Interview with O.T.R.


O.T.R.
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Describe the band
We're a group of five older guys who have been playing music since we were kids and love playing to audiences. The youngest member of the group is Jessica "Jesy" Reagle, the 25-year-old vocalist and daughter of Bill Reagle the founder of the band and our bass player. All of the guys are accomplished musicians and it's amazing to watch them listen to something once and play it perfectly... especially Frank Troccoli, one of our guitarists, he's incredible. We all tend to like the same music and have fun together, so, the whole experience has been great or the band wouldn't have stayed together for 15 years.

Does the band's name have any significance?
Not really. Everyone simply liked the name and the famous band from Texas named Point Blank wasn't recording or touring any longer so we ended up choosing Point Blank as the name. Unfortunately, now, there are at least 10 bands named Point Blank within 100 miles of us and one even has a female vocalist, which makes things a bit confusing for the clubs and bookers. Originally, the band was called W.M.O.B. for White Men on Beer. That was a little too politically incorrect and gave people the wrong idea about the band and the name was changed.

How long has the band been together?
Since 1991 -- coming up on 16 years together.

Who founded the band, who is the leader?
The founding members of the band were Bill Reagle and Jesse Farthing. We don't really have a leader, per se, and try to do things by mutual agreement. Frank Troccoli joined the band after moving from New York to Virginia in 1993. Jerry Kovalcik, the keyboard player came next, then Jesy about eight years ago. Dick Cole, the drummer, is the newest member of the band. He joined us in December 2005. Dick is the third drummer in the existence of the band.

How did you come up with the concept for the band?
It really started as a jam band -- just friends getting together at Jesse Farthing's house once a week to play and have fun. After about six years of playing for fun, the band began gigging in the National Capital Region -MD, DC, and VA- and has been going strong ever since.

Describe the music you play.
We're strictly a cover band... playing what we consider the best music from the 60s to today. It resonates with people and seems to get them out on the dance floor and we enjoy the energy that comes from playing really popular music.

What drew you towards the music you play?
It the music of memories for most of us. While most of the band are "old farts" in our early to mid 50s, most of us were teens in the 60s and identify strongly with the music of the 70s and 80s when we were in college or serving in the military. They're tunes and lyrics that mean something to us and to lots of other folks. It's really fun to see the energy that this music creates and to feed off of that energy! We do like some of the modern music and add that into the mix, too.

Describe your first performances.
They were neighborhood block parties and playing in small dive bars where we played for a couple hundred bucks and free beer. Now we're in a lot nicer clubs with large and loyal crowds.

What kind of response do you get from your audiences?
It's fun to watch people get up and dance to the music or see them grab their cell phones and call friends and tell them, "Hey, listen to these guys! Get you're butt down here they're great and we're having a hell of a party and you're missing it!"

How many vocalists do you have?
All six members of the band sing lead or backup, depending on the song. We weave some pretty good harmonies!

Where did you grow up?
Bill Reagle grew up in Pennsylvania -- between Erie and Pittsburgh. Frank Troccoli grew up in New York City. Jerry Kovalcik was born in Albany, NY, and grew up in upstate New York. Jesse Farthing and Jesy Reagle are from Northern Virginia and Dick Cole grew up in Cleveland, OH.

How early did you start singing / playing?
All of us started as teenagers with garage bands.

Was anyone in your youth an inspiration to you?
Every one of us old dudes grew up in the days of The Beatles, The Stones, Cream, Hendrix, Ricky Nelson, "American Bandstand," "Where the Action Is," Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Beach Boys... all of us dreamed of becoming rock stars in our youth. For Jesy, there were the "hair bands" of the 80s, grunge of the 90s and hip-hop. So we've been influenced by lots of people.

Do you have any musical training?
All of us took music lessons, but none of us actually have degrees in music. Jerry plays keyboards with the band, but is also an accomplished guitarist. Dick plays drums with the band, but can also play sax and clarinet. Jesy plays violin and we're looking at playing some Corrs tunes so we can add it into the mix.

What is your most memorable experience with music?
The first time each of us got a girlfriend from playing in a band.

Are you a member of any associations?
No, unless being beer drinkers counts for something!

What mixture of originals / covers do you perform?
All covers.

What is your favorite venue?
There isn't any one particular venue that rockets to the top of the list. We like the RnR Bar and Lounge in Washington, DC, and will be playing there again in about a month. We also used to like playing at Neighbor's Restaurant and Sports Bar in Vienna, VA, but it no longer features live music -- a trend that is growing in the DC area.

Where is the farthest you have traveled for a gig?
Columbus, OH

Tell us about the musicians you perform with.
Well, as already mentioned, they are all musicians first and foremost, who take great pride in their craft. But they're also nice guys who are a lot like a family and do things together outside of our association with Point Blank. Jesse Farthing was relocated by his company (Verizon) to New Jersey last year, yet he still comes back to Virginia on weekends as often as possible to practice with the band and to play gigs with us because he loves playing so much.

What is the craziest thing that has ever happened at a gig?
Jerry Kovalcik was divorced from his first wife and Jane Farthing, Jesse's wife, playing Cupid, invited three potential dates for Jerry to come hear the band play. One of the gals heard Jerry sing and fell in love with him on the spot. Jerry and Betty have been married five years and she comes to all of our performances.

Have you done any radio or TV performances?
Not as a group but some of us have performed on TV and radio as members of other groups.

Do you use any vintage instruments?
Dick Cole has a very rare Ludwig Vistalite (acrylic) tri-color drum kit in pristine condition that he gigs with on rare occasions. The pattern was called "Tivoli" by Ludwig and features a band of red, orange, and yellow on each of the drums. They always get lots of comments from folks when Dick plays them and the acrylic drums -- especially the kick -- booms like a cannon.