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Coconut Times Entertainer of the Year 2012 – THE MOOD SWINGERS
Written By: Brenda Golden
*Click images below to view larger versions.
Coconut Times Entertainer of the Year 2012 – THE MOOD SWINGERS
The Mood Swingers, Bubba, Lauren, Ted and Mike receiving their award from Coconut Times Editor Brenda Golden.
Coconut Times Entertainer of the Year 2012 – THE MOOD SWINGERS
Cold Blue Steel/Chameleon, Mike, Lauren, Jim & Nolan, ca. 1996.
Coconut Times Entertainer of the Year 2012 – THE MOOD SWINGERS
The Mood Swingers - Tim, Bubba & Mike.
Coconut Times Entertainer of the Year 2012 – THE MOOD SWINGERS
Ted in his band Hyjynx in Germany.
Coconut Times Entertainer of the Year 2012 – THE MOOD SWINGERS
Juke Box - Bubba on left.
Coconut Times Entertainer of the Year 2012 – THE MOOD SWINGERS
Lauren’s first Ocean City band, High Cost of Livin’.
Coconut Times Entertainer of the Year 2012 – THE MOOD SWINGERS
Lauren’s college band, Cursive Words.
Coconut Times Entertainer of the Year 2012 – THE MOOD SWINGERS
Campfyre Girls
Coconut Times Entertainer of the Year 2012 – THE MOOD SWINGERS
The Lauren Glick Band: Lauren, John, Jeff, Kathy & Gary.
Coconut Times Entertainer of the Year 2012 – THE MOOD SWINGERS
Lauren Glick & Platform Clique
Coconut Times Entertainer of the Year 2012 – THE MOOD SWINGERS
Lauren Glick Band: Gary, Lauren, David, Kathy & Jeff.
    It was an honor and a pleasure to award this year’s Entertainer of the Year to The Mood Swingers. I have personally known three of the four members for 20 years and have always been impressed with their musicianship and dedication to music as a whole. I met Mike Armstrong not long after he arrived in Ocean City. It was 1991 (I was writing for the Dispatch then) and he and his family had relocated from the Washington D.C. suburbs looking for better opportunities for his construction business and also because the music scene was pretty good here.
    I spoke with Mike this week for this article and it was a fun walk down memory lane. I remember talking to him back then so this was a refresher course for me.
    “I had been pretty active in the D.C. area playing in a group called North Star Band. We were pretty popular,” he tells me. “Then I was in a band called White Water, a southern rock, modern country band.” With White Water Mike says they played quite often in New York and had the pleasure of playing either before or alongside some famous country musicians such as Willie Nelson.
    “But groups change,” Mike went on. “Marriages, breakups happen and eventually members move on.”
    Armstrong wanted to play again and shortly after moving to Ocean City he checked out a duo playing outside at the old Ocean Club ... that happened to be John LaMere & Joe Smooth. He talked with them about the local music scene and put the word out that he was looking to play guitar.
    “I answered an ad for a group that was looking for a guitarist. Turned out to be Nolan Graves (keyboard), Richard Collins (bass) and Jim Long (drums). All they needed was a guitar and I fit the bill.” The group was called The Essentials and hearing them at the Greene Turtle was my first introduction to all these gifted musicians.
    As Mike says, bandmates’ personal lives often cause change and so it was with this one. Collins was busy being a lawyer, Graves spending more time with his construction business and Long was offered a solo job at the Princess Royale (before his long run at Seacrets).
     So what came next? Lauren Glick was on the scene performing as a duo with David Adams. I remember seeing them at the old Dungeon. I again met Lauren at the Fager’s Island Claim to Fame where she played keyboard and sang both covers and original material. And she was awesome!
    “Lauren played bass, too, so we teamed up, brought in Bubba on drums and Joe Smooth on sax for a few years.” This band was called Chameleon and they were excellent. I would have given them the award if I had been doing that back then.
    “We had a great run,” Mike continued. “But as all things change, Lauren wanted to go a different direction with her music and she joined up with Kathy Denk.” As we know that duo was called the Campfyre Girls.
    “My brother Tim came in on bass to replace Lauren and we became The Mood Swingers for about seven years,” says Mike.
    The pendulum of change swings again and Lauren is pregnant with twins. “When she was ready I asked her to come back with us on keyboard,” Mike recalls. As it turned out, his brother Tim decided to move on to the Austin, Texas, music scene; so for a time, Lauren was playing both bass and keyboard.
