Mudlark

Great Rock and Blues since 1972

This whole band thing occurred because everyone in our neighborhood was into music and as we reached say 13 or 14 years old, we started a band. This all preceded Mudlark, but the continuing friendship with The Fairview Gang and the fact that we're still playing music today is one of the bedrocks of my life. Shout out to some of my oldest friends Jim Miner, Jayne Miner, Pat Markham, Dave Besley, Chuck Caudill, Mike Caudill, and even Jerry McDermott who was the band tech. Love those people. Even though he didn't live in Fairview, Mike Terpak hung out with us a lot. Mike and I met in 6th grade at Layton Hall Elementary in Fairfax, Virginia. He and I were both in the school bands. The fact that Mike is the current keyboard player/lead vocalist for Mudlark is a salute to music and friendship.

Mudlark in 1972

Mudlark's original singer, Kelly Elder, was stolen from the band I was with at the time. I didn't realize this until communicating with Gary Carroll of the original band. I remembered Kelly Elder leaving our band Jasper for a new "super" group but I had no idea it was Mudlark who stole him. So, Mudlark starts with five members; Kelly Elder on lead vocals, Greg Smallwood on keyboards, Gary Carroll on guitar and vocals, Mark Vandenberg on drums, and Al Gagne on bass. I never got to hear them but knowing how individually good they were musically makes me know they were a great band. (We were able to convince Kelly to play the Fairfax High School prom in 1972, even though he had been stolen). Gary Carroll is in Winchester now and appears regularly with his brother as the Carroll Brothers. Kelly Elder is a dear friend and a great singer. He's still hanging in there in South Carolina. Love you Kelly. Mark Vandenberg was an incredible musician. We lost him too early back in 1981. I never met Al and I can't say where his fortunes have taken him. Last of all, but certainly not least, Greg "Papa Mudlark" Smallwood was an amazing person, friend, and musician. We lost Greg several years ago and we miss him every day.

1976 - 1977

There was a hiatus with the band from 1974-1975. I wound up showing up in Greg Smallwood's parents' living room in June of 1976, joining the new lineup of Mudlark. Greg and Kelly were still with the band and they added Albert Suddueth on bass guitar and Gary Shallcross on guitar. I had never met either Albert or Gary before joining the band. Albert was a down home, down to earth sweetheart. He was a great bass player. He brewed his own beer. He could build anything you wanted. He was just a great guy. Unfortunately, we lost Albert to a car accident when he was way too young. I remember Gary being a nice enough guy, but I also remember Greg not liking his guitar playing at all. Gary's days in the band were numbered pretty much right away. Gary's days were SO numbered, that he never got to show up in a photo. Jim Miner (dear friend, also see Fairview Gang above) joined the band late in 1976, completing the new version of Mudlark

This version of the band provided me with enough stories to fill many a cold evening. Our original practice spot was Albert's house in Herndon (when Herndon was in the sticks). The house had no indoor plumbing (we went out back) and the room we practiced in had the window broken out during a cold winter. Of course, one particularly cold night, Albert’s grandmother offered the use of her chamber pot to my wife Linda. She politely declined. We played outside on the front porch (which had a generous sag) during the summer, and amazingly, this is how Bob Crerie originally became aware of the band. Karma. Some of my best memories of being alive come from those days at Albert's house.

Specializing in bars and field parties, this band could party with the best of them. This is the lineup that performed the famous "P Street Beach" gig. Helped along by the Yippies, (that's right, Yippies, not Yuppies), the electric power was freed from the bonds of the capitalist government (i.e. this long haired Yippie guy breaks the lock off of the power supply, and we play for a couple of hours). I feel compelled to mention the names Trip Carpenter and Mike Walker, as they had their own historic impact on the band. In order to get the perspective on Trip and Mike, we simply remember "Bumpass, Virginia". You can click on the picture of the Bumpass Post Office and read the whole ridiculous story. Oh, and I almost forgot the amazing “Saturday in Hell” gig in Warrenton. Click on the Warrenton field picture to read about a field party you’ll be glad you weren’t at.

In late 1977, Trip and Mike put on the pressure for Mudlark to go on tour. Supposedly they had a job lined up in Daytona Beach. I had just gotten a job which I wound up keeping for 23 years. Greg and Kelly basically moved into my apartment and hung around for weeks. During this time there was constant pressure to quit my job and go. This is when Bob Crerie makes his first appearance on the Mudlark scene. The plan and the result are worlds apart. Here it is in one really long run-on sentence.

