Twenty years ago Dale Pequignot decided that it would be cool to start a band and play at parties in the Fort Wayne area. His brother-in-law, Dave Patton, along with Mike Hockaday, became the charter members. Starting at a recreation hall next to a scrap yard, the Junk Yard Band was born. At first, a few fill in instrumentalists helped to fill in the sound, but when Bob Sweigert came on board – the band began to play on. Twenty years and several band members later, the Junk Yard Band has been voted the Number 1 Rock Band by the Journal-Gazettes Readers Choice Award every year since 2003. And every year Dale Pequignot has been with the band and loving every minute of play. Here is Dale stepping out and answering questions about the band, his career, and his love of music:
ABS) How did your musical career begin?
DP) In the ’60s, when I was in high school, I wanted to be a rock ‘n roll drummer. I was not interested in playing the music the school band played. So I watched drummers in rock ‘n roll bands. I realized they played the ride cymbal or the high-hat cymbals with their right hand at a fast speed and the snare drum with their left hand at a slower speed. And of course the right foot was working the bass drum pedal and the left foot was on the high-hat pedal. Not owning any drums, I intensely practiced these rhythms by tapping my desk in school. I did not make noise or disrupt the class. I simply mastered making both my hands go at different speeds simultaneously. When I got to college, I suddenly found myself hanging around guys from all over the country and they had their guitars and amps with them. We sat around playing songs and after a while we finally said, “If only we had some drums we’d have a band!” That was it. The next day I drove to a music store and bought some drums, loaded them into my ’56 chevy and we started a band. We were called the Relcknees. Not because I’m some great singer, but only because I could sing stronger than the other guys, I also became the lead singer. So there I was, playing the drums and singing. What a blast. I always thought playing sports was the most fun I ever had but playing in the band topped that.
ABS) How did the Junk Yard Band begin?
DP) After college, the Relcknees broke up because everyone started their “real” careers and went their different ways. In the mid ’70’s I met Mike Hockaday. He was a guitar player and part of a duo with a girl doing small acoustic gigs. It was the height of the disco era and there were no rock bands playing anywhere in Fort Wayne. Mike and I wanted to play some rock ‘n roll! So we recruited my brother-in-law, Dave Patton and a mutual friend, Dave Ruddick and we started playing. Eventually we rented a reception hall on Freeman St. in Fort Wayne and threw a big party and it exploded from there. After that first event we threw another party and another. There were a lot of people eager to hear the music we were playing. (There were no classic rock or oldies radio stations in those days and disco was king.) The reception hall was right next to a junk yard, so our parties became known as Junk Yard Parties and we became the Junk Yard Band. Dave Ruddick moved to Connecticut and we had a series of other players in and out of the band. But when Bob Sweigert joined the band we really crystallized. We started accepting job offers and our music career started.
ABS) Who were the original members and how many are still with the band?
DP) When we started accepting job offers the line up was: Dale Pequignot – drums, lead vocals. Mike Hockaday – rhythm guitar, vocals, sometimes keyboard, sax. Dave Patton – lead guitar, vocals. Bob Sweigert – bass, vocals, sometimes keyboard. After 14 years of playing drums, Don Miles took over for me and I concentrated on lead vocals only. After 20 years, my brother-in-law retired. He was replaced by Kenny Rucoi. Mike had to move to Wisconsin to take care of his parents so Rick Brown joined the band playing sax, keyboards, and guitar.
At the 25 year mark, Bob Sweigert left and Mike, who had returned from Wisconsin, rejoined the band playing bass. Bob continues to be our booking agent and is still involved with JYB. Kenny was replaced by Greg Reszel in 2005. So, Mike and I are the two original members still with the band. The current lineup is: Dale Pequignot – lead vocals. Mike Hockaday – bass, vocals. Don Miles, drums, vocals. Rick Brown, sax, keyboards, guitar, vocals. Greg Reszel, lead guitar, vocals. Our light and sound guys are Jim Robison and Roger Moore.
ABS) Name 1 or 2 of your proudest moments with the band?
DP) There are many proud moments. Being named “Best Band’ by the Journal-Gazette readers the last three or four years in a row. Being on WXKE – Rock 104’s FORT WAYNE ROCKS album. Playing for some of Fort Wayne’s most prestigious events (huge radio station New Year’s events and Fort Wayne Bicentennial Celebration.) Eleven years as a 3 Rivers Festival headliner. Opening for national acts such as Three Dog Night, Starship, the Guess Who, etc. Knowing we’ve helped charitable causes. Selling out venues and seeing so many happy people. These are all very proud moments.
ABS) Have you ever thought of quitting?
DP) No. I have never thought of quitting. It is too much fun.
ABS) What do you enjoy most about the band?
DP) Just playing all that great music. The complete physicalness of it. I love singing my heart out and hearing all the other guys singing and playing their parts and having everything come together. I love being wrapped around by that sound. The icing on the cake is seeing so many people respond and having a good time enjoying what we are doing…..and getting paid to do it.
ABS) What do you do besides play great music?
DP) I am a huge movie fan. My love for film goes back to silent films and everything in between. I love film history and am fascinated by the production end of filmmaking. I’m also a Fort Wayne Komets fan. GO KOMETS!
ABS) What gig has been your favorite of all time?
DP) There are so many gigs that I love – big and small. One standout for sure is playing at Cold Springs at Hamilton Lake. It is a huge dancehall with a rich history and we’ve played every June, July and August there for about 18 years. The hall is packed every time and the crowds are rowdy. It is definitely a rock ‘n roll event every time we play there.
ABS) Who has been your strongest musical influence and why?
DP) Each member has their own musical influences. MY strongest musical influence has always been the Beach Boys, more specifically Brian Wilson. My earliest influences were Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis for their pounding, driving rhythms. But when the Beach Boys took those rhythms and added those swirling vocal harmonies, it took me to the moon. Most people are familiar with the Beach Boys’ hits….but I love all their stuff…..their albums and more obscure material. That music is quite complex as many film documentaries attest.
ABS) Is there anything you would like to add about your career, the Junk Yard Band, or life in general?
DP) I never dreamed I would be rockin’ out this many years. I’ve got my eyes on Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger. I’m younger that those guys and as long as they’re still going, I’m going to be there too.
Dale Pequignot is obviously still in love with music, and rock ‘n’ roll and from the way the Fort Wayne music audience feels about Dale and The Junk Yard Band -he will probably be rockin’ out for many years to come. But, Dale – and other members of the JYB attest to the fact that a great love for music and great music itself is the attraction for all audience members. Twenty years of rock and roll, numerous awards, and abundant appearances later – and the band is still playing on.
The website. www.geocities.com/junk-yard-band The Junk Yard Band Hotline for booking is 260-471-9828