Remembering Ralph Ameduri
Friends recall a dedicated musician who helped shape the local scene; plus Lou Barlow on the role of bass guitar in music
Published: February 5, 2014
“He did an album with Jack Sterling called the New Maitland Turntable Ensemble, where they set up 12 different turntables at the Sapphire (the Social) and skipped records,” Sweat says. “And it either drove people batshit or they loved it.”
Sweat is now the organizer of Ralphfest, a growing local music festival in its third year that benefits Ameduri’s family and feeds the Ralph Ameduri Jr. Music Scholarship, which awards one Seminole County high school senior the musical instrument (valued at $500) required to pursue a music education.
The student does not necessarily need to be college-bound – last year’s recipient, Joseph Baker, will perform piano for Lorna Lambey and the Mark Wayne Tribute Orchestra as part of Ralphfest on Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Beacham.
Ralphfest 3 features 45 bands, many of which were acts that Ameduri was associated with throughout his career, taking place over three days, Feb. 7-9. It wraps up at the Lucky Lure in Ivanhoe Village, and the second day’s shows are downtown at the Social and the Beacham, featuring headliner Sebadoh. The first day, though, kicks off the event at Lil Indies and Will’s Pub, the venue that most of Ameduri’s former bandmates identify as a clear favorite. It’s the first year Will’s Pub has hosted Ralphfest shows, something Will Walker admits surprises him when he realizes it.
“Together, we played so constantly that I can tell you that Will’s Pub was always home,” says Brian Chodorcoff, who played with Ameduri for 15 years in bands like My Friend Steve, the Legendary JC’s and Riverbottom Nightmare Band. “Ralph had a hero named Hasil Adkins. And Will convinced Ralph to spend a small fortune to get this unknown legend to Will’s. Will did it, and nobody showed up, except like 12 of us. Will ate it. Who else would still give you a free bar tab?”
Sterling credits the venue as a birthplace of local bands, including many Ameduri bands like The Legendary JC’s and Speed Buggy: “When we had new projects, we could always take them to Will’s Pub, or even invent a project at Will’s Pub,” he says. “He was pretty open to whatever we wanted to do, and that helped a lot.”
Ameduri had a playful approach to learning music, meaning he actively listened to every genre, informing his ear to recognize tones and production styles, which inevitably elevated his projects and the quality of any band that had the sweet-and-sour experience of hearing his honest opinion on how they sounded.
“He was always chosen by people [to work with] because his opinions on it mattered – and not just the technical side of music, like he really understood how to put music together, whether it was a reggae song or a punk rock song, he understood what the tone of the instrument should be, and where they should be in the mix,” Chodorcoff says. “He had a really grand way of looking at a song.”
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