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Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation

Hey kiddies!

Smack your lips, clench your cheeks, and prepare to get gone! Here be some fresh AND some ripened tunage prepared by your ever lovin'
Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation!
Some of the most delectable ditties that were ever cooked up throughout The Rockmes nummy nugatory career were painstakingly picked and are proudly presented on two toe tappin' treasuries! These tunes are NOT available in any store, or through any TV offer!!
But what exactly is a “ Riffmaster ” ? or even a “ Rockme Foundation ” ? ?

Well. . . once upon a time. . . in a century long past, there was a strange and wondrous land known as the GreaterChicagolandmetropolitanarea. There, within the beguiling confines of a wee magical alcazar known to all as The Practical Theatre Company, dwelt an even wee-er, but just as magical, rock ‘n’ roll cooperative known by the bemusing moniker, Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation!
Anything that rocked, popped, or grooved ardently stoked their zeal. Proudly they would wear these musical influences upon their sleeves. Nobly they would tear those sleeves off. Slaphappily they would then fashion them sleeves as head bands, neck ties, and, when duty called, even jock straps. The Rockmes were/are, and/or, could/be, quite/possibly. . . “Purveyors of the Finest Authentic, Traditional, and Original Garage Band Sound!” 

Read on for the incredibly vacillating
Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation

The Rockme Foundation’s storied legend is one of pure myth. Very few veridical facts are able to be recalled of the origin of the Rockme Foundation, especially by the Rockmes themselves. Though the Rockme Foundation’s existence on this Earth can never be denied*, the exact moment of conception of these rambunctious rockaunauts is food for forensic folly.
* (Fact is, there is still in existence a persistent echo ricocheting like Flubber® about our solar system which speculators speculate to have emanated from a Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation concert, circa; 1984)

Could the Rockmes originally been conceived in the late 1970s when singers/song-writers/rhythm guitarists
Paul Barrosse, Brad Hall, and Rush Pearson all casually converged at the excessively esteemed
Northwestern University, where they would ‘figuratively’ sit around and ‘literally’ fart out perfervid songs? . . . ?
OR !
Could the Rockmes’ initial conception first be in the early 1981s, when N.U. alumnus Barrosse, Hall, and
Pearson, along with sordid N.U. alums, recorded jammed pre-show tunage for “Thrills and Glory”, the premiere
production in their newly constructed Practical Theatre Company?. . . ?
OR !!
Could the Rockmes (YOUR THEORY HERE)> ____________________________________?. . . ?

What is for certain, is that on a fateful Spring eve in 1981, a solitary stray actor auspiciously ambled into the Practical Theatre Co’s John Lennon Auditorium toting a measly miasmal milk crate containing a ream of 8X10 head-shots which all bore the humbling gold-platted embossment:
“Master Thespian: Peter Van Wagner”.
Inadvertently interrupting Barrosse and Pearson’s intensely self-indulgent closed music rehearsal, this Peter Van Wagner asked if he could see their guitar. The boys, extremely wary and overly possessive of their time, and their guit-fiddle, held their guitar up and away, and said, “there, see?” Then, remorsefully showing due respect for their hair-impaired elder, the boys wincingly ceded their axe. Now, it is well documented that all those within earshot had expectations of what was to come from this pairing of guitar and Van Wagner. At best most expected to hear some lame-o rendition of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore”.  .  .
Instead . . .
ferociously frenetic fingers furiously flew,
furtively finessing fiery frets
forming folios of phenomenally fine “Chuck Berry riffs”.
Pearson and Barrosse immediately epiphanied in their very pants. Barrosse immediately recognized that this “Peter Van Wagner” could perhaps be none other than the legend-in-waiting, thee one, thee only, Thee Riffmaster!

(Pause for choir of rockin' angels to sing Riffmaster’s praises)

Astounded, humbled, and deafened by the excessive volume of Riff’s angels, Barrosse and Pearson summoned Hall. Thereupon all three knelt and, tremblingly,
they kissed the hallowed guitar pick of thine Riffmaster. After spitting out the funky taste, Hall meekly raised his voice, not his head, to ask His Riffness,
if He would deem to ‘jam-it-through-the-roof’ with the ‘lowly likes of them’, a ‘feckless fundamental substructure of rock’, a mere “Rockme Foundation”, if you will.
Gee whizzingly, His Rifftitude assented, and thus begot the waggishly fated self-indulgence, known to all who deem to donate a doo-doo, as Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation!

