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Diamond Alley, one of Washington D.C.’s most popular bands, is a 5 piece Dance/Rock and Variety group performing an exciting and diverse mix of contemporary and classic hits as well as the bands own popular original tunes. Diamond Alley is best known throughout the Mid Atlantic region for their unusual vocal talent (all 5 members sing), outstanding live performance, and audience rapport.
The band has enjoyed both local and regional success as a top draw night club attraction and special events act, and is extremely popular as a “specialist” at corporate functions and private parties of all types.
The musicians that make up Diamond Alley are lead vocalist & keyboardist: Kris Fath, bassist: Steve Bray, guitarist: Doug Belford, keyboardist & saxaphonist: Bill Baker, and drummer: Doug Macuch.
Diamond Alley achievements include television work with WUSA channel 9 in Washington D.C., and live radio broadcasts on WZBH, Georgetown Delaware (“Take 93 on the Road” with Skip Dixon) and Washington’s WRQX Mix 107.3. DA has been selected as “Best Top 40 Band” in the Mid Atlantic Region by the readers of Music Monthly Magazine multiple times. Singer Kris Fath has also been the recipient of a “WAMMY” by the Area Music Association as “Best Female Rock Vocalist.”
Performer’s the band has shared the stage with include Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, The Rembrandts, Eddie Money, Nils Lofgren, Roger Clinton, The Four Tops and The Coasters. The group has also worked with the beautiful Dawn Wells (Mary Ann from gilligans Island) during a “Three Hour Cruise” down the Potomac River on the Spirit of Washington!
”I was raised in a family that loved the ‘Arts’ “. Kris was exposed to many theatrical productions and listened to all kinds of music. Her older brother, Skip, was a drummer who, in Kris’ words “inspired me to pursue my obsessive fantasies of rock stardom! ”
Listened to the Beatles, Janis Joplin, Stones, Zepplin, Heart, Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, lots of soul music and most recently, Alanis Morissette.
Too many favorite bands to mention, each great in their own way.
Studied piano, and ballet.
Began playing professionally in D.C. area bands at age 15 – mostly Top 40 and Classic Rock. Joined R&B duo “Peaches & Herb” as a member of their touring band in 1977 and traveled for a year. Upon returning, formed original rock band “Orphan”, followed by “Karma”, and then “Diamond Alley.” Destined to be in “Diamond Alley” for the rest of my life.
Began teaching voice 13 years ago. “I’m hoping to find time to teach myself to sing one of these days.”
Winner of 2 ” Whammies” in 1988 & 1989 for “Best Female Metal Vocalist”
(“flattering, but why ‘Metal’ “?)
“ I admire any musician who can maintain integrity, energy, and perspective while singing the “Hokey Pokey”. Oh! I guess that’s us! ”
Barney – yes, parents, the purple one.
St. Patrick’s Day at Lulus’ 1998; watching the winner of the “Kilt Contest” pogo-dance naked. Another “Kodak moment” wasted!
Clipping coupons (Wow! Party girl!), watching movies with my daughters, cooking, eating, sleeping, kissing, breathing – you know, normal stuff.
“In 4th grade. I wasn’t allowed to beat my little sister anymore, so I naturally gravitated toward drums.”
The Beatles 1st performance on Ed Sullivan. “I thought it was sooo cool that these guys could make girls faint without having to do something mean to a cat.”
Olney elementary drum student, member of the Farqhuar Middle School concert band, and the Sherwood High Marching, Stage and Concert Bands. Started playing for friends’ parties “in a band with no name and no singer!” in junior year of high school. “I worked in a couple of Top 40 bands during my late teens, then decided it wasn’t cool to make money playing, so I played music I loved for free or worse for the next several years.”
Formed Rock group “Rave” with Spiro Theodore, Paul Terry, Wade Price and John Owens playing “all the dirty Rock Club dives we could find” on the east coast. Started new band, “The Bomb Squad” with Harry Folsom, Spiro, and Wade. Released one single (Messin’ Me b/w Work) that “had enormous success – until we pressed the second batch of 500 copies. Anyone need a black Frisbee with a hole in it?” Formed Diamond Alley in 1987 “with the idea of making a few bucks for Christmas. Now what?”
Dancing to and meeting the “Four Tops” before we played at a show they headlined. The big New Years shows we used to do at the Hyatt on Capitol Hill. Watching Berk choke on whiskey that he accidentally inhaled. Chasing Berk with a video “sting” camera when we played on the road (and I will put the bathroom shots on the internet one day). The radio and TV shows we got to do. Meeting and working with guys like the late Larrie Londin, Louie Bellson, and Joey Kramer of Aerosmith. Being blessed with the “band mates” I have for the entirety of this group’s life.