    “The move to Ocean City turned out to be the best thing for myself and my family,” says Mike. “The lifestyle and quality of music and the friendships I’ve made have been more than worth it. And the way our musical community respects and supports each other is unique.”
    I asked Armstrong what he sees in their future as The Mood Swingers.
    “I’d like us to play some bigger venues like Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival. I’d love to go back to New York. Lauren and I have talked about doing another recording of some original music. We both have a lot of songs so that’s something we may do this winter. I think we have struck a balance of working to each other’s strong points.” Indeed, they have a wide scope of musical genres with Mike great on southern rock tunes and Lauren best on her soulful classic rock tunes. It makes the name Mood Swingers ever more appropriate.

    I had the pleasure of talking with drummer Bubba (Mark Phippin) for this article who surprised me with the extent of his musical history.
    “I started playing drums around 1982 (at about 18) in a  neighborhood jam band in a friend’s garage,” he tells me. “From that I joined a southern rock band called Southern Cross, then on to a heavy metal band called Grand Wizard, both in the Salibury area. I was born and raised in Salisbury,” he says. After that I joined a country music band called Country High with Bobby & Steve Russell. This was the first band that traveled out of town; we had gigs in Baltimore, Pennsylvania and Long Island, N.Y. plus all around the Delmarva peninsula,” he continues. “By day my job was painting with Bud Miller. I think I painted every building in Ocean City at least once. I stopped that about 20 years ago when I started having some health issues.”
    I thought that sounded like a pretty solid band and I asked Bubba why they broke up. Just like every typical band the answer was, “Everybody started looking for something else to do. I started playing with Barney Davis, Dave Wimbrow and Eddie Chandler in a country/southern rock group called Juke Box, around 1990. This was one of the first bands that played in West Ocean City at the old West Side,” he recalls. “Next I played with Frank Nanna in the Star Mountain Music Band and we were the house band at Key Largo (no longer there), he recalls. “That’s where I met Mike Armstrong. I went to hear him one night playing with the Essentials. When Key Largo went defunct, and the band broke up I went with Mike and his new group Chameleon.”
    “I dropped out of Chameleon just venturing into other directions and began playing with Bits n Pieces whose lead singer was Michelle Schachter. That lasted about a year-and-half. Then I joined with Jan Donaway and her husband Brent Tollins in a country band called Back Stage Queen, again in Salisbury. We played Long Neck, Riverside, numerous VFWs and American Legions. Mike got up with me again and asked me to join him and brother Tim in The Mood Swingers around 2002.”
    “Well, I am amazed,” I tell Bubba. “That’s quite a history.”
    “Yeah, I’ve been around.”
    I wanted to know, with The Mood Swingers, has he finally settled into the band he’s going to stay in.
    “We’ve been together 8 years now. It doesn’t seem that long but I guess when you’re havin’ so much fun time just flies,” he answers.  “I think everything’s working well. Ted (new bassist) is a real asset to the band; he adds a lot. Mike & I’ve been partners a long time. And Lauren is the best vocalist on the beach. She’s a great performer and I really enjoy playing drums for her. Oh, and I also play drums in my church, Emmanuel Weslyan Church in Salisbury.”
    I mention that he’s a pretty good singer too, and ask him if he has been singing behind the drums for a long time.
    “Yeah, I used to do that AC/DC kind of stuff, but yeah, I like singing too.”
    If you’ve been to a performance of The Mood Swingers, you’ll notice Bubba’s girlfriend Ellen Paul is always nearby. “I probably couldn’t do this without Ellen’s help,” he says. “It’s because of her that I am still playing. And she’s a great help to the whole band. Thanks, Ellen!”
    Bubba wraps it up by saying, “It’s so much fun entertaining people. I look forward to every summer getting to meet new people. When I decide to hang up my drumsticks, this will be the band I retire from.”
    Well, let’s hope that’s no time soon.

    Next I spoke with the newcomer to the group, Ted Gelinas. Ted tells me he comes from a musical family; he played trumpet in the marching band in high school. He started playing bass in the ‘80s, and while serving in the Army in Nuremberg, Germany, he and fellow Americans put together a heavy metal band called Hyjynx.
    “We traveled to other military installations playing for the servicemen there for about two years,” he tells me. “When I got out of the Army, I played a little more for the next few years but quit to pursue schooling and start a family.”
