In my last post I talked a bit about the links among the cast, veering over into the realm of the Forbidden Planet just a bit to note that musical director/bassist Jana Jones and drummer Woody Bond also played bass in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and that pianist/synth player Parker Wilkson played in our most recent production of Gorey Stories. I thought it might be nice to toot the whole of the band’s horns a bit, and so that’s exactly what I’ll do here! We’ve not once performed a musical with a traditional set of “pit musicians,” which makes a lot of sense in that we’re not the most traditional company and do not pick the most traditional musicals. As a matter of personal taste, I find that musicians and music directors can cut the guts out of rock (even classic stuff like we’re doing in this show) in favor of making it too clean, pretty, or what I might be more prone to describe as neutered or sanitized (rock and musical theater are different genres, to be sure, but you don’t need to sacrifice its heart and soul to get lyrics across). Our amazing band for Return to the Forbidden Planet is extremely diverse and touches into ohsomany nooks and crannies of Tampa Bay’s vibrant music scene:
Mark Warren (Guitar/Theremin) is the bandleader/guitarist/Thereminist of the long-running Tampa Bay-based “power lounge” group the Vodkanauts. Warren’s other musical exploits, past and present, include the Sara Rose Band, Barely Pink (my first exposure to Mark’s talent), Sarge and the Aeromen, and the Leonard Croon Band. As I mentioned in my last post also, The ‘nauts have played a majority of our Jobsite Rocks! events and will play our upcoming Gala on Oct. 11. In addition to all of this, Mark is a virtual walking storehouse of trivia, especially it seems to me when it comes to movies and music. He told me at one of his last jobs he was nicknamed Markipedia. On top of all of this? He’s a righteous dude, a lover of the arts, and in my opinion one of the mightiest musical movers and shakers in this area. Mark is a tireless promoter, understands that art is a business and the business he’s in is art. I’m also not sure how he keeps all of his musical projects straight! Just this weekend he played three sets with the Vodkanauts on Saturday night, with Sara Rose on Sunday and tonight comes in to our rehearsal to play the whole show.
Woody Bond (Drums) has been playing drums for 10 years all across local and national stages. He began performing professionally and touring at age 18 with Paranoia Dance Party. A native to Tampa, he’s an active member in the music scene and plays in numerous bands across Florida. Recently he’s been a go-to as a fill in drummer for bands across America ranging from The Atom Age in Oakland, California to Angry Banana in New Orleans, Louisiana, along with various local acts. Recent tours have spanned both coasts of the USA, Montreal’s Pouzza Fest, and The Fest in Gainesville. He can be often be seen performing regularly in the Bay Area with Agents of Dimension X, Station Cases, Madison Turner, and Johnny Cakes and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypso. Woody was also named to Creative Loafing’s 25 Under 25 list last fall. On a personal level, before I met Woody but was told the kid was seriously skilled yet I was “warned” that he is a vegan straightedge, “but not in a bad annoying preachy way.” My leads were right. Woody is one of the nicest, most sincere and warm-hearted dudes you could find. He grooms dogs as part of his non-drumming hours for crying out loud, and I thoroughly enjoy following the escapades of Woody and his girlfriend on Instagram. Woody reminds me of the little brother I never had, and I can’t thank Miriam Rochford enough for recommending him.
Parker J. Wilkson (Piano and Synth) is classically trained and currently a student and apprentice at the Patel Conservatory while also attending Sunlake High in Land O’ Lakes. He has accompanied an impressive number of classical and jazz musicians and an award winning competitive chorus. You might have caught the St. Petersburg Coliseum’s Celebrate Sinatra Gala a few weeks ago where Parker handled keyboard duties. He served as the accompanist with two award winning opera singers including Paul Diaz-Cobo featured on Fox news earlier this year. He has also professionally performed on piano and keyboards for musicals like our production of Gorey Stories and productions by MAD Theatre and the Conservatory. Parker is also on piano with Conservatory’s established jazz quartet and actively performs jazz at a number of venues around the bay area with various trios and ensembles. A few weeks ago Conservatory Jazz quartet opened the 2014 Raymond James Stadium “Symphony under the Stars,” for the Florida Orchestra. Additionally, Parker writes and composes original music as the lead singer, guitarist, and pianist in his Alternative rock band The Infinite Eights. The band was recently featured on Fox News and can be heard playing around town at venues and events like the Gasparilla Music Festival. Parker was named Patel Conservatory’s spotlight award winner in Music (2013), and has been identified by the press as a “musician to watch.” Clearly this kid isn’t trying hard enough, right? (KIDDING!) Park blew me away a few years back with Gorey Stories. His work ethic and talent would be impressive for someone twice his age, so I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him and couldn’t be happier to have him as a part of this show.
Jana Jones (Music Director, Bass) grew up in a musical family that has been a part of the local music community here in Tampa for more than 20 years, most recently with The Groves, which I saw her perform with before approaching her about Hedwig. She received her education from Hillsborough Community College, Belmont University and the University of South Florida. She’s had what appears to me to be a lifelong association with Tampa’s Bluegrass Parlor, which her brother manages. Jana is another one of the nicest, sweetest most easy-going people I’ve worked with. I think it is a strength of our working relationship that neither of us are seasoned musical theater people, but are both people who love music and live performance in general. I couldn’t ask for a better collaborator than Jana, I think we balance and complement each other well. I approached her initially for Hedwig because I felt like it was important to not have the Angry Inch be a big ol’ (or even inch-long) sausage fest up there and she was one of the most top-of-mind musical women of the region from the numerous times I’d seen her play live at at venues like New World Brewery, knowing her really only in passing before approaching her about playing the show. It became clear to me during Hedwig that Jana was a leader and had the skill-set to run a band as well as vocal music rehearsals. And she bakes some mean vegan/gluten free treats! C’mon, who could ask for more. 🙂
I love our band, and I am BEYOND stoked to have them come together tonight and play through the show. Got tickets for the show yet?