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Weekend at Lumberjack will be reunion of ‘70s icons

July 24, 2010
By RENEE PRUSI Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE -Randy Tessier and Co. are planning two nights of magical music at the Lumberjack Tavern in Big Bay July 30-31.

"It's a reunion of a group that had a moment in the early 1970s, a time when music and politics came together," Tessier said. "The Walrus is a band that people, especially in the 55-60 age group, will remember. Some of Walrus is coming up to play at the Lumberjack in Big Bay on July 30. On July 31, Bill Etten will join us and that will be a Walrus reunion."

Tessier, now 59 and an English professor at the University of Michigan, said that weekend's activity is a spinoff of something that happened in 2009.

Article Photos

Veteran Marquette musicians from the band Walrus and their friends, shown at left in the 1970s and in a recent photo, had so much fun at a 2009 reunion that they’re getting back together for two nights of music to benefit Tim McGee. (Photos courtesy of Randy Tessier)

"Our contemporary, Tim McGee, has throat cancer and last year we had Mcgoostock, a big event, in his honor, to raise funds for him," Tessier said. "This year, Tim has a birthday coming up so we're calling it Mcgoo's Birthday Bash."

The first evening will feature The Lumberjack 5, a name assigned only for this special weekend: Tessier, Andy Adamson, Dave Cavender, Kim French and Don Kuhli. There will be a jam session with special guests at midnight.

The second evening will include Etten and The Lumberjack 5, with another jam session and special guests.

Fact Box

The lineup:

Friday and Saturday, July 30-31, at 8:30 p.m., an assortment of musicians will descend on the Lumberjack Tavern in Big Bay.

Friday night will see the "Lumberjack 5" (Andy Adamson, Dave Cavender, Kim French, Don 'Cashmere Phunck' Kuhli, and Randy Tessier) hold forth. A variety of special guests will sit in as the night progresses.

Saturday night will feature the stylings of Bill Etten as the main event. He will be accompanied by the group Toivo Shankar (see Lumberjack 5) as well as other local musicians of note.

Cover each night is $5, with a portion of the money going to Tim McGee, one of the band's biggest supporters, for his ongoing battle with throat cancer.

On the Web:, search for McGoos-Birthday-Bash

Those special guests will include Fast Eddie, Warren MacDonald, Toivo Shankar and Crab.

Bill DeBroux will be the weekend's emcee.

Tessier, who still plays music in the popular Ann Arbor-based George Bedard and the Kingpins, has launched a Facebook page for the weekend (search for McGoos-Birthday-Bash).

He also put together some background for those unfamiliar with The Walrus and their time of the season, when music was a reflection of the times that were a changin'.

"For better or for worse, if you were young and around during the anti-war-free-love-drug-orgy period of rose-colored idealism that defined the period (1968-72), your political and philosophical beliefs were probably strongly influenced in one way or another," Tessier writes. "Depending on where you were, the local music might provide a political as well as entertainment value. Los Angeles had the Doors, Byrds, and Mamas and Papas; San Francisco had the (Grateful) Dead, (Jefferson) Airplane, and Quicksilver; and Marquette had The Walrus, Skidoos, and French Church.

"The Walrus was the name given a group started by Mike Mckelvy and Bill Etten, soon joined by Kim French and Don Kuhli -and what a cool quartet they were," he wrote. "They soon teamed up with local (Northern Michigan University) hippie protesters and Queen City Hipness was born.

"The Left Banke Light Show faithfully recreated the same exotic atmosphere as Detroit's Grande Ball Room, San Francisco's Fillmore West, and Boston's Beacon Street Theater," Tessier wrote. "About a year later, they added me, Randy Tessier, on rhythm and vocals. Our oeuvre was the extended instrumental jam built upon a foundation of recognizable but obscure covers, Donovan's 'Season of the Witch," The Zombies' 'She's Not There,' Neil Young's 'Down by the River' and (Bob) Dylan's 'All Along the Watchtower are some examples.

"But we also did originals, both whimsical and romantic -Mckelvy and Etten's 'Delighted' and Tessier's 'Peter' as well as fiery political rant-anthems like 'Scream Out,' 'Have You Seen,' 'Rape and Plunder' and 'We Are Just a Band.'

"What's somewhat remarkable is that we were around for so short a time, yet still engender a certain affection and appreciation in our fans from those many years ago."

Tessier said Etten still plays music and lives in Negaunee; French lives, gigs and works in Ann Arbor; and Kuhli lives in San Diego and teaches in the public schools there.

Tessier said of the July 30 gig at the Lumberjack: "The Lumberjack 5 (a name assigned for this gig only) are a take-no-prisoner, Viagra-fueled group of self-delusional aging rockers who see the cutting edge as a rusty but trusty golden years possibility."

Saturday night, July 31, will feature Walrus minus Mckelvy, who lives and gigs in Ocala, Fla., and who could not make the reunion.

"In some sense, a portion of Saturday night's performance will evoke a sense of nostalgia and reminiscence for those headier times, which is as we intend it," Tessier wrote. "'Murder in My Heart for the Judge' and other Walrus hits will be played.

"But this gig should in no way be seen as a bunch of enfeebled geezers doing covers of Moody Blues snoozers, all apologies to MB's fans," he said. "This isn't about going through the motions -we aim to ROCK!"

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is rprusi@miningjournal. net.



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