    I asked him what got him to return to music.
    “Well, I’ve been friends with Jeff Davis for a long time and he’s always encouraged me to start playing again,” he answers. “While on a trip to visit my parents in Massachusetts, I stopped at a pawn shop and bought an old bass for $50, just on a whim.” Picking up the bass again, as when he was young, just came natural and it wasn’t long before he was playing again in the Davis Holiday Band and Fifth Avenue.
    “Then by some strange twist of fate,” he continues, “I saw an ad on facebook saying The Mood Swingers were looking for a bass player, so I showed up and here I am.”
    That was in April of this year and he has, as Bubba says, fit in really well.
    “I’ve always loved music,” Ted says. “I love playing in this band and I love the music that they play; a lot of songs from my early days. I was actually a fan before I had met them. We’ve had a very successful summer and I look forward to continuing with them.”

    I have to say it’s been a lot of fun traveling this nostalgic path with these talented entertainers; learning more about the journey they have each taken to get where they are today. I couldn’t wait to talk to Lauren Glick because I began reporting on the music scene just as she was getting her start.
    “I was in my last semester at Berklee School of Music in Boston,” Lauren recalls,  “and I decided to audition for an Ocean City band called High Cost of Living. I remember taking the train home several times to audition and I got the job as keyboardist.”
    After graduating from Berklee she joined up with Phil Scudieri, Chris Long and Casey McQuade playing classic rock and some alternative at local clubs for a couple years.
    “Then I met Dave Adams,” she tells me  “and we performed a duo act for three or four years. During that time I became pregnant with my son, but I went right back to work with Dave, much to his surprise.”
    As that was beginning to run its course, she met Mike Armstrong who was playing in a band with Nolan Graves and Bubba called Cold Blue Steel.
    “They were playing classic and southern rock but decided they wanted a female singer to broaden the range of music they could play. After I joined the band Mike  changed the name to Chameleon.”
    As those of us who were around in the ‘90s know, Chameleon was very successful, playing at top clubs such as Fager’s Island.
    “Throughout these years I was also a DJ and through that I met Marla Dixxon who introduced me to Kathy Denk.”
    They thought it would be fun to bring back some cool dance music from the Disco era so with Chris Long, Dave Wimbrow, Chip Butler, and Jeff Davis they formed a band and called it Lauren Glick & the Platform Clique. I remember seeing them at Fager’s Island also.
    “When the Disco thing got a little old, we started to do more of the classic rock,” she continues. “We met John Heinz who joined us on fiddle. His sound along with the trend to more of the modern country feel certainly influenced our music then.”
    “Kathy and I had been performing as a duo sometimes called the Campfyre Girls but when the guys started playing more with us it  sort of morphed into the Lauren Glick Band.”
    I remember that, too. Understandably the guys were being teased about being the Campfyre Girls, so they played for several years, quite successfully, as the Lauren Glick Band.
    “I left the band when I had my twins and afterward Mike and I kept running into each other at Wor-Wic where I was studying to become a nurse. [She recently graduated.] He kept asking me to come back and join his band after the babies were born,” she remembers. “It was actually a joy to join The Mood Swingers and not have to be in charge of all the bookings and so on.”
    And playing with Mike again gave her the opportunity to really showcase what she does best - sing her heart out.
    “I love to play bass and keyboards but my true love is singing; and putting it all out there on classic rock tunes by such artists as Joplin, Led Zeppelin and Grace Slick.”
    Lauren has produced three CDs of original material, Eternity, Love Tangles and Keep On Movin’, but as we all know clubs don’t want original material - they want covers..
    “When we play at the Globe we have more freedom to put in some original songs,” Lauren says. And she agrees with Mike that their goal for the future is to do a recording that’s a mix of some of their favorite covers and their originals. “We like to keep our act fresh by learning new songs all the time,” she adds. “We’ve kicked around the idea of doing a Janice Joplin tribute show; we’ll see.”
    “We really have reached the point where we feel we can play almost anything. We’re at the top of our game at this point and we’re all lovin’ it. We had the best show at Sunfest - probably the best we’ve ever done. Thanks to Tish Michel who introduced us as this year’s Coconut Times Entertainer of the Year. The show was just so upbeat from that moment on.”
    I, of course, am thrilled that I could contribute in any way to the success of this band. They have paid their dues and with each passing year they only get better and better.

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