Rambunctious showmanship and riotous party anthems, propelled by a string of hits, including their signature “Smokin’ in the Boys Room”, Brownsville Station® blazed a relentless road from the Midwest to Madison Square Garden and back again, earning this much-loved band a notable niche in the pantheon of rock music.
Brownsville Station is lighting up the music world again. Led by core members Michael Lutz and Henry “H-Bomb” Weck, the boys are back on the road thrilling crowds with an intoxicating mix of Brownsville classics and brand new music from their recently released CD Still Smokin’. “Over the years we’ve had tons of offers,” says Lutz. “Our criteria was two-fold, to do something in a big way, and to have something new to offer.”
From the downbeat, Still Smokin’ possesses all of the punch and personality that crowned the band as undisputed kings of party rock. Crunchy guitars, combustible crash cymbals and anthemic choruses are the heart of 13 songs that are infused with an irreverent sense of history and a sly, engaging self-awareness.
The members of Brownsville Station first met in Ann Arbor, Michigan doing what young rock musicians did back in the late Sixties - hang out in the local music store. Michael Lutz (vocals, bass, guitar), Cub Koda (guitar, vocals), Tony Driggins (bass) and T.J. Cronley (drums) barnstormed across the heartland delivering their music to legions of fans ready to ignite the flame of rock and roll. Brownsville Station’s electrifying live intensity fed the fire. “You have to remember that we were brought up in a high energy environment,” says Michael Lutz, “with the MC5, Ted Nugent and Bob Seger.” It was a connection with Punch Andrews, Seger’s manager who also handled Michael’s high school band, which led Brownsville Station to a major label signing with Warner Bros.
When T.J. Cronley departed for the Air Force, Brownsville Station enlisted the backbeat prowess of Henry “H-Bomb” Weck, a drummer from Van Wert, Ohio. Weck’s band, Ohio Power, had shared a half a dozen gigs with Brownsville Station in Ohio and Michigan. Michael and Cub thought their original four- piece line-up was irreplaceable, until they witnessed Henry play at the Michigan League in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “We said, ‘Man, this could be a Brownsville Station guy,’” Michael remembers.
First joining the band on a tour with John Mayall and Alice Cooper as a drum tech, Weck was firmly on the drum throne within days. When Driggins departed, Lutz moved to bass and the triumvirate was a lean, mean rock and roll machine.
“Back in those days if you had a top 50 single that was something – we had six top 50 singles,” says Lutz. The band famously played to over 350,00 fans in Puerto Rico for the Mar y Sol Festival, but “Smokin’ In The Boys Room,” co-written by Lutz and the late Cub Koda, took the band to the top of bills at the famous Madison Square Garden and massive rock festivals around the world. Brownsville Station’s camera–friendly antics were featured on television shows like “In Concert” and “Midnight Special” but they drew the line at appearing on “American Bandstand” when the show requested that Michael Lutz change the form-fitting outfit that was his trademark.
While the band recorded their streak of hit albums at Studio A in Manhattan’s cavernous Media Sound, Criteria Studios in Miami and a mansion in upstate New York, they created their music much more organically. Henry Weck, who was learning the craft of recording from the band’s legendary producers Doug Morris, Eddie Kramer and Tom Werman, captured over 500 hours of that creative process. “I moved the tapes around the country with me”, says Weck, whose post-Brownsville career included producing and engineering gold and platinum albums for Blackfoot and other ATCO and Atlantic artists both in the states and abroad. Meanwhile, Michael Lutz opened with his own state of the art studio, Tazmania, in Michigan where he was producing a slate of records for major label clients on Atlantic and Epic/Sony Records. Lutz also played with the band NoMercy and co- wrote songs and toured with Ted Nugent who proclaimed Michael “...a master of catching the moment on tape.”
After much discussion the two friends convened over the Brownsville Station archives. “It was probably my third trip up to Ann Arbor from Memphis,” Weck recalls. “We’d finished our day and popped a beer. I said, ‘I’ve got a melody, a hook and four pages of lyrics.’ Michael jumped on guitar and we wrote our first song in 30 years. We stopped the archival project and said, ‘Man, this is meant to be.’ It was like falling off a log.”
The result is the 13 tracks (12 brand new songs and the updated version of the band’s classic “Smokin’ In The Boys Room”) on Still Smokin’. “It’s been a few years since we’ve been out there,” says Michael Lutz,” And we have not been out there, we have never been out there, prostituting the name. It’s become obvious to us over the years from the amount of airplay we continue to receive around the world and the overwhelming response to Still Smokin’ in the United States that there is a whole movement. Brownsville Station might be more popular now than ever before”.
