Getting Better All The Time

so I haven’t written in a while so I figured I’d give you all a little update on my progress as well as the band’s

I’ve been back home since mid-to-late december awaiting a possible clinical drug trial to knock down the leukemia as much as possible without needing another round of chemo, in hopes to speed up the effects of the stem-cell transplant i received back in October of 2013.

As for the band, I’m currently working to regain my strength and ability to play and sing as I could before i suffered the stroke back in May that left my entire left side paralyzed, i have since regained a majority of the movement and control back but not the strength.

The band is still hard at work writing songs and preparing for our return and looking forward to the recording of our next album and follow-up to our debut album “Straight from the Surface.” We currently have a little over 30 songs waiting to be recorded. Soon we will be starting a kickstarter campaign to raise money to press and release a 12″ vinyl record of a newly remixed and remastered version of “Straight from the Surface.” which will be rereleased very soon. We are currently working on preparing the incentives for the campaign that we can give in reward and thanks to any and all donators. The Kickstarter will be announced on our Facebook page:

we also have a lot of surprises for our fans coming soon


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Ry’s & Rebel

In this installment of Banjos & Backseats I’ve asked my bandmate and songwriting partner in crimes against humanity, Ry McDonald to supply a story of one of his favorite Suncooked memories from the past year. Here is what Ry had to say:

Raised above hundreds of people filling up the Alexander Twilight theatre sat myself, Jake and Colin. The event was the inauguration of our college’s new president. The auditorium was at full capacity and the party had begun. This story did not take place on a “tour” per say, however it is one of my favorite memories of being in the group. Truth be told, one of our band’s weaknesses is sitting still; we must be moving and entertaining. Those who have attended our shows already know this.

The ceremony was filled with important guests from other colleges and important members of the state who were there to knight Sir Joe Bertolino as our new president. We were instructed to play the walk-in music which included songs like “Go The Distance” from Hercules (dream come true) and a few originals. After this we were just supposed to SIT behind the 30 extremely important guests on stage, while on a five foot riser visible to everyone. Again, our weaknesses came out and thusly followed the rebellion. We were given two bottles of water and a chair to sit in during the ceremony, after 5 minutes and some planning, we decided that throughout this professional and televised event, we would take synchronized sips of water on random counts of three. One of us would count then all of us would pick up the water, unscrew it, sip, re-screw it and then place the water down, in perfect synchronization. We did this multiple times throughout the show. I almost lost it once I caught the eye of some close friends that had realized what we were doing and laughed. I could only keep it together for the sake of my two brothers on stage delivering a flawless performance. As for the rest of the audience, we went unnoticed. The assistant to the president and production manager of the ceremony even complimented us on our professionalism throughout the inauguration.

We can only hope that for those who watch the recording in years to come, will be able to laugh at us three kids and best friends doing what we love. We were having more fun with water bottles than anyone should be allowed. These types of things were, and will be, what makes being in Suncooked the best time of our lives. I know its a pretty deep meaning to see from synchronized drinking but…oh well… “Do it how you feel it and keep driftin'”

– Ry McDonald



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CURRENT STATUS of myself and the band

So Sept. 29th marked month number 4 since I was diagnosed and suffered a hemorrhagic stroke it was also the day I heard the one word I had been dreading since remission  that word was “relapse” it meant that more plans needed to be made as well as how soon I would be able to receive my stem cell transplant and how much longer it would take to get back to my normal life and wake up from this nightmare. I’ve been on a strict daily physical therapy regiment working on regaining the strength in my legs as well as my left arm, shoulder, and hand. It’s been a long and straining process full of hurdles and setbacks and all the while I’ve been keeping busy by taking online classes from my hospital room as well as working on regaining my banjo playing back which has proved to be a long, difficult, and extremely frustrating process also I have no eyebrows. (stupid chemo)


As for the band, I wanted to begin this blog with a few anecdotes from our first real tour of the summer of 2012

The tour began 6/9/12 with a private party in Plainville, Ma then:

6/16/12 Sprague’s Venango, PA

6/23/12 Boulton theatre Long Island, NY

7/13/12 Toquet Hall Westport,CT

7/15/12 The Space Hamden, CT

7/20/12 Purple Moon Pub Waitsfield, VT

7/21/12 Railroad Park Woodsville, NH

7/22/12 Solarfest Tinmouth, VT

7/24/12 Tommy Doyle’s Cambridge

7/27/12 Stoughton MA

7/28/12 Spragues Venango PA

8/4/12 Tavern @ Wrnetham MA

8/11/12 Middle East Cambridge MA


I’ve decided to share one of my favorite moments over that hot, hardworking summer


Myself: Upon loading the car to make the 10 hour haul to Venango, PA on 6/16/12 to play at Sprague’s farm & brew works while loading the car we found ourselves stuck with a car packed so full of merch and gear that we couldn’t fit our Kick drum and hi Hat setup so being on a tight driving schedule we left for PA hoping for the best. 10 hours later we arrived at Sprague’s farm greeted with open arms by farm owners Brian & Minnie Srague. Brian was a former body builder turned chainsawing brewmaster and a full-time great guy we had asked him if he had known any drummers in the area that may be able to help us with our lack of gear, Brian looked at us and said no but I might have an old drum kit out back in the barn, so we continued to set up our sound system and the stage all the While making friends with the locals and staff, then in walks Brian with a kick drum and a set of hi hats with stand and all he hands me the kick drum and  he says “I hope this works” It had a kick pedal with it but It was clearly a very old and unused set up that had been collecting dust in the barn. I continued to tune the drum the best I could while Ry and Colin continued setting up their gear, once I was situated it was time for soundcheck. we began our planned 2 hour set to much appreciation by the growing Pennsylvania crowd. Hot & exhausted 2 hours turned to 3 and 3 to 4 by the last song we were all singing and stomping so hard I hand managed to break the kick pedal clean in half. Once we finished our set I hung my head as Brian approached to shake our hands I then showed him the broken pedal, to which he replied that’s okay the drum, the cymbals, they’re yours. take them as long as you use them to keep doing what you just did. so we left Venango, Pennsylvania with a hearty paycheck, a kick drum, some hi hats, and plenty of new friends and a place to stay whenever we decide to come back to that neck of the woods


here’s where we played with the lovely gear provided



here’s a happy crowd at sprague’s


…To be continued with stories from Colin Murphy and Ry McDonald

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Don’t call it a comeback

This blog will be a source of stories, anecdotes, and shared experiences of life on the road as the banjo playing, kick drumming, screaming vocalist of the up and coming Americana band Suncooked as well as my recovery from Acute Myeloid Leukemia and a massive hemorrhagic stroke that left my left arm and leg paralyzed and the steps it takes to regaining strength and mobility and returning to everyday lifeImage

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