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Cool Blue Sky was formed in 1988 by Andy (A. C.) Arnold and Jim Behrens. Andy is a poet and graduate of the University of New Hampshire while Jim is a guitarist with many years of experience in the Boston music scene with The Memos. Originally formed to write songs and see what direction it took them, CBS eventually became a live band with a set lineup.

The early stages of CBS found Andy and Jim writing and recording demos on an 8 track Tascam deck with the help of many friends and colleagues including former members of The Memos and Kangaroo Kourt. Most notably at this time was the contributions of Dana Schmitz, former lead singer of The Memos and Kangaroo Kourt who lent his voice to numerous tracks as well as his guitar skills. Another contributor in these early days was Glenn Aarlequew, drummer from Kangaroo Kourt who played on most of the earliest recordings. It was in this formative period that Andy and Jim decided that many of their songs required a female lead vocalist. Dana Schmitz brought in a singer that he and Jim had known from their early days together in The Memos. Dana Maguvero provided lead vocals on 3 tracks and also introduced them to Annie Smith, who would eventually become the full time lead singer for Cool Blue Sky.

After releasing a self titled cassette in 1989, CBS moved forward with Annie as the lead singer and recorded two new songs for radio release titled “You”/”Fire out of Control”. “You” was submitted to a songwriting “contest” being hosted by ASCAP and it was chosen as one of eight songs to be showcased at a live workshop in Boston. The song was warmly received by the audience and panelists. This led to an invitation to join ASCAP. “You” went on to receive airplay on WFNX in Boston. These earliest recordings were produced by Alex Rodriguez, former guitarist and bass player with The Memos.

It was at this time that CBS made a decision to also become a live band and begin playing clubs in the Boston area. The band was formed by using the current studio lineup of John Riccardi (formerly of Kangaroo Kourt and Slab & the Tablets) on bass, Mike Mears a veteran of many Merrimack Valley bands on drums and backing vocals and Aram Krausen a student at Berklee School of Music on keyboards. Their first gig was at “Grovers” in Beverly, MA to an enthusiastic crowd including many friends and family who had never heard the band play live.

CBS continued to record and went into Rick Asmega’s “Reel Adventures” studio and put down two tracks titled “Pitcher of Milk”/ (It isn’t) Fair for radio release. This was the first set of recordings done outside of the 8 Track unit all previous songs were recorded on. Rick was easy to work with and many other sessions were done throughout the years. During this time the band became a cohesive group and began collaborating together musically and lyrically with a combined vision for the future. One of these first collaborations was a song titled “Tomorrow” with lyrics by Annie and music by John and Jim and was recorded at a studio in Worcester, MA. Another piece of music created at this time was “Skin of the Flea” with music by Aram and lyrics by Andy. This was Aram’s first song written specifically for CBS.

Annie had to step away from CBS for a period of time to deal with medical issues affecting her voice. During that time Nancy Brock was brought in to take over the lead vocal spot. Nancy had been vocalist for a Boston band called “Agint 99”. She also wrote many of her own songs and the band tried to find the right niche but in the end the chemistry wasn’t right and they parted ways. It was during this time that Jim, John, Mike and Aram began to hit their stride as a band and were creating new interesting music for the future.

In 1993, Annie came back to the band but unfortunately Aram had moved on. Paul Palumbo joined the band as a second guitarist and 6 new songs were recorded as a demo. The reunion would be short lived as Jim and his family made a career decision to move to Sacramento in late 1993. CBS last gig was played at “The Grog” in Newburyport, MA. In the years since, the core members have kept in touch and have had a couple of reunion jams where many memories and songs were played again.


Playlist: Click on song titles to hear music by Cool Blue Sky

Happy May Day and mother’s Day and Memorial Day! This month we are going to go back to April and May of 1991 with some live performances from Necco place in Boston and Grover’s in Beverly, MA. These recordings were all lifted from a videotape so the fidelity isn’t mixing board quality but you knew that already. CBS was more than just a recording project, by this time we were a darn good live band with a set of strong material and at least two songs in our set had gotten or wee getting radio airplay at the time. It was therefore unfortunate that the gig at Grover’s was the last with the original lineup. Annie had to step away due to health problems and by the time she came back Aram was gone and things were never quite the same again.


Necco Place - April 1991

Modern Day Joan of Arc- I remember us all being very excited that Aram had played the solo really well and it really rounded out the song

You- this was the song that broke it open for us a little bit, radio airplay, good reviews and some positive feedback from ASCAP at a workshop.

Good Girl- While the recorded version is kind of soft( PR, Mike knows what that means) this live version was with electric guitar and full throttled when needed.

Pitcher of Milk- Our current radio release at the time and a very commercial chorus. People probably thought the song was called “Turning the tables of love” hmmm?

Fair- We were having fun on this and maybe just a little off key at the end but the feel was right.

Skin of the Flea- This was Aram and Andy’s newest song and another showing our new direction of collaboration.


Grover’s -May 1991

Pearl Grey- Our opener and dance favorite

Trapped Sky- one of our first songs as a band and crowd dance favorite, a little funky bluesy tune

Human Development- This was Andy and my latest original designed to give Annie a break with her voice. I had been listening to a lot of early 70’s Clapton at the time and there was some influence.

Tomorrow- This was a collaboration between Annie, John and me. Just kind of open space with the guitar so Aram could fill in the blanks completing the mood.

Shaving- Co-written by John and me with Andy’s lyric this was also a relatively new song. Maybe a month or two old.

Kissing- Probably one of our signature songs with a hook that we didn’t exploit to its fullest. This was the last song the five of us played together. We ad-libbed the ending so it was a little iffy coming back into the chorus.


Grover’s - This was our second gig at Grover’s. Alex had stopped playing with us and we replaced him briefly with a female backup singer named Lisa.

Fire out of Control- our first real collaboration from scratch with Annie

8 1/2 - written in 1987 this is an example of how we were still using some old material from previous bands when we first started.

Home in the City- off of our first tape we played it at normal speed on this night but also played it much slower on the one other occasion it was recorded in Worcester.

Pearl Grey- just because I like the “sax” solo Aram played. I had injured the 3rd finger on my left hand in a machine at work and even though I didn’t play many solos, Aram had them all this night.







Click on the links below to see the documents

ASCAP Songrwiting workshop. The song “You’ was one of 8 chosen out of over 100 entries.

ASCAP Membership letter.

First band bio

Second band bio

Third band bio

Original draft bio 1

Original draft bio 2

Good Girl

Kissing

(It isn’t) Fair

Pearl Grey