The early 60s and I'm jamming on banjo with my friend Herb Lane in our old music store here in Milford. Herb happened to be a fine player and that's a now rare original Gretsch Rancher acoustic he's playing. My dad is in the background. Jam sessions were a regular event at our store in Milford at 8 S. Walnut St. Sometimes several jams on the weekends. That tradition carried on when our family opened another music store on Lockerman Street in Dover in the mid 60s.
Our family went to Sunset Park in Oxford, Pa regularly in the spring through fall. It was a mecca for all sorts of country , bluegrass and what is now called roots music. I played there regularly with older friends as a teenager, most often on the banjo. This was one fine day. Most of the headliner country and bluegrass acts did shows there. Also where I met Earl Scruggs and quite a few other favorite musicians.
The radio show band 1963 - 1965
Every Saturday for a year or so this band did a Saturday morning radio show at WJWL in Georgetown, DE. We also did various stage shows. The lineup was left to right Bobby Ellers (fiddle), Her Lane (rhythm guitar), Junior Wilson (banjo, mandolin, dobro and electric guitar), Reds Stacey (bass, vocals and MC), Vernon Lyons (steel guitar) Sammy Travis ( Bakersfield country vocals and acoustic guitar. Also not in the picture that day but appearing regularly were Tommy Lee (bluegrass vocals and acoustic guitar) and
Competing in a banjo contest at Sunset Park. It was a big contest with players from all over the US and a few from Canada. I wanted no part of it actually. Excellent players all over. Then a friend of our family signed me up about 10 minutes prior. That's my good friend Neil (Reds) Briton playing acoustic guitar. He was an excellent musician. We went up and did a fast and slick banjo tune that folks would relate to but showed some skill. We got second in the end out of that large field so no shame. A fellow named Larry McNeely won. Larry was very good and he would later go on to be the banjo player on the Glen Campbell show after John Hartford left.
Practicing the 5 string banjo in our music store circa 1966. Jam sessions were common place there and with many types of players. Great times.
Jamming with my old friend Mike Esposito at our Wilson's Music Store in Milford around 1967. That's an original Fender Broadcaster guitar in his hands. My guitar was a mid 60's Epiphone Sheraton with Bigsby. Mike was a very inventive player and the lead guitarist for the hit 60s psychedelic band "The Blues Magoos". He will forever be remembered for his cool climbing guitar solo in the Magoos' hit "We Ain't Got Nothin' Yet". For that he used an Echoplex electronic echo chamber.
The Sovereign 1966-1967
The Sovereign This band was the first good rock & soul band I was in and featured strong singing and harmony. Members left to right were Guy Priou (drums & vocals), Frank May (lead singer, rhythm guitar and organ), Jerry McPherson (bass & vocals) & Junior Wilson (lead guitar & harmony vocals). We played a lot of teen dances, parties and teen clubs including the Hullabalu Clubs. Frank also wrote a lot of good tunes and we recorded regularly. Not in this photo, but in the lineup shortly afterwards would be Salisbury musician Alan Fitzgerald (brother of Mark Fitzgerald). Alan played organ with us and sang. He would later go on to be the bassist for Ronnie Montrose in the 70s and in the 80s keyboardist for Night Ranger.
Love Special Delivery L.S.D. 1968-1970
Love Special Delivery or L.S.D. was our first Psychedelic blues band. It also featured the first large PA system around and a full light show run by elctronics whiz Billy Etherington. Members left to right were Jim Truitt (drums), Junior Wilson (guitar, organ and harmony vocals, and Skip Tumbleson (bass and lead vocals) A wild show with crazy antics by the band earned it a reputation fast. Both Jim and Skip were excellent players and a lot fo fun. After Jim left his friend Mark Lovelace came in to play drums. Both Skip and Mark would later play in the Dover based band Scuzzy Frog.
Playing my classical guitar 1971
A trip to a NYC studio 1973
I had written some tunes and wanted to record them in a real studio. My friend Geoff Daking , the former drummer for The Blues Magoos band , had a studio (Sound Ideas) on west 45th street and one Sunday morning I went there with my friends Greg Ellingsworth on acoustic guitar and Bill Larsen on bass. We spent the day putting down tracks and meeting some interesting studio guys form the New York scene.
Gene Cook and Delaware
Gene Cook was a band leader on Delmarva for many years. A strong singer who did an excellent job of Elvis material as well as many other artists. He was very successful at the local club and fire hall scene for decades and Gene's bands were also the learning grounds for many players over the years. I knew Gene from a teenager and would up playing with him some in the mid 70s.
