Shadow Creek Band History as remembered by Tom Neely
In June of 1992, my brother Richard and I rehearsed together for the first time in my living room without a drummer or lead guitar player. We rehearsed our first song called, â€œSome girls doâ€? by Sawyer Brown. This happened because of Dan Sorrentino, our first drummer. He called a week earlier and suggested we get together to have some fun playing private parties and such. We had no PA system, no lead guitarist, and we only knew maybe 10 songs. We had no idea where we would end up. Mom & Dad came to the rescue and introduced us to Gary Hoke, a lead guitar player and great singer. The band was complete! Well.... maybe. Gary was involved with another band at the time and could not commit to us. Fortunately over time, Gary decided to work with us on a regular basis. This was a good thing, Gary knew a lot of songs AND sang lead. If we only had a name and some places to play. Brother Richard called me out of the blue and before I finished saying "Hello", he said, how about "Shadow Creek". Wow, what a great name! How did this come about? A dog in his neighborhood, by the name of "Shadow" was walking by and the name "Shadow Creek" came to mind. All the guys loved the name, and "Shadow Creek" was born. With the great support of my wife Myra, she became involved in searching for work for the band. After looking in to local clubs in the area, and the many phone calls she made, we finally landed a couple of jobs playing some Moose Lodges, and special events. Grifs Western Wear held special Saturday parking lot sales in which we played many rainy days standing in puddles outside. We auditioned outside on the sidewalk of Davie Junction at a special event they were hosting. Yes... it was HOT, we were nervous, and we played using borrowed speakers. I don't know how we pulled it off, but somehow we passed the audition. A few weeks later, we hit the BIG time. We played at a real Country Night Club, "Davie Junction". I don't know about the rest of the guys, but I was shaking in my boots. We had a limited song list, and never had to worry about line dances, two steps, cha cha's or playing waltzes before. After all, this is where the "Hot Walker Band" plays and they are a hard act to follow (what a band!). By this time, country music was hot & heavy. Country night clubs were all over south Fla. Pure Country, Desperado, Western Star, Do Da's, Hillbilly Rock, just to name a few. We were fortunate enough to play every week in a different club locally. Over time, personal interests changed and Gary, our lead guitarist, was replaced. He still lives here in Broward County and is very involved with his family and his church. This is about the time Terry Williams came along who plays a great country lead guitar and our drummer Dan had to move on. Our schedule was heavier than Dan had anticipated, and being a school teacher was a lot to handle with late nights during a school week. Now with a new lead guitarist and our drummer gone, we were determined to keep it going. With a stroke of luck, drummer Tim Roberts was working in a club on the beach and was about ready to make a change. We convinced him to give us a try, and he did. Again, we were back in business. So many things began to happen at this point in time. Country music was becoming more popular with younger people and line dancing was THE new thing. Country night clubs were opening all around south Florida, and more concerts were being held. We were busier than ever and had the opportunity to open for national acts several times. Stars such as Tracy Lawrence, Patti Loveless, Sammy Kershaw, Neil McCoy, Blackhawk, and legend Ronnie Milsap just to name a few. But the most memorable for me was actually playing on stage while Tanya Tucker sang. What a feeling knowing we actually played her number one hits on stage while she sang. This was one of my favorite highlights in the Shadow Creek history.
Also, Tracy Byrd was kind enough one time to invite Shadow Creek on stage with him while he sang some of his number one hits. What proud moments in time for us. As time moves on, things always change, and once again we had to find a lead guitar player. Terry couldn't stay with us and all we could do at the time was borrow guitar players from other bands till we could find someone permanent. Many of our venues were out of town, so on many occasions, we were using what ever lead guitar player was available to travel. Henry Palm, Fred Ross, Jim Cook, Jimmy Suggs, Shane Duncan, and a couple of guitar players that only played one time with us. We never landed the one lead guitarist that was available to travel and work with us every gig. So for many years, we did the best we could with some very talented guitarists.
Once again as I stated before, time moves on and things change. The Country Scene was winding down. All of the Country Night Clubs started disappearing from south Florida. Do Da's, Hillbilly Rock, Pure Country, Desperado's, Western Star, and a few I've forgotten about. But the hardest one to accept was Davie Junction. We considered this our home base and had many memorable nights there. It became harder to find local clubs to play and brother Richard was about to retire from his day job and move away. This would leave only Tim & Myself representing the Shadow Creek Band.
At this point I knew something was going to give. With no permanent lead guitarist and no rhythm guitarist our chances of surviving were growing dim. I agonized for weeks trying to decide what to do. With not much to offer in the way of work, and a limited number of band members I was between a rock and a hard place.
Just about this time, I received a phone call from a working band in Vero Beach that was looking for a Bass guitarist. This would leave Tim out in the cold, and out of a job. A terrible position for me to be in and hated to decide between my loyalty to Tim and moving to a different band. Well, I made my decision and I called Tim one Sunday afternoon to break the news that I would be moving on. One of the worst days of my life after the dedication and friendship from Tim all those years.Â
After joining another band the Shadow Creek name was about to be phased out.
I was enjoying the chance to work with a new group of guys, however I still had some work that Shadow Creek had already booked which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I worked in the new band for a short period of time only to discover that there were conflicting personalities that ultimately would break us apart. Why grown men act like immature kids sometimes is beyond me, but we struggled through a few months without finding a name for this new band & one night it came to an end on stage while performing. Glenn & I were now without a guitar player & a drummer. I was second guessing my decision about the move I made when family & friends came to the rescue & told me, "people still want Shadow Creek". This is all I needed to hear. Since I had several bookings on the calendar, I decided to listen to advice my Dad once gave me & fulfill my obligation.
I can hear my Dad now, "The Show Must Go On". Glenn & I pulled a drummer & a guitar player from here & there to fulfill a lot of our scheduled play dates. Over the years, we've made friends with great players and everyone was very helpful who filled in. Â Drummer Bruce Gross is one of those players who was involved with another band around town, but showed an interest in becoming a permanent member of Shadow Creek. This was a spark to help lift my spirits. Shadow Creek was almost back to full capacity. The only player we were missing at this point was a lead guitar player if Bruce decides to come on board permanently. Bruce is a well seasoned musician who has worked all over the World, has been on tour, and has opened for numerous National Acts. I was excited he showed an interest in us. At this point, I was determined to find a lead guitarist who would be a good fit for the Shadow Creek Band. Having worked with several guitarists over many years, there was a few who just would not work well with our scheme.
Here we were once again with several play dates ahead of us & in need of a guitarist. Luck would have it that RJ from Okeechobee was available to help us on a few upcoming gigs and he just happened to be one of our favorite musicians we had worked with in the past. Now this would be a good fit if Rick was interested. Rick loves Country Music, always looks nice, and knows how to play a country tune. Rick Krnotch is also a seasoned musician with many accomplishments under his belt. Rick has played guitar since he was in his early teens and has been going ever since. He has toured with Nashville Country artist Michael Martin Murphy as a guitarist and has opened for numerous National Country artists while working in local bands.
There you go! We have a good combination of people again with Bruce Gross & Rick Krnotch making a commitment to become permanent members, we are under way. I am very proud of the new Shadow Creek Band, and am honored to be working with such great guys both as musicians and as friends.
I hope to see all of you soon at one of our next gigs.
P.S. I must add something that was not mentioned in the history as I remember it. My wife, Myra, played an important roll in the inception and development of the Shadow Creek Band. The entire history of this band includes Myra, as she has fully supported the band from the beginning, booked the band, kept records, and continues to be an important member of Shadow Creek. If it wasn't for Myra, we wouldn't be where we are today.Â