TKOh! (l-r): Keith Vivens, Don Slocomb, Mike Donohue, John Calderon, Me, Noe Marmolejo,
James Williams Jr
., Duane Massey (& Chris Axelrad back on the drums)


Back in 1994, we started a Sunday night hang that wound up lasting over seven years. The hours were lousy, and so was the pay, but some of Houston's greatest musicians came out to be a part of TKOh! Focusing on funk & soul from the early 70's, it was really a thinly veiled excuse for guys to demonstrate their improvisational skills. The grooves & solos produced by this ensemble were consistently nuclear, and the band was recognized by dozens of awards & nominations, including "Best Horns" (Houston Press 1998) & "Best Funk R&B" (Houston Press 2000).

Best Reason Ever To Get Out On A Sunday Night: Keith Vivens on bass


After the sudden closing of Instant Karma, our long-time home base, we just kinda went our separate ways. After all those years, it was kinda nice to have a quiet Sunday night to recharge for the week (a sure sign I'm getting old, I suppose). We got together and played a few times in early 2001, but for me it felt as if we were just trying too hard to recapture the old spirit, and the vibe of Instant Karma wasn't quite there.

We've recently had some inquiries by a couple of clubs to start the band up again, and I agreed to give it a go. At this point, though, I'm more interested in trying some new things, particularly Grenade, where a smaller group actually increases the flexibility of music choices (ie more original material, fusionesque stuff, smaller club dates). Even so, the impact of TKOh! on my life & my music was huge, and it was a beautiful run.

The tape was rolling a couple of nights in 2002, and here's what it sounded like when TKOh! played @ The Engine Room

Personnel 08/04/02:

Me•alto, tenor sax & vox
John Calderon•guitar
Duane Massey•keys & flugel
Keith Vivens•bass & vox
Chris Axelrad•drums
James Williams, Jr.•trumpet
James Williams III•trumpet
Noe Marmolejo•trumpet
Don Slocomb, Jr.•tenor & bari sax
Mike Donohue•trombone

I Wish/Superstition/School Boy/Dr. Feelgood/Shake Everything You Got: Listen

The Story: Good basic mix (the horns are still a little low, but hey, it's a horn player complainin').

I Wish: Vivens vocalizin'. Calderon does his usual nasty turn.

Superstition: When Keith Vivens is there, things immediately upgrade from a jam session to a show. His solo on Superstition is classic KV. A little tenor sax action from me, and it's coda time.

School Boy Crush: This song was one of the inspirations for forming TKOh! What a killin' groove. I'm on alto on this one, and Calderon once again lays waste on his solo, this time with some tasty wah pedal action.

Dr. Feelgood: Fast & Funky! That's me hangin' on for dear life on alto, and messing up the third chorus. Whew!

Shake Everything You Got: This was the inspiration. I found Maceo Parker's CD at a pawn shop, and it stayed welded into my CD player for a month. This track reveals the basic philosophy of TKOh! really long solos, and make it funky. That was our mantra for seven years. Duane Massey takes a turn on the flugel, Axelrad makes a very cool statement on drums, and I do my Maceo impersonation.

Roundabout Trash Talkin':

The Story: John Calderon was a little slow gettin' up to the stage for the 2nd set, so I grabbed his guitar and mangled a perfectly good Yes song. He was up on the stage in a heartbeat! After that it's the usual talk about Ken Mondshine's wallet.

Tune 88:

The Story: Alright, we're feelin' good now. James Williams takes the first solo (but which JW?), I play some tenor, Massey mashin' the keys, & Brian doin' it to death on drums...

Come On, Come Over/Cold Sweat/Sex Machine/Riff Raff: Listen

The Story: Nothing but yakkin' for the first 2 1/2 minutes....

Come On, Come Over: Keith takes the first solo, and puts on a clinic. Calderon is up to bat next, and manages to overcome the "Roundabout Hex" I put on his Strat.

What Is Hip?:


Personnel 09/02/02:

Me•tenor sax & vox
John Calderon•guitar
Duane Massey•keys
Brennen Nase•5 String Fretless Bass
Mark Simmons•drums
James Williams, Jr.•trumpet
Anthony Terry•tenor sax
Mike Donohue•trombone

The Chicken, Peg, Riff Raff: Listen

The Story: For serious collectors only, or at least those with the patience of the 6:51 mark, the volume drops to almost non-existent, and doesn't return until the 11:40 mark. Someone want to stick this in ProTools and dump Peg completely? The engineer is constantly fiddling with levels...basically, its a recorded sound check that starts to sound good at the end. On the bright side, there is a nuclear drum solo from Mark Simmons on Duane Massey's "Riff Raff," while Calderon & Nase make some pretty monstrous statements of their own.

Don't Change Horses (In The Middle Of A Stream):

The Story: Now we're starting to sound like a band. Mike Donohue on trombone (once the sound comes up), and Calderon doing his best Jeff Beck impersonation. I guess we shoulda talked through that ending before we started the tune. Ah well, the rest of the track feels good.

Cold Sweat: Listen

The Story: This is what we did best, and when I listen to this I wish we were back in the saddle. It's your basic classical music roadmap: Theme, Development, Recapitulation, with the most fun stuff happening in the development section. There's a nice Duane Massey flugel/keyboard solo, and then things start to move beyond the fringe with another Calderon assault. Throw in a little retro Temptations, and you've got another great Sunday Night

I Wish: Listen

The Story: 22 Minutes? Are you kiddin' me? The song is stated after five minutes, and then Anthony Terry & I mix it for the next five minutes. I start the proceedings, and I'm eventually in the right channel. Next comes another brilliant performance from Mark Simmons, followed closely by some nasty bass stuff from Houston's Bad Boy Of Jazz, Brennen Nase. But wait, there's more! Calderon wants a piece of the groove, and he takes the proceedings to a whole new level.

Love & Happiness/Sex Machine (Incomplete): Listen

The Story: Lots of trash talkin' to start the track, and then it's Al Green classic groove. Anthony Terry starts things off on tenor, and hey! You can finally hear the trumpet in the mix! Good thing, the sets almost over...a little taste of Sex Machine, and then the CD runs out. Where is that confounded bridge? Bummer, I bet it was cool...
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