Resistor Today

The road to Resistor’s resurfacing is a long one and includes Jef’s multitude of other gigs, and his diagnosis of inoperable cancer.  The journey will begin with the history of the songs for the record.

Jef had left MN by the late 2000s, and moved to Coral Gables Florida, a suburb of Miami. To Jef’s amazement, there were really no like-minded musicians with whom to play, record, or perform in southeast Florida. The music clubs were ruled by DJs, and the few live venues played hard core Punk, Industrial, Hip-Hop, and Salsa. There was no room for a 1970’s influenced, British-style guitarist, despite his considerable experience and prowess.

Being musically isolated, he took a break, going so far as to sell his custom made amplifiers, as he was traveling so much and performing so little. When old friends caught wind of this, they hounded him intensely to return to writing, if not performing. One old friend, and former band mate from the early 1980’s, was so alarmed by that news he bought Jef a high quality tube amp and shipped it to him, under the condition he return to writing! Well, the words and deeds of support fell on open ears, and Jef started writing. A LOT!

It also helped that Jef discovered another of his favorite bands, Blue Rodeo, had not broken up, as he had been misinformed. In fact, they had just released a new double LP, Things We Left Behind, clearly this was a band that had a lot still left in the well. The album’s acoustic focus combined with Jef’s childhood love of folk music, particularly Tom Rapp and Peals Before Swine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearls_Before_Swine_(band), would help draw Jef further back to his roots.

Over the next three and a half years, Jef wrote prolifically, producing many of his best songs to date. Leaving Florida, he headed to Boston, hoping to find a more suitable musical environment. Indeed he did and was soon befriended by Bob Whitelock. Together with Bob, Jef played the local Irish pub on numerous occasions, with a variety of line-ups of Bob’s choosing. This got Jef out playing again, and in his spare time he started arranging all the material he had written for a proper recording.

In early 2012, Jef suddenly fell ill with what turned out to be stage four esophageal cancer, specifically adenocarcinoma, which had already spread to the surrounding lymph nodes. Jef started a difficult chemo regime, but still managed to play an occasional gig with Bob during this time.

Eventually, Jef returned to his home in St Paul Minnesota and finished the chemo treatment that his doctors did not expect him to survive. Having an amazing recovery, he set about recording all those songs he had written. Well, at least the ones he had arranged. Although the chemo caused extensive nerve damage to his hands and feet, he was able to get a non-invasive new treatment via a study being done at Mayo Clinic, and recovered his hands to nearly full capacity. The recording continued in earnest, and fortunately former Resistor drummer Steve Kent was available. Jef has always credited Steve with being his preferred talent with whom to work on arrangements and tackle production issues. While not a founding member of Resistor, it was he and Jef that led the group to its heights, and eventually allowed its demise.

As Jef was getting back to his roots as a songwriter (a craft he began at age 13), and had Steve on board, it seemed only proper to not make this a solo venture, but rather label it as “Jef Culhane’s Resistor.” By the end of May 2013, all the tracks had been recorded, and funding secured for the duplication. Only mixing down the songs and final mastering stand between the songs and product.

In Jef’s own words, the current line-up for recording and likely live performance now feature the following:

Since my roots were always as a songwriter, I felt I may as well close my career where it started, as Resistor. In the crowd I ran with, I was “the guy to beat,” as a teen and beyond, in terms of songwriting.

This go-round finds me actually singing lead and harmony, as well as playing electric lead, and rhythm and acoustic guitars, both 6 and 12 strings.  I also play some additional bass guitar, as well as mandolin.

Steve Kent plays the drums and keyboards, as well as providing harmony vocals and acting as a general musical consult.

Mr. Kim plays bass guitar, sings roughly half the lead vocals, and does extensive harmony singing as well. Kim was my partner in a number of cover bands throughout the 1990’s, and a just plain great guy to have on board!

Finally, Jeff Donovan, on electric lead and rhythm guitars, and additional mandolin. Jeff was the neighborhood guy that was just older enough than me to be really accomplished when I was starting out and was struggling. He has proven to be as helpful today as he was back then, and I am grateful to have him along!

-jef

Currently plans are for Jef to perform with his new Resistor as an opening act for Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash during their upcoming US tour in June 2013, and perhaps even a reunion of the “Classic Line-Up” in Summer 2013. It all comes down to what Jef’s health will allow.

If you are considering purchasing any Resistor products, 10% of all net sales (net, not only profit), will be donated to cancer research in the hope that the musical community doesn’t lose any more of its members than old age claims.

