Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The New Colony Six Reunion ... And WE Were There!!!

When we first found out that we weren't going to be able to fly down to Nashville for this year's Film Festival ... and see the brand new WRECKING CREW Documentary ... naturally we were VERY disappointed.

But talk about landing on your feet!!!

The VERY next day I received an email from RAY GRAFFIA, JR. ... founding member of Chicago's own NEW COLONY SIX ... inviting FRANNIE and I to come over to his house on Thursday, the 24th ... and see the ORIGINAL members of the band reunite for a pizza party (and jam session) the night before they were all due to be inducted into The Saint Patrick's High School Shamrock Hall Of Fame!!!
Talk about what TRULY was a "Once In A Lifetime" experience ... these guys had not all been in the same room together for over FORTY YEARS!!! (Let's just say that we were EASILY able to take our frowns and turn 'em upside down!!! OK, OK ... enough of the silly cliches ... but man, we were TRULY excited ... and humbly honored to be asked to attend such a special ... and deeply personal ... event.)

Truth be told, we wouldn't have missed it for the world!!!

Five of the original founding members of THE NEW COLONY SIX were in attendance that evening: Vocalist RAY GRAFFIA, JR., Guitarist GERRY VAN KOLLENBURG, Drummer CHIC JAMES, Bass Player WALLY KEMP (who also excelled on guitar that evening) and original keyboard player CRAIG KEMP were all on hand ... and all primed and pumped to play. (MOST of these guys haven't touched a musical instrument in DECADES ... but you sure wouldn't have known it sitting there on the sofa that evening ... they sounded FANTASTIC ... and never looked happier!!! They truly were back in the moment ... and back in their element ... and all the years in between quickly melted away as they ran through their vintage repertoire.) The only no-show that evening was original NEW COLONY SIX co-founder PATRICK McBRIDE. (Despite organizing a nationwide FORGOTTEN HITS Search Party, we never did find him ... rumors put him out of the country, touring as part of a STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE Kiddie Revue or hiding out as part of The Witness Protection Program ... but honestly, his vocal spots were more than ably filled by none other than RONNIE RICE, who joined the band in 1967 and went on to write and sing their two biggest national hits. Who knows ... maybe after this page hits the worldwide web, he'll find us ... and share a few memories with our readers!!!)

What a night!!! Who would have EVER thought that all of these guys would get back together again ... even for just one night ... and return to the basement one more time?!?!? They ran through many of their best known hits (as well as some of the garage band album tunes that first launched the band ... and most recently propelled them to a starring gig this past November at CAVE STOMP in New York, an annual concert event that features some of the biggest Garage Bands of all-time!!!)

Yes, THE NEW COLONY SIX are hot again ... they've already got several shows lined up for this summer's concert season ... have a brand new "Rarities" CD out on the market (SIDES) and have been featured as FORGOTTEN HITS Favorites for YEARS now. (We did a month-long profile of the band a few years back!) In fact, we probably received more mail about their long-unreleased track MUDDY FEET ON THE MISSISSIPPI (which we featured a few months back) than we have on ANY other track we've sent along in the past several years!

RAY GRAFFIA, JR. (who still performs with a CURRENT version of the band ... he's the only original member ... but the OTHER guys have now been together longer than ANY other incarnation of the band) was in fine voice ... and, with a little bit of prodding from their thoroughly captivated audience, even RONNIE RICE rose to the occasion, singing a few of the hits (and harmonizing on quite a few others ... while lying comfortably on the sofa!!! lol)

These were a couple of MY favorites that the guys performed that evening:

I'M JUST WAITING, ANTICIPATING (FOR HER TO SHOW UP), a #14 Local Hit back in 1967 ... (This is the one that TONY ORLANDO wrote ... in fact, Photographer MIKE BUSH circulated a copy of the original single earlier that evening and EVERY member of the band in attendance that night signed the record label ... MIKE will now be bringing the autographed to TONY for his own personal collection!)

