Outside Projects

The Coquina Rock Band

Coquina Rock Band logoIn 1980, Mike was playing with a band that included drummer Steve Fillicelli. As often happens, musicians would come and go for various reasons. Eventually, Steve left the band and a new drummer was recruited. Some months later, Mike also left, but he wasn’t idle for very long.

He was contacted by Steve, and asked if he was interested in joining the band that Steve was currently playing in, as their bassist was leaving shortly to move north and go back to school. Mike agreed, and this led to him becoming a member of the Coquina Rock Band.

The CRB had been started a year before by Mark Watson and his sister Jill, both of whom were excellent vocalists, with Mark also playing keyboards and a bit of guitar, while Jill contributed the odd guitar or percussion part. They too, had experienced the musical-chair situation with other members.

Their current bass player was Perry Petrone, aka ‘Sonny LaRock’. Perry was also left-handed, so he and Mike had a rapport almost immediately. The two of them had several sessions at Perry’s house in which they went over the bass parts to nearly every song the band played. This was important, since a large part of the band’s repertoire was original music from the Watson siblings (with contributions from a writing partner of Mark’s).

Coquina Rock Band TV appearanceWith Mike up to speed, Perry left the band and the CRB was able to carry on without a hitch. During the time Mike was a member, they made a TV appearance on Sunshine Music Hall, a half-hour broadcast on station WMFE in Orlando, Fl.

After several more personnel changes, including a new drummer, the band went into the studio (for the second time; the first occasion was with Perry some months before Mike joined). This resulted in two original tracks, Expendable and Metal On Metal, recorded at a professional eight-track studio in Melbourne, Florida. Except for some live recordings made at a surf festival some months later, these were the only songs captured on tape while Mike was with the band.

Eventually, Mike also left the group, which carried on a while longer then disbanded completely. Mark and Jill went on to work as a country duo for a short time, which ended when Jill moved to Chicago. Mark and Perry both passed away in 2004. Mike and Jill still keep in touch.

For more information, check out the Coquina Rock Band website.

Outside Projects

Jeremiah Ellsworth

Jeremiah Ellsworth 'Tomb of Time' cover artBetween 2000-2002, Michael worked almost exclusively with his good friend and former bandmate Rick Beyer on material that would eventually fill three CDs, as Jeremiah Ellsworth. All the songs were written by Rick (except for If I Lose My Faith from the Branded album, with lyrics by Mike), and recorded at Rick’s 8-track studio in Florida. Rick did all the vocal and guitar parts, Mike did all the bass and keyboard duties.

“Rick and I were in bands off and on for many years, but hadn’t worked together in some time. I had played him some stuff I came up with (I Caught A Train and Make You Go), and we fell into recording some songs he had. It went really well, so we just kept going.”

Jeremiah Ellsworth 'Branded' cover artThe first album, Tomb Of Time (2000), used Michael’s keyboard as a drum machine. Branded (2001) had Stan Soloko on real skins, and In Stride (2002) featured Mica Parenti handling the percussion chores. All the albums were mixed and mastered at TGIF Studio in Florida, under the direction of Chris Hattingh.

The JE CDs proved to be surprisingly popular, with requests for airplay copies coming as far away as France, and sales on the Internet  even out to Japan.

Jeremish Ellsworth 'In Stride' cover artMike and Rick discussed recording a fourth JE album together, but eventually the plans came to naught. Rick has continued to write and record as Jeremiah Ellsworth, however.

More information can be found here.