There are a number of established local bands that have almost broken out into the big time.
The reasons are plentiful: internal struggles, substance abuse, and simply bad timing. All have all been hindrances to Shreveport having a national act to call its own.
A-Train was the first band that I actually remember as having a shot. They were made up of the crème de la crème of local players. Buddy Flett on guitar, his brother Bruce on bass, David Egan and Chris McCaa (Professor Porkchop) on keys, the immortal John Howe on sax, Alan Tooraen, on drums and the magnificent Miki Honeycutt on lead vocals — even though they all sang lead, it seemed. But they came up in an era that at the time was dominated by Disco, and there was a disconnect between authentic roots music and what was being produced and being spoon-fed to the public.
Each of these people continued to make music together as A-Train through the late 80’s and then with other projects thereafter. McCaa now works under the alter ego of Professor Porkchop, Buddy Flett can be found playing acoustic gigs around town and at local area festivals, and Bruce still works the Bluebirds to this day and has a revolving door of acts and musicians in his stead.
David Egan is a successful songwriter and has penned hits for Erma Thomas, the late Etta James, and Percy Sledge among others. Mr. Howe is the president of the local 116 union and can be seen in the rare cameo appearance here and there. Actually, A-Train has, within the past year, played a couple of reunion shows and who knows what may happen with that? I sure wish Disco hadn’t happened and maybe the Port city would have a band to call its own.
Exit was founded at the firehouse, literally. Lead singer Danny Orton and guitarist Greg Fulco were members of Shreveport’s Class 1 fire department. Along with bass player Keith Vosbury and drummer Kerry Hunter, Exit played to packed houses downtown at Humphree’s and Chelsea’s under the bridge. Later, after shaking things up a bit, drummer Chris Lefebvre and bass player John Compton, and eventually keyboard player Duane Dupuy, the boys ended up winning MTV’s Basement Tapes competition and the video for the song “Kayla” received regular airplay in 1986. That entire cassette was fantastic and every time I run into Lefebvre, I bug him about getting a copy on CD or flash drive.
They came and performed during one of our high school parties downtown at a venue called Jodie’s Place. They were on break from playing at Humphree’s and walked over and played 3 songs while our band was on break. That was one of my finest times as a “rock star” when real famous musicians came and played on our gear for our friends. Work and that dreaded leap of faith—quitting a good job to struggle as an artist—kept them from achieving any more success.
Orton moved to Nashville and has written a #1 hit for Rascal Flatts and a #2 single for country band Emerson Drive. He has also written songs recorded by Tim McGraw, Randy Travis, Billy Ray Cyrus and Lady Antebellum. Dwayne Dupuy is the touring keyboard player for John Michael Montgomery. Chris and Greg continue to carry on the rocking tradition with their band Bushrod Jenkins, and Mr. Compton, my dear, dear, friend, is on hiatus from performing live (I refuse his status as retired). He spent a few years as a professional musician at a high end resort in Hawaii! Not a bad gig.
The American Tragedy should be famous. They wrote and recorded some of the most melodic hard rock n’ roll music that has ever come out of anywhere, much less Shreveport. Made up of Adam Dale on guitar and lead vocals, Jackie Brock, lead guitar, Trey McLemore on drums and Jason Sepulvado on bass, the group opened for — and was invited to tour the country with — the band Staind.
Their album “Welcome to the Show” yielded 2 songs to get radio airplay both locally and around the country. They have performed for crowds at two of the most legendary nightclubs in the United States: L.A.’s famed Whisky-a-Go-Go and New York City’s now deceased CBGB, which stands for Country Blue Grass and Blues for those of you who have always wanted to know but been too lazy to Google it. I challenge you to not like the song “Beneath Every Pearl.” You can’t do it.
Ryan Dougherty took over bass playing duties for their last release that features the song and video for “Everyone will Finish.” The timing wasn’t right for the band to take up the road life. There were marriages and future plans to consider, thankfully Adam still plays, albeit less frequently, but has released a couple of excellent solo albums. Jackie is now the drummer for up-and-coming country artist Cody Cooke and the Bayou Outlaws. That’s right, he went from guitar god to drum god, however in my contacts, he will always be simply the god of rock. Trey is a computer genius and is very successful and Mr. Dougherty was most recently photographed playing with Neal McCoy.
So, for all you people, young and old alike, who think that it is pointless to try and learn an instrument because you will never get anywhere, re-read what I have presented to you. Statistics say that less than 1% of all high school and college athletes will ever make it to the professional level. Here in Shreveport, if you work hard, and play hard, pun intended, you could very well see your name in lights.
If I can do it, you can do it. Trust me.
And another thing… what I have introduced you to are the people and bands that I know. You may know as many or more than I. Please let me know, I’d love for you to contact me and tell me your story or stories. I would be honored to pass those along to the readers of Henry Harbor as well.
Currently there are dozens of bands that I haven’t even mentioned, The Beggin For Its, LA Crossroads, Floyd Grigsby and the 5GK band, Highway Lions, Stiff Necked Fools, The Mix, The Pack, Red Thread, Keith Horton, What the Funk!, and countless others. If you have a neighbor or boyfriend or brother or sister that plays in a band, please let me know. I want to come see them, and if they are fun, maybe they will one day get their name in lights.