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L-R top down: Sy Klopps - vocals, Ralph Woodson - guitar, Dan Armstrong - trombone, Ira Walker - bass, Michael Peloquin - harmonica, tenor & baritone sax, Tom Poole - trumpet, flugelhorn, Herman Eberitzsch - keyboards, and Bobby Cochran - drums.
The Artist known as Sy Klopps started as a fictional recluse prodigy. A trick played on booking agents by Herbie Herbert, the successful rock and roll "Personal Manager". It was during Herbie's phone conversations, where poking fun and gaming was always expected, that the legend of Sy Klopps was born.
Ironically, Herbie decided to become Sy Klopps. The prank ended when connections with famous musician friends to jam, gig and record with made it doable.
Herbie retired from managment in 1993 and jumped headlong into the Sy Klopps project. It became his his passion. He built his own state of the art recording studio and recorded a first album, "Walter Ego", in 1993, released on Guitar Recordings Classic Cuts label. It featured a pedigree roster of talented musicians.
Sy has recorded several CD's: "Old Blue Eye Is Back", "Berkeley Soul", an EP called "High Five" and a Live Video recorded at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Sy has played live with Etta James at the House Of Blues, Tower of Power, The Doobie Brothers to name just a few and has done many private events.
Joel Selvin of the San Francisco Chronicle dubbed Sy Klopps "The Paul Bunyan of the blues".
Ralph's Dad, a long haul interstate bus driver and cabbie and his Mom, a homemaker and (interestingly) a cab company dispatcher, have 9 kids. Ralph is the youngest and nobody else in the family plays music.
In spite of that, or because of it, Ralph began performing around the Bay Area at 16, with his first band. He's since toured with reggae powerhouse The Mighty Diamonds, African master musician Hugh Masekala, blues singer Lady Bianca, rapper Dru Dun and Pantera (Pat Gleeson's synth band, not the death metal variety!). In 1982 his band "Togetherness" won a battle of the bands at the Berkeley Community Theatre with a Hendrix tribute set. The event's producer immediately took over managing the band and Togetherness played constantly for the next 5 years opening for the likes of Sly and the Family Stone and Buddy Miles, before calling it quits in 1987.
Ralph's first memory of Sy Klopps was in 1996 at the Biscuits and Blues club, in San Francisco. Ralph was invited to jam with the Sy Klopps Band and, when the set was done, Sy got down on his knees and asked him to join. Ralph said yes and never looked back.
The eldest of three brothers, Danny started trombone in the 3rd grade playing in school bands. He graduated from Kearny High School in 1966, in San Diego. Danny's father, an aircraft mechanic supervisor for the Navy, had a very good singing voice and was completely supportive of Danny's early love of music. His mother, officially a housewife and homemaker also earned, along with Danny's Dad, a doctorate of theology in the local Congregational Church. Danny's early years were spent surrounded by music and musicians. His two youngers brothers played guitar, trumpet and percussion. A jazz drummer uncle, a cousin with a huge record collection, another uncle a blues singer and yet another uncle a gospel singer fairly drowned young Danny in music everywhere he turned.
Danny joined the Army in 1967 and played in the military band until 1970. In 1971, like so many others before and after, moved to the Bay Area and never left.
During an audition for the Sy Klopps band Danny's first impression of Sy Klopps was thinking the guy was: "bigger than life, super-successful, super-smart, nice and fun." All these qualities notwithstanding, Danny was elated to be asked to join the band.
Danny currently lives in Oakland, CA, where he has no problem with the notion that "Real Musicians Have Day Jobs." He's a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service. He could even be your mailman! At home he listens to lots of rhythm and blues, jazz and classical music. Danny used to eat pizza and burgers after a gig but not anymore. These days it's apples and other "good fruit," a light sandwich or salad.
