Rick Jeffreys’ Story
|I started playing music back in 1962 when I was
inspired by a California group called The Ventures. In the same period,
I saw a nationally known group called “Johnny and the Hurricanes”
perform at local Berwyn, Pennsylvania fair and the sound of the guitars
just floored me. At that moment I had to have a guitar and my parents
stepped up and bought me an electric guitar for Christmas that year.
In school, I started out on clarinet and then moved to alto saxophone. I wasn’t much interested in the marching part and got fired from school band when I showed up late for a football field march on a cold day. I asked the band director where I could pick up my unemployment check—that didn’t go over too well!
I joined my first rock group on guitar in 1963 with some local school boys and we called ourselves “The Impalas”. We became a really good local cover band and had success through the 60’s. I blossomed into a singer, since I knew the girls liked that. The band was so successful I had the money to buy a nice red ’64 Corvette (wish I had that car today!). We were basically a five-man group that played clubs, colleges and all kinds of one-nighters anywhere within 300 miles of our Paoli, Pa location. We needed to modernize the group’s name and became “Daemion”, pronounced Damion, with a long A. We added some excellent horn players and our concentration shifted to playing clubs and one-nighters as a cover band.
Once graduating from college with a marketing degree, I decided to put that aside and concentrate on a recording/playing career with the band. We went to a three-man group called Hard Knox, recorded during the day and played one-nighters.
After a while doing the Philly club circuit and Jersey Shore in the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s, the original 3 of us decided to become a travelling “show group”. “Catch Three” was a musical comedy group performing in high-end night clubs across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Caribbean Islands. We all were married by 1973 and travelled with our wives. Eventually, Sandi and I had Ali, our dear little first born and we continued to travel with the band. We became “Catch Five”, adding horn players and ended up as an exciting professional act with great players and friends that have lasted through time.
Travelling had to end once Ali was four, looking towards school. We also added Ricky in 1978 and our lives as a family changed when we got off the road in 1980. I became involved in Florida real estate in Fort Meyers. We added the last member to our little family in 1981, Alexis, who was definitely a sparkplug. During this time, I played guitar with the “Ted O’Connell Trio”, a kind of elegant engaging-style piano player and bandleader from the 40’s and 50’s. We played all the society type dance music of the day for older folks. I was very bored with this gig but stuck it out for the experience.
In 1983 we moved to Orlando because of a job offer I had in real estate to become sales director for a timeshare company. I lasted for maybe three years before I got completely stressed out and started again practicing my guitar. When I had about 40 or so songs, I called an agent and got work immediately doing a single guitarist/singer. I quit my day job and concentrated on what always made me happy—just playing music!
In the mid 80’s I started doing a single at various hotels and clubs, the most notable on Disney property at the Hotel Royal Plaza playing from 8:30 Pm to 3 AM. Tough gig but fun!
One of my bandmates from the original Impalas band became a successful entrepreneur and started a small cruise line in Pensacola, Florida and Biloxi, Mississippi. He asked me to come aboard and book the music groups on two ships as well as perform. I ended up working on both ships and hiring all the entertainment for a year. During that time, I got into music technology and with the help of computer hardware and software, learned how to make myself sound like a complete band. Because of this extraordinary technology, I brought back into the performance my alto saxophone and purchased a tenor sax as well as soprano sax. My years with Catch Five, the band that I spent 8 years with on the road, taught me many great things about performance. Because we were an act and not just a band, I would always think in terms of the visual aspect of my performance. I felt that to become an outstanding single performer, I could learn to play many different instruments and so I learned to play a bit of trumpet, trombone and mellophone (kind of marching band French horn). So, I became a multi-instrumentalist singer/guitar player, completely different than my competition. I became flooded with work, often playing at a beachside hotel during the day or theme park and then performing in a club or one-nighter during the nighttime hours.
During the early part of those years I had an agent who booked my extensively. I had a phone in my van and one early evening as I was returning home from playing the beach, he called me and asked if I could fill in for someone who was playing an outdoor gig at “The Mercado”, a tourist shopping complex on International Drive. I accepted and after that night my entire life changed. I performed to thousands of guests in a show atmosphere, outdoors, five to six nights per week for about 15 years. I had fans from all over the states as well as the world. My years performing at The Mercado were fruitful, not only for me as a performer but for a couple of charities for which I had the privilege of raising thousands and thousands of dollars. Give Kids the World and the American Diabetes Association. I had a huge water jug and after each show I would ask the audience to “put some money in there if they liked the performance that will go to a great cause”. It was a win-win!
After Mercado was sold and demolished back in the early 2000’s I was spoiled. There was no other venue like it and I endured a few years of playing places that just couldn’t compare. I felt because I was getting older I should open a music store for the security of my future. I started “Pro Music Stuff, Inc.” which offers used music gear of all types plus an on-site repair center. A very successful business that I still own but I have longed to get back on stage.
So, folks, here I am in 2018 getting back on stage. I just can’t stay away from it! I have a new repertoire featuring some of the tunes that I performed at The Mercado plus new stuff from modern country, pop, classics and instrumentals I always wanted to perform. I look forward to performing for YOU as we move ahead in our future together! Currently I am looking to play at house shows, corporate events and small outdoor venues such as restaurants, etc. Call me, 407-383-9980!
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