Virtual Story | Band Names | Nicknames | Real Milestones

Is It Live?...
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[Original Music - One Foot In The Door]

Yes, It Is.

Virtual Story

The idea of the Virtual Band (VB) began in November of 1995 (see "Rock the Dog") when this page was created.  A handful of closet musicians had been talking about putting a band together for awhile, never progressing beyond kicking around possible names for the band.  Well, this page was created to archive those names, and to follow the philosophy of the movie "Field of Dreams"...

"If you build it, they will come."

Sure enough, during 1996, some of the VB members could be found performing and hanging out at Mikey's Coffeehouse in Poway.  Mostly, they flew solo.  A couple of times, they paired up.  And so ended 1996.

If you fast-forward to the "Real World Milestones", you'll see that in 1997, the "Field of Dreams" was starting to show signs of life!

Then in 1998, more transitions occurred.  Studio work came and went.  More jam sessions came and went.  Mostly, the Virtual Band came and went.  Not to worry, though.  "The Artist Formerly Known As Chops" became very active in the San Diego Bluegrass scene.  And "Amps" (a.k.a., Joe Palen) also returned to the stage, with regular visits to old stomping grounds (Mikey's), and new ones (Java Joe's).


The band's name may keep changing (like many bands), but one thing that probably won't change are the individual VB nicknames (listed alphabetically, by nickname)...

Joe "Amps" Palen - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar [Washburn]
Grant "Blues" Miller - Guitar, Vocals
Pat "Chops" Chin - Guitar
Bob "Frets" Ryder - Guitar
Ari "Maestro" Heinonen - Bass
RS "Rocks" Brown - Guitar, Vocals
Jim "Sticks" Rethwish - Drums, Vocals

News Flash, 2004: We finally have a virtual (and real) bass player... after only 8 years! Welcome, Maestro!

"I Can Name That Band In 100 e-Notes..."

Sometime in 1996, the VB members finally decided on a name for the band. Or did they?  For awhile, it seemed that their name would be "Glue Ponies".  However, word on the street has it that they may have reverted back to calling themselves the "Virtual Band".  We'll see.

As I was saying, the virtual band has spent many years thinking about a name. The process has been rather involved (as you can see by the list of responses to "Rock The Dog"). That flood of e-mail forced me to automate the process of adding names to an online list.  Sorry, but this automated service has been closed.  The list is online for your viewing pleasure only.

"Real World" Milestones

April 2, 1997 Live Drums! Sticks hauls the blue Vistalite tubs over to Rocks' place, and the Virtual Band emerges from Cyberspace in a real live jam session.  Amps is also on hand to complete the core trio.  Various pairings of guitarists had gotten together before this date, but one must count the addition of a live drummer as the real birth of the band... musn't one?
April 9, 1997 First Collaboration Rocks and Amps begin collaborating on a song for the first time.  The seed for the song is a riff by Rocks.  Amps provides some seasoning.  Please pardon the inaccurate metaphor.  Perhaps Amps poured some water on the seed?  Or did Rocks bring the main dish to be seasoned?  If the truth be told (and it will be), there was no food involved at all.
Circa July, 1997 Welcome Keyboard Player Chris "Yet to Be Nicknamed" adds his keyboard playing to the group. It's sounding more like music all the time. A real playlist starts to emerge, covering all five decades of Rock and Roll (thanks to our friends "Johnny B. Goode" and "Mr. Jones"... among others). Thursdays are reserved for the band's cover tune jam sessions. Tuesdays are added for working on original songs.
August 12, 1997 Studio Work Begins Tested studio gear. No recording was done. It was enough of a challenge just testing the various effects.  Nonetheless, there are now a lot of tracks waiting to be exercised.  Crisp, clean, digital tracks with killer wave processing functions.  Welcome to the 90's, where today's home studios are more powerful than yesterday's big budget ones.  In other words...

No more excuses, eh?

September, 1997 Do I Hear A Bass Guitar? Ray falls into the Thursday jams at Rocks' house.  It sure punches things up having a bass guitar in the mix. It's too bad the live drums only appeared once, way back in April. Oh, well.  Maybe one day, all of the live players will be together in a room at the same time. If not, then Mister Drum Machine will have to suffice as half of the percussion section.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that some original songs have crept over into the Thursday jams.  The group is still doing mostly cover tunes, though. It remains to be seen what the balance will be.  Independent of  what's happening on Thursdays, Rocks and Amps continue to collaborate on Tuesdays.

End of 1997 End of this round of Jam Sessions The holidays brought a break to this real incarnation of the virtual band. That break turned out to be a lengthy one.  In fact, it's doubtful that the same group will ever reform. Hmmm... there's a double meaning in that one... which will be left untouched.

In a nutshell (which is where most musicians belong), it was just your basic parting of the ways.  We came, we jammed, we moved on.

The good news is that a number of the VB'ers continued playing in various capacities. It would have been sad if the music had stopped altogether.