By Susan Pierce
One of the city’s most popular show bands of the 1970s has reunited for a performance at Riverbend on Saturday at 8 p.m. on the Bud Light Stage.
In their heyday, they were known as Jimmy Tawater and the Grease Ball Band. Now they’re the Grease Pit Band. The name may have changed, but the doo-wop’s the same.
The Grease Ball Band was strictly a 1950s rock ’n’ roll act, said Tawater. In 2002, Tom Rayburn and I produced a project called the Cleveland Grease Pit Orchestra. We got a slew of friends we had played with over the years together and used them in the CD project.
The CD’s music was original R&B written by Tawater and collaborators such as Tom and Brenda Rayburn or Don Jenkins.
But Tawater says when they reunited for the blues band, they kept getting requests for the doo-wop favorites of the Grease Ball Band. Rayburn and Wright said they needed to add crowd favorites such as Tossin’ and Turnin and In the Still of the Night back in the act because that’s what their audiences knew and expected.
So when we put this band together, we shortened it to the Grease Pit Band, said Tawater.
The band is composed of Tawater, vocals and guitar; Rayburn, bass; Tommy Lifsey, drums; Doyle Wright, keyboards; and Eric Walker, sax.
Other than Eric, everyone was in the original Grease Ball Band, Rayburn said. Jim had other lineups over the years, but this is the one that went on the road in 1975-78 and played all over the Southeast, Iowa, Maryland and Ohio.
When not on the road, the Grease Ball Band had the house gig at the old Dino’s on South Broad and also played clubs such as the Tiki Hut and Wooden Nickel.
Whoever happens to remember us seems to associate us with the ’50s music, and we do that well, said Rayburn.
Tawater said Saturday’s 20-song set at Riverbend will include a good dose of doo-wop.
But he adds there will be a lot of music from the direction the Grease Pit Band is headed.
That is a sound rooted in the original rock ’n’ roll that came out of New Orleans in the late 1950s. That particular music was one of the original sounds that got rock ’n’ roll off the ground.
E-mail Susan Pierce at email@example.com
If you go:
Who: Jimmy Tawater and the Grease Pit Band
Where: Bud Light Stage
Wehn: Saturday at 8 p.m.