The Free Beer Line-Up in History
The Three Stooges
Three members have been "of Beer" since the beginning. Scott and Jim are veterans of Detroit Radio with over 10 years between WRIF and 89X. Scott went on to 92.1 The Edge in Lansing, Jim moved on to the Planet 96. 3. Kurt was a member of the WRIF and 89X Softball and Bowling teams. Scott now works at MindShare advertising, Jim's been at the The Palace, The Metro Times, Clear Channel and now is the Director of Under The Radar Michigan (which stars Tom Daldin, our Drummer) and Kurt for Daimler Chrysler. The two other original members were Paul Sevigny on Bass and Kevin Yonker on Drums. Paul worked with Jim and Scott at 89X. Kevin and Kurt were in a previous band together and grew up together. Kevin also played with the Riff softball and subbed on the 89X Bowling team once.
Our original Bass player was Paul Sevigny. He was a member of the 89X Bowling team and was there when the radio station started as the go to IT Guy. Paul moved to Washington DC to follow his budding political career in 1999.
In 1999, Paul was replaced by Marty Beem who worked with Kurt and filled in when Paul could not make some shows. Unfortunately after only two gigs, Marty decided to get married (we found the marriage over band choice curious, but it was what Marty wanted to do!).
Still 1999, The next bass installment was Tom Conway . He works with Kurt at Daimler Chrysler and overheard the "bass player" discussion and introduced himself. But he tired quickly of Free Beer's extensive touring schedule and he called it quits.
So now on to Bass Player #4, Jeff Brookmyer . TJ found him, so that's a pretty good recommendation right there! When he first tried out for the band, we asked him for his home phone number, but since he wasn't really living anywhere he didn't have one. He worked at Roush Racing and drove a pretty cool Mustang, but when he carries his equipment, it leaves nowhere to pick up chicks. Not a big problem with Free Beer! He has a place so now if he could just get the chicks home ....
Jeff started a new band, Two Hour Limit ... and the amount of time spent between pickin' up chicks, workin' and practicin' with two bands meant something had to give. He gave us plenty of time to find....
Bass Player #5. Duane Larkin answered the impromptu ad for a bass player in the article written in the Detroit News by Neil Rubin. He's a lefty, and (Jeff says) one of the best bass players around. How does he fit in with us? Let's find out!!
So now back to Bass Player #4, Jeff Brookmyer. In 2012 Dewey got a job which requires him to be on the road 3 weeks at a time, so often he couldn't make it to gigs and Jeff Brookmyer sat in dutifully each time that happened. And when he couldn't sit in, Mike Wielgat from Domino Effect would step in. Finally after 5 years of that, the lineup has switched back to Jeff Brookmyer on Bass (technically making him Bass Player #4 AND #6), Dewey as second chair and Mike on deck. No shortage of Bass Players who know the Free Beer set.
The original Drummer was Kevin Yonker , who departed back in 1997. He left to find a better climate and found it in Norfolk, VA. Why does Free Beer scare their members to the mid Atlantic? We don't know.
Kevin was replaced by John Monpetit who moved in next door to Scott and was trying to sneak his drums in. He was busted, and recruited as drummer 2 for Free Beer.
John was replaced in 1998 by Mitch Kozera who was part owner of Lemon Jellow studios where Free Beer recorded its only album "Nutcracker". He became drummer 3. In 1999 he decided to concentrate on his other band, named Safe As Milk at the time, now called Sugar Daddy .
That's when we found T.J. Collica (or he found us) through an ad in the Metro Times! T.J. fit right in and was the organizational force behind the band for two and a half years. As a matter of fact, we think the lack of organization might have gotten to him a little bit, so to ensure that he was organized, he left us to start his own band, the Granddaddies, and that brings us to drummer #5.
Thanks to Jeff's great memory, he recalled a really great drummer he had once gigged with ... he only knew him as Big Bad Bob. (Funny thing, he's not that big. I've heard him play, he is certainly not bad. Being named Robert does qualify him as a Bob, 1 outta 3 ain't bad Jeff!).Big Bad Bob is Robert Espinoza. His background is jazz, but he certainly likes to rock. He has been semi retired as a drummer, playing only once a year with a full-on Tower of Power type band with Horns and all. They call him up like the Blues Brothers, on a mission from god, and get the band back together every 12 months. He was glad to help us out and was a quick study of the Free Beer set list. (If you know the set list, you realize this is not that difficult, but we are still proud of Bob's accomplishment).
Unfortunately, the story does not end there. Bob could not work our extensive touring schedule into his family schedule. This required us to dig DEEP into our memories. Jim and Scott recalled a drummer from a funk band who also played drums with "The Bruiser Band" at WRIF. Tom Daldin worked with Scott and Jim back at WRIF in the 1980's. Actually, he helped HIRE Scott and Jim and was their boss during the early parts of their careers. Within a few moments we were showing him the beats of the Elvises (Presley and Costello), he was bustin' our chops with Tower Of Power and James Brown. Somewhere between the two, you will find the latest incarnation of Free Beer. That's why he is now drummer Number 6. Tom moved into Video production and eventually was fortunate enough to come up with the idea for a TV Show. That's how he became the host and producer (along with Jim as the director) of "Under The Radar Michigan" on WTVS-TV in Detroit (and public TV stations everywhere). Now, he's the most famous member of the band, often getting recognized by fans ... "hey, aren't you that guy with mustache on the TV show?"
Sometimes what Tom is out, we get a hand from a couple of expert musicians. Stephan Raraigh who was the drummer of 2 Hour Limit with Jeff Brookmyer. We love him because even though he nows the set inside and out, he goes through a rigorous preparation schedule including hooking up an iPod with our set list and listens to the next song while we babble on. He's Rock Solid. Steve Tocco also sits in on drums when Tom and Stephan are not available. He's the exact opposite of Stephan. He doesn't practice. He rarely listens to our set before stepping in. He just KNOWS EVERY SONG EVER WRITTEN! It's strange playing with a virtuoso. Often we are just amazed, stop playing and what Steve do an impromptu drum solo. He's that good.
There are no musical qualifications to speak of. So we won't.