published Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Curtain Call: Sterchi gets personal on new solo CD

  • photo
    Drew Sterchi is shown during a recent Riverbend performance. Playing behind him is Denny Jiosa, who co-produced, recorded and mixed Sterchi's new solo CD, "Left Here With The Blues."
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

DREW STERCHI

Age: 62.

Hometown: Chattanooga.

Family: Wife, Peggy; son, Chris; daughter, Mary.

Education: Brainerd High School, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Vocation: Owner, Sterchi Construction.

Where to hear him: Sterchi will play during an CD release party Nov. 8 at Rhythm & Brews, 221 Market St.

Like thousands of others, Drew Sterchi caught the music bug as a youngster watching The Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Now, 50 years after joining his first band, Sterchi has again been bitten. He has recorded a solo album and created a new band called Blues Tribe.

At age 12, Sterchi joined The Victors, a band that played high school parties and dances. The Victors also featured Randy Clark, who became a fixture on the local music scene.

A few years later, Brother John's Love Colony was formed. The group traveled to gigs in a yellow van with big lips painted on the side, Sterchi said.

"We played sock hops and fraternity parties and played in Daytona Beach twice," he said. "The goal back then was to just be in a band and play music."

The group was good enough that the owner of the local Armageddon club became the group's manager and booked them into a regular club gig in the Bahamas. The guys sold many of their belongings and headed south, only to discover the gig was not what had been promised.

"We had a contract, but it didn't work out internationally speaking, so there we were with no money and no place to stay," Sterchi said.

The band members slept in the parking lot for awhile and then "begged the ship's captain that brought us to take us back to Miami," which he did, Sterchi said. Armageddon, as they were called, found themselves broke and homeless, but they caught a break in Miami.

A chance meeting with a man who was the caretaker of an abandoned hotel gave them a place to stay and rehearse. After a few weeks the guys landed a gig at a club in Fort Lauderdale.

"Our first night, there were just a few people, but after a couple weeks it was packed," Sterchi said.

Over the next year, the group played in clubs from Miami to Montreal.

"Our home base was Miami and it was good work. I was making $200 a week," Sterchi said. "They thought we were wild. A Southern band playing Edgar Winter and Texas blues was something different I guess."

While the money and shows were good, Sterchi, who was now married, said after about a year he was ready to return to Chattanooga. He came home in 1972 and helped form Harvey along with his brother, David, Barry Borden and Milton Hamrick. When Borden left to tour with Mother's Finest, Fred Mayes joined and later Burnard Tate replaced Fred.

"David, Milton and I have been playing together since 1972," Sterchi said. For much of that time, the band has been known as The Sterchi Brothers Band.

The group features its own tunes in addition to playing cover songs. In the early days, they did a lot of Bonnie Raitt, Eagles and Jackson Browne material. Then, about 20 years ago, Sterchi said the focus turned to obscure electric blues songs.

In recent years, Sterchi said he has devoted more time to his family and his business and less time to playing music. About two years ago, he said decided he wanted to record some songs he'd been saving. He mentioned his hope to Taylor Caldwell, who surprised him by saying, "How about tomorrow?"

Sterchi said he and Caldwell headed to Sarasota, Fla., and the Spirit Ranch Studio armed with six songs, the oldest written in 1974.

"I felt comfortable there and we recorded the tracks in two days. Then I kept going back down there working on them," Sterchi said.

He eventually headed to Nashville to finish what has become "Left Here With the Blues," a 10-track solo CD. He has also formed a new band featuring Mike Caldwell (no relation), Ron Allen, Brenda Taylor and Bill Lefton.

They will play songs from the CD, as well as the raw blues songs Sterchi likes. In fact, he admits the tone and subject matter of the new material is a departure for him.

"The songs on the album have a more sophisticated and thoughtful sound I think," he said.

"I kept questioning during the playback 'Is this really me and what I want to be doing?'

"I was not doubting. I was more surprised, I guess, that this was what I wanted to do. I am proud of how it came out."

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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