Danny has played with Archie Bell, Rufus Thomas (singer), Pete Escovedo, Elvin Bishop, Jules Broussard, Stoneground, Caesar Ascarrunz's Latin Allstars, Marvin Holmes (Bay Area Rhythm and Blues guitarist and singer). Danny is currently working with Lavay Smith, Lucas Arts (video game soundtracks), The Blue Room Boys (swing band) and Rhythm Town Jive. He's recorded with Elvin Bishop on "Hog Heaven," Stoneground on "Down to the Wire" and, most recently, with Lavay Smith and the Red Hot Skillet Lickers on "Everybody's Talking 'bout Miss Thing.".
Ira's parents both minored in music in college. His Dad, a horticulturist by trade, plays trumpet and his Mom, a schoolteacher, plays piano. He spent three years studying classical percussion in college. Ira inked his first label deal in 1982 with Fantasy Records and followed it up with Capitol Records in 1984 and Warner Bros. in 1986.
Ira co-wrote the top-ten hit "I Wanna Go Back" with Eddie Money. Ira also wrote the songs "Chill" and "I Do" for Lenny Williams in 1996. His production team (with David Kaffinetti - celebrated keyboard player in the Spinal Tap movie) "The Passion Pirates" has contributed (among other work) music for the Black Dog movie soundtrack "Roadman."
The team has a facility in a very secluded environment in Montclair, CA that delivers soundtrack music to the film and television industry.
Tom Poole grew up in a musical family. His father attended the Washington, DC School of Music and played trombone in the U.S. Navy. His Mom played violin and an uncle in Texas played trumpet. He had private lessons for 15 years with members of The Boston Symphony, San Francisco Symphony and Peninsula Conservatory of Music. After graduating from Hillsdale High School in 1966, he attended the College of San Mateo until being asked to tour with Boz Skaggs in 1971. Since that fateful day Tom has been around the world three times playing everywhere from New York's Carnegie Hall to many an exotic oasis in the Middle East.
His touring roster includes: Boz Skaggs (1971-72), Malo (1972-73), Gregg Allman (1974), Elvin Bishop (1978), Santa Esmerelda (1978-80), Van Morrison (1989), Bobby Womack (1993-96), Etta James (1989 until her passing in late January 2012).
He's performed with a dizzying array of artists including: California Youth Symphony, San Francisco Chamber Symphony, The Four Tops, Ella Fitzgerald, The Temptations, The Chiffons, The Dixie Cups, The Chantelles, Brook Benton, Ben E. King, The Platters, The Coasters, The Drifters, The Chirelles, Martha Reeves And The Vandellas, The Marvelettes, Dr. John, The Mickey Thomas Band (Little Gadget), Cold Blood, Freda Payne, Sam Moore, Freddie King, Frankie Ford, Peter Noone, Billy Preston, Pete Escovedo, Coke Escovedo, Mary Wells, Frankie Avalon, Frankie Vallee, Bowser (from Sha-Na-Na), Brian Hylan, Barbara Lewis, The Diamonds, Tommy Castro, The Dynatones and Mitch Ryder, Bill Summers, Johnny Taylor, Carla Thomas, Leslie Gore, Freddie Cannon, Al Wilson, Tavares, The Fifth Dimension and Electric Flag.
Recorded and performed with (among others): John Lee Sanders, Daniel Castro, Arthur Adams, Nick Gravenitas, Santana, Michael Peloquin, Frank Biner, Austin Delone, The Rossi Brothers.
Tom has known Sy as Herbie for over 30 years. "How could you forget a guy with two first names?", he says. Tom currently plays trumpet and flugelhorn, writes and arranges horn charts and can lead a big band through complex changes on a moment's notice. After spending so much time on the road he's learned by experience the value of awareness. It can be summed up in his common sense credo:
"Even around the corner from your own house ya' still gotta pay attention!".
Our object is to make this place a better more wonderful world to live in. And so I chose music, the spirit of the soul, to extol the virtues and foibles of life's bowl. Tell me music ain't the shaker and the mover of life and i will personally wash your car. If there were no music, all life would be still, as still as a tropical forest without bird songs in the vacuum of icy space.