Stu Nunnery 1973
A couple of months after my trip to NYC to record my tunes I got a call from Stu . He had recorded his debut album at Geoff's studio. We hit it off and I wound up performing with him for about a year. Great writer and singer and he also played fine piano and guitar. Plus he was a really nice fellow with a great sense of humor. Very enjoyable era for me. I played electric and acoustic guitar and pedal steel with him. We did several memorable shows, my favorite being Princeton opening for Gordon Lightfoot. He had regional and some national success and one of Stu's tunes was a major hit in Brazil He's later had a cult status with record collectors for years . Serious problems with deafness sidelined his career early on. Recently with advances in hearing technology he has begun to perform out once again. And his debut album is now on CD and he is currently working on another album.
"Serenade" performing at the Dover Elks Lodge in the fall of 1978 for one of their weekly dances. Left to right - Dave Brenton (bass & vocals), Edgar Fernandez (keyboards, guitar and backing vocals), Quay Rice (drums), Steve Fulkerson (guitar and vocals) and Junior Wilson (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals fiddle and banjo). The band performed top 40 of the era, rock, some jazz rock and a few showy tunes featuring the fiddle and banjo. Edgar would play with the band for a while and later be replaced by Pedro Miller (guitar, keyboards and backing vocals). In the Elks Lodge photo above Edgar is back in the band and our old friend Steve Fulkerson is also present. He played a few gigs with us before the band ended.
Thumper was a short lived but good 5 piece band around 1979. It did the music of the times plus some surprises. Members were Lin Doughten (guitar and vocals), Dave Brenton (bass and lead vocals), Chris Pedler (female lead vocals), Ray Strube (drums) and Junior Wilson (keyboards, guitar, vocals and other stringed instruments.
Tader and The Heart Beatz original trio 1980
The Heartbeatz 1980 - 1981 version 2
The Heart Beatz 1981 version 3
Tader left for a while to do songwriting and the band wished to continue on. The version above included left to right Junior Wilson (lead guitar and vocals), Dave Brenton ( guitar and vocals), Steve Schellinger (bass and vocals and Ray Strube (drums). This was taken at Richie Coliseum in College Park , MD in 1981.
Starting out as more of an acoustic trio with Rick Beck on bass and vocals and myself on electric guitar. The music covered some popular beach favorites, a lot of harmony oriented 60s tunes, some blues and several of Tader's originals. Rick would soon leave, Strube would then join and Steve Schellinger would replace Rick on bass and vocals. The band that would be recognized as "Tader and the Heartbeatz" was complete. That band ran about two years (1980-1981) with great success at the Delaware/Maryland beaches. Our front man Tader was quite a showman and the band had tremendous energy.
The Heart Beatz 1983 version 4
The Movies 1982-1983 version 1
The Movies 1983-1984 Version 2
Our 45 release. It sold a couple thousand copies and was quite popular in the area. It also got a bit of strong airplay in the mid west distributed by Kiderian Records. That's Bobby Barr on lead vocals. Six and 12 string electric guitars are Junior Wilson and Rick Beck. Bass is Bobby Barr and drums are Ray Strube. Back ground vocals are Rick Beck, Bob Barr, Chris Pedler and Junior Wilson. Many years later I received a couple of calls from a collector in England who found it in a rare 45 record shop and thought it was a power pop masterpiece. So nice to hear that out of the blue. He wondered why we weren't big time? What can you say? Wish more record companies felt that way when we were trying to get some major distribution. But it was a fun endeavor.
The Movies (big band) version 3
The big Movies band. left to right back row - Nathaniel Boozer (trumpet), Kendall Dixon (drums & vocals), Gene "Grady" Griggs (saxophone , bass and vocals), Edward "Pedro" Miller (keyboards, guitar & vocals), Mike Halverson (vocals & organ), front row left to right - Junior Wilson (guitar & vocals), Bouncing Bobby Barr (bass & vocals). This version added some 60s soul music to the list and horn parts on 60's tunes that featured that sound. The band started to have different factions and would split apart. From that "The Cutters Band" would be formed while the rest of us went back to a trio format and later on to another very different direction with "Fun With Joan".
