Sass began in the
spring of 1976 when the West Brothers, Vernon and Dana, teamed
up with drummer Paul Caruso, and played their first gig at Paul
Revere Stadium in Revere, Massachusetts. As a power trio, they
developed a Power Pop sound before the genre even had a name,
with a unique blend of soaring sibling harmonies, thundering
bass and drums, and Dana’s amazing guitar work. This swiftly
took them out of their little seacoast blue-collar town of Revere,
and eventually led to their being a driving force in a thriving
Boston music scene that spawned The Cars, Aerosmith, the J.
Geils Band, The Stompers, The Fools and Boston, just to name
a few. Sass’s first appearance on vinyl was on the now
collector’s item LP, "Live at The Rat", a compilation
record recorded live in 1976 at Kenmore Square’s college
hot spot, The Rathskellar, or The Rat, as it came be known.
This led to the band spreading its base to play New York’s
famous CBGB’s and Max's Kansas City night clubs, while
still in their teens.
Sass cut their teeth
on high school auditoriums and gymnasiums, where the girls would
scream as they took the stage. The high school kids would rock
out to the band as they played their original power pop, peppered
with cover songs by everyone from Paul McCartney & Wings
to Jimi Hendrix and The Who. Everything seemed like a dream
until life threw the Brothers West their first knuckle ball.
Their Dad passed away.
After the smoke had cleared, Vernon and Dana began to dedicate
their music to their Dad, and when Vernon got a 4-year scholarship
to college, he passed it up to continue playing music with his
brother. They were making money, and when money was tight for
Mom and her boys since Dad's passing, that seemed like the thing
to do. Forging ahead, their music became even more passionate.
Then along came Disco.
Disco hit the music
world like a plague after the "Saturday Night Fever"
movie came to town. It seemed like every nightclub was playing
disco between their rock sets, and it got to the point that
even the DJ's would make smart-aleck remarks about "that
rock band" not being hip and cool by playing all that old-fashioned
rock and roll.
That's when they wrote "Radio"”
Playing an upstate New York nightclub they would do a 45-minute
set, and then the DJ would do 45-minutes of disco music between
their Rock. This, in and of itself, was no big deal. However,
this particular DJ took great pleasure in mocking their Rock
music and praising the disco he was spinning. Not to be undone,
Vernon and Dana came back with a satirical little ditty called
"Radio", a song that started with a disco beat, only
to be rocked out with definite rock and roll assertion as soon
as the guitar came tearing in.
"Too much Disco
been getting me down
It's been too long since Rock was the main sound
How much can a poor boy take?
Mister DJ gimme a break!
I tune my radio to you
All alone in my car,
White lines underneath the stars
On the turnpike with the best reception
I turn my knob it's a hot connection
I tune my radio to you"
They had no idea how
much this little song
was about to change their lives.
In the late summer of 1977, they found themselves playing a
little club at the top of the hill at the world-renowned Music
Inn in Lenox, Massachusetts, where, like a story right out of
a fairy tale, the next day they ended up opening the show for
Bonnie Raitt in front of 12,000 people! Fate or destiny had
smiled upon them! The Music Inn was a large, open air concert
stage that held concerts during the summer out in the beautiful
green mountains of Western Mass. Vernon happened to be backstage
talking to Bonnie Raitt, when the opening act failed to appear.
The promoter asked Bonnie if she could go on earlier and play
extra, but she couldn't. Instead, she said why not let Vernon's
band play? The next thing they knew, they hit the stage and
kicked off their set with “Radio” in front of 12,000
happy fans. It was one of the first times anyone had ever said,
'Disco Sucks' and backed it up with a song. Forty-five minutes
later when the smoke cleared and the set was over, Sass had
Arrived. They were a hit! The audience was theirs from that
moment on, and from that day on, wherever they played there
were lines around the block and crowds of enthusiastic fans.
Soon Sass found themselves in the studio recording "Radio".
Due to circumstances beyond their control, "Radio"
was unfortunately released to the local stations as a demo tape,
but nevertheless ended up breaking all the rules and becoming
a Number One song in the region! It literally exploded onto
the radio scene once WBCN, the Number 1 FM station in Boston
at the time, played it, getting more requests for 6 months than
"Freebird", in the summer of 1978. It stayed on top
in Boston right through to the next summer, and remained a fixture
in Boston radio till at least 1981. Sass followed it with "Treat
Me Right", "Closer and Closer", "Now She's
Free", and finally, "Johnny Beat the Big Machine".
They continued to make radio- friendly regional hits that were
getting regular rotation and airplay on major Boston radio stations.
Sass was now heading up a thriving Rock
scene in Boston that had the attention of the world at the time.
They even played an entire set of music on Boston's acclaimed
"Club" TV show on WGBH.
Only somehow it just wasn't meant to be. The seemingly impossible
happened to the band that everyone thought was destined for
greatness; the band that so many loved, that so many thought
would soon be rocking all over the world. Somehow they just
didn't get the breaks. In fact, they got all the worst breaks
from that point on. Anything that could befall a struggling
band happened. They found themselves locked into a restrictive
management deal with a nebulous nine-month "escape clause"
which kept delaying their attainment of a recording contract.
