May 20, 2004
I've known Dan Dickerson for a number of years,
but I can't recall ever seeing him with an
electric guitar in his hands. But that was before
a few weeks ago.
During the first set with his band Groovyus at
Skybox in Decatur, his harp sat covered in a
corner, and Dickerson was rocking out with an
electric guitar. I was surprised and impressed.
The barefoot, wine-sipping harpist I remember
from years past can actually rock!
Dickerson wasn't alone. With him was Sandra
Hatfield, on bass, and Scott Schwan, on drums.
Formerly, it was just Hatfield and Dickerson
doing acoustic things, but Schwan had seen the
duo play and filled in on drums a couple times.
He enjoyed it so much he became a part of the
Groovyus started about six months ago. And
they've pretty much played gigs from the start.
"As soon as we started, we were playing," says
Dickerson, who also sings and plays guitar and
harp. (He's also the band's guru/witch doctor,
but he didn't elaborate). "We just went here and
there and started getting decent gigs relatively
Dickerson makes it sound like it was easy going
from the beginning, but it hasn't been "It was
hard, and it's still hard, and we still don't
have a good promotional tool, as far as a good
videotape," he admits. "We did the Foellinger
Theater last summer, and it was really cool; it
wasn't this band as it is, but Sandra and I were
there ... [we] had a different drummer, had a
bass player, and then we had members of Too Many
People, a group I was in, and Billy Goat Gruff.
We videotaped that; and it was really good. It's
on channel 57 a lot, still."
Part of Dickerson's frustration with not having
a videotape to send out to prospective talent
bookers comes with his inability to deal with
videotape recorders. He has bigger problems than
trying to get the clock light to stop
"I can't seem to get a friggin' VCR to record to
another VCR," he says. "I've tried a good seven
or eight of them. I went out and bought
two brand new VCRs,, brand new, to
record from one to the other." (Videophiles take
note: this could be a new business venture).
Another problem facing new bands, Dickerson
says, is finding the time to talk to club owners
and promoters. Full-time employment and kids take
up a lot of time, and younger bands who don't
have these responsibilities have the advantage,
However, with age comes experience, and getting
with the right people right off the bat can save
lots of time. Dickerson credits having good
chemistry with Hatfield, and then with Schwan
when he was added to the mix. Dickerson met
Schwan through gigs at Ernie's Hideaway. They
started jamming, and it worked.
"I don't even think we practiced before a gig
... we just practiced at the gig, which is kinda
cool in it's own way," recalls Dickerson. "I
don't mind, because Scott is an awesome enough
impromptu drummer that we can go on something,
and begin to feel ... I mean, I barely know
Scott, but we still have a chemistry, you know,
as far as looking at somebody and you know when
you're going to do a hit. Or two hits, or we're
going to go into a different timing.
"That's ... wow! And Sandra is good at it too,
luckily. We're lucky to have the chemistry that
"We have fun," says Hatfield, of the band's
performances. "And Dan ... he hardly ever gets
the lyrics right," she adds, as the band members
dissolve into laughter. "He'll sing the same
verse three times."
"Or," says Dickerson, "Sandra's favorite
alternative, it's like a different language, if I
can't find the lyrics." (Here, Dickerson sings
gibberish to demonstrate his ability to do so.
More laughs ensue.) At this gig, Dickerson and
his bandmates manage to get through a set of
songs which included "Jane," "The Lion Sleeps
Tonight,' "Helter Skelter, "Brown-Eyed Girl," "Signs,"
and "Ain't That A Shame," (yes, the Cheap Trick
version), just to name a few. The effort got
people out onto the dance floor, something I
haven't seen happen with quite a few bands in a
Despite not being together for a huge length of
time, the group has had some important gigs and
favorite places to play, such as Skybox ("we're
well received," says Dickerson) and a couple of
locations in Fort Wayne.
"Sandra and I went to Columbia Street West,"
recalls Dickerson, "for this open jam, trying to
talk to Richard Reprogle ... 'cause it's
something,, and right now we're looking for gigs.
So we talked to him a little bit and we stayed,
and it got later and later and after 11 before
they started doing anything. Matt Sturm was
playing, and he was pretty good, and he heard us
talking, and he said, 'you guys wanna play
somethin'?' And I was like, 'no.' Sandra wanted
to, and then she didn't want to. Well, later on,
Sandra said 'you know what? We should.'"
After a bit of arm twisting, and Hatfield
questioning Dickerson about his testicular
fortitude, they went up and played. "I borrowed
Matt's guitar, she took the guy's bass," says
Dickerson. "There was a lead player and drummer;
we did 'Stranglehold,' 'Helter Skelter,' and it
was like, 'whoa.' And Matt Sturm said 'you guys
are ... do another song! Do it! Do it!' So we did
another. If Scott would have been with us, we
would have rocked the joint. It was a good