WAUKESHA - From
playing trumpet in elementary school to bending the strings as lead
guitarist for Genesis and Phil Collins, Daryl Stuermer of Milwaukee
considers life in music an ongoing project of reinvention. Stuermer will
bring his talent to the Schauer Arts and Activities Center in Hartford on
Alongside bassist Eric
Hervey, drummer Alan Arber, keyboardist Konstantin Efimov and vocalist
Woody Mankowski, Stuermer performs Genesis material with a jazz-fused
“I started out in
grade school band as a trumpet player but started guitar to follow the
footsteps of my older brother (bass player Duane Stuermer),” Stuermer
said. “I listened to groups like The Ventures, The Animals and The
Rolling Stones. Then at 15, I got interested in jazz.
“It was something I
didn’t understand, and though it seemed more difficult I realized I
liked them both. Just a few years later, jazz fusion was the ticket.”
Rock ‘n’ roll fans
may remember when Genesis topped the charts, but Stuermer recalled a
pivotal moment behind the success. Frank Zappa heard Stuermer perform in
Milwaukee with the band Sweetbottom in 1975, and introduced him to late
keyboardist George Duke. A subsequent audition was arranged with jazz
violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, a solo artist with Atlantic Records who would
include Stuermer on a tour.
“Life before Genesis
was a great time in music, especially live music because in the 1970s you
could play more nightclubs; mostly jazz, rock, with a (rhythm and blues)
flavor,” he said. “It was a great time knowing great people. I was 21,
playing nightclubs in Milwaukee. What an amazing time. It doesn’t seem
as long ago as it really was.”
selections for the Hartford show will include releases from 1978-92.
Stuermer said one
particular song should have hardcore Genesis fans smiling along.
“I really enjoy
playing ‘Squonk,’” said Stuermer whose audition for Genesis required
learning the song.
“Squonk” also was
the first song sung by Phil Collins as Genesis lead vocalist post-Peter
Gabriel and was produced on the “A Trick of the Tail” album in 1976.
In 1977, George Duke recommended Stuermer as Genesis’ touring guitarist
to replace Steve Hackett, but Stuermer is known for his work with Collins
from the start of his solo career in the late 1980s.
Mankowski, of DePere,
said Stuermer is a great guy to work for.
“It’s great to
play with such a good band, too,” he said. A vocalist of 30 years,
Mankowski is also a saxophone player who enjoys performing “Squonk” as
a fun-to-sing tune, and favors “Your Own Special Way” for its
beautiful, simple, love- song qualities.
“It’s hard to
describe, but there’s that feeling you get after seeing a really great
concert. The word ‘rush’ comes to mind - and it is close; I want
everyone to have that feeling,” Mankowski said. The audience will find
the music to be familiar, but the vocals will be played instrumentally,
Stuermer said of the upcoming show. “Though we’re not Genesis, we’re
bringing the music of Genesis into this era. People who know of the music
will enjoy reliving it. With that in mind, I’ve been finding ways to
change the songs, yet still keep their character.”
Many people expect
imitation, he said, adding he’s seen Genesis tribute bands that play the
songs note for note. That’s not how he played, he said.
“You have to know
this is not the album - it’s a live performance,” Struemer said.
“Each performance is of the moment. It’s one-of-a-kind, every time.”
People in their 20s
tell him their parents turned them on to Genesis, Stuermer said. His two
daughters “love classic rock.”
“My daughter (Kelly)
was born on Phil Collins’ birthday - Jan. 30 in 1981. Kelly and my other
daughter, Fiona, were kids who grew up knowing him as Uncle Phil.”
He said playing makes
him feel younger. “When I’m playing, it feels like it always used to
feel, only in the present,” he said. “Whether it is writing,
recording, playing guitar, I love feeling like I’ve never worked in my
life, and I plan to hold on to that because I don’t want to turn into a
person who gives up.”