Archive for the 'Jeff – Personal Musical History' Category

Jeff – Personal Musical History

I’ve had people ask me things like: “When did you start playing?” “How did the band get started?” “Did you ever take lessons?” Here’s the biography section from the upcoming book:“Three Chords – Stay on the Dots” in all it’s exciting detail:

Jeff was 8 years old when he saw a guitar at a cousin’s house and was totally infatuated. He asked his parents for one for Christmas. On Christmas day, 1965, Jeff got his first guitar, an acoustic EKO model, and took his first lesson at the Gould school of music in downtown Janesville from Jim (Curley) Cooke in January of 1966.

He continued taking lessons from various teachers for the next twelve years which includes his time at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. After Jim, he also studied with: Al Gross, Gene Church, Arnie Johnson, Dick Zastrow, and finally with Jack Grassel.

While still in grade school, Jeff formed his first band consisting of himself, Todd Algrim, Mike Striegel, and Beth Deal. The band was called Royale Society and played at school functions, the Old Towne Inn in Milton, 4th of July celebrations, and numerous times at Blackhawk campgrounds.

Jeff was also in school band, playing alto sax, through high school. Band included: concert band, jazz band, pep band, marching band, and musicals. There were lessons here as well which meant there was always something to practice. Competing in the solo – ensemble contests were required and Jeff received numerous local and state awards. Choir was also part of his school life, being in both the concert and swing choir. In 1975, Jeff was voted the John Philip Sousa band award by his fellow band members and also received the Milton Band Parents scholarship upon graduation.

In the fall of 1975, Jeff was accepted, and received a scholarship at the Wisconsin Conservatory of music in Milwaukee as a jazz guitar performance major. He would leave Milwaukee every Friday after school to come back to Janesville to play with the band and then return for Monday classes. He studied strictly music courses for three years and then returned home. Later in life, he spent an additional year at UW Whitewater as a classical saxophone major.

While taking lessons from Arnie Johnson at Johnson Music, Jeff began teaching at the store. He was fifteen at the time, but had already been playing for six years. It was here that met Ken Pearsall, who had a regular bar job every Friday night at the Beloit VFW, and asked Jeff to join his band – Country Pride. Being under age, Jeff’s parents agreed to be present. Ken’s drummer was Bill Shipman, and Jeff and Bill soon became good friends. Bill and Ken started having problems and Bill decided to leave the band. Bill had a friend named Bob D’entremont and asked Jeff to put a band together with himself and Bob. Jeff agreed and they formed Eye to Eye which played quite regularly in the area. Ken, in the meantime, replaced Jeff and Bill with guitarist Brad Kuster and drummer Rick Mattelig. Bob wanted to change musical direction and Eye to Eye folded. Brad and Rick also began to have issues with Ken and left his band and asked Jeff to join with them. They formed Country Unlimited and played regularly in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Jeff began to lose interest in the band due to lack of practices and was becoming musically restless although Brad and Rick were good friends. Ken, in the meantime, was forming another band which included Cyndi Krachey (Meyer) and Chris Hart. Jeff heard about this new band and looked into it, as the idea of a female singer and regular rehearsals sounded very intriguing. Jeff decided to join this new group but had to break the news to Brad and Rick which was very hard on him. Ken, Cyndi, Chris, and Jeff formed Country Is and became quite popular in the area. When a city festival turned the band down because the name was too country, the same band became Midnight Blue. Midnight Blue had a house job at the Oaks Lounge in Rockton and was doing quite well. Chris began to have issues with Ken and left the band. He was replaced with Rich Erdman. Cyndi and Jeff became good friends and had very similar tastes and goals for the band. However, it was Ken’s band and Cyndi was given little opportunity to showcase her vocal, as well as keyboard skills. Jeff and Cyndi decided to form their own group. Rich agreed to join this new group as well. Jeff called his old band mate, Bob D’entremont, and asked if he’d be interested in playing bass in the new band. Bob said yes and the new band, consisting of Jeff, Cyndi, Rich, and Bob became the first version of Rainbow Bridge.The year was 1976 – Cyndi was 18 and Jeff was 19.

Teaching was also something Jeff really enjoyed and taught in the area for some twenty years. He taught at Johnson Music, Music Mart, Rock County Guitar, Bandwagon and Voight, Blackhawk Music, Appleseed Music, and at home. At one time he had a student load of fifty five students a week. One of Jeff’s students, Jeff Schroedl, went on to do freelance work for Cherry Lane music and was eventually hired by Hal Leonard Publishing in Milwaukee. While at Appleseed Music, a store that he and brother Matt started, Jeff Schroedl contacted Jeff about doing some freelance writing for Hal Leonard. Jeff accepted his offer and began arranging and proofreading various guitar books before and after hours at the store. When a full time editor position opened up at Hal Leonard, Jeff interviewed for the position and was hired. In 1995, Jeff moved to Milwaukee to start his new job as managing editor of guitar songbooks – the job he holds today. Jeff and his wife, Holly, live in West Allis.

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