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Odyssey / Almost Home

Youngstown, 1970-2

Odyssey and Almost Home were together for a couple years as a performing band. They never recorded but left behind a lot of great memories. Prior to Odyssey Greg Frederick had been in the Henchmen, and spent 3 years as a roadie for the Insights.

"Odyssey was a band Tom Behnke and I started when we left the roadie biz. The original band was Frank Prinengier on drums, Bob Andres on guitar, Tom Martin lead vocals and piano, Tom Behnke on guitar and Flute and me on Bass. We lived and rehearsed in a abandoned church on Steel St. - this was one of Youngstown's worst ghettos about a block away from the mills. Frank was bat shit crazy and he had a girlfriend who worshiped him. He looked like Manson's evil brother and for most part was a lot of fun. They spent most of their time consuming enormous amounts of drugs and having sex but for some reason never appeared very high. He wasn't a very good drummer and we replaced him with Ed Booth, Tom Martin's cousin. Ed was a great drummer and a health freak very different from Frank. Bob Andres was the fastest guitarist in Youngstown which was funny because he loved downers which became too much to deal with. We loved Bob and it was very hard to let him go. He got over his problem later and still plays in Y-town. He was replaced by Greg Lander who was and still is a great guitarist. We then changed the name to Almost Home. Greg and Ed were educated musicians which brought some interesting material to the band - Mothers of Invention, Jethro Tull, Blind Faith, The Who, The Doors. We also did a bunch old R&R stuff like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. That version of the band spent most of its life on the road hence Almost Home. The stage shows were very exciting and we used so much amplification we could blow electrical circuits of most clubs at will just by playing Locomotive Breath which was how we usually ended the set to the crowds delight. Looking back, as a band we were OK as a stage show we were great fun and people traveled along way to see what we would do next. Which brings us to My Ding A Ling. This song written by Chuck Berry was a radio hit.... well at least the cleaned up version was. Tom did some shows with Chuck and learned a nasty version of the song which we did innocently enough at at first. What we found being the horny young buggers we were was that if we showed people ours that they would show us theirs and that about half those people would be girls. So when we did the song it was with our pants down behind our guitars and when we we would sing the bridge " My Ding A Ling I want to play with My Ding A Ling" we would lift our guitars to reveal our Ding A Lings and the girls would lift their tops or drop their pants and everyone would get to know each other much better. Any excuse to get naked was fair game back then. Tom Martin was a tall very handsome Italian guy whose parents took in and took care of a lot Youngstown's best musicians, Phil Keaggy being one of them. Tom was a huge Jim Morrison fan and did his best to look and perform like him from the leather pants to the gold Shure mic. Tom was so handsome the girls used to line up in front of the stage and just stare at him. We got all the leftovers. Ed Booth was Tom Martin's cousin and a great guy. Lost track of him but I would like to think that he became a great Jazz drummer. He was very disciplined in his playing and his life. He was the instigator for a lot for practical jokes on the road. Lander was probably the best musician in the band. He was a quiet guy and I think we embarrassed him at times. He ended up at Berkeley School of Music and is a great writer/performer today on the east coast. Tommy Behnke was the Ken Kesey and leader of Youngstown's merry pranksters. He played flute and guitar and had huge stage presence. He tried his best to look and sound like Ian Anderson and did a pretty good job. Tommy and I were best buds and were responsible for getting the band in and out trouble. Tommy was definitely the leader and booked amazing gigs for us. well that leaves me. My gods were Greg Lake and Tim Bogart and I tried desperately to sound like them but looking back likely fell a bit short. But I was steady and likely a bit loud. I had a giant stack of Ampeg SVT amps that could shake the bottles off the bar."

"We were a road band which ultimately that led to it's demise. On the road, trying to make three gigs in three states in one day, Almost Home ironically ended on its way home. After a noon gig in PA, an opening gig in NY, we were on our way to the late show at the Lions Den in Akron. We were a successful band and had enough money to travel well. We had two roadies, a twenty foot truck and a Cadillac for the band to travel in. Coming over a rise on the turnpike I saw the lights of our truck spin around and point in the air. We rushed back to see Richard our roadie kick his way out of the windshield of the truck which was lying in a pool of gas. The police were there in no time but the truck was totaled as was much of the equipment. We pulled everything out of the truck and set it up as if we were playing on the side of the road. It must have been a sight. The roadies and Tommy rented a truck and loaded up the equipment, I stuck my thumb out and headed home. That was the end of Almost Home." - Greg Frederick