Part 4 -  
Something's on the Move

When Witness made it's final curtain call in October of 1993, band members, crew, and fans alike all felt that was truly the end. Well......

Never say Never! Although I took the initiative with the website, I may have only beat the others in the band by a matter of days! Something was in the air, and within days, the lyrics of  Ian Anderson's song off the Storm watch Album fulfilled their meaning: "Something's on the Move."

Ok, enough with the puns! On New Year's Day 2007, I did a search for "Witness" and was totally blown away by the fact that there was almost nothing on the web about this band. This band that touched a million lives did not exist! Something had to be done about that! I then searched for all the prior members. I found Mitch's site and Roy's site but other than that there were no search results. My search for Jim Disston came back with some newspaper article about a guy being attacked by a weird neighbor with an antique axe (or something along those lines.) I sent Emails to Mitch's and Roy's sites, and then set to the task of putting together a Witness website.

Pictured at right: Strange article about Jimmy (click)

  After a couple of weeks, I met up with Roy and we went through his stash of Witness materials. Ted Scandlin, who owned Morgen Management, had downsized in the late 90's and had given Roy all the remaining Witness keepsakes and company records. I informed Roy that I was meeting Mitch for lunch the following week, and he though it would be fun to surprise Mitch and show up for the lunch as well. He also told me that he had been days away from starting a Witness website as well!  (What Mitch has been up to)

The three of us met the following Wednesday and we all knew something was happening. For starters, Mitch drove up in the exact same make, model, and color car that I had! At the end of lunch, Roy and Mitch both pulled out their wallets. Mitch had a rather strange wallet with a small metal corner emblem. Roy had the exact same wallet!  The coincidences did not stop there. 
Mike La Buono had been found! He was playing with a band called "Sound Investment." I quickly discovered that one of his band members (who recently left) was a parishioner at the church I go to and had been for years! In fact, I had worked with this guy on several of our carnivals. He had DJ'ed using my sound system, which had been built with components left over from the old Witness sound system. In other words- the same equipment that once processed Michael's keyboards, was being run at a church carnival by one of his current band members, and none of us knew!  Just in case Michael's karmic connection was not complete, My coworker (Sheila) has a favorite hairdresser, who happens to be the wife of the bandleader of Michael's current band!  (What Michael has been up to)
Pictured at left, Sound Investment. Click for band's website. 
Footnote: In October 07, Michael left Sound Investment and is now playing in the Britton Brother's band Hot Ticket
The concept of some type of reunion or party first came up at our lunch meeting. Given the lazy nature, and over-planning the three of us were doing, the party may never have come to be. That changed when Michael joined the meeting process. The four of us met for dinner. We ended up spending eight hours going over things. Within a few days, Michael set a date of mid April. Roy, Mitch, and I all felt there was no way we could pull everything together so fast. Truth be know, the only way something like this would happen would be if someone set a deadline like Michael did!  

Pictured at right: the 3/4/07 meeting at the Texas Roadhouse

Things had really started to fall into place. Jim Disston (Steelman) was found. He really did have a crazy neighbor who shot him with a crossbow! (or antique axe or something) Although he would not be able to attend due to a prior commitment, he was very happy that something was happening! One by one, all the other band members were found. Between band and crew, there were over 30 people directly involved in the Witness production. By the time the reunion came together, all but three had been found!

The party had been envisioned as a get-together at Michael's house in his back yard with maybe 10 to 20 members and close friends. Two weeks out, Michael surprised us by letting us know he had arranged for a hall that would fit about 100 people!  In addition, he had arranged for Kathy, our old fan club president, to cater the event. (She now owns a catering company.) Also, he had ordered up custom T-shirts! Attached to his email was a suggested set list!  That night, I received an Email from Mitch: "If we are going to do something public, we need to do it to `Witness' standards."  I knew he was right! The last thing any of us would want is a memory of Witness coming together and sounding like a garage band. 

