January 19, 2023
Ralph “Toad” Carfagno – Drums – Vocals
Age: 67, but I stopped counting? Back in 5h grade my report card, every marking period said…“Does Not Respect Authority and Regulations.” From all indications, at my current age it would still read the same. I’m guessing that was something my mother was not proud of then, yet something for which I am relatively happy about now!
How did you get here: How did I get here? What is this, a Talking Heads research project? I was born in Norristown, Pa. but after the death of my father and a few years with a less than stable mother, I was sent to Milton Hershey School where life started anew. Who wouldn’t love a place where there were always enough friends to play ball, hang out or get in trouble with…en masse. I continued to play drums in bands, “Flashback” and Mythical Maze” and even did a stint in the Spartan Orchestra. Flash forward 20 years and I run into some guys that I work with who also played in bands. Next thing you know we are “jamming” once a month and the rest is history.
The brotherhood between the original members has been the bridge across 30 years, keeping the record spinning for Toupheads new and old. Whether gigging regularly like me, Doug and Paul or maintaining the Toupee spirit from afar like Kirk and Bo, there are very few bands, big or small that have experienced this kind of fun for so long! Our newest members Ashley, Pam, Bill and sometimes Tito, (I feel like I am learning my vowels again) keep things fresh and give us something new to giggle at almost all the time.
How did your home become “practice central” for the Toupees?: Well once the ceiling fan got its first “beauty mark” from Doug during a jazzy bass solo, we knew there was just something special about the spirit of the place for the Bad Toupees OR, I did not want to cart my drums around on a regular basis for practice. In the early years the volume was such that dishes rattled and the glassware danced in the cupboards, causing the family to use pillows to block the sound streaming to the second floor through the heat vents. Years later we’ve dialed it back and I’ve purchased a smaller practice kit, glued the knobs on the amps to 3 instead of 11, rearranged our practice stage plot, installed radon mitigation and ultimately got closer as a band in all ways imaginable.
What is your role in the band?: I believe, but you would have to ask the others, that I am the resident “schmuck!” Early on I may have been the guy who implored us to play out live and actually be a band. In later years I find (for lack of more mature vocabulary) I may have become simply a “pain in the ass”…sometimes good and sometimes not so good in pursuit of the right music and the right sound. But thankfully, no one has actively tried to kill me yet and for the most part it works. Doug is really in control of what we play out and the set lists and how and what we practice. Also, Dougie, and I talk a lot about what works or doesn’t and what makes the crowd dance. I also spend a fair amount of time reminding “what’s Her name” to practice her tambourine and stuff like that. The only thing that I may be serious about is that the band comes before any of its members. Bad Toupees Uber Alles.
What is your favorite memory of being in the Bad Toupees?: Not sure I can pick just one, but I’d say it’s all the stuff we never planned for. We didn’t plan to be a band, we didn’t plan to play 10 years’ worth of Halloween parties, one of them being recorded for TV. We didn’t plan to have Miss American and her chaperone sit with our wives in a club we were playing and party (very discreetly and appropriately I might add) till they closed. We didn’t plan to record live but when we did we had the good fortune of having Dave Wilkerson and Dave Natale record us. They were/are Yes and the Stones sound people respectively. Really the adventures haven’t stopped and each gig brings new stories.
The Bad Toupees have been together 30 years. What do you think is the secret to that longevity? Having the right people in the room to make music and make fun. We take things serious enough to get better as a band, but not so serious that the jokes run dry. We may not have realized it early on, but the band’s focus has always been making sure that our friends new and old have a good time when they come to see us. The more fun our crowd has, the more fun we have. Early on Doug our bass player admonished us to never let the band get in the way of the friendships. That is the best advice we have ever had because 30 years together can test even the strongest ties…yet here we are still hanging out and making music and merriment!
Editors Note: This is the first filing in 2023. As last reported, I had gone down to the islands with an ample supply of drugs, booze and women, only to find myself being harassed by the local Gendarmes. Even with the generous expense account the Bad Toupees supply…the girls I brought or bought, blew through the drugs, the booze, the money…and me…quicker than any of us imagined. Without mind altering substances rattling through their millennial brains, I became about as attractive to them as your average bald lecherous baby-boomer…which is what I am. After they bolted for some South American country where they heard the party and drugs were endless, the beach lost its luster! So I made my return to the states to see how charred the political landscape had become. I say again, Nixon’s antics were tinker-toys compared to these people. I love this country!
