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Stagecoach play an amalgam of 60s and 70s rock covers with a little bit of country thrown in for good measure. Originally formed in Bluffton in the early 80s by Dick Sark and Carl Pace, the band initially disbanded in 2002. They were reformed about a year ago, however, by guitarist Gordy Beemer, formerly of Midwest Union, upon the request of a friend. Over the years the band has seen many lineup changes; the current lineup consists of Beemer along with keyboardist Carl Aldrich, bass player Denny Harris and drummer Mark Turner. All of the members are in their 60s except for Turner (“the young punk” of the band, as Beemer calls him) who is in his 50s. While writing and recording original, or pre-existing, material may be on the horizon, they currently play strictly cover songs.
A year ago, Beemer had barely picked up his guitar for the previous decade, and he had no inkling that he would soon be forming the band. The call came unexpectedly, he reports, over a conversation with a friend who is also a local bar owner.
“She asked if I still played, and I said ‘I haven’t played in about 10 years,’ and she said ‘Too bad, I’ve got a job I can’t book,’” Beemer says. “I said ‘How much time do I have?’ [laughs] She said ‘Six weeks.’ I said, ‘Book it, I’ll play it.’ That’s how the band started.”
The lineup he put together for their first gig back together at the Hamilton House in Hamilton did not remain intact, however, as the band members were not expecting to be as in-demand as they turned out to be. As a result, Beemer was forced to seek out musicians interested in playing more steadily. Since that time, Stagecoach’s lineup has solidified and the band has played a steady string of dates.
In spite of his own 10 years of inactivity before he put Stagecoach back together, Beemer reports that the band members didn’t have much of a problem getting together enough material to put on a show.
“Once we started practicing, it came together pretty quickly, really,” he says. “We had a four-hour show before we knew it.”
The fact that the band was able to get together, develop a rapport and establish an extensive setlist in a short period of time is a testament to the band members’ collective longevity in the music business. Each member of the band has a long history in the music industry.
Beemer started out playing cover songs in the Indianapolis area in the 60s. He moved to Fort Wayne in 1979 to join the Silver Dollar band and toured with Shondell in the 1980s. Local fans may also remember him from his former band, Midwest Union, a house band at several establishments regionally for years and also won a battle of the bands contest.
Drummer Turner (the young one) comes from a slightly different musical background. A native of Florida, his father owned a music store, and he started playing drums at the age of 11. Over the years he has played drums, keyboards, bass and has sung in numerous outfits. He moved to Michigan in 1970 and for years traveled back and forth to Nashville. As a result, his specialty lies in Top 40 country music. Turner also played with keyboardist Aldrich in the local band Dealer’s Choice.
Aldrich himself has had his share of renown, at one point registering on the Billboard charts with the song “Beeker Street” by the Olivers. During his tenure with that band he was able to tour with the Rolling Stones, as they were asked to be the Stones’ warm-up band.
As for what style of music the band might write or record, Beemer states that they will be sticking with the same style they’ve been playing for decades. The setlist varies, but can include songs from such artists as Bob Seger, George Strait, Jerry Lee Lewis and Tom Petty, with an emphasis on danceable country and rock songs.
“It’s kind of a 60s and 70s rock style; I guess you could call it that. Carl has some songs that he wrote back then that he wants to get down, and I do too,” Beemer says. “Just to have it done … that and there’s a couple of new ones I’m working on too. But recording, that’d be great. We want to get a good demo together. Right now is what we’re working on.”
For the time being, however, Stagecoach are keeping more than busy playing their extended show of cover songs. And on that note, Beemer stays humble. “We’re just a bar band as far as that goes. Right now we do have some originals we’re going to be working on later,” he says. “But right now we’re just a plain old cover band.”
And as for their musical range, they may have expanded their repertoire somewhat to accommodate the audience’s taste for country music, but the band intends to maintain the musical style they are firmly rooted in.
“We just go back to 60s and 70s rock. That’s what we started with,” Beemer says.