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Locals escape the day-job blues with casual jam sessions

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Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 11:30 pm

Gary Evans’ light was the only one on in the cul-de-sac Monday night. From the street, you could see heads bobbing through the second-floor window. Indoors, Justin Bieber’s face watched over the band from a calendar on the wall.

Welcome to the weekly rehearsal of 10-piece local music combo Uncle Morty’s Rhythm Cream.

Evans, a clinical psychologist during the week, used to be an associate professor of psychology at UF.

Now, along with his regular job, he hosts UMRC’s practices at his home and plays drums in the band, which covers rhythm-and-blues, pop and rock tunes.

It can be hard to schedule practices with professional schedules, Evans said.

“With 10 people, you get three hours of their life to practice,” he said. “You better use it.”

Other band members, who are all local residents, include Tim Ketterson, trumpet; LeVar Thomas, lead vocals; Ken Booth, saxophone; Marcy Coleman, vocals; Randy Hensley, guitar; Doug Meyers, trumpet; Joel Schrank, keyboard and vocals; and Kevin Pizzuti, bass.

Evans also shares the stage with his wife, Deb Evans. Deb, who works from home, sings backup vocals with Coleman.

Monday, the band practiced upstairs in a yellow-painted room next to where the kids play. Past the video games, past the stuffed bear, past the framed crayon drawing of ladybugs on the wall, next to the exercise equipment, UMRC were set up in a circle.

The practice was casual. It was the kind of casual that could come only from a band with no dream other than to have a good time. Larry, the neighbor, heard the band from his driveway and went upstairs to sit through the practice. Gary Evans, the unofficial band leader, gave a couple of tips at the end of songs but never more than a few constructive words.

No one argued about the band’s image; an almost uniform wear of khaki cargo shorts and no shoes seemed to do just fine.

A few people had beers, but, with the kids asleep downstairs, no one got rowdy. Plus, they had to stay on task.

While the band doesn’t have plans to pursue music professionally, they do hope to keep playing local shows and events.

So far, UMRC has played at the Kickin’ Devil Cafe, 2017 NE 27th Ave. in Gainesville, at a charity event, at a holiday party and at a BBQ.

But the gig everyone is waiting for, “the big one,” Ketterson said, is Aug. 26, when they play the Bo Diddley Community Plaza in downtown Gainesville.

At rehearsal, the band blew through a set of songs including John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change” and The B-52s’ “Love Shack.” The backup singers synchronized their dance steps while Thomas belted out soulful melodies.

The group found Thomas and saxophone player Ken Booth on Craigslist.

Deb Evans said, “We listened [to Thomas] and were like, ‘This is the guy we’ve been praying for.’”

Booth, who said he has been playing the saxophone for only two years, is the manager of the UF Help Desk’s Application Support Center. “I’ve loved it,” Booth said of playing in the band.

Like Gary Evans, Ketterson is a clinical psychologist. Ketterson also brings 30 years of playing experience to the combo.

“We’re weekend warriors,” Ketterson said.

For more information on UMRC, visit http://uncle-morty.com.

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