Photo by Jef Hatch (HatchPhoto Studio)
The five members of the new rock band Tsunamic are not simply content to provide background music at a public event, bar or private party.
“We want to put on a real rock show, where the focus is on the band and the music,” said Tsunamic’s lead vocalist Steve Racham, 50, of Brookings. The rest of the band members, ranging in age from 48 to 57, reside in Brookings, Gold Beach and Crescent City.
“We’re not talking about three-chord stuff. This is pretty complicated music we’re playing,” said lead guitarist Milann Reynolds, 56, of Crescent City.
Think of the less commercialized, more intricate songs by Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan, The Who, and ZZ Top, and you get the picture of the band’s music mission. The five members, with decades of musical experience among them, are likely to pull it off. See them play live at a Halloween show Saturday, Oct. 29, as part of a double bill with local band Slow Children, at the 101 Bar and Grill, 98141 W. Benham Lane. Tsunamic is schedule to play around 9 p.m.
Practicing in an empty, undisclosed building in Harbor, Tsunamic performs as if there are 20,000 people, not just two, cheering their blistering performance of songs such as Steely Dan’s “Pretzel Logic,” Neil Young’s “Down By The River,” and Zeppelin’s “Thank You” and “Kashmir.”
“We stay away from the standards, the songs that everybody knows, and go for the deeper cuts,” Racham said.
Racham enjoys singing melodic leads, but doesn’t shy away from the paint-peeling screams commonly associated with Zeppelin’s frontman Robert Plant. He often uses the straight microphone as a dance partner and seems just one step away from swinging the microphone on its cable ala Roger Daltrey of The Who. He’s accompanied by Reynolds’ searing guitar licks, Danny Bridges thumping bass, Tim Harrison’s consummate drumming and Dan DeLaney’s keyboard solos and chordal flourishes.
“We’ve all been playing music since we were kids. It’s always been a big part of our lives,” said Reynolds.
Tsunamic started with a ripple in Gold Beach last summer when Racham started playing music with Gold Beach keyboardist Delaney. They decided to form a band and started looking for a guitarist, bassist and drummer. After a few false starts and trying out a few drummers, they arrived at their current configuration.
“All of us have music maturity,” Reynolds said, explaining that each band member is an accomplished musician.“We’re not a schlock-rock band,” he added. “We’re doing something that keeps us all musically interested.”
Tsunamic’s first big gig was this summer’s Brew Festival in Gold Beach , attended by about 700 people, Racham said. Next, the band was invited to play the C&K Market company picnic at Brookings’ Azalea Park. (Racham is an employee of the grocery company and operates the barbecue lunch service at the Brookings Ray’s Food Place.)
“The response at the picnic was overwhelming,” Racham said. “That was great!”
Great responses are something that never seem to get old for the members of Tsunamic.
Racham spent his teen years singing and playing guitar for several rock bands in the Sacramento area, playing at the stage fair and winning two battle-of-the-bands competitions. He moved to Los Angeles where he played with several bands in the music scene there. He later formed a Southern Rock band in Oahu, opening for visiting acts such as Dave Mason, Molly Hatchet, Stray Cats and Bryan Adams. The band won an Hawaiian Music Award and toured in Asia for several years.
Bridges started playing drums at 3, played trombone in school and then played guitar for several garage bands. After high school, he moved to Eugene, where he sold his guitar for a bass and joined an all-originals rock band that spent the next 20 years playing the college scene and opening from visiting national acts such as Ratt, Alda Nova and Steppenwolf. He lived in Brookings off and on for the last 10 years, staying here permanently three years ago. He played at various music jams and was a member of several now-defunt bands, and then accepted an offer from Tsunamic.
Harrison, 53, who recently retired as pastor at the Crescent City Four Square Church after 14 years, has been playing drums since sixth grade. He played in several high school bands and, in his 20s, became a regular player on the Los Angeles music scene.
“Classic rock has always been my favorite,” Harrison said.
Reynolds began his career when he picked up a saxophone at age 9. He began playing guitar at 12 and began vocal training at 15. At age 16 he won the Northwestern Jazz Festival Competition for sax improvisation. As an adult, he played in bands and worked as a studio musician in Santa Cruz, Calif., until moving to Crescent City.
DeLaney, 57, who plays keyboard and sings backup, started playing in bands while working full time in the aerospace industry. The bands he played in performed at popular music clubs on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. He moved to Gold Beach in 1994 and began playing with local bands, including the Innovators and the Ferguson Brothers Band, and helped form the Rich Young Fools in 2003 with Racham.
Today, the band is practicing and looking for occasional gigs.“We’re not a dance band or a garage band,” Racham said. “We don’t really want to do the bar scene all the time; we’d like to do benefits and special events. We want people to look forward to seeing us play.”
Bridges added, “We’re not in it for the money; there really isn’t a lot money around here. Well, maybe a little. Anyway, all we want to do is create a good time for everyone.”