The name “Peter”, in Greek, means, “the rock”. (source: The Bible)
Riffmaster Peter Van Wagner jammed with the Beatles at Woodstock. (source: The Daily Northwestern)
In the summer of 1981, this rudimentary Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation roster commenced in creating some crude stereophonic tapings on the John Lennon Auditorium stage that were to be wielded in the upcoming Practical Theatre Co. comedy revue, “Scubba-Hey!”. These sessions saw the injection of their lethal side-men, The Tom-Tom Horns, so christened because the two lone saxmen, Wolf Larson and Beefma Kalicky, shared the very same first name. During these sessions Riffmaster’s own brother, Ellis Van Wagner, would keep the beat until he beat it for college. And for these sessions only, the Rockmes were fortunate to have fellow castmate, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, affix a few fine feminine foxy vox. Still, additional fetal mutation was required for this band to legally qualify for full U. S. Federal Government GBIs. (Garage Band Incentives) For at this juncture Barrosse, Hall, and Pearson were all seeming to appear to be attempting to play rhythm guitar, yet nary a soul was seeming to appear to be attempting to pluck the bass guitar. According to the Liverpool music rag, “MerseyBeat”, it was after Stu Sutcliffe sold one of his paintings for 60 quid that Lennon and McCartney cajoled Pearson to become the Rockmes’ bass plucker. Still, the bass guitar might tend to bounce about the band a bit, for Pearson's plunking appeared to plummet whenever he ventured to belt out a wail.

Now, it was precisely at this moment that word on the street was how The Heavens had recently opened up and that The Father, The Son, AND The Holy Ghost had mentioned that Santa was feeling a might down and might not be able to make his Santa globe trot that year. The Holy Trinity casually suggested that perhaps a “happenin' new Christmas platter” might snap that Jolly Old Elf out of his clinical depression. Theologians were deep in council over what a Santa-less Christmas would mean to the U.S. economy when, like a flash of lightning, it slowly dawned on our cluelessly cloistered protangonists . . . Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation were, indeed . . . the Chosen Band!!!!
(Pause for choir of rockin' angels to sing Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation’s praises)
As if the pressure of trying to limbo the high hurdles of successfully ‘sounding like a band’ wasn’t daunting enough for our miscreant heroes, there now arose a beseeching caterwauling from all the ‘good’ little boys and girls, ‘jonesing’ for their Christmas ‘jump’; “Hey, Riffmaster and the Rockme Foundation, where’s that happenin' new Christmas platter’?”

With Ellis Van Wagner’s tenure on the skins concluded, an APB was put out for the rockin'est drummer in all the land. Future nightclub impresario and wunderkidder, Steven ‘Col. Parker’ Jarvis, proceeded to produce a way young, and way too cool, Rockin' Ronny Crawford*. This rockin' young Rockin' proved to be the proverbial Jughead for these axiomatic Archies. For it was only when Rockin'’s exhilarating and undeviating pulsations on his thunder tubs were added to the cacophonic R&theRF ‘sound’, that labor was induced, inciting the Rockmes to crown(v).
* (FYI Rockin'’s parentage consists of none other than the famed documentarians/humanitarians Ron and Sydney Crawford. Thus R&theRF achieved ‘Luckiest Band in the World’ status by being absorbed into The Crawford generous good-willistic groovitation.)

