* a musical history of geoff kessell

The Basics:
First guitar - age 9
First band - age 13
First recordings - age 15
First public performance - age 17

Musical Projects:

1: The Pencils (later renamed The Mannequins) (roughly 1980).  g.k. - 3 chord guitar; Matt Folkerts - Drums; Tom Manerelli - Bass.  Played all songs like The Ramones, whether they were Ramones songs or not.  Key songs - "Metal" (Gary Numan), "I Wanna be Sedated" (Ramones), "Living In The Past" (Jethro Tull).  No idea what became of Matt or Tom.

2: Victor Laszlo (1984-1985).  g.k. - guitar tuning, strained vocals, writing, iron fist; Scott Ligon (the young musical wonder) - vocal, guitar, bass, piano, goofy hats; Tim Luft (the quiet one) - bass, guitar; Todd Blumoff - big drums / replaced by Craig Miller - little drums.  Eighties guitar pop.  g.k.'s first writing efforts.  Split when I realized I needed to make an effort to actually learn to sing and play guitar, and other band members decided to cover "Cocaine." (Note: on 9/29/02 I received the following message in an email from Tim - "Let me go on record saying that I never wanted to play "Cocaine" - it has one of the most boring bass lines in existence." - I stand corrected.)  Key songs - "Lyin' To Linda," "War Story," "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (U2).  Scott is still playing and has been in several bands since, including The Castaways, Dollface, The Heatersons (find their CD - it's quite good!), and most recently, Scotty and the Ligonaires.  Craig put down his drumsticks several years ago.  Don't know about Tim or Todd.

3: The West County Pop Art Experimental Band (1985 - 1987) g.k. - guitar, bass, keyboard, vocal; Rick Sanford - drums, keyboard, recorder, kalimba, vocals.  Improvisational surf jazz.  Loads of fun!  Hours of music that I will release someday.  Key songs - "Down On The Farm," "Walkin' The Dog."  Rick is now a very good house painter with a very nice family.

4: Grand Central Nervous System (1987)  g.k. - guitar, drums, vocals, writing; Jon Knipp - vocals, writing, sitting, smoking; Andy Driscoll - bass; Drew Fitzgerald - drums, sex appeal, smoking; Chris Westland - lead guitar, keyboard, girlfriend / Lynn Hunt - abstract keyboard, boyish cuteness.  First "serious" band, which meant we spent alot of time discussing our image and arguing, and precious little time rehearsing. Sounded a bit like R.E.M. meets Teardrop Explodes meets The Troggs.  Key songs - "Mojo Salamander,"  "Big Autumn," "Can't Explain" (Love).  Split due to inertia, drunkeness and clash of egos... uh, I mean artistic differences.  Jon was in banking last I heard.  Andy is still quite busy with music, teaching violin, gigging and managing various "serious-type" musicians (see below for more gk/Andy stuff).  Chris is apparently a doctor of some sort.  No idea about Drew or Lynn.

5: The Otis' (1989 & 1990) g.k.: guitar, bass, vocals, writing; Gary Sudin - guitar, bass, vocals, writing; Dave Elfenbaum: guitar, bass, vocals, writing; Jonas Moses (1989 only): keyboard, guitar, vocals, writing; Mark Easter - drums, vocals.  Hodge-podge enclave assembled for a couple of gigs.  Never be in a band with four writers!  -   Key songs - "Heart On Display,"  "Wise Harbor," "We Are The Otis'," "For the Love of the World," "Into the 90s."  One incredibly funny (unintentionally) live video of our first show exists, that manages to capture everything but the band.  Split after a second gig at a birthday party playing overplayed covers.  Dave's put out a solo disc and Gary's working on one (has been for years).  Jonas is still making music; "commercial stuff, as well as theatrical and movie score material."  Mark & I still work together when time allows (see below).  He's written for several music magazines over the years and recently co-authored a very cool book called Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium.

6 & 8: The Primms (1991 & 1992) g.k. - guitar, bass, vocals; Andy Driscoll - guitar, bass, violin, abandonment; Mark Easter - drums, vocals.  The most enjoyable band I've been in but also one of the most poorly documented (although three Primms songs made it on Pop-Gun).   Key songs - "Do The Primm," "The Devil's Little Reminder," "Dead Valentine's Day," "The Boat That I Row" (Neil Diamond).  Split originally when Andy left to pursue a career in "serious" music (classical violin).  Split the second time when we ran out of free time.  Reformed as Picnic then went on hiatus for an indefinite length of time.  See below.

7: Sandbox (1991) g.k. - guitar, vocal, writing, nerves; Erik Voeks - guitar, keyboard, vocals, writing; Mark Easter - drums, vocals; Steve Scariano - bass guitar.  Schizophrenic guitar pop plagued by differing agendas.  Some great tunes were born here but sadly never recorded (with this line-up).  Key songs - "I Won't Jump," "Fingerpainted Cat," "She's Just Like You."  Split due to above mentioned differing agendas and bad karma.  Erik released a brilliant album called "Sandbox" (find it if you can.  It's worth it!)  and then took early retirement.  Steve was still milling about in St. Louis record stores last I knew.

Other endeavors (one-offs and the like):
Vague & White (1988) - g.k. - guitar, vocal, writing; Mark Easter - drums, vocals; Dave Elfenbaum - bass, vocals; Gary Sudin - vocals.  Pre-Otis' assembledge for one song only.  - "She's Holdin' Out."

Mark 'n' Geoff - g.k. - guitar, bass, vocals, writing; Mark Easter - drums, vocals, sound effects, writing.  A swingin' combo.  Key songs - "Mrs. O'Leary Take Her Dog For A Stroll (or That F**ckin' C*nt)," "Flower Power Girl," and many Vegas Medleys.

Picnic (1997 - ?) - Same line-up as The Primms, different approach.  Whereas The Primms were a fun-filled, sixties pop influenced group, Picnic was an ambitious acoustic project with string arrangements and other complicated accompaniment that we never finished.  Still sitting on an album's worth of songs.  Not necessarily split up, just taking a realllly long break.  Key songs - "The Ladder of Distress," "Lovers' Hoedown."

Geoff Kessell and Yoko Knitting (acoustic) / Geoff Kessell's Balls-Out Rock 'n' Roll Experience (electric) (2001) - gk - guitar, lead vocal, writing; Mark Easter - drums; Mike Cracchiolo - bass, backing vocals; with special guest Mike Powers - impromptu sax.  Also featuring James Wilke - drums on one song as Yoko Knitting.  Not really an "official" band but we've done a couple shows together so I figured I'd mention this.  Key songs - "She Will Cry in Time," "You Deserve Someone (Just Like You)," "Don't Let Them Ride."  Mike C., Mike P. and James played in a very fun band called The Kickbacks.  Mike C. also played in another excellent band called The Bureau of Sabotage.

Which brings us to today (2002)
Geoff Live Solo
Walking the planks of a stage near you.

where would you like to go next?

* home * about geoff * recordings * links * amusements