Featured BIO: Billy Gadol
By Scott Bucholtz
“Who is that guy?”. When you hear that question asked on a Wednesday night at Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ, it can only mean one thing: there is a new guy on a stage tearing it up and getting everybody’s attention. Now remember, the place is filled with musicians that may not be the easiest to impress. Billy Gadol has warranted that question TWICE. First with his guitar and then again sometime later with his voice. I can’t understand how some group has not yet signed up this double threat!
Born and raised on Long Island in a family of musicians, Billy, his flight attendant wife (Cherie) and six month old son moved to the Charleston area following 9/11. With a great opportunity in a growing company, the timing was right. Nearly 10 years later, this proud father wanted to mention that their son is a straight A student at a prep school. Obviously, things are working out. When he was in grade school, Billy played the trumpet and developed an ear for music. Then a local guitar store going out of business gave him the opportunity to get his first guitar (for $35) and he never set it down! He’ll also play a little piano, bass, drums and pedal steel. He says he “can still eke out a few notes on the trumpet, but it's not pretty”. He graciously makes a point of acknowledging his parents for their support and encouragement and hopes to bless his son in the same way. I have had the opportunity to share a stage with my own son. There might not be any larger reward that knowing that you have passed this passion on to your next generation!
After years of playing his electric guitar (un-plugged in front of the TV), he really missed the camaraderie of playing with other musicians. So, he looked on Craigslist and “went on a few auditions in search of the right fit but nothing ever clicked”. He'd heard that Home Team BBQ had great beer and food so when the Blues Club moved from Mt. Pleasant to West Ashley, he decided to go. Why did he wait?! He remembers debating whether or not to bring a guitar because it had been so long… “Anyway, getting off the couch and showing up was the right move. More people should do the same”. Good advice.
Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix inspired him to play (we’ve certainly heard that before). However, equally influential were vocalists like David Bowie, John Lennon, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Terrance Trent d'Arby, Jeff Buckley, Bjork, Tori Amos and Ella Fitzgerald. He states that “these singers emote and have a certain sizzle to their voice which really speaks to me”. Others like Peter Gabriel, Jeff Beck, The Beatles, Band Of Horses, Foo Fighters, The Police and all '80s New Wave remain favorites. While I’m not sure about the ‘80s New Wave music, he has certainly been inspired and influenced by the all time greats and those who were/are truly originals!
When asked about his favorites in the Blues Club, he mentions that there are too many great guitarists to acknowledge so he says, “let's talk rhythm section: Wayne Mitchum, Jojo Wall, Mark Schleis, Jerry Ray and Tony Cobin are great bass players. Quentin Ravenel, Greg "The Motor" Levkus , Lumpy Lenthe and Scott Bucholtz (Thanks!) can drum with the best of them. The keyboard talents of Bill Nance and Jon Hager are staggering… Also, there are a number of born entertainers. Skye Paige, Mike Llewellyn and Sarah Cole come to mind. Let's just say that folks would be surprised by the talent that shows up on most Wednesday nights and the dancers are the icing on the cake. I'm sure I've left a few people out – please forgive me. It's a real honor and privilege to share the stage with the aforementioned pros”. Those words ‘honor and privilege’ truly nail the sentiment of us all and are the prevailing thought in any discussion on the Lowcountry Blues Club Jam Night!
As for favorite songs for Jam Night? He cites Joe Cocker's version of "The Letter" and states "Little Sister" is another. If he “could find a Stewart Copeland, I'd love to give ‘Driven to Tears’ a whirl”. For Karaoke, it's Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin" or Bowie's "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide". The diversity of his interests is another common thread among all of the fantastic musicians whose stories that I get the pleasure of sharing.
Billy had been in and out of many bands back in NY but none yet in Charleston. I think he would jump at the right opportunity that would enable him to pursue original music while maintaining the proper family balance (what is everyone waiting for? Sign this guy up). One of his bands back in NY, The Ghouls, was offered a recording contract in Denmark “but we turned it down because we were going to be huge in the USA”. He says he’s “still kicking myself ”. In the early '90s, The Ghouls, had a #1 song on NYU's college station and played live in their studio on a number of occasions. Although it's been a while, he loves recording and being in the studio. He puts ideas down on his computer using Logic and GarageBand all the time but he doesn’t count that as real recording experience. He adds, “if anyone needs a guitar part for their recording, I'd love to contribute”.
