A Short History of the Lizardz

It was a dark and stormy night. The time was somewhere around 1989, and the place, well the place was the late and now legendary central Wisconsin blues bar, McNasty's. The bar was host to many state blues performers---Billy Flynn, Paul Black (& the Flip Kings), Blue Max, Otis & the Alligators, and many more. As most blues bars do, jam sessions were a regular part of the scene at McNasty's, so it was only a matter of time until some smart-aleck customers who had played in bands during high school decided to give the jam session a try. When the band needed a name, they came up with Lars & the Lizards just to pimp Otis' group, who was playing the next night. After the ragtag musicians played the jam, the name stuck like superglue, and a band was born. The band consisted of harmonica player/vocalist/lyricist extraordinare Larry Steinke, bass player Grant Meyer, guitar player Milo Plante, and keyboardist Mark Larson. The drummer, ever a mystery, was probably local music-scene fixture Roger Vantry, but nobody really knows for sure. For the next decade-plus, the band has been a regular on the central Wisconsin music scene playing local clubs, parties, benefits, and the occasional wedding. During the intervening years, a number of musicians have orbited in and out of the band including our current drummer Jack Faville, blues guitar king Kevin Stellman, long-time drummer Brian Weigand, even a guest appearance from legendary harpist Madison Slim. Slim enamored himself to the band by getting stinking drunk, playing some mean blues harp, passing out face first in the beer cooler, and walking off with one of Larry's harmonicas when he came to and stumbled out. Two weeks later he's backing up some national artist on Letterman. I kid you not. The addition of Bill Rodencal as lead guitar player in the mid-90's resulted in a stable line-up and our most productive years as a band.

The basic band: Larry, Milo, Mark, Grant, Brian and Bill played for many years together as the ultimate "under the radar" cover band. We played the Doors, Stones, Dead, Floyd. the Who, Petty, you name it. The band early on made a pact to always play what we wanted, to always play new songs every gig, and to never play Stairway to Heaven, Freebird, or any Bob Seeger (sorry folks...). After several years of bar gigs and biker parties (we love those wet T-shirt contests!) Larry decided to leave the band one Christmas about three years ago. Without "Lars", the band morphed into the Lizardz before you knew it. Last year Bill chose to take a hiatus from playing while he devoted his full attention to two successful businesses and a beautiful wife and two daughters. While playing one of our last gigs with Bill, Brenda Haessig sang a few songs with the Lizardz for a benefit show at a hot air balloon rally for the Children's Miracle Network. We dug the female vocals and liked the idea of a lead vocalist again, so Brenda joined the group soon after. Our drummer left six months later for various mysterious reasons. To make a long story short, we convinced Jack Faville, who had drummed for us years ago to join and also retained the talents of Jeff Gauss, lead guitar player for the Madison-based group "The Weavils". In a busy crazy world, personal lives and committments take their toll, and in 2006-2007, the band lost Jack, gained Travis Plantico on drums, lost Travis on drums, and recently lost Brenda, who is taking an indefinite hiatus with the band as she follows family and passions. And after 17 days in the band ( a NEW Lizard record!) Patty Meronek came and went after a very promising start. Drummer Tom Clasen joined us for a time, and has gone on to get married and run a successful business. And now, with the addition of crack drummer Travis Plantico, and ace bassist Jamie Bruhn, we have regained our roots and are anxious to get playing and recording once again. In August of 2013, we released our first recorded album, "Eyeblinder", and Jamie and Mark traveled to London and had tracks mastered at Abbey Road Studios. Alex Wharton, AR mastering engineer did two tracks with us and the 12 remaining tracks done wih the magic of cloud file transfers. We had CD's produced as well as vinyl. And hen there's hat collision with our world and the world of Blue Oyster Cult. Bottom line: two tracks features guitar work and mixing by legendary guitarist and founding member of BOC Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser and one track features a blazing guitar solo by guitarist Richie Castellano. We have made many friends along the way and have finally been able to make some fine music too!

The second album was recorded, mixed, and mastered in-house from 2016-2018. "River to Nowhere" has been recieved warmly by fans and critics, and continues to enjoy sales and streaming play. An album of power pop and epic instrumentals along with soaring harmonies, "River to Nowhere showcases the guitar work of Jeff Gauss and synth work of yours truly.

In 2018, our guitarist Jeff Gauss was diagnosed with two forms of early onset dementia, after a summer of shows that were increasingly stressful due to his rapidly progressing condition. When it became clear to Jeff and to the band that he could not continue, Jeff agreed to leave the band and recommended Mike Clark to replace him. Mike is a friend of Jeff's from Hollyrock's jam sessions, and Jeff felt he could do a great job in the future. Mike agreed, at first as a short term replacement, in case Jeff just needed a hiatus. When the situation turned into a permanent gig, Mike has risen to the occasion and fits like the proverbial glove with the band. And now we write and start recording album #3....

And a NEW short and sweet chapter in the lives of the band. Halfway through recording the third album, Mike walked out on the band and we had to cancel a boatload of shows, bring local Ben Chitek along for 4 precious gigs, and cajole guitar wizard Jerry King to record all the lead guitars, and now, we announce that Gary Mossak will be hitching his horse to the Lizardz in the summer of 2022. The Third albu, "Memoria" is out and brings closure to Jeff Gauss' passing. And so it goes.

So come out and hear the new, old Lizardz! We're up to out eyeballs in classic British rock of the Kinks, the Who, Stones, Floyd, and, of course the boys from Liverpool too. We also dip into the Dead, Petty, CSNY, Jason Isbell, Nirvana, and other tasty bands made in the the US of A. We still don't play Skynrd - let next week's band take care of that, but hang on for a wild ride Lizard Style.

Ya won't miss Freebird, I guarantee!!