Glenn Schwartz, Gene Schwartz & Dennis Chandler Together Again

” Dennis Chandler playing keyboards and guitar with bassist Gene Schwartz (Fat Fish Blue in Cleveland, Ohio.

Plus an added insight as to how we met … in Septemeber 2012 … our first Argentine Friends … the band called, “The Kavanaghs”. (more about them later)  

Back to about the reunion of Dennis and Glenn Schwartz. That occured at Cleveland’s “Beachland Ballroom & Tavern”. There at the Tavern … it never is a surprise what can happen. Or is it when these musicians play? Why I say that?  One never knows who will be in the audience … or … who will be onstage … playing whatever genre music. It was The Schwartz Brothers, In Deed, so to speak. For example … back on on Sept. 20, 2012 … it was announced by Beachland owner Cindy Barber that “Glenn Schwartz decided to sit this one out”, (due to fingers swollen by arthritis). She then suggested that … “The Schwartz Brothers Band should still do the gigs … but as a trio”. “Not a problem”, said SBB bassist Gene Schwartz aka Geno Gene Schwartz. 

Why? Because both Gene Schwartz and keyboardist Dennis Chandler had performed many times together before this current chapter of “Glenn & Den Together Again” (as the Schwartz Brothers Band gigs had been called). And Den absolutley loved ace drummer Paul O’Brien’s playing.

Think of it … they all played together one time or another with Robert Lockwood’s band aka Robert “Jr” Lockwood.

For example … at the ’74 Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival. Here is “Robert Jr. Lockwood” bandmember Dennis Chandler, (keyboards & guitar) shown with his boss, teacher, mentor … “Dad” Lockwood. Not in the shot is bassist Gene Schwartz who of course was on this tour, too. (FYI, back in the day. RJL preferred to be billed as “Robert Jr. Lockwood”). Either way … What a Light.

Sense a theme going here? Since September 2011, it was “Glenn & Den Together Again” with Gene and Paul, too. Then in September 2012, it was “Gene & Den Together Again” with Paul, too.

Back to who might be … in the audience? Who might be … invited onstage … to sit in? Well, on that night of 9/20/12 (when Glenn was not up to playing due to those swollen knuckles) … a young band from ARGENTINA called “THE KAVANAGHS” walked into the Beachland Tavern. They had come to check out the venue. Their upcoming booking there was the following Sunday night. Den invited them up onstage … to sit in … figuring it was a chance for them to check out the sound … sight lines, etc. They did. Then they started to play. What fun it was. After the jamin’… the jawin’ …  talkin’ theory. Then they all wished one another goodnight and said they would see us again soon. They did.

We attended their Sunday concert. It was an eye-opener. Such deep passion this band had … which was only briefly hinted at … the night they sat in with Dennis.

SO impressive were these very special, young, gifted musicians. They care about good melodic music … past, present and future. Plus they care about the ones who made it and still make it.

TKB’s manager, Martin Boutonnet Donati, Beachland owner Cindy Barber, TKB bandmember Aljandro Pin, musician Dennis Chandler after TKB’s first concert on their USA tour.

After a most successful concert, it was felt that the fun fellowships should be furthered along. They were. And that some conversations needed to be continued. They were … for over 4 hours … mixed in a Musciale, of sorts. But, dawn was almost up on the horizon and there was a long ride to Chicago ahead for these guys. As they left … we Chandlers affectionately addressed them as the “Lads from Argentina”. 

Everyone lamented the quick passing of time and then made a promise …”To be continued!” All said they look forward to another Musicale. Another Salon. They’ll just have to start earlier. That’s how much music they all have in them! TKB, it is with much thanks for sharing that prayers are being offered up for continued success and for another USA tour. In the meanwhile … check them out online … on their website

Back to about the SCHWARTZ BROTHERS BAND:  “The Austin Film Festival” was one possible venue from what the movie camera folks were talking about. That was while they were filming SBB during that year of those Glenn & Den Together Again gigs (at the Beachland in Collinwood and also at Hoopples in Cleveland’s Flats).

