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About Al Hospers
This is probably more than you want to know abut my musical career. That said, here it is.

Other than fiddling around with a beat up Harmony acoustic guitar in high school, I didn't start playing music until I went to college at the University of Florida in 1965. Sure, I always sang around the house and in the shower, but there was nothing serious about it. The first tune I learned on that old guitar was Hank Williams, I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry. Funny how that's a song I play today, almost 50 years later!.

Gainesville: When I went to University of Florida there were many kids who brought their instruments with them, including my first roommate. There was even a room in the basement of the dorm, Hume Hall, called the music room. As I remember that there was always a waiting list of folks who wanted to use it. Somehow I found my way into a couple of these groups as a singer, go figure! I guess that started the whole thing.

I don't remember all the dates, but this is pretty much in chronological order from 1965-1975.

1) The first band I was ever in was a dorm band in Hume Hall with Mark Springer on drums, Mike Stanage on guitar and Dennis Bowers on bass. Believe it or not, I was the singer! We played a lot of dorm gigs and a number of times at Trader's North, the one downtown not the strip club.

2) My second band was another dorm band with Russ Beutlich on bass, Sam Green on organ, Ed Wassman on drums and a guitarist I don't remember. Again I was the lead singer. The guitarist dropped out of school and Russ took over on guitar. When I asked who was going to be the bass player he handed me his sunburst Mosrite bass and said; "You are!" We played at dorm dances and frat parties.

3) I started playing guitar and was in at least one band with Ed Wassman & we had several bass players. Ed and I were roommates for a year or two and lived on the edge of town next door to blues guitarist Jonny Hines who we used to see outside his house all the time. We did dorm and frat parties and we also played a couple of times at Trader's in town. I particularly remember one night we were playing and there was a fight where someone pulled out a gun and I dived behind my amp.

3) While I was playing (mediocre) lead guitar and singing I hooked up with 15 year old Marty Stinger and we started playing with his sister's boyfriend (Steve Ewing?) on bass and another guitar player. I don't remember his name but he was short and skinny with an afro and later played in a band that did a lot of Sly. We played a very eclectic mix of rock and old soul music. We played several frat gigs and at least one concert outside in the Plaza at the U on a Saturday afternoon.

4) I spent about 4 months playing guitar in this all-black soul band. I can't remember all the places we played, but I was definitely the only white guy in any place. My feature was Mercy Mercy Mercy. I had a Les Paul Junior and Fender Twin Reverb. one afternoon I went to rehearsal at this club out in the sticks that was like a giant screened-in bar and the organ player, the leader, wasn't there. I asked the bartender and the bartender said his wife had found out he was screwing around and shot him dead! I decided that band wasn't for me.

5) Once I finally realized my shortcomings on guitar and went back to bass, Marty and I hooked up with Bob McNellis. We had a trio for a year or so and rehearsed at Bob's parents house. We became the house band at the newer Trader's South. Playing at Trader's with the topless dancers and all the crazies was a real trip. After a while Bob joined the Royal Guardsmen and the band broke up.

6) Dark Star: Marty and I hooked up with Peter Einhorn to form Dark Star which was Peter, Marty, Howard (a singer/acoustic guitarist), another guitarist and me on the bass. One of our first gigs was at the Halloween Ball in the Plaza of the Americas on campus at UF. We started off with this crazy atonal jam we called Soul Sister. Needless to say it had nothing to do with soul music! As I remember we played all originals. It was chilly and damp that night and I distinctly remember how hard it was to get all those guitars in tune.

7) The Jades: I'm not sure who hooked me up with Randy Keaton but I joined the band with Marty, Dana Clees, and Randy Keaton. Jim Nygard was the sound man, road manager & jack of all trades. it wasn't a show-band like it was later. We played The Band, Beatles, Dylan, Steve Miller and the like. Dana left the Jades and Ron Blair joined on organ and guitar. We played all kinds of gigs all over north Florida and south Georgia. I remember sleeping in the back of Randy's red van on the way back from the gigs.

