Keeping Beaker Street Alive and Well in the Corridor
By Chad Walton
Whether it’s the Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market, Iowa City’s Friday Night Concert Series in the Pedestrian Mall, Camp Euphoria or one of the many local venues that the Beaker Brothers play in the Eastern Iowa corridor, it’s not your average cover band, it’s always rockin’ and people always want more!
The ever so popular Beaker Brothers hail from Eastern Iowa with deep roots in Blues, Jazz, Rock and original Jam Band music. The members grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s and were influenced by Dale Seidenschwarz, aka, Clyde Clifford, the once host of the biggest underground a.m. radio station program “Beaker Street.” All of the Beaker Brothers members grew up listening to Clyde as he played long album cuts and extended versions of songs that would otherwise get no radio play anywhere else. The biggest requirement for being in the Beaker Brothers band was: You must be over 50 years old.
Since forming in late 2006, the Beaker Brothers have been playing in true form to the Beaker Street tradition, featuring classic songs ranging from The Allman Brothers “Jessica” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” to Santana’s “Evil Ways” and “Oye Como Va.” It is truly amazing to watch them perform these songs so closely to the original form but yet making it their own, with authentic extended improvisational jams. When the crowd hears the Brothers play, they are always getting up and dancing, and becoming part of the experience. Some of these songs are: Little Feat’s Dixie Chicken and Spanish Moon, Grateful Dead’s Truckin’, Rolling Stones Dead Flowers, Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (delivered reggae-style) and many others that you’ll have to hear to believe.
“The band’s first show was in May of 2007,” says Ed English. “I had just turned 50 in March so that meant we could play as a band.” Ed (Bass Guitar/Vocals), has been active in the Eastern Iowa Blues scene for over 20 years, starting with the Blues Instigators and other bands including Johnny Kilowatt, providing a funky, solid bass pocket whenever he plays.
Steve “Grizz” Grismore (Lead/Rhythm Guitar and Vocals), handles many of the lead guitar parts. Steve is also an instructor of Jazz studies at Augustana College, the University of Iowa, and has been playing for over 40 years.
Dan Bernstein (Rhythm/Lead Guitar and Vocals) came to Iowa in the mid 1970’s by way of Chicago and lends his eclectic rhythm and lead guitar complimenting Steve. He takes lead vocals in songs like Little Feat’s “Old Folks Boogie” and Credence Clearwater Revivals “Suzie-Q.” When Dan isn’t out rocking with the Beaker Brothers he is an attorney specializing in medical malpractice, personal injury and worker’s compensation, and has also argued before the Iowa Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Iowa.
John Shultz (Keyboards/Vocals) is a Cedar Rapids native and has attended the University of Iowa, Berklee College of Music, and the Boston School of Electronic Music. He’s been playing music for over 40 years. John is a web designer and interactive multimedia developer. He’s the Beaker Brother’s web-master and teaches at Kirkwood Community College.
James Dreier and Dan Hummel are the drumming duo who lay down the killer grooves under it all. They are both amazing at the drum kit and all things percussion with Dreier stepping out occasionally to sing the Rolling Stones “Dead Flowers” or Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heavens Door.” When you hear the bands with two drummers, like the Allman Brothers or the Grateful Dead, you know how powerful they can be. Let me tell you, Dreier and Hummel are no exception and lock in the pocket perfectly.
You can see the six members of the Beaker Brothers at their upcoming shows:
August 8, 2014- Friday Night Concert Series-Pedestrian Mall, Iowa City
August 16, 2014- Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market, Cedar Rapids
August 22, 2014- Parlor City Pub and Eatery, Cedar Rapids
September 12, 2014- Parlor City Pub and Eatery
More info on the Beaker Brothers can also be found at: www.beakerbrothers.com or find them on facebook!