Perkinson form Whalebone
group plays at Joeygs
and plans to record a CD of original songs soon
(October 2005) When you hear them play, youd never
guess that Whalebone only formed last December. Thats partly because
the members, John Adkins, Dennis ONeal and Joe Perkinson, have
each been playing since junior high, and partly because theyve
performed together before in different arrangements.
by Levi King
ONeal, 53, and Perkinson, 48, have been members
of the Doctors Band for the past seven years, and Adkins joined when
he moved to Madison from the Portland, Ore., area one year ago. Whalebone
formed soon after Adkins arrived. The Doctors Band only
plays about six times a year, and we all wanted to play more,
Their history goes back much farther, however. Adkins, a Wooster, Ohio,
native, started playing guitar in bands with his brother at the age
of 15. My first gig was a neighbors birthday party,
he said. I used to carry a note from my dad saying it was OK for
me to play in bars. I kept it until I was about 30.
In 1973, Adkins was seeking a drummer for his Cleveland-based rock band,
Shotgun. ONeal had recently moved to Cleveland from Madison and
successfully auditioned for the opening.
When Dennis showed up, he wanted to play but he didnt have
a drum set, Adkins said. So we all went in together and
bought him one. Shotgun played gigs in the area for two years
before its members went their own ways.
Adkins and ONeal started a short-lived band called Voyeur in Madison
in 1979 before Adkins moved to Oregon. ONeal started another band,
called The Band With No Name, with Perkinson, a resident of Milton,
ONeal and Perkinson also started playing music as kids. ONeal
was a seventh-grader when he began drumming. I sold my 4-H cow
and bought my first set of drums with the money, he said.
In the early 1980s, ONeal and Perkinson joined with veteran rocker
and Harrison, Ind., native Lonnie Mack. ONeal had long known Mack
through his Indiana connections. I think we played in all 50 states
with Lonnie, ONeal said.
Perkinson, who played bass with Mack for three years, said he enjoyed
meeting other musicians while on the road. We played shows with
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Winter, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Pure
Prairie League, he said. Once, Eric Clapton, who had come to watch
a performance, joined the group on stage. Perkinson also recorded three
songs with Mack.
by Levi King
ONeal stayed on longer, drumming on the albums Strike
Like Lightning, Second Sight and Too Old For
Rock. Stevie Ray Vaughan was just getting big when he recorded
on Strike Like Lightning, ONeal noted. The success
of the album led to a world tour, carrying Mack and ONeal to Australia,
England and Japan.
Adkins continued playing music in cafes in Portland and drove a truck
for 20 years. He moved to Madison last year so his wife, Nancy, a Madison
native, could be closer to family. Adkins started playing at open mic
nights at Joeygs Restaurant and Nightclub, and soon landed a solo
gig performing there every Wednesday night. Big John Adkins
performs acoustic covers and originals.
ONeal owns and operates Clifty Creek Studio in Madison, and Perkinson
works for the Trimble County school system.
Whalebone performs every Saturday night at Joeygs and rehearses
once a week in the studio. Since we dont always have a bass,
we spend a lot of time experimenting to get a full sound, Adkins
noted. Perkinson plays bass, but also plays guitar and keyboards as
different songs require. Adkins plays guitar, slide guitar and keyboards.
ONeal plays drums, and all three share vocal duties. They credit
David Butler as an unofficial member, as he sometimes performs
with the band. Cheri Gayles, who owns and operates House O Hits
and Joeygs along with her husband, Joey Gayles, picks up the bass
when she isnt busy in the kitchen. Cheris a very good
bass player, Adkins said. Shes a lot of fun to play
by Levi King
Whalebone covers such bands as Creedence Clearwater Revival,
the Rolling Stones, Van Morrison and the Beatles, but they also play
Its hard to pinpoint our style, ONeal said.
I call it Americana flair. We do some rock and some
country, but we do it all our own way. The band has just started
playing gigs outside of Joeygs. They recently performed at The
River House, a tavern in Vevay, Ind. The band is scheduled to play at
3 p.m. at this months Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew festival in
They plan to record and release a CD of original songs in the next few
months. Weve got plenty of material ready to use,
Back to October 2005