JC has traveled the globe engaging in a
wide variety of occupations and trouble-making, eventually landing
in Denver, Colorado. Here is the musical portion of his story.
Growing up mostly in Cincinnati, Ohio he was heavily
influenced by dueling musical genre's. Classical orchestral music formed a musical
foundation as a piano and trombone player. These influences were
juxtaposed with classic rock elements when he became a singer/keyboard
player in various local Cincinnati bands.
As a classically trained trombone player, he played
with Cincinnati Youth Symphony Orchestra for
a number of years, including the musical highlight of playing 2 joint concerts with the CSO
"I'he 1st trombonist leaned over during
Scheherazade at Music Hall where I had been taking my Granny to enjoy CSO
concerts for years, and said - I'll let you get that double high B flat," says JC.
At the same time, 60's-70's
rock and 80's Alternative was finally percolating into the midwest and making a significant impression. After playing with a garage
band called Moral Minority (Eric
Falstrom, Mike Cassidy,
Danny Nachtrab) and an attic band called Sage
Ferrara, Doug Atkins,
Ashley Shepherd) through high school, JC met
Kevin Fox who was
already an established solo acoustic player. Shortly thereafter, Shannara
Shannara was a rock cover band that also produced
some original music. The first album was
This & That. JC
played keyboard with
King Fox and sang backup and occasional lead. Shannara frequently worked at the recording workshop in Chilocothe, Ohio, and played
any and all venues relentlessly, from Blues Brothers-esque dives to the
shores of Cincinnati's massive Riverfest celebration. There was a
reunion show with Shannara in October 2011.
Here's a page with some pics.
As the sleepy 80's gave way to the angsty 90's, JC (now going by "Johnny
Crowe") started a new project as the bass player with
Jim Farmer in a band called Mystery Wagon. The group focused
primarily on developing the loudest and angstiest underground sounds around.
They were firmly rooted in a punk/indy/goth genre and although the word
hadn't been coined until a year later, what they were a part of was the
birth of grunge. While they never released any albums, they built up
quite a following and a stellar core set of hard core pre-grunge whilst
playing in the seediest places available around Cincinnati's Clifton
Next up, JC released the solo
set - Sun Needle and around this time
also did some symphonic and other keyboard related
Eclectric experimentation. He also joined the original formation of the
alternative cover band Forehead with
Mike Seta, Dallas Reed, and
the lovely Ryan Hebb. Initially JC fronted the band for the
first time as a lead singer until Chris Harris joined. After a
couple years JC shuffled out of the legendarily malleable Forehead lineup.
What came next was a more
focused, rebirth of Mystery Wagon with JC attempting to use his fledgling
audio engineering skills recording high energy grassroots grunge once again
focusing on playing Bass. For the new lineup, Kirk Hunter played lead
guitar, and John Earls replaced Jim on drums. They managed to put
together a set of recordings that was never formally released called
After this, JC decided the time had come to move on, so
he shocked his fans and friends by leaving the underground bars and bands
and joining the US Navy.
In the Navy, he still
had a musical twist to add to things, first by heading up the boot camp
marching band division culminating in playing a trombone solo for
Admiral Boorda at the graduation ceremony a year or so before the guy
killed himself. As far as we know, the latter wasn't necessarily the
result of the former.
He next took part in an informal USS Normandy band playing
the rockabilly classics on the fantail during steel beaches in the
Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. Much of his R&R was spent playing
in port side venues and public squares around Italy, Greece, Spain, and Israel.
After two deployments in the Navy, JC returned to Cincinnati. For a brief time he played with fledgling country band
Reckless alongside former Shannara drummer
King Fox, but then he shifted
focus to work
in the "tech sector" nearly ceasing to make music altogether.
The Grendelcat Lair website was created during
this time, supporting the notorious daily internet publication "The Grendelcat
Humorous Nuggets". During this musical sabbatical, JC moved to Dallas, Texas, and
then worked the better part of a year in New York City in 2001.
Finally, he snatched
an opportunity to move to Denver, Colorado where he finally set down some
These days JC writes and records music with
Sentient Cement at The Grendelcat Lair
studio. He also has been
steadily working up a library of
acoustic covers and sometimes plays at local venues.