The Simms Brothers Band
The Simms Brothers Band
|Genres||Jazz, rock, funk, R&B|
John Van Epps
|Past members||Shimmy Maki|
The Simms Brothers Band is an American rock/jazz/R&B group.
The band was formed in early 1974 in southwestern Connecticut. The group began as a trio; Frank and George Simms, and Dave Spinner, composed their harmonies set to an acoustic guitar and played local coffee houses. With Budd Tunick handling the booking, they regularly appeared at popular seventies Manhattan nightclubs like Tramps, Reno Sweeny's, Catch a Rising Star, and The Bitter End.
The trio became a true rock band with the addition of Mickey Leonard, lead guitar, Ted MacKenzie, drums, Doug "Shimmy" Maki, bass, and Rob Sabino, from the Bronx, on keyboards, late in 1975. Ted moved on a few months later, and Budd Tunick replaced him, after serving as the band's manager up to that time. They became regulars throughout Connecticut at clubs like The Player's Tavern of Westport, and Toad's Place in New Haven with their blend of original tunes and sophisticated arrangements of unique popular tunes. In 1979, The listeners of WPLR, the area's largest and most popular rock radio station, voted The Simms Brothers Band Connecticut's number one act.
Albums and breakup
The original manager of the rock group Boston, Paul Ahern, met the band at Westport's Players Tavern one evening, and eventually procured a two album record deal with Joe Smith of Elektra Records, currently riding a crest of popularity representing Queen, The Eagles, The Cars, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, and other rock "royalty". The band jetted to Miami Beach to record their first album Elektra assiduously titled "The Simms Brothers Band". Mike Stone, engineer and co-producer to acts Queen and Journey, produced the first effort, a thickly produced work (unlike their unique live performances), with glossy vocals and seventies rock-guitar flair. Premier Talent booked the men on an east coast tour opening for Peter Frampton in 1979.
After the band realized Elektra planned virtually no local or national support, they recorded their second album locally in North White Plains, New York. As a result of Elektra's corporate lethargy, band members personally handled much of their own business, and chose Eddie Kramer, recording engineer to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix in the sixties, as producer of their second album, Attitude. Predictably, Elektra Records did not follow with any label support or tour budget, and the band ground out their final few months in nightclubs playing cover tunes to repay a bank loan they secured earlier to finance their payroll and road expenses.
In 1981 and 1982, David Spinner toured as the lead singer with the Connecticut-based band "Diamond Roller" along with Don Caracciolo on lead guitar.
The band met in 1989 for a reunion concert at Toad's Place, but did not play again until 2006, at Jimmy's Seaside, a club in their hometown of Stamford, CT. They appeared in July at a summer festival in Stamford, Alive At Five, and are booking dates in the New York/Connecticut area.
After the band
Current members still work in today's music industry. Frank and George Simms, Dave Spinner, and newest member Dennis Collins, have sung as soloists and group artists with David Bowie, Sting, Celine Dion, Chaka Khan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Billy Joel, Elvis Costello, Brian Wilson, Madonna, Carly Simon, Dionne Warwick, Roberta Flack, INXS, Serge Gainsbourg and others throughout the world. Lead guitarist Mickey Leonard has played with Angela Bofill, Marvin Gaye, Renaissance and others. Budd Tunick has been management and production consultant for artists Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Diana Ross, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton and many more.
New York arranger, writer, producer and musician John Van Epps replaces Rob Sabino on keyboards. Bassist Pat Rustici, replacing the late Shimmy Maki, also sings, and worked with the careers of Hall & Oates, Carly Simon and John Mellencamp among others.
- Simms Brothers Band (1979)
- Attitude (1980)
- http://playerstavern.com/ The Player's Tavern