The Beef-A-Roo Experience's seven-track disc, "John Denver Omelet," is out now, according to main man Ron Faiola -- drummer, singer and guitarist -- who was a member of Couch Flambeau back in the day.
The disc features six Cheap Trick covers and a version of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "Bite It," which, unsurprisingly, also has a C.T. pedigree.
Also in the ad hoc rock outfit are veterans like Jay Tiller (Couch Flambeau), Dale Kaminski (Liquid Pink), Lisa Jebson and Germany's Kai Fritzschen. Milwaukee musical trainspotters may note that this is the first time former bandmates Tiller and Faiola have recorded together in 18 years.
Faiola has long been a Cheap Trick fan and produced two volumes of the multi-disc "AMCT" Cheap Trick tribute series.
"In March 2001 Kai was here in the U.S. to see Cheap Trick play in Milwaukee, Green Bay and Rockford," Faiola says. "Since Kai knew I had been in a Cheap Trick cover band -- Chick Treat with Tiller, (Die Kreuzen and Decapitado's) Dan Kubinski and Rockhaus Guitars' Greg Kurschewski -- he asked if he and I could record a Cheap Trick cover for the "AMCT Volume 4" CD.
"To round out the band, I asked Dale Kaminski to play bass and our friend Lisa Jebsen from Texas was coming in for the same shows and I asked her to do the vocals."
Jebsen was a good choice; she sounds alarmingly like Cheap Trick lead singer Robin Zander on some tunes.
"The hardest part of a CT song is the vocals and since Lisa is an actress, doing musicals and such, I thought she'd be able to handle Robin Zander's vocal range," says Faiola. "Boy did she ever!"
To their credit, the Beef-A-Roos don't do the covers you'd expect on "John Denver Omelet," which was recorded when everyone got together in Milwaukee in February to witness Cheap Trick's two-night stand at Potawatomi Casino. In fact, they've mined much of the material from lesser-appreciated Cheap Trick discs. And the Hawkins song is a tune that CT often performed onstage.
"(CT drummer) Bun E. (Carlos) was curious about the song selection," says Faiola, "and impressed that we were doing 'post-Budokan' songs; stuff from later in the catalog."
In fact, Faiola says, Cheap Trick has been curious and supportive of tributes like the AMCT series and The Beef-A-Roo Experience.
OK, let's get to the real issue. What the heck does the name mean?
"The name came about during recording," says Faiola. "We were in Rockford for the Cheap Trick show, and I was videotaping bits for a music video for the song we were doing. We spent some time at the Beef-A-Roo restaurant where they have a Cheap Trick shrine. I was thinking of names and knew of the Bun E. Carlos Experience, so we became the Beef-A-Roo Experience. I'm going to drop off a copy of the CD at the Beef-A-Roo in Rockford. Maybe they'll put it on the CT shrine."
If you're hoping to see The Beef-A-Roo Experience live, you might have to wait. With one member living in Europe and another in Texas, gigs are hard to arrange.
"If Kai and Lisa lived in Milwaukee, we'd play out live. We almost scheduled a gig this time. But time didn't allow," Faiola says.
The Beef-A-Roo Experience Web site is cheaptribute.com.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.