With all members interviewed, I’ll be up to my own devices for my next entry. But, for now, I obviously cannot stop here “this is bat country” so I’m heading back to Woody Creek to rejuvenate.
Editor In Chief - Hunter S. Thompson
December 5, 2022
Craig “Tito” Wrights - Percussion – Drums – Smiles
What's your age: Seriously Hunter, what is age, but a number? You’ve been listed as being dead for the last 17 years and no one questions the shit you write! Suffice it to know that I am younger than all male members of the band!
Where are you originally from: I was originally born in the coldest, most northern tip of North Dakota, so it’s been a long journey from there to the foothills of central Pennsyltuckey and to my part-time job as percussionist in the Bad Toupees. (Hunter comment: Tito’s North Dakota birth, appears to affect his inability to tan, which obviously has something to do with his need to incessantly tune his Bongos)! Tito went on to say that my Bongos, my Congas, Vibra-slaps and various and assorted other sundry percussion instruments are all part of the “Tito” mystique!
How did you get here: I lounged around Hershey Chocolate for several years, in Training or “in-training.” I guess it depends on where you put the capital letter. Anyway, it was during this stint that I heard mythical tales of a rock band born out of the bowels of the company that was still thriving 30 years later. So, I began a search to find and join this band. I heard they had actually started playing during Bush the 1st and the “1,000 points of light” and then ran “head”-long (head: get it?) into wiley Willey and “define what “it” is” (we know what it is!) landing squarely in “Don’t ask, don’t tell”…although far from being controversial, that became the bands internal motto. Then of course there was the “Day of O.J.” when the band played a club date throughout the entirety of the White Bronco “car-follow!” (That could not possibly be called a chase!} But I digress. Once Tito learned of the bands continued existence, he was on a quest to join them. Having located them, getting in became the challenge. Tito decided early on that “killing their current drummer seemed a little dramatic.” So, he changed jobs after he found out that two members were still working locally with the sole intent to get to know members of the band and infiltrate them like a Russian spy. Which, as we now know, worked!
Tito, did you know the songs in the Bad Toupee catalogue? Well, not really because I grew up listening to Top 40 stations and that type of music, you know, NSYNC, The Spice Girls, Britney Spears…”OMG Britney Spears…I almost can’t say her name with crying. Didn’t you just love her when she said “It’s Britney bitch!” I also listened to groups like Spyro Gyra, but quite honestly, I didn't give classic rock the time of day until I met my wife, and she told me how wrong I was. (Hunter editorial: God bless Pam for rescuing this poor bastard!) It seems she introduced Tito to the music of the 70's, which many, including Tito and most of the band, consider to be the best decade for music. Unfortunately, that means Tito did not discover iconic bands like The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers until later.
What is your role in the band? Well… I try to build upon my experience playing in the Greater Latrobe high school drumline, indoor drumline, and jazz band where my favorite memory was playing timbales on Oye Como Va. (Again, thank you Pam for your positive influences…just don’t stop working on this scmuck and for goodness sake, limit his intake of 90’s pop music)
Tito says I don’t get many opportunities to fall back on my marching percussion where I played quints/tenors in the Penn State Blue Band Drumline and marched competitively with the Golden Lancers and Crossmen Drum & Bugle Corps. But then again, one of my jobs in the Toupees is not to overshadow the current drummer who thinks measures are a different name for rulers and couldn’t tell a quarter note from a quarter hour without a road map. BUT, he has the practice facility so he would be hard to usurp anyway.
What's your favorite part about being in the Bad Toupees? Being the youngest member of the male part of the band and if I have to admit it, just enjoying the camaraderie of being in the band! I originally saw the Bad Toupees play in 2000 when I moved to Hershey and while I am certain this version is much better, there is at least a chance this is due solely to the auxiliary percussion
Anything else you'd like to share? When I'm not tuning my congas, (makes one wonder how the hell long it takes to “tune a conga?”) I love long walks on the beach, playing badminton, and watching reruns of Seinfeld...and of course grooving out to Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, Hansen and most of all Britney!
Editor’s Note: While still a part time player in the Toupees I thought it good to cover young Craig Tito Wrights and document some of his very soulful contributions to the band. I also wanted to file my last piece for the year before it got too friggin” cold. There are still a few little islands in the Caribbean that are out of the way enough that an old guy like me can show up with some coked up 25 years olds, a pound of “Fatso”, a couple of pounds of “Purple Monkey Balls” and a few cases of Fuenteseca Cosecha 2018 and go relatively unnoticed! The Toups are off until 2023 after December 15, so I’ll be back sometime in the first quarter…or sooner if the drugs, booze or girls run out!
