Lives of The Bodleys

The Bodleys Font

The Bodleys, an acoustic ensemble, had a rather organic genesis: all five members are currently involved or have been associated with the folk choir at Saint Barnabas Parish in the historic California Heights area of Long Beach.

The Bodleys’ Family

Rhythm guitarist/Vocalist Wasyl Bodnar sang his four children to sleep with lullaby-esque renditions of James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James” in the years before he joined the choir as a vocalist and occasional guitarist.

Lead/Rhythm guitarist/Bassist/Vocalist Max Komine, a tenured St. Barnabas choir mate, sat in with various Saint Billy Bodley duo and trio incarnations for all of 2017.  The veteran gigging multi-instrumentalist joined the ensemble as a full-fledged band mate in November, 2017.  His lead vocals, six and 12-string guitars, bass, and his phenomenal sense of harmony and professionalism have added layers of sophistication to many SBB, and now, Bodleys gigs.

Fiddler/Vocalist Asher St. Pierre, the only classically-trained member of the ensemble, joined the choir as a minor, but he soon started to make a major contribution.  St. Pierre, a notable beer and mead connoisseur, considers the appellation “Fiddler” as a high compliment.

Percussionist/Vocalist John Stradley was a longtime vocalist with the choir until Fred Lobato, one of the musicians, commented, “You have a good sense of rhythm – you ought to look into getting some congas.” Stradley eventually did look into said congas, but his wife and daughter delighted him by purchasing them as a surprise birthday gift before he could buy them himself.

Lead guitarist/Vocalist Mat Summers has been a member of the parish choir since time began.  A virtuoso guitarist, drummer, composer, recording engineer, stalwart Anaheim Ducks fan, and all-around great guy, Summers is also a veteran gigging musician of two duos and eight bands from the 70s to the 2000s including, most recently,  Los Barnabas Boys, a longtime Bixby Knolls’ First Friday favorite.

Charter lead guitarist Billy Traber, who routinely refines his guitar technique before an audience of his Shiba Inu and Rhodesian Pit Bull Terrier, began to play publicly when invited to join former co-worker Stradley in an ad-hoc faculty jam band for an end of the school year party for their high school colleagues.  Although “Trabes” has not played with the ensemble since March of 2015, he retains the honorary title of “Charter lead guitarist.”

Official band photographer Emma Stradley began her avocation as a photographer with an Introduction to Photography course at the venerable Long Beach City College.  Peer and instructor critique honed her skills, and even as a minor, she could often (and can still, now as a “major”) be seen snapping away with her trusty Nikon at gigs far and wide.  Much of her creativity and “photographer’s eye” is evident in these pages.  A multi-talented individual, Emma Stradley has lent her vocal talent to the ensemble on occasion; she sang lead vocal on the Cranberries’ “Just My Imagination” at the groups’ St. Patrick’s Day, 2018, gig at Dutch’s Brewhouse.

The Bodleys’ Story

Bodnar and Stradley put together a set list and made their debut (with Traber sitting in) at the  now-gone-but-not-forgotten Factory Gastrobar in Bixby Knolls, Long Beach during the First Friday event in October of 2014. They were filling in for their friends, Los Barnabas Boys, who were unable to play their longstanding monthly gig because of multiple schedule conflicts. A good time was had by all, and the trio, now joined by Asher St. Pierre, decided to rehearse regularly, to add new material, and to seek opportunities to play eclectic sets of blues, country, folk, and rock tunes in a variety of smaller venues. Mat Summers sat in on the band’s first wine bar gig, and all agreed that he should join the ensemble as frequently as possible. Summers joined Saint Billy Bodley permanently in June, 2015.  Since then, Summers’ Los Barnabas Boys band mates Max Komine and David Nieto have graciously sat in occasionally as guest soloists, allowing versatility when ensemble band mates’ schedules conflict.

