The Shop gets back together at Upstairs at the Dinosaur

Music lover and writer Chris Rapp sent over a message a couple of months ago to alert me about a favorite old Syracuse band of his that was getting back together next weekend.

Rapp urged that I alert the world through my blog.

The Shop performing at the Lost Horizon in the late-1980’s.  Photo credit (Photo by Steve Stafford, from Facebook, CNY Music Archives)

The Shop performing at the Lost Horizon in the late-1980’s. Photo credit (Photo by Steve Stafford, from Facebook, CNY Music Archives)

He even sent the pictures here along with his text.

Rapp wrote about the band’s song Call of the Wild, and how he heard them play it a quarter-century ago at the China Club in New York City.

Fake it, just pretend you’re listening to me, the song asks.

Record companies did. They liked that song and urged the musicians to make more along the same lines. But with the time and effort expended putting out their first album of originals, that message was sort of disappointing.

Their personal lives were calling. And so guitarist Michael Crissan and singer, guitarist Kevin Farrell, bassist Mark ‘Spoc’ Butcavage and drummer Jim Lucas went their own ways. But still played on in their own directions. (Keyboardist John Cannata had departed already.)

Playing at Mac’s Bad Art Bar in 2008.  (Photo by  Rita Lucas)

Playing at Mac’s Bad Art Bar in 2008. (Photo by Rita Lucas)

Crissan makes his living as a musician, touring the east coast from Florida. Butcavage writes and records original music in New Jersey. Farrell plays in Syracuse band Hard Promises and also hits those famous classic rock guitar lines for Benny Mardones’ Hurricanes. Lucas keeps the beat for Syracuse band Simple Life.

Over the years, interest remained in the Salt City, and the four men remained friends and kept talk going of getting together to play their songs.

The reunion gig is The reunion is 8 p.m. Saturday, March 5 at Upstairs at the Dinosaur. Simple Life and Shark Sandwich also will perform.

Here’s a link to the Reverb Nation page with The Shop’s original songs.

If you clicked over to listen, which is your favorite song from The Shop, and why? What was your favorite rock band 25 years ago, and why? What is your favorite rock band now?

9 thoughts on “The Shop gets back together at Upstairs at the Dinosaur

  1. A bazillion thanks to Mark for helping to promote this show. This Saturday!!!! Saturday, March 5. 8 PM at upstairs the Dinosaur BBQ.

    The Shop answers the loudest call
    By Chris Rapp

    Twenty-five years ago at the now closed China Club in New York City, I watched Syracuse-based rock band The Shop power through its original tune, “Call of the Wild”- a song with no memorable inspiration, but enough spark and ‘call’ to pique the interest of several record label executives. For me, the band’s performance screamed the musical chemistry between four guys and their quest to secure the elusive major label recording contract. The tune’s lyrics say: “Fake it, just pretend you’re listening to me.” Well, no one faked it. People were listening. And in 2016, The Shop is answering the loudest call of all, from its fans- with a one-night reunion show set for 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 5 upstairs at the Dinosaur BBQ, 246 Willow Street, in Syracuse.

    Known for its tight sound and absolute professional live performances; the straight ahead, no nonsense, power rock band The Shop, is dusting off a catalog of original music for one night of music. Remaining members Michael Crissan, Kevin Farrell, Mark ‘Spoc’ Butcavage, and Jim Lucas have decided to collaborate once again. Keyboardist John Cannata left the band years prior.

    “Whether it was at our past reunions or in passing, people continue to ask if we would do another reunion gig or ever get back together,” said guitarist Kevin Farrell. “We always knew there was strong musical chemistry and passion in the band, but the requests let us know we built a strong and loyal fan base.”
    Even though they are dusting off old tunes, make no mistake, these guys aren’t crawling out of their recliners for this gig as all members have remained musically active since parting ways. Frontman, Crissan is the only full-time musician enjoying a strong following on the acoustic rock scene throughout the Northeast and in Central Florida. He also guest fronts another Syracuse-born band, the Sharp Dressed Penguins from time-to-time. Farrell and Lucas have been gigging with Syracuse bands, Hard Promises and SimpleLife, respectively. Butcavage, who resides in New Jersey, has been writing and recording original material. Farrell also continues his 20+ year tenure as Benny Mardones’ main axman.
    “For me, The Shop was a really fun band with a true team effort and a great experience,” said drummer Jim Lucas. “There was tremendous musical and personal camaraderie. We were veterans of the CNY Music Scene and our past experiences enabled us to all contribute more than our individual roles. ‘Call of the Wild’ is a perfect example of our collective effort as a band. We set aside our egos and focused on producing the best music possible. Spoc penned the lyrics, Kevin wrote the music, I came up with the chorus and title, and Michael made it all work. ‘Somebody Save Me’ and ‘Runaway’ were also receiving a lot of attention from music publishers; but ‘Call of the Wild’ could be called our signature song as it was a fan favorite and the stand-out song that caught the ear of some record label executives. The response was: ‘good tune, write 10 more like it, and give me a call’. We had busted our asses writing and recording our first album, so the response was a bit disappointing. We quickly realized we needed more than just chemistry and a fan base.”

    “People continue to ask us why the Shop broke up,” added Farrell. The band called it quits in the 90’s despite the strong musical and songwriting chemistry as a band. “We released an album, had a strong fan base, and always had original tunes in the works,” Farrell said. “Despite all of this, the balance of our personal lives, professional careers, and rock ‘n roll aspirations; The Shop wasn’t fulfilling everyone’s individual goals.” Crissan talked about changes. “The decision to move on wasn’t easy,” he said. “By the time The Shop was established as a band with a following; the music scene we had enjoyed and become accustomed to in predecessor bands had changed dramatically. We had honed our skills as professional musicians and were committed to The Shop’s goal to secure a major label recording contract. We wanted to chase the dream. But, the music scene was much different than in the past and finding clubs willing to book gigs wasn’t easy.” In the early and mid-80’s, members had enjoyed success and popularity in bands such as Tickets, Mr. Edd, Forecast, The Todd Hobin Band, and 805. The drinking age had been increased to 21 and it decimated the saloon and subsequently live music businesses. “Many full time musicians were forced to get day jobs and between the balance of careers and families, The Shop was beginning to suffer,” Crissan said. “We had been fortunate to make a living by playing live music several nights a week and this was no longer possible. Some of these changes were influencing factors in my decision to go solo.”

    “Over the years we have kicked around the idea of getting back together,” Farrell said. “Our families are now grown and we have fewer personal obligations. Should we ever decide to reform The Shop, picking up where we left off should be relatively effortless. However, it hasn’t come to fruition yet due to logistics and scheduling. Spoc still resides in New Jersey and our other bands keep us pretty busy. Our past reunion gigs reminded us how much we still enjoy performing together.” Through the reunion gigs there were requests for the band’s original music. In 2011, Farrell released the majority of the band’s original recordings on music website, Reverbnation.

    Should the band reform, they plan to write new material and rework the first album. “The first album was recorded when studio technology was very different and it has too much of an 80’s fingerprint to the recordings,” Farrell said. “Even if it’s just for personal satisfaction I’d like to update the arrangements and rework the tunes.”

    The band plans to spend some serious time practicing to iron out any sour notes and kinks. There will be several special guests, including SimpleLife, Shark Sandwich, and some family members of the band. More details will follow.

    For me, this is still awesome cruising music…


  2. Mark , Thanks again for all the years You have helped and supported the Music scene .My family and I appreciate all you’ve done .


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