Editor In Chief - Hunter S. Thompson
August 22, 2022
It has been sometime since I filed a report on the Toupees, but as you'll see later in this post, I was "indisposed." Anyway, I finally got a chance to sit down with guitar player Bill Wasch and this is what he had to say!
Bill Wasch – Guitar - Vocals, occasional Keys
Age: 66, which puts me solidly in the middle of the old guys and the young lady! After Armageddon, it will only be Keith Richards, me, and the cockroaches…and Keith and I will be complaining about the cockroaches.
Where are you originally from: Originally from Philadelphia. Played in a few bands there, taking smoke breaks and shooting pool with Tom Croce, and spent a great deal of time at a well-known recording studio doing session work before moving to Camp Hill where I am currently in the witness protection program under an assumed face. You can tell it’s an assumed face because no one in their right
mind would choose this face.
How did you get here: Sometime in the mid-1990’s I was in a band called T-Bone & The Turbo Kings. We were auditioning for a new drummer and Toad was one of the people auditioning…or actually he may have been the only one, I can’t remember, but don't say anything to him or it will break his heart!. Anyway, Toad joins the band and says that his main band is something called the Bad Toupees.
That’s about as normal as joining the Boy Scouts and saying I play with noisy things at Los Alamos. So, I go to see them play a couple of times and then one of the guitar players can’t make a gig and they call me. I have been in, around and on the periphery of the Bad Toupees since then and officially a member twice. Once in the early 2000’s before they took a couple of years off and then again when they started back up about 5 or 6 years ago. It’s been a strange if not occasionally, great ride!
Did you know the songs in the Bad Toupee catalogue? Few that I’d admit to...I’m a rhythm and blues guy and those have been the bands I have been in mostly…so danceable rock and roll was something I had to (and still am) getting used to. Actually, the people who follow us seem to have such a good time that it is really fun to play “most” of the songs.
What is your role in the band? Well…guitar player, ball breaker (mostly Toad’s, but sometimes Doug's too), chord discerner, grumpy pop song learner and if I believe Toad, cool hat wearer and someone who will spend every waking moment of every day of my life being a
…well, let’s just say it rhymes with “bath roll.”
What's your favorite part about being in the Bad Toupees? Well, Toad and I get along swimmingly…and Ashley too, everyone is pretty easy to hang with and the music we have been making is good and getting better all the time!
Anything else you'd like to share? I’ve been in more bands than I can possibly count. I have been fortunate to be on lots of recordings and worked with some of the best musicians. Every band is something different and brings something different to the table. However, no matter how much you dig playing or how many gigs you do, if people aren’t grooving to what you’re laying down, it’s not a lot of fun. I’m having fun being a Bad Toupee. I hope they keep thing going for years to come or at least until I am discovered by those who forced me to be in the witness protection program!
Editors Note: I had taken a few months off after filing the piece on the new Keyboard player, Pam Searle and headed back down to Machu Pichu. I gathered a few of my friends, about 10 pounds of fine Peruvian blow, a couple sixteen gallons of Tequila and enough assorted non-prescription pills to make any local pharmacy envious. We took long rides in a 1964 Chevy Impala convertible we bought off a Lude dealer named Javier for 385 Peruvian Sol (about $100 USD). We never put the top up…rain or shine! Anyway, we just forgot about the world, until Toad called and said he wasn’t wiring any more money to a Peruvian bank until I filed a new story on the guitar player Bill Wasch. So, I’m back and crying in my Tequila shots over the current state of the U.S. political landscape. I never thought I’d say this, but I REALLY wish Nixon were back! Tricky Dick was a children’s ride at a 1950’s amusement park compared to what’s happening now. En la tumba de mi madre todo esto es verdad!
Editor In Chief - Hunter S. Thompson
January 21, 2022
Big news out of Toupee World Headquarters! For years the Bad Toupees enjoyed the silky smooth fingers of Bo Smith on the keyboards. And while we have had other keyboard players since Bo’s retirement, they were also guitar players and saxophone players, etc. Bo, was the last of the “dedicated” ivory twinklers! UNTIL NOW! The Bad Toupees are excited to announce that Pam Searle has joined the band on keyboards.
Of course, that name is somewhat familiar to you as Pam is married to our bass player Doug and has been around the Toupee camp since the start of the band. In fact, we had talked to Pam about joining the band several times in the past, but she was reluctant to jump in. Starting with filling in last year for a special gig we have been badgering Pam to join us…not only to add the dedicated keyboard sound we have been missing, but because she is basically a nicer person than almost everyone else in the band, except maybe Ashley and so we knew it would be a no brainer for her to assimilate easily!
