Someone You Should Know: The Echomen

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - "The Echomen," a legendary band from Geneva, keeps coming back around. And the band's many fans keep turning up to see them.

This summer is no different as the members reunited again for shows in their hometown in late July and early August. The band is so beloved that Geneva declared Friday, August 3rd, to be "The Echomen" day as the original members played a show at the Ramada on Seneca Lake.

Steve Cocola and Jimmy Richmond were eighth graders when their love of music, and their desire to meet girls, led them to start the band in 1964.

"Jimmy and I both made the basketball team and both quit because we were in the band," says Cocola, who now lives in Florida.

Back then, the Beatles had just invaded, so a lot of kids were starting bands. But "The Echomen" really took off. They would play together through high school and for several years after.

"If we played in Newark or Lyons or Waterloo, wherever, all the high school kids would come to see us," says Richmond, also a member of Prime Time Funk.

Lead guitarist Gary Ventura remembers how being in the band made his high school years extra special.

"It was a big deal. It really was," Ventura says. "When you're 15 or 16-years-old walking around with 60 to $100 in your pocket!"

"The Echomen" all agree that another Geneva phenomenon, "Wilmer Alexander and The Dukes," was a major influence on them.

Richmond remembers he and other band members watching in awe as the band performed. "He taught me stuff that you can't get out of books. He taught me how how to read a crowd, how to work a song. We dressed like the Dukes, we did steps like the Dukes."

"The Echomen" took what they learned and brought it to a younger audience, who were not old enough to see "The Dukes" play in local clubs.

Eventually, the real world called. Jobs and families took priority over the band. But these members of the Geneva High School Class of 1970 still reunite every year.

And it all comes back to them.

"You hit that first note, and you're on your way," says bassist Jim Harrison. "The rest just comes back. It's like riding a bike."

And the people still come to listen.

"Fifty three years later," remarks keyboardist Don Damick, "we still like each other, still want to play together and still draw the crowd. It's magical."

Like an echo, "The Echomen" keep coming back around.

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