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rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 09/21/2002
Men of Their Times
by Patrick McDonough
patrick@beetcafe.com
Thursday Aug. 29 - Local band "Men of Our Times," named after a song from Genesis's 1980 album Duke, played a farewell show for drummer of 15 years Jim Conley at Gaspo's Auto Inn in downtown Rockford, Illinois. The outdoor show began with a bang as fireworks for the "On the Waterfront" festival exploded near by. It was a surprisingly cool, late summer evening. A perfect evening for dancing the night away to cover tunes performed by a band that seemed to have as much a connection with the songs they played, as the artists that originally wrote them.

There are a number of contributing factors to why "Men of Our Times" has remained a driving force in the local music scene for the last 22 years.

One reason is the band lineup has remained mostly intact since their first gig performing at the opening of the MetroCentre in January 1981. The original remaining members are Pat Doherty (lead vocals, guitar, drums and keyboard), Gary Rothmeyer (bass guitar, backing and lead vocals), and, "the perennial sixth man," Jim Parthun (keyboards and backing vocals). Fifteen years ago, Jim Conley (drums) and Greg Whitson (lead guitar, backing vocals and keyboard sequences) joined to add another dimension to the already seemingly full sound. A year and a half ago the men decided to add a female voice to their line-up. That's when Leslie Ciaccio (lead, backing vocals and percussion) took her place as the + 1 girl in the band. The newest addition is replacement drummer and backup singer Ed Bogdonas.

According to Doherty, "When we formed the band we wanted it to do exactly what it's done, and we've stuck to it." He went on to explain, "the chance of finding a group of guys that gel as well as we do is a chance of a lifetime," Rothmeyer feels that it also helps that, "we have weathered a lot of personal storms," which he feels makes them a closer band. "Men of our Times" is a cover band that according to Rothmeyer, "is designed to play for all ages." The bands they cover range from Peter Gabriel and the Beatles to more contemporary bands like the Coors and Jimmy Eat World.

No matter whom you talk to in the band the general consensus seems to be that the love of the music and the energy they receive from their crowds are the largest contributing factors to their success. It's evident from the smiles on each of their faces how much they love performing. "We have a lot of support from the Rockford Area," stated Rothmeyer. "I can't say enough about the people and businesses that have supported us over the years."

Whether it's a bar crowd, a corporate function or a wedding reception, they receive the same energy from each audience. "Performing different types of shows keeps it more interesting," remarked Rothmeyer. "One night we might be playing a rocking show at a bar and the next night more of family type show for a wedding." In fact, it was one such wedding reception that made Rockford resident Dan O'Boyle, a fan for life. He said that he saw them at a friend's wedding twelve years ago and has watched them ever since. Another such fan, Janene Robinson, has been following them since 1978 when she heard them playing around a campfire in Atwood Park, Illinois.

"By adding a female singer to the line-up the band has taken on a whole new sound," Rothmeyer noted. Ciaccio's addition to the group has allowed for more of a variety of both classic and contemporary songs during their shows. According to Ciaccio, "It's nice to be able to switch off songs and back each other up."

These are only a few of the reasons why "Men of Our Times" has been, and remains to be, a successful combination and a driving force in the local music scene.

During a break between sets in which he played the drums with more vigor than most drummers on the top 40 pop chart, Conley had this to say about the band that he has been a part of for the last fifteen years, "It has been an honor to play with them. These are the best group of musicians you could ever hope to play with. They are a great group of friends; they would do anything for me. I love them."
Contact Information
Men of Our Times
Gary Rothmeyer
815.633.4527
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