Berks musicians to pay homage to one of their own on Saturdays at Evergreen Club – Reading Eagle


Local musicians will gather Saturday afternoon at the Evergreen German Club in Ruscombmanor Township to pay tribute to one of their own – the late Jeff Paul of Zooboys and renowned John Flywheel – with an event dubbed “Rendezvous with the All Stars” “.

The free outdoor concert is open to music lovers of all ages and will feature local bands performing Paul’s originals and covers from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. under a pavilion, with food and drink provided by Evergreen on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Keith Smoker, who played bass in the Zooboys and John Flywheel, said that when Paul passed away on August 1, 2020, his friends and family were unable to have a suitable memorial to honor him due of the pandemic, so Smoker, with fan and friend Michelle Biggerstaff; other musicians Angie Ezell, Frank Phobia and Jim Speese; and Paul’s widow, Cindy, and her son, Stephen, decided to plan it for this year.

Saturday artists will include Jan Gyomber; Speese solo and with his band, Cloud Party, with guests Frank Phobia, Dave Mattes and Rick Kelchner; Justin Bortz and his friends; Frozen Poet, with Ezell on vocals; Preston Hazard, creator of the streaming animated series “Fundamentally Cynical,” which Smoker is co-writing; and the cover band of Smoker Company Car.

Paul formed The Zooboys in the 1980s, attracting a loyal local audience that would perform in droves to hear the band’s upbeat pop punk. When drummer Rick Kelchner left the trio and Jeff “Chilly” Scott replaced him, they renamed the band John Flywheel, and their legend continued to grow.

They started to get good press and won back-to-back Delaware Valley Music Awards for Best Single (“Baggage of Love”) and Best Alternative Artist.

In 1995, the independent label Backstreet signed a contract with John Flywheel for six albums. They released their self-titled debut album later that year and went on tour.

They then recorded a second album, “In Her Orbit,” but Backstreet lost its distributor, which resulted in the first album being removed from record store shelves. The second was never published.

Smoker said that despite being a trio, John Flywheel set off a sound full of arena rock fueled by Paul’s open chord guitar playing.

“He was incredibly tight,” Smoker said. “His voice and guitar style was great for the money.”

He was also a talented songwriter, drawing inspiration from British bands Invasion, Neil Young, punk bands like the Ramones, and bubblegum pop like the Strawberries and 1910 Fruitgum Company.

The Facebook event page describes Paul’s songs as “short, motivated, and intense.” Full of innuendo, mystery and depth. Addictive music that made it almost impossible to stand still.

Speese, who wrote often about Paul’s bands in his Local Music column at Reading eagle, said he once described them as “a cross between the Sex Pistols and the Monkees, who write two-and-a-half-minute character plays.”

“Her songwriting was amazing,” Smoker said. “He was an information bible about music from the 60s, 70s and 80s. He read a lot of rock stories and anecdotes.

Paul has always welcomed new talent to the local scene, inviting emerging bands like Cloud Party and Anthrophobia de Phobia to open his concerts.

Speese said that in the ’80s and early’ 90s, Paul was the most original voice in the Berks County music scene.

“I’ve had the pleasure of performing on the same stage with him multiple times, and it was always amazing,” Speese said, adding with a laugh, “His style was so unique, yet still just original enough to not get a contract with a big record company.

“I’ve never met someone who had the full package like him: singer, songwriter, guitarist. And the attitude: uncompromising, iconoclastic.

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