Dave Hanlon Interview
Dave Hanlon's Cookbook
In the history of Syracuse music, there have been only two drummers that
captured the public's attention: one was Danny Coward (of Buddy Grealy)
and the other was Dave Hanlon.
Dave Hanlon made a name for himself over the years in bands such as Dove,
Duv, C.R.A.C., Duke Jupiter, and most recently Dave Hanlon's Cookbook.
In 1996, Dave Hanlon's Cookbook took home a Sammy for Best Contemporary
The group has performed at the Oswego Harbor fest, the Syracuse Jazz Fest,
the Rochester Lilac Fest, the Glenora Wineries Jazz Fest, the Jamesville
Balloon Fest and the list goes on and on.
We are proud to present an interview with one of Syracuse New York's premier
musicians - Mr. Dave Hanlon.
Q – Dave, let's start at the beginning. In your music biography,
you list "Dove " as one of the bands you were in. but not "Duv".
Why is that?
A - Well, I guess maybe, because I just forgot about it. It was a six
month run of the final version of the original band. The reason we changed
the spelling of that was strictly from a legal standpoint. Dove had five
members. We all owned an equal part of that band. When that band broke up,
Rick Cua and I continued on, ‘cause we felt we had a lot to do with
that band, musically and business wise. We wanted to kind of dove-tail on
that name if I can use that word. (Laughs). So, the only way we could do
it was change the spelling. We didn't have a legal right to the spelling
of Dove, anymore, because we were only two-fifths. Since we weren't in the
majority, we had to make a change. We got Mark Doyle to join us and for
six months we played a lot of music and it was great. I kind of didn't include
it because I never thought of it as a full-fledged band because it was kind
of an offshoot of Dove.
Q - "Duv" was a Syracuse super group,
A - Yeah, it was. The three players, myself excluded, were real talents.
We had a ball playing that stuff because both those guys got to sing. Doyle
started to play a lot of keyboards in that band. But it was a short-lived
band. We had burned out what the basis of what Dove was all about, and that
was really the original five piece band, that was so successful for three
or four years across the state. That was with Howie Bartolo, Larry Arlorta,
Larry Serafini, Rick Cua and myself.
Q - As successful as dove was here in Syracuse, why do you think the group
never landed a record deal?
A - You know that band had a following from Albany to Buffalo, from Watertown
to Binghamton, that was basically second to none in every market. We
could play a Monday night in Albany, and there would be lines to get in
to see that band. That band had tremendous visual excitement, strong
musicianship and tremendous marketing in our staging. Everything was already
pre-planned. Not to the point that every move was pre-planned, but we had
the lighting down; we had a stage crew and we did everything to try to make
our 'live' show as big time as possible. And, on a regional level, I think
we succeeded. The reason we didn't go nationally is the band lacked what
most bands lack, and that's an original writing direction and sound. Our
sound might have had a lot of its original overtones to it, because of the
individual musicianship, but there was no direction in the writing. There
was not enough original material to draw anyone's ears on a national scale.
Q - When you were in Dove, C.R.A.C., and Duke Jupiter, how many nights
a week did you work?
A – Well, usually we worked six nights a week. On Duke Jupiter tours
where we were supporting their albums on Mercury Records, we’d be
from Bangor, Maine down to Ft. Lauderdale. We'd probably play twenty-three,
twenty-four nights straight. Back then, there were very few open dates,
in a given month. Even C.R.A.C. and Dove worked five, six nights a week,
because that was what we did for a living. We needed to, because our
overhead was extreme. There were a lot of markets out there for us.
Q - Can you name some of the clubs you used to perform in here in Syracuse,
with those groups?
A - Well. Dove played at The Yellow Balloon which became the Lost Horizon.
We did a lot of concerts in Syracuse at the State Fair, and the War Memorial.
Dove opened up for King Crimson at the Fair. C.R.A.C. opened up for K.C.
and the Sunshine Band at the War Memorial. C.R.A.C. opened up for Ramsey
Lewis. There's just a lot of people. In fact, the last version of Dove (Duv),
Cua, Doyle, and myself did a whole job with Bo Diddley. We were his band
at one of the colleges in Northern New York. I think it was St. Lawrence.
Club-wise for Dove, there was a place called The Scene, it's now called
The Country Club, and we would play there, and Jam Factory, and Jukin' Bone.
And again, there would be lines to get in when those bands played there.
There would be sit-down audiences. It'd be like a mini-concert. We played
up in North Syracuse ...
Q - At the Red Rooster (now the Cabaret)?
A - Well, that's where the band origin came from, because Cua, Arlotta,
the singer and myself worked there six nights a week, for two years, and
from there formed Dove. So that's going way back to 1970-1972.
Q - What was there about the atmosphere of the Red Rooster that encouraged
the formation of Dove?
A - Well, I don't know if it was so much the place, but it was the venue
for us to play six nights a week, and really hone in our skills musically,
and form a rhythm section was extremely alive, vibrant and tight. It was
one of the few places that had live music six nights a week, and we were
a house band. That scenario doesn't even exist in Syracuse anymore. So,
back then, that situation was there, it enabled us to make a living and
have fun and play out every night except Mondays and really develop a musical
Q - What kind of material were you playing then?
A - Our first set would be jazz. Then our next sets would be funky, top
40 stuff. We were doing Blood, Sweat and Tears and Chicago. Whatever we
knew we could play and the people could dance to and would like.
Q – You went to L.A. in the early 70’s
and as I recall, it was reported you were hanging out with Tonight Show
drummer Ed Shaughnessy. How did you meet him?
