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 The Stories Behind Joe's Boys  

Joe "Doppler Joe" "Tequila Joe" Rossi - Vocals, Flute, Guitar, Harmonica, Percussion  

Joe’s venture into the world of music started early in his grammar school years at Blessed Sacrament in Albany, New York, where he took part in school talent shows and  performed at 8th grade graduations. Inspired by groups such as the Ventures, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, the Doors, Jethro Tull, his uncle’s band in the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s, the Road to Reunion and the Chazy Westport System, Joe developed his talents by teaching himself to play the guitar and flute. Over the years, he has also mastered the harmonica and percussion instruments. Joe has played in jam sessions with well known Albany groups and musicians such as Frank Cross, of Stark Raven; Brian Fitzpatrick and Jeff Ellis, of Rutland Road; and Joe Gorman and Mike Joyce, formerly of Ariel, Joe’s Boys and other bands. Joe also teamed up during his high school days at Albany High School with one of Albany’s finest blues guitarists, the late Billy Hesch.

After his high school years, Joe joined the southern rock group, South Bound, which featured Billy Hesch as well as several other well known local musicians. South Bound played throughout the Albany area at local college mixers, high school dances and clubs like Bogart’s, the Safari Lounge, the Villa Valenti, and the Cleabel Restaurant. In 1982, Joe left South Bound and the music business to settle down and marry his lovely wife of 30 years, Karen (Mittler) Rossi.  

In 1992, Joe was back on stage with a band called Agent. Agent became very popular in the Capital District playing classic rock and blues.  At the very start of this century, Joe left Agent to form Joe’s Boys. From the start, Joe’s Boys dedicated itself to playing great classic rock and pop and encouraged its audiences to step in front of their “guest microphone” to sing along with the band. Eventually, through the years, a member here and a member there left to form other bands. But, Joe’s Boys had built up a strong local following and Joe was determined to continue the musical legacy that he had started. That has certainly been accomplished with the current configuration of the 'Boys!

Joe is a man of many talents. These gifts have helped make the Joe’s Boys sound unique and special. The band can play a Jethro Tull song, thanks to the sweet flute work by “Doppler Joe.” Joe can be heard singing lead on CCR songs or harmonies with Jimmy “Hollywood” Hyde in an Everly Brothers tune. When you least expect it, Joe can pull out his harmonica and play a soulful riff, rely on his acoustic guitar skills in a country ballad, or play the claves to a Latin rhythm.

Occasionally, the guys in the band refer to Joe as “Tequila Joe” in reference to his favorite drink. Every member of the band sports a nickname. It’s a Joe’s Boys thing! Joe has an avid interest in meteorology, and band members rely on “Doppler Joe” to forecast the weather for our outdoor gigs. That’s why we always know that if we take a gig on the patio of the Orchard Tavern, it’s definitely going to rain! Joe also finds relaxation in painting. As in rooms, not landscapes. Two nicknames are enough, so the band members haven’t yet started to call him, “Michelangelo Joe!” Joe also adds a special bit of entertainment to the band when he goes into the audience to seek out “willing” participants to sing along on our guest microphone. Joe was also a finalist in the “2008 St. Peter’s Idol” competition. Joe’s Boys wouldn’t be Joe’s Boys without the Joe!  Joe Rossi is a special talent in a special band.    

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Jim “Hollywood” Hyde - Vocals, Guitar, Banjo, Percussion  

Jimmy’s vast talents were evident when he was attending high school at Vincentian Institute in Albany, New York. He played bass for the very popular band, the Chord-A-Roys. Jimmy’s ear for harmonies and his vocal range helped propel the Chord-A-Roys to become one of the best vocal bands in New York's Capital District. The band developed a devoted following, eventually adding vocalist, Dickey Cronin, and changed its name to the Apple Corps. Along with the name change, the band began to play more intricate musical arrangements. This growth continued to evolve, as the band changed its name, again, several years later, to the Chazy Westport System, and added a horn section. Some of the notable venues Jimmy played during this era were, the Frat House, in Albany; the College Inn, in Saratoga; the Swiss Inn, in Guilderland; and Mothers, in Lake George. The band recorded a Dickey Cronin song, “I Don’t Want Pie" with the Knickerbockers song, “Chapel in the Fields” on the flip side. A bio of the Chazy Westport System can be found at http://www.60sgarageband.com/.  