 

Jef’s full history, “into the vault”:

Jef grew up in a home where his older brother Jack had a serious interest in recording. Jack was an accomplished singer and writer himself, and also ran with many prominent local talents. This included Ricky Peterson, now a major player on the national stage.

In 1972 Jef heard the Wishbone Ash record Argus. He owned a guitar but that was when his love affair with all things guitar began. He started searching for a guitar partner, and as a teen found one in Paul Westerberg. However they split directions as Jef started Resistor and Paul started The Replacements, almost simultaneously.

After Resistor split, bassist Andy went on the road, and eventually ended up a session player in Nashville. Steve played in a variety of all original groups, and settled into a day job and family a little earlier than some of the others. Tom went on to play to some local success with his brother Rick on drums and with Flash or Perry, (or both of them) providing vocals.

The 1980s for Jef meant performing in a variety of cover bands, and traveling extensively. As Steve Kent rarely available, David Phelps became Jef’s primary drummer. David had quite a reputation in the Midwest, and while a strong player, not always the best guy to have in your band. Flash frequently surfaced as singer, and/or second guitarist. At one point, Flash actually replaced Michael Holm, who had been crucial to the rise of Jesse Brady, a band HUGE in the Midwest in the ‘70’s that very nearly broke into the national market. Jef’s bands without exception, while playing many covers, included his own songs as well. In particular, “Late at Night,” penned by Jef and Steve during Resistor was a staple, as was one of Jef’s early songs, “Career Girl.” Over time Flash’s songs began showing up on the song list as well.

Bass players came and went like most people do laundry, and included Gary Johnson who would soon move to Florida and become very successful in the Heavy Metal world. Also along for part of this ride was Roxxy Hall, who to this day maintains the All Female Jam in Minneapolis. While most bass players didn’t last long, both Mark Scott and “Haas” had lengthy tenures.

During this time, Jef also worked as a session guitarist for a local studio, performing on radio commercials, other people’s projects, and the odd corporate presentation background piece. For a short time in the late 1980s Jef was also involved with television production, and it is believed a pilot was shot for a TV show about a band, sort of a Spinal Tap meets The Monkees. No copy has surfaced, and little is known about this period.

By the end of the 1980’s, Jef took a job for a year on a cruise ship out of Miami. He was not only stage manager/sound man, but also regularly performed with various combinations of the ships other musicians throughout the Caribbean.

By 1990, Jef met his soon-to-be wife, and moved to New York while she attended school there. When they returned to Minnesota, Jef took the job of “impersonating Robbie Krieger” in a Doors Tribute Band, called Mr. Mojo Risin’. That band appeared extensively in the Midwest, and as far as the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Stops along the way included Madison Wisconsin, Peoria Illinois, and Buffalo/Niagara Falls New York.

During the mid 1990s Jef toyed with doing an all original band. He recorded an unofficial release on CD, again with Steve Kent. The recording was titled “Songs from the Jacaranda House” and only 500 were made. Jef claims to only have one left for himself. Following that, as Steve again became less available, Jef and Flash combined to work on a demo of their own songs. A couple demos were made, but nothing was released.

The end of the ‘90s found Jef playing in his first cover band ever that did not perform any of his original material. It was strictly a commercial venture, but also was a chance for Jef to work with Mr. Kim, whom he would stay close friends with for years to come. During this time that he was also invited to perform in Vienna, Austria for Opera Star Jennifer Arnold, an offer he happily jumped at.

During those aborted original sessions with Flash, Jef became interested in not just the recording techniques, but also the playback. He invented a device to cancel out transient vibrations that negatively effect audio equipment. The result was his manufacturing the Ganymede VCS.2, a high end stereo accessory. He displayed and marketed them three years in a row at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. That venture produced a considerable profit, and even the title of “Best New Product” the first year. As the economy slowed down, so did the demand for that product, and eventually the company hit a stand still.

Kim and Jef reunited in the early 2000s, again playing covers. This time they were very selective. Only top rooms, all TOP local players, limited travel, etc. That band Euphoria performed three consecutive years at the MN State Fair to standing room only crowds. The mid 2000’s led to the travel that resulted in Jef writing the songs for his new, and possibly final release, and reclaiming the name Resistor from the start of his career.

However, May 2013 also found a recurrence of the original cancer starting slowly, but also that it had traveled to his brain. Treatment, and the results of that treatment are currently pending.

The “Vegas Odds,” as Jef refers to them, are on surviving easily through the summer and perhaps into 2014. Long term survival for cancer of this nature is pretty much unheard of.

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