Band History

(Tell us how many hidden song quotes you can find.  Move your mouse over the text to find them...)

On a hot summer day in 1984, a rainbow growing around the sun with marmalade skies passing overhead, two droogies strolled down the lush fairway of a Central Jersey golf course. Doug Ewertsen, who was dressed in his best brown baggies, turned around to look at his fellow Dickinson College fraternity brother, Mitch Pinheiro, and said, “let’s forget all about this macho s**t and form a rock band. Mitch replied, “hey there fellow, we aren’t musicians”. It was true that neither played much guitar but the realization set in that it was as easy as fishin’ to be a musician, so they grabbed their second hand guitars and decided to get in with a bunch of the right fellows. They reached out to fellow Phi Kappa Psi classmate & classically trained guitarist, Andy Klinghoffer, who agreed to test his skills on the electric bass. Searching for a groove, they added Mitch Spritzler, (a “business associate” of Pinheiro’s) on drums and the band was off and running with the wind. Now for a name…

While listening to some of their first “live” recordings at the legendary Norristown Attic Rehearsal Studios, (Norristown, PA) they collectively branded the name “Bloody Awful”, which seemed to capture the band’s cutting edge sound. They eventually decided a female member was needed to soften their rough edges, so they turned to the mellow-thighed Ilaria Arpino, a dark-eyed girl who sang and played the guitar who happened to be on hiatus from her European tour as a blues singer. After much coaxing (a bottle of red and a bottle of white) She was willin’ to climb aboard… Hello! Hello!

Between 1985 and 1991, Bloody Awful took to the highway and hit such renowned venues as the annual “Pig Gig”in Flemmington, NJ, the “Backyard Blues Jam” in Cranford, NJ and the “Pike Stock Festival”, held deep within the confines of an old-growth forest in Lawrenceville, NJ. During this time, the band was forced to change their name often to stay three steps ahead of the dues collecting union thugs of the Musicians Guild. Their music covered classic bands from The Dead, The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, to The Who, The Stones, Beatles, Mo-Town, and other 70’s classic rock favorites that touched a nostalgic chord with their audience.

By the mid nineties, career pursuits outside of the music business coupled with growing parental responsibilities at home forced the band to quietly fade away like a distant ships smoke on the horizon. With the echoes of the amplifiers still ringing in their heads, they welcomed the much needed break from the demanding touring schedule to focus on bringing home their hard earned pay (i.e. working their day jobs). A period of blissful parenthood settled in among the band members which slowly extinguished their desire to create that chance to make people dance.

By the Fall of 2003, they were caught in a landslide, with no escape from reality so a reunion tour was announced. Ewertsen and Pinheiro picked up their guitars and played, just like yesterday, and reinvented themselves as “The Hotchie Specials”, named after a hyper-caloric, post-party, munchie satiating, midnight special meal served at “The Milt” diner in Carlisle, PA. Rich Cohn-head, their former pledge master, joined together in the band on lead guitar and added a South Jersey twang (ah hmm hmm hmm) to the vocal arrangements. His son Michael, who had just come off a European Frank Zappa Tribute Tour agreed reluctantly to play drums, and with the familiar Captain Klinghoffer on bass, they were back in the saddle again. While the flowers bloomed like madness in the spring of ‘04, three Montclair musicians of much renowned were added to expand the bands repertoire and “fatten” their sound: Tom McDonough on keyboards, Tom Creaser on tenor saxophone, and Andy Cutting, formerly of the Clover Hill Band, on vocals and bass.

The 2004 gigs came at them like bats out of hell, from the JLMN “Bare Bones” opener to the MFEE Schools Rock season finale, the band and their “groupies” were on a whirlwind extravaganza that “Rolling Stone Magazine” proclaimed as “setting the iron man benchmark for touring rockers”. Inevitably, the candle burning at both ends took its toll and the decision was made to loosen the load spent on the road by creating two bands that were geographically friendly to their home towns. They new it was time for a change so Pinheiro, Klinghoffer and the Cohn-Heads headed southbound to the Philly suburbs, while Ewertsen, McDonough, Creaser, & Cutting would settled into a NYC-Montclair state of mind.

The journey had been a long and winding road for the college garage band buddies, but the split was an inevitable end to the long strange trip they had initiated all those years ago. They realized that things just couldn’t be the same, as in days gone by but Pinheiro and Ewertsen remain best friends. Nevertheless, rumors circulate of potential legal actions over the Hotchie Specials trademark rights. No comment could be extracted from band members who have sworn to a code of silence. In the meantime Pinheiro’s band set out under the “Mother Zeta Juice” moniker while Ewertsen’s band adopted the name "Cranetown" - the historical name of the town in which the band was founded.

During the cold and lonesome winter of “05, Cranetown set out to fill the voids left behind by the departing “Mother Zetas”. Ewertsen took a look around to see which way the wind blew and found journeyman drummer, Rick Van Horn, who had worked various coffee-house jams with Ewertsen. Latin sensation, Jose Romano, recognizable as the band’s former foreman of the roadies, was added on percussion. Dave and Alexandra Arndt, a father-daughter duo discovered at a local talent show that would never end, brought to the band their talents on horns, strings and vocals. And with the supple wristed Mike Handly on guitar, a regular on the NYC bar circuit, the line-up was completed for Cranetown.

Well, nobody knows what lies on up the road for this fledgling group that numbers nine. For now, they continue their trip on the magic swirlin’ ship prospecting for those musical gems that will inject their fans’ souls with sweet rock and roll. No matter what they get out of this, they know they’ll never forget. that after all, there are times when you have to laugh your life away and be free once more.

As you drift away from the walls of this website and wind on down the road, remember...

Mountains Rock Dew Rolls
Jeans Fade  Mary’s Dress Shines On
Soho Rain Beams Sun

Lineup | Appearances | Music | History | Photos | Contact |
Web Design © 2007, 2008, 2009 ThirdValve Productions -