Introducing The Band

Jan Van Couver – Lead Vocals

Ohio native Jan Van Couver first received minor attention in the late ‘70s as part of the band Cincinnati Sunset. However, it was a 1980 demo tape on which he sang that became his unexpected career boost. He cut the demo of “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”, a Barry Mann/Carole Bayer Sager composition that was being delivered to Al Jarreau for possible inclusion on Jarreau’s landmark album “Lip’Sync”. Jarreau not only liked the song, he liked the singer on the tape and invited Van Couver to provide the vocals to both “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” and “One Hundred Ways (To Love You)” on “Lip’Sync”. Of course, “Lip’Sync” became an international smash and both Van Couver cuts rocketed up the adult contemporary charts, ultimately landing Van Couver a Grammy Award for best MOR vocal performance.

Van Couver’s debut album, “Talk to My Heart”, was released to great anticipation, and it didn’t disappoint. Led off by the Michael McDonald-esque smash hit “Our Love…(That’s Why)”, ‘Heart’ was perhaps the best album of the early Fall of 1983 and boasted the most strained ballad of that year, “(Sometimes) The Hardest Way, Is The Only Way To Your Heart”. Most of that album was also included on Van Couver’s 1995 greatest hits disc, “Just Van Couver”, which is an essential album for every waistcoat-wearing music lover the world over.

The next decade saw Van Couver work predominantly in the world of film soundtracks. During this time he struck up a solid and uninspired working relationship with euro synthesiser pioneer, Jan Hammer. The pair churned out cinematic sound-scapes at a staggering rate but remain best remembered for their more rudimentary work on the Oscar nominated movies: “Cop and a Half”, “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot” and “Silence of the Lambs”.

Van Couver’s own solo career tailed off somewhat in the ‘90s due to misguided promotional direction and an ill-judged comment about Gregory Hines on the “Arsenio Hall” show in 1992. Despite this, Van Couver continued to write chart material for stars such as Kenny G, Curtis Stigers and Shanice throughout the decade. After a six year hiatus, Van Couver released “Forever Van Couver: The Complete Works” in 1999, which included re-recordings of some of his biggest hits along with some lesser new material. He also appeared as a guest vocalist on Jim Messina’s “That Time of Year” holiday album in 2001.

Van Couver has continued to provide guest vocals for a number of artists and has been a regular participant in cable TV telethons since 2002. He’s recently written a children’s musical based on the life of dancer Debbie Allen called “Nite-Moves” and intends to write a follow up with Pat Benatar in between present commitments. It’s this flexibility that recently led Marty Break to admit that when was looking for someone to carry his new stage show – Spring Break – the only man in the running was Van Couver.

Carmichael Anthony Thomas St. Hall – Bass, Vocals and Saxophone

Born one of the seven children of prominent Baptist Preacher, Thomas Anthony Thomas St. Hall on December 25 1961 in Philadelphia PA, Carmichael Anthony Thomas St Hall and his family moved to San Diego CA, when he was four years old to perform as a jazz dance troupe. Thomas St. Hall began playing the cello in the junior high school orchestra when he was in the seventh grade. When he was 14, he switched to bass guitar, inspired by his older brother’s mastery of the instrument. He began playing for local church groups and folk masses with his brothers.

The young bassist began playing in his high school’s jazz ensemble, marching band, choir, chorus, and pep band. Thomas St. Hall went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music from University of California at San Diego. He was starting to work on a master’s degree when instructor Stanislov Turetzky suggested that he already had enough education and that it was time for him to go to Los Angeles to try and start a lucrative music career.

While getting involved with the San Diego club and studio scene, Al Jarreau caught wind of the young St Hall’s unique take on the Kansas City Walking Bass construction and contacted him to play on his album “Lip’Sync”. This would result not just in critical acclaim but also his introduction to a young Jan Van Couver. As Thomas St. Hall’s reputation grew on the L.A. session scene, so did his job calls. From that point on, he worked consistently. He did sessions for Lionel Richie, Kenny Loggins and Lou Gramm. He toured with Loggins and with keyboardist Wally Wilson and drummer Telly Butterfield as part of Bette Midler’s late-’80s band.

