I had a great evening last Saturday night, watching the New Century Beatniks play at the Eastland Inn in Berea Ohio. My friend from junior high and high school, Mike Hudak, plays drums for the group. The other bandmates are his sister Nancy and bandmates Mike Zullo, Dan DiCarlo and John Zdravecky.
I hadn't seen Mike since graduation, circa 1975 until the band played at the Berea High School reunion last summer. I didn't even know that Mike was a musician until seeing him there. I was amazed at how good the band was. They can play in a wide range of styles, although they tend to specialize in pop music from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. In addition, all five of the band members can sing lead vocals, which is very unusual. In short they are amazingly good musicians, and can really play to a variety of musical tastes.
Mike (along with Mike Z and John Z) were part of a successful Cleveland area band called Love Affair. Eventually Mike became the durmmer for a group called Gary Lewis and the Playboys, which had a number of hit recordings and toured all over the world.
I had another reunion of sorts, meeting my former boss, J. D. LaBash, who used to run LaBash Music in Berea some 30 years ago. I used to work there back in the 1970's and 1980's. There I learned a lot about repairing guitars, and maybe a little bit about the real world. I was never much good at playing, but I did get pretty good at setting up and repairing musical instruments and understanding what goes into a good instrument. Funny thing, I distinctly remember Mike Hudak's name coming up in conversation at the music store back in the 70's, on a few occasions, But I figured that Hudak is not an altogether uncommon name, and that it must have been a different person. I remember Mike as being a rather quiet fellow, but it turns out he's different on stage. Little did I know!
In any case, on Saturday J. D. and I renewed our friendship, and discussed all the world problems ranging from the economy to war in Iraq, plus found time to discuss ancient navigation techniques, but mostly we laughed recalling the silly things that happened at the music store, including all the oddball characters that appeared there (including us). It was a great time.
We marvelled at the talent of New Century Beatniks, and wondered how it is possible that a modest neighborhood restaurant like Eastland Inn could host such an incredible band. It doesn't seem possible, but the food was very good and very affordable, and there was no cover charge. One of the best times I have ever had, and I'm not broke!
I hope my friends from Berea will treat themselves to a good time and listen to this band. And do check out the old Eastland Inn as well ( http://www.theeastlandinn.com/ ). The food is great and the people are all friendly.
Two Mikes, Nancy, Dan and John--the New Century Beatniks!
Yup, that's the way I remembered the Eastland Inn!