So. . . there we are. . . the PTC stage. . . September, 1981. . .
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL is there flat on her back screaming for drugs and epiderals, as
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, with a long episiotomy, proceeds to spoot out her boppin’ baby boys: Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation!
(Pause for some guitar slingin’, drum poundin’, shit kickin’ angels to jam it to Hosanna-high! )

In the early Fall of 1981 Steven ‘S. Philips’ Jarvis shepherded these sheepish lads into the fabled fun factory of Q&R Studios. Also in tow for just this premiere session was PTC percussive toy banger, Jamie Baron. Once at Q&R Studios, Justin ‘Justin Niebank’ Niebank would commandingly commandeered the engineering of R&theRF’s fledgling full-fledged and final 45, the exceptionally ecstatic, X-mas Single. This pleasing puerile platter consists of the Santa sung A-side, “I’ve Been Good (how 'bout you?)”, flipped with its lovely wedded B-side, the reindeer sung, “The Reindeer Song”. One listen to the A-side’s seasonal sock-it-to-me sound will no doubt usher back one’s giddy memories of driving down Chicago’s Yuletide festooned Miracle Mile on a crisp December day in 1981 and harkening to that A-side’s carolin' beat being played over WXRT! that one time.

This one single recording session was all it took for Q&R Studios to become R&theRF’s fab new digs. For the rest of their hallowed history this clamorous choir would religiously congregate within the sacrosanct grotto of Q&R Studios to reverently execute the Holy Canon of the Gods: “Make the Kids Jump!”! This,“Make the Kids Jump!”, would become the band’s devout vacational vocation. Q&R would inspire all R&theRF’s endeavors, and illuminate R&theRF’s mercurial trajectory. Uber-determined to introduce the world to a ‘fresh new noise’, these urbanal urchins displayed their innate aptitude for openly appropriating catchy caches of swinging swaddlings from the cradle of rock.

With another PTC production in dire need of tunage, the boys eagerly bopped back into Q&R with Justin ‘Justin Niebank’ Niebank in the late Fall. With a hearty cry of “less is more!”, R&theRF cut back to 4 tracks for 4 new tracks. It was at this point that a mighty Casey Fox came to bat on backing vocals. Mr Fox’s height, complexion, upbringing, but most importantly his dulcetly delectable needed notes, made Casemo the perfect bookend for the Foundation’s ‘jordanairists’, The Wasps. Also, these sessions reveals a R&theRF rarity with a righteous ringer being rung on two of the cuts when boffo bass player Keven Bowie is avidly availed.

As 1982 progressed, it was discerned that Q&R’s Steve ‘G. Emerick’ Rashid was stepping into a phone booth and eminently emerging as Steve ‘G. Martin’ Rashid. Both of these Steves would continue to heroically helm the master board to nuancely nab the Rockme’s enervating sonic sounds until their very last rock rolled. In a fervid effort to capture R&theRF’s genuine garage pith, all the Rockmes would tend to hang over Steve’s shoulders and ‘assist’ in the mixing, as if a pack of monkeys venturing to type “Hamlet”.

From 1981-1983 enough original material spewed forth from these seasoned session soldiers to glut two albums. But by May, 1984, it had became obscurely evident that 4 tracks could no longer encapsulate the sym-phoney din of Maestro Peter Van Wagner & his Orchestra. So with a hearty cry for “more pizza!” and, “cheap beer!” these starving and not quite drunk enough boyos grandly graduated back up to 16 tracks for the memorable Memorial Day Malibu Sessions*.
* (This session was so named when Pirate, Mike Brady, whispered tales of a Malibu Rum® paroxysmal propaganda pact, and the boys set sails for hallucinatory success.)

This transition to quadrupled trackage is notably notable for some personnel flux within the Foundation’s ranks. During this era, Riffmaster’s lifelong buddy ol’ pal ‘n’ chum, and prolixly pleonastic rock ‘n’ roll encyclopedia (tautologically speaking), Maurice Cleary, began making apparitions within the Foundation’s crèche. With a savory ‘strum strum’ here, and a luscious ‘la la’ there, Mr. Mo would soon be endeared to all as the Rockme’s fifth wheel.

It was also at this point that ear drums were beat by a thrown euphonic bone with the occasional addition and exploitation of legally bona fide musicians, Steve ‘One-Man-Band’ Rashid and Larry ‘The Keyster’ Schanker. Rashid and Schanker graciously agreed to sporadically ‘sit in’ with the Foundation on the keyboards and multifarious melliferous mechanisms because, well, even though Steve and Larry are unquestionably talented, skilled and learned musicians, they really are both just a couple of sweet rubes who don’t have the common sense to avoid the likes of a Riffmaster, or even a Rockme Foundation.

