Robert “Bob” Tellier
Most senior member of the band. Not referring to longevity with KayaMBeE, but as the “old guy” in the band. Began playing drums /taking private lessons and in school band program at age 9-10. Doing the math, equates to over 45 years. (Now you see how the “Old Guy” moniker fits.) My earliest influences Bob Dumbald, my dad’s good friend who was a drummer in the Black Knights Drum & Bugle Corps, Buddy Rich, and Ringo Starr.
In Between fifth and sixth grade, I bought my first drum set for $15. That same year, I joined my first band with Jeff Hepner and Mick Ostroski. When they came to my house to audition me, the only drumstick I could scrounge up was broken. I creatively auditioned using the blunt end of the broken stick and a ruler. I must have “measured up” because I passed the audition. Our best song, and only tune we ever played was “Gloria.”
My mom and dad surprised me on my 13th birthday with a new blue sparkle drum set purchased through the Sears catalog. Pearl drums and hardware, equipped with Kingston cymbals. A huge improvement over my $15-dollar set, this kit fulfilled my needs for my next two music ventures.
Led Sky Dawn. I played with this group from Jr. High into my Sophomore year of High School. Repertoire, consisted of mostly rock from the Woodstock era. Didn’t gig a lot but, we had a lot of fun and gained good experience. Members during the tenure of this band included: Stan Weber, Joe Cervantez, the late Delbert Todd, Jeff Hepner, Dan Terry, and Chuck Mundy (who had one of the most incredible “white boy” afro hair styles I’ve ever seen).
Soul Diplomats- I joined this band after being introduced to Wayne Taylor (Rodney’s brother) at jam session organized by my good friend and Led Sky Dawn bandmate, Joe Cervantez. This band was a significant in gaining experience. We worked a lot, playing venues from high school dances, parties, youth club organizations, nightclubs, to conventions. Music genres covered were 60’s -70’s Soul, Rock, Blues by artists such as James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Sly and Family Stone, Archie Bell and the Drells, Santana as well as a couple original tunes composed by Wayne.
Just after graduating high school, upgraded to a used silver-sparkle Ludwig kit I purchased from Tom Vandaele. I immediately road tested the Ludwig kit during a very busy summer band calendar, during which time I had to painfully advise the members of the Soul Diplomats that at the end of summer I was leaving to attend College out of state. It was a great summer with a bittersweet end. My time as a member of the Soul Diplomats may have ended but our friendships have endured. And I’ll never forget what was truly a very special time in my life. Members included: Wayne Taylor, guitar and vocals; Willie “Honey Boy” Powell, bass guitar; Darlene Dearing, vocals; Gary “Boom Boom” Bailey, congas, bongos, Kevin Bailey, saxophone; Kenneth Taylor, saxophone, and the late David Wilson, vocals.
With my clothes and drums packed, off I went to Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri. My roommate, Brian McGowan of Mahwah, NJ approved of the drums. Occasionally, I’d set them up practice in our cramped dorm room. One day on my way back after class, I heard an incredible amount of noise echoing throughout the campus. As I got closer to my dorm I realized it was coming from my room. Brian and six other guys each had a drum or cymbal and were attempting some sort of tribal rhythm, basically beating, pounding, crashing, while screaming a bizarre “Tarzan-like” chant. As a result, a complaint was lodged from a neighbor on our floor and I ended up in front of the Dean and the disciplinary committee. The dean threatened to make me take my drums back to Illinois and leave them there. The hearing revealed, the guys had used my drums without my knowledge or permission, plus the complainant explained he enjoyed it when he could hear me practicing stating, “Actually, he’s very good.” My drums were banished from the dorm to a closet in the music conservatory. That’s when the professors of the music department discovered me and recruited me into the Jazz Big Band and the Jazz Quintet. The Columbia College Jazz Quintet was my favorite, playing progressive jazz and compositions by members. The band included Professor Greg Solomon on Trombone, Jim Infelt, guitar, and Bill Vaananen on keyboards, bassists Skip Godley and Bill Medley. My senior year, one of our concerts was recorded live and broadcast as an hour-long special on the University of Missouri’s Radio station.