RAP-A-TAP (a GRAFFIA / RICE composition and duet that appears in an alternate form on the new SIDES CD)

and (after a WHOLE lot of begging from the crowd) WARM BABY, the JOHN SEBASTIAN-penned tune that we featured during our NEW COLONY SIX Series .. in fact, we featured MULTIPLE versions of THIS one ... RONNIE RICE also cut it as a solo record, THE NEW COLONY SIX covered it on their COLONIZATION album, naturally THE LOVIN' SPOONFUL did it first ... and then JOHN SEBASTIAN recorded it AGAIN as the B-SIDE to his #1 Single, WELCOME BACK, The Theme Song for the Hit Television Series WELCOME BACK KOTTER!!!)

We've even pulled a couple of comments out of the archives from two Chicagoland Movers and Shakers who've rubbed shoulders with THE NEW COLONY SIX over the years:
No other Top 40 Chicago band charted more songs in town than The New Colony Six. A total of 16 Colony classics pumped through the airwaves here between 1965 and 1972 and the song that began this incredible run was "I Confess." To say this recording is unique is an understatement. Loaded with bizarre for the day musical elements, the song seemingly has no verse and the chorus only appears at the beginning and the end. But back in December of '65, we weren't dissecting as much as we were buying, and we bought enough copies to send it all the way to No. 2 on the WLS charts. These hometown heroes came equipped with an arsenal of talented singers, songwriters, musicians and ultimately hit records. Their second Top 10 entry in town was a mouth-watering hybrid of Beatles / Byrds, jangle-pop that lit up our transistor radios every time it aired. "Love You So Much", written by Ray Graffia for his wife Bonnie, fell one notch short of the top spot by peaking at No. 2 on WLS in January of 1967. For three years between 1967 and 1970, The New Colony Six were the reigning local ballad champs. Nobody wrote 'em better, nobody performed 'em better.
-- Bob Stroud / The Drive / Rock And Roll Roots

This year marks the 40th anniversary of my one year run as a road manager with the old new colony six .... ray, pat mac, the late les stewart, chic james, gerry and, of course, ronnie rice .... and there is only one ronnie rice. let me tell ya for an 18 year old kid it was larger than life .... the band was hot ... the guys were tremendous. lets face it you haven't lived until you've played ottuma, iowa on a Friday followed by rockford on a Saturday. but, to get serious, we also worked don webster's teen beat, the mike douglas show and jerry 'geater with the heater' blavat's tv gig in philly. the band was remarkably efficient in the studio. as i recall, 'i will always think about you' was recorded in under 90 minutes. it was early 1968 and a young chet coppock was sitting in the famed chess recording studios watching the new colony six shuck, jive and from time to time tune a guitar. there was an aura of magic, a sense of anticipation that something big, something that would knock down airplay coast to coast was about to transpire. ronnie rice carried the lead on 'i will always think about you' with ray graffia providing the background vocal that made the song so mellow and such an instant back seat-24 carat gold smash. but that's only half the hook. we had to clear the studio late in the afternoon for curtis mayfield and the impressions. chess - 2120 s. michigan ... to a corpulent kid who would eventually carve a niche as a national radio sports talk show host and do commercial work with walter payton and michael jordan, it was a musical yankee stadium. i had a hell of a lot more fun with the colony than i ever had doing the roller derby or ring announcing for the world wrestling federation. the feeling of energy, loading the van to work the next stop on the road. i spent about a year and change with the colony. the cabbage wasn't enough to cover a double burger at mac's but the laughs, the anticipation, the late night trips boosted by 'greenies' were a fantasyland for your's truly. recently, i've emceed oldies shows with the contours, gene chandler, "?", lou christie, sonny geraci and mark lindsay from 'paul revere' ... its a kick but nothing will ever compare with my magical mystery tour with the the new colony six. the buckinghans? the shames? they were just backup third basemen. the colony was truly the windy city charmer.
the best,
chet coppock / espn radio 1000

