Larry and Alien

About Larry


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Influences: My Mom, Bill Bernico, John Denver, Tim DuFour, Allison Kraus, Rik Emmet, Don Ross, Antione DuFour, Mrs. Pragles, Alex Lifeson, Vinnie Moore, Ron Ladwig, Carol Ladwig, countless others (but I keep adding to the list as I remember all the great people who helped me along).

My music life began in in 4th grade as a clarinet player, I learned but became bored with the lame songs we had to play, so I came up with every exceuse and rationale not to play. Eventually I found my voice in the church choir at St. Pauls UCC and my grade school chours at Cooper school under the guidance of one of my major influences: Mrs. Pragles (we used to call her Mrs. Pringles).

My first guitar was a nylon string from Goodell Music in Sheboygan. I think my parents laid out $100 bucks for the guitar and case. I took guitar in 8th grade but didin't get a very good grade because rather than play camptown races I was working out the tune I woke up to on my clock radio, I usually had it figure out by the end of class. As for camptown races, it took weeks.

The the first tune I learned in 8th grade was Jack and Dianne by John Cougar Mellencamp. I didn't own an electric at the time so I rigged the earphone from my crystal radio as a pickup for my nylon string guitar and piped the sound through my stereo (a hand me down from my big bro Dale). I managed to get distortion but it only lasted about a year and started to smoke so I figured it was time. After various "A Christmas Story" like attempts to get an electric guitar and amp to convice my parents to no avail. I thought all was lost, but I finally received my first electric guitar from Santa, a Peavey T-15... well at the time "Cookie" at Goodell (local music shop) looked alot like Santa. Pretty darn cool first guitar, I became a Peavy advocate. I earned this gift by making a pact with my mother to learn all the songs in a Bach for guitar book. Once I played them for her she agreed to let get me the guitar and a set of amplified headphones. This turned out to be pretty lame so in order to get a decent amp, I had to learn the songs from a Beethoven for guitar book. Some months later I had my first amp; a Backstage 30.

During the Middle School years I hooked up with my buddy Mike Larson, Joe Zuengler and Bird (Eric) and formed "Mirage". I traded my T-15 for a Black Peavey Mystic so I could matchup with Joe's Red Mystic, they were evil looking axes! We learned 6 or 8 tunes I don't recall (I can remember: "Rock and Roll Hoochie Coo", "Slow and Easy -Whitesnake", "Life's Been Good to Me so far" and of course my first original "Mirage" ). I remember playing a birthday party (for Craig Reiniking... I thnk) and we rocked pretty well. I think we played out once or twice more, before breaking up. Regardless, I knew I was hooked! Unfortunately Mirage disbanded and I went bandless for a few years. In a sort of half baked reversal of fortune I hooked a job as a DJ at a local skating rink so I could get my musical fix. I also started to pickup piano by matching guitar chord patterns to keyboard patterns, my mom was a fairly accomplished piano player so she helped me a long quite a bit. I wrote several lovey dovey tunes for the piano.

In the middle part of high school I hooked up with Tim Theobald, Tim Dufour and a group his employees to form "The Erradics" we played full three sets that covered bands like the Stones, Beatles, Neil Young, and Melloncamp. Tim was a rippin guitarist, he always encouraged me to go to school, practice, and start singing more. That really inspired me to work on my vocals. Fortunately for me my Mother was fantastic singer she gave me the tips and training to become a pretty decent singer. So I was getting ready to sing, but it would be a few years...

At the ripe age of 15 1/2 I landed a job at the Big Wheel Skate Center (roller skating). This took my musical course in a different direction. I was trained as a DJ by Tom Selak (who is one of my best friends to this day) and Ron Ladwig.  I learned a lot about the entertainment aspect of music. It was a cool job and a cool place to work. I later signed up for broadcasting classes at Sheboygan North High and became a regular radio DJ; a very unique opportunity. I played many roles at Big Wheel it was a great job (even though I got fired often). I really appreciate the Ladwigs, they taught me more about the aspects of entertaining than I could ever explain.