Zepplin, Beatles, AWB, Rolling Stones, James Brown, Aerosmith, Bob Fagel and the High Octane Texas Jigsaw Horns (who are “proudly” sponsored by a mailbox company I don’t know…) Diamond Alley High Point
See: Marc Musser, Low Point
Photos By Diane Williams
Realizing how lame my high point is
I love reminding my Dad of his words of wisdom to me as I sat in his lap watching the Beatles for the first time…”eh, in five years nobody will even remember these long hairs.”
Marc got his first guitar at age 8.
This was about the time he saw the Beatles on T.V. being pursued by a throng of screaming teenage girls, and he wondered if there was any connection between guitar playing and attracting women. There wasn’t, of course, but by now, he had fallen in love with music on it’s own merit.
Marc began playing professionally at age 12 in his junior high school music teacher’s combo. It was in this project that he mastered the art of the polka, a skill that is a source of much ridicule in some quarters. Through junior high and high school he studied cello, (and played it in the Maryland all-state Orchestra) sax, and tuba, studied theory, and began composing and arranging his own music.
Marc majored in classical guitar performance at Towson University, and during this time gained considerable experience in playing musical theatre and shows, performing in orchestras for Della Reese, Patty Page, and Sammy Davis, Jr.
Since then he has been in numerous bands and orchestras, and has played every venue in town from the cheesiest dive, to onstage at the Kennedy Center with the Washington Opera.
Currently, Marc has recently graduated from Towson University with a music education degree and hopes to land a job teaching at an area high school. Anybody hirin’?
Watching the sweaty, half-naked throng at Lu Lu’s Mardi Gras party groove in absolute unison with the band (oh, the power!)
Checking into the cheesy accommodations at the cheesy resort in the cheesy Pocono Mountains, and finding it infested with ladybugs. Although it was the only time in his career that playing in a band afforded him a bunch of ladies in his hotel room!
When he is not playing with DA he can be seen with acoustic duo “How’s My Drivin’?” with DA singer Kris Fath, or marching with the Tiger Marching Band at Towson University football games (go tigers!), or riding his motorcycle into the sunset.
Marc also considers DA his second family, a damn good band, and urges everyone to come out and see for themselves what all the excitement is about.
Bill has been playing music since the age of ten, when he began to teach himself to play piano (which really annoyed his brother who was taking lessons at that time and getting nowhere).
Though junior high and high school he concentrated on brass – baritone horn, tuba, trumpet and trombone – basically anything with three valves and spit. Side interests led him to pick-up guitar, bass guitar, harmonica, Irish pennywhistle, flute, upright bass, mallet percussion, and tenor sax.
Now he plays most anything with keys, plus a side interest in acoustic and electronic percussion and programming.
Bill has played Keyboards for Diamond Alley since 1987; programming and playing synthesizers with Diamond Alley. “I’m really proud that we do everything live – even complex stuff with hits and multiple parts going on. What you hear in the audience is what real musician are playing in real time, not what was perfected in studio and lipsync’ed on stage.”
Vocally, Bill is “the funny voice guy” for DA. “If there’s a singer out there with a quirky style that we cover, I’m gonna be the one that ends up doing it.” Bill’s “tribute” voices are as varied as they get and include The B-52’s, Frank Sinatra, Shaggy, AC/DC, Elvis and Bob Marley. “A friend from a previous band wanted to know what effect I was using to get the distortion on the AC/DC vocals – It’s just me. Many times I have had people come up after a set and tell me how surprised they were to hear those voices from the same guy. So I just tell them we have a special knob on the board that makes me sound that way… “turn the Jamaican effect to 11 !!”
Bill is also Diamond Alley’s unofficial linguist, singing in Spanish, Polish, Italian, German, Hebrew, Latin, Ukrainian and Czech – “Sometimes at weddings I get the feeling someone’s channeling great-Grandma and picking hot tunes from the old country.”
Bill has a degree in Music Education from De Pauw University in Indiana. He also has a large and very strange CD collection… including electronica, classical, film scores, ska, funk, pop, jazz, big band, celtic, world music, latin and hardcore industrial. “Hearing different genres and styles gives me new things to use in my playing. I find I’m playing better too – for instance listening to big band arrangements gives me a better sense of how real brass and sax sections work together. I’m playing guitar sounds like a guitarist, and strings like a string player. Everything you listen to comes out in your playing.”
In addition to Diamond Alley’s eclectic mix of musical styles, Bill has played in a wide variety of other genres, including opera, oratorio, orchestra, brass ensemble, choir, musical theatre, Dixieland, classic jazz, big band and German traditional folk music.
