Mark Cornell got cancer. So we got the band back together.
In 1993, a trio of Cumberland County bar band veterans hooked up with a couple of horn players from Eastern Illinois University, and the Doctor Wu Rock & Soul Revue was born. We spent the better part of a decade playing soul and R&B oldies at bars, wedding receptions, county fairs, and private parties. Founding member Mark “The Master” Cornell went on to front his own horn band, the Groove Dukes, while other Dr. Wu veterans either pursued other projects or retired from the music business altogether. On special occasions, we could usually round up a half-dozen guys to run through the old sets . . . but although we talked about it, we never played a full-scale reunion show.
Well, there’s nothing like a little lymphoma to put priorities in order. Motivated by love for Mark and the promise of free beer, the Dr. Wu veterans turned out in force, augmented by the Groove Dukes and some special guests. For one night in January 2008, Dr. Wu was back in action. Fortunately, we taped the show for posterity.
So there a few ways to listen to this recording. You can listen for the moments of chaos and the moments of sublimity that come from putting fifteen musicians onstage with no rehearsal. You can listen to the range of musical styles ---- George’s leather-and-whisky voice compared to Mark’s blue-eyed soul vocals, Kent’s powerhouse drumming contrasted with Dean’s finesse, Kelly’s gorgeous jazz tone versus Pat’s nasty R&B tenor.
But most of all, listen to this show and hear the emotion that was on that stage. There was the adrenaline of playing live, of course . . . some of us hadn’t felt that rush in awhile. There was the high school reunion part of it . . . getting caught up and comparing bald spots and baby pictures. And there was an enormous feeling of love for a wonderful musician who stopped being a bandmate years ago and became a brother.
So get this cancer beat, Mark, and we’ll get that band together one more time to celebrate…