Guys Without Ties
Band celebrates three decades untied
If you go …
WHAT: Guys Without Ties 30th anniversary celebration
WHEN: 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Double Bogey’s Bar & Grill, Southern Park Mall, 7401 Market St., Boardman
HOW MUCH: No cover charge
It started as a golf team.
“A couple of us joined a golf league on Tuesday night,” Dale Janus said. “They were all retired and we were still working and could never catch up to the team. Finally we said the heck with playing golf. We’re not that good anyway. Let’s start a band.”
Guys Without Ties played its first gig at the old Hacienda in Warren Township in 1992, and the band will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Sunday at Double Bogey’s Bar & Grill in Boardman.
Janus, bass and vocals; Bill Hrusovsky, trumpet and vocals; and Tom Bartholomew, saxophone and vocals, have been untied since that first Hacienda gig.
Considering that golfing origin story, maybe the band could have been called Guys Without Tees. But Bartholomew said the name came from Janus’ daughter, Amy.
“We were trying to come up with a name,” Bartholomew said. “Around that time, there was a band called Men Without Hats. As a take-off on that, she came up with Guys Without Ties.”
Dr. Tom Abruzzi, trombone; Brian Fabian, drums; and the late Russ Parish, guitar, also were part of the original lineup.
While the Mahoning Valley has a long history of horn-driven rock bands, including acts like Mom’s Apple Pie and I Don’t Care in the 1970s that were signed to national labels, it wasn’t the norm in the early ’90s.
“We were always a little bit different,” Janus said. “We’d do unexpected, off-the-wall stuff, playing Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Fire’ and ‘Moby Dick’ by Led Zeppelin, things like that. We were all over the place. We’d do jazz or swing tunes as well.”
But the songs that prominently featured the horn players were a favorite of audiences and, not surprisingly, the horn players.
“Being in the horn section, I definitely liked the Chicago songs, and we did quite a bit of Motown,” Bartholomew said. “Anything that has a good horn part, that’s the ones I liked doing the most.”
Over the years, Guys Without Ties has played at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and was hired to play at someone’s funeral. They’ve performed at weddings for folks in formal attire and at Pennsylvania’s White Thorn Lodge, a nudist camp where they weren’t wearing anything at all.
“They like to dance and have fun,” Janus said. “They’re a nice group of people; they just don’t wear clothes.”
The band also has played at most of the bars that used to be here and the ones that remain that still book live entertainment.
“The whole club business has changed significantly,” Janus said. “The older people come out earlier, 8 to 11 (p.m.), and the younger people come out after 11 and are quite content to have a DJ playing the latest stuff. Our crowd is getting older and coming out earlier. The whole scene is changing, but we just keep plugging away.”
Bartholomew doesn’t mind that shift.
“We used to play 10 (p.m.) to 2 (a.m.),” he said. “Lately, the hours are not quite as late, which is welcome. We don’t mind getting home a little earlier.”
Sunday’s show at Double Bogey’s will be a matinee, starting at 2 p.m.
Between lineup changes and fill-ins who stepped in when someone couldn’t make it, Janus estimated that 75 guys (and several female lead singers) have performed under the Guys Without Ties moniker, and he’s expecting several past members to join the current lineup — D.J. Colella, trombone; Anthony Carbonaro, drums; Tyler Guerrieri, guitar; Andy Erb, keyboard, trumpet and vocals; and Annabelle Himes, lead vocals; and Janus, Hrusovsky and Bartholomew — on Sunday.
“We really don’t know how many are coming,” Janus said. “Our original drummer is coming in from Michigan. We have three singers lined up, two drummers, another keyboard guy, a couple guitar players. That’ll make it more fun. We’ll just stand everybody up and let it rip.”
They also may bring back songs that dropped out of the setlist over the years, like Bruce Springsteen’s “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” and Steely Dan’s “My Old School.”
Sunday’s concert marks a milestone for the band, but it’s not Guys Without Ties’ “Last Waltz.”
“We’re still planning on rolling,” Janus said. “We have a couple of gigs in October.”
Bartholomew added, “It’s still fun. I enjoy playing for people. Getting out, seeing my friends in the band, I think that’s what’s kept me going.”