At right: Youtube video of the "Invitation"

Mark Allen, one of the prior soundmen for the band, currently owns a sound and lighting company. Early on, he offered his help if we needed it. We Needed It!!!    I Emailed him and then we followed up with a phone conversation. Mark would be able to provide us with a concert grade sound system!  


Pictured at left, Mark Allen during the setup for our Reunion Party

We now had a decision to make. Was this a "Party" or a "Gig"?   The consensus was that without any rehearsal, we would not want to call this a gig. This was first and foremost a "Reunion Party", but we would try to get prior members to play and hopefully pull together one or two sets.  

We took a quick inventory of who was attending and who was not. We had Michael, Mitch, Roy, and Mark & Flip Britton. Steelman and Michael D could not make it. Billy Spence was on the west coast for the month, but we found that out pretty far along. We were not sure about Kent Warner, and Tim Rooney, but it looked like both would attend. With this roster, music was chosen to reflect the late 80's version of Witness where Roy and Flip spent a lot of time fronting the band. The consensus was that any "Billy Joel" or original music would have to wait for some future reunion or gig that Billy was involved in. Although all of us would have preferred to have everyone from the old band involved, we also realized that no matter what date was chosen, there would be time/date conflicts. 

Pictured at right: Special Reunion Witness Shirts (back view)

This was a "Party" not a "Gig", whoever could make it would be fine!  We also realized that if things went very well, there would be a good reason to do it again, and hopefully involve those who could not attend this one. 

One other aspect of the party was that we were walking a fine line. This was a party, but it was open to the public..... sort of.  Unlike a public gig, too many people could be a bigger problem then too few. The hall had limits, and we needed to be able predict the number in order to order the right amount of food. We decided not to promote the party, but only to list it on the website. In addition, we asked that anybody that was going to attend RSVP Michael before hand. This worked out pretty well. Several days before the party, Michael related that he had 75 RSVPs and that was almost a perfect number for the room.

Pictured at right: Many familiar faces were in attendance!  

"There's a Storm Watch on the Brew, and the White Sea Snaps a Concert of Kings" (Lyrics from Tull's "Storm Watch" album) 

OK, I could not resist this pun as there was a Storm Watch!  A rare mid April Nor-Easter was due to blow into town and crank up to it's highest level the day of the party!  Again, La Buono's decision to obtain a hall shined as pure brilliance!  The question we all wondered about is how this would effect the attendance and would enough band members make it through the storm for "Witness" to play. As it turned out, about 60 made it, and although we lost Kent and Tim, we still had Flip, Roy, Marc, Mitch, and Michael !  

The evening was an absolute blast! (Covered elsewhere on the site in pictures and videos.) For a bunch of guys to come together after 15 years with NO rehearsal and actually sound good was a testament to the staying power of the memories of all those years on stage! Sure, we were all much older! We know that! There had even been a thought of putting "M.L.C.T." in big letters on the shirts, standing for "Mid Life Crises Tour."

Pictured at left,  Ted Scandlin receives an award of appreciation from the band

The general feeling was that the heyday of Witness seemed like it was yesterday, not 20 years ago!  Flip had no problem reprising his fronting of Tull and putting on the "Ceciel" Show! Roy stepped up and belted out Gabrile and Who numbers as if only a few weeks had passed! Not to be out done, Marc showed he could still pull of Yes, and did a great job with Springstien.  And talk about flashbacks, Pur, our old stage manager, Jumped in to do "Smoke on the Water" and "Born to be Wild." (In the old days, we would invite Pur up on stage to do these, he's actually quite good!)

And yes... This is again not the end!

At right:  YouTube clip of the end of the night interview

We plan to try to get together for future parties and gigs as our lives permit! We also hope to drag some of our "lost" members back to the stage! The real surprise for all of us was that the reunion was like a fountain of youth! Make sure you check out our Updates page for word on any new reunions planned! Also, the front page of our site provides a link to become part of the resurrected "Witness Fan Club." Use that link to join our contact list as well as print out your own Fan Club membership card! 


Part 5:  "This Ain't No Party, It's a GIG !"