Pam’s first official gig with the Toupees will be Friday April 22 at the Englewood in Hershey. However, Pam has been working with the band at their secret practice facility since sometime last year. This is so exciting! Come on out and say hi to Pam! Her bio has been added to our web site, but here is a little bit of the interview she and I did recently.
Buy the ticket, take the ride!
-Hunter S. Thompson
Pam Searle - Keyboards
You’ve been around since the band’s inception…what made you finally make the leap into a full-fledged Toupee!
I helped the band out last year at a gig and had so much fun. Since that time, and at the bands urging, I have taken the time to learn all their current set list and some extras and really enjoy, with the rest of the band, making songs sound as much like the record as possible. Also, I have always enjoyed the music the Toupees play and thought it might be more fun to play along then to sit out front and just sing along!
You have history with the bass player, can you elaborate?
Well, we both grew up in Reading, PA, listening to the same radio stations and style of music. At some point in time, we figure we were at the same dances when we were younger where Doug, who was a Trombone player in various bands, would be playing. Condensing the story a little, we met and eventually got married and I have watched and supported the Bad Toupees as a Toupette since the bands inception in 1993…so the transition to Toupee is just a change in a few letters.
Now that you have been practicing with the band for a while, is there anything that really surprised you when you were able to see behind the curtain?
Honestly, what goes on behind the curtain is much like what happens in front of the curtain. People may be surprised at how much laughter and good fun there really is. Doug, Paul and Toad have been together for 30 years and Bill and Ashley have been with the band for probably 7 and 5 years respectively so everyone gets along very well AND when someone does act like a dork, usually they and the rest of the band know it and "course correct" things pretty quickly.
Do you have any plans to do any singing with the band?
No, no, a thousand times no! In fact, that was my one criterion for joining the band…I do not sing. But I guess that is OK, because the original keyboard player never sang either…unless you count the fact that he said the only word uttered in the 1958 song by The Champs entitled “Tequila” when that was in the band’s repertoire.
Where do you see this going?
I really don’t know. For now, I am just having a blast being part of the band and working hard to learn songs they have been doing for quite some time. It really is fun when we work on new music because then we are all on equal footing learning it together. One of the guys in the band says that we are having more fun than we should be allowed at our age…that’s exactly how I feel!
October 8, 2021
Finally, the Bad Toupees return to the Halloween party trail with a real live dress-me-up party at the Hershey Italian Lodge. The Toupees used to rule Halloween. 1993 to 2003 were 10 years of major events, each one bigger and better than the last. Set decoration by Paul worthy of any Hollywood movie and costumes to rival any Broadway play!
Speaking of Paul he is our third interview on the new web site. Paul was a founding member of the Bad Toupees and beyond his vocal and guitar abilities he brought with him the largest and most animated and fun audience in the Boyd family that any band would be happy to have.
I had to come back to Hershey to do publicity for the Bad Toupees gig at a possible new location in Phoenixville named The Sound Bank. I took the opportunity to talk with Paul about the band over the years.
Paul Schroeder – Guitar – Vocals
We started last months chat with Doug back in his youth and his love for the Beach Boys, Chicago and Philly R&B. As a founding member of the Bad Toupees, let’s start at the beginning…the beginning of the band.
What’s your recollection of how the band got started? The band was born in late 1992. Toad and I, along with our spouses, had gathered at the home of mutual friends, drinking wine and singing along to rock and roll classics on my acoustic guitar. We reminisced about how much fun we had playing in bands in our youth. But by now, we had sold our equipment and were all “grown up” with careers and families. Anyway, somewhere between Stairway to Heaven and red wine being spilled on a nice white carpet, there were delusions (all fueled by more wine) of how much fun it would be to get together to “jam once a month.” Back at work the next week I get a call from Toad saying “guess what, I bought a drum kit”, and I thought, “holy crap” – game on. So, within a few days I found myself at the local music store buying a new electric guitar and amp.