“… Let’s start at the very beginning…” A’s: ABBA, Aerosmith, Alvin Lee, Alvin and the Chipmunks, After the Fire, Ah-Ha, AC/DC, Afro-Celtic Sound System, America, Alicia Keys, Alice Cooper, Alien Ant Farm, Allanah Miles, Alan Sherman, Allman Brothers, Amy Winehouse, Animotion, Aphex Twin [B through Z supplied on request – Webmaster] .
The things I like best are when I can stretch out on some tune we’ve done the same way for years and get a new take on it – some aspect that I hadn’t been able to express before.
I also like dropping something unexpected into the mix – doing jazz versions of Door’s tunes in the dinner set or putting musical quotes from other tunes where you don’t expect them… like quoting the Beatles ‘Norwegian Wood’, ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and ‘The Blue Danube’ waltz into Miles Davis’s ‘All Blues’.
“Lowest? Getting my truck broken into during a gig at the Vista Hotel in D.C. I suppose I can understand someone taking the gear. But I mean who in their right mind steals half a pack of cough drops, beat up sneakers, and contact lens solution? And then I had to pay everything I made that night to fix the freaking window that they shattered getting in? Grrrrr! “
Bill is also pianist, cantor and choir president at St David’s Episcopal Church – in case you wondered what “die hard” musicians do on Sunday mornings after that late Saturday night gig.
. . . more info than you need:
In his spare time Bill watches too much TV. He devours science fiction novels and cooks and eats food that is bad for him. He listens to his collection of film scores, which are always played loud enough to annoy his neighbors. He surfs the net looking for conspiracy theories that will substantiate his conviction that he is a superior being from the planet Klatuu who was fostered by Earthlings. He does not go into direct sunlight. No one knows where he buys his clothes, or how he keeps them so black.
Music was in the blood. One night a week, every week, the family basement would be a thunder with the sounds of “The Emerald Gospel Singers.” A product, compliments of the old man—father, William. At this time Ed was in his pre-teen years—very impressionable and very much taken by the “BASS.” At age nine, Ed was convinced that the bass was the instrument he wanted to play. His father played the guitar, the oldest brother, William picked up the drums, the youngest sister (at the time) Angela, started to sing lead, the youngest brother, Daniel, also picked up the guitar and before you knew it, the family even joined by Mom, Patsy, was out singing and playing as “The Souls Of Unity” gospel singers.
The Souls of Unity grew apart and around that time, Ed was attending college in Landover, MD where he met Stanley Jones (who is now the keyboardist for the likes of Johnny Gill and Toni Braxton). Stanley was a member in the band “A New Beginning.” After seeing this band a few times and hangin’ out with Stan, Ed knew he had to start a band of his own. Kharisma (pronounced the same as the word charisma).
Kharisma consisted of Cass Marion on percussion’s, Rod “Sad Boy” Gray on drums, Don Bailey on keyboards (who caught on to the computer revolution early and is probably working with Bill Gates), Ronnie Douglas on guitar, Ed Brown on bass, and on their first gig the recruitment of Bonnie Sparks (at that time Taylor). Kharisma had the pleasure of being the back up band for Al Green and did the music tracks for the Sweet Sundae album before their disbursement after the constant change of musicians yielded a substandard band. While Kharisma was on its last legs, a fellow bass player friend, Steven Brown (no relation), told Ed that he was leaving the group he was in and moving to California (with Stan Jones to follow later) and would put in a good word for him. Ed showed up at the audition, and yes, he got the gig, “DUH!”
First stop, Toronto, Canada; then, Ontario, Canada; then the Atlantic City’s Trump’s Casinos. These were to be only a few of the scenery changes with Tough Act To Follow band. The talent in TATF was William R. Ware on keyboards, Mansfield Clement on drums, Ro Cube’ on keys and guitar, Debra Raba on percussion, Cocoa on lead vocals (who is now doing a Vegas Revue, thank you very much) and of course, Ed Brown on Bass. Tough Act To Follow was truly the toast of the Casino night life.
After TATF, Ed answered a newspaper ad for a bass player and met Sam Salamy. Sam was the first writer Ed worked with and performed in a number of studio sessions and collaborations. Sam and Ed worked together so well, they branched off from their group Destiny, and formed the duo group Salamy & Brown.
As time went on, Ed began to write and record his own music and performed all vocals and instrumentation for the exception of the guitar which features Sam Salamy.
In December, 2006, while Ed was preparing for a Tough Act To Follow reunion, he received an email that Diamond Alley was looking for a bass player. He contacted Doug Macuch (Diamond Alley drummer/manager) and set up an audition. It was a very satisfying experience. And it was made clear that the job was mine if I wanted it. Well, here I am!
Stanley Clarke • John Patitucci • Bootsy Collins • Larry Graham • Marcus Miller • Jeff Berlin