Speaking of additional musical fire power, this jump to 16 tracks also ushered in the recording of the crown jewel of any live Rockme hootenanny, the befittingly ballyhooed musical genius of famed featured singer-songwriter, Maura Ann Murphy-Barrosse Inc.. During an illustrious lifetime of touring with Riff & his Raff, this three year old phenom rocked the critics in their rears with her Rockme backed renditions of her too-too hip, “Lay Down Girls”, as well as her mesmerizingly sapient “You Never Know Where You Are Going (so you go to a par-tay)”. A mere seven months later a more mature Maura would get back to get down to her roots to record the very first composition she ever crayoned, “Bobby Jo-Jo”, as well as her ‘E-I-EERIE-O’ farm yard thrillah, “The Animal Song”.

Though Q&R Studios was chiefly utilized as a musical mill to muster these pioneering purloiners’ own original tunage, these revved-up idolizers would also make the occasional reverential paean to rock’s icons and lay down some bitchin' covers. These covers are, quite simply stated: a heterogeneous anthropological dig of R&theRF’s antediluvian rhizome. So if you want to know where the Rockmes are coming from, heed their covers.

In early 1982, after just a few forays into Q&R Studios, these scourges of silence began their obstreperous quest to book real live ‘gigs’ to prove to all the stark raving critics that R&theRF weren’t just another yet to be manufactured Milli Vanilli. It was at these ‘gigs’ that R&theRF proved to the world that R&theRF were truly ‘the stuff’ of rock ‘n’ roll by hiring R&theRF to labor as R&theRF’s own roadies! (alright, alright, so they would actually ‘allow’ their saxist Wolf Larson to do most of the setting-up) With a stamina that would evoke the envy of men five times their age, these back-beat behemoths would sometimes play up to as many as ten, or even, eleven ‘gigs’ in one year!! How these busy as a bee Beethovens found the time to ‘gig’ AND ‘record’ one will never know!!!*
* (The Foundations’ trusty T.C.B. comrades: Bubba ‘Woosley’ McClellen, Terry ‘Red’ Barron, and Michael ‘Bear’ Mennies)

Not content to rock, roll, and deafen just the GreaterChicagolandmetropolitanarea, in the summer of 1983, these juggernauts of juke hit the road for one whole week for their one and only World Tour of (Ta Tada Da!) Cleveland* the one in Ohio!!!!!
* (some* say it was this 1983 R&theRF world tour destination which was the deciding factor for Cleveland to be chosen as the home for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) * (Rockstorians all agree that the ‘some’ saying this is band themselves)

In the hazy squish of days that made up 1984, an historic changing of the guard took place upon the Foundation’s drummer’s throne. During a rare Rockme recital, rabid rock purists stormed the band stand, bodily removed Rockin' Ronny, and finally forced his ever-smilin’ overly-talented ass into a real band.* At this juncture, and without skipping a single downbeat, a jolly Jack Lau was interjected into the Rockme cadre. On periodic loan from the even more periodic Del Crustaceans, Jack’s appearance on the Rockme kit ignited a firestorm of media fanned rumors, when a Detroit disc jockey falsely expounded, “Rockin' Is Dead!, Oh, My Lord!! Jack Has Sat On Poor Rockin'!!! Oh, The Humanity!!!!”
*(Rockin' is a founder of The Daves of late 80’s Philly fame, and played with Lisa Loeb, Anna Nalick and Sharon Little)

Primarily, Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation were roustingly renowned for “coming to make your neighborhood just a little LOUDER!!!” Quintessentially, the Rockmes were most familiarly famous for functioning as the Practical Theatre Co.’s infamous “el combo de la casa”. R&theRF not only created all the pre-show music for many a PTC theatrical endeavor; they did so for the mere restitution of a single plastic cup of warmish beer! Furthermore, funds from the “Robin Hoodmaster & his Merry Foundation” ’s illicit keg fetes single-bandedly kept the John Lennon Auditorium alive in the summer of ‘85! Furthermorer, R&theRF’s circus maximus of rock bandom was as the featured musical amusement for PTC’s legendarily essential New Years Eve benefit bashes!! For “Daddy-O Time & the New Years Infantation” not only rocked in 1982, but also 1983, 1984, 1985, and 1986. . .  in that order!!!