8) NY Mystery Band: I was living in house out near the Mall with Ron Blair and another guy from UF. One day Dave Mason & Pete Murphy came over and asked if Ron, Marty & I would be interested in recording some of their tunes. Of course we said yes and over the next few days we jammed and recorded. Pete had a nice 2-track recorder and we did it all live. this was around the time of the infamous Lipham Music Battle of the Bands and Buster asked if we would be interested in playing, not in the contest, but as entertainment. We said yes and played all of our tunes for that. I don't remember which day it was. The band was amazing, but that was our only gig.

9) Froggy and the Magic Twangers: I became friends with a guy from school named Carl Sokol. Carl played some acoustic guitar but he was really a singer and keyboard player. I seem to remember that we met because we were dating two sisters. We started jamming and hooked up with Marty and Pete Murphy. We did a live-to-tape recording at a local studio, I don't really remember where. The band was pretty good, but we only played a few gigs. We played arrangements of cover tunes and one or two originals. Pete was amazing. Besides being a good jazz guitarist, he was a good blues player and singer.

10) Dark Star revisited: The band reformed with Marty, Dominic Barille on guitar, a singer/rhythm guitarist and me. Although we played covers, they were pretty arranged and we jammed a lot. We played all kinds of local concerts, including opening at the Reitz for RGF, one of the Mudcrutch Farm concerts and at the big pop festival, Alachua or Desserah (?). I remember we started as the sun came up, right after Skynnard. It was an amazing gig for us and got us hired to play a mini-festival in Jacksonville, opening for Skynnard.

11) Dark Star once more: Dominic moved to California, the singer/guitarist disappeared and Marty and I reformed Dark Star with Pete Einhorn, Johnny Jones on vocals, and a keyboard player; I don't remember the keyboard player's name. We played a bunch of concerts including some at the Auditorium and the Rat. We played most, if not all, original music that we all took had hands in writing.

12) Unicorn: I moved into a house where Peter and lived for a while and for some reason we started playing acoustic music. He knew Anne Lampert and the 3 of us started playing around as Unicorn; a play on Peter's last name of Einhorn. We were a regular at the Keg and did several concerts. The best one was at the Auditorium opening for Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. We were very well received and things were looking up.

13) Styrophoam Soule: someone, maybe sax player Barbara Shaw, hooked me up with Lonnie Morris & the band for a couple of gigs when they needed a bass player. I remember Lonnie and his dad coming over to talk to me about it. I certainly didn't fit into what they were doing because I didn't want to do straight covers and I certainly didn't want to dress alike. However I needed the $ and it sounded good.

14) Harkonnen: This was an electric band with Pete Einhorn and Steve Pomeranz on guitars, Tony Kahwajy on drums and me. We played some originals, but mostly covers of early Yes, Hendrix (Cry of Love era) and Jeff Beck. We had a few gigs, but not much.

15) Purlee: I don't remember how Marty hooked up with Mike Barnhart and Zeke Zirengable, maybe through Fred who worked at Lipham. One day Marty showed up at my house where I was living with Peter Einhorn and asked me to come over to a meeting about a new band that was forming. Things were pretty far along and I think I was the past piece of the puzzle. The band moved up to Fort Valley, Georgia where Barnhart and Zeke lived, to rehearse and write tunes. Purlee toured for a couple of years. In spite of how good we were, we couldn't break through with our originals. At one point, in an attempt to get paying gigs, we created a show of two 60 minute medleys. One was a history of rock & roll, the other a Beatles medley. The latter was amazing and ended with the entire Abby Road medley. It was a popular show, but after 2 years of no money and being away from home all the time, the band came back to Gainesville and Bob & I left.

16) The Jazz Project: After I came back to Gainesville and Purlee broke up, I got a job at Leonardo's Pizza where Peter worked. Now he was into jazz and it seemed a logical progression. I always liked jazz and listened to it all the time, so it was a natural thing to start actually learning and playing it. Peter was playing with saxophonist Henry Boudin and we got Tony Kahwaje involved on drums. For a while Bob Harris, piano player from Purlee, played with us and we even did some of his jazzy originals. We played some parties and then got a regular gig at the Keg. Tony left and we got Rob Pellick to play drums. It was a good band and I learned a lot about how to really swing and walk over chord changes.

