Everything came together to reunite The Everyman Band at Auburn Public Theater this weekend.
The funk jazz quartet of 50 years still gets together a few times annually, bassist Bruce Yaw said, and played the downtown Auburn venue last June. On Sunday, Yaw, saxophonist Marty Fogel and drummer Michael Suchorsky will once again share a stage with Grover Kemble, the band's original guitarist and vocalist. But that's only because Kemble will already be in Auburn, performing his Jimmy Durante tribute show at the theater Thursday through Saturday. He'll stay an extra day in Auburn so he and his former bandmates can play sets of material by each, Yaw said, followed by a jam.
"It was an opportunity too good to pass up," Yaw said.
Kemble, who once sang for Sha Na Na, left The Everyman Band in the early '70s. At the time, the New York City-based band played about once a month in Auburn at clubs like Sour Grapes, Yaw said. Kemble went on to perform solo before writing "Durante!" The Everyman Band, meanwhile, went on to back up the legendary Lou Reed. Dissatisfied with his players, Reed recruited Yaw, Fogel and Suchorsky to tour the world with him in the late '70s and record on albums like "Coney Island Baby" and "Street Hassle." The three got the job because they could play "anything," Yaw said.
"He was appreciative of our skill level," Yaw said of Reed. "We'd do his music except when he wasn't around. Then we'd do our own music."
The Everyman Band would later join with jazz trumpeter Don Cherry and, in the early '80s, record two of its own albums for label ECM with guitarist David Torn. All the while, Yaw was commuting to his gigs around the world from a Moravia farm he bought in 1971. Like the rest of the Everyman Band, Yaw is originally from New Jersey, where he learned guitar from Kemble when he was 17. But after renting a house outside Woodstock in the summer of 1969, Yaw continued, he got in the market for rural property because "it's every New York City musician's dream to have a place in the country."
Living in Cayuga County kept Yaw close to his daughter, Sarah. It was at a Seymour Library release event for a book she authored that Yaw, Fogel and Suchorsky played a short set a few years ago — and got the attention of Auburn Public Theater Executive Director Carey Eidel. That led to The Everyman Band's show at the theater last summer. However, this weekend's show is dedicated to another family tie, Bob Brower, who passed away in June. His wife, Gilda, was previously married to Yaw, with whom she had Sarah. Proceeds from the show support TomatoFest, one of the Browers' many efforts.
"We all miss him badly and we all loved him dearly," Yaw said of Bob. "He was a really important part of our family."