Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Star Trippin'!

Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers performing “Star Trippin’” in Wildwood, NJ in 1991, maybe 1992. (Still researching.) But definitely early 90’s…

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Rumblin' Man - University of Delaware article, 1987

The Review

University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware
Friday, March 6, 1987

Rumblin’ Man
by Lori Poliski, Copy Editor

                “We played to one person once. Her name was Mary. I remember thinking, ‘What do you do when there is only one person? Do you talk to her and say, so what do you want to hear next, Mar?’
                “But we played as if there were 10,000. We just wanted to play and be great!”

                A lot has changed since the summer of 1984 when Tommy Conwell and his band, the Young Rumblers, played for Mary at The Tide in Long Beach Island.
                Gone is the single-member audience. Goodbye Mary…pleasure meeting you.
                Philadelphia’s hottest rock ‘n’ roll band is rapidly climbing the ladder to success. Each nightclub and bar they play – filled to capacity with Rumbler fans – is one rung closer to the top.
                The rockin’ Rumblers have also played their fair share of big-stage shows at the Spectrum, the Mann Music Center, the Tower Theatre and JFK  Stadium, opening for the likes of Robert Palmer and The Pretenders.
                Walkin’ on the Water, their debut album, sold over 30,000 records and cassettes within a month after its release in January.
                Despite the transitions the band has undergone recently, such as adding two more members and recording an album, one thing has remained the same – Tommy Conwell still just wants to play rock ‘n’ roll, no matter how big the audience is.
                “Every show is wild – just being out there with all the people psyches you up; that’s when you get out there and start doing your thing.
                “Our number one priority, our main job, is performing,” Conwell explained. “The other things, like the publicity, the promotion and making records go along with it – it’s all fun.”
                 Doing his thing and making music has been the Bala Cynwyd, Pa., native’s main concern since he bought his first electric guitar – when he was a sophomore at Lower Merion High School.
                In fact, Steve Cass, a high school buddy of Conwell’s, recalled that then, as now, music was the driving force in his life.
                “Tommy was always into music. At lunchtime he would go off somewhere to practice. And all of his friends were musicians. They would play anywhere, like a garage or a basement.
                “He gave me a ride home from school one afternoon and he had just bought the new Police album; he played “Walking on the Moon” over and over and over...yeah, he was always into (music).”
                The rumble started a long time ago. Fans can thank his grandmother, strangely enough, for his initial interest in guitar playing. When he was a teenager, she gave him a ukulele and taught him a couple of tunes.
                “My grandmom gave me a uke and taught me two songs, ‘Who’s Sorry Now’ by Connie Francis and ‘Underneath the Bamboo Tree,’ [an old jazz tune]. I realized I could play uke chords on the guitar and I said, ‘Hey, I’m a guitar play and I didn’t even know it,’” he reminisced.
                Ever since the ukulele lessons and the lunchtime jam sessions, Conwell has made leaps and bounds to the front of the Philadelphia music scene. Several cuts from Walkin’ on the Water have received heavy air play from local radio stations, such as WMMR, WIOQ and WSTW.
                Conwell, who’s booked months in advance, plays to rowdy, animated audiences four or five nights a week. He thrills audiences with his theatrical style – crowdwalking, playing the guitar between his legs and behind his back or jumping onto amplifiers.
                “When I jump on my amp, my pants rip sometimes and that can be pretty embarrassing,” he said.
                The 24-year old Conwell formed the Young Rumblers just three years ago. Before that he played bass in the Zippers in 1982, a Newark-based acoustic punk band. A year later he was the lead guitarist for Rocket 88, a rhythm-and-blues group. The Rumblers current lineup includes original members Paul Slivka, on bass, drummer Jim Hannum, plus keyboardist Rob Miller and guitarist Chris Day.
                The life of a successful lead guitarist might sound like a non-stop party to some people, but even though Conwell like to have some fun, in his limited free time he enjoys staying at home.
                Performing comes easy to Conwell, but he said songwriting, provides the biggest challenge.
                “Writing songs is definitely the hardest thing, because it is the biggest risk. You are laying yourself on the line and I think it probably gets harder as you get bigger, too.
                “When I’m writing a song now, I’m thinking ‘Oh my god, millions of people are going to hear this’ – it’s not just, ‘Oh, a couple of drunks in a bar will like this one,’” Conwell laughed, clutching his head in mock tension.
                Even though the Young Rumblers are on the brink of making it big, there were times when Conwell doubted his talent.
                “I never really wanted to do anything else, but I thought I might have to. I used to think, “I’d like to be a musician, but I’ll probably end up teaching English.’ I just always wanted to play,” said the former university English student, who at one time worked in the music library in the Amy E. DuPont building.
                Conwell said his parents resisted his pursuit of a career in music at first, but it soon subsided.
                “I never said, ‘Hey Mom, I want to be a rock ‘n’ roll star.’ She would have sent me to a mental institution.
                “They saw that I was totally happy playing music. I was making good money, and doing something I liked to do.”
                He told them he had to either quit playing or quit school. “I can always go back to school,” he reasoned.
                Tonight, Conwell returns to the State Theatre, where the Young Rumblers had one of their first gigs.
                “There are a lot of good memories in Newark. We used to rehearse behind the big screen at the State. We learned a lot of our songs there.”
                Although Conwell is confident of his talent, he keeps his potential for success in perspective. He doesn’t think fame will change him.
                “How do you measure fame? Who knows and who really gives a sh--. I just want to be the best at what I do.”

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Mae Mae (instrumental demo) - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

The following is an excerpt from Marc Pelletier's tribute website

After a tour of Europe, the local hype reached its peak when the band returned to the States for EIGHT sold-out shows in Philadelphia at the Theatre of the Living Arts on South Street in April of 1989. The Rumblers premiered several gems that would unfortunately never appear on vinyl including “Seven Days to Rock,” “Play Your Music,” the Rolling Stone’s “Hand to Fate,” and a crowd favorite called, "My Mae Mae." 

You can find an in-studio demo of the song, “My Mae Mae” performed by the Young Rumblers here.

But here’s an instrumental demo of the same song. And the intro is amazing! 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ah, Dave! If We Never Meet Again...

David Letterman announced his retirement today. Of course, one of the very best episodes of Late Night aired on Wednesday, January 4, 1989.