It was on this tour that Thomas St. Hall began a romantic relationship – that he would later call the “ride of his life” – with Midler. The early ‘90s saw Thomas St. Hall-Midler quit the road for a life of settled domestic bliss with his flame-haired muse in Santa Monica. Thomas St. Hall-Midler’s participation in the recording of Billboard hits also petered out during this period with the notable exception of his arrangement of and fret-work on Jon Secada’s smash “Just Another Day”.

His protracted divorce from Midler in the late ‘90s took an emotional toll however and resulted in the bass legend throwing himself headlong back into what he does best; playing inoffensive bass lines on fretless guitars. Thomas St. Hall recently developed his own Yamaha Signature Series bass guitar that is available in musical instrument stores. He also has an instructional VHS video, Contemporary Electric Bass and, of course, has found a new lease of life playing with a group he claims have him “blowing his top all over again”: Spring Break.

Hilton Burbank – Keyboards, Piano, Programming and Vocals

Though born in Detroit, Hilton Burbank relocated to Los Angeles, where he has been among the city’s most prolific session musicians for over 25 years. A solo artist, producer, and composer who enjoyed success in both the secular and CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) arenas, Hilton Burbank first surfaced during the early ’70s as a top session keyboardist, playing on albums by artists ranging from Emerson, Lake and Palmer to Yes to Loggins & Messina before making his solo debut with 1976’s solo, “A Night at the Hilton” album.

“A Night at the Hilton” went on to win 3 Grammys that year – including best vocoded scat – in the instrumental electro-jazz category which ran for a short time in the mid to late ‘70s. The category itself was seen as a tip of the cap to Burbank whose spatial, synthesised textures and lyrical flirtation with existential and metaphysical themes were so unique as to redefine the parameters of genre identification. Amazingly Burbank’s follow up in 1978, “Take that to the ‘Bank” – which features art work as controversial today as it was upon its release – was an even bigger commercial and critical success than its predecessor.

It was around this time that Burbank established himself as more than just a songwriter and musician as he moved away from the avant-garde domain he himself had created. He quickly graduated to the top ranks of producers through his work with singer/songwriter Christopher Cross, collaborating on a series of hits including the Grammy winning “Sailing”, “Ride like the Wind”, and “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)”. It was through his work with Cross that Burbank first jammed with an up and coming session guitarist called Kendrick Berrera.

Burbank continued to work extensively as a session musician throughout the ‘80s and is credited with introducing Harold Faltemeyer to his friend and fan, Steven Berkoff. It was at Berkoff’s insistence that Faltemeyer’s song “Axel F” was used as the theme to the sensational Eddie Murphy, racial role reversal romp, “Beverly Hills Cop”.

The following year – 1985 – was a significant one both personally and professionally for Burbank as it was in January of ’85 that he was infamously asked to leave the recording of “We are the World” when Berrera, Billy Joel and Huey Lewis accused him of not leaving his ego at the door and also of stealing Kenny Rogers’ can of Tab cola. Though Burbank refuted the allegations he found work hard to come by over the next decade and a half.

During this period Burbank earned an income mainly from sound effects work for TV shows and minor sci-fi movies. He wrote a still to be performed opera, “Cyberlife: The Cosmic Ballet”, with his ex-wife Belinda Kinkle in 2000. Last year saw Burbank reconcile his differences with Berrera when they played together for the first time in 20 years in aid of the SMLA Trust – an association set up to help Los Angeles’ session musicians who have fallen on hard times. That night is widely regarded as the rebirth of Hilton Burbank who now plays with Berrera full time in Spring Break.

Jim Break – Keyboards, Vocals and Percussion

Younger brother of renowned drummer Marty Break, Jim Break was born in Hartford Connecticut at the tail end of the Indian summer of 1960. Being the son of legendary composer and conductor Stan Break, he got a taste of great musicianship at an early age as he practically grew up in Hollywood’s recording studios in the ‘60s after the Break family relocated there in ’62.

Jim, the youngest member of the musical family, first became enamoured with drums after watching Hal Meyer play on a session for the Sting Rays. Father Stan decided that one drummer was enough for any family however and persuaded his son to pursue keyboards rather than drums. Break took his father’s advice but also received tutelage from percussion player Philippe Benitez whenever the celebrated Cuban was in town.

Break immediately began to develop an unusual style on the keyboards and it is one that still has critics, fans and musicologists alike searching for an apt description to this day. He himself refers to his playing style as: “like the last day of school man – anything fuckin’ goes, you know?” Break found himself in favour as a session man in the mid to late ‘70s when he was still a teenager, as his ability on both keys and percussion meant only one man had to get paid instead of two.