T H E E N D ?
Then. . . the day the rock world will never ever forget. . . EVER!!!!!!!!!! August something, 1986, “The Day The Kids STOPPED Jumping!!!” Having got just too familiar with their ‘pharmacists’, and too hefty for their ‘sequined jumpsuits’, Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation finally fell off their ‘golden toilets’, and called it quits. So, after only five short stentorian years, Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation bade the world a crude adieu in their final swan dive performance; “The Last Straw: The End Of An Earache”. (a self-indulgent, shamelessly marketed, pay-for-view farewell concert/video/t-shirt/pinball machine/Taco Bell® cup)
Recently opened FBI files have disclosed that throughout 1987 and 1988 the expectedly extinct Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation executed a number of covert ‘gigs’ under the feckless facade of Dr. Guitar & the Hitmen. Not only does Rockin' Ronny’s back-beats find their way back onto the bang buckets for a few of these ‘gigs’ and ‘recordings’, the Hitmen would also encompass the enchanting vociferations of Victoria Zielinski and Megan Mullally.* After this informal incarnation, the Master Of Riff, and his Foundation Of Rock, party-pooped off to their varied and vibrantly vapid solo projects so as to recharge their batteries, and/or follow their individual muses, and/or pay the rent, and/or the like.
* (Women in the studio? Sheesh. No wonder this band broke up. Guys. . . the Beatles?)

T O D A Y !
But just where is Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation today? Yes, just where art these legends that were once whence hied from hither? Well, after a sixteen year retirement, the inner rock clocks of each and every Rockme sounded alarmed! The Riff made the call, and fortunately, the Foundation was not too busy to pick up. It took but one pass through “Johnny B. Goode” for these rockin’ relics to seemingly seamlessly reinstate their seamy sound. The next three years, brought the world three more jovially geriatric R&theRF ‘gigs’. These ‘gigs’ were joyously graced by some of the Rockmes’ own prodigious prodigy sittin’ in, and out jammin’ their pappys.

Then, March, 2008, heralded a frantasmic month of R&theRF agogedly e-mailing a-go-go each other original demos. After resolutely rehearsing by their individual lonesomenesses, these ancient fogies of funk embarked upon a preeminent pilgrimage. From all corners of the U. S. of A., R&theRF walkered and/or wheel chaired themselves back, back to Evanston, Illinois, and into Steve ‘D. Was’ Rashid’s masterful mouse clicking mitts at his rhapsodic Woodside Avenue Music Productions. (formerly Q&R, and now Steve Rashid owned!) There these rheumatic rocksmen, along with their silvered hairless leader, marathonically forumed for one forth of a fortnight to lay down ELEVEN new original tracks to create “Woodshed@Woodside”, this band’s first new albumaic CD in over TWENTY YEARS! Then, presto chango, The Decider (aka Steve ‘Q. Jones’ Rashid) magically manipulated R&theRF’s euphonious frenzy into some blithely hand spankin’ melodious strains.

So please. . . enjoy these hardy loaves composted of a few of the many healthy ‘howl movements’ that the Rockmes have supercilliously spooted out over their augustly nugatory career, a career that now spans 2 millennia! What a gas! Just give this tunage a taste drive. . .
Mmmmm mmm mmm,
melts your ears, AND shakes your rears!
NOW . . .

. . . for those of you who were deprived of the iniquitous privilege of attending a “real live”, “honest to goodness”, “in your face”, “take no prisoners”, “have at it”
“Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation Rock’n’Roll Show!”, this tunage here is now the next best thing to boppin’ there. For one to attempt to simulate a stimulating live “Riffmaster & the Rockme Foundation Experience!”, simply give these tunes a listen whilst mentally conjuring the subsequent sensorial scenario;

1) The scent of healthy dance sweat mixed within a stale beer bouquet.

2) A spunky sound mix echoing within louche acoustics with our beloved Riffmaster cranked up to infinity.

3) Impolitic interims of 3 minutes and 27 seconds betwixt each and every song, all ripe with powwows of “what’s next?” “what key?” “ok, who took my
beer?” and “RIFF! TURN DOWN!!!”

4) Then, on top of all that,

Ya Gotta Jump!