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OtherMarch 30, 2011Niagara This Week

It’s often said that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

While one can bet Aristotle wasn’t talking about music when the phrase was first coined in the Greek philosopher’s Metaphysics work, for an eclectic group of musicians, the saying couldn’t be more true.

And the trio boasts some pretty impressive parts.

The three members of Combo Deluxe, including drummer and Fort Erie native Alvin Lapp, come from diverse musical backgrounds. Lapp has spent time with groups like the Goo Goo Dolls and blues legend Buddy Guy while guitarist Phil Kane has played with the likes of Jeff Healey and Michael Buble. Bassist Dave Field, meanwhile, has done duty with the likes of Charo, Sammy Davis Jr. and the Fifth Dimension.

The group will be at the Old Bank Bistro April 9 at 9 p.m. for a show to benefit the music programs at FESS and Ridgeway-Crystal Beach High School through donations to the Fort Erie Music Festival.

“We have waived our normal $20 cover,” Kane said. “All money raised will be by donation.

“This is the most fun, most musical band where the sum is greater than its parts,” Kane said in a telephone interview last week from his Oakville home, where he was joined by Lapp. “When I hooked up with Dave and Alvin, we just locked it in.”
Lapp, who has been playing with Kane for about the past six years, has wound is own musical path since leaving Fort Erie Secondary School in the 1980s.

“At the age of 17, I was already travelling to Buffalo to play in clubs,” Lapp said. “I was looking for a way out.”

Lapp credited former FESS music teacher Ron Gorham for pushing him musically, hence the drummer’s wanting the FESS program to benefit from the Combo’s performance.
“Mr. Gorham took me under his wing,” Lapp said.

Lapp took over behind the drums for the Goo Goo Dolls for a short time after the group’s original drummer George Tutuska left the band. Because he was under contract with another record label, Lapp could not become a full-time member and saw his duties come to an end when the group brought current drummer Mike Malinin prior to the Goo’s breakthrough A Boy Named Goo album in 1995.
“I couldn’t join because I was signed exclusively to Sony Music. Besides, I thought they weren’t going to do anything,” Lapp said with a laugh.

As for Kane, who had retired for a time in the 90s as a touring musician and was focusing on his family when a musician friend called him with a request for his services at Toronto’s Resevoir Lounge.

“It was the end of the 90s,” Kane said. “A friend said you’ve got to come down here every Friday. You’ve got to hear this singer.”

That singer turned out to be Buble, who has gone on to sell albums by the millions since being taken under the wing of Canadian music icon David Foster.

Kane also said he was fortunate to become good friends with the late blues musician Healey.

“We got to be good friends,” Kane said. “He was a great friend, an inspiration.”

Lapp said he’s looking forward to his Fort Erie return.
“It’s my hometown. It will be fun to come home and get strange,” Lapp said.

Both musicians promise the Bistro show will be an interesting one.

“We play off the vibe of the audience,” Kane said. “We won’t have a set list and we will play a bit of anything and everything.”