And now ... a few comments from some of the OTHER folks who were there at the party that night ... but first I want to extend one more quick round of thanks to RAY GRAFFIA, JR., for even THINKING about inviting us to such a memorable event ... we TRULY do appreciate it ... and it meant a lot to both of us. Looking forward to seeing some of this summer's shows!
Kent Kotal

Thanks for the thank you, my friend. I honestly could not fathom you and Frannie not being included and was so happy you could attend. Here's a Quick Play - by - Play on the Shamrock Hall Of Fame Ceremony:
Last Night (a tune I thought we did rather well on Thursday) included more good stories, pics, cheer and excellent food, plus, duh, the induction. I will eventually scan the introductory speech which was offered by the Christian Brother who was then Choral and Dance Band Director (and the one who OK'd our knock-off of the Beatles which led to the band's beginnings) and is now President of the School, and put it up on MySpace, but --- about a minute before he began, Chic came over from the other table and let me know that the guys had elected me to say a few words for the group. Since I had previously specifically asked if we were to speak and was told "no" - I went totally off the top of my head and acquitted myself on the Colony's behalf without being booed or committing blasphemy. I came up with thanks to Ringmaster Ned (Bozo Circus) for his jacket - which will make sense when you see what I wore, (or did I show you that on Thursday evening?) to the other inductees for bringing their grandparents who were age appropriate to remember the band and to the Lord who blessed me with hair atop my head long enough in life to wear it as I still can. I congratulated all the others who were honored – 100% athletes and coaches by the way - including a pair of current NFL players, and then thanked them for not beating me up because of the long hair and, naturally, our families – ending by borrowing from Dire Straits, thanking my "Brothers In Arms" – the bandmates with whom I've played over the 44 years of the group's existence. While the boys and I went to the other end of a basketball court sized banquet hall (probably 350 folks attended), to prep for our mini set, someone led the school’s fight song and then we played “I Confess”, “Things I’d Like To Say”, “Love You So Much”, and “I Will Always Think About You” – with Mark Eskin (whom we snuck into the event) on guitar, Chic on bongos, Craig, Walt and Gerry on handclaps, crowd encouraging, and backing vocals sans microsphones, plus Ronnie singing "I Will Always Think About You" & "Things I'd Like To Say" and me doing "I Confess" & "Love You So Much". We actually signed several autographs including one for another of the other inductees who had all four albums, stuck around a while for photos and more stories and hugs / handshakes and I got back home about 1:30 AM this morning. A highlight weekend for myself and, I think, all of us who were honored and everybody else who came to the shindig at my place. I had a ball (Gee, can you tell?) and like I said earlier, having you and Frannie, Mike Bush and Bev, and Jerry Schollenberger and Charmaine among those present really made it all the more special. Peace, bro! Ray
Ray Graffia, Jr.

Hey Kent!