Brownsville Station, augmented by new players Billy Craig, Arlen Viecelli and Brad Johnson, is unleashing an adrenalin-fueled show that is thrilling fans and adding new ones with every performance. And now it is official: The Kings of the Party are Still Smokin’!
The rest of the band:
Billy Craig – Guitar/Vocals
Two things are foremost in the heart of Brownsville Station’s Billy Craig -- great songs and great performances. He earned his energetic, guitar-slinger reputation while still a teenager and that notoriety landed him a spot on a European tour with an International Jazz Band and soon after a he was performing on a U.S tour with the Young American Showcase.
Following his run with the Young American Showcase, Billy packed his bags for Los Angeles to attend the world-renowned Guitar Institute of Technology before settling in Ann Arbor, MI. He immersed himself in the music scene there, becoming a founding member and the lead guitarist of one of the Detroit areas hottest rock bands in the 80’s, The Greg Stryker Band. The band toured heavily throughout the Midwest and their single “Streets of Fire” was a huge airplay success.
After leaving the band Billy continued to write and record, producing two solo albums which have each received radio airplay in the U.S. and Europe and have been featured in Forbes Magazine and on shows including NBC’s Today Show and Access Hollywood. His solos shows have taken him from smoke-filled corner bars to the largest amphitheatres across the U.S. and abroad.
Joining Brownsville Station in 2013 has put Billy Craig’s rock and roll roots center stage! Ecstatic to be a part of this piece of rock and roll history, his guitar playing and vocals are a driving force in the band’s live shows.
When not on the road with Brownsville, Billy is always busy writing songs, recording projects in multiple genres, producing parodies for Detroit’s Country Radio WYCD with Country Radio Hall of Famer Dr. Don and directing a project he designed to promote positive behavior with positive messages to young people all over the country, the I Love This School Tour.
Arlen Viecelli – Guitar/Vocals
Brownsville’s Arlen Viecelli has been a guitar-playing singer since he was in grade school. He dreamt of being on stage at an early age and has worked to fulfill that dream every day of his life. For over 40 years Arlen has been a professional performer touring the world with STYX, REO Speedwagon, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, KISS, Aerosmith and many other national acts, while continuously writing and recording music.
In 1969 Arlen joined the Livonia, MI based The Coming Generation and two years later joined another local band, Salem Witchcraft, to fill the void left by the departure of their lead guitarist and lead singer. They quickly became one of the hottest indie bands in the Midwest recording and releasing 5 full length projects. His work with Salem Witchcraft was being noticed and Arlen began receiving offers to join several national acts, but the one that caught his attention came in 1976 when he got a call from Brownsville Station.
Brownsville Station® was in the studio recording Motor City Connection for the Tree Records label and rehearsing for an upcoming tour of British Columbia. Arlen agreed to join the band for the tour but just a month later got a call telling him that EPIC/Columbia Records had agreed to sign Salem Witchcraft to a national record deal…if Arlen was in the band. He returned to front the band only to have the record deal fall apart.
Arlen went on to record and tour with artists including Mark Farner from Grand Funk, Charlie Huhn (Ted Nugent and Foghat), Robyn Robins, (Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band) and Frijid Pink, (House of the Rising Sun) and work on his own solo projects. He was working on his third solo CD when a call came in from Michael Lutz, asking if he would do some gang vocals on their new “Still Smokin’” CD.
Arlen also decided to finish his CD at Michael’s Tazmania Studio. At the end of his third recording session there, Lutz approached him about rejoining Brownsville, writing some music together, doing some great gigs and doing what they were meant to do many years ago. Arlen jumped at the chance and with his own fire, experience and talent still flowing from his soul, have a wonderful opportunity to do some great things together.
Brad Johnson – Bass
Born into a musical family, Brad Johnson started playing guitar at the age of 4 and never stopped. Growing up in Detroit in the 70’s, Brad was influenced by all of the great music coming out of the Motor City by bands such as Brownsville Station (was it destiny?), Grand Funk Railroad, Bob Seger, Iggy Pop and all of the Motown artists. As a touring musician Brad has played guitar and bass with acts including Humble Pie, Barrett Strong, Luis Restoand Randy Jacobs. The newest member of the “Kings Of The Party” is now adding his signature bass licks to the Brownsville sound.