In 1986, a