the chronology of GHB makes for a demanding read, but
distilled down to essentials it's basically the story
of a rock 'n roll band that won't die.
It all began back
in 1974. Childhood friends Mike McAdam and Jimmy
Morgan, hoping to avoid any sort of real job, assembled
Mark Corvino (drums) Bill Gerloff (bass) and Pittsburgh
native Jack Irwin (piano) into a band and began playing
scattered gigs in Fan bars.
After two years
of elastic lineups, GHB was crystallized one night
over a few kegs of beer and a monster jam session of
rock 'n roll, R&B, and country at a local bar called
The Pass. The participants blew each other's minds
all night, and a mighty future was glimpsed. The next
day, emerging into the noonday sun, squinting and smiling
was the first solid GHB lineup – McAdam, Morgan, Corvino,
bassist Drake Leonard, and pianist Gregg Wetzel.
up and letting go of various musicians (including D.C.
guitar great Danny Gatton) all the while touring the
North Carolina and Virginia coasts, GHB called it quits
almost 20 years ago, reconvening only once or twice
a year since in Richmond for a Christmas show or a
performance at Church Hill's "High on the Hog."
This Thursday the
Good Humor Band, now McAdam, Leonard, Wetzel, Joe McGlohon
(sax), Mike Lucas (guitar), and David Eggleston (drums),
returns to their hometown to open this year's Virginia
Museum of Fine Arts "Jumpin!" series. We
talked to McAdam, the only lifelong member of the band,
from his home in Nashville prior to the show.
did you end up in Nashville?
here in 1986. Bucky Baxter [ex-GHB pedal steel player]
was working with Steve Earle here. [Earle] had just recorded "Guitar
Town" for RCA, and he needed a guitar player. Bucky
recommended me and I auditioned and got the gig. So I
found a way to move here without having to starve. I
toured with him up until 1990. Me and [ex-GBH player]
Jack Irwin opened Silvertone Studios in 1994, right up
the street from here. Right now I'm playing with three
different artists – Lee Roy Parnell, Radney Foster, and
Steve Earle. And I'm putting out a solo record on Radney
GHB reached a sort of cult status over the years?
I've met people from all over the country saying they've
heard of Good Humor Band. We're unique because we've
had so many members, and everyone went on to play with
a major artist. I guess there's some mystique about the
band. Most people in Nashville who are left of center
know of us, so we've got a slight bit of legendary status.
Probably more than we deserve.
guys seem to be dispersed all over three states.
How do you rehearse for your shows?
of the band members live in Nashville. Our drummer, Dave
Eggleston, is a professor at NC State. We get together
and rehearse once here, and then we rehearse again in
doesn't GHB play more often, given your considerable
it's really hard to get schedules together, since we
all play in other bands. We can usually get together
at Christmastime, since Nashville comes to a halt the
second week of December, kind of like high school. Plus
we make more money playing with other people (laughs).
you guys still play "Stump the Band" with
but Drake isn't playing with us this week, so we'll be
limited in what we can do.
you ever been stumped?
remember ever being stumped. We probably couldn't play
any Top 40 hits from the past ten years. We're from another
generation, we know obscure songs from the '50s, '60s
and '70s. We probably couldn't pull off hip-hop. But
we'll attempt anything.
there something fans can expect to hear at a GHB
do things like play the instrumental part of "Stairway
to Heaven," but change the lyrics to the theme from
Gilligan's Island. We do a lot of TV theme songs. But
most of what we play this time will be off the album
[2000's self-titled release], with some blues and R&B
was the music scene like when you began back in
the music scene was a bit of a mess. It was mostly disco
and Top 40 funk bands. We were different because we played
whatever we felt like – The Byrds, Beatles, Tom Waits.
There was a thriving country and rock 'n roll, rockabilly
thing going on. We became involved in all that. And there
were other bands that were on the alternative route.
Springsteen was playing in town all the time with Steel
Mill. They were one of the first bands doing all original
material, and they were only popular in New Jersey and
Richmond. There were lots of bands that wanted to be
that band, like ourselves.
has kept GHB going on such a sporadic basis all
fun. We're all still pals. Everyone comes out of the
woodwork for our shows, so we get to see all our old
pals. It's kind of like a party.
are the band's only continuous member. Why is that?
I guess it was the path of least resistance for me. It
kept me from having to get a day job.
GHB be around forever?
knew we were still going to be doing this at our age.
I guess we'll keep doing it until they put us in rocking