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<h1>Off The Wall</h1>

Jim Ball, Glenn Workman, Steve Sandkuhler, Scoop, Dayton Alford, John Ball

Basic History: Difficult to pinpoint the exact start of such a nebulous concept as a band, because in this case there are several pre-existing groupings that caused the final outcome. The cosmic dust gathered for a while in several different clouds (sometimes overlapping like a basic Ballantine rings type Venn diagram) before finally congealing into the final configuration (though it has proved itself a very stable mass).

Jim and Glenn fiddled around making music together in the early 70s, mostly writing silly perverted material and playing endlessly with a reel to reel recorder. John Ball assisted and participated with much of the comedy/music making that was then committed to tape. In 1974 Jim played keyboards in a band that was formed for a high school dance and first hooked up musically with Andy Leone, a guitarist. They soon formed a shortlived group with Andy and Jim both playing guitar, Glenn on keyboards, Scoop on bass and radio electronics (its a long story), and Tommy Kohr on drums. It disbanded without a fight after many basement rehearsals and no work.

Jim, Andy, and Scoop then formed a primarily acoustic trio called "Spring Wind" that performed a lot of original material. They played VFW halls and Baltimore bars. When they were hired for a school dance in Spring 1975, they added Rusty Morrisson on drums to the group.

Fall 1975 came and Andy left the group. Jim began recording some of his original material and Glenn played for some of these basement sessions, and was soon asked to join the band. Much of the music was still folk/country flavored (though never limited by labels) and the band decided to advertise for a steel guitar player. Instead, a harmonica player named Steve Sandkuhler responded to the ad and the band reluctantly invited him to audition. It took that one evening for him to win the group over and he was immediately asked to join. This group played its first job about a month later at Western Maryland College and shortly after was hired for a New Year's Eve job at Chestnut Ridge Firehall (the big time!). Tim Pfeiffer, a high school aquaintance of Jim's, saw the band that night and asked to join. Tim was a guitar player, songwriter, and singer, so now the group had 6 members and all of them were writing original material.

Off The Wall

1979 band promo shot

They advertised themselves as playing "original progressive country folk bluegrass jazz rock" and this lineup performed throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania for 3 years continually expanding both its sound and audience. The campuses of Johns Hopkins University, Goucher College, Loyola College, Bucknell Univerity, James Madison University, Catholic University, University of Maryland at College Park, Washington College, and many others became their regular stomping grounds. Around Baltimore they played regularly at clubs like Four Corners and E. Jay Bugs Saloon, and were beginning their long run at No Fish Today and the historic Marble Bar. They were putting most of their money into recording projects at a local studio and some of these tracks were picked to be included on some local compilation releases. Never one to stick to convention, the band decided they wanted their first complete album to be a double live one, and rented out the wonderful Kraushaar auditorium, hired a remote 24 track facility, and worked up the material with the addition of a 4 piece horn section. Though this effort was never released in its entirety (there were some awful technical problems) that didn't stop them from putting on a near sell-out performance that was quite a feat for musicians who had still yet to quit their day jobs. [a brakeman for the railroad, a clerk in a mountaineering store, grounds crew for a golf course, a high school janitor, a highway administration lab technician]. John Ball had by this time joined the group as their soundman and became an equally important full time member of the band.

December 1978 it was agreed that Rusty would leave the group after the New Year's gig due to varying interests (typical band stuff). The group began holding interviews and auditions. From 70 participants they chose a young 17 year old drummer named Dayton Alford, who quickly joined up after the band arrived at his pizza parlor gig and told him the news. The group shortly after decided to change the name of the group to something more appropriate. Their continuingly changing music styles and skills were not properly summed up in the band title, so something more appropriate was aquired from the basic input of the fans. The newly dubbed "Off The Wall" began performing in February 1979. This avoided a lot of pigeonholing and labeling since nobody knew quite what the name suggested.

This assemblage sounded better than ever and was writing and recording new material at a rapid pace. In 1979 they were voted Best Band in Baltimore in both the City Paper and Unicorn Times, as well in best individual musicians in 6 categories, and came in second as Best Band in the local WIYY radio station poll. Steve and Glenn had both begun playing saxophone with the band by this time, and the diversity and sheer volume of equipment on stage was quite staggering. Almost everyone in the group played multiple instruments so the various conflagurations that occured were quite numerous. In March 1981 Tim Pfeiffer had to leave the group to pursue his art career fully, which left the group in its final form. (Tim is a graphic artist in Roanoke VA, raising a fine family, and still playing music.)

Off The Wall

1980 live concert at Goucher College

The group continued playing more than ever and finally released their first studio album " Ground Zero" in 1983. This album was selected by the College Music Journal as one of the "picks of the year" and received heavy airplay on over 500 college radio stations in the US. About this time Scoop suffered a massive head injury, crushing his skull both front and back, received a wonderful helicopter ride to University Shock Trauma, and the band was devastated. After 3 weeks of intensive care and hospital food he was out of imminent danger, and the group decided to continue while he recovered. To accomplish this, Glenn played keyboard bass, Tim Pfeiffer came back for several months and added his vocal and guitar prowess, and Steve's buddy Craig Considine (who played with Steve in another band called "The Maps") came onboard to fill in on Trombone and dancing. Basically the band did an awful lot of jamming to cover time and minimum material without the presence of the mighty Scoop. By the time Scoop was fully recovered, at least as close as he was going to get, Craig stuck around for the next 3 years and continued to add his considerable talent and microtonality to the group. In 1986 the band finally stopped playing on a full time basis, and Craig left to help form the Baltimore based band the Rumba Club.

From this point on the band focused on recording and special concerts, including their 200th birthday party, and the Marble Bar Survivors party.

One way to describe this band is to attempt a sketch of its various parts. Though this is case where the whole is greater than the sum of said parts, it does provide some indication of the component ingredients. I will try to add pages with more detail on the individuals in the future.
Jim Ball, Glenn Workman, Steve Sandkuhler, Scoop, Dayton Alford, John Ball

Off The Wall

By the way, some of Scoop's many nicknames include: Scoop, Skippy, Scooter, Tron, Stosh, Buzzy Wildman, Groceries, Chip, Smellfeast, Smellfungus, Ston, Trosh, Buzzy, Nick Maggot, Nick Magnet, Mr. Ditty, Poop, Quadrophonic Spit, Sal, and The Artist Formerly Known As Scoop.