The music was some of the best classic rock
and party tunes you can find. When R*GANG was jammin', the dance floor was slammin'.
After a brief retirement from Lex Byers and Vegas, R*Gang was originated
by Kevin Knapp (Keyboards/Guitar), and myself (Guitar) in 1988. The
original concept of the group was to do classic rock. John Deyeager, on
bass and vocals brought his 50's style singing with him. John and I played
together in a fifties group back in the early 70's called
Fever. Check out
that page in this site. The band practiced at my parents house in Gates,
diagonally across from Karl Laporta's house. Karl and I go back to high
school days where we had a very popular band called the Last Rites. He
stopped over during a few practice sessions and added his opinions of the
songs and how they sounded. It was clear to see that Karl was getting very
interested, for there is a spark inside every musician that never dies..
Within a couple of weeks, Kevin and I asked Karl to join up. He accepted.
During the practice sessions, I came down with Pneumonia, and was out of
it for at least six weeks. Band practices dwindled down. I returned to
practice, still very weak. During one of the rehearsals, a booking agent
come down to audition the group. He liked what he heard, and began to cite
off some opening gigs. John Deyeager was replaced by Ron Tropiano. The
band made it's debut at a small bar on Lake Avenue at Charlotte Beach, and
was well received. In attendance at the debut was an old high school
acquaintance of Karl's and mine, George Cocchini...now a Memphis studio
musician. He liked what he heard.
Well the band was off and running, with me doing the fronting. We began
playing some of the better clubs in Rochester. And as always, issues come
out that required the replacement of band members. The band finally
stabilized musicianship around around 1990. At that time, we had Gary
Terwilliger/Harry Ford on Bass, and Lenny Colantoni on drums. Karl, who
had been doing all the booking for the band, finally got to the point
where the club owners were calling him. The group became in constant
demand. Things were going great and then the axe fell. No, not my Axe.
Harry and Kevin finally had decided to call it quits. In one night, close
to half of the band was gone. Since we had always had the luxury of two
keyboard players, we pushed on. Steve Galucchi had just ended a gig with
his current band and was available. We needed to replace Kevin's vocals.
After auditioning a few players, and female vocalists, Paul Fricano joined
the group. Now the group was more solid than ever.
R*Gang began to perform for more events. Whether it was a wedding,
concert, or a party, with Paul fronting the band R*Gang had no problem
getting the audience involved. Even tear-downs at the end of the night
were lively sounding. It was with R*Gang that I received my "Sweet-Lou"
nickname. During the first couple of songs, I made my way out to the dance
floor during a ballad to do a sound check of the band, and usually asked a
lady to dance.
Then MY axe did fall. In the Spring of '93, with high tech employment in
Rochester at an all-time low. I was laid off along with forty seven other
colleagues after fourteen years with Kodak/Digital. So here I was, after
14 years with Kodak/DEC, no job, a mortgage and family, paying child
support, and totally depressed so bad I didn't want to even get out of
bed. Unable to find suitable employment in Rochester, I was offered an
excellent position with a major company in Falls Church, Virginia. It was
a tough decision to make, having to leave family, friends, the band, and
my home town to start a new life in a different state. The alternatives
were dim so I packed up the family and we relocated to Fredericksburg,
Virginia. But that's another story.
Well as it always happens in the music biz, the latest R*Gang concoction
finally called it quits. New Year’s Eve 2001 was the final performance of
In 2010 available members of R*Gang got back together again to perform at
the 7th annual Pumpkinfest held by Randy Wolf and the PumpkinFest
committee in Gates NY. Karl
Laporta, Lennie Colantoni, Steve Gallucci, and myself (Sweet Lou) took
the stage at 6pm and opened the festivities with American Band by Grand
Funk. R*Gang's harmonies and solos never sounded better. I was totally
enthralled at how well we performed after only a two hour practice in
which we performed tunes like Soul Man, Long Train Running, and Knock on
Wood. Other tunes were ready to go but unfortunately we were limited on
time. R*Gang is scheduled to perform at the 8th annual
Pumpkinfest in October of 2011 and can hardly wait to do it again. We
would also like to thank our former fans for coming out to see us!
At the 9th annual pumpkinFest in 2012, Steve Gallucci's brother and my
guitar student when he was 14, Anthony Gallucci joined R*Gang on stage and
added his excellent guitar to the performance!!
As of 2013, I met the love of my life, married her and relocated back home
to Rochester after 20 plus years in Virginia.
Click here to see
the actual pumpkinfest on stage set list for the performance.
Checkout the "R*Gang
members through the years"
Luigi Sweet-Lou Ricigliano