Miami: In 1975 Peter decided to leave Gainesville and move to Miami as his family was there and he wanted to go to the University of Miami music school. I looked at my life and decided that it was time for me to move on as well. I applied to UM, auditioned and got a full scholarship. I move to Miami and never came back to Gainesville. I still remember all those years and they really had a major impact on me. I would never have gotten where I did without that as a learning experience.

The first few months at UM I just concentrated on school, however it was pretty quick that I started gigging with a variety of local bands. I did jazz, rock, pop, latin - whatever kind of music that was available and would pay me. For about a year I had a cover band with Bruce Hornsby, Steve Watson (a great guitarist who played on Bruce's early albums and became a 1st call LA studio player), John Molo (later the drummer in Bruce's early band) and a female vocalist named Kathy (?). We played in a variety of clubs in North and South Miami.

About 8 months after I went to Miami, Henry Boudin called me up and we put together a Jazz Project reunion gig. Peter didn't come up so we did it as sax, bass and drums. We played at a club in Melrose one night, the Keg the next and an outdoor gig at the museum on Sunday afternoon. I had gotten into acoustic bass and played it mostly. It was really fun for me since I got to solo a lot. I was surprised at how comfortable I felt in this setting and it gave me a lot of confidence about my playing.

I'm not sure how I got hooked up with guitarist Mike Gillis, but in about 1977 he asked me to join his band. He was playing a mostly jazz gig at the Village Inn in Coconut Grove. It was a really good band featuring a great black female singer named Carmen Lundy. I stayed with Mike for several years. We played all kinds of gigs all over town, culminating with an almost 3 year stand, 5 nites a week at Banana's bar in the Coconut Grove Playhouse. This was an amazing 9 piece band that would start the evening with a jazz set, move to funk and pop in the middle and end with Eagles and Led Zeppelin! The players were always some of the best in Miami and he always had a great male and female vocalist. I had to be able to play anything and every week we would rehearse on Friday afternoon and learn new charts. Mike would do charts for whatever was the hot new thing. We did Earth Wind and Fire, Eagles, Gino Vanelli, Herbie Hancock, Led Zepplin, Sly & the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, Manhattan Transfer, Spyro Gyra, Weather Report, Donna Summer, Michael Jackson, you name it! It was a fantastic learning experience for all of us, and it made me a very versatile player. While we played mostly cover tunes, we did perform a number of originals by Gillis, me and one of the singers.

Around this time I also started playing with a vibes/marimba musician I knew from school named Jeff Loewer. We started writing tunes in the style of the classic ECM recordings by Jan Garbereck and Eberhard Weber and we brought in another student friend named John Lovell who played Flugelhorn and percussion. He also played in the Gillis band at Banana's for a while. We recorded an album's worth of originals at a studio in North Miami. We didn't know what we were going to do with it, but we wanted to see what it would sound like.

New York:
In 1980 Jeff graduated and decided to move to New York City. I was feeling as if I wanted to try to do more than play in Miami, so I moved at the same time and we rented an apartment together in Brooklyn. We had an original band named Akimbo that played in the various clubs around town for a couple of years. At the same time I played with pretty much any band that would pay me: jazz, rock, wedding, country, pop, country, blues even a polka band! Of course I had a day gig at Chemical Bank NY for a little over a year to pay the bills, as almost all my musician friends did.

Jeff and I lived together for about a year, until I moved in with a woman who became my first wife. Probably around '81 I got a gig playing with the Buddy Rich big band. This lasted less than a year, and like almost all the bass players in the band I was fired. It wasn't all that surprising as he was very hard on bass players. Then I got a gig with David Clayton Thomas. We started out as BS&T, but Clayton got in trouble using that name so it became Clayton's band. That lasted well over a year and we played all over the US, Canada and toured in Europe several times. It was a very good band. Several of the players went on to join well known groups.

