Diamond Reo 75

NEST Fest 17' benefiting NEST of mobile (a 501(c)3 organization) featuring:

Diamond Reo 75

Thu · October 12, 2017

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:30 pm


Diamond Reo 75
Diamond Reo 75
Get back together with the songs of the sixties and seventies and rock out with Diamond Reo 75 as they take you back with favorites and originals from the golden era of rock. Formed at Yale University in 1975, all the original personnel have come back together after more than 40 years to benefit NEST of Mobile, which serves the juvenile court system’s at-risk children and their families.

Diamond Reo 75’s music is more than nostalgia. It is a recapture of youth and the exciting, and sometimes formidable, time when we decide which paths our lives might follow. And it is a celebration of life and the rekindling of friendships from New England to Los Angeles to the Northwest to the Gulf Coast. You will rock the way rock is supposed to roll whether they’re singing or jamming or doing a little of each.

During the last three years, the band has gathered 7 times to rehearse, perform or record. Their rock style ranges from the fast-paced Chuck Berry’s Promised Land and the Grateful Dead’s U.S. Blues, to Steely Dan’s Chain Lightning, to Bob Dylan and The Band’s I Shall Be Released and the classic, The Weight. Their original tunes, some of which are available on their EP Back on the Truck (iTunes), are pure Americana and reflect lifetimes of experience.

They come here from across the country:

Tommy Bourgeois, Guitar, Lead Vocals Los Angeles, California

Tommy began playing guitar at age 11. He is largely self-taught, having absorbed many of the styles and genres that comprise the musical gumbo of his native New Orleans.

At Yale he laid the foundation for collaborating with other musicians in both performing and songwriting. Among the bands he played and sang with before joining Diamond Reo 75 was Light and Loose, founded by his first songwriting partner Justin “Judd” Miller and featuring lead guitarist (and future studio owner) Joel Bluestein and flautist Jon Pareles, who would go on to an illustrious career as The New York Times pop/rock music critic. He joined Diamond Reo 75 at the beginning of his senior year in 1974.

Tommy taught high school English, speech and Latin, and also taught guitar and voice, in Dallas after graduation. While there he collaborated with local musicians Wade Stallings and Jim McGrath. He also worked in pit bands, including productions of Chicago and the musical adaptation of Studs Terkel’s oral history project Working, which featured the compositions of Godspell auteur Stephen Schwartz and James Taylor. In 1980, Tommy’s song “Long Way Back”, which he had written for Diamond Reo 75, was featured in Theater Three’s regional premiere of Lanford Wilson’s Fifth of July.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1982 and formed Too Loose, a band that played several Southern California venues between 1982 and 1985, and was fronted by singer-songwriter-guitarists Jim McGrath and Rick Okie, with whom he co-wrote DR 75’s Hurricane Motel. In the L.A. theater scene, he was musical director of Stephen Tobolowsky’s 1984 cult hit Two Idiots in Hollywood and, more recently, Brian Forrester’s 2012 play Linthead.

Tommy has one son and is married to the multi-talented photographer/producer Ann Toler. 
Paul Baumgartel, Drums Riverside, Connecticut

Paul joined the local fife-and-drum corps at the age of 10, playing cymbals, then bass drum, then snare drum, competing at amusement parks and carnivals and appearing at the United States Pavilion at the 1965 World’s Fair in New York City.
At Yale, he first played with Bill Oppenheimer in a band called Moonshine, which became quite popular with a guest singer doing Rolling Stones tunes: “I have vivid memories of an entire dance floor of people leaping into the air as one during the chorus of Brown Sugar.” He later contributed drum solos for a production at the Yale University Theater and sat in with other groups, including one featuring Clark Kee, the brother of Diamond Reo 75’s Chris Kee.
A summer in the Berkshires of Massachusetts playing with the band that was the precursor to Diamond Reo led one club owner to dub Paul “the best drummer in the Berkshires”.
Paul continued playing music after college, in settings as varied as the pit band for Off-Off-Broadway productions in New York City, a rock band with a horn section, and various jazz groups that featured flute, saxophone, and guitar soloists.
Intrigued with computer software, Paul became a software developer and has worked in the IT industry as a programmer, database designer and systems architect. He is currently an IT architectural consultant for one of the world’s largest software companies.
Paul and his wife Mona have 3 grown children.

