Stephen 'Doc' Kupka

ASK DOC - December, 2007

The Funky Doctor answers YOUR questions


From Doug Dandeno:

Doc, I was wondering if you had any plans to make a compilation CD of all your artists to sell for those of us living on the other side of the world. Although I have always loved everything you have on your label, a sampler may entice me to purchase more.

Thanks, Doug

Hi, Doug. We are planning to do a DVD featuring the "Best of Strokeland". That is a major undertaking, so it won't happen for at least another year. There is a possibility that at some point in the future we will do a compilation CD, but nothing is planned yet.


From Ron & Heidi Moore:

Hi Doc,

I check the tour calendar often, BUT as of yet, I see nothing for Boston or north of there! Back in the day, ToP played in Portland, Maine. Any chance of the band going back? Also, ToP didn't play Hampton Beach Casino last year. I am not crazy about that venue myself, but it is close for us Northeast Bumpsters to go to! Hope you cats make it back to Scullers in 2008, as this is a great venue -- intimate and all that! Hope your booking agent will be looking more at the upper Northeast, Does the band have any input on that? Thanks for all the joy you guys in Top bring to us fans!

Take care! Happy Holidays! Ron "Funkump" & Heidi Moore

If they book us, we will come. I personally love playing the northeast, so the more we can get there the better I like it. Incidentally, it's more about the buyers than our booking agents when it comes to booking dates. Thanks, Ron and Heidi.


From Joe Senft:

I have a simple question. When will the Tower of Power "old soul cover" album be released? I can't wait to hear it. Thanks.

Joe Senft

Hi, Joe. Tower of Power's CD is getting close to completion now. It should be out by the spring or summer of 2008. By the way -- there hasn't been a CD yet that has come out when originally intended, so my estimate is just a guess.


From Kerry Bruce:


This past summer there were a lot of huge music festivals around the world. What was the largest concert that TOP ever played and what were your memories of it?

P.S. I love the new DVD! When I received it I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Many thanks for all the great music for all those years.

Kerry Bruce, Baltimore, MD

The largest gig we ever played was opening for the Rolling Stones at the old baseball stadium in Cleveland in 1975. I felt like a true professional playing a show that big. It was over all too quickly. The largest venue we ever played was playing the half-time show with the USC marching band at the Rose Bowl, January 1st, 1974. My memory of that is that it was freezing cold, but a thrill being there. Thanks for writing, Kerry.


From Doug Allemang:


Thanks for the great reply on the history of the hat. I don't mean to monopolize your emailbag, but have you, or anyone else associated the band, ever thought about making available versions of TOP tunes (or even an entire album) minus one instrument so that those of us TOP wannabees who play along with your records could have our own gap to fill? There's only about 8 million of us out here who would love to live out our fantasies and improve our chops by filling in the "missing piece" with the greatest band of all time.

I'm thinking: TOP minus drums. TOP minus keyboards. TOP minus bass guitar. TOP minus (gasp!) bari. I've got my checkbook ready.

Thanks, Doug Allemang

Hi, Doug. We are doing what you suggested for "Bumped Up to First Class" through / Please check their website to find out about availability. This is an exciting new digital way to get music. As for Tower of Power, as of yet, I have heard of no plans to do this. And keep that checkbook ready. there will be lots of new Strokeland things coming up in the future.

[For the first time ever, in collaboration with, Strokeland is now offering individual tracks for "Bumped Up to First Class" to musicians and music producers and any interested party. For more information, visit - Ed.]

From a recent press release: "Representing a music industry first,, has built the first ecommerce engine to store, access, sell, and relicense the individual tracks for each song."

"As part of our launch, House of Hansen Productions, LLC, in association with Strokeland Records, is unveiling the first ever CD to make available all songs and associated tracks -- Bumped Up To First Class. Just released and eligible for Grammy consideration, Bumped Up To First Class represents the music industry's first CD offering digital downloads of all its Songs and Individual Tracks."


From Sanford G. Thatcher, PhD:

Dear Doc,

As someone from your own generation (I was born in 1943) who got into playing music as a drummer with jazz and rock groups around the Princeton, NJ, area in the late 1960s, I have been a ToP fan from the beginning and probably have seen the group perform live more than three dozen times in venues all over the country including once in Princeton's own Jadwin Gymnasium. I regularly attend the dual performance you have with AWB at the Keswick Theater each April.

You ought to check out a relatively new venue right here in State College called the State Theatre: It has been a great success since it opened at the end of 2006. Seating is just over 500, and it has great acoustics. It would be a perfect stopping place for ToP in between gigs in, say, Pittsburgh and Glenside. I hope you'll consider it.


It is very encouraging to me as a fan of big-band, horn-driven music to see such groups proliferate again. Mingo Fishtrap is another favorite of mine in this genre. As you know all too well, ToP is one of the few survivors of the 1970s era when there were plenty of such groups. Besides Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago, I think of Ten Wheel Drive (with Genya Ravan as lead singer), Chase, The Second Coming, Lighthouse, Seawind, Dreams (which featured Billy Cobham on drums and the Brecker Brothers on horns), and especially Cold Blood (with Lydia Pense as lead singer) whose recent revival was very good news indeed. I recall that ToP shared some personnel (like Mic Gillette) with Cold Blood in the early years, and I know that you have been working with Lydia on Strokeland projects. What a terrific singer she was and still is!

I recently purchased ToP's DVD, and I hope the group will put out more such DVDs. I've never understood why the DVD format hasn't been used more by musicians. I also bought Mingo Fishtrap's DVD, which I discovered through the Strokeland site. If there are videos of older concerts lying around, I urge you to consider putting out more in this format. I have one of a vintage 1970s performance by AWB.


Anyway, keep up the good work. I hope when I'm in a nursing home, you and Emilio and Dave and Rocco will still be out there on stage "diggin' on James Brown"!

Cheers, Sandy

Sanford G. Thatcher
Director, Penn State Press

I have alerted our booking agent that we have fans in your area and I would like to play there. That's all I can do, but I've done it.

When I was in high school in 1964, the Berkeley High School marching band represented Penn State when they played Cal and I remember that Joe Paterno, who was an assistant coach at the time, sent a thank-you letter to our band, which meant a lot to us and I've never forgotten it. I've had a place in my heart for Penn State ever since. Thanks, Sandy.



As always, thanks taking the time to write. We can use more great questions for next month, so keep them coming.

Until next month,


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