Entertainment » Vol. 2

The Stymonsters

The Hardest Working Band in [Local] Show Biz
By Shelly Schweizer

The Stymonsters at Greendale’s Pub

The Stymonsters at Greendale’s Pub

Dave Ducat and John Doherty of The Stymonsters have been rocking Worcester and its suburbs for close to 30 years. Their band plays a mixture of original material and covers of songs by their favorite bands and artists: Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Bob Marley and the Wailers and The Grateful Dead.

From their birth in a Northborough barn to their still-rocking present, The Stymonsters are one of the hardest working local bands in the business. And they’ll keep at it as long as they’re still having fun.

The Stymonster’s guitarist and vocalist Dave Ducat got his first guitar during the British Invasion.

“I started playing guitar when I was 14 or 15, when the Beatles came out…I got a guitar, my bother got a set of drums. Another friend had a guitar and we would play together as teenagers,” Ducat explained.

The Stymonsters were literally born in a manger.
“What happened was me, my brother and a friend of ours, Bobby, whose nickname was Piggy Bob, we got together and we used to practice in his barn. We did over one of the rooms in the barn, put in a wood stove and insulated it so we could practice year ‘round. On the other side of the barn were pigs and sheep and chickens. We were kind of laughing one night and called ourselves the Stymonsters because we were playing in [the barn] with all the other animals,” recalled Ducat. “Actually, our original name was Piggy Bob and the Stymonsters.”
Bass player and vocalist John Doherty soon joined the fray. Ducat spied a bass guitar at Doherty’s house and asked, “Do you play that?”

“He said, ’Sure!’ He became the bass player for The Stymonsters. We’ve been playing together since, because I wrote the first song I ever wrote [“Some Day”] during the Blizzard of ’78, so it’s been 30 years,” said Ducat.

“We still play that out,” added Doherty.

The band has written close to 30 original songs over the years, many of which are still performed live at their shows.

The Stymonsters at Greendale’s Pub

The Stymonsters at Greendale’s Pub

Their first gigs outside of the barn were at house parties and bar rooms in Northborough. During the late 70s and 80s they ventured out to Worcester.

“We played Sir Morgan’s [now The Lucky Dog], Ralph’s ~ a lot of the smaller bars and venues that didn’t cater to bands much but we managed to wiggle our way in there once in a while to play.” said Doherty.

For years, the band held residence at the now shuttered Blue Plate in Holden. Lately, the Stymonsters have been doing a monthly gig at Greendale’s Pub in Worcester, and still play lots of house parties and annual bashes. They have a self-produced CD, “Live at Greendale’s Pub” in the works.

The band has been in its current incarnation for the past five years or so.

“[Vocalist] Jim Carlson, he’s been with us almost 25 years. John Murphy, [on guitar and vocals] 25 years off and on. Barry Paul, [lead guitarist and former member of Worcester’s Slipknot, a Grateful Dead cover band] about 10 to 12 years. [Drummer] Joe Bonardi, about a year. He’s the new guy, “said Ducat.

And of course, Piggy Bob Murphy still sits in and sings.

In their mid-fifties, they’re “…married, divorced, widowed, everything,” said Doherty.
“All kinds of things,” added Ducat.

Although they’re both juggling families and day jobs, they have no intention of hanging up their guitars. Doherty says that for him, playing in the band is a release. Ducat cites his love of live music ~ both playing it and listening to it ~ as his reason for still rocking in his fifties.

The band practices weekly, generally playing out one night a month at Greendale’s Pub or another venue [they recently played at the Hotel Vernon] and perhaps another gig or a house party, and keep it to that.

“More than that, then it begins to sound like work,” Doherty said with a grin.

Playing a four hour gig takes an eight hour day, from set-up to breakdown, and moving around heavy equipment takes its toll.

“It gets to be brutal on the bod after a while,” Doherty laughed.

“And that’s after a day of work, and then the next day, you’ve got to go to work, too,” added Ducat.

So are they planning on quitting their rock and roll fantasy anytime soon?

“Nah,” laughed Ducat and Doherty, in unison.

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