Far more known and in demand than it was at its humble beginning as a First Friday fill-in act at the gone-but-not-forgotten Factory gastrobar in Bixby Knolls in October, 2014, the ensemble initially “Billy Bodley,” and later, “Saint Billy Bodley,” and currently, “The Bodleys” garnered 16 bookings in 2015, 27 in 2016, 26 in 2017, and, thus far, 29 in 2018.  The acoustic ensemble has performed primarily in the greater Long Beach area, but it has appeared annually in the environs of Mammoth Lakes and at the Mt. Baldy Resort’s Top of the Notch Restaurant in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Meeting the demands of such performance schedules more frequently necessitated drawing upon the talents of musical friends to sit in with the ensemble as soloists.  Komine has been the go-to, on-call soloist for the ensemble since early December, 2016.  A multi-instrumentalist, Komine has added a bass line to SBB on select occasions when available space allowed for a quintet, most notably at September’s Craft Beer LB Fest at Rancho Los Cerritos and October’s Grand Opening festivities of The Merchant: Coffee|Bread|Provisions in Bixby Knolls. Komine joined the ensemble as a permanent utility player in November, 2017.

It seems the ensembles’ sound and vibe is conducive to the burgeoning southern (and central) California micro-brewery, gastrobar/gastropub, and wine bar juggernaut.  Aside from its debut performance at the Factory Gastrobar, The Bodleys in its various incarnations has performed frequently at Bixby Knolls’ Willmore Wine Bar and Dutch’s Brewhouse, at the Rebel Bite gastrobar in the East Village area of downtown Long Beach, at Black Doubt Brewing Company and East Side Bake Shop of Mammoth Lakes, at Rouleur Brewing Company in Carlsbad, and at the Mt. Baldy Resort’s “Moonlight Hikes” and “Battle of the Brews/Sunday Session” events.  Management is seeking other opportunities to perform at smaller micro-breweries, wine bars, and gastrobars/gastropubs within reach of the greater Long Beach area.

The ensemble’s original enigmatic name was both a bit of whimsy and an amalgamation of its charter members’ names: Asher Saint Pierre, Billy Traber, Wasyl Bodnar, and John 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.

See the slide show and the captions below to glimpse The Bodleys’ crew in other aspects of their lives. – TB

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Rhythm guitarist/Vocalist Wasyl Bodnar (bowman position, first person on left) keeps in shape between gigs rowing in Mission Bay, San Diego (above), off Long Beach’s glittering shoreline, and between the mainland and Catalina with his outrigger canoe crew.   At a vendor’s plant in mainland China, Bodnar (third from left) broadens his knowledge of printed circuit board manufacturing.  (Images by C. Silvester and an unknown photographer) 

Lead/Rhythm guitarist/Bassist/Vocalist Max Komine (Images and captions forthcoming)

An incognito Fiddler/Vocalist Asher St. Pierre was digitally captured, albeit unwillingly, prior to our July 2, 2016, gig at the Village at Mammoth.  The apparently camera shy virtuoso is also a beer connoisseur, and here he represents San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing Company, one of his favorites at the time.   The young fiddler and his lady friend savor the brewer’s art at Bixby Knolls’ Stateside Craft, one of the virtuoso’s preferred haunts.  (Images by John Stradley)

When not singing, pounding out a rhythm, or shaking rattles and tambourines, Percussionist/Vocalist John Stradley can be found seeking out powder stashes and tearing down the groomers at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in the Eastern Sierra or hiking rim-to-rim in the Grand Canyon.  (Images by John Stradley and an unknown photographer)

Sporting shades front and center, Lead guitarist/Vocalist Mat Summers takes a break from his birthday craft brewery crawl to snap this image with wife, sons, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter.  “I love going to local breweries!” exclaimed Summers.  Bordered by the spirit contingent, stalwart Anaheim Ducks fan Summers sports the team’s cap and anticipates victory. (Image by Mat Summers and an unknown photographer)

Charter lead guitarist Billy Traber practices his unique and engaging pedagogy in his former classroom at Verbum Dei High School in Watts, Los Angeles.  And in another life, Traber served as a formidable pitcher for a number of MLB teams, including the Cleveland Indians in 2003.  (Images by Michael Pineda, Verbum Dei High School, Class of 2017, and http://www.indians-bbe.com)

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