Still Rockin’ after All These Years

“I wasn’t about to spend the next 20 years falling asleep in front of the TV, with chip crumbs on my chest, clutching the remote.”

Frater Tom Kalvin, known to his friends from collegiate days as “TK”, comes from a musical family.  His paternal grandfather was a Czech-born virtuoso singer, a cantor in the Byzantine Rite Catholic church in Ohio and choir director and principal of their school, who sang all over  Ohio and Pennsylvania.   His maternal grandfather was an organist, violinist, and singer.  His mother and father grew up in musical households and were both educated in music, which they passed on.

TK played violin and cello in the 4th-7th grades, piano in the 3rd-8th grades, and sang in the chorus 1 year in the 9th grade before dropping everything for “sports, grades and girls”.   However, a  youth group leader at church also taught him his first songs on guitar at around 16–and that he did not drop.  He’s been working on it for 30 years.

TK Singing Lead for BACKLASH

Tom and his wife Karen are members of BACKLASH, a 6-piece Naples, Florida rock band that formed in 2007.  Tom sings lead vocals and plays guitar and a little keyboard while Karen plays keyboards, rhythm guitar, and sings.  BACKLASH plays everything from classic to current:  Elvis to Evanescence, The Doors to 3 Doors Down, Clapton to Nickelback, Skynyrd to Pink Floyd, plus 80’s – Styx, Bon Jovi, Tommy Two Tone; 90’s – Collective Soul, 7Mary3, some soul, some blues, and some country.  Since the band formed, they have played over 300 gigs from Marco Island to Gainesville but primarily in Ft. Myers, Cape Coral and Pt. Charlotte/Punta Gorda.  There are quite a few videos of their performances on YouTube .

“We’re fairly serious about the music,” Tom writes, “It’s all live, no tracks or anything, and we have a dedicated private practice studio where we set up and keep our gear, and practice at least once a week, and try to get in a separate vocal practice once a month for harmonies. Since we’re sort of ‘weekend warriors’ with day jobs and all that, we’re less organized on the marketing end than those bands who do it for a living.

“We’ve always had music in the house, raising 4 well-rounded sons who are all musicians themselves.  I coached soccer and baseball, spring and fall, for 18 years alternating sons and ages as they grew up.  When the first 2 went off to college, I had time on my hands.   I wasn’t about to spend the next 20 years falling asleep in front of the TV, with chip crumbs on my chest, clutching the remote.

“Karen was the first to jump out there.  Around 2005, she started sitting in for free with a band called 8-UP, playing some more complicated piano parts and solos that their own keyboardist was not going to master.  Their lead guitar player was awesome, but his vocals were lacking.  It was his butchery of some of my favorite songs that made me get off the couch, I knew I could do them way better.

“Music keeps us happy.  Yes it is hard work and frustrating at times dealing with the issues that come with gigging and playing out:  turf-guarding bands, dodgy club owners, fierce competition–especially today when many folks are dusting off their instruments to try to make a few extra bucks.  All in all, it’s a pretty rewarding pastime that Karen and I can share that gets us out of the house and, yes, makes some extra money.

“I was a musician back as an undergrad but too shy to play or sing in front of anyone.  I remember Chris Magruder played some guitar and sang back then, and I wished I had the same guts!  Those TKE band parties were legendary back in the day, with Ruckus rocking the TKE corner, standing room only, and Ramsey Matthews getting up on the stage and singing parts of ‘Gimme Three Steps’–to this day one of my favorites to sing.

“It’s corny, but I love sitting in our IHOP at 2:30 am or so, watching the club traffic filter in, and having a nice breakfast with Karen and whoever else came along, talking about the dancing hotties, or the anniversary couple who danced to ‘Wonderful Tonight’, or the funny mistakes, stuff like that… You never know what the night will bring when you kick off the first set!”

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