MEMBERS & INSTRUMENTS:
Chris LeRoy (vocals, guitar, piano, organ); Tony Fate (guitar, vocals); Tim Loughlin (bass, vocals); Art Schindele (drums, vocals).
CITIES OF ORIGIN:
Redlands, Los Angeles.
The Mighty Grasshoppers (Vital Gesture Records).
A sampling of stuff LeRoy and Fate mention includes ’50s rock ‘n’ roll, ’60s rock, pop and soul, country and jazz, plus The Lovin‘ Spoonful, the MC5, the Ramones, Miles Davis, Discharge and Duke Ellington. (Note: There’s way more from where this list came.)
“I remember ducking, leaning over to Tony and exclaiming, ‘This is rock and roll.’”
That’s Chris LeRoy, one-quarter of predominantly Redlands-based The Mighty Grasshoppers, recalling what he said to guitarist/vocalist Tony Fate during an unforgettable gig in 1979.
The band at the time was an early iteration of the current project, then known as The Mountain Valley Grasshoppers. The show was at Cal State San Bernardino and the LeRoy recalls that the pair were on the receiving end of constant requests to play songs by The Eagles.
“Ever the crowd pleaser, I said we only knew one and proceeded to play a half-hour version of Mahalia Jackson’s gospel slow burner, ‘In the Upper Room.’ Beer bottles started flying and general mayhem ensued, but we kept playing.”
Kept playing is right. Some 31 years later, Fate and LeRoy are still performing together. Since that pairing, Fate’s been in The Sins, The Grey Spikes, The Black Widows and The BellRays. Chris started The Dangers, formed Death of Me and reformed The Dangers. And last year, the two launched The Mighty Grasshoppers with drummer Art Schindele and Tim Loughlin on bass.
And they certainly live up to the new adjective in their name. A self-described “song and dance band,” the quartet concentrates on making their songs the priority. Spin some of their cuts and you’ll hear an act that fully understands what it takes to craft a terrific tune.
“Remember all the one-hit wonder bands from the ’50s [through the] ’70s?” LeRoy asks. “We want to be that band, song by song, over and over again, 12 times an album and 17 times a set.”
You can hear the set as these Grasshoppers will play the Family Music Room this weekend, offering a teaser for their new album with LeRoy and Fate as an acoustic/electric Mighty Grasshopper duo. (LeRoy promises the full band will perform there in the future.)
Looking further down 2010 and into 2011 is left to Fate, who’s actually content with the present. “I think this interview is the ultimate achievement,” he says. “There’s nowhere else to go.”
Oh, as for another story about an unforgettable gig, there’s also Fate’s selection: “We got paid once.”
The Mighty Grasshoppers at the Family Music Room, 22445 Alessandro Blvd., Moreno Valley, (951) 653-3272; www.myspace.com/familymusicroom. Fri, 8PM, $5.