Their manager had personal problems and sold their music to
a disreputable label; they had all their equipment stolen;
the major labels that were interested had major layoffs, and
the people that loved them at the label were laid off. It
was the opposite of the great and wonderful dream that everything
had been before when Destiny Smiled. It soon became known
as the "Rude Awakening". Like hitting a brick wall
doing 100mph, Vernon and Dana were in a state of shock. They
tried to carry on, tried to continue gigging, to keep the
momentum going. Finally they decided to take some time off
And somehow, through the passage of time, Sass managed to
brothers, Vernon and Dana, felt they had a legacy to fulfill.
They kept on writing songs and playing. Although for a while,
they didn't even want the limelight, they kept writing and
playing for the simple love of it. In 1985, they found a house
gig at a small club named Bill Ash's in beautiful, scenic
Revere Beach. Under the new name of West, and together with
the new lineup of Gary Cioffi on drums and Chuck Vitale on
keyboards, they were playing powerful music in a little place
that enabled people to be as intimate with them as is humanly
possible. There, people would flock from all over New England
to hear Rock and Roll's best kept secret. They played there
almost every weekend from then on for almost four years. West
had found new inspiration and a new-found spiritual rejuvenation.
Their songs became "recipes for survival" that helped
a lot of people. Then in 1995, they released the CD "Sass
to West" a 19-track compilation record to follow up "Out
of The Ashes", which had been their first CD/EP release,
released in August of 1989.
lucky day, a man named Phillippe P. Rey came into Bill Ash's
all the way from Switzerland and proclaimed, "I believe
West will be the Next Big Band in the US, and I want you to
play my festival". So they went to Dubendorf, Switzerland
in August of 1995 to play "In Guitar", a festival
that featured Sonny Rollins from the U.S., along with ten
other acts representing the best guitar music from all around
the world. Sass played there and was well received.
There was talk of returning to play a European Tour.
they returned to the U.S., they continued playing the New
England clubs, and carried on until 1997, including gigs in
L.A. and a few gigs in N.Y., especially at CBGB's as an audition
for a major record company.
After that, the West brothers carried on doing some acoustic
duo gigs, and composed the sound track for a movie - an independent
film shot in Hollywood, called "Red Thread", for
which their music got singled out as a high point! They also
scored some television projects, and considered developing
that aspect of their craft even more.
And then came the families.
they had returned from Europe, and shortly after returning
to the circuit of gigs all around New England, it became necessary
to take some time off from the hectic touring schedule in
order to devote more time to being fathers and husbands. They
wanted to somehow find a way to integrate music into their
lives in a healthier way.
year turned into five or six, and suddenly the kids that once
were babies were now asking their fathers to play music again!
Then the songs themselves, also being their "children"
in a way, began to cry out from their resting place in the
recordings, saying that they too, didn't want to languish
in the world of the recording, but needed to flourish in the
light of day and be heard again in the world of men.
So Vernon and Dana began writing new songs, and started discussing
the possibility of putting something together soon. Their
own children kept telling them how much they and their friends
loved the songs. As they listened to their old songs, they
realized that they did deserve to live again. As this was
happening, Gary Cioffi, their drummer for so many good years,
called telling them how many people were asking him if they
would play again. Did they want to put together a reunion
show? "More than that", they replied, "Let's
play for another 20 years!"
that brings us to today - that little band from Revere called
Sass has now returned! The Brothers West have come to play again,
and this time, it’s serious! They not only want to play
for you, they want to play for the world. The music is just
as vibrant as it was when it was written 30 years ago. Then
there is all the music that was written throughout the 25 years
since - all of the many songs that were played for the select
few who could come to the little nightclub on Revere Beach,
or the nightclubs in New England. With the advent of the digital
age, Sass has found their conduit to the masses that will allow
them to avoid the snarls and entanglements of the the music
"business", bypassing the so-called record companies
and going directly to the people. Sass has finally found what
they have been praying for - a way to play their music only
for you. Ask anyone who has ever seen or heard Sass, and they
will tell you the same thing - it is an event that must be experienced,
and cannot be relegated to words alone.
Sass of today is comprised of Vernon West on bass and vocals,
Dana West on lead guitar and vocals, Gary Cioffi on drums and
percussion, and Charles Vitale on keyboards, guitars, and vocals.
They have fused back into the unit that shares the beating of
a single heart, and like only a handful of bands on the planet,
a single, multi-faceted soul that is the Face of Sass. Sometimes
spiritual, sometimes intensely emotional, always entertaining,
they are the epitome of what Rock music is all about - an experience
of pure, unadulterated joy.
return of the Brothers West in their original incarnation
as Sass corresponds with the 30th year anniversary of the
formation of Sass in 1976. Their first-ever reunion gig, and
the beginning of the new Sass Era, begins November 4, 2006,
when Sass takes the stage at the Paradise Lounge in Boston,
scene of so many past Sass gigs. Sass will be making their
first-ever appearance at the world-famous International Pop
Overthrow Festival, a music festival dedicated to presenting
the finest in power pop and melodic rock music on stages across
the USA and in Europe.
And so finally, Sass is back - in every way, shape, and form,
and they are back to play for YOU! The time is here, and the
time is now. The New Age of the Live Sass Experience begins
November 4, 2006 at the Paradise Lounge with their debut at
the IPO Festival. Let there be Rock! Let there be Pop! Let
there be Sass!