Sometimes the dream of being a rock star takes just a bit too long to die before some musicians notice that life has passed them by. That’s not the case for bass player Rob Fogelberg of the Full Belly Band. Right out of college, he realized that playing in bands – even when combined with teaching music on the side, “wasn’t putting food on the table,” he says. He began knocking on doors in the late 70’s and built a career as a purchaser with Pitney Bowes, but that doesn’t mean music ever stopped returning a pretty good pay off for him and his band mates.
Existing in various iterations since 1988, money earned (or not earned) playing music means little to the five person band and they’ll certainly play for nothing – especially if a free meal with good drink is thrown in. “We really get a great joy out of playing together,” he says of a hobby that does require a good deal of time, money and effort.
Playing mostly classic rock, the Danbury based band typically will descend to the basement of their drummer’s home and put on shows for 50 or 60 invited guests. Additionally, in the summer, Full Belly hosts an annual outdoor party to about 200 fans, as everyone makes a day of it.
“We’ve been doing this forever, but the fan base has grown,” he says, and their December booking of the indoor facility at Hatter’s Park in Danbury may start to be more the norm for them. Planning a similar event in February, they’ll charge at the door but that’s mostly a means to cover the financial belly of their expense.
Nonetheless, dying before they get old may not play into possibly applying for non-profit status, but at least they can now replace a little bit of their Rock ‘n Roll wisdom with a new lead singer and sounds that don’t carry as much dust as their typical Beatles, Stones and assorted sixties stuff. “Ann (Fella) is 27 and she’s brought a whole new energy,” he says, as Full Belly has added Guns ‘n Roses, Maroon 5 and musical offerings that encroach upon and into the 21st century.
Otherwise, creating original music never gets old to any musician who has the drive to make it work. “Someone comes to practice with an idea or lyrics and we work it out together,” he says. This will amount to a second CD of originals and covers after they complete studio sessions in March.
Making the mix, he believes a band’s sound should meld together in the same simple manner that sodium takes to chloride. “It’s all about chemistry,” he says, and the group’s close friendship makes any musical labors that may come along seem a lot closer to love.
This apparently even comes with a degree of adoration that only tried and true groupies can bring. “There are some women that claim they are,” he says rather cryptically – seemingly leaving the mystery up to anyone who’s bored enough to pursue it.
Of course, in not acting their age as Rock ‘n Roll parents, it can only impact their grown children with an embarrassment that must at least cause some concern among them. Nah, “that’s what we live for,” he jokes.
But in all seriousness, Mr. Fogelberg eagerly welcomes the honest feedback of his 28 year old daughter. “She’s always been my biggest critic,” he says, and so her approval of their last CD carries a significant amount of weight with him.
Either way, the critics that ultimately dictate their demise will completely come from within. “We’re going to be playing Rock ‘n Roll until we are no longer capable,” he concludes.
The Full Belly Band : Chuck Cundari, Rob Fogelberg, Ann Fella Nancy Janutola, Chris Weber
From Hat City Entertainment
Rich Monetti interview of Rob Fogelberg