Tim Kalliches, Guitar, Vocals and Sound Engineer New York, New York

Tim was born in Rockville Center, NY in 1951 and soon moved to New Jersey. Fascinated by jet planes, the X-15 and Chuck Yeager, and the early space program, he transferred to the Horace Mann School in the Bronx where he became enamored with quantum mechanics and was an exchange student to Athens, Greece for his junior year.

His early influences were Cream, Credence Clearwater Revival, and Blues Project. Tim enrolled at Yale in 1969 as a physics major. When he was at the Fillmore East for the first time (in 1970, Zappa w/Flo and Eddy from the Turtles) and Bill Graham announced a special unadvertised show featuring the Dead, he bought a ticket. The show started on Monday evening at 8 pm and ended at 8 am. In Tim’s words: “The Dead, Hot Tuna’s first electric show and Chris Wood and Steve Winwood of Traffic played separately and then all together. It was unbelievably great and looked like a lot of fun. I bought my first guitar the following week.”

“There was some great music at Yale in those days. I started jamming with students Michael Vlahos (violin, CIA, history professor Johns Hopkins), Nigel Whittaker (law student, CEO Woolworths), Russell Schay (vocals, Land Trust Alliance), Greg Redlitz (piano, lawyer, ran the Olsen Twins empire), Ron Taylor (bass, television executive) and later Scott Reckard (guitar, AP, LA Times), Marc Morgenstern (piano, lawyer, venture capitalist) the Jack Hoffman Band, and then Rick Okie, Marilyn Sharpe and Chris Kee with Joyride. Finally there was Diamond Reo 75 with Bill Oppenheimer and Tommy Bourgeois.”

“Since there wasn’t much commercially available sound equipment back then I built my own. When I moved to NYC in 1976 I worked for the Remote Truck crew at Record Plant and then for a company that did commercial sound installations and live sound. My boss had been Phil Ramone’s assistant and I did the sound for Steve and Edie, Paul Anka, and eight years with Liza Minnelli and five years with Frank Sinatra, in New York and all over the world. I also did sound for shows that included Diana Ross, Pavarotti and the NY Philharmonic, Vladimir Horowitz, Gregory Hines, Sammy Davis, Dean Martin, and Toots Thielemans. Since Sinatra and President Reagan were friends, I did the his second presidential inaugural ball, broadcast on live TV, and several shows at the White House. I stopped touring and worked for a jingle house in Manhattan where I’ve met a lot of studio musicians, some of whom had their own sound studios. David Spinozza and Hugh McCracken were good friends, Shawn Pelton, Larry Campbell, Steve Gadd, Will Lee were often at the studio.”

Tim retired in 1998 and lives in Manhattan while enjoying further musical pursuits.

Chris Kee, Bass, vocals, Cello Northern California

Chris Kee was born in Morristown, NJ and grew up there and in Bryn Mawr, PA. His parents, both Methodist ministers, were musically oriented and started him with the cello at an early age. He met Pablo Casals backstage who told him he had “the hands of a musician.” In ’73, he followed his brother to Yale. He played cello in the Yale Symphony his first two years, during which time he also played bass with Diamond Reo 75. He dropped out of college but stayed in the New Haven area. “I continued to live and play music around New Haven, mostly with the late great blues guitarist Robert Crotty, with whom I did a bunch of club work, around town and throughout the Northeast. I also continued to work with my brother, who by then was running an Off Off Broadway theater in New York.”

Chris flourished as a musician after moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1979. He played with the Natives, “a band that ruled the East Bay club scene,” and who were connected with the larger Grateful Dead family. “We found ourselves playing at the Hog Farm and, surreally, opening for the Jerry Garcia Band at a string of shows at the legendary Keystone clubs.” In 1988 he moved back east to finish his college degree at Yale, where “under the benevolent gaze of ethnomusicologist John Szwed,” he spent most of his time studying gospel music and ceremony at the Beulah Heights First Pentecostal Church.

