Wally & The Beavs History
Chapter One: How It All Got Started
So it’s like this…. A guy named Smirth from The Other Half (a semi-famous comedy/rock act) comes home from L.A. on December 8th, 1989 to be present at the birth of his first child, a son born on January 1st, 1990. Smirth stays in Ohio to be a dad with a half-hearted promise to return to California if The Other Half gets any big deals shakin’. The call never comes, but in the meantime Smirth sits in with a rhythm and blues band just to keep his voice oiled. Word gets out that Smirth is singing locally and a regular patron at a small rock bar in Napoleon, Ohio insists that Smirth and “his band” play at his Halloween/Birthday party. The food and beer are free so Smirth agrees and he begins looking for a band.
Chapter Two: The First Band
So Smirth puts together a guitarist, drummer and bassist from the R&B band he’s been jammin’ with and puts a practice together in his sister’s garage, but the 3-piece-with-vocalist sound they’re getting won’t cover the 60s and 70s party music Smirth wants to perform so… Enter Joel Bokerman on keyboards. Joel gets to know Smirth at the Elks Lodge, where the latter is tending bar, and Smirth invites Joel to the next practice. Joel hasn’t played in a band (Jo-Ri-Bo) since the mid seventies but he agrees to sit in at the practice; the practice goes well, Joel gets excited and asks, “when’s the next practice?”
Smirth replies, “At our first gig.”
The gig goes well, the bass player leaves and Joel adds Bob Helberg (from his old band) They call themselves “Too Cool for School,” play a New Years Eve gig at the Elks, and break-up. Now it’s just Smirth and Joel.
Chapter Three: Wally and The Beavs
So, it’s 1992 and everyone wants to know when Smirth and Joel are gonna play again. Joel’s friends, guitarist Tom DelGreco and bassist Dave Brink, formerly of a favorite local band called “On the Brink,” express an interest in putting something together. With the addition of Todd Clymer on drums, a full band is formed. The unnamed band adopts the mission statement, “for fun and money”, and begins serious rehearsals in the basement of an insurance agency owned by Joel. The blend is good, the job offers are coming in but the band is without a name. Dave Brink suggests Wally and The Beavs…And that’s it.
Chapter Four: Nice Guys with Horns
1993 rolls around and Wally and The Beavs are doing OK. However, one night at the Riverview Inn (the bar where it all started), David ‘Captain Stringbean’ Vining, former member of The Other Half, drops in to see Smirth and offers to blow some sax with the band. Dave, Joel, Todd and Tom are impressed. Stringbean blows the place into a frenzy and Wally & The Beavs have a new member… and a new sound!
Wally & The Beavs are in demand. New songs, more fans, and lots more money are in the picture under the management of guitarist DelGreco. The band decides to add two more horn players. Tom tacks up a notice at Bowling Green State University and two college seniors answer the call. Trumpeter Brian Gray stays (He’s the first photogenic person in the band). Tom DelGreco exits the band on Valentine’s Day, 1995 to play coffee houses in a duo. They even get a gig on WJR Radio’s Mitch Albom Show. Tim Tiederman, veteran Toledo musician, replaces Tom on guitar and the band continues to add popular dance and show numbers to their repertoire. Under Joel’s management, with Tim’s contacts and through the band’s growing reputation, Wally & The Beavs play major events in Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus and Lima. In June of 1998 Brian’s friend, Jeff “Boz” Skaggs sits in on Trombone at the ‘Taste of Toledo’ outdoor concert and the full three piece horn section is set in place. Not only does Boz add a professional musical touch, but also his wild stage antics compliment Smirth’s (who now answers to Wally) equally wild moves as a front man.
Chapter Five: Musical Chairs
As the first year of the new millennium comes to an end, so too does the participation of Dave Brink. The smooth singing bassist leaves Wally and The Beavs to pursue other opportunities in the Christian Music field. As of yet, he has not performed on the Mitch Albom Show. Wally calls upon his old friend and sidekick from The Other Half, guitarist Garnet McGladdery, to cover the bass guitar notes and first tenor vocal duties in the band. Garnet skillfully divides his time between Los Angeles and Ohio, delivering a new “in your face” presence to the band. Wally and The Beavs are rockin’ the socks off of fans all over Northern Ohio!
…And, as such, it remains until the 2003 season when Garnet leaves the band to seek fame and fortune in the country music business. Pete Nixon quickly signs on as bassist and lead tenor vocalist. With Pete, the band achieves a perfect blend between Brink’s smooth and soulful voice and McGladdery’s rough and ready style.
In 2007 guitarist Eric Smith and trumpeter Brian Gray give notice and the search is on for replacements. The search doesn’t last long when Ed “Eddie Forte” Adams, who has performed with the band on several occasions, permanently joins the horn section and Lima, Ohio all-star guitar-guru, James Goare accepts the position of lead guitar and vocalist. Goare departs in August of 2010, but Toledo legend A.J. Tscherne jumps in without missing a beat, and, In 2013 the horn section is enhanced with the addition of Shannon Ford on saxophone. An accomplished and acclaimed professional musician, Shannon, also brings yet another layer of vocal panache to the Beavs’ already opulent ensemble. And the band plays on.
In 2015 a major change occurs when drummer and founding member, Todd Clymer announces his intention to leave the band to enjoy his weekends with wife, Sandy at the Pleasant Acres Campground. After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, the Beavs begin quietly searching for Todd’s replacement. As the summer season quickly approaches it seems the band might be in danger of losing the beat, when Joel’s friend and minister suggests that Bruce Burkhart might be the perfect percussionist for the beleaguered Beavs. A former member of the Rize Band, one of the great bands of the era from northwest Ohio in the 1970s and 80s, Bruce is up for the challenge and easily takes on the role of Beav Beat Keeper…with an added bonus for the band. He also possesses lead-vocal talents.
At nearly the same time, bassist Nixon decides it is a good time to leave the Beavs to pursue other projects and the search for his replacement begins. Nathan Santos, who is at that time Director of Music at Tiffin University, accomplished bassist, pianist, as well as first tenor vocalist, expresses an interest in joining the band and practices are quickly scheduled. Again, with all the pieces of the puzzle in place, the band Wally & the Beavs continues the tradition of “good time rock and roll” for a six-year run with the same lineup intact. But, alas, in 2021 drummer Bruce announces that he and his wife will be moving to Texas later in the year to be closer to their daughter and her family. Fortunately, Glenn Roddy is ready and willing to step in and provide a seamless transition. Glenn, a founding member of the popular Prog Rock band, Stargate, brings a seasoned professionalism to the band and, with his strong rhythm and vocal ability, keeps them on the dance floor …Just the way Wally and The Beavs fans like it. Uh huh, uh huh.