While playing with the Chazy Westport System, Jimmy had the opportunity to share the stage with many notable national acts appearing locally, such as, Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose, Lou Christie, Dave Brigati (the brother of Eddie Brigati, the lead singer of the Rascals), and the Vogues. Jimmy also sat in and played “The Peppermint Twist” with Joey Dee, which kind of makes him an honorary “Starlighter!” Another opportunity presented itself many years later when a mutual friend, Al Quaglieri, arranged for Jimmy to meet Beau Charles, the guitarist with Buddy Randell and the Knickerbockers. It was meant to be that “Hollywood” would travel to California to meet Beau where he had the opportunity to sit in with him and play the Knickerbockers' hit, “Lies,” at the Living Room in Valencia, California. They have remained friends to this day.  

Jimmy has built a reputation through the years as one of the best bassists in the area. Early in the ‘70’s, he was asked to consider auditioning for a nationally known R&B group, Tavares, which made a mark on the national scene with hits such as, “Check It Out” and “Heaven Must be Missing an Angel,” but Jimmy decided to stay close to home and focus on his family and his love for the oldies. 

The musical backgrounds of the groups that Jimmy has played with are as diverse as his talent. “Hollywood” was a member of a piano-based jazz group called, Black Coffee, featuring Pat Viglucci and Bobby “Jazzman” Sbuttoni. This trio played regularly at the Shelf, in the DeWitt Clinton Hotel in downtown Albany, New York. The Shelf was a landmark venue, also played by the legendary Frank Sinatra. These musicians eventually played together, once again, as the band, Indian Summer, specializing in standards and ‘60’s-era harmony groups. Joe’s Boys bandmate, Steve Colfer, also played with Hollywood and Indian Summer for a while. Jimmy also teamed up with vocalist Gary Wensley and Pat Viglucci in an Indian Summer-like group called, Transition.

Jimmy also plays bass and shares lead singing duties with Diane Cremisio in a well-known local wedding band, Ron Cremisio and Friends. He took on this role 17 years ago and still gigs with them. Occasionally, Hollywood plays a gig with the band, the Classic Touch, a trio playing standards. You may catch him on a “Joe’s Boys off-night"  playing with the Classic Touch at the Four Corners Luncheonette in Delmar, New York.  

Jimmy’s vocal talents enable him to sing a wide variety of leads and still pick up intricate harmony parts to support other vocalists. Joe’s Boys has also been knocked out when they learned that Hollywood plays lead guitar and banjo in addition to the electric bass! In fact, he has also become a very important percussionist in the band! These talents have dramatically enhanced Joe’s Boys’ sound and versatility.  

Hollywood has enabled the ‘Boys to expand their song list tremendously and increase the vocal strength of the band as well! Jimmy is one of the few vocalists who can cover a wide range of artists, from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to the Righteous Brothers, Roy Orbison and the Everly Brothers - and we won't even get into how well he handles Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark and Skeeter Davis songs! Jim Hyde is a dynamic vocal force in Joe's Boys! 