The Movies 1984 -1985 Version 4
Fun With Joan 1985 - 1986
This band came out of the the Movies trio with Steve Schellinger and was quite a production. My first foray into doing lots of musical sequences. The computer is actually Joan. It did the pop music of the time, synth pop and a mix of other classic tunes. Vocalist Chris Pedler would join, Steve would eventually leave and another female vocalist Dianne Donovan would join the act. The band was very well respected with electronic music fans. Big PA, big lighting and a grand sound.
The Cutters 1984 - 1989
After Fun With Joan broke up I was asked by The Cutters to join as the music arranger and play Hammond organ and assorted instruments. The band above was about the fourth version of the Cutters. The band was very successful and played constantly. Sometimes too much for previous members. When I joined Kendall Dixon was on drums and also we had Gene (Grady) Griggs on the tenor saxophone. In the photo above Grady had left the group and Kendall decided to further his education so Chris Jones was holding down the drummer position. Later Chris would leave too and be replaced by Ray Strube . Then the band would break up as it was. Members left to right back row - Junior Wilson (organ, guitar, vocals, banjo and fiddle), Ed (Pedro) Miller (keyboards, guitar and vocals), Chris Jones (drums). 2nd row - Wayne Lopez (vocals and front man), Bobby Barr (bass, vocals and band leader) and front center - Joey Fulkerson (guitar and vocals).
The Movies 1989 -1990 Version 5
Not long after the Cutters broke up the band members decided to reform a band. We all needed to keep playing regularly. We enlisted bassist Danny Woolford and used called it the Movies again. That band was very successful as well but for various reasons only lasted about a year. The above photo was taken during a rehearsal time out members left to right - Joey Fulkerson (guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica and vocals) , Wayne Lopez (vocals and percussion), Junior Wilson (Keyboards, guitars, vocals, pedal steel, banjo, mandolin and fiddle), Ray Strube (drums) and Danny Woolford (bass and vocals).
The Circles 1991
The Circles had a lot of potential but was short lived. We did some very nice arrangements of very cool music and some of our originals as well. The members left to right - Junior Wilson (guitar and vocals), Ray Strube (drums), Ed "Tader" Benchoff (guitar, vocals and keyboards) and Rick Beck (bass and vocals).
Crabmeat, Pedro & Junior 1990
A while after The Circles broke up we decided to do something quite different. My old friend Jerry (Crabmeat) Thompson and former Cutter keyboardist Ed (Pedro) Miller did a rather off the wall trio .Crabmeat (vocals, front man and acoustic guitars) Pedro (keyboards , vocals and key bass) and Junior (electric guitar, vocals and other stringed instruments). It covered a crazy array of genres done in the trio's own style and of course Crabmeat's original music as well. The act only lasted about 8 months or so but was a heck of a lot of fun. A most memorable episode was when we performed for the prisoners at Smyrna Correctional. The prisoners loved the act, maybe a little too much. We repeated B.B. King's "The Thrill is Gone" twice and Pedro had to write a tune off the cuff he called "My Bobo".
The Fantastic Cutters 1991-1993
A while after Crabmeat, Pedro and Junior borke up Bob Barr and I discussed putting anohter Cutters together. His band had recently disbanded and we all needed to work so we recruited former members Ray Strube and Pedro Miller and added Roger Pace and Mary Pat Hughes. Roger was a wild and entertaining front man and played great sax. Mary Pat was also an excellent horn player (on several woodwinds), sang well and had lots of fire and stage energy. It was a very dynamic band but lasted only a couple of years. above photo left to right - Bob Barr (bass and vocals), Pedro Miller (Keyboards, guitar and vocals), Mary Pat Hughes (saxes, flute and vocals), Junior Wilson (guitar and other stringed instruments and vocals), Ray Strube (drums) and Roger Pace (vocals , sax and front man). I am sad to say that both Mary Pat and Roger have since passed away.
The Movies trio 1993
"The Movies" original trio in the early 90s performing at Rehoboth Beach. By 1992 Roger Pace and Mary Pat Hughes would leave "The Fantastic Cutters" to take a house gig at a club in Baltimore. We continued on as a quartet with Pedro Miller on Keyboards to do the bookings as "The Cutters". Bob, Strube and I also started playing some gigs again as the original "Movies" trio during the week days. In 1994 Bob would leave both "The Cutters" and "The Movies" projects and join "Kathy Martin and The Hot Rods", a newly formed oldies show band similar to and directly competing with their former band "The Fabulous Hubcaps".
