A good friend Cheryl Hooven-Lewis recently sent me a letter and in it was an old document I wrote as a promo piece called, “The History of the band Parousia (1975-1978)“. A lighthearted story of how the band was formed and our struggles to get the band off the ground in the early days from 1975-1978.
In the beginning, Patt Connolly (flute/vocals), Barry Cannizzaro (guitar/vocals) and Gerry Cannizzaro (drums) started the band PAROUSIA in the summer of 1975. We were a modest trio practicing in the garage of 104 Baxter Street. We would jam for hours on riffs we learned from songs by Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath and The Who.
Right away we started writing our own unique material like ‘Crystal City’, ‘Tickle My Fancy’ and ‘I Like People’.
Barry played a Fender Jazz Master guitar out of a Fender Silvertone amp. A few months later, Steve Soos (keyboards) joined the band. He played a Vox Jaguar portable organ out of a killer Kustom amp.
All of us were “Church Boys” – – we attended All Saints Church and worked for All Saints Church and grammar school in Riverside. We worked Bingo two-three times in the evening during the week. On weekends we worked lawn fetes and did custodial work. Patt Connolly worked evenings in the Rectory answering phones for St. John’s Church in near-by Black Rock.
In the fall of that same year, Mike Newell (bass guitar/baritone sax) joined the band and we started to write more interesting songs with dynamics and orchestration. We met Mike at ST. Joe’s high-school in Kenmore, NY.
We brought in John McGovern on lead guitar in February of 1976. He played a black Gibson ES hollow body electric guitar out of an amp that he made himself. He was a bit older and was the “adult” of the band. He was incredible at electronics and was responsible for bringing PAROUSIA up to “acceptable levels” when it came to having the necessary equipment for a rock band to perform live.
After a number of successes and downturns, the band had a major personnel shift in July of 1978 when key members John, Mike and Steve exited and then Bobby Lowden (bass guitar) and Garth Huels (lead guitar) joined the band and everything changed for the better.
Garth Played a black Gibson guitar knock off called a Halifax and it sounded great. Garth could copy any rock song perfectly. He blew us away at audition with a perfect rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin and “Train Kept a Rollin’” by Aerosmith. Having Bob Lowden and Garth Huels in the band, changed our image overnight from ‘Church Boy’ to ‘Rock Star’.
Next, we picked up keyboardist Dave Maltbie, an amazing jazz pianist and organist who joined the band to help us play the more difficult rock tunes like “School” and “Dreamer” by Supertramp, ‘The Portrait (He Knew)” and “The Spider” by Kansas, “White Punks on Dope” by the Tubes and “Hocus Pocus” by Focus, a song where Dave surprised the audience by playing rock accordion.
PAROUSIA 1978: Patt Connolly, Barry Cannizzaro, Garth Huels, Robert Lowden, Gerry Cannizzaro, Dave Maltbie and Kim Watts.
In August 1978, Kim Watts (female vocalist/ harmonica/percussion) joined our group and we expanded our repertoire to include songs like “One Way or Another” and “I Know But I Don’t Know” by Blondie and “Hell is for Children” and “Heart Breaker” by Pat Benetar. Her vocals helped fill out the harmonies nicely.
The new PAROUSIA “felt good”…. we (finally) put together something great and with this new beginning we started writing lots more original songs like, “Miss Ogyny”, “Revelation”, “Cotton Holiday”, “Oh My Love” and “Malmedy.”
In the fall of 1978 we began performing in bars and rock clubs and blew people away with our energetic performances featuring a heavy flute / guitar repertoire. Plus we had the added attraction of a “girl singer”. PAROUSIA was the only local band at the time playing songs like “Cross Eyed Mary”, “Hymn 43” and “Locomotive Breath” by Jethro Tull.
Parousia went through an enormous amount of change and growth between 1975 and 1978 and if you take the time to read the five pages (typed on a Smith Corona portable typewriter), you’ll see just how significant those changes were. The “touch and go” existence of the band and how much staying together and moving forward meant to all of us in those early halcyon days of youth.