How did you get from “jam session” to “real band?” Once we started jamming, several different guys came and went, but a core group of me, Toad, Kirk and Doug got into a rhythm. Once Kirk and Doug joined, we decided we needed a keyboard player for even more fun. We found out that Bo another guy with whom we worked played keys, so after some heavy persuading, Bo joined and we began hacking through a few classic rock tunes. We soon built a small repertoire of “somewhat passable” versions of songs we grew up with, so friends and family encouraged us to have a party. We concocted a Halloween costume party. By this time Bo had decided that our little monthly soirée should have a name, so he named us: The Bad Toupees and thus was born a band name and the first of ten themed Halloween parties, this one entitled, very creatively I might add “Night of the Living Toupees.” We didn’t have enough tunes for a full night, so we hired a DJ to help out. However, it turned out that everyone had a blast; a local booking agent was in attendance who wanted us for a couple of local clubs and so jamming went to full on band overnight.
I have heard that without the Boyd family in the early years the bands following might have been sparse. To what do you credit their support.
Nothing like inviting a large extended Irish family to your party – in fact, they “are the party”. They’ve always had our backs – the best, the greatest. This was evident starting with the first Halloween event, when my father-in-law, decked out in his disheveled Snowman costume, passed the hat through the crowd mid-way through the night to bail out the band so more beer kegs could be bought. (How cool was that?) The gang has been there from the very beginning and continue to come out to party and support our live performances.
What is the story behind “We love Paul” which has been reported to have been heard at every event the Toupees have ever played?
“I love you too!” What can I say – over the years I’ve come to know how Paul McCartney must have felt. It started out kind of like a parody of famous rock bands, not unlike Spinal Tap, but now it’s just something you expect to be blurted out and find yourself grinning when you know your family, friends, and followers are at your show. If I don’t hear it from the audience, I am sure to hear it from one of my band mates before an evening is over!
How did the band become a regional success story?
Wow, that sounds kind of lofty. If anything, I think we were in the right place at the right time. The late 1980’s and early 1990’s saw the advent of grunge and bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam among others. They are great bands with great music, but between the mosh pits and the volume and the lack of anything that sounded remotely like Van Morrison’s “Wild Night” among other songs in our set list…people our age were searching for something fun to do that took them back to their youth…and maybe, the Bad Toupees answered that call. It helped that we had a built-in crowd in the Boyd family and the support we got from the people we worked with and our friends was amazing! So, we acquired our own crowd of “Toupheads” who to this day will travel hundreds of miles a few times a year to party with the Bad Toupees. We’re pretty damn lucky!
How do you categorize the music you all choose to play?
When we started, and to this day, we run with the mantra of “is the song instantly recognizable?”, “is it danceable?” and, "can we even do it?" We generally try to run new tune suggestions through these filters and go from there. It certainly helps to have everyone in the band on board. While most of our material is from the classic rock era, we’ve been known to slip in more current stuff from time to time – heck, lately we’ve even played disco, and country!
What are some of your favorite memories of being in the Bad Toupees?
Where do I begin – there are so many. But there are several that stand out – having a local tv station record one of our Halloween party gigs and hearing from one of your out of town friends that “I saw you guys on tv!”, playing live on the biggest local rock radio station, having a reigning Miss America show up and party at one of our gigs, recording one of our Halloween performances and going into the studio to record original songs, resulting in two very cool CD’s, years of performing at the huge local “party with a purpose” Jammin’ for Jess fund raising events that helped raise over one million dollars – and there are many more but I’ll run out of space. My most favorite though is having the privilege to hang with a group of band members who are like family, and to bring a good time to all who come out to hear us.
The Bad Toupees have been together 28 years. What do you think is the secret to that longevity?
There are a few things that come to mind – friendship is first and foremost, we share a mutual respect for each other. We have common musical interests and tastes. Being in a band is really like being in a musical family – brothers and sisters who share a common love of music and the challenge of trying to cover all these great songs. Plus, it helps we don’t try to take ourselves too seriously. Most of all, it’s still a “goof” for us meaning we laugh and giggle a lot…maybe that’s why we’re still at it after all these years.
Anything you’d like to add?
Just that it’s been and continues to be, a great ride. An amazing mystical experience I don’t think any of us could have ever predicted. After 28 years we know there are more chapters behind us then in front of us, but we’ve played almost as much this year as we ever have in our existence. The two new kids in the band, Ashley and Bill, who have been with us now for three years, keep things fresh and keep me, Doug and Toad on our toes….so, as long as folks keep coming out to party with us, and we’re still having fun at the party, there are more chapters yet to write!
Editors Note: This is the fourth in my series of Toupee News stories for the Bad Toupees website. I’m spending more time at my home in Woody Creek. So writing is coming easier again! Hope you enjoy this “written word” and get on out to hear the Bad Toupees as soon as you can!! Keep watching for monthly updates!
-Hunter S. Thompson
Check out the Bad Toupees Facebook page and reach out to us for booking information!