If it's Christmas and this is Richmond, that means it's time for The Good Humor Band to spread some cheer for fans old and new.
A Tuneful Reunion
Christmas party time is here, and longtime rock 'n' roll favorite The Good Humor Band returns to ignite the season with Friday and Saturday night shows at Alley Katz and a Sunday afternoon jam at Poe's Pub.
Founded in Richmond by guitarist Mike McAdam and friends in late 1974, the band featured a changing group of remarkable players. Through the years they built a loyal regional following until the final lineup of guitarists McAdam and Mike Lucas, Joe McGlohon on sax, keyboard player Greg Wetzel, bassist Drake Leonard and drummer David Eggleston called it quits in 1983. In 1987, they reunited for the first of the occasional holiday shows that have become anticipated events for fans old and new.
Before that '83 breakup, there were stages laid to waste up and down the East Coast. By phone from his Nashville home, McAdam recalls the gigs that took the band from New York City's Lone Star Café to Florida's West Coast. He mentions local shows at The Pass that made the group a Richmond mainstay, and the band's popularity at Washington's, legendary Georgetown bar Desperadoes. He remembers the band mates who came and went including Bruce Bouton, Bucky Baxter and Evan Johns. There were the times the guys backed up guitar genius Danny Gatton and everybody in the band was awestruck.
From its inception, originality was a hallmark of the band's arrangements, and by 1977, the group had long stopped thinking of itself as just another bar band on the circuit. "At that point, we were much more into doing, you know, our own thing as a band," McAdam offers.
The group recorded a single and an album in the early '80s. But it remained unsigned despite a strong following, and The Good Humor Band played its last show Jan. 8, 1983 at D.C.'s Wax Museum. "We felt we'd made a good record," McAdam says of the band's frustration with the lack of major-label attention. "We felt like we'd made our shot."
But if the Good Humor Band ceased to exist, it only opened other opportunities. McAdam, McGlohon, Wetzel and Leonard headed to Nashville and found work in the country-music Mecca with, among many others, Steve Earle, Reba McEntire, Ricky Van Shelton, T. Graham Brown and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Lucas remained based in Richmond and played with prominent local and regional bands. Eggleston opted for a new direction, heading down an academic path to a University of North Carolina marine biology professorship.
McAdam says the old band remains close, and he and the others look forward to the occasional Richmond reunion when, for one more night, a bit of the past joins the present for both band and audience. "We worked five nights a week for eight years. We were a pretty busy band for a long time," he says of the group's run. And, whatever else happens, it's apparently a band experience to last a lifetime.
"It's kind of like a club that we'll always be members of," McAdam concludes with a laugh, "Whether we like it or