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Every story has a beginning…

Like all great rock bands in music history, Kasper started out working for the Welcome Wagon and playing wedding receptions. Right? Isn’t that how everyone begins?

This history of Kasper is certainly sketchy at best, due to the extreme old age of Kasper’s lead singer and lead historian. The dates are merely estimates, the crowds sizes will certainly be estimated on the heavier side, while the weights of the band members will skew to the lighter side.

Actually, Kasper was started in the summer of 1980 when a few friends got together and started playing music. Nancy Flandermyer (piano), Gary Black (vocals, guitar) and Jeff Klinedinst (vocals, drums) started playing together while they were all still in high school. The band tried on several names before they decided on Andromeda. This trio played church dances, wedding receptions and other events in the York Pennsylvania area.

When summer ended, and Jeff’s Senior, Nancy’s Junior and Gary’s first year of college began, the passion to continue playing didn’t stop and the band continued to practice. Eventually, the band took on new members Dave Gettys (vocals and drums), Dan Miller (vocals, trumpet, piano), and Tom Burger (Bass Guitar). The cast of characters leaned heavily toward Dover PA, as most of the members attended Dover High School, though Gary Black was a West York Bulldog.

This early video clip was provided by Mark King of www.affordablephotographybyking.com and showed the band at its high school best. Important Note: Don't judge Mark too harshly on this video...he was about 13 years old when he filmed it for us. The band practiced in Jeff’s Mom’s basement and the high school years were filled with laughter, fun and apparently bad haircuts.

The band secured a bunch of high school-type gigs, playing dances, parties and even a club established in Dover (a dry community) that catered to underage students. This was great until it was discovered that the owners were providing liquor to the students and the club was promptly shut down. Oops.

The Welcome Wagon, a local organization designed to welcome new folks to the area and also provide wedding needs (DJs, bands, cakes, flowers, etc.) came calling and Andromeda signed up. Though the members of Andromeda were kids, and had no real interest in playing the type of music associated with weddings, they took the jobs because it meant playing in front of people and also they gave you money. Of course, the results were usually not too pretty. Imagine celebrating your special day and having a bunch of 18 year old kids show up in spandex to play your wedding. There were some exceptions, but mostly, the whole wedding thing got ugly pretty fast.

In 1982, it was decided that the band needed a creative spark and Gary’s friend from high school, Mark Zearfoss was brought in to play a second guitar. Mark was a more experienced guitarist who believed that when you learned a song, you actually sat down with a tape, learned the parts correctly and practiced that way. Though Andromeda was playing a bunch of low-end gigs in public, this concept was brand new to them. The addition of Zearfoss improved the band dramatically from a musical standpoint.

It is also important to note that in this version of the band, owning spandex pants was a job requirement.

Eventually Black and Flandermyer left to pursue actual careers and the band replaced Black with Mark Ottermiller, the first outsider who made his way into Kasper. A little older and more experienced, Mark took the band under his wing and continued to teach them how to do things correctly. Dan Miller took over keyboard duties and again, the band was set to go…but only for a short time. At this time, it was Tom Burger who decided that the band should record something in the studio just to get their feet wet. They eventually decided to have a mobile recording company come to Jeff’s Mom’s house and record 2 songs. They recorded one of their first original songs Backstage Passes, which eventually was re-recorded and included on their first EP, and a cover song from Head East called Never Been Any Reason.

Ottermiller and Dan Miller both left the band and there were a few months of floundering as the remaining members, Zearfoss, Klinedinst, Burger and Gettys tried to pick up the pieces. Several talented guitarists spent a short time in Kasper…Brock Alexander and Mark Ruby to name a few. At this point, the band had Klinedinst and Gettys splitting duties on drums and singing lead, Zearfoss on guitar and Burger on Bass guitar. It was felt at the time that they needed both a rhythm guitarist and a keyboard player to replace the elements they had lost. There were numerous tryouts on guitar, but eventually the band decided on another homegrown product, Scott Kohler. He was self-taught on both keyboards and guitar and was a friend of Burger’s from the Dover High School Football team.

Again, split duties were discussed and it was decided that Kohler and Klinedinst would split duties on keyboards…thereby eliminating the need for an additional member. The band also decided to change the name to Future Pilot and began playing under that moniker.

At this point, the band decided to once again hit the recording studio. This time, they chose Turtle Beach Recordings in East York. The owner and chief engineer of Turtle Beach, Roy Smith had cut his teeth with Teddy Pendergrass, Patti Labelle and some other music icons in Philadelphia. In this session, the band recorded their first EP “Pilot Of The Future”. This included the 2nd studio recording of Backstage Passes, Anytime Anyplace, Yes I Do, Wasted Nights and Can’t You See. About the time the band was finishing in the studio, Roy introduced them to Jerry Duncan. Jerry was a local promoter who had just signed up Heavy Weight Champion Larry Holmes to a small recording contract. His new company, KnockOut Records was searching for a small project that they could get behind.

