Dec 23, 2011
It was a Sunday evening in the summer of 1993 when Joon Nah, Bob Van Gieson, Rob Sylvester, Mr. Jimmy Koumanis, and I stepped onto what some might say would be the least glamorous of stages to start our first gig together: the parking lot in front of the Merla Mae Ice Cream Parlour in London, Ontario. Maybe the stage wasn’t glamorous, but it had character. Exhaust fumes and character.
We didn’t have a band name. That was the joke-du-jour.
The then-owner of Merla Mae wanted us to be called “The Merla Men” but we didn’t like that very much and all of the frozen dairy in the world wasn’t going to change our minds.
We thought about “The Goodtimes Five” and ran with that for a few weeks before enough lemon faces from friends and family turned us off to it.
Finally we decided on “The Essentials”.
We knew Terry McManus from having recorded a radio commercial for Copp’s Buildall a year or two prior with him and he became our manager from Day 1.
Working with Terry, an industry veteran and Professor of Music Industry Arts at Fanshawe College, enabled us to shift into high gear faster than most indie acts do. He also connected us with Jack Richardson and Don Geppert.
Jack was our first Producer and Don our Comic Relief / Engineer for “Oh What A Night!”. A couple of awesome guys. (Jack passed away in 2011 – RIP Jack.)
We had a lot of fun. We sang everywhere and anywhere and we put in a ton of pizza-fuelled rehearsal time.
Well, Mr. Jimmy Koumanis started making inroads to become Dr. Jimmy Koumanis and Phil Papadopoulos came on board to replace him. Phil was replaced a bit later by Dan Speck. We recorded “…And Then Some” with Jack and Don exactly one week after Dan joined. Not an easy thing to step into but Dan somehow did it.
A lovestruck Rob then left because he was moving to the USA and we went as a 4some for a long time.
We amicably parted ways with the Terry/Jack/Don team and Mark Watson started to manage us.
We recorded “Bare” live in Sault Ste Marie, ON in 1999 and then up and moved to Hogtown, the Big Smoke, the Tee Dot (ie, we moved to Toronto).
Bob quit some years later to wear suits and "do" photocopies and we replaced him with Mike Ferfolia and Dan’s brother Thom Speck. Hey look at us, we’re 5 again! :) Uh, Mike then quit and we were 4 again. :(
We recorded “Remember December”, co-produced by Jay Riehl and Brian Pickett. We later got to perform on a stage with the wacky Jay as regular guests at John Landry's annual holiday show in Port Hope, Ontario. Those country boys know how to have fun on stage...we had a blast each time we performed there.
Then Joon quit and was replaced by Janet Turner.
We were losing our chief arranger, a powerful baritone voice, and we weren’t sure if a girl would mix well sonically with us but she somehow did - as if by miracle. It's not easy to step into a historically all-male group either but Janet rolled with the punches, and on occasion, punched back. ;)
Then came “Nothing But Blue” co-produced by another awesome dude, Darryl Neudorf and his trusty feline sidekick Theo Neudorf.
In the last year we’ve gigged with a beatboxer whenever he was available, Luke Stapleton, just for grins, who is one of the rarest talents your ears will ever be treated to.
And that, in short, was how it went.
And now we’re done.
Yup, The Essentials sang our last chord on December 23, 2011. An A-flat-major for the curious. But, our music is still alive and will be for a long time to come. Visit iTunes or find us online to order.
It’s been a extremely fun ride! And foremost, we thank our many fans over the years for welcoming us into their cities and towns with open arms but more importantly, welcoming us into their hearts. You’re certainly in ours and we will never forget you.