Though his ability was never in question it is widely believed Break never truly realised his potential due to a mixture of unreliability and attitude. On the occasions he actually did turn up for recording sessions he was always late and often drunk or high. In one instance he tried to assault Carly Simon during the recording of “Nobody does it Better”, when Simon refused to arm wrestle him for money. His brother Marty was playing drums on the session and was so appalled by his siblings’ behaviour that he didn’t speak to him for over 20 years.

Because of his personal problems – alcoholism, drug dependence and a string of failed marriages – for which he never blamed himself, Break found big time jobs hard to come by from the early ‘80s onwards. He turned to writing music for pornographic films throughout the decade in an effort to make ends meet and once attempted to perform in one adult movie but got involved in a punch up with the leading ‘actress’ before the cameras even started rolling.

Break quit music in the early ‘90s and became a New York City cab driver. This ended with a short stint in prison in 1997 however when he had his licence revoked for driving under the influence of narcotics. It is believed that Break lived on the streets of Cleveland for a period after his release though he neither confirms nor denies this.

Break has turned his life around since entering rehab at the insistence of a North Dakotan court in 2002. A recent reconciliation with his brother Marty has led to him returning to the music business with Spring Break after a 15 year absence.

Kendrick Berrera – Guitars

Kendrick Berrera was born in 1961 in Oakland, California. He spent the first few years of his childhood in a camper with the rest of his family following his musician father, Bobby “Yogi” Berrera, from gig to gig until finally settling in Sacramento, where his father was a musician in the house band of a local club.

As a child, he first took tap-dance lessons and, aged ten, finished second to a rock band in a local talent competition. This caused him to give music a look. The first musical instrument he played was violin, followed by trombone and acoustic guitar.

At 16, Berrera and some friends formed a rock band called Hot Touch. They later switched to country-rock and changed their name to The Easy Feels. They had quite a following in the northern California area, opening for such acts as Peter Frampton, Three Dog Night and Grand Funk Railroad. The Easy Feels released their only album, “Gentle on My Mind”, in 1978 and split soon after in the face the album’s muted reception.

Berrera immediately fell into high profile work however, replacing Timothy B. Schmit in Poco when Schmit left to join The Eagles. This led to Berrera doing some session work with Glen Campbell. That gig came to an abrupt end though when he openly criticised Campbell’s lifestyle choices at the time. Downcast, Berrera relocated to New York and a short stint with the Saturday Night Live house band. It was here that he first met Christopher Cross and began a highly successful period of session work with the doleful singer/songwriter.

Berrera has flourished in the field of session work and his credits include performing on more than 100 gold albums. His theme music credits for TV and films include “Against All Odds”, “Who’s the Boss”, “Hill Street Blues”, “the Golden Girls” and “Alf”. The latter was a theme he composed with Hilton Burbank. Though not credited on the record, it is widely believed to be true that Berrera contributed the line, “That a change will only come, when we stand together as one” to “We Are the World”.

While working on the soundtrack to “Three Men and a Little Lady”, Berrera was the victim of a random gun attack whilst onstage with the Bangles at the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd in 1990*. The bullet shattered his vocal cord and caused significant nerve trauma, but through intensive therapy and a positive frame of mind Berrera recovered to continue to thrill music fans the world over with his shrewd, no-frills approach to guitar playing which is now back where it belongs: centre-stage beside Burbank’s bank of synths.

*Despite the attack, Berrera remains a full member of the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) and frequently lobbies congress on their behalf.

Randall Break – Drums, Chimes and Badminton Lessons

Randall Break is best known for being one of the most popular drummers of the hugely influential west coast, sports-jazz movement of the late 70s/early 80s. Together with fellow stickmen, Joel Ibarra, Richie Hernandez and Duffy Jones, Break was instrumental in developing the genre which used the rhythms inherent in the bourgeois racquet sports at which the group of friends excelled, to power Carola Fishman’s seminal nouveau-jazz rap arrangements.

But let’s rewind some twenty odd years. Randall Break was born in the small Victorian village of Eureka Springs, Arkansas in 1959. Set in the picturesque Ozark Mountains on the north-west corner of America’s 25th state, Eureka Springs was most famous for its white concrete statue of Jesus known as the “Christ of the Ozarks”. It was next door to this garish monument, in the Thorncrown Chapel, that young Randall Break first began his lifelong love affair with drums, percussion and unabated Christian fundamentalism. Every Saturday evening, from the age of 8, Break would play the drums in the band that performed during the weekly Passion Play: he would never look back.

