About the Band
|The band, with our Old Fat Guys – click on each musician’s name to read about them.
drums, vocals Kent Smith;
bass, vocals Tom Cooke;
keyboard, vocals Jean Deptolla;
lead guitar, Greg Youngdahl
Ketih Kowalewski also plays guitar and adds vocals to the Old Fat Guy Idol band.
The information below was gathered several years ago, so unfortunately there is no bio for Keith.
Also pictured is Geoff Saccomano, our MC.
Band bios (in their own words, unedited)
It had been two years to the day since the start of the Goyang Geumjeong
I really have no recollection of living in Alpena, though I did visit there once with my parents, probably as a young teenager. My parents packed up and moved to Chicago when I was 9 months old, living in a couple of apartments in neighborhoods that weren’t too bad at the time, but might be risky for me to visit these days. I had my first experiences with recording in the first apartment. My dad had a device called a wire recorder, which was technology that preceeded a tape recorder, and actually had spools of metal wire that could be magnetized to record on instead of the reels of iron oxide coated
Shortly thereafter we moved to another apartment in Chicago, where I got my first 2-wheel bicycle, my sister was born, and I started going to school. I went to kindergarden and the first semester of first grade at Fernwood Elementry School in Chicago. On December 1 of that first grade year the Our Lady Of The Angel’s school fire took place. I saw that on the TV news and the building looked much like the Fernwood building, and it made me scared going to school that the same thing would happen at Fernwood. Fortunately at the semester break in January we moved to Elmhurst, and I finished first grade in a modern Elmhurst school that looked nothing like the old school in Chicago. My mother always liked to tell the story that at some point she was called to the principal’s office of that school where the principal told her I was the worst hoodlum that had ever moved from Chicago to Elmhurst. I really
It was at this time when I was playing at a new friend’s house that I met a kid who was a friend of his younger brother, and for whatever reason, we bonded and became fast friends. That would be Tom Cooke, who I eventually invited to play bass in the Old Fat Guy Idol band. We built model cars and communicated with walkie talkies between our houses and built miniature forts out of Lincoln Logs and kid sized forts out of refrigerator boxes and eventually out of plywood and 2x4s lifted from the scrap piles at various houses that were under construction in our neighborhood and rode our bikes all over town (and beyond) and set up our Lionel trains and went swimming at the YMCA and blew up our model cars with firecrackers and raced slot cars down at Sunburry’s raceway, and camped out in our back yards, and built mini-bikes (bikes powered with lawnmower engines) and all the things that kids do. It was a fantastic time.
Tom’s older sister would drive us places, and it was on her car radio that I first heard the early ’60s Rock and Roll music instead of the music that my parents would play on the radio or record player. At that point I didn’t really like it much, a lot of it was pretty lame (The Monster Mash, The Name Game, Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, Soldier Boy, lots of songs with Twist in the name…). There were some gems as well (in fact I probably first heard our opening song for this year’s OFGI event, Green Onions, on her car radio), but I wasn’t tuned in yet, my musical spark hadn’t been lit.
My dad was an electronics engineer and we used to build radios together.
November 22, 1963. It was a Friday. At that time our school would send us home for lunch, so I was at home eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and watching Bozo’s Circus when they broke into the program with a bulletin that President Kennedy had been shot. This event had a profound effect and influence on my life (I’ve read at least 100 books about this event over the years), but not as much as…
It took me a while, but my determination never waned. I got a paper route and started saving my money. In the meantime in 7th grade at school I was for some reason asked if I wanted to play the bass viol in the school band. I took the lessons for the school year, and actually played in a rehearsal band during the summer, but when 8th grade started I told the music teacher that I wanted to play the guitar. I didn’t mention that I didn’t like the clicky-ness of the band kids, nor the stupid yellow sweaters with the harps embroidered on them that the band kids had to wear. His response was that they didn’t need a guitar in the orchestra. I told him that was fine because I didn’t want to play guitar in his orchestra anyway. It took me until spring vacation of 8th grade to get the money together, and I finally bought my first guitar from E. J. Korvettes (a Tiesco Del Rey solid body with a single pickup and a sunburst finish), and I never looked back.
In the mean time, and even before, Tom and I had evolved into making our
Life seemed to accelerate as I moved into high school. I played with
About a year after I graduated from high school, our band was experiencing another bout of drummer problems (much like Spinal Tap), and we met up with a guy from Lombard named Kent who played the drums. From then until now Kent and I have played in several bands. While there have been a few exceptions, for the most part Kent has been a part of practically every band situation I’ve been involved in since. I had to invite him to be a part of the Old Fat Guy Idol band.
So then, as an adult, my life is flying by. I play in bands of various names with several combinations of musicians, but generally with Keith and Kent and myself as the core, playing primarily in the western suburban Chicago area.
For many of the stories that are told about professional musicians and bands, I can counter with my own experiences, on a smaller level, that seem to parallel their stories. At some point I and the other members of the band I was in at the time come to a crossroads where the path I wanted to take was different enough from the path they wanted to follow, and we parted ways. For a few years I tried to find ways to persue music on my own terms. I took piano lessons, and tried to record myself playing various instruments in my studio to produce music. But it wasn’t the same. I couldn’t do it myself, I need the collaboration with other musicians. The give and take and working together toward a common goal that occurs when playing together with other people is what is at the heart of what I enjoy about music. I found out that our church was putting together a band to play contemporary music at some
I had a chapter written for this biography about my first sexual experience, but apparently it was a little disturbing to Lisa, and I had to edit that out. I told her if she was looking to attract people to view the OFGI page, that was the kind of thing that would make the page go viral once word got out about it. But she insisted that I take it out, so I guess you will have to use your imagination. Hopefully you have a good imagination.
Thats my story and I’m stickin’ to it!
Jean has been playing the piano ever since she can remember. It used to be all Bach and Beethoven, but Greg is working his evil ways and making her into a rock and roller. Outside of OFGI, she works with Greg and Jay in the Praise Band of the Batavia United Church of Christ, playing every third Sunday. She helps with many of the children’s programs at church, too, making a complete fool of herself every summer, teaching music for Bible School. Thanks to the Fat Guys and Greg, she’s willing to give about any song a try and is working on facing her ultimate fear of playing without lines, staves, and notes.
Thomas began his musical journey (mid 60’s) stealing time (when he could) on Greg’s first guitar until he got his first bass guitar at the age of 13. He and Greg honed their young skills for many years thereafter…Tom began playing professionally in 1974 continuing through 1976. During this time period, he also did some studio work in Chicago. Skipping forward, Tom began playing again in the mid 80’s in both a WXRT styled band and a nine-piece wedding band. Since 1996, he became one of the main “subs” for the Four Man Acoustic Band at Dick’s Last Resort in Chicago and continues regularly as needed. Tom answered Greg’s call to play bass for the OFGI band for the last three years.
Kent lives in the northwoods of Michigan and could not be reached for his bio. However, you can read about Kent (and a lot of other things!) in Greg’s bio.