In the later part of High School I hooked up with friends Greg Klauck, Chris Kuch, Danny Lawrence, and Roger Bondi to form Electric Velvet. We came up with the name by putting words on paper strips and randomly flipping them until two showed face up, sort of an ouigi board thing. We covered mostly "The Cult" tunes, Whitesnake, and Cinderella. By the time we racked up four tunes we played North High Expo and rocked the house so hard, we played the four tunes over again. Then had a little jam session until we were finally removed from stage. The band broke up before having another gig as we moved toward our College years.

To suppliment my income I strated DJing with an associate Harry Logan. Harry was a staunch 70s music fan, I learned a ton about "the good" 70s rock and roll from Harry. I felt somehow I could do something like Harry but for my generation... Enter "Cameleon Entertainment".Some years after High School I started a DJ service "Cameleon Entertainment" with friend Brent Sager. We gigged out for about a year but I had the itch, I needed to be the musician not just the guy behind the mic....

It took me a year or so to get back into the musician aspect of music, but I finally roomed with a buddy Jeff Hebert and started the band No Romance with Nick Nigrelli, Steve McCarthy and Rich Yurk. We had a full gig of tunes and played out pretty often. One memorable gig was in Jeff's and my backyard we jammed for a good hour before the cops finally came and shut us down. That was the start of one of the craziest nights ever. Oh I forgot to mention, before joining No Romance, I opened for them playing my lovey dovey tunes as lounge act "Larry Love" a name I drew from my Big Wheel days. I was dumb enough to bring a date to hear songs I wrote for other girls, oops, I don't think Dani ever forgave me completely, but we are good friends today, she went on to be lead singer and keyboardist for local legend band "Oil Can Harry".

I eventually married and had our first son and for several years music was kind of left behind. I recall playing some open band with Darryl Mandd and a guy named Don who was like the White Hendrix at a bar called Classics. Don was friggin awesome! A few more years passed and along came my buddy Dave Schmidt, he wanted to form a band to play a dozen songs at his wedding. So we formed "Sour Pickle" with Dave, Don Fickett, Scott Widder and myself. It was my lead guitar debut. I played the lead for Jessie's girl. Through the greatest of misfortunes Don passed away. The band disbanded and again I was rockless.

A few more years go by and I'm with my son at school when Bryan Schmitt approaches me and says a bunch of my friends are getting together to form a band. Do you want to try out, so I did and joined the band. I returned to my keyboards and vocals from years ago and purchased my first serious set of boards: Roland Discovery 5, great boards. "Rockwurst" as we call it is alive and well today. Rockwurst members are Bryan Schmitt, John Howell, Tom Kohlbeck, Steve Westcott and myself. John and Steve are formerly from the band "Malpractice". Rockwurst plays six or so gigs a year, and have a great song list. I love playing with Rockwurst because the music we play gets people dancing, and that's what its all about... dancing. At some point I started gettin' the itch to play the six string instead of the boards and wanted to rock a little harder.

Enter Brew Street Groove. Dave Schmidt pulled the band together on the tip from his brother Kevin that a friend of a friend of a friend, or something like that. So the band formed with Dave Schmidt, Jim Struve, John Balnitas and Myself. We play very danceable hard rock from the late 70s to present. The band went through two versions with a new drummer (Jamie Hasenstein) and bass player (Al Meyer) coming into the mix. It was a blast!

After a few years with Brew Street Groove it was time for something different, something that better matched my vision for entertainment. I had a lot of fun with the guys in InDebt doing acoustic stuff, but I didn't have the time to carve out for practice.  So I decied it was time to go on my own. After some dinking around with names I sat in my basement looking around at things when my son's four foot inflateable alien caught my eye, i named it Alien Gonzalez. I kinda and chuckled and said, why not: "Larry and Alien". A new chapter in my entertainment career was born. I now use a looping pedal, which I also call "Alien Gonzalez". Oddly I rarely bring it out because it generally has caused more harm than, good. I have a much bigger vision for this adventure than I have equipment or money at this point but I hope as I play gigs it will grow into what I envision. I hope to see you out soon!



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