When Duncan heard Can’t You See, he felt it had sort of a poppy, catchy chorus that would do fine on the 45 he was planning to release. About this same time, Duncan and Future Pilot worked out a deal for Duncan to manage the band. At about this point, Dave Gettys was starting to feel like the direction the band was heading was not his cup of tea and he decided to leave. He almost immediately landed in a new local band that was looking for a singer. This band was Cheap Sneakers…still an incredibly popular band in the York, Lancaster, Harrisburg area.

Almost synchronous with Dave leaving was the introduction of Anne Gross as a drummer and vocalist. About halfway through singing her first audition tune, Anne had already made the band. She immediately took over most of the drumming and all of the background vocals in Future Pilot and really helped shape the vocal sound that is still part of the band today. She arrived just in time for Future Pilot to hit the road. And hit it they did. Zearfoss, Burger, Gross, Kohler and Klinedinst began the long and grueling process of becoming a full-time working band. As with most bands, this is when things really start to mesh. Future Pilot was playing clubs in Virginia, PA, Maryland, West Virginia and Delaware. What was once a “play every so often” project was now a 5 or 6 night a week affair. This really helped to dial in Future Pilot from a musical standpoint.

It was here that Future Pilot made some good friends in Jake Jones (of Valentine Sound), who was their full-time soundman and Dan Eckman, their full time light man.

This was a great time to be on the road and to be 22-25 years old. Not only did the band get much tighter musically, but also they became a real family. Probably performing somewhere in the neighborhood of 200-250 shows per year, the family still vacationed together each year. It was a tight bunch that today still makes each other laugh.

This schedule was not kind. Basically, you could not make enough money to live off of playing full time, so most band members also had part time jobs. Many nights, you would drive 2-3 hours, play a 3-4 hour show, then drive back home and get up for work the next day...only to be back in the car that night for the next show.

Can’t You See and Wasted nights were starting to get some limited airplay on local radio stations and crowds to see Future Pilot were starting to grow. Future Pilot was honored to play at York Aid, a 4 band show that raised money to help the poor…it was sort of a local Live Aid, but received news coverage, lots of local TV coverage and again helped Future Pilot’s name get out into the world.

But, change was again around the corner and Mark Zearfoss, the lead guitarist and vocalist announced his plans to leave the band. After quite a bit of positive momentum, Future Pilot was again at a crossroads. At this point, Tom Burger, one of the founding members again moved the band forward by suggesting a new CD, a new name, and a new direction for Future Pilot.

The band signed one of the top guitarists in the area at the time, Jeff Gibble and set to writing a new full-length recording. After months in the studio and with the band under wraps just as long putting together a new show, Kasper was born.

Once Kasper was launched, the band again took to the road and began playing a fairly grueling schedule. This version of the band was a little heavier, less danceable version. Kasper chose to eliminate the dance clubs that Future Pilot was playing in order to concentrate on a more pop rock sound that was being popularized by Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, White Snake and Journey. Kasper’s strength was in its big vocal sound, teamed with a solid rhythm section and with Gibble’s leads as the cherry on top.

Gibble announced plans to leave Kasper…actually each member of Kasper save Kohler and Klinedinst took turns leaving the band for greener pastures. At one point, with both Gross and Gibble gone, Klinedinst, Kohler, Gettys and Burger teamed with new guitarist Ken Geist and drummer Craig Gersh. This early 90s version of Kasper played a less challenging schedule and updated much of the cover material to a more modern 90s sound. As the popular music of the 80s, which Kasper cut their teeth on started to wane, Kasper tried to stay in step and continued playing.

Burger was the next member to take leave in order to form a band much closer to his true love…the blues. He started 3 Day Funk, who later released several CDs and played locally for several years.

Now, with only 2 original members, Klinedinst and Kohler teamed with Shane Krout on Bass and Bob Rigel on lead guitar to form the late 90s version of Kasper. But that version was short lived and Kohler and Klinedinst decided to end it gracefully. Both had small children and were more interested in being dads than they were in playing music.

Kasper reformed for 2 reunion shows…with most of the core intact. Kohler, Klinedinst, Burger, Gross Gettys and Geist performed at both shows and Gibble even came back for one of the shows to join the band on stage.

Finally, in 2009, the band began discussing a more permanent reunion. Klinedinst was writing songs and back in the studio with Roy Smith…the original producer of all of Kasper’s studio adventures. The new CD, titled No Apologies is set for release in 2011. Kasper is again playing live, with Klinedinst, Kohler, Gross, and Gettys reprising their roles in the band and Shane Krout returning to playing bass.

If you’ve never seen Kasper, be prepared for a wall of vocals, a steady rhythm unit lead by Anne Gross on drums and great guitar leads. The band plays an assortment of quality new music, old classics from the 80s and 90s as well as a taste of their original sound. It’s been a long and interesting road for Kasper…we’d love to have you come along for the ride.


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