It was an absolute pleasure to finally have the chance to meet you and Frannie this past Thursday night. Of course, I'm sure that you can imagine what an absolute thrill it was for me to see 5 of the 6 original NC6 members back together in the same room for the first time in over 40 years. Here are a few paragraphs that convey my thoughts & feelings about last Thursday night at Ray's house:
On Thursday night April 24, 2008, my life-long dream of seeing a reunion of the original members of The New Colony Six finally became a reality ... For the first time in over 40 years, original NC6 founding members Ray Graffia, Gerry VanKollenburg, Chic James, Wally Kemp & Craig Kemp and Ronnie Rice (original NC6 member Pat McBride was out of the country and could not attend) gathered at Ray Graffia's stunning new house for a fun-filled night of renewing old friendships, telling tales, and even a vast selection of impromptu performances of classic New Colony tunes that Ray, Gerry, Wally, Chic, Craig & Ronnie breezed through with absolutely no prior rehearsal. With Ray Graffia and Ronnie Rice on vocals, Chic James on drums, Gerry VanKollenburg & Walt Kemp handling the guitar efforts, and Craig Kemp playing the keyboards, the Six blasted through a large assortment of New Colony songs from their extensive recorded catalog. All of the well-loved NC6 garage classics such as, "I Confess", "I Lie Awake", "Last Nite", "The Time Of Year Is Sunset", "At The River's Edge", "Love You So Much", "Let Me Love You", "Woman", "You're Gonna Be Mine" and "Rap-A-Tap" were executed with seemingly little effort. Granted, there were numerous mistakes that occurred in many of the songs (which was expected after 40 years), but those small errors of forgotten lyrics, guitar chords & keyboard notes only added to the fun and laughter! Current New Colony Six members Rick Barr, Mark Eskin & Gary Greenman were also on hand, and lent their musical expertise on several of the numbers. With Ronnie Rice in attendance, the New Colony continued on with their impromptu set, rolling thru such memorable NC6 ballads like "I Will Always Think About You", "Things I'd Like To Say", "I Could Never Lie To You" & "I Want You To Know". There was no mistake that after 40 years, the New Colony magic was still there. I'm not certain if this FANTASTIC night of "Re-Colonization" was more of an "all-time high" for myself, or the members of the New Colony Six themselves! Ray Graffia was grinning from ear to ear (amidst his laughing & singing) the entire night, and the rest of the NC6 gang were equally excited as well. As a matter of fact, Wally Kemp's wife Beverly commented to my girlfriend Char that , "She hadn't seen Wally this happy in a long, long time". Chic James was laughing and telling great stories about the old days, and Gerry VanKolleburg spent a lot of time away from his guitar, in favor of snapping countless photos of his New Colony band buddies. When Gerry was asked by my girlfriend if he was getting any "good" shots of his New Colony mates, he replied, "No ... I'm getting "fun" shots!" The fun-filled night ended about midnight, and it was time for everyone to leave. After all, tomorrow (Friday April 25th), was the BIG evening for the original New Colony members, as they were to be honored by being inducted into the Shamrock "Hall of Fame" at St. Patrick's High School (their old school). I was unable to attend the ceremonies, but from an e-mail that Ray Graffia sent me last night, he stated that the event was indeed a very gratifying and fun-filled evening. Let's hope that it won't be another 40 years to wait for a reunion of the original members of the New Colony Six!

Jerry Schollenberger
New Colony Six Historian

It seems that as we all get into our seasoned years, thoughts of old days, old friends and past experiences seems to have more sense of value. For myself, there where no more rewarding times than those spent as a member of the New Colony Six. As time goes on I, as so many, sometimes long to want, and wish, to see and get together with those friends of the past and reminisce about the old times, To see how they are doing and what has been going on with them after so many years. As time went on I thought that getting together with the members of a former band I was with, The New Colony Six, would never come to be. Then, a few weeks ago, I received information that we, The New Colony Six, were going to be inducted to the St. Patrick's High School Hall of Fame. Until then I was not aware that high schools had halls of fame. Then it dawned on me, that if there was one thing that would bring us all back together, this would be it. Suddenly the emails started to flow. there was discussion of getting together, bringing musical equipment and having a reunion. Maybe, see if we could jam some old songs. What I thought would never come to be, seemed to be a few days away and for the first time in a long time I was very excited about the possibilities. We all met at Ray's house. I finally saw Chick and Gerry for the first time in 40+ years. Meeting Jerry Schollengerger, the New Colony Six Historian, was also a great moment. There were also lots of friends that arrived for the event. Walt being family, I would see from time to time. I would see Ray at least once a year whenever the the current band is performing. We had some great conversations, great food, and then the next thing I knew we were back down in the rec room, garage jamming our,,,,,,,, well, having a great musical time. That was a night I will never forget. The following evening we all arrived to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Now I was not alumni of St. Patrick's High School, but my cousin Walt is. (Walt Kemp - Bass Player) He was my introduction back in 1965 to this band and I will always be grateful that he suggested to the members to talk to me and listen to me play at that time. Induction Night was very humbling for me as I never thought that the Band, The Name, New Colony Six, would have that much of an influence in the community and St. Patrick's High School. I became aware, that night, of what a huge influence the band had on the community and St. Patrick's High School and also have an historical event all at the same time. This was the one thing that was going to make my wish come true. If anything would put most of the original members back in one place, it would be this. Funny how some wishes come to be. The only missing piece was Pat McBride, but he was not available for this event. That would have made it more than perfect, but we all understood. This was as perfect as a 40+ year reunion can get. Being inducted to the St. Patrick's Hall of Fame was a great honor and an experience I will always remember. I met a lot of wonderful people and had a great time., but most of all we, the band that never seems to end, as Chick once said, was together again, even if for a short time. As we all say, Do Be Colony;
Craig Kemp-NC6(Greg Kempinksi)