A – I never really hung out with Ed. I went to a couple of his rehearsals
when he had his own Big Band. I was actually more associated with and knew
Louie Bellson. Bellson I met at a drum clinic in Syracuse. He invited me
to play with him at that clinic. So, I kept in contact with him and when
I was in Los Angeles, he asked me to do a clinic with him out there, which
was then called the Dick Grove School of Music. He took me to the Tonight
Show a couple of times, and introduced me to people and just befriended
me. I was just always walking around with my eyes and mouth wide open, thinking
I can't believe I'm sitting with this incredible musician, who is such
a warm human being, giving me his time, and showing some concern and
interest. I mean, I was in awe of the man. Whenever I could be with him,
I certainly would. Bellson is like a musician's musician. One time he brought
me to the Tonight Show and The Supremes were rehearsing. All the musical
charts that the musical director for The Supremes had written were screwed
up. Of all the musicians in The Tonight Show Band, he was the one they
all looked to, and asked him to figure it out. He just re-wrote everybody's
charts. He was and is considered by many to be one of the most all-around
drummers and musicians. It was just great to get to know him.
Q - How long were you in L.A.?
A - It was about six months.
Q - When did you come back?
A - '75.
Q - What did you do next?
A - I formed Dave Hanlon's Funky Jazz Band, and we did about a year at
The Spirit of 35. That was a forerunner I think to a lot of instrumental
bands. It was an all instrumental band with Joe Jewel, Jack Holton,
John Kane, and Eric Miller, who's with Atlas, and myself. We played Friday
and Saturday at The Spirit of 35, just playing instrumental fusion music.
We had a lot of guests sit in with us, Edgar Winter, Gap Mangione. It was
a very hip gig. It was kind of a great period for me because I was able
to take on what I learned out there ( California) and what I'd been working
at and also to be a band leader for the first time, on my own.
Q - What can you tell the readers about your current group, Dave Hanlon's
A - Well, the singer is Ava Andrews. She's an original member. She's won
a Sammy for the Best R and B vocalist. The bass player is Edgar Pagan.
He's original. He has a CD that's coming out this year for the Make-A-Wish
Foundation, that he's co-produced. They've got a whole bunch of national
artists on this that have devoted their talent and time. Cookbook,
although it's not under the name of Cookbook; some of Cookbook, are on a
cut, on the CD. Pauli Cerra is playing sax with us and singing, and he's
got his own CD coming out in 2000, that Edgar and I play one cut on. Stein
Rimehavy is our keyboardist. He also released a CD with ESP, a group that
he works with. Lee Tiefault is on guitar. Lee of course was on Skip Murphy's
CD. He did all the arrangements for that, and myself on drums. That's all
six of us I believe. So, Pauli's won a couple of Sammy's. Ava's won
one. The band has won one in 1996. This band is 17 years old and sound better
than ever. There's a sense of energy, when you bring new people into the
band. When Pauli Cerra came into this band, he replaced two previous, very
strong sax players, Terence Bruce, and originally John Kane, both great
players. Pauli's got a different personality. He sings and he's got great
stage presence. And, he's raised everybody else's level. When you've been
together as long as we have and somebody new comes in, it really changes
things, hopefully in a positive way, and with his addition, it really
has. And the same is true with Stein, he replaced Bill DiCosmo. Bill had
some hearing issues. He couldn't be exposed to loud volume anymore. So,
after 16 years we had to replace him and that was very difficult. So, we
spent months auditioning a lot of players until we came up with somebody
who fit the bill best, and that was Stein. The fact is we don't stay stagnant.
I think our direction is newer than it's been in years. It's more of a hard-core
R and B dance presentation. It's not a jazz band, although we could
play jazz. That's the versatility of the band. This is a very exciting band.
Q - Why did you name the group "Cookbook"?
A - I'm asked that question constantly. As a matter of fact, you're not
even the first person to ask me that question today. So, through the years
I've had that question asked and the answer has always been the same. It
was just a combination of looking for a name for a band when I first realized
Dove was breaking up; and taking the expression of a band is 'cooking' when
the members played well together, and the fact that, in the Big Band Era,
all the bands' music was in a book. So, I thought the combination sounded
hip. When I started the first band in 1981, I found out there was already
a band in New York City that had the same name. Fortunately, we had registered
it, with the state, so we were able to keep it.
Q - You released a CD in 1994 called "Dig In".
A - That's correct.
Q - Why did you feel the need to release that? Were
up to you after the gig and asking if you had any recorded product?
A - That was one of the reasons. The band had been together 10 years before
the CD came out. We just wanted to have something to look back at when it
was all said and done and know that we had put out a product that we could
be proud of. It also made sense from a marketing standpoint to try
and get some airplay and get some press on a release. It's also something
that's on the table for us to do this coming year also.
Q - And where do you want that to take you? What do you hope will happen
A - First and foremost, to a point where we listen to it and feel that
we've given it our best and we're proud of what's on that disc. If it didn't
sell one disc and we all felt we did a good job that would be fine with
us. So, I think from a professional standpoint, we really want to feel proud
of our effort. The other reasons are the obvious. You need that kind of
a vehicle to get back out in front of the public eye, whether it's airplay
or reviews in the press. Selling them is almost a secondary position because
even though we want to sell as many as possible, very few local bands make
any kind of a profit when they sell local CD's. If it took us to a different
level and was submitted to a major level and somebody wanted to do something
with it, that would be great. But, we don't have any illusions of going
out on the road and being a touring band. All of us have families and day
jobs. If somebody wanted to take it and distribute it nationally, that would
be wonderful, and get airplay nationally, that would be wonderful. So that
really would be an ultimate goal. I think the first goal is to be proud
of the effort we put forth on our second CD, as we were on the first.
© Gary James All Rights Reserved