interweb residence of . . .

(AKA: JC, John Christopher Apking, Johnny Crowe, The Grendelcat, Spike,
that guy at open mic who left my guitar dropped to D)

 

What'r Ya Playin' Nowadays

Sentient Cement

     Drummer Dave Rosset, Tunesmith Tim Whitler and JC Apking have been jamming weekly since late 2011.  In 2013, they released an experimental full length CD, "Foundation".  Following this rapturous experience, they continued wildly writing and exploring musically.  Around 4 additional albums of material has been recorded and mixed thus far  At some point, JC intends to organize and start releasing these songs a singles on a steady and relentless basis.  In fact, the first batch of these has already been released as singles, gathered under the full album working title of "Within Stone".

      Check out the Sentient Cement Website for more current details and massive amounts of stuff to listen to.
 

JC Solo / The JC & Timmy Show

     If you're curious what songs JC is messing with these days,  check out his rehearsal page.

     On a musical side note, there was a reunion show with Shannara in October 2011.  Here's a page with some pics taken there.

Contact

     If you are interested in saying hey, e-mail jc@grendelcat.com.
 

Who's This Dude and Why?

   
      JC Apking 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 was his initial musical backbone as a piano student and trombone player.  These influences were juxtaposed with classic rock elements as he became a singer/keyboard player. in various local Cincinnati bands.  Later on, the focus shifted to bass and most recently to the acoustic guitar.

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 itself.

"I'll never forget when the 1st trombonist leaned over during Scheherazade at Music Hall where I had been taking my Granny to enjoy CSO concerts periodically 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 new Alternative was finally percolating into the midwest and making a significant impression upon him.  After playing with a garage band called Moral Minority (Eric Falstrom, Mike Cassidy, Danny Nachtrab) and an attic band called Sage (David Ferrara, Doug Atkins, Ashley Shepherd) through high school, JC met Kevin Fox who was already an established solo acoustic player.  Shortly thereafter, Shannara was born.

     Shannara was a rock cover band that also produced some original music.  The first album was This & That.   JC played keyboard for Shannara (with Kevin Fox, Larry Dolan, 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. 

     After a few years of this, JC (now going by "Johnny Crowe") started a new project as the bass player with Eric Falstrom and 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 district.

     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 Cincinnati 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 fledgeling audio engineering skills recording a new brand of highly energetic angst music on a TASCAM 4-Track whilst once again focusing on playing Bass.  In 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 Raw.

     Shortly after the completion of the Mystery Wagon debut, JC decided the time had come to grow up a bit and move on, so he shocked his fans and friends by leaving the seedy underside of Cincinnati underground bars and bands and joined the US Navy.  During his service, he served first as a deck seaman and progressed up to being as a Quartermaster - which is someone focused on navigation in the Navy, ye landlubber

     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 the playing a trombone solo for the nefarious 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.

  After boot camp, JC found time to work up some tunes with fellow sailors.  The informal Normandy band played the classics (including a crash introduction to some real country music with some of the guys) on the fantail of the guided missile cruiser USS Normandy during steel beaches at sea in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.  JC took the opportunity presented during their deployments to spend much of his R&R 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" for the next decade or so - almost (but not quite) ceasing to make music altogether.

     The Grendelcat Lair website was created during this time.  It used to be a sprawling website with the notorious daily internet publication "The Grendelcat Humorous Nuggets" as the main feature.  During this musical sabbatical, he moved to Dallas, Texas, and then worked the better part of a year in New York City in 2001.  Notably, his final visit to NYC took place just weeks before 9/11.  JC was on the phone with one of his NY buddies watching the aftermath from across the bay as it unfolded.

     With the NY project finished, during the year before the tech bubble burst, JC snatched an opportunity to move to Denver, Colorado where he finally set down some roots.

     These days JC writes and records new music with Sentient Cement.  He also has been steadily working up a library of acoustic covers and sometimes plays at local venues to keep his toe dangling in the musical performance waters.   He also is focused on encouraging the musical endeavors of his son Val, who has been demonstrating a whole lot of beginner talent as a trumpet and piano player.

     JC's not really sure what comes next, if anything.  But it's a fair bet that whatever it is, there will be some form of tunage generation involved.

The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils. - Bill S.