The Bodleys (Wasyl Bodnar, guitar; Max Komine, guitar/bass; Asher St. Pierre, fiddle/ukulele; John Stradley, percussion; Mat Summers, lead guitar/mandolin/ukulele) began 2018 in the same way it closed out 2017: appearing at Dutch’s Brewhouse, 4244 Atlantic Avenue, Bixby Knolls, Long Beach. For much of the year prior, the ensemble was the de facto “brewhouse band” for the your-brew-to-you venue; however, in May, 2018, management scaled back the twice-monthly appearances to monthly performances. The reason given was the desire to have a variety of music represented each month.
The Bodleys in a quartet configuration continued its house band role at Dutch’s Brewhouse, on Saint Patrick’s Day, Saturday, March 17. The finalized set list featured the ensemble’s first public performances of Loggins & Messina’s “Watching the River Run,” Van Morrison’s “It Stoned Me,” and the Cranberries’ “Just My Imagination” featuring special guest vocalist (and band photographer) Emma Stradley. Aside from the “from Ireland” aspect of the Cranberries’ tune and five of Van Morrison’s iconic numbers, the ensemble performed the traditional “Lily of the West” and James Taylor’s arrangement of “The Water Is Wide,” a nominal English/Irish tune. The Saint Patrick’s line-up featured Komine, rhythm guitar, St. Pierre, fiddle, Stradley, percussion, and Summers, lead guitar.
The performance was likely the final St. Patty’s Day appearance of fiddler St. Pierre, as he joined ranks with Killian’s Bridge, an Irish pub band in 2018. St. Pierre’s moonlighting from The Bodleys has presented a few scheduling conflicts this year, and the days leading up to and including Saint Patrick’s Day are a lucrative time for Irish bands. We do not expect to see much of “the ute” in mid-March.
The Bodley’s quartet of Bodnar, rhythm guitar, Komine, lead guitar, St. Pierre, fiddle, and Stradley, percussion, provided an eclectic acoustic blues, country, folk, and rock soundtrack for the Dramatic Results Street Art Festival & FUNdraiser on Saturday, April 7, 2018. The afternoon-to-evening festival was held at the Dramatic Results Studio in Signal Hill.
After serving The Bodleys well for many a gig, Summers’ Carvin powered PA head/mixer died in 2018. Bodnar filled the sound void by purchasing a Harbinger LP9800 powered mixer, which features 800 watts with nine channels and auxiliary inputs. Bodnar’s head was purchased for use at rehearsals at his Lakewood home; moreover, Summers was impressed enough with the unit that he purchased his own for his studio. Stradley followed suit, and now The Bodleys are a three-PA ensemble. The availability of identical units for rehearsal and performance is sure to foster more competence among the audio neophytes in the ensemble. While Summers and Komine’s audio technical prowess is sound, Stradley is becoming increasingly comfortable with cable routing, EQ, and level-setting. The group has come a long way from its initial use of individual boutique amps for performance.
Willmore, Bixby Knolls’ venerable wine bar, hosted The Bodleys only once in 2018. The April performance at the intimate venue, as have been all Willmore performances, was greatly enjoyed by the ensemble. The Bodleys hope that additional Willmore performance opportunities might be found in 2019.
Summer for The Bodleys – 16 gigs, half of the performances of 2018 – was a busy time! Between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, the ensemble in various configurations appeared locally and in the distant recurrent haunts of Mammoth Lakes and Mt. Baldy. Appearances at Mammoth’s Black Doubt Brewing Company and the East Side Bake Shop book-ended the summer (with Shelter Distilling, a new-to-the-ensemble Mammoth Lakes venue added on the Labor Day weekend).
Mt. Baldy Resort welcomed the ensemble four times over the summer: the “Battle of the Brews: Sunday Sessions” provided three opportunities for The Bodleys to bring its eclectic repertoire to the Top of the Notch restaurant’s patrons, and the “Moonlight Hike” event was the group’s return to the popular BBQ event that runs throughout the summer and fall.
Three private events, a backyard birthday party, a 50th Wedding Anniversary party, and Speakeasy Alley, a ticketed event of the Los Cerritos Neighborhood Association, kept The Bodleys busy between its venue performances.
Known for four years as “Saint Billy Bodley,” an amalgamation of the names of charter band mates St. Pierre, Billy Traber, Bodnar, and Stradley, the ensemble truly needed a new name with the quick exit of Traber and the eventual additions of first Summers and later Komine. This led to a spirited and contentious debate on potential band names: “Saint “Butch” Bodley,” “The Strads,” “Switched at Birth,” “The Hymnknots,” “The Pink Straddlac,” “The Cool Guys & Also John,” “Ashkom Sumbodley and the Lime-Lighters, “”The Piekomers,” and many, many other ribald (and downright gross) monikers were floated, but the ensemble has, it seems, settled upon “The Bodleys,” an appellation close enough to the original to not be too problematic.
Since its opening a little more than a year ago, The Bodleys have frequently patronized Ten Mile Brewing Company, Signal Hill’s only craft brewing enterprise. An amendment to the venue’s conditional use permit to allow live music was granted this past summer, and on Saturday, October 27, 2018, The Bodleys were honored as the first ensemble to provide live music for the patrons and staff of Ten Mile Brewing Company’s taproom, located at 1136 E Willow Street, Signal Hill.
Initially competing with the World Series which ran concurrently on the taproom’s twin large screens, The Bodleys appeared in a quartet configuration. The appearance featured the ensemble’s first public performance of Stick Figure’s reggae number “Out the Door,” featuring Bodnar on lead vocal. The set list also included a healthy measure of the ensemble’s old-school blend of blues, country, folk, and rock. The performance coincided with the birthday of Ten Mile Brewing Company Co-owner/Brewmaster Dan Sundstrom. The honoree’s take on the evening was positive, and many patrons voiced their appreciation for the ensemble’s effort, energy, and vibe. Odds are good that The Bodleys will again lend its sound to the ambiance of Ten Mile Brewing Company.
The ensemble ended its 2018 as it had began with performances at Dutch’s Brewhouse in November and early December. Guitarist Bodnar dedicated The Youngbloods’ “Get Together” to to victims of The Borderline Bar & Grill shootings in Thousand Oaks. A sad testament to the times and climate in which we live, this was the ensemble’s second such dedication, as the lads likewise performed immediately in the aftermath of The Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, Florida.
On a far lighter note: the November gig was a “stand out” evening, for the night began with St. Pierre having to make a return trip to his home to retrieve his forgotten music stand. Conversely, Stradley forgot his beloved music stand on the sidewalk outside Dutch’s after the 11:00 P.M. load-out. He returned hopeful the following morning and found the stand exactly where he had left it. One has to give humanity some props.
In its four-year existence, The Bodleys have now performed more than 100 times. The ensemble continues to add to its repertoire, to rehearse regularly, and to delight audiences in the greater Long Beach area and beyond. We still find joy while making music together, and we look to the New Year with enthusiasm and eagerness.
As always, we thank our significant others and our families for their patience and support of our musical friendship. We also thank our “faithful,” the regulars who come out to our various performances. We remember and appreciate the venues and event coordinators who time and again welcome The Bodleys into their establishments.
We wish you the merriest of Christmases and the most joyous of New Years! The Bodleys will see you in 2019. – TB