This is the history of the band.
In the late '70s and early '80s, guitarist Greg Van Allen played in the local classic rock band Ceramic Ant,
which later became Strange Brew.
In 1990, Greg reunited with Randy Brensinger, who used to be in both Ceramic Ant and Strange Brew,
to form the Critters.
For several years, the Critters were a duo.
Meanwhile, Bill Fox (bass) moved into the Lehigh Valley in 1992 and was discovered by Bob Ashmore (keyboards) at work. For years, Bob and his friend Andy Jasso (drums) had been trying to form a Progressive Rock and Progressive Jazz group for the express purpose of growing as musicians. With Bill in the mix, the band nearly took flight as ShadowPlay. But as often is the case, personnel problems arose and the band needed a new guitarist. So Bill invited Greg (they met at work, too!) to join the band. Finally, with John Vlot, another Strange Brew alumn on vocals, ShadowPlay had attained a critical mass of members who viewed things from mostly the same perspective and started playing some gigs around the Valley.
About this time, ShadowPlay found itself in need of a new lead vocalist. Although Rob Stewart filled in on some jobs that were already booked, he was unavailable to join as a regular band member. Enter Rod Gilkeson. He played one job with the band, but a few rehearsals later, Andy left ShadowPlay, putting the band into mothballs for about a year.
In early 1996, Bob was invited to sit in and add piano and synth parts to the Critter's acoustic sets. Like Bill, the addition of Bob's virtuoso keyboard skills and uncanny ability to get just the right sound, quickly made him a permanent Critter. The Critters "duo" now had four members.
In January, 1996, Bill played in the pit orchestra for the Pensylvania Playhouse production of Jesus Christ, Superstar. Rod played Judas and directed the musical. This is where Bill met Colleen O'Brian Jones (vocals) for the second time.
Bill had originally met Colleen in 1992 when he was in the pit orchestra for the MunOpCo production of Promises, Promises and Collen was the female lead on stage. Rod and Colleen had already known each other for many years, proving what a small world it is. At Superstar, Bill also met Jack Riddle (guitars) and Chuck Krasnov (drums).
In late 1996, Bill reformed
asking Bob, Greg, and Rod to return.
He also invited Colleen, Jack, and Chuck to complete the band.
This version of ShadowPlay kicked ass!
They quickly put together a three song demo cassette which was strong enough to get them a contract to play
at Musikfest 1997.
Their three hour show at the Bandstand drew a crowd of thousands, some of whom were husbands who abandoned
their wives for the duration of the Tom Jones concert next door at Kuhnsplatz.
Not too shabby for their first gig with this latest line-up.
After playing around the Valley, including Musikfest in 1998 at Americaplatz, the band called it quits in November, 1999.
Meanwhle, back at the Critters ranch, the band had fun working with several drummers over the years, and finally settled on Strange Brew drummer Bill Fenstermacher in 2002 as the band's permanent drummer. The Critters "duo" now had five members, making the Critters the largest duo in the universe! Finally in 2004, the Critters closed the barn door for good.
This time, it was Greg's turn to revive ShadowPlay, but this time with a twist. Although this version would still play top shelf music that other area bands generally avoided, the focus would shift more toward Classic Rock and a more dancable repertoire while maintaining the Progressive Rock nature of the band. Returning from ShadowPlay are Greg, Bob, Bill (Fox), and Rod. To replace the late Chuck Krasnov on drums, Greg invited fellow "Strange Critter Brewer" Bill Fenstermacher. With this leaner meaner line-up and new focus, a new name was needed. Say hello to PULSE. On May 3, 2005, PULSE made its first public appearance doing three songs at an open mic night at the Macungie Pub.
Rob Stewart, a long-time friend and workmate to several of the band members, was so impressed with PULSE, that he let it be known that he was interested in joining the band. After much discussion, it was decided that Rob's multifaceted musicianship would be a definite plus. With his abilities for soaring vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums, and percussion, he is perfect for opening new musical territory for the band. For Example, when Rob plays bass, it frees Bill (Fox) to play saxophone. It is this type of flexibility that the band values. Rob joined in October, 2005, making his first stage appearance in November. You can still hear Rob's contributions on some of the songs we recorded. Unfortunately, Rob's life dictated to him that he had to leave the band and we miss him.