I-Tunes: House of Floyd
I-Tunes: House of Floyd
House of Floyd's Pat Potter, Stewart Burr, Louis Portella, Sherri Showalter and Greg Studley. Photo by Dr. Lau.
Alameda musicians Mark Showalter and Pat Potter played together in bands as teenagers, and they’re still playing music together today as part of the Pink Floyd cover band House of Floyd.
"I graduated from Alameda High School in 1970 and Mark graduated in 1972,” Potter said. “We played together in high school, then again in 1979."
(For Floyd aficionados, that’s before the band released The Dark Side of the Moon, which was on Billboard’s Top 200 chart for 15 years, and about the same time The Wall came out.)
Showalter started the tribute band in 2005, Potter said, because the saxophone player liked their music – and the fact that it has a of saxophone solos in it. Its beginnings were humble.
"Our very first gig was actually at the (Alameda) Marketplace on Park Street. We agreed to provide music in the parking lot,” Potter remembered.
The band continued to play locally, performing in 2008 for the Crab Cove summer concert series. After that, House of Floyd’s fortunes began to rise: In 2008 and 2009, the band scored the headliner’s slot at the Ojai Classic Rock Festival.
“That concert series really stepped us up in terms of the types of venues we began to book,” Potter said.
The band has its roots in Alameda: In addition to Showalter, who plays saxophone and keyboards and handles lead vocals; and Potter, who’s on lead guitar, slide guitar and vocals; local Louis Portela sings and plays bass guitar. Other members of the band include Greg Studley on lead guitar, keyboards and vocals; Stewart Burr on drums; Sherri Showalter, backup vocals and lead vocals; and Melissa Harley on backup vocals and percussion.
But their music has taken them all over the world. The band toured India in September 2012, performing in nine cities including New Delhi, Lucknow, and Bangalore. At the time, House of Floyd was only the fifth tribute band to ever tour the subcontinent.
“It was a place of incredible extremes: Extreme weather, extreme poverty and extreme wealth. Also, extreme warmth and friendliness from the people toward us,” Potter said. “The audiences were fantastic. They knew every word to all the songs.
“They (the East Indians) just love classic rock,” Potter added. “It was an experience I will never forget.”
In addition to leading House of Floyd, Mark Showalter also toured with Greg Allman and Friends. "It's a great story how he joined the band,” Potter said.
When the Allman Brothers Band wasn't touring, Greg Allman went into the Park Street Saloon and heard the Alameda All Stars band performing. He liked what he heard and hired them for his band, Potter said.
“Then Mark auditioned on saxophone and joined the band for three years of touring," he said.
Now, House of Floyd is performing in the relatively rich terrain of California’s Native American casinos. Potter said the band’s gigs for September included performances at Feather Falls, Cache Creek and Jackson Rancheria.
“They welcome us too and really treat us great,” he said.
The band performed a recent gig at Yoshi’s in Oakland, tackling The Dark Side of the Moon in their first set. They opened with the tune "Breathe," with Potter on slide guitar and lead vocals. The song seamlessly moved into "Time," which was augmented by video clips of factories, time clocks and human workers as puppets manipulated by a mechanized society.
"The Great Gig in the Sky" featured the stunning three octave vocal range of Sherri Showalter who is a classically trained singer. There are no recognizable words, just her searing vocables pleading and crying while video shots of our blue planet dissolve into images of fiery destruction brought about by natural disasters, nuclear bombs and continual warfare. This song brought the audience to tears.
It was followed by Pink Floyd's classic "Money" – a song about excess and how a system built upon greed leaves millions with so little which may be even more relevant today than when it was released four decades ago.
New car, caviar, four star daydream, think I'll buy me a football team …
More information about House of Floyd’s upcoming concert dates and mailing list and photos are available on the band’s website.