During summer breaks and after graduation, I returned to Illinois and reunited with Wayne Taylor working on side projects, home recording original songs, while he was a member of a very successful band Blue Sky. When Blue Sky parted ways, I joined him in forming Galaxy with Michael Blanks. Later, the Mitchell sisters, Carol and Charlotte, from Galesburg joined.
1979 or 80, Tom VanDaele, who became a very good friend since purchase the Ludwig kit, went with me to Drums Ltd. in Chicago where I purchased the drum set I use to this day. Tama, black shells, chrome rims and hardware, and Zildian cymbals.
For about 6 months I filled in with Henry Street Band while their regular drummer, Nick Humphrey, was unavailable due to professional commitments.
City Limits was a song writing and recording venture that included my cousin, the late, Merriel Benninger, Wayne Taylor, Mike Blanks. Together we composed several songs and solicited the music to labels, producers, publishers. One such tape was even listened to by Robert Goulet, as part of group of investors seeking producing opportunities with new artists. During this time, did not receive any offers, but we received honorable mention in song writing competition. While continuing our home recording projects, Wayne played with Characters. The band name fit them well. I loved to go see them perform.
A while later we were invited to join a new endeavor with Nick Humphrey that became Profile. In this band, we accommodated two drummers by sharing percussion duties between the drum kit, congas, timbales, and assorted other bells, blocks, shakers, etc. Material we played included popular music, rock and jazz. Members changed over the years, which included, Nick Humphrey, Jeff Shumaker, Norbert, Mike Blanks, Ben Mitchell, Carol Mitchell, Rodney Taylor. One of our highlights was being booked as opening act for recording artists, “Midnight Star” at the Col Ball Room in Davenport, IA in late 80’s. Profile evolved to its final formation consisting of Wayne Taylor, Charlotte Taylor, Rodney Taylor, (former Soul Diplomat) Kevin “Rambo” Bailey, the late Keith Kempin, and me. In 1991 we recorded at Barn Burner Studio, and released, “Cream of Crop.” The release contained 4 original songs, written by Wayne. We promoted the release locally as well as in Peoria and Quad Cities, pushed it at gigs, plus submitted it to several record labels and music publishers. These efforts resulted in first refusal rights offer from a European record label and a publishing contract with Hitsource Publishing, of Chicago, IL. These accomplishments, though not a huge financial success, were great experience and demonstrated how much hard work it takes to make it in the music industry.
The tolls a busy band schedule, maintaining regular day jobs, and our lives changing within our own growing families led us give up playing gigs. Some members moved on to other projects, while Wayne, Rodney and I decided focus on recording our own music, still reaching out to the other members to come lay down tracks whenever they could. Wayne now lives in Aurora, Illinois and Rodney and I travel to visit, laugh, jam, and record as often as we can.
In the last few years, I have had the opportunities to meet and work with other musicians. Mike Masterson, who I met through my day job, has provided me with many opportunities to play gigs again. Through Mike, I met Rob Shelley with whom I played some gigs and got to go into Rocko’s studio to record his original, “We’ll Get By,” and a cool reggae arrangement of Elton John’s “Your Song.”
Mike also gave me the opportunity in the band Smoke, with Corey Moodie and Dave Davis of Short Lived Fun. With SLF’s successful and busy schedule we reached out to Rodney and then met Bert and lassoed him to another configuration of Smoke for more jobs.
Our integration with Smoke led Bert to invite Rodney and I into KayaMBeE.
I have to say, I thoroughly enjoy the great comradery that has grown very quickly between us. We are having a blast! The passion and love for music that is easy to see in each one of us leads me to believe there are great things on the horizon. I love the great mix of original songs by Kerry and Bert, plus covers and tributes of classic and current artists. So please, fasten your seatbelts and prepare for a fun ride. Come back to the website soon to check our schedule of events, as we will be playing a venue near you very soon. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, the National Enquirer…. Dr. Phil (just kidding on the last two.) We appreciate all your supp