Reflections on April 2007:

Michael La Buono - After the Witness party, I realized how much I missed playing with the rest of the guys from the band. They are all such incredible musicians and we could play any piece of music together. The band had a niche that no other band could fill; playing classic and progressive rock better than anyone else. It would be fun to play together again in the future in front of a younger crowd to show them what they missed out on in the 80's when Witness was in it's heyday.

Mitch Schecter - After the Witness Reunion Party, I was completely blown away by the love that we all felt from eachother, as well as the good folks who came out in that nasty Nor'easter just to see us again. Mike, Roy, Flip & Marc are the BEST musicians I have ever played with, and that also goes for Steelman & Billy, who unfortunately, couldn't make the reunion. The one thing I know for sure is that , whenever I get the "Witness Call", I will be there. I always loved playing in Witness, and will jump at every chance to be onstage with that group of musicians again, as well as being with JD, Nicky,Mark, and the rest of the Witness crew! Witness still lives on if we want it to! And....after hearing how good we sounded, and how much fun it was....I want it to!!!

Roy Altemus- I can't say enough of how incredible Sunday was for me to experience. It was great playing with you guys again. Your musical expertise was greatly missed over the years and you have gotten better with age.  I was looking around as the day progressed and thought of how everyone was there because had related to the fantastic sensations and emotions the band Witness created. Everyone was there voluntarily and with tremendous positive energy. What a great feeling!! I feel incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such talented musicians and great human beings.   Thanks to everyone for offering their time and services from their heart especially JD, Sandi, Mike LaBuono, Mark Allen and Kathy Zapp. Thanks to everyone for taking the time out of your full, busy lives to spend some "quality time" with some family members. Let's make it a regular reunion and keep our fingers crossed that in the near future our estranged family members will find it in their hearts to join us in celebrating the wonderful experience we all shared being a part of the "Witness family."   
By the way I'll be out of the hospital soon after they repair my split open sides from laughing too hard at Flip's performance. PRICELESS!!!!!!!!!!!

Be well, LRoy

Youtube -Flip's Cecil Show  

Mike Disston - Letter

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What I did on my 14 Year Summer Vacation! 
Michael La Buono

After Witness stopped playing in late 1993, I joined a horn band called GL and the Front Nine with Roy Altemus in the Summer of 94. I played with them sporadically until I received a call from Jerry Antenelli to perform in the revival of Tony and Tina's Wedding beginning in September of 95. I played the keyboardist in the Wedding band in the show. In December of 96 I received a call for Phil Sciscione of the Sound Investment Band and I joined them shortly afterwards. I have played with them ever since, playing an average of 45 weddings a year.

What I did on my 14 Year Summer Vacation! 
Mitch Schecter

After Witness broke up in 1993 I took a break from performing on Drums and started to take the Guitar more seriously. I continued to do many recording sessions on Drums, and continued to study Guitar, while working at a local music store. Well to make a long story short, in 1998 I found myself playing Guitar in a band from California called "The Rip Chords", who had a few hit records in the 60's..."Hey Little Cobra" being their biggest. As a result, I have spent much of the last 8 years touring the country performing on shows with "oldies" bands like "The Beach Boys", Hermans Hermits, The Box Tops, Tommy James, Spencer Davis, Three Dog Night, among many others. I am also on the latest Rip Chords CD, "Shut 'Em Down...Again!", put out on the Collectables Records Label, a major oldies label. On the CD, I play Guitar and Drums, and Sing!  I also record and perform with my wife, Amy, as "Mitch'n'Amy". We play mainly locally on occasion at a few choice coffee houses when I am not on the road with The Rip Chords. Although, we have just drafted Amy into The Rip Chords for our live shows, so "Mitch'n'Amy" gigs will be special events for us. And.....I tour the country on occasion with a Singer/Songwriter named "Kevin Roth" playing Bass and Percussion. Kevin is famous for singing the theme song to the PBS show, "Shining Time Station". On top of this...I still teach Drums, and have 40 students! That's my life, up to date.