They go to a cabin in Colonial beach in winter. There is no power. Albert gets power from local power transformer. Trip and Mike pick up drummer in Chicago, drive him back and he immediately leaves. Job falls apart. All members return to Northern Virginia. I’m extremely happy that I kept my job.

After the ill-fated trip to nowhere, the band pretty much just broke up. Trip and Mike went on their way. We stopped gigging. I had just started my job and 1978 had me jamming with a bass player co-worker doing super crazy fusion stuff.

Early 1979

Mudlark reforms in January of 1979. Greg Smallwood, Paul D'Angelo, and Bob Crerie were carry overs from '77. Two new members were Karen Kurzeja on vocals and Ron Shambaugh on bass. This band’s highlight was competing (and being cheated) in a battle of the bands at Louie’s Rock City. We had a great time and made the finals even though we weren’t supposed to. We lost Ron back in 1995 and Karen in 2016. They were both great people and bandmates and we miss them very much. Greg took a leave of absence and left for a couple of months that summer. Once again the band is ready for changes.

Late 1979 - 1982

A new version of Mudlark, still including Greg Smallwood, Paul D’Angelo, and Bob Crerie was brought about in late fall of 1979. Skeeter Phillips was added on bass guitar and Milton Bullock was added on rhythm guitar and vocals. Bob and Milton were friends before any contact with Mudlark

Our most regular gig was at a place called “The False Alarm” which was renamed “The Depot”. This was off of Route 1 in Woodbridge. The first night I was driving there with Linda, we wound up behind a chopper driving down Rt. 1. I told Linda “I bet that guy is going to where we’re playing tonight". I think I was only partly serious. To my surprise (or not), the bike made a turn directly into the parking lot of the False Alarm. Well, this turned out to be a major biker bar, lots of drunk bikers, women dancing topless on pool tables, the whole thing. After visiting the bathroom one time, Linda and I decided to use the bathroom next door at the Hardee’s. The good thing is if you’re in the band, you’re generally ok. Although there was the fact that someone stole one of my windshield wipers (wtf) during what turned out to be a major snowstorm by the time we quit playing. Whoever took my windshield wiper that night, you’re really a seriously f’d up asshole. We also frequented a restaurant in Herndon called “The Event”. We had pretty many gigs there. Our highlight was having John Riggins in the audience and having him leave because we were too damned loud and didn’t play country

And here we have our picture, properly taken at Olan Mills. Looks like a real rock band, eh? We got those pictures taken, then went and had lunch at Godfather's pizza in the Fairview Plaza Shopping Center. I haven't yet mentioned a great friend and great help to the band, one Kenney Smith. He used to call Linda and me "Ma and Pa". I haven't seen Kenney in years but I'll never forget him, he was a great guy.

1983 - 1984

Greg left the band in December of 1982. The band continued on without him but, for no apparent reason (to me), the band changed the name to The Catch. I include this in the history because you will notice that from 1979 until now, Bob Crerie and I were in the same band. Since Bob and I played with Greg, I still considered the band to be Mudlark. One of the highlights of this particular version was winning a battle of the bands that allowed us to record a set of original songs at the famous Track Studios in Silver Spring (Linda Rondstadt’s “Heart Like a Wheel” was recorded there. We recorded 6 original songs, 3 each by Bob and Milton. There was some really great music recorded there. It brought us fame and fortune! Wait, no it didn’t, but it was a blast. This band was together through the end of 1984, the last gig being “The Fred Gig”. At that time, Milton decided to move on. The band (now Bob, Paul, and Skeeter) perform a one off gig at George Mason University as “The Poz” to close out 1984

1985 – 1986

Jimi Naccarato joins the band in 1985, adding keyboards and more vocals to the band. It is currently known as “Phil ‘n’ the Voids” and we played only infrequently thru these 2 years. The cool one was being on a cable access show “Rockin’ Fairfax”, hosted by Diana Stagnato.

1987

Bill Rose joins the band as a guitarist and singer/songwriter. This band is around for 1987 and played a bunch of parties.

1988 - 1993

Skeeter Phillips leaves the band and Milton Bullock makes a re-appearance, this time on bass guitar. This band really played a good amount. We appeared at the Herndon Festival a number of times, and played at Quicksilver’s in Herndon a good amount. We also appeared at The Bayou a number of times. We did a good amount of original music during these years. Milton, Bob, and Bill wrote some really good music. We did three different cassette tapes, all originals, and all recorded in my basement in Herndon.