I left that band probably in '84 and started gigging back in the City. Once again I played with every possible kind of band, now including getting into the punk scene and playing numerous times at CBGB's and the Mud Club. There were always bands looking for bass players and I could fit into any style so I started to get somewhat in demand. In '83, for some reason, I bought a Commodore 64 computer and started teaching myself how to program. Around this time my then-wife and I had a daughter and I got a job teaching computers in an elementary school in Brooklyn Heights. I applied for and got into a program at Columbia University in programming and database design, figuring that it might lead to a job where I could actually support my family and not be so hand-to-mouth. I was working a full time day job, and playing several nights a week. I met a great singer/guitarist named Tony Sarno and played in his band for a while. We played lots of originals and did shows at the Roxy and other places, but also played as the house band at an after hours club in Queens from 4-9am. It was great music, but tough on my family life.

By now this was definitely getting old! I was also playing a lot of country and Texas Swing music with a bunch of bands, including a great one named Peach Fish Pie. The Urban Cowboy thing was big at that time and that band played all the clubs. I also put together a crossover 4-piece band called Second Line that played a mix of New Orleans groove, funk, country and rock music. We played a lot of our originals and original arrangements of cover tunes and gigged at the popular places. Around this time I also had a little recording studio in my Brooklyn apartment and recorded my own music as well as other people’s.

I'd read somewhere that you could hook up a Commodore computer to a synthesizer and make music so I bought one of the original Sequential Circuits interfaces and a small synthesizer to check it out. It turned out it was a very cool thing. I started talking with some other musician friends about trying to write a program that would let us record our compositions.

Boston:
Around that time I met a rather wacky guy from Boston named Emile Tobenfeld who had already done it. We hit it off and we decided I would join his company, Dr.T's Music Software; named after a cult movie called The 5000 Fingers Of Dr.T. So in late '85 I quit my NY teaching job and moved my family to Boston to run the company. From 85-95 I hardly played any music at all, spending all of my time building the company from nothing to a $3 million dollar venture funded business.

In 1995, after a 10 year run, we sold the business assets and I did consulting for a while. In 1996 I joined Harmonix Music Systems, the developers of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, as Executive Producer. I also worked for a number of other companies as a programmer and consultant. Around this my wife and I divorced and I started playing music again, this time as a guitarist and vocalist. I put together a blues/rock band that played a lot of clubs in the western suburbs of Boston.

New Hampshire:
In 1997 I remarried and my wife and I moved to North Conway, New Hampshire where we could take advantage of all the outdoor activities we both enjoyed. I continued to consult from home and then joined APPS.com, a Boston internet company that was eventually sold to Intuit. We had a son in 1999, and for a variety of reasons I didn't play a lot of music up here for several years.

When the area bars decided to go non-smoking I started going out to sit in on bass at the open-mic's and got back into playing. It escalated fairly quickly and in no time I started playing with all of the local bands and musicians. All of my experience allowed me to just walk in and play with anyone, on any kind of music, even without any rehearsal at all. There is something about being a journeyman player, that is very different from being in the same band for a long period of time, that rehearses all the time. As a journeyman of course you have to know a lot of tunes, but even more you have to understand how musical forms work together. So much music has similar chord sequences regardless of the style, and if you are able to hear them in real-time you can anticipate where the song is going to go - even if you've never heard it before. It's a challenge, but one that I've always really enjoyed. When I lived in NY there were always open calls for bass players in the Village Voice paper. I would go down to a rehearsal studio and play with people I'd never met and play their music that I'd never heard and usually nail it. I got lots of gigs that way and it kept things interesting and fresh. Of course it meant that I had to be a musical chameleon, without as much of a style of my own as some players have.

These days (in 2015) I play a lot with Bruce Marshall & the Nor'Easters, a great band that plays originals and rock. I also have a my own band named Sounds Clever & the Valley Horns that plays my originals and great swing and funk tunes, plus I do some solo bass gigs just for my own entertainment and so some cool jazz gigs when they arise. On a fairly regular basis I get calls from local bands and players to fill in on gigs of all kinds. I also record and produce a variety of bands and singer songwriters in my studio. Between all that, my family, outdoor activities and still doing some computer programming, I keep pretty busy. Life is good!
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