Michael W Stand
Fronted by guitarist/vocalist Michael W Stand, The Altar Billies, one of many groups that are taking a "liking" to a new and rapidly growing alt country/rockabilly/psychobilly trend, are a trio from Orange County. Rounding out the group are Johnny X on upright bass and Chuck Cummings on drums.
Michael's affection for Gretsch guitars began many years ago when a friend gave him a vintage 1959 White Falcon. From there his arsenal of Gretsches has grown to include a Chet Atkins 6120, Brian Setzer Hot Rod, Duo Jet, and the newly-released Black Panther. Michael has taken a special liking to the new Black Panther as it carries on the wonderful characteristics of all that is great about a Gretsch guitar. (Check out Michael's video on the Black Panther.)
With his Black Panther in hand, Michael, Johnny, and Chuck have been playing all over the Southern California area for more than 6 years. They perform for a large variety of audiences both young and old. The Altar Billies have played at such venues as the House of Blues in Anaheim, The Observatory in Costa Mesa, The NAMM Show in Anaheim, the Orange Street and Cypress Street Fairs, the Silverado Canyon concert series, as well as many clubs in the OC area. The group has had the privilege of opening up for several great rockabilly groups including OC icon Big Sandy, as well as for Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats.
With the release of their new full length project "Head'n Out West", the band is ready and geared up to explore and expand into new musical territory. There is more to this group than meets the eye, as the 14 songs (plus a surprise reprise) seeks to establish the Altar Billies as a viable and serious rockabilly/Americana act. Make sure to follow them on Twitter and check out other videos on their YouTube Channel.
Photo: Teddy Woody Woodford
Born in Chicago, Alvino began playing drums at the age of 10 with the William Penn Elementary School drum and bugle corps. Soon after, he started playing for various local bands and at 14, he began traveling the country, working the club circuit. At 17 he was spotted in a club and approached by blues legend, KoKo Taylor, to lend his talent. At the same time, many other blues and R&B luminaries began to call on him for his talent. These stars included: Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Cash McCall, and Mighty Joe Young just to name a few.
In 1974, Alvino got a call to tour with the late great songstress, Minnie Ripperton. This tour opened the doors for many other projects, such as working with Gong Show Guest Jaye P. Morgan and the vocal group "The Originals". In addition, Alvino also worked with the family singing group, "The Sylvers". This, in turn, led to many Motown and other recording sessions.
Alvino hit on one of the biggest projects of his career in 1978 by joining the million-selling R&B band "L.T.D.", of which he was a member for 5 years. Alvino quickly became a highly-sought-after, in-demand drummer for such stars as Cheryl Lynn, Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, Kenny Loggins, Bryan Ferry, Robin Trower, Sheena Easton, Little Richard, Slash's Blues Ball, Patrice Rushen, Little Richard, Soul II Soul, Bo Diddley, Chic, Willie Dixon, and Koko Taylor.
In 2003 while playing a local gig near his home in So. California, Bill Mason from Dave Mason's band stopped by to "sit in" with Alvino and friends. The two exchanged numbers and became friends. Within a few months, a spot was open for drums with the Dave Mason Band. Alvino has been an integral part of the band ever since!!
Check out where Alvino and Dave Mason will be on tour in 2015. Alvino’s first solo CD "The Journey" will be out this year.
Gretsch Greatest Hits . . . and Hitters: Chick Webb
The inaugural article in this new series featured Tony Williams, who was indisputably one of the most innovative and influential drummers in jazz. This time, we’ll take a step further back and examine the career of Chick Webb, who the editors of Modern Drummer stated "set the standard for how a drummer should drive a band.”
News From NAMM: A Report On What’s Changing And What’s Not
Shortly after the turn of the new year it was announced that the license to manufacture and distribute Gretsch drums had been acquired by Drum Workshop. Not surprisingly, this set off a storm of rumor and speculation about the future of the brand and of the drums themselves. In order to address the concerns of the drum community, a presentation for the music-industry press was held on Friday, January 23 at the NAMM Show.
MORE NEWS & EVENTS:
A TRIBUTE TO CHET ATKINS
In 2014 we celebrated of the 60th anniversary of the relationship between Chet Atkins and the Gretsch Company. Watch a special video and read "Celebrating 60 Years" by Fred Gretsch.
GRETSCH FAMILY GALLERY
During your next visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum in Nashville, explore the Dinah and Fred Gretsch Family Gallery filled with touch screens, interactive displays, and some of the museum's most up-to-date artifacts.
GERMAN GUITAR HEROES:
Read Fred Gretsch's examination of an important part of history not properly being represented.
More Gretsch events HERE.
RECAP OF RECENT EVENTS:
Visit our RECAP page for details of other Gretsch events from 2015, 2014, and earlier.
Follow: Fred Gretsch