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The Banana Records Stable of Artists

The Leisure Set

The Leisure Set

The Leisure Set was the first artist to be released on the Banana label.  The first version of the band was actually two bands. High School friends Jim Butterfield and Bob Burford had both always wanted to release a record, and after they graduated from college they encouraged each other to do just that.  Not sure how to go about it, they decided to pool their resources and have each contribute one side to the 45. The problem was, they lived in two separate cities 250 miles apart.

Bob went about it the more conventional way, by gathering a group of friends and actually recording in a professional studio. Joining Bob on “There’s No Teardrops” were Mike Holeman on lead guitar, Bruce Ellis on drums, and Les Vincent on background vocals.

The other side of the double-plug single was Butterfield’s “That’s Enough”.  It features Jim on guitars, bass and vocals, which he recorded on his new toy, a TEAC 4-Track reel-to-reel in his Cleveland apartment.  La Farrell, vocalist of the band The Fondells, provided background vocals.  The drum tracks were recorded by Peter Bell (Luxus, Thunderbirds Are Go) in his newly-constructed Tube Layout Studios.

The resulting disc was a Christmas present to the world in 1982…..The first Banana Record!

After the success of that first single, Jim Butterfield decided to team up with some old friends to make The Leisure Set a “real” band.  La Farrell agreed to join the project as lead vocalist/keyboards along with Joe Klubert (Silverhorse) on bass and Chris Jacobs (Les Vincent & The Tree Toads) on drums.  This version of the band played the Cleveland club scene extensively over the next two years.  They released a 7” 45 in 1983 with “Eddie & His New Girlfriend” b/w “Over & Over”.  The disc was produced by longtime Butterfield friend Kevin McMahon (Lucky Pierre, Prick).  “Eddie” featured La on lead vocals and proved to be a club and local radio favorite.

Mark Nolan replaced Joe on bass in 1983, and the band continued to play the Cleveland club scene extensively before disbanding in 1984.  Toward the end of their run, Kevin McMahon joined the group as a second guitarist for a few gigs.

Here is a pair of videos made by the The Leisure Set at the height of their run!

There's No Teardrops

That's Enough

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The Butterfield 8

Butterfield 8

Butterfield 8 is the brainchild of Banana Records founder Jim Butterfield.  Using the same concept as John Lennon did with his “Plastic Ono Band”; Butterfield 8 is the “band” moniker for any musical project Jim Butterfield pursued after 1984. 

In 1984, Butterfield 8 released a 7’ 45 that was recorded in Jim’s Cleveland apartment and at Tube Layout Studios.  The record featured Eva Dilcue (The Generators, Bunji Jumpers) on lead vocals on one side, and Jim providing the lead vocals on the “B” side.  No longer performing live, Jim decided to move to New York City and try his luck in the big city.  It was there that Jim’s old friend, Kevin McMahon (Lucky Pierre, Prick) convinced Jim to return to Cleveland for a couple of weeks and record some of his ever-growing catalog of songs.  The result was the 5-song, 12” EP “Just Listen”.

Kevin produced “Just Listen”, and rounded up some of Cleveland’s best musicians to support Jim in the effort.  This version of Butterfield 8 included Rick Christyson on guitar, Dave Pichler on bass, and Dave Zima on drums.  Eva Dilcue and Les Vincent added backing vocals, and the band performed only once in support of the EP before Jim returned to NYC.

In 1987, Jim traveled to San Francisco, to Kevin McMahon’s Poolside Studio, where he and Kevin worked on 10 more Butterfield-penned tunes.  Eva Dilcue even joined them to lend her vocal support.  Things went awry in SF, and the 10 tunes were indefinitely shelved after two weeks in the studio.  Some of those songs eventually resurfaced in later Butterfield projects (including “Don’t Close That Door” by the Clifton Beat).  Unfortunately though, most of the songs were scrapped, and people in the Mab Zab/Banana community still refer to the San Francisco album as “The Travesty”.

In 1990, Jim was back in Cleveland and working with a new group of musicians.  The band played live occasionally under the Butterfield 8 moniker, and Jim had enough new material to return to the studio.  Having a number of studio sessions under his belt, he decided to try his hand at producing a full-length album himself.  The band that he assembled at Suma Recording Studios in Cleveland included the same lineup as the 1985 “Just Listen” EP.  “Euclid Ave” was released in 1990, and the band played together only once in support of it.  Jim was then summoned by The Big Banana to move his record label’s home to sunny Florida, and Butterfield 8 began a very long hiatus. 

Jim is currently working with Paul Nickels (Clifton Beat, Backdoor Men) at Paul’s Handsome Studios in Cleveland on a new Butterfield 8 album that is due out later in 2021.

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The Bunji Jumpers

Bunji Jumpers

Bunji Jumpers is a 2-person band consisting of former Generators Eva Dilcue and Jimmy Lee.  In 1985, when Eva and Jimmy decided to set out on their own, they turned to friend Jim Butterfield at Banana.  Jim had been a huge Generators fan for years and was happy to welcome Bunji Jumpers to the Banana roster.

Their first single “Brilliance!” b/w “Maybe?” highlighted Eva’s strong songwriting capabilities and was quickly followed up by the 4-song; 12” EP “A TWO Z”.  The Bunjis produced the EP along with Gary Mraz, who also produced Banana artist Jinni Fontana. It was recorded at SRO Studios in California.

Eva still lives in Cleveland, and can occasionally be heard at local clubs jamming with her old Generators buds.

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Kevin McMahon of Lucky Pierre
Lucky Pierre's Kevin McMahon

Lucky Pierre

Lucky Pierre was one of the most popular performing and recording bands in Cleveland in the 1980s.  Led by songwriter/singer Kevin McMahon, they released numerous singles on their own “Unadulterated” label before joining the Banana roster in 1984.

The first Lucky Pierre Banana release was 1984’s “Muchacha Latina Today” b/w “Birdman”.  Kevin played all of the instruments on this release, with Danielle Lawrence adding backing vocals, and Bear on trumpet.  Kevin spent most of his time during this period recording other artists at his Poolside Studio in San Francisco, but he continued to write.

In 1988 the band released a 12’; 5-song EP entitled “Communiqué”.  This record was Kevin’s last release on Banana before he assumed the Prick persona.  The disc features some of Kevin’s favorite musicians from his past, including John Guciardo, Leonard Marcel, Dave Zima, Denis Devito, Tom Lash and Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails).  The title song had been released in other versions by Kevin, but this version, featuring Tom Lash and Trent Reznor on backing vocals, is the definitive version.

Kevin McMahon currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Jinni Fontana

Jinni Fontana

In 1987, Jinni Fontana joined the Banana roster with her brilliant debut 12” 45 “The Game of Love”.  The title song became an instant hit at dance clubs internationally.  It was so popular that Banana released a follow-up 12” disc featuring four different dance mixes (for club use). 

The EP was produced by Jinni and Gary Mraz (who also produced Banana artists Bunji Jumpers). 

All of the tunes were written by Jinni.  Although the title song received the majority of the attention, the other three tunes are more indicative of Ms. Fontana’s songwriting prowess.  Jinni has won “Best Female Vocalist” Zabby Awards numerous times.

After living all around the country, Jinni is back in Cleveland and currently performs with the ultra-cool band Vanity Crash under the pseudonym Virginia Plain Crash.

Check out Vanity Crash on the net.  The band also features Cool Cleveland’s own Thomas Mulready who features high-quality and informative presentations on David Bowie, Punk, Glam Rock, et al. 

 

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