By Lisa Morgan
There isn’t a band around that hasn’t had to face the drama of personnel changes. Bands are very much like families. They work together to create something really cool, and when it works, there’s nothing better. But like family members, people move or change jobs, temporarily upsetting the perfect balance they all created together. Some bands never come back from a major personnel change. But some bands, like 212, create a whole new dynamic that is absolutely a joy to see and hear.
According to Mike Gustin, owner of MTG Studios, and Christine, his partner in crime, “212 is a good cover band fronted by a solid male vocalist. They are a group of talented musicians that play a good variety of songs that work real well with Mike the lead vocalist (i.e. Bad Company, Zeppelin etc.) They have good chemistry, good stage presence, a solid sound and a good rhythm section. They are probably my favorite, all guy cover band now! Not to mention, they are all real cool guys. The recent member changes are a definite improvement in my opinion.”
For the first time, 212 are fronted by a male vocalist. Michael “The Voice” Labrecque hails from the northern parts of Vermont. He was raised on heavy doses of early rock n roll with the likes of Aerosmith and ZZ TOP, just to name a few. He sang right along with them, loud and clear until his mom screamed at him to “turn that racket down!” It’s quite obvious by his vocal strength, that little Michael was not exactly “an obedient child”. When he moved to California back in the summer of ’95, he dazzled karaoke audiences, but soon got tired of waiting in line to sing. So he joined The Bone Yard Dogs, playing throughout the Inland Empire and the Coachella Valley, thrilling huge crowds at biker weekend events at the famed Kickstand in Palm Springs. Michael then joined the LA band Without Warning from which he still maintains a loyal following. Today, he is the voice to the power trio 212! A power trio with power vocals – how does that not work! Michael truly fell into this spot by a pure stroke of luck. Chuck Baum, one of the original members of the band, still scratches his head wondering out loud, “How does one not read an email for 3 weeks and still get the gig?” Michael has an awesome wife and 3 kids that support his music addiction. The band is very grateful that they allow him to come out and play with the boys as often as they do!
Leonard Colvin II has been playing drums and percussion for over 35 years. “I had my first set of drums at the age of 5. I learned to read drum music in elementary school. I continued playing all the way through high school where I was involved in concert band and jazz band. I was the first sophomore to be a snare section leader for the sweepstakes-winning, marching band at Pacific High School in San Bernardino.”
Now let me stop here for a moment. If the term “band geek” is popping into your mind, let me point something out to you: How many football players in high school are still playing football and getting chicks? That’s right! NONE! But you can pretty much guess that those “band geeks” are still rockin and gettin the girl.
At the age of 18, this highly intelligent “band geek” moved out to Los Angeles to study with the private instructor, Doug Mathews. “Doug not only taught me to improve my playing ability, but more importantly, taught me how to have a professional attitude. After spending 5 years in Los Angeles, I decided to go out on the road to play country music in various states across the country. After 4 years of that, I decided to join a top 40 band. We played several casinos in Las Vegas, Laughlin and Reno, Nevada; it was a great experience that I will never regret.” For the past 15 years, Doug has played with a variety of different bands in Southern California. “Now that I am playing with 212, I’m being pushed even more to continue improving my drumming ability. I seriously look forward to playing with these guys for a long time.”
A Southern California native, Jimmy Thomas grew up in a family of musicians. Mom, Laura, was a pianist and dad, George, was a jazz vocalist. Jimmy got his own start in music in the third grade with brass wind instruments. He too continued to play through his high school years in band. He received his first bass guitar in the 6th grade, and from that point forward, it has been his main passion. Jimmy played in several garage bands. In high school, he co-founded the band Chaser, a classic rock cover band local to Sunnymead, CA. After graduating high school, Jimmy worked with a Riverside band, touring the Los Angeles and Orange County music scenes. They were the opening band on many big stages throughout California, Nevada and Arizona. As the story goes for many musicians, the treacherous “day job” eventually took over and Jimmy had to put music on the back burner. It’s common knowledge, that once you are bitten by the music bug, you can never stay away for long. After relocating back to the desert in 2000, Jimmy got bit by the music bug once again and by 2002, was scratching that itch with a vengeance. He was out in the local music scene playing in several bands, gigging at the Tack Room Tavern, O’Leary’s Pub, The Red Barn, Augustine Casino, Rock Yard at Fantasy Springs Casino, and Palm Desert Country Club. When Jimmy and Chuck met in 2011, they set out to put together a hot-rockin’ band – the band we now know and love, called Two Twelve/212.
Chuck Baum…. what to say about Chuck Baum. Well I can tell you this much from my own personal experience. EVERYBODY loves Chuck. He has to be one of the most likeable guys in the industry. Chuck started playing guitar at age 11. “The first real band I played in was called Orion Trooper. I started with them right as I turned 15 (my freshman year in high school). We played a lot of school dances and private parties. The next band I started was called Back Pages. I played with these guys until the end of my sophomore year. Shortly after that, I met some local musicians and started a band called Emanon (which is “no name” backwards – weren’t we creative!) This was a much bigger and professional band than the others. We played a lot of bars and nightclubs in Chicago and Wisconsin. But once I went to college, my musical career pretty much ended. Between 1982 and 2010 I would just gig with different bands as the opportunities allowed. In March of 2010, I decided to pick up the guitar again and get back to some serious playing. Shortly after, I found myself as lead guitarist for the Suzanne
Oliver Band. In December of 2011 I moved on from SOB to form a new band called Two Twelve/212 (which by the way is the boiling point of water). We have gone through quite a few incarnations with this group, but think we have actually landed on the perfect recipe. I’m hoping that this band will take us back into playing casinos and larger venues. In the past year I have had the privilege of playing with Jeff Beck, Paul Stanley, and Lita Ford. I am really enjoying getting back into my music! Jimmy and I are ecstatic to have our two new members on board. We are ready to kick ass and take names!”
212 will be doing just that at the following venues:
May 25 Grubstakes Days in Yucca Valley
June 1 The Tack Room Tavern
June 7 The Red Barn
Follow 212 on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TwoTwelveBand