Suburban Dads Bring the Dead Back to Life
From The Lewisboro Ledger:
With a touch of gray, residents are playing in the band in the big city
By MATT DALEN
Suburban dads bring The Dead back to life
By day, they are a group of middle-aged businessmen and suburban fathers, devoted to their jobs and families. But by night, they become Not DEAD Yet, the Grateful Dead cover band that is not just trucking along but instead riding a meteoric rise to stardom in Westchester County. And tomorrow night at 9, they will be making their New York City debut at Lucille’s Grill in the B.B. King Blues Club on 42nd Street.
It was just over a year ago that five fathers got together in a basement in Goldens Bridge to play some tunes by the Grateful Dead. From that humble beginning came Not DEAD Yet.
“I woke up two years ago to a Dead song on the radio,” guitarist Michael Koren told The Ledger. “I just thought, ‘Why aren’t I playing more of this?’”
From there, Mr. Koren went on to gather the players together. They came through friends that he knew, through previous experience in music, and from a newspaper advertisement he placed. Mike Pascullo played the drums. Ric LuBell contributed the bass. Frank Iorio added his keyboard to the mix.
And finally came the lead guitar, Jeff Timberg, their ‘Jerry Garcia.’
“People love ‘Jerry,’” Mr. Koren said. At their first jam session, “Jeff turned on the amp, and at the first notes, I just looked at Mike, and said, ‘That’s the sound.’ Jeff is Garcia, both playing and singing.”
All five of them have full-time jobs and families, which take up much of their time, although they still find the time to play frequently.
Mr. Koren, a Goldens Bridge resident, owns an executive search firm in White Plains, and has three teenage children.
“My wife’s not a Deadhead,” he said, referring to hard-core fans of the Grateful Dead. “But she’s very supportive — she understands that we need to do this.”
He has been playing music for 20 years, although he has been performing for audiences for only the last five. Previously, he had been a member of a band called Spare Parts.
“It was fun, but the chemistry wasn’t there,” he said.
Mr. LuBell has two children, who have grown up already.
“My daughter loves it, but my son could care less,” he said about the type of music they play. But “he’s absolutely amazed that his father’s a rock and roll musician.”
His day job is running a computer business out of Somers, but he still finds the time to be a member of several bands.
“Mentally, it’s all music,” he said. “The computer stuff just pays the bills.”
While Mr. LuBell currently lives in Cordlandt, he grew up in Lewisboro, in the house currently owned by former Town Supervisor Jim Nordgren.
Mr. Iorio raises two young boys in Katonah.
“My kids are little — they just think it’s cool,” he said.
He has been playing piano since he was young. He somehow still finds time to play between fathering and his job as a publishing executive. In addition to the piano, he has been learning to play the guitar for the past 10 years, and just recently picked up the bass.
Mr. Pascullo, an IT worker for General Electric, has been playing the drums forever.
“Music was supposed to be my career,” he said. “It still is.”
He still finds time to be a father to a teenage son and daughter. His daughter, at least, has inherited her father’s musical tendencies, and is a member of the Notables, the John Jay High School female a cappella group.
“On the one hand, having a rock and roll dad is cool,” he said. “But once it impacts their lives ...”
“It’s amazing how passionate people remain about the Dead,” Mr. Iorio said.
And the audiences aren’t just those who grew up with them.
“It’s not a geriatric audience,” said Mr. Koren. A good portion of the audiences are 25 and under.
“At moments, with 250 people in the audience, I think that I can’t believe that I’m doing this,” he said. “It’s such a rush.”
And the group’s fan base continues to grow.
“The amount of support we’ve had from our friends in Lewisboro and Westchester has been incredible,” Mr. Koren said.
Since their first gig last October, the five have been playing at parties, clubs, and shows in the Westchester and Long Island areas. It was at a party that the owner of B.B. King saw them, which eventually led to Friday’s show.
“I’ve done clubs since 1976, and this is the first time I’ve ever had a contract,” said Mr. Pascullo. This will be the first time they play in New York City.
After only a year, the group’s repertoire has already reached 84 songs and growing.
“There’s so much music to pull from,” said Mr. Iorio. The Grateful Dead covered songs by many other artists, including the Beatles, Bob Dylan and other rock and roll greats. “We don’t have to play the same song all the time.”
And Not DEAD Yet continue to add their own spin on the music.
“It’s a unique experience every time we do it,” said Mr. LuBell.
Not Dead Yet Website