Gene Schwartz is the one to look to for answers to questions about all this filming and recording of Glenn Schwartz… or.. better yet ask Beachland owner Barber. And yes, one night two movie cameras at Beachland captured the entire night; with close-ups of dear Glenn (who didn’t mind at all). Now, you don’t have to take anyone’s word for what JOY there was in those gigs… wait until “the movie comes out”. Or you could ask those who were there… including CINDY BARBER (who was there every time the Schwartz Brothers Band played)… Or… you can check out those YOU TUBE posts put up by Glennites…

Now about how far back the history goes in reference to these Glenn and Den Together Again gigs..  
GLENN & DEN: Here’s a bit of that history … and why these “brothers” have many local folks looking forward to seeing them play together again. Both were friends from their childhood days (of growing up in the Collinwood/ Euclid area of Cleveland, Ohio).  Both were bandmates in their youth, in their band called THE PILGRIMS. They, along with drummer RON HARKAI and the late PETE DRAGAS on bass became a popular regional band in the ’60s.

Then when THE PILGRIMS started playing around the DETROIT/ WINDSOR area; they were asked to serve as RADIO POWERHOUSE CKLW’s HOUSEBAND. Those Detroit days made BANDLEADER DENNIS learn how to “stand and deliver”, so to speak. (More background is on a “Detailed Bio” page. Plus there is a page titled “The Pilgrims”).

As for GLENN SCHWARTZ… he too kept growing. He soared in his artistic approach on guitar (and that’s when Den dubbed him “Glenn Guitar.. A gift from God”.) The band’s growing popularity saw The Pilgrims-as-houseband not only open; but also play backup to many then-new musical acts; that later became musical legends. Why? The powers-that-be at HITSVILLE and later MOTOWN were booking via CKLW. Program Director DAVE SHAFFER ran some of the things for the band. Perhaps he’d be the one to recall which sold-out concert venues had the PILGRIMS and the ROLLING STONES on the same bill; one had them as opening act for RS. (Dennis thinks it was COBO HALL; but, there were so many whirlwind happenings…) By the way, another media friendship started from back in those days was with DUKE WINDSOR. Dennis first met him at CKLW. Then they re-connected in Cleveland when he went onair here as LARRY MORROW aka “The Duker” . What a Light.

What happened to the Pilgrims next? A couple of untimely served draft notices caused them to disband, pardon the pun. Thus that promised “contract for THE PILGRIMS to be the first white band signed to MOTOWN“… went unsigned.Dennis Chandler in Army fatigues for basic training at Ft. Knox.

When they returned to Cleveland after their stints in the military, they briefly reformed THE PILGRIMS. Then a version was this band called THE BEAT RATS. One of their first bookings? The Grand Opening of DIAMOND JIM’s. By the way, one Cleveland Press ad for that Flats’ gig had the band billed as THE BEST RATS.

Grand Opening of “Diamond Jim’s” in the Flats’ in Cleveland, Ohio. (Mar. ’67)


Grand Opening of “Diamond Jim’s” in the Flats in Cleveland, Ohio. (Mar. ’67).

Another former bandmate  of Dennis’ was drummer BUDDY MAVER (from their days together in THE QUANTRELLS). Booker Buddy had him playing later for his and partner Hank LoConti’s AGORA chain. But, this time it was a new AGORA on Cornell Road in Cleveland. The gig started so early in the day that there was no crowd to speak of. Only setup crew and friends doing sound for the following band; the one credited as the opening band of the Agora… “December’s Children”. How appropriate the fellowship felt that day was like a fraternity; for this particular Agora was near a college (Case Western Reserve University). But, then again it was “a Buddy Booking” and that was what he was known for… fun musical fellowships, (still is).

Then Glenn and Den both went playing in other local bands. They both did go through the revolving doors of JIMMY FOX’s rock group, the early JAMES GANG. What revolving doors you ask? Maybe it was more like sliding doors i.e, per Fox, “Dennis Chandler preceded Glenn Schwartz who preceded Joe Walsh, who..” .. Well, you get the idea. Of course, the configuration most famous… is the one with those respected rockers and friends of both Glenn and Den… FOX, PETERS and WALSH. (Sounds like a law firm, eh?) Oh, by the way, that’s Jim Fox, Dale Peters and Joe Walsh. Speaking of sounds like… Check out the WKYC NBC show called “Soundcheck”. Go and Google it. Fox and Peters give an in depth history of the band because of all the interest they get, deservedly. Rock on, guys!

Back to about Glenn Schwartz, Guitar Virtuoso: He was called by critics, “Heir apparent to the JIMI HENDRIX throne”. He had been heard by many guitarists who came to Cleveland just to see him. So Glenn continued to soar in his guitar-playing. Then he left the North Coast for the West Coast. He joined PACIFIC GAS & ELECTRIC (the band not the power company) and became a power rocker himself. (Glenn guitar, indeed!) They had the hit recording “ARE YOU READY?” Much has been written about those years so suffice-it-to-say here, research for what relates, right info, what’s pertinent to the coming creative project(s) will be forthcoming as needed. Can you say “movie/ documentary?”

