- Arts & Lifestyle
SHAZAM! Local band records every gig
By Joe Viglione/ Correspondent
Thursday, November 17, 2005
- the magic word used by comic superhero Captain Marvel and often quoted by America's
favorite PFC Gomer Pyle - is also the name of a local band which records every
practice and live show.
Medford guitarist Rich Caloggero, bassist Jeff Lowe, former Medford resident and
band leader Ken Selcer and a variety of drummers/percussionists make up the popular
group, "Shazam," which plays a blend of roots rock, blues, reggae and everything
Caloggero was raised in Medford and still lives in the city. He started playing
music as a teenager while taking a music appreciation class during his second
year of prep school.
The school offered classes on guitar or recorder so Caloggero took guitar. He
later attended Worcester PolyTech, the same college where The J. Geils Band formed
years earlier, and worked towards a bachelor of science degree in computer science
while practicing guitar whenever he could.
"I had some friends that were musicians, (though) I was never in a band in college,
but I learned a lot, jammed when I could, jammed with different people," he said.
Outside of school, Caloggero had no formal lessons or band experience, but he
continued to play for usually an hour or so every day. He was invited to join
The Psychedelic Conspiracy in 1998, a quartet of two guitars, bass and drums that
performed Grateful Dead inspired rock and roll.
"We played lots of tunes that the Dead played (written by other people), but only
a couple of their original tunes," Caloggero said. "We improvised jams like the
Dead, all electric and had a blast. I love playing that stuff."
The group disbanded towards the end of 2000, but Caloggero was simultaneously
appearing in another band called Tiger Method, which was around for three years
or so. He joined Shazam around 2002 after meeting Ken Selcer at an invitational
jam at the All Asia bar in Cambridge.
Shazam, from Caloggero's perspective, is working to be a mellower kind of music
group "as stylistically diverse as possible." The band combines "blues to rock
to reggae, jazz stuff here and there...even a little country and bluegrass."
"I actually was really envisioning the sound of the Grateful Dead's 'Reckoning'
thing (a live album from the early 1980s) that interesting hybrid of rock/bluegrass/country,"
As for his own influences, Caloggero said the Grateful Dead is number one and
its leader, Jerry Garcia, influenced the way he plays guitar. Other inspirations
come from "all the usual suspects: the Beatles, Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin,
with the primary ones being the aforementioned Garcia, the Allman Brothers (as
well as the jazz folks.")
"And then when I started listening to the country stuff it was Tony Rice and David
Grisman, Doc Watson," Caloggero said. "They took acoustic instruments to another
Shazam evolved over time just by players of like minds finding each other, most
notably when Selcer started performing at the All Asia and invited people to play.
Caloggero showed up one night at the jam with lots of other people playing in
an improvised atmosphere.
Selcer picks the story up from here: "Bassist Jeff Lowe was a friend of a friend,
and turned up about a year ago (circa 2004) and he kept on showing up.
"We record every show. I just recorded Friday night (Nov. 11) at a little place
called The Java Room in Chelmsford," Selcer said. "The drummer that night was
Michael Migliozzi, percussionist with The Boogaloo Swamis."
The band records every single gig digitally - even the rehearsals.
"We do things differently," Selcer noted. "Sometimes we do things that we don't
do live, and sometimes it's really, really good. That's why I record it, so we
have it on record, so to speak, but we haven't translated a lot of it (the practice
improvisations) to live performance yet.
"At the rehearsals we really practice and we also experiment," he continued. "We
want to find a permanent drummer, work out the material live, and sooner or later
we'll record it all in the studio."
Selcer, who lived in Medford from 1983-1987 and was a DJ on 91.5 FM, WMFO, the
station based at Tufts University, has performed live on the station about five
times. Selcer has two solo albums, "Dreamin' Of Heaven" and "Breaking the Glass."
- For more on Shazam, check out the band's Web site at http://www.kenselcer.com/shazam.html.