The Next Adventure

In 1975, four high school sophomores from Southwest Iowa started a band. The idea was to get the first gig and hopefully more gigs after that. The first gig was a dance in Sidney in December of 1975. As the world turns, and God willing, we have a lot more gigs to play.

Early gig promotional photo (1975)

Early gig promotional photo (1975)

Mike McAlister and James Richards became friends as junior high classmates in the Red Oak, Iowa. They both had a passion for performing music and during their freshman year they started playing with a few other musicians in the area. These groups got a few gigs, but it was never a sustainable situation. Early in their sophomore year, Mike and James were introduced to Gregg Messer, who lived in the next town over, Stanton.

The magic came together when Mike, James, and Gregg got together the first time. Knowing that something special was going to happen, a drummer auditioned for the band and the Chautauqua Road Band was born. Pat Lewis helped launch the band on a successful run as four high school students provided quality rock to the people of Southwest Iowa for the next two years.

Fast forward to 2016; a simple Facebook post was all it took. In the spring of 2016, James posted a picture of his new ‘music room’ at his house. An old friend of the band and former sound man, Bill Fish, commented that it would be great to get CRB back together again. Mike commented, ‘Need a bass player?’ and shortly after that, Gregg replied, ‘Need a guitar player?’. That was all it took to get the ball rolling.

A few emails later, the wheels were in motion to organize a reunion. James and Gregg live in the Des Moines area and had gotten together a few times over the years to play and reminisce. Mike, who had moved out of the state in 1981 and currently lives in New Jersey, on the other hand had not been in contact with James or Gregg since 1978, except for James attending Mike’s wedding in 1981. Future posts will talk about how all of us have kept involved in music all of these years, but suffice it to say, once we all started talking to each other, we were ready to rock again.

As luck would have it, a great drummer was readily available to fill out the lineup. James’ younger brother, Paul, is an accomplished drummer and was willing to join the ‘old guys’ to complete the band. Once all of the pieces fell in place, the dates were set for the ‘reunion’ last July.  A friend of Gregg’s provided a wonderful space (air conditioned, thankfully) to make some noise and we all made our way to the site on a Friday afternoon. Even though we hadn’t seen each other for almost 40 years, there were some brief discussions about family and work, but to be honest we were probably more interested in cranking it up than chit chat. We knew there would be time to catch up later…

First practice after 40 years (2016)

First practice after 40 years (2016)

Prior to the reunion we agreed to ‘learn’ a few songs so we had something to work on when we got together instead of just having an unstructured jam session. The first few chords and drumbeats of Joe Walsh’s ‘Rocky Mountain Way felt amazing. Everybody sounded great! We got through the song on the first try and when we were finished there were a lot of big smiles and high fives. We were back! In the span of 5 minutes the three ‘originals’ knew they were going to be able to recreate the same magic they had all those years ago. Now this was a Band!

We plan for this to be the first blog entry in a series of many. There is a lot to write about… for example, our journeys over the past 4 decades that brought us back together at this point in time. We will also talk about what the band is working on now and what we want to do in the future. We are going to do gigs again. Hopefully lots of gigs. This blog will be a place where we can talk about our events, the experiences we have, and our great fans.

Join us on our journey. It’s going to be a hoot!

Until next time, Rock On!

Chautauqua Road Band
Mike, James, Gregg & Paul