Who knows how they all came together. Chalk it up to strange grace or some rarefied stroke of fortune. If you ask them, you're liable to get six different stories. And they'll probably all bear some small resemblance to the real way it all went down, but make no mistake, that tale is long lost.
Sometimes, particularly in the minds of those prone to wander, memories like that, once fluid in their recall, just slowly blend into the deep patchwork of the brain. And to be sure, all of these boys have lived the wandering life.
Jon Hardy is the son of a traveling holiness preacher. His father's fevered zeal to call souls to repentance kept the family in constant motion, and as such, Hardy can't really claim any one place in this land as his home. He made his way onto the sanctuary stages while still a toddler, first to rattle along on the tambourine, and not long after to revile against the fire and brimstone of hell. He baptized his first believer at age 12.
It was a southern woman that eventually pulled him away from the preaching life, but don't bother asking him about it. The relationship was short-lived, and its collapse sent Hardy into the two-lane honky tonks and hardscrabble gambling rooms he'd once admonished against with ferocity. If there is such a thing as earnest wandering, Hardy did it during these years. This, of course, is when he began writing songs.
Penniless, he went wherever folks were willing to take him, often sleeping on riverbanks or under bridges when he found no other shelter. He now laughingly recalls sleeping on the banks of the Ohio in the eastern U.S. and the banks of the Guadiana in Spain within a span of seven months.
He met his wife, Suzanne, during a stint as a short-order cook at a Waffle House in Defiance, Missouri. She was a waitress, and her simple kindnesses to him were a restorative salve to his faith and hope. She has inhabited many of his songs, if sometimes only in single words or short phrases. Sadly, life with a full-hearted sayer became too much for Hardy's woman. A number of years back she told him that she was leaving for the arms of a more noticeable man.
Tony Perolio was raised in a musical family, quite literally. His mother was a choreographer and dance instructor at Julliard and his father was a heralded session drummer who played behind artists as diverse as Coltrane and Andy Williams. The Perolios recognized the anomalous talent of their four children (two girls and two boys) and, in hopes of capitalizing on it, formed the Perolio Family Good Times Band in 1977. Their summers were spent touring the east coast resort and retirement community circuits. Tony played drums under the tutelage of his father and was soon playing with enough skill to consistently steal the show. When he turned 18, Tony's father humbly informed him that he no longer had anything to teach him and advised him to venture out on his own. He spent the next 10 years traveling the world studying under drumming masters in West Africa, Brazil, and on the Hopi reservations of New Mexico.
Shaun Lee, the son of an oil magnate, came of age in the wealthy Chicago suburbs. It was a childhood better described as "extravagant," than "privileged." Shortly after he turned 16, his convertible Maserati caught a flat late one Saturday night while he drove through the Canaryville neighborhood of Chicago's south side. He wandered into a small club (Tyrone's Arabian Nights on lower Baxter) to get help. The funk band, Masters of Blackness, was playing to a packed house that night, and the rawness, smoke, and sweat of their performance was epiphinal to him. From then on, the cotillions and country clubs of his whitebread suburban existence struck him as soulless and stale. Despite pleas from his parents, he began spending most of his time in the clubs and discotheques of Chicago's vibrant funk underground. He learned bass from the local maestros, but flavored his playing enough to create a style of his own. He formed his own band, Shaun and Redemption, but never saw much success, largely due to the rise of hip hop and R&B, not to mention his own waning interest in funk. He moved on to play in or lead several bands in the Midwest, including ska band, the Insaniacs, punk band, Mongloid Circus, and indie rock band, Chimney Squirrel.
Glenn LaBarre's renaissance man saga began when he won the National Pac-Man Championship in 1999. His father owned a pizza parlor in which he would obsessively play the game. He has similarly poured himself into varying passions ever since. He is an emerging force in the arena of virtual storytelling and is seen by many as a strong voice in the debate surrounding Truth and Fiction in the digital age. He was elected to a single term in the Canadian Parliament somewhere around 2001-2003 and still holds the honor of being the youngest government official in that nation's history. LaBarre's occasional forays into chemical engineering have resulted in his being awarded four U.S. patents for formulas he devised for producing a more pleasantly-odored paint thinner. The common thread throughout his various pursuits has always been music. He still occasionally delves into the electronic composing that he picked up after feeling somewhat tired of the blues that first brought him into music. He is fervently concerned with the power of ideas and the definitions that we all hold of Reality.
With lives like this, who can blame these fellas for not remembering how they met each other? Maybe if you dig around enough, you'll figure it our for yourself. You'll need to do plenty of wandering, that's for sure.