As for when (at that time) Glenn and Den got together again? They can’t recall. But, it wasn’t until the mid-’90s that the two played together again. It happened because GENE SCHWARTZ  is an award-winning professional dragster. Beside racing, Gene and Glenn oftentimes go car cruisin’, too.

Cruiser Gene brought him out to a classic car cruise where Dennis was playing. Both Schwartz brothers had their guitars with them. With Mitch Renko on drums, Gene on bass, Glenn on guitar, Dennis doubling on guitar and later keyboards… it was just like the old days. It was a wonderful night of fun and fellowship.

One can see the JOY in their eyes… Just look at the photograph of the two of them… and Glenn is looking right at you! (More about this photo in the post-script below.)

Next time was a sad occasion that the Schwartz brothers and Dennis Chandler saw one another; the funeral of Robert Lockwood. Gene, Glenn and Den had known the pioneer bluesman both as a friend and mentor. Plus, as we said above… they all had played in Robert Jr. Lockwood’s band at one time or another.

“Robert Jr”. is what he was called back in the day. Why? RJL was the stepson of the great ROBERT JOHNSON. (He was the famous folkloric blues figure at the center of the “Crossroads” myth? Google him.)  But, it was asthe King of The Blues’ teacher“, that Robert Lockwood was first introduced to Dennis Chandler, by BB King himself. 

And tracing the threads even farther back… it was Glenn Schwartz who first introduced Dennis Chandler to BB King. How far back was that? When Glenn and another mutual childhood friend, GEORGE FOSTER, snuck Dennis into a Cleveland nightclub. “to hear this guy called BB King”. (Talk about the threads in God’s Tapestry!)

But, back to the future … or make that Sept. 9, 2011. What happened when Glenn and Den got together again then? This time playing? Well, it was on Glenn’s gig tha … “They raised the roof”, so to speak. (Pardon the pun but, it was in a barn, after all!) Here’s what one reviewer said about the first time they played in these recent times. It happened at MIKE’s BARN aka MIKE’S JAZZ COLLECTIVE in Elyria, Ohio. To quote “TZ” in part … “As the song ended, Glenn Schwartz told the cheering crowd, “This is a VERY SPECIAL NIGHT. ONE THAT ONLY HAPPENS ONCE IN A LONG WHILE, PERHAPS ONLY ONCE IN A LIFETIME! We’re going to play ’til morning!” (More roaring approval from the crowd). End quote of TZ’s excerpted comments. One must read the whole review to understand the setting and the mood of that evening. There is a brief, albeit darkly lit,  impromptu video on YOU TUBE. (Enough to bring back the memory for those in attendance that night, this writer included).

So, to Widow MARY LOCKWOOD, much thanks for being the facilitator behind that special reunion and this new bonding of these blues brothers. To all other mutual friends and musician-friends … past and present … looks like prayers have been answered. Enjoy GOD’s Gift of Music through these “BROTHERS”.

(A joyful footnote here … ANGEL ROBERT LOCKWOOD must have been watching from above. It was his old Fender Amp that Glenn got. Good vibes came from it then … and perhaps now that Glenn is gone … whomever has it … is still sending out good signals.)

P.S. Backstory about photo … At the time folks were amazed that “Glenn let you take his picture! How?” Apparently they said that Glenn conveyed to them … that he was almost Amish-like in his aversion to having his picture taken. That was unbeknownst to me. As a photographer … I always I found myself instinctively looking through my camera’s lens. Then I heard him say, “Well, c’mon now, Liz … Take the picture!” So, I did. (That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it, as is sometimes said.)

Seriously, Glenn Schwartz was such a GRACIOUS, HUMBLE man. That photo brings back for me precious moments of what I like to call … “being in the music”. I’m so glad others aka “Glennites” are also enjoying the photos. Perhaps folks will get a glimpse of this man’s sweet soul.

And as for the music he made … it’s no wonder Den still calls him,  “Glenn Guitar, a gift from God”. After all, Glenn told Den, “You brought out the best in me!” Den would debate that the Lord did. From where I sat… I would say He made them both special.

Liz Chandler, Webwriter

Dennis Chandler