Here are some thoughts about the past week Hall of Fame award: Too often our lives take a course on its own seemingly without being directed by us. We keep on saying things to ourselves like “I must look that friend up” or “I wonder how he is doing.” Distance and time aren’t an excuse with today’s technology. If all we got out of the award was to bring us together as friends again it was enough for me. The fact that people reminded us that the innocent love songs and topical tunes that we wrote and performed touched someone’s life in a good way was a special bonus. They helped us relive our youth when they told us of theirs. We toasted the night before to the “group that never ends” not just for the members to be honored the following night but for the other past and present members that keep the New Colony Six music and name alive. All we wanted to do as a band was play our original music and hope that enough people liked it so they would pay to hear some more. It is tremendously satisfying that our old fans still listen and there is a new group of “20 something’s” that like to listen to our innocent love songs.
Best regards,
James Chitkowski
(Chic James)
How cool is this?! I've been playing lead guitar & keyboards for the Colony for almost 12 years & I finally get to meet & jam with most of the other original members! It was absolutely wonderful (especially since I first heard the New Colony Six on WCFL in December, 1966 when I was 8 years old)! I was especially honored when Ronnie Rice asked me if I would actually play at the induction ceremony. What a fabulous time! I'll treasure these memories for the rest of my days!
Mark Eskin
Hey Kent,
I had a great time! I'm glad you were there .. it was good to see you out there, by the way. I had a great time Friday, I had a great time Thursday ... Thursday of course at Ray's house ... it was very, very nice ... it was good memories ... it was fun for everybody. There was no animosity. Actually, it was terrific! It was great to see Chic again ... he looked fantastic ... the guy looks like a superstar, doesn't he? And once I warmed up into it, I thought it was even MORE fun. So it was a lot of good times. It was a great time ... good to see everybody ... and I enjoyed it ... and it nice to see you guys there.
-- Ronnie Rice
I can't believe how much fun this evening was! I'd met my counterpart, Jim (Chick James) years ago at a Colony show, but it was great getting him set up on a kit and watching him play with the rest of the guys. Remember, I haven't heard these songs played or sung by anyone but the current band since about 1969. Jim's a great guy and a fine gentleman, and his playing, as you saw, Kent, was right there, after 30 yeas away from the kit. It was a real pleasure to meet him again. All the guys, and all their wives and significant others are delightful people. Wally clearly has been playing all along -- as a bass player, he sure knew the guitar parts for every song. Craig was right there, too -- it's been great to see him and his wife at shows the last few years. And seeing Gerry VanKollenburg again was really nice. I roomed with Jerry regularly the last year I was with the band in 1973-1974, and haven't really seen him since then. It was fun to catch up, and it was really good to see him playing guitar again after a long hiatus. World-class photographer Mike Bush once again reminded me of the sensitivity, timing and professionalism that's earned him intimate access to the top acts in the industry for over 30 years. If you want to see how it's done, watch Mike. His portfolio is unbelievable -- he says he wants to publish books of his work, and I told him I'd pre-order anytime. Can't wait to see what he caught. And, of course, I've known Ronnie for over 30 years, too. In fact, he was in a band with me after the New Colony Six stopped playing the first time in 1974. I'm on record demo's he did, and I even backed him up cabaret-style as he honed his solo act 'way back in the Lawrence of Oregano days. His harmonizing with Ray Graffia and Mark Eskine was great to hear. I sat next to you and Frannie a large portion of the evening -- I'm sure you noticed that I never stopped smiling the entire time. I'm so glad you two were there to participate in the event. I knew you wouldn't want to miss it. The only regret was that Bruce Mattey was unable to join us due to some family obligations. He would have loved it. All-in-all, one of the most fun evenings in a long time, and a fitting prelude to the boys' induction as members of the St. Pat's High School Hall of Fame the next day. Thanks, Ray and Bonnie, for the fine hospitality and abuse of your home ... and thanks for being there, Kent and Frannie.
Rick Barr

