, Kenney;
Piano- Kenney;
Guitar Solo- Mamay;
Drums- Sestak;
Organ- Berg;
Trumpet-Hess;
Trombone- Zigenfuss;
Tenor Sax- Kenney

4. Beginnings (5:07) (Chicago) Live at Odysseus.
Horn Arrangements- Hess;
Lead Vocals- Bond;
Backup- Scammell, Berg, Kenney;
Piano- Kenney;
Guitar Solo- Mamay;
Drums- Sestak;
Organ- Berg;
Trumpet-Hess
Trombone- Zigenfuss;
Tenor Sax- Kenney

5. Feel So Good (4:46) (Don Ellis)- Recorded at Helfrich Studios.
Arrangement- Lagon;
Trumpet Solo- Hess;
Vocals- Bond, Scammell, Kenney, Berg;
Guitar- Mamay;
Bass- Scammell;
Drums- Sestak;
Organ- Berg;
Tenor Sax- Kenney.

6. Sing Me No Songs of Sadness (3:18)
Lyrics- Lagond;
Vocals- Bond soars in this tune; impeccable records backed by phenomenal horns;
Piano-Kenney;
Trombone Solo- Zigenfuss.

7. Beach Boys Medley (6:01)
Concept- Scammell, Blomstrom
Lead Vocals- Scammell, Bond, Kenney;
Backup- Berg;
Bass- Scammell;
Guitar- Mamay;
Drums- Sestak;
Organ- Berg;
Trumpet- Bill Pusey;
Tenor Sax, Piano- Kenney;
Trombone- Zigenfuss

8. Beatles Medley (13:24)- Live at Bethlehem Catholic High School.
Concept- Scammell, Blomstrom;
Horn charts- Pusey;
Arangement- Kenney, Scammell;
Lead vocals- Bond, Scammell, Kenney;
Backup-Pusey; Kenney, Berg;
Guitar- Mamay;
Bass- Scammell;
Drums- Sestak;
Organ- Berg;
Trumpet- Pusey;
Tenor Sax- Kenney;
Trombone- Zigenfuss;
Piano solo- kenney

9. Whipping Post (8:14) Allman Bros. First group to put horns to this classic song.
Horn arrangements were done by Skip Hess.
Lead Vocals- Bond (vintage Fred vocals);
Bass- Scammell;
Guitar- Mamay;
Organ- Berg;
Trumpet- Hess;
Trombone- Zigenfuss;
Tenor Sax- Kenney;
Drums- Sestak.

10. Lazy (8:53). This was the last practiced and performed song by BCMB
Organ- Barry Holben;
Guitar- Steve Kimock;
Bass- Scammell;
Drums; Sestak;
Vocals- Bond and Kenney.