1994 - 1999

This version of the band turned out to be the most prolific up to that point. We appeared more than 100 times in the Washington DC area. We also produced the CD "Still Like to Rock and Roll" which was all originals written by Bob Crerie and Milton Bullock. The band also opened for the likes of Leslie West, Foghat, Edgar Winter, Blue Oyster Cult, John Hall, and Tom Principato. This was a rare band in that we did a good deal of originals, actually all originals for a while until we wanted to get jobs again. September 14th 1999 marked this band’s last gig at Legends of Rock and Roll of off Rt. 28 in Manassas. October 22nd was the last time this band got together. We lost Milton in 2009. He was a good friend and a great musician and songwriter.

2000 - 2004

These were lean years with only sporadic gigs after the breakup of Mudlark. I managed to get two articles published in Modern Drummer, which was pretty cool. I played a whole six gigs thru those years. I do have to mention that Linda and I moved to Louisiana in 2003 and returned to Virginia in 2005. Three of my six gigs were in Louisiana; I managed to join a band down there before I left. Two of my three gigs there would be at “The Lariat” in Bogalusa. It was the textbook definition of a dive, but it was a gig. Another one of the gigs was appearing at Sully’s with the Plexi Plaid Players. This was a one off band with me and Mudlark alums Bob Crerie and Bill Rose and John Paine on bass. John was around for a while, he was a really sweet guy. One night we were rehearsing we got a phone call from John. He was really irritated at us for not telling him that rehearsal had been cancelled and we weren’t even there. Bill explained to him that we were at rehearsal and we were waiting for him. He had gone to the wrong house. The wrong house. Anyway, I made two trips back from Louisiana in the two years I lived there. Both times my dear friend Bob Crerie arranged a jam session. The first one was for my 50th birthday. We played in Manassas with a bunch of old friends and had a fantastic time. We got to see Pat Markham (see Fairview Gang at the beginning of the history) that night, actually he wound up supplying the PA system. The second time I got to jam with Scott Wells and Steve Cooper, who would later be members of Mudlark. Steve was in Artful Dodger back in the 70’s. A real live genuine rock star! And the nicest guy you’ll ever meet.

2005 - 2007

Linda and I moved back to Virginia on June 30th, 2005. Exactly two weeks later, Bob Crerie already had a gig set up and ready to go. I’ll mention at least occasionally how awesome a friend Bob is. I get 10 gigs out of 2005, not bad after having been gone for over two years. This is the year that the name “Mudlark” made its reappearance. Bob and I get together with Scott Wells on guitar and vocals and Steve Cooper on bass guitar. As I mentioned before, at one time Steve was a genuine rock star! Now, not so much. Ha Ha. This version of Mudlark played 20 gigs together thru then end of 2007. Scott could play a rockabilly guitar that would make your jaw drop. Steve was a great bass player and a great guy just to be around. We played most of our gigs at the Hazel River Inn and Pub in Culpeper. This brings me to mentioning the fantastic Mary Lou Arp-Hamilton who ran sound for the Pub. She is a really bright and really colorful person to say the least. It's been great knowing her. This started my “commuting” to gigs. Culpeper was 45 miles from my place. This was peanuts compared to an upcoming commute.

2008 – 2012

Mike Terpak (see Fairview Gang at the beginning) reappears to play keyboards and sing. Yes, we are playing together again after about 35 years. We also start playing with Howard Brundage who is a professional sound man and also a great bass player. This was a really good band. Most of our gigs were at the Hazel River Inn and Pub in Culpeper. We asked Howard to sit in on bass for a few gigs until we found a regular bass player. This is while Howard was already in several other bands. January 2011 marks our first appearance at the Basin Street Lounge above the 219 Restaurant in Old Town Alexandria. It is referred to simply as “The 219”. I mention this because at the time I am writing this in mid-2017, we still have a regular gig at the 219. It’s an awesome place for great music. It has a built in audience of tourists who wander in off the streets. Our job is to keep them there. We do that very well. This is personally my favorite place of any place the band has ever played. Well, over 50 gigs later, Howard finally call it quits with Mudlark. We always wish him well.

I went on hiatus

from September 23rd, 2012 thru April 26th, 2013 in order to care for my beautiful wife Linda who gave Stage IV Lung Cancer a run for its money. Unfortunately, she lost the battle, and I lost her. She was a beautiful person.

2013 – present

I came back to a gig at the 219 where I met for the first time Jerry Stewart. He’s a great bass player, a great singer, and a great guy. He knows every song ever recorded by anybody. It’s amazing. We have continued at the 219 right up until the present. It’s been a life saver for me as music kept me from descending somewhere awful after Linda passed. This version of the band has played more gigs than any other version of Mudlark. We love to play music. It is a real gift to be able to play in a band with these people.

We still have more history to make!