In the beginning, there were no Curb Feelers (except those you'd find on the fenders of your '59 Cadillac). It all started in the fall of 1991. You see, 1992 marked the 100th anniversary of the Itasca County Fair. And that year, the Star of the North Skating Club in Grand Rapids didn't have the cash to make props. The rest is music history.
Area mover and shaker Brian Carlson thought perhaps that in their 1992 ice show, the skating club could do a tribute to the 100th year of the fair. All was fine and dandy, except there was no budget for the necessary props. Brian offered to put on a Music Fest fundraiser to raise money for the club. Thus, he began his quest for musical acts. It didn't take long for Brian to figure out that most people who are on the radio were at some time in bands. Dale Randall at KOZY was a drummer in a previous life. Dave Michaels was presently playing with several area bands. Tim Edwards had played with various bar bands back in the 70's. Bob Hachey was practically a legend as a member of the Outcasts in the 1960's. Mike Zimmerli had also played with a band or two down in the Marshall area before coming to Grand Rapids. Heck, this was almost a band. But alas, no bass player. Jeff Borg was discovered, and he owned a bass. Not only that - he had a basement. And a PA system. Before anyone knew what had happened, we were all in Jeff's basement trying to figure out the words to Louie, Louie (this incredible rare rehearsal recording is available as an mp3 on our song downloads page).
Of course, a band needs a name. Tim and Dave spent an afternoon brainstorming ideas. We liked band names like the "White Sidewalls," and the "Fantastic Convertibles," so we were searching for a car-like name for ourselves. We ruled out many: the "Driver Side Airbags" was one reject. "Passive Restraint" may have been interesting. Finally, we settled on the "Curb Feelers." Actually, the full, original name of the band is "The Curb Feelers Rock-n-Roll Review"-now most often shortened to "The Feelers." What is worse is that a year after we hit the music scene, a band in Minneapolis STOLE our NAME! They play what they call "Jazz Fusion Funk" whatever the HECK that is. So, we modified our name to "The Original Curb Feelers Rock-n-Roll Review". Still, everyone knows us as the "Curb Feelers." Curb Feelers management (Fingers) wrote to the Johnny-Come-Lately name-stealing band and asked them to cease and desist using OUR name. But alas, years later they STILL think they're us, and no one seems to confuse us with each other.
With two rehearsals under our belt, we hit the stage and weren't nearly as horrible as we expected to be. Not only that it was FUN! After surviving the first 5 song performance, we decided that..heck yeah...we could get talked into doing this again. And so it was. A fund raiser show for ICTV. The Star of the North Figure Skating Club Annual Banquet. The offers to embarrass ourselves publicly came rolling in. Early on, it was decided that we would accept no payment for our services. Bringing rock n roll to those in need. Oh..sure..we'd play for food, but never asking for, or expecting any cashola. Ah..but as all bands go..line up changes were not far down the road.
First to leave us was Jeff Borg (aka Jay Freborg...we decided we ALL had to have nicknames if we were to be a success). Jeff had many other commitments to other organizations and it was difficult to fit Curb Feeling into his agenda. Jay...er...Jeff...was replaced by Mike "The Snake" Iaizzo. Really a rhythm guitar player who "could" play bass, Mike...like all of us in the radio biz, had played quite a bit in his formative years. The band marched on.
We welcomed Steve "Chops" Olson to the group. Steve was a high school student, member of the Grand Rapids High School jazz band, and a fine sax player. He came to KOZY as a part time announcer, not knowing that he would also be our sax player. His heartfelt improvised jazz twinged solos really filled out the band. Steve only lasted two seasons with us, as college beckoned him away from the area.
A few more benefit shows, fishing opener Bar-B-Ques, even an appearance on "Backroads" on KAWE-TV in Bemidji, and we were sailing right along. Now we had band T-shirts. Bumper stickers. A newsletter, "Feelings" and more offers to play than we could possibly answer. But..again..trouble lurked.
Within just a few short months, the two eldest members of the band, Bob Hachey and Dale Randall, left the fold. Bob claimed he was too old for this stuff, and Dale had a lot of family commitments to work with. Well...OK. We could live without Bob's guitar, since Zim was also playing rhythm guitar, but darn it anyway, Bob is a great singer with a great attitude and wit that was a real, um, treat on stage. But..a drummer would have to be found. The answer came in one Randy Nubson. Randy had been the child care provider (fancy words for babysitter) for Mike's kids, and Mike knew he was a drummer. That's all it took, and Randy was in. A few more rehearsals, and the longest lasting lineup of Curb Feelers had begun to gel...like green jello with marshmallows in it, jiggling nervously on the plate at your Aunt Zelda's open house. Another performance at public TV in Bemidji. Lots more shows. We played the likes of Jane's Family Restaurant in Hill City, Bovey Farmer's Day, and among our most exciting shows, a full blown 4- hour performance in the Surfside Six Lounge at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa during the Buddy Holly Tribute weekend. Heck, we even opened for the Crickets right in Grand Rapids! We played a heck of a lot of shows..at least..a lot for a part time band working for free! We learned more songs. Even got to where we actually knew some of the lyrics to the songs without reading them off scraps of paper duct taped to the back of a speaker. But..like all musical outfits.....
Suddenly Randy was moving out of the area. Drummer gone. Kind of like Spinal Tap, except none of our drummers exploded behind the drum set. Ah..but Mike knew Denny Comfort. Another radio veteran...and drummer. Why is it bass players always know someone who plays drums? Anyway, Denny was happy to join in the fun, and a couple quick rehearsals (hey..it's only rock-n-roll) and we were back in action. Another season of Curb Feeling was cruising right along. Until....
Mike Zimmerli moved on. Left the radio station for other interests, and did hang on with us for a while, but had to move on too. Luckily Ryan, "Junior" (Tim's son) had been playing the guitar since he was 4, and had been at every Curb Feeler's performance since he was a baby and could fill Zim's shoes on stage playing rhythm guitar. And not only that, it turns out he's a Hell of a singer. Now, we're in good shape again (hope you're keeping up). Almost a full three seasons with this lineup, when the next of the original members moves on....
Dave Michaels, with a new job and a growing family painfully turns in his...well..I guess there isn't anything to turn in..but he jumps ship. And there's nothing more shocking to the psyche and sound of a band than to lose their lead guitar player and a singer all in one! Ah..but as luck would have it, Ryan had been playing a lot, forming his own blues band, playing lead and singing a LOT, and he moved into Dave's lead position. This of course left his rhythm guitar slot open..only to be filled by the one and only Jim Moore, recent new arrival at KOZY/KMFY, and another regular on the area music circuit. So..that's the lineup for this past season.: Tim, Mike, Jim, Ryan, and Denny.
Just when you think it's all set...Ryan is heading for the Minneapolis music scene and college.
How did we handle Ryans departure? Like any good band would do, with a realignment of the ranks! Jim moves from rhythm guitar to lead, Mike switches from bass to rhythm and in a move destined to go down in the rock-n-roll history books, we bring a girl into the fold! Erin"Plucky" Anderson moves in on bass guitar--of course having no experience as a bass player ever, which of course makes her the perfect candidate to learn to play the Curb Feelers Way! Short version of the rest of the story: Erin masters her bass in a few weeks and the band rocks on!