Then it was back to the Bay Area where he obtained a law degree, working as a courier and playing in four bands while attending school full time. In 1996, he was hired as a Deputy City Attorney for the City of Oakland. “I began playing in a transcendent power pop band called Me Jane with the prodigiously gifted singer and songwriter Jane Selkye to whom, in a rock and roll fairy tale kind of way, I have been married since 2000. That band performed extensively in the clubs and on concert stages and came within a whisker of being signed to Capitol Records. In that same time period, I also began a long collaboration with Jim Campilongo, a ferocious and innovative guitarist, now based in Brooklyn. One of the Campilongo bands came to the attention of Peter Rowan and we played with Peter for a few years off and on, doing concerts and major festivals. I’ve continued to play with Peter over the years and am officially a member of the Free Mexican Air Force. Of some biographical note as well, I was playing with Jim in New York in September of 2001. We played the Knitting Factory on the 10th after which I returned to my hotel room-- at the World Trade Center Marriott. I made it out the next morning, dodging falling debris--- my bass, which I left in my room, did not.”

Chris has been the bassist and principal songwriter for the Bay Area’s Houston Jones, as a sideman, most notably with Buddy Miller, with whom he has done several shows including one with Emmy Lou Harris, Shawn Colvin and Patty Griffin. He is currently active in the Portland, OR music scene with four bands, including “a honking, screaming sax based band with the mighty Ralph Carney, long time sideman for Tom Waits. I’m also working with Jeremy Wakefield, an amazing steel guitar player originally from LA (and the creator of the Sponge Bob Square Pants soundtrack—oddly, Ralph does the soundtrack for Bojack Horseman) and Michael Shay, an Austin ex-pat by way of Ecuador.”

Chris and Jane reside in northern California.

Bill Oppenheimer, Keyboards Mobile, Alabama

Born in Mobile, Alabama in 1953, he was not exposed to music as a child. His interests ranged from camping, fishing, and hunting to various sciences, but not music.

A boarding student at Shady Side Academy, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, though he frequently stayed with family or friends (including schoolmate and soon-to-be Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz), there were many weekends spent essentially alone. He would tinker with the many pianos around campus, and sit at the pipe organ in the chapel and figure out triads and the different keys. One day a friend said “Opp, listen to this, I think you’ll like it.” Levon Helm was singing “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” a song about the end of the Civil War. He thought it fantastic and immediately worked to figure it out. Soon he was learning all of the songs on The Band’s then two albums.

He was accepted to Yale and joined the band Moonshine in his freshman year with his new friend Paul Baumgartel, and ended up following Paul to join up with Tim Kalliches, Chris Kee and Tommy Bourgeois to become Diamond Reo 75, which consisted of the same personnel as it has today.

In the fall of 1974, Professor Bill Ferris asked B.B. King to come to Yale and lecture on the blues. “We gathered in Sprague Hall, several hundred students, and Mr. King came on stage solo and sat in a chair with his guitar Lucille in his arms. Almost immediately he said ‘Are there any piano players in the audience?’ Thinking it was a rhetorical question or the opening line of a joke, and assuming scores would raise their hand, I raised mine. Turns out I was the only one to raise a hand. Mr. King invited me onstage at which point I noticed the large Steinway, and we played blues for 20 minutes. Then in front of my schoolmates he taught me The Thrill Is Gone (I wasn’t sure which style of minor key he used) and we played it on through. After the performance we spoke privately and he was very encouraging, and even asked me to accompany him that afternoon at a smaller venue. Not having any classes that I particularly cared about, I gave him an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’”

After college, Bill worked in various family businesses including an export company he established, and is currently president of Enveloc, Inc, an on-line backup company. He is active in several civic organizations including the Rotary Club. Since Diamond Reo ‘75’s reunion he has reignited his musical enthusiasm and plays with several bands in Mobile, including Glenn Normand’s Grand Band, and the Bay Rat Cannolis, who specialize in Sinatra, Dean Martin and Rat Pack music.

Bill and Nancy have two children and three grandchildren and live in Mobile.
Venue Information:
The Steeple
251 St Francis St
Mobile, AL, 36602