About Hurdy Gurdy Project
In a time when things were a little less stressed. . .
As the years pass by, the world has changed. . .
What to do. . . what to do?
So the Hurdy Gurdy Man went to sleep and he dreamed. . .
He dreamed The “Bomp”
And when he awoke, he knew what he had to do. . .
He pulled the band together. . .
And the world would never be the same.
Phil Monroe is an organ grinder man who entertained for 36 years with ten trained monkeys at Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, California. The hand-cranked barrel organ that he used, while his monkeys performed for money, is known as a hurdy gurdy. Because these musical instruments are known by that name, throughout the ages organ grinders with trained monkeys came to be called Hurdy Gurdys. And so Monroe, along with his talented monkeys, became the legendary Hurdy Gurdy Man of Monterey.
The hurdy gurdy show entertained millions until 1993, when it moved a short distance, and became a concession under contract, representing California State’s Monument Number One – the Custom House. The show evolved into a historical exhibition that displayed items of trade and merchant marine costumes from the early 1800’s. Years later, when Monroe formed Hurdy Gurdy Project, the band agreed that their costuming would reflect the tradition of early American sailors.
“Jack Tar – The Seagoing Organ Grinder With A Monkey” went on entertaining people from all over the world until 2006, when Monroe was forced to retire due to injuries. It was a sad day when he gave his last three monkeys to an animal sanctuary in Texas. His long career seemed to have ended, and he estimated that the show had entertained approximately 50 million people over the years.
Nine years went by, and Monroe began to wonder if there might be more to his career. He had some experience with piano, acoustic guitar, and vocals. He also had a vision for a new sound in rock and roll. So, he bought an electric guitar, and began a search for the right teacher. That was when he met Steve Baker.
Baker started his musical career when he picked up a guitar at the age of ten. At first, he performed with garage bands, talent shows, and church gatherings. His first major band was Astonished Man – a power trio out of Monterey, featuring progressive rock music. Astonished Man became somewhat of a sensation, opening for the likes of Eric Burton and the Animals, Greg Allman, and the Lords of the New Church. Baker then went on to an internship with Warner Bros., and worked with David Lynch in the series, “Twin Peaks.” Upon returning to Monterey, he started a band called Piper Maru – a world music band featuring sitar, didgeridoos, keyboards, and world percussion. Monroe signed on with Baker for guitar lessons, and both men quickly realized they shared a common interest in certain songs from the roots of rock and roll. And so they began to develop this new sound, in an attempt to combine the precise harmonies and emotions of the doo wop era, with modern rock/pop. At this point, Sarah Andrews, a soprano singer with the women’s singing group, Aria, came on board. Sarah’s unique voice was the missing element of the iconic sound that the group had been seeking. The band’s revolutionary vision celebrating the roots of rock and roll had finally come together in a sound they called “New Wop”. And thus, Hurdy Gurdy Project declared themselves to be “The Originators of New Wop – a Reactionary Revolution in Music and Dance,” recording under the label, Monterey Records.
The group recorded Dream The Bomp in the studio of Vincent Randazzo. Randazzo was a protégé of Steve Baker, and took up bass and acoustic guitar as a hobby in his late teens. The musical chemistry between Randazzo and Baker clicked, and the two musicians were soon playing gigs around the Monterey Bay area. Baker taught Randazzo the ropes regarding production and organization of song structures. Both men then stated a band, The Sauce Pocket, which was an experimental project that became quite popular on the local scene. The Sauce Pocket led Randazzo further into the audio-visual world of music recording and production. It was Vincent who contributed vocals and guitar – along with tech/mix – when Hurdy Gurdy Project recorded the timeless love song, “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” and their New Wop rendition of “Who Put The Bomp”. The two songs exemplify the group’s New Wop style, and music videos were produced for each song. The quality of The “Bomp” as new dance step, can be judged by the smiles on the faces of the dancers — as they rock and swing to the sounds of what was a novelty record from 1961.
Hurdy Gurdy Project is a labor of love, two years in the making. And some may rightly call the band’s ambitions grandiose. As The Beatles conquered America with their musical message of love and peace, it is Hurdy Gurdy Project’s highest aspiration to conquer the world with song and dance – in the name of permanent World Peace.