The Smoking Creebars
John Cermenaro was the R&D engineer for Rogers Drums.
Years before, he played with The Smoking Creebars.
They re-united for a "Thanksgiving Jam", which was recorded live at the church.
This was THE FIRST recording done at the Church.
Later, Jeff joined the artist colony, and recorded some of his solo pieces.
Scott Nisula - Guitar
Jeff Alexander -Bass, Vocals
John Cermenaro - Drums
Players on Jeff's solo pieces
Jeff Alexander - Bass, Vocals
Steve Grom - Keyboards, Sax, Guitar
Bill Giles - Bass
Mike Peterson - Drums
Dan Strelecki - Guitar, Keyboard
Mark Myers - Guitar
Engineered and Produced by
Cover Design by
History Of The Smoking Creebars
By John Cermenaro
Please don't let my mother read this.
I met Jeff Alexander while I was working in the music room at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute library. We were both undergrads. I was responsible for checking tapes out for people to listen to. Jeff had weird taste. Turns out he played bass. I'm not entirely sure how we transitioned into band mates, but that's how we got introduced. Scott Nisula was also attending WPI. I learned about Scott from an ad he hung up on the bulletin board. Freshman keyboard player seeks rock band, or something.
I was sophomore and a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Me and some of the brothers had a rock band of sorts. Not real good but lots of enthusiasm. It was called Red Line. We recruited Scott to play keyboards. He had an early version of the Moog synthesizer complete with patch cables. Way cool. Scott also had a very cheap Les Paul copy. He was teaching himself guitar on the side. After a year or so, Scott got picked up by a prominent local band to play keyboards. To satisfy his guitar habit, he started jamming with Jeff and I. It was a musical sideline for all of us. By then, I was out of the fraternity and living in a house ten buddies rented called the WeirFarm. Bunch of Deadheads. They were most appreciative of our extended jams. Scott had a way of coming up with unique names for things. He had started calling pot "creebar", as in let's "smoke a creebar." When it came time to assign a name to this so-called band, "The Smoking Creebars" seemed to work just fine.
The Smoking Creebars played numerous WeirFarm parties and fraternity parties. We drew huge crowds everytime we played. Scott was a good keyboard player, but on guitar it was like he was set free. None of us could sing, let alone sing AND play. Hence, most original compositions were instrumental. Jeff really wanted there to be vocals and we needed to bulk up on cover songs to play 3 or 4 sets, so he got the mic by default. This bothered him a great deal. He didn't know many of the lyrics and singing really cut into his playing. The solution was to obtain an Echoplex and crank up the delay until the words were completely unintelligible. For the most part it solved the problem.
We made an effort to use the word BAR in the name of every original song, regardless of whether or not it had anything to do with the lyrics. We had Sand Bar, Bar Hoppin, Handle Bar, Bar Salona, Har Bar Lights, CreeBARmitzvah, etc. The funny thing about our original compositions was that Scott and Jeff would come up with all these changes linked together into one song and I would complain constantly that the damn songs were too hard. But that was the Creebars. That's what we did.
Scott's fake Les Paul got stolen, so he obtained a Fender Mustang. Someone gave him a huge chunk of wood, so he fashioned it into a triangle shaped guitar body and bolted the Fender neck to it. He carved a pick guard out of formica. The Creebar Guitar was born. It was more or less reliable. Certainly a visual experience. By and large I would have to say our equipment sucked. We always had equipment hassles. The microphone we were using was borrowed. Ground loops prevailed. We did a lot with little.
The Smoking Creebars gave me my first taste of marketing and promotion. I purchased the equipment necessary to do silk screening and make a T-shirt design that read, "If you like it Hot and Hard, it's the Smoking Creebars." I bought T-shirts in bulk for 2 bucks a piece, printed them with various colors of ink and did variations by masking out sections. There was one that simply said, "Hot Hard Smoking Creebars." This T-shirt turned into a much sought after fashion item. I sold as many as I could make. Whenever I needed money to get back home to see my folks, I'd print up a bunch, stop into a party somewhere and sell them all. This gave the Creebars enormous visibility and served to increase our draw. Folks wanted to see what the T-shirt thing was all about.
Then I graduated and moved to California in November 1980. Before I left we did a recording at MGM studios in Worcester. After I left Scott and Jeff found a replacement. They played around campus for another year. I was bummed because the band was at their peak of popularity. They new Creebars got to play at all the venues I really wanted to play. Oh well. Oddly enough, Jeff moved to SoCAL when he graduated. Then Scott moved to the San Francisco area. The original Smoking Creebars reunited on the West Coast! My groovy job at Fender Rogers Rhodes gave me access to the "Sound Room" in R&D. We came in on a Saturday and did a recording there in 1981 with the help of Bill Gelow, Bob Haigler and Steve Bussey.
I believe the recording at the Peterson studio was in 1983. Since then, we jammed at a "60's" party circa 1986 and then for the most recent reunion recording in New Jersey during Sept. 1995. Again a twist of fate moved me to NJ in 1991 only to have Jeff and family move to Connecticut a year or so later. We still get together and play whenever possible. Jeff still writes great songs. Scott's in the Phoenix, AZ area, so we don't see much of him.
There you have it, a brief history of the Smoking Creebars according to the drummer.