By Morgan James

212 Band has been rocking the Coachella Valley now for 5 years, playing a mix of classic rock tunes at various popular venues throughout the area. Boasting an accomplished group of musicians who work hard and play hard, 212 has been nominated for multiple awards locally and are always ready to take on whatever challenge a gig throws at them. 212 focuses on entertaining broad audiences which might just be why they have found success being one of THE go to cover bands in the last few years. I spoke with Michael Labrecque, Chuck Baum, and Allen Ash of 212 about where the band began and where it is headed in the future.

MJ: Tell me how 212 formed and the intention of your band?

ML: “212 Band formed to blend the flavor of classic rock dance music to the Coachella Valley’s diverse audience. We strive to reach the heart and soul of the audience if it be a touch of CCR, then move to a soft ballad, then make the music crescendo to a solid hard rock encore. The 212 band focuses on dance music from the classic rock genre which has expanded to a more modern feel and of course what party can be complete unless a touch of disco hasn’t been included?”

CB: “As for the history… 212 Band started when Jimmy, myself and drummer Buddy Greco left the Susan Oliver Band back in 2011. Mike and Lenny came on board sometime in 2013 and really took us to the next level. Lenny decided to resign two months ago due to work. Since that time, Allen has been working hard learning our material as well as adding new tunes (gotta keep things fresh).

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It is our intention to be one of, if not THE, best Classic Rock Cover Bands in the Coachella Valley. We were nominated twice for that title in the annual CV Music Awards, as well as in the Desert Sun Best of the Valley Awards.”

MJ: At what other accomplishments have you succeeded?

CB: “We have played all over Riverside County. We are also proud to announce that we are the only local band to be hired to open for some of the great tribute bands that play the Rock Yard at Fantasy Springs Casino.

Our goal for the future is to simply continue to entertain and rock the masses! We love the music scene in the Coachella Valley – and look forward to rocking for many years to come.”

ML: “The future is bright with many songs to add, venues to conquer and even expand into the art of making original music.”

MJ: Cumulatively, your band has a lot of experience. Please tell me a little bit about each band member’s musical experience and contribution to 212.

ML: “212 has had a few incarnations over the past 5 years with the main core consisting of Jimmy “Mystery” Thomas and Chuck Baum. Previous members have come and gone but their contributions will always been remembered and appreciated.

Jimmy “Mystery” Thomas (lead bass) returned to the valley in 2000 and by 2002 he was playing with a number of successful projects until he formed a lasting friendship with Chuck Baum and started 212.

Chuck Baum (lead guitar) has been a music guy all his life but got serious back in 2010 when he landed with the Susan Oliver Band, where he met his music bud Jimmy Thomas.
Michael “Mike Mike Motorbike” Labreque (lead vocalist) has been with 212 since early 2013. Chuck put out a feeler on Mike’s Bandmix page and Mike of course didn’t answer it for 2 months! Obviously once he did Chuck was gracious enough to allow him to audition and the rest is vocal history. Michael has been performing in the valley since 2004 with a few notable bands. He truly attempts to include the audience at any size venue that 212 performs- if the crowd is involved it truly becomes a party.

Allen “A-train” Ash (lead drums) is the new guy…”

AA: “Since I’m the FNG (friggin new guy) in the band, I’ll just answer this question about my musical experience. I’ve been playing drums since junior high school, starting in the marching band, marched a couple of seasons in youth band and Drum & Bugle Corps after high school. I took an extended break from drumming while establishing a career and family but reconnected with my passion about 10 years ago, playing drums at church and later starting my own bands “Reaction” and “Old Skool” here in the desert. I have also played with several Las Vegas and Southern California based bands. When I got the call to audition for 212 I was excited because I had known Mike and Jimmy for a couple of years and respected the band’s talent. It was a natural fit, kind of like putting on a favorite pair of jeans. We have great chemistry and I truly enjoy playing with these guys!”

MJ: What else would you like to include in the article?

ML: “Of course none of this would be possible without the support of our families. We also thank the continued support of the Coachella Valley live music scene. All the bands that are here truly are a family and look to support each other wherever possible.”

CB: “A special shout out to the ladies in our lives for putting up with this crazy, noisy hobby of ours! Thank you Lin, Diane, Karla and Kendra!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”