Frannie did a bit more "mingling" than I did that night ... part of the "Honorary Wives Club" I guess ... (I think I was probably more into the whole listening experience!!!) but there is NO question about how PROUD all of the friends and family were, being able to witness this special reunion ... enjoying the experience second ONLY to the musicians themselves. (I never saw WALLY without a smile all night ... it was downright infectious!!! ... he was truly in the moment ... and right back in his element ... and it was NO secret how much this whole opportunity meant to each and every one of them!)
Kent Kotal
For me personally, the Friday night induction was amazingly surprising (considering all the things we did while we were at St Pats) and amazingly humbling (how cool to be in the same HOF as Ray Meyer, Max Kurland, and any number of other professional athletes) and amazingly gratifying (we actually accomplished what every other kid with a guitar, accordion(LOL), long hair and a voice wanted to do). Sitting with the rest of the Six and each recalling different incidents similarly (and similar incidents differently) only confirmed the strong bond and amazing relationships we had in those early days. But the Thursday night jam session at Ray's home beat everything. For the first time in nearly 40 years, playing all the original material we developed for the first two albums only proved one thing - Dang! We were good! Although not as commercially successful as our later material, the chord structures, individual contributions to each song, and our overall ability to capture so much of the feelings of those times was truly amazing (IMHO). At least in my memory, I could recall the excitement, creativity, personal involvement, technology, instrumentation, and, yes, "show-off-iness" associated with each of the songs. We were committed to our craft, and truly melded Six into One. And maybe we didn't always translate what we heard in our heads onto the vinyl, we definitely translated what we felt into our performances on stage. I don't believe that any group has a better relationship with it's audience than we did. We were there to have fun. They were there to have fun. And boy, did we have fun! The music, the "skits", the "signature numbers" (Mister, You're a Better Man than I and House of the Rising Sun) - anything to entertain and make us one with the crowd. I know that belonging to the Six had a great influence on my life then, and has played a major role in shaping my life ever since. And for that, I'll always be proud and thankful. Thanks, guys, and "Do Be Colony!" Wally
Walter T. Kemp
Here are my thoughts on the NC6 reunion. I hadn't been in contact with most of the NC6 original members for a long time. Recently, Ray and I had reconnected. We had had dinner several times and talked about past times. Ray and I had written many of the early NC6 songs together and were great friends. Getting back together with him was a great thing for me. The Hall of Fame induction, however, acted as a catalyst to reuniting of ALL of the original members of NC6. It started a flurry of emails that culminated in a party at Ray's house with all of the original members attending except Pat McBride, who was out of the country at the time. The party turned out to be incredible. We ate pizza and goodies and got to know each other again. We all had stories to tell. Everyone had unique memories, funny moments, and nostalgic things to share. And then we jammed. We all had forgotten some of the chords and lyrics to the songs, but they came back quickly. There were several extraordinary moments for me when I could really remember and feel what it was like to perform with these guys in the old days-the first chords and opening line of "I Confess," Ray singing "I Love You So Much" with a huge smile on his face, Chick looking really cool playing the drums, Craig bent over his keyboard playing seriously, Ronnie sounding exactly like the record singing "I Will Always Think About You." These were moments that I will always remember. And I really enjoyed seeing the girls again. Bonnie (Ray's wife), Marlene (Chick's wife), and Bev (Walt's wife) all were dating the guys in the early days of the band and have now been married to them for more that 40 years. They are different, yet very much the same - all very special women. We had other friends there, too - Kent Kotal (a rock-n-roll writer and friend of the band's), Mike Bush (a great rock photographer who had his portfolio there with shots of every rock performer imaginable), Jerry Schollenberger (our friend and NC6 historian), and several members of the current NC6 band. I especially liked getting to know Mark Eskin (one of the guitarists in the current NC6 band) - a great player and a good person.We all had the sense that this was really big for us. We didn't want it to end.The Hall of Fame Induction ceremony (the next night) was very moving. Ray, Chick, Walt, and I were inducted as former students of St. Patrick High School; Ronnie and Greg were inducted as important contributors to the group, although not students of the school. Brother Konrad Diebold, now president of St. Pat's, gave a speech honoring our contribution the the Chicago and National music scene. Brother Konrad had a special interest in us. I won't get into the story at this time, but he was directly responsible for NC6 getting together and we owe him a great deal. We each received a spectacular polished glass award with the St. Pat's logo, Hall of Fame 2008, New Colony Six, and our name laser engraved onto it. It was truly a night to remember.My hope is that we use this opportunity to stay in touch with each other, to continue to get together from time to time, and to build new relationships upon old ones.
Gerry Van Kollenburg
During the time of THE NEW COLONY SIX's greatest impact here in Chicago (1966 - 1972), I was first a kid of twelve, then a fan (who bought nearly ALL of their singles, which were CONSTANTLY on the radio here in Chicago), and, finally an 18 year old aspiring musician, dreaming the dream that THESE guys were living. If somebody would have told me back then ... that some 40 years later I'd be invited to a party to see and hear ALL of the original members get back together again one more time ... and how MAGICAL it all would seem, I NEVER would have believed them. All I can tell you is that, sitting in RAY's basement the other night and witnessing this INCREDIBLE reunion, I became ALL THREE of my earlier personas all over again. For years and years now, we've been telling you about the POWER of music ... well, we witnessed it FIRST HAND the other night ... and there is NOTHING more powerful ... and nothing more magical. Thanks, Guys, for letting us all relive the dream one more time ... and for letting me tag along for the ride!!!
Kent Kotal

