Okay, where does it start...? Let's pick a year. How about... 1984! It was a
very good book and a very good year as well because that is the year that
four rejects from the 70's band Cirkus decided that there actually was LIFE
after sex, drugs and Rock & Roll. Well... there was life after sex and drugs
anyway. That LIFE was and is called Streetkar, and the Rock & Roll has
Streetkar was formed by Lane Sewell, Don Melton, Ron Naramore and David
Hulsey. Although among themselves they had the voices to get by, they knew
they needed someone to handle the weight of the main lead vocals so Tim
Dodgen was invited to join them. Tim was a good blues vocalist and a hell of
a good harp player. These guys started jamming, but the jobs just weren't
coming their way so David suggested that they start playing "oldies".
At that time there was really only one band on the local scene playing that
style of music. With that knowledge Streetkar started working up a lot of 50's
and 60's music with a little 70's thrown in for good measure. It didn't take long
before the word got out and Streetkar started playing a few more gigs here
and there. It was a good time for all but in 1986, Tim decided to leave the
For a couple of years they kept it a foursome. They picked up gigs here and
there playing for Customized Van Club reunions, Elk Clubs and the like. In
1988 Barry Graham joined the band as lead vocalist and Streetkar seemed to
have found its voice. With Barry's great voice in the lead spot the band really
took off. The band started picking up some of the more exclusive country
club gigs and corporate parties, as well as becoming a staple at some local
clubs like Smokey Joe's and The Ox.
Today, only Lane and David remain from that fateful and fortunate time. Don
Melton (bass) and Ron Naramore (guitar and keyboards) left the band in
1994. In that same year Gary Neighbors took over the bass duties, while
John Morris came in to fill the keyboard void and play a little guitar on the
side. This presents us with most of what Streetkar is today.
As a side note, John and Gary have a bit of pre-history with this line up as
well. Back in 1976 there was a little band called Tower. John and Gary were
the respective keyboard guy and bassist for that band. Not only that, but
David was the drummer and Barry was the lead singer with Michael Hill
working sound. More on that later. Over the course of a couple of years
personnel changed and the aforementioned Don Melton became the bass
player for Tower and he brought Lane into the band with him. Now you can
see what is developing here... Tower morphed into what became Cirkus...
which is where this story began.
Okay... Now on with that story... !
One night in 1997, Streetkar was performing at The Superior Grill when in
walked none other than Michael Mershon Hill. Now first you have to realize
that Mike actually has a long history with the current Streetkar lineup as well.
This is the guy who worked sound and generally got things done in both
Tower and Cirkus. I guess you could say he's another reject from the 70's
like the rest of us. Anyway, prior to Mike showing up that night, Gary had
been doing a pretty good job taking care of the sound mix. Especially when
you consider that he was playing bass, singing backup vocals, walking out
front to determine that things didn't sound quite right, walking back to the
stage to turn a couple of knobs on the console just in time to sing a couple
more harmony lines. The fact that the lead guitarist was threatening to cut his
paycheck because he couldn't hear himself just added to the joy. All this
changed that night because that was the night that Mike Hill rejoined the
Rock 'n Roll ranks.
Barry continued to carry the lead vocals for a few years, but in 2000 he
moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi. Barry tried to continue working with the
band, but the commute just was too long and eventually he had to leave the
band.At this point Streetkar knew that good singers that you could get by with
were a dime a dozen, but Barry had set a pretty high standard. Enter Skip
With big shoes to fill, Skip stepped right into those shoes and became an
absolutely awesome addition to the band. As one of the best pure Rock 'n
Roll singers in the area, Skip certainly helped carry Streetkar forward to what
it has become today.
During Skip's break in period, Streetkar knew they needed some help and
since they also knew that Mike, yes the sound guy, had some singing
experience they asked him to fill in on some lead vocals. Not only did he fill
in, he went WAY beyond the call of duty. To this day, Mike's voice is an
integral part of the Streetkar sound both as a lead vocalist, and as a harmony
singer on almost everything else. He is also the guy who usually talks
between the songs mainly because we simply can't shut him up! Must have
come from his past DJ experience. That was plenty okay with the rest of the
band because nobody else liked to talk anyway.
Skip was great, but after a couple of years it became clear that Skip was
pretty much bigger than Streetkar, so he got married and left to start his own
all-star Rock 'n Roll band in 2002. Streetkar knew that Skip was good and
they were pretty sure he could handle being the main attraction. Be that as it
may, Streetkar went about its own business of finding another lead singer.
Enter James Clark.
It is a rare moment when a man who can sing the phonebook comes to work
with a little Rock 'n Roll band in Birmingham, Alabama. Fortunately for
Streetkar, that singer also lived in Birmingham, Alabama. James showed up
for his first gig at Inverness Country Club and absolutely knocked everyone's
socks off!. Since then, it has been one accolade after another. Streetkar
always knew they had the instrumental parts down, but for the first time they
had a singer who could sing absolutely anything, in absolutely any style you
might want it.
Finally, Streetkar was complete! Guitar, bass, drums, keyboards,
soundman/vocalist and a great lead singer. What else could a band need?
Well, here is the kicker...... One day we got a call from a man who had seen
us perform at the Gardendale civic center for a concert in 2012. He said he
loved our sound and wanted to hire Streetkar to
play for a private party he was having in celebration of his 50th birthday,
however, he had one stipulation, he wanted a saxophone in addition to the
instrumentation we already had! We told him that we'd never had a sax with
the band before and really didn't know anyone who played well enough to fit
in with Streetkar's style of music! "Well", he said, "I know a saxophone player
who is very good and I think would fit perfectly with your band! His name is
Danny Fravel and if everyone agrees to it, I want him to play with Streetkar at
Well, needless to say, we were all a bit skeptical about letting someone just
come in with no rehearsals and play
with us! After all, we had been together for quite awhile and our
arrangements had undergone a lot of honing,tweaking and fine tuning over
the years. If this sax player isn't as good as the man thinks he is, it could
mean disaster for our sound and potentially hurt our reputation! So, after
doing a little research and learning that Danny Fravel had been around for
awhile and was not a newcomer to the music business. Everyone in the band
discussed it, and even though we were still skeptical decided to give it a go.
Danny Fravel showed up for the gig, introduced himself and broke out his
horn. Just listening to him warm up sounded promising, but still, we weren't
sure how he would fit in with our arrangements. Well, by the time the evening
was over, we were all sold! It was like Danny had always been with us. The
sax added another dimension to the band that we were missing. He has been
a permanent member of the Streetkar family ever since!
Well they say that everything that's old is new again, and so it is with
Streetkar. After 17 glorious years old of wowing audiences everywhere,
James Clark decided it was time to move on. Needless to say these were
huge shoes to fill. After a 20 year absence we are very fortunate to have our
original singer Barry Graham rejoin Streetkar!
How could Lane and David have ever known that the little band they started
way back in 1984 would not only survive, but thrive beyond anyone's
expectations. Like I said earlier, 1984 WAS a good book, but an even better
To all of those who have followed Streetkar for the last 35 years, a great big
THANK YOU, and we hope to see you soon!
While Streetkar occasionally books itself throught this website, they are also
represented by Perfect Events.