Randall Break relocated to Hollywood in 1975, at the age of 16, in a bid to gain work as a session musician in the local area. Randall moved in with his uncle, renowned musician and arranger Stan Break, and it was not long before his devoted relative immediately changed the eager drummer’s life by introducing him to William “Boz” Scaggs. Scaggs liked Break’s hunger and hired him and the then unknown musicians Mike and Steve Porcaro to play on his forthcoming album “Silk Degrees”. The album reached number 2 on the US charts and number 1 in a number of countries across the world. Break had arrived, and a succession of high profile drumming jobs started to come his way.

Over the course of the next three years Randall Break played on hit records by George Benson, Ambrosia, Exile, Kenny Loggins and Player to name but a few. It was a chance meeting with fellow studio drummer Joel Ibarra however, in the Del Rey Marina and Country Club in the Fall of 1978, that was the defining moment in Break’s career. The two colleagues discussed their shared musical and spirtual beliefs during one of the most famous tied-games of racquetball in the club’s history.

Sports-jazz (SJ) was born that day and the pair’s place in musical history was assured. What followed were what seemed like endless years of ‘SJ’ seminars and workshops. Eventually Break had enough of this endless grind and retreated from the music business in 1986. It was also in this year that Break married Gladys Knight and moved to Detroit, where he opened the state of the art Motor City School of Badminton for Underprivileged Children.

After writing “Licence To Kill” for his wife in 1989, Break became the head of doping control for the American Badminton Federation. Break’s son, Vernel, carried the American flag into the arena at the Atlanta Summer Games of 1996, and also led the mixed pairs Badminton team to gold. In the winter of 2005, Randall Break finally relented and agreed to play with Spring Break after months of impassioned pleas from his long-time estranged cousin Jim Break.

Marty Break – Drums and Percussion

Born in Hartford Connecticut in 1958 Marty Break never had visions of being the world’s most in demand drummer – things just panned out that way. He didn’t believe in putting that kind of immense pressure to succeed on himself. And even though drums have shaped and moulded virtually every facet of his present life, he’s never once been controlled by them.

Lessons came initially from his father Stan at age seven and further studies with Dirk Zimmitti and Kirkpatrick Dunlop instilled in Break an impeccable sense of rhythm as well as a versatility that bridged virtually every style. Upon leaving high school, Break was offered a scholarship in percussion and drums at UCLA and progressed through his studies at a rate that astounded his faculty who had become acutely aware that in their hands was the rarest of talents; a measured sticksman who blended an unerringly metrical pulse with an ornate finesse.

Requests for Break’s services as a session man came in abundance long before he completed his studies and before he left college he was earning more than some of his lecturers for his supple workouts on records by Joe Cocker, Jackson Browne, Boz Scaggs and Manhattan Transfer. For many producers and arrangers of the time, Break became their “go to” man – the man to call when, quite simply, no one else was up to the task.

In 1981 Break teamed up with his brother Jim and childhood friends Manny Verplank, DeRossi Morehampton, Art Sugarman and Fritz Schwartz under the moniker Nile and released the album “Tears of the Sphinx”. Although the album wasn’t a great commercial success it was an industry hit and its pseudo-African rhythms and instrumentation were to be heard in the chart hits of many of their contemporaries for years to come.

Break continued to find himself in gainful employment over the course of the next 20 years and played on albums by artists and bands such as Starship, Hall & Oates, Boy Meets Girl, Foreigner, Don Henley, Pat Benatar, Glen Frey, Kenny Loggins, the Pointer Sisters, Jennifer Warnes, Irene Cara, Bruce Springsteen and Lionel Richie. Break was also the drummer in the resident band for the ill-fated ‘Chevy Chase Show’ and was, by Chase’s own admission, a rock for the funny man when the project collapsed like a house of cards around him in double time.

In 2004 Break was approached by legendary promoter Tomas Arbusto to put together a band to play some of the hits he had played on during the course of his glittering career. With a contacts book full of the heaviest hitting musicians for hire in the business, Break made the calls that presently see Spring Break packing auditoriums from coast to coast.