A Vintage 1966 Shot of the Band
(courtesy of Jerry Schollenberger's Archives)
Top row (L to R): Craig Kemp, Gerry VanKollenburg, Wally Kemp, Ray Graffia
Bottom Row (left to right): Chic James, Pat McBride.

The Reunited New Colony Six, April 24, 2008
(photo by Kent Kotal)
BACK ROW (L-R): Ronnie Rice, Gerry VanKollenburg and Craig Kemp
FRONT ROW (L-R): Chic James, Ray Graffia, Jr. and Wally Kemp

There was a look of pure joy on the faces of these one-time high school kids who got together on a lark to perform a Beatles knock-off for their classmates way back in 1964 ... and reunited again ... for the first time in over 40 years ... a few nights ago at the home of Ray Graffia, Jr. Frannie and I could not get over their infectious, frozen smiles ... I can't even begin to put into words the deep feeling these guys shared that night when they proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that sometimes you really CAN go back home again. Far too often we've seen the bitter memories outlive the innocent exuberance that first drew so many of these musicians together in the first place. Happily, this was NOT the case the other night. THE NEW COLONY SIX provided Chicagoland Music Fans with MANY years of musical enjoyment ... placing an incredible 17 songs on our local charts ... more than ANY other of the local rock bands who were burning up the charts back in the '60's. It truly was an honor to witness this reunion. Thanks again for providing some of the music that brought smiles of appreciation to MY face all those years ago. Thanks to everybody for sharing their memories with us ... and, if any of you out there get a chance to check out THE NEW COLONY SIX this summer, please do ... in fact, we'll probably see you there!!!
Kent Kotal