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Steve “The Legend” Colfer - Drums, Percussion, Vocals  

Steve attended Vincentian Institute in Albany when, at 17, his garage rock band, the Shandels, developed into the Capital District’s most sought-after local high school band. Lee Gray, the Program Director at WTRY, took notice of the band and he contacted the Shandels to make them an offer they couldn’t refuse! WTRY was bringing in the Beach Boys, the Lovin' Spoonful and the Byrds to play locally, and he offered the Shandels the option to open for either the Beach Boys or both the Lovin’ Spoonful and the Byrds. The band decided that two major concerts were better than one, and the exciting adventure of a local “garage band gone wild” began. Both concerts were held in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where the band had a big following. The Lovin’ Spoonful concert went off without a hitch. The Shandels were a stark contrast to the Spoonful, playing a variety of musical styles and featured an advanced “psychedelic light show.” The Byrds concert was flawless, ending with an impromptu drum solo to Bo Diddley’s “Not Fade Away.” An executive from Columbia Records was in the house that night and he offered the band a contract on the spot. Lee Gray intervened and directed the band to refuse this offer, as he had already arranged for the band to record for Laurie Records in New York City. Laurie was a popular label at the time, featuring groups such as, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Petula Clark, Dion, and the Dave Clark Five. In 1967, the Shandels changed their name to the Gray Things and recorded “Charity” on the Laurie label. All copies of "Charity” were sold as an “advance release” in a test market in New York, Connecticut, Kentucky, and Ohio. “Charity” rose up to #5 on the WTRY Sound Survey in 4 weeks. A substantial article in “Billboard Magazine” hailed the new cut as a cross between Eric Burdon and the Animals, and Vanilla Fudge. “Charity” mysteriously disappeared from the charts. Initially, the band was told that Laurie had pulled all of its “advance releases” due to an overwhelming demand for another Laurie release, “Snoopy vs. The Red Baron,” by the Royal Guardsmen, but many years later it was revealed that the Billboard Magazine article brought to light that the band was non-union, which is not an acceptable circumstance within the recording industry. The Gray Things were offered another record deal with Decca Records months later, but two weeks prior to their recording session in New York City, their lead guitarist left for LA and the band canceled the session. Before the band broke up, they opened for the Lovin’ Spoonful a second time, opened for Keith (“98.6”), did a TV spot on “The Hank Brown Show” on Channel 2 in Utica, New York, and recorded a television commercial for “Woodcraft Builders.” The last performance by the Gray Things was as the opening act for the Young Rascals at Siena College.  

An original cut of “Charity” and a story of the band can be found at http://www.leegray.com/ by clicking on WTRY on the home page. In 1982, in Germany, a 13 CD “Anthology of American Garage/Psychedelic/Punk Rock” called, “Mindrocker,” was released. “Charity” was one of just over 200 cuts that were chosen to represent this musical genre. It is still sold online today in Europe and at Best Buy and FYI! Steve is one of the very few Capital District musicians to have been signed by a major label. Steve also provided the percussion on two independent albums, “Restored” and “Stand Out in the Rain,” by singer/songwriter, Kevin Mullin. This effort received favorable reviews by Metroland Magazine.  

"The Legend" has played in some of the most renowned venues around, including, Proctor’s Theatre, the RPI Field House, the Empire State Plaza, the Washington Park Lake House, and several venues in the Lake George region, including, the Roaring Brook Ranch, the King George Motel, the Great Escape Lodge, and Towers Hall. Through the years, his gigs have included many different musical styles. He has played with the Buck Rodgers Show Band; a well known Italian band, the Velvet Touch; a vocal trio, Indian Summer, that featured Jimmy “Hollywood” Hyde on bass and Bobby “Jazzman” Sbuttoni on keys; and Fresh, a light jazz and blues group. In addition, through the years, Steve volunteered his services to the Spanish Department at the College of St. Rose, playing percussion for a variety of shows, including the inaugural, “Festival of Nations.” The most memorable diversion from his rock roots was when he was invited to fill in for a New Year’s Eve gig while he was in the Gray Things to play with the Phil Foote Orchestra. The deal was that Steve would provide the percussive punch and Phil would leave his sheet music in the car! The Legend owes his success to a natural and unique flamboyant style.