As we all are discovering, so many of our Club members have had experiences on an international scale. With a veiled plea for secrecy, he volunteers that he sang back-up for Barry Manilow at Radio City Music hall for 12 shows with his high school choir. He also played piano and sang "The Girl From Ipanema" in the Plaza Hotel lobby – where’s the video?? What’s funny to me is that song was actually a fixture on the set list of my first working band - we can look back and laugh together! Higher on the ‘hip’ meter, while living in NY, he was fortunate to play such legendary venues as CBGB's, Cafe Wah? and other great NYC clubs. He even had the good fortune to work at the world renowned Manny's Music on 48th St. where he met scores of famous musicians.
Being the most famous music store in the world, Manny’s was a destination spot for The Beatles, Stones, Who… While working there, Billy had the incredible opportunity to wait on and assist legends like James Taylor, George Benson, Stevie Wonder, Zakk Wylde… On a lucky day, these superstars would take a seat right in front of Billy (and others) and just play. One such occasion stands out among them: one afternoon Billy spent significant one-on-one time with violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman. Mr. Perlman was trying out microphones for a home studio and Billy raves about how gracious and friendly he was.
Billy is an entrepreneur and loves to talk about business development. He has started a guitar pedal company called FLEXeFX, Inc. The pedals, the website, the internal and external design elements are all works in progress. If you’re interested, ask him about it! After years of making contacts in the industry, he has lined up a list of industry giants that will give his product a trial as soon as he has prototypes. He’d also like his peers to test and critique them while at Home Team BBQ on Wednesday nights. From what he explained to me, I think he has had a stroke of genius! Something to look forward to for sure.
“Who is that guy?” Billy Gadol. Your band and its followers might benefit from getting to know him!
As always, this weekend you will have many opportunities to see awesome live entertainment. Look for the 21st Annual Folly Beach Sea and Sand Festival this Saturday. Slated to perform are Gaslight Street, Sarah Cole & The Hawkes, Jeff Norwood, and more! Plane Jane will be at the N. Charleston Wild Wings on Friday. Both Friday and Saturday give the opportunity to see Johnny Mac & The Booty Ranch at the Sand Dollar. The Louie D Project is downtown at the Silver Dollar on Friday and on the Vendue Rooftop Saturday. Heyrocco is at the Music Farm on Friday night with Co and The Explorers Club. Captain Kirk will be with Starling at The Bottom Grill & Bar in Bonneau Saturday. Old You is gaining the title of hardest working band around – they’re at Tasty Thai Thursday, on the Vendue Rooftop Friday at 6, then at Kickin’ Chicken at 10:30, Saturday they’re at the Rye Bar in Athens and Sunday they’ll be back on the Pour House deck. Yours truly will be with the Mason Dixon Band Friday night at Boomer’s in Goose Creek (formerly Wings, etc.) and look for us at 3:00 Saturday afternoon at the 36th Annual Colleton County Rice Festival.
FromTyler Boone, we have info about a FREE SHOW at the Village Tavern on Apr 30, doors at 6, show at 8:
From opener to headliner:
Sleeping Policeman - (Myrtle Beach - acoustic trio)
Sun-Dried Vibes - (Charlotte - Reggae Band)
Tyler Boone - (Charleston - rock, pop, blues trio)
Meet the Sky - (Charleston - rock, indie
Also we just released my new single "Austin" for free download as well with also my first EP "Stuck Between" as well for free - www.tylerboone.bandcamp.com
And check out your favorite local paper for plenty more options for your weekend fun...
Don't miss our next jam: Wednesday night at Home Team BBQ/ West Ashley -- sooo much fun!!
April's featured artist was Muddy Waters. May's artists are Blind Willie McTell (1901), Robert Johnson (1911), Little Walter (1930), and Taj Mahal (1942).
Join us on facebook and twitter, and check out some of our recordings from the Wednesday jams at http://www.reverbnation.com/lowcountrybluesclub
It's time to pay your dues for 2011 if you haven't already done so. Just come out to a jam, and give us $10 for an individual, $25 for a band or family, or $100 for a corporate membership. Or you can mail dues to The Lowcountry Blues Club, P.O. Box 814, Isle of Palms, SC 29451.
LMW, April 28, 2011