There isn't enough forest in the world to make the reams of paper necessary to express to you in the written word the depth and totality of the musical influences in my life but, for a few coins, here are some words on that topic:
• Anywhere between James Brown and Mungo Jerry
• Anywhere between Son House and Roger Miller
• Anwhere between the peruvian Jungle flute and the quarter tones of arabic gypsy music
• From Olatunji and his drums of passion the the Paul Butterfield Blues Band
• From Vanilla Fudge to Cream
• From Chinese Opera to Italian Grand Opera
• The influences are endless, but, two were the greatest: Mahalia Jackson and my parents. Being raised in a house of classical music by the greats and being told by my parents "If you don't practice piano for one hour a day you don't eat dinner." Now that's influence..
Robert L. Cochran was raised in a musical family. His Mom's a singer and Dad a carpenter. Bobby began playing drums when he was seven, adding trumpet and trombone at 13 and went on to complete six years of concert music training, eventually becoming one of the top five ranked drummers in South Carolina.
Drafted while still in college, Bobby spent two years playing in the 22nd Army Band before recieving an honorable discharge in 1968 and moving to San Francisco.
During the 1970's Bobby worked with a staggering array of musicians in the Bay Area. He played with the Bobby Freeman Band drumming and singing nightly at the The Condor (the infamous Carol Doda strip joint) in North Beach. He played gospel with the legendary Edwin Hawkins Family Singers and joined Mary Russell's New Generation Singers, where he performed on the soundtrack for the movie "Miss Melanie James." As if that weren't enough, he joined Tom Fogerty's post Creedence Clearwater Rivaval band Ruby, playing, singing and even contributing two songs for the first album.
In the 80's Bobby formed the popular jazz/r&b outfit C.C. Connection and performed regularly with jazz artists Faye Carol, Lorez Alexander and Ernie Andrews. Bobby was no slouch in the blues scene, either. He played with Lady Bianca, Mark Naftalin and Bobby Reed. He formed Straight Shot, a jazz trio with Tony Davis and Carl Lockett. Over the years he's continued to expand his horizons performing with Elvin Bishop, John Lee Hooker and many others.
As the 90's kicked in Bobby worked with such lights as Maria Muldaur, Lowell Fulsom and Jimmy McKracken. Then, in 1997, Bobby was in a band playing for the retirement of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson when he was spotted by Sy Klopps. Sy asked him to join on the spot.
Bobby continues to work his magic around the Bay Area. He recently recorded a live album with Elvin Bishop. Three decades of music and no end in sight!
Michael Peloquin migrated to San Francisco in 1984 after spending his formative years in Illinios, the breadbasket of the United States. His Dad was a carpenter, and his Mom ran a hairdressing shop attached to the house.
Besides working with the Sy Klopps Band Michael has performed, toured and recorded with Albert King, Johnnie Johnson, Larry Davis, Tommy Castro, Chris Cain, and Mitch Woods. The education he received working these Blues Masters rekindled an interest in the "people's instrument," the harmonica, and led him to compete in the bi-annual International Harmonica Festival & Competition, in Germany, where he won the Gold Medal in 1997.
He has recorded an album of original music , composing nine of the eleven songs, singing lead vocals, playing harmonica, and baritone and tenor saxes.
In 1995, at the renowned annual benefit extravaganza known as the Black and White Ball in San Francisco, Michael walked backstage to introduce himself to Sy Klopps for the first time. "You must be Herbie," said Michael, offering his hand. Quietly, Herbie greeted Michael with a correction. "No, it's Sy," he said. Soon afterwards Michael substituted in the Sy Klopps Band for another player and was quickly asked to join.
Michael's pleasure in playing wind instruments is evident in his performances. A master of swamp blues and horn-drenched funk, Michael credits the act of driving an automobile as one of his primary musical inspirations and mentions that he is "very safe" on the road, as he has many years of experience!