by Richard Pacheco

Beyond Blonde

Beyond Blonde

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There are some bands you can just listen to and there’s nothing lost. There are some bands you really need to see to experience their music—that’s Beyond Blonde.

So just how do you get the masterful mix of this musical jambalaya? The recipe is simplex, simple and complex, and it results in a spicy, saucy final sound.

They are a mix of wide influences, individually and as a group. But the result is pure original, blast of rock ‘n roll passion running wild. They started with a three person all female rock group, then called Firda, in April of 2002. Add a dash of smoking lead guitarist Bill “Suekey” Sukeforth (to add some testosterone) and you have the current mix. And what a mix it is.

Take Lisa Firda, lead singer, with her powerful soulful voice and magnetic stage presence. Born in Florida, she started writing at singing at 13. She taught herself voice and guitar, deftly putting the two together in a unique mix. It all seems so effortless and natural. Her rock and roll odyssey took her to Virginia Beach, Virginia and the influences of Pat Benatar, Heart, AC/DC, Journey and Chicago, among others. The rock and roll dream continued when she moved to Boston.

Lisa, in search of a drummer and bass player headed to an open jam at the Newport Blues Café, where she met up with Donna Compos.

Firda told her she loved her style, would she take a tape to listen to. The response was not exactly overly enthusiastic, but Compos took the tape. She did listen to it—twice. The music was contagious and she came onboard.
“Our personalities are unique,” Compos says. “ Our personalities are different, but we are all on the same page. We can laugh together, we can cry together, we can fight together, mostly it’s a lot of laughing. We do have a lot of fun. It’s like we’re family. That makes it cohesive.”
She finds the group unique in part for its make up of three women and one man, and the fact that they all have careers. And the combination makes for a special mix you just don’t see around anywhere. Yet playing with a group that does original songs creates it own challenges and rewards. With original songs, there is no guidepost of how to play the music, what to do to fit it all together with any kind of predetermined recipe.

Firda also spotted bass player Joyce Sampson playing at the Newport Blues Café. Firda liked her loads of experience and “bitchin" attitude.
Joyce Sampson joined the burgeoning group. Originally from Massillon, Ohio, she has played up and down the East Coast, Europe and Asia.

“ It’s probably the rockinest female band in existence since Heart,” Sampson says. “Early heart, not 1980’s Heart, early Heart. It’s got kick ass vocals and Lisa can sing circles around anybody I’ve heard on the radio. She kinda has the same kind of power as Janis Joplin and I’d eve go so far as to say Steve Marriott. We have fun. A lot of the bands right now have real strong angst and have been for about ten years. We’re not about that. We just have fun and it comes through. That’s what’s unique about it. We do a lot of benefits for cancer and alcohol abuse places, or against domestic violence. We’re not just trying to make four million dollars.”
She laughs, “Not that a couple million would be bad.”
Sampson says her influences are an eclectic blend of Mozart, Rachmaninoff, the Bachs, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and George Jones, Alphonso Johnson, and Jaco. And for good measure add in Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson, the Stones, Skynyrd, and Aerosmith’s first four albums.

The last one to come onboard is also the only male, Bill “Suekey” Sukeforth who joined the group in May of 2003. During his high school years he played with a local band called Flame. He got the rock and roll fever from the experience. That and an infatuation with Texas style blues and southern rock. Inspiration lead to relocation and he moved to Texas.

That was were the roots of his bluesy style guitar was born, in Houston. The experience brought him a load of guitar slinging jobs for a host of independent recording artists like August, the Rough Riders and a stint with the hard rocking Blown Free at ACA studios with the independent label, Excelsior Records.

It was the original music that drew him in to the band initially. “I’ve been in bands that played original music before, but it’s been a long time. I heard their material, and they were looking for a guitar player and I was very intrigued and so here I am.”

Their first CD, “Famous last Words,” was released in November of 2003.
Sampson says the band offers a groove-oriented, soulful rock and roll with a twist of funk, a funkier version of the now defunct Black Crowes. Musically, they trace their roots to Aerosmith, Marshall Tucker, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zepplin. There’s a classic rock flavor, southern rock funk and blues mix that will make you wanna get up and dance. The music drives thunders on as they give it there all onstage. They are having so much fun onstage, and it is contagious. You get swept away, put side your troubles for the moment, for the night and just enjoy the sight and sounds of them.
There are no gimmicks here. No dabbling with fancy light shows or anything which detracts from the music itself. It’s pure rock and roll energy.
“Our goal is to get to the next level that puts us into higher level clubs, higher level acts, getting into the national level and get our music out there on the radio” says Firda. “You play anywhere and everywhere ‘cause you never know who is going to show up. We also play a lot of fund-raisers and festivals for free. We believe in it. I had a friend who just passed away from brain cancer just after Christmas. He was the one who convinced me to go for it. He said Lisa you got a lot of it here in your head, you’ve got to get it out there and just do it. So I did a benefit for him and do a lot of benefits for cancer, as it’s something I believe in and so does the group.”
There is now the work on new material for a second CD. “It’s probably going to be another year or so as money is a huge factor. It costs a lot of money,” she says. A she points out, the time frame is not that unusual, a year between CD’s.

The band is also going to be filmed by a production company called One Time productions out of New York when they appear there later this month.
“They’ll be putting this on four or five stations in New York and New Jersey. Time Warner local cable channels 35 (Manhattan), 68 (Bronx & Brooklyn) and New Jersey channel 19 airing from May 1-22.” Firda says. “And we’re doing one in New Bedford and one for local Cox Cable, and we’re doing an acoustic show on WHJY the end of this month. It’s all happening right now. And there are plans to locally cablecast this stuff.”
If you want to catch this musical tidal wave live, you can at the Emergenza festival, which happens on April 16th at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston at 10:30, where they are ready to move on to the next level, round three, of this competition for American and European bands.