The Movies 1994 - 1997 Version 6
After Bob Barr left the bands to join "Kathy Martin & The Hot Rods" we reformed as "The Movies". Ray Strube would once again be our drummer and Rick Beck would sing and play bass. We also added Chuck Sapp on sax, keyboards and vocals. This was around 1994. The group sounded good and worked together well for a couple of years. I had been doing some one man band solo work and decided I wanted to pursue the solo act further. The less than flattering photo above was taken after a long, smokey gig at the top of the Sheraton in Dover in 1996 or 1997. left to right - Chuck Sapp Rick Beck , Ray Strube and Junior Wilson.
Junior Wilson solo 1997- present
Performing at Waterman's Crab House in Rock Hall around 1998. During the mid 90s, while still in "The Movies", I started working on a concept solo act. Instead of the using the minimal approach, still most often followed, my approach would be more full tilt. It used the technology I learned during my "Fun With Joan" experience. The overall sound was that of a band. I created the basic song parts as tracks except for my parts which I played and sung live. The music performed would cover many genres and I would play several different stringed instruments every show. I occasionally played keyboards and the pedal steel as well. The act did well and played a large variety of venues.
Junior Wilson & Friends (AKA Junior Kathy and Bobby) 1999
This act was supposed to last a couple weeks but actually wound up performing every Thursday night at Park Place in Milford for about 4 months or so. The band consisted of ex Fabulous Hubcaps & Kathy Martin & the Hot Rods leader Kathy Martin (sax & vocals), Bob Barr (bass & vocals), Kendall Dixon (drums) and Junior Wilson (guitar, keyboards, banjo, fiddle & vocals). In addition we had our friend Chuck Sapp (saxophone) set in with us now and then too. A lot of fun.
The Movies trio Reunion 2006
The Movies 2007 - 2015
The three tunes above were demos recorded live at rehearsal in early 2009. "Gory Train" & "She's In Love" had been written in the fall of 2008 by Junior Wilson and arranged by The Movies and "I Just Want this Dance" was written by Rick Beck and arranged by The Movies.
Walter Reed & helping out for the wounded
A year after we reformed "The Movies" we became aware of The Delaware Support Group, which was started by our old friend and Milford resident Butch Elzey. The organization was involved in raising money to help out the returning wounded warriors under treatment at Walter Reed Hospital and their families. It was a good cause and we started doing a some fund raisers and events to make folks more aware. Every Father's Day for the next 6 years we would perform at a big barbecue and car show function sponsored by the Delaware Support Group. It was always held on the grounds of the Malone House at Walter Reed Hospital. The 2nd year Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's band "The Dance Hall Doctors" came over and did a set as well. We met many wonderful soldiers over the years. It was a great experience and it forever changed all of us involved. The following musicians were part of our band over the 6 years and helped make the Walter Reed events possible. Ray Strube, Bobby Barr, Junior Wilson, Rick Beck and Greg Ellingsworth with Dave Jarrel and Mike Robertson doing sound.
The Movies 2009
Rick Beck left the band in early 2009 and Greg Ellingsworth took his position. The music would become a bit more rootsy, country and classic rock with Greg contributing. Greg played both acoustic and electric guitars and sang. This picture was taken in the summer of 2009 during a performance at J.W.'s night club. (now Tom's Bullpen)
The Movies 2012
The Movies 2013
This was a memorable show held in the town circle in Georgetown, DE. and was great fun until near the end. We were the closing act and on our last song the sky opened up and we were drowned. Luckily my truck was backed up to the side of the stage and immediately accessible. Members left to right - Junior Wilson (lead guitar, vocals, banjo & fiddle), Chatty Cooper (congas & percussion), Ray Strube (drums), Bobby Barr (bass & vocals),Vinnie Hazeltine (keyboards) and Greg Ellingsworth (acoustic & electric guitars & vocals).
The Movies 2014
The Movies 2015
Long time drummer Ray Strube left the band after January of 2015 and was replaced by our old friend Chris Foltz who had played with us in several projects during the 70s. Chris was there until the band retired in mid July 2015. During 2015 our keyboardist Rick Beck became more ill as the year progressed.
Junior & Chatty 2013 - present
Above is a shot of our first "Junior & Chatty" gig at The Rookery North in Milford. (formerly The Shawnee Country Club) We had performed together in the band for a couple of years when I asked Chatty to sit in with my solo act sometime. I am into performing a wide variety of musical styles and Chatty likes to play music no matter what the style. We have been doing the duo act regularly since.