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Richie “Spike” Cunniff - Tenor Sax, Alto Sax, Vocals, Percussion

Music was a part of Richie’s life right from birth. His dad played guitar, banjo, and was a vocalist. His mother also had musical ability as a vocalist and pianist.  Richie’s great uncle, Ollie Yetru, was a world-renowned pianist and symphony conductor from Norway. Mr. Yetru came to America and would become the conductor of the WGY Radio Symphony Orchestra. He conducted the very first concert ever to be broadcast over radio from Proctors in Schenectady, New York.  No one realized how important music would become in Richie’s life.  

At four months old, Richie was afflicted with polio and doctors didn’t expect him to live beyond his first birthday. However, Richie beat the doctors’ odds. Even though polio left him with paralysis in his right leg, he got his first brace at two years old, learned to walk, and at five years old began studying piano at the Cohoes Conservatory of Music. He played his first recital only ten months after beginning his studies. The Times Union newspaper reported: “Five Year Old Richard Cunniff Steals Show at Recital.”  

At nine years of age, Richie decided he really wanted to play saxophone. He was influenced by the great Billy Vaughn, who recorded such hits as, “Red Sails in the Sunset” and “Skokiane” to name just a few. Rich began studying saxophone with the area’s famous woodwind artist, Romeo Metri. Rich, being somewhat physically challenged and not being able to play sports, decided he wanted to devote his time to music. 

In elementary school at Cohoes Abram Lansing, he sang with the school choir.  There was no band, so he asked the music director if he could, himself, attempt to form one. At ten, he organized a group of his fellow students who were musically inclined and they chose the name “Cohoes Cavaliers.” They performed at all school events and, eventually, their talents were requested at functions outside of school. At twelve, Richie auditioned for a local WRGB television show called Teenage Barn, which aired on Friday nights. He became a regular guest playing the saxophone on that show for several years.  

Rich and the Cavaliers were now playing many area functions, when at 15 years old, Rich met Ron Cremisio, another teenage musician, and they formed another music group called The Orbits. This group became well-known and performed at various parties, weddings, and eventually, at 16, found themselves playing the Capital District nightclub scene at places such as Borden’s Twin Bridges, Clamsteam Tavern, and the Carriage House.  At this same time, Richie was attending Cohoes High School and was a major part of the school’s various music programs. What teenager in this day and age buys their own convertible, to be precise a 1965 white Chevy Impala with black rag top, with self-earned band funds? Well, Richie did just that. Now, the girls were going wild to say the least!  Was it Richie, the band, or the car? On the opposite end of the spectrum, Richie also attended church, sang in the choir, and played saxophone at his church. 

After high school Rich studied music at the Adirondack School of Music, but could still be seen playing that sax at many of the local hot spots such as, the Old Chatham House, Panza’s, Lion’s Den, Century House, and the list goes on. 

Rich and his sax have traveled around the country performing his rock, blues, pop, and jazz. Some of the favorite spots visited were New Orleans, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vegas and Atlantic City. He has performed with groups such as Joey Dee, The Diamonds, The Vogues, Paul Anka, and the Marcels of Blue Moon Fame. Rich actually became friends with Frederick Johnson, bass singer for the Marcels. He could never quite hit that deep bass on that “Blue, Blue Moon ending” the way Frederick did. 

It was time to settle down and what better place than Home Sweet Home.  During the early ‘80’s, Rich went back to college, got married, bought a house, had a family, and graduated from Siena, not necessarily all in that order but you get the picture. However, his long-time love of music and making people happy would never end. He continued his music career as well. It is estimated that over the years, Richie has played that sax in front of millions of people. His signature song, “Harlem Nocturne,” brings standing ovations. 

Richie truly believes music is a universal language. How fortunate he is to be able to communicate through his talents, and best of all, have fun while doing it! He also believes talent is a gift from above and needs to be shared. Presently, he is very involved with his church’s contemporary music group and choir at Our Lady of Assumption in Latham.  

And now, Rich, since joining forces with Joe’s Boys, continues to keep making people happy through the power and magic of his great sax! You can’t miss that when you see him playing with Joe’s Boys!

Richie would like to give thanks to his family and his friends for being so supportive and loyal through the years - and since joining them, now considers Joe’s Boys to be part of both his family and his friends.

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Michael “Maestro” Bieber - Keyboards, Vocals

It all started around the age of 2 for Maestro, when he composed his first song on his family’s grand piano - and from that time on, the piano has been his life. A classically-trained pianist (and born with the magical gift of perfect pitch), who attended the Juilliard School of Music for 10 years and continued his piano training in college, Maestro has been performing all of his life, entertaining thousands during the past 50+ years.  

Growing up in Westchester County, Maestro traveled to the Juilliard in New York City each week with his father where he studied piano and music theory. He subsequently studied piano with the world-renown concert pianist, Joel Rosen.  

Michael was selected, through the years, to participate in numerous “Young Artists Concerts,” and a more sophisticated version of that original opus first created at the age of 2, was, at one time, submitted to Leonard Bernstein’s annual symposium for young music composers.  

While appreciating the classical training that established a firm musical foundation in his life, Maestro, even at an early age, was even more appreciative of popular music, especially that from the very early 1950’s, as a result of daily exposure to great music played by his mother and father, a pianist and saxophonist/guitarist, respectively.  

From an early age, Maestro honed his craft, playing the weekly “kindergarten, first grade, second grade, etc. concert circuit" in his elementary school, entertaining students and faculty alike with the popular hits of the day, even taking requests from audiences, from the age of 5!  

Before he hit 6, Michael played an expressive chromatic harmonica. At age 11, young Maestro even learned how to play the alto saxophone and joined his elementary school band in the woodwind section, but, quickly learned in junior high school that it was very difficult to play the sax and talk at the same time - so he learned how to play drums - and the high school marching band was never the same! There are still a couple of survivors that still talk about that memorable Columbus Day Parade when the New Rochelle High School Band came to a stop on North Avenue - a mile before a reviewing stand - and Maestro dipped into a pizza parlor (that’s what they called them back in the ‘60’s), put a large onion pie on his big marching snare drum - and fed the whole percussion section before the parade started up again! Maestro’s the one - on each Thanksgiving Day during his high school reign of terror - who, while marching down the field during halftime of the annual New Rochelle High School - Iona Prep football game, televised by WPIX Channel 11 - and with the New York Giants’ own immortal, Marty Glickman doing the play-by-play - would fall back, oh, by three or four steps, so his parents and friends could spot him on television! No surprise! Maestro had been a ham since he began walking to kindergarten! By then, Mike had taught himself to play guitar - and his parents rewarded him with a beautiful, white custom-made Gretsch Double Anniversary guitar by the time he was 14 (and it still safely resides with him to this day). By the time Mike was in high school, he was playing the piano and organ, guitar, harmonica, alto saxophone, clarinet, string bass, electric bass, vibes, marimba and drums.  

Now, Maestro certainly was in his share of kid bands while growing up, but it wasn’t until he met the Fabulous Caruso Twins - Frankie and Johnny, no less - that he truly began to hit his stride! The Carusos had (and still have) the same kind of musical ears that Maestro possessed - able to perform songs in any key - on the spur of the moment - no practice necessary! Quite coincidentally, the Carusos’ father (John, Sr.) owned one of the leading musical instrument stores in the New York metropolitan area - and so young Maestro was always furnished with the current Farfisa organ of the day - at no cost - for years! (He later acquired a Farfisa Duo Compact - and it, too, still safely resides with him to this day!)  

The Carusos and Maestro - all card-carrying members of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 38 -  played throughout Westchester County during their high school and college years with numerous musicians, while keeping the name of their band constant - The Patch of Blues - which, ironically did not play a note of blues! Together, they were the house studio musicians for all of Harvey Comics' updated TV cartoon shows, including Richie Rich and Casper, the Friendly Ghost.

While in college, Maestro, in addition to performing with the Patch of Blues, secured lucrative, long-running piano gigs at Mendham, New Jersey’s elegant Black Horse Inn and the Wedgwood Inn in Morristown. Playing exquisite cocktail piano four nights a week, Maestro, on Saturday evenings, after finishing at 11:00 pm in central New Jersey, would shed his tuxedo, jump into jeans and a solid color short sleeve shirt (some things never change), get into his yellow Fiat 124 Sport Coupe - and drive 110 miles to the Colony Beach Club on the Westchester shore of the Long Island Sound, where he and the Patch of Blues would play until 3:15 in the morning! - And then drive out to Robert Moses State Park (near famed Jones Beach) to jump into the Atlantic! Every Sunday in the summertime! Those were the days! Can you imagine?  

Maestro continued to perform with the Carusos, even after he graduated from law school in Washington, DC - and his (and his family’s) close friendship with the twins - and their families - continues to this day - and the Carusos have even come up to the Capital District to perform as part of Joe’s Boys on one occasion! More about Joe’s Boys in a moment.  

Maestro and his family moved from Westchester to the Capital District back in the late ‘80’s. Mike was active in the local little league as a manager and assistant manager - and that’s how his entry into the Capital District music scene came to be. One summer day, while standing in line at the Corner Ice Cream Store - his son’s little league manager (Maestro was the assistant manager at the time) mentioned that he would be out of town the next week, and asked if Mike could take over the reins of this 3rd grade powerhouse. Maestro said sure, and casually asked, “Whatcha doin’ next week?” The coach replied, “Well, I play guitar in a band, and we’re going to be out in Unadilla doing a gig next Saturday.” This guy was a member of a long-established rock band, Agent, and the rest, as they say, is what Capital District music legends are made of! Maestro, exclaimed, “Hey, I play keyboards!” And that was all that was necessary for Maestro to become a part of the band once it returned from its tour out west. (Well, look at a map! What direction do you think Unadilla is from Albany??!!) Maestro became the musical anchor of this hard-driving classic rock/country rock/blues band (that included Joe Rossi) - and played with them for over ten years - rocking such venerable places as the Different Drummer, Pauly’s Hotel, O’Toole’s and Beansies!  

But, Maestro always had a soft spot in his heart for “the hits” - and the “one-hit wonders” that played such a big part in his adolescent musical development - and Joe shared Maestro’s sentiment about pop music. They formed a split-off group with another singer from Agent - and, as Joe’s Boys (that’s been the name from the outset!) first played in places like Starbucks in Stuyvesant Plaza and on Wolf Road, too! (Can you imagine Maestro's amplifiers in Starbucks now? There'd be no room for the latte machine!) People came from 'round the region to listen to great Top 40 songs that they hadn't heard on the radio for over 32 years - and it soon became apparent that they wanted to dance to Joe's Boys' music as well as listen to it! So the 'Boys added a drummer - and as business grew through the years, so did membership in Joe’s Boys, at one time, swelling to six members! However, reason soon prevailed, and the ‘Boys have now been a solid five-piece unit for quite some time!  

Well, the years have rolled by, and Joe’s Boys has been a “good time rock ‘n pop institution” in the Capital District for quite a while! Michael's greatest moment in his personal musical history occurred back around 2005 when his lifelong dream came true. Maestro's son, Jordan, before going off to college, joined Joe's Boys on drums during his senior year in high school, and injected the 'Boys with a major shot of rock energy!

Every member of Joe’s Boys plays a vital part in producing the special shows that everyone has enjoyed for such a long time! Maestro’s synthesizers, controlled by a unique, almost-one-of-a-kind ancient Yamaha keyboard, provide the brass, the bass, the organs, the pianos, the orchestras and other instrumental sounds that you hear when you come out to see the band! Wherever Joe’s Boys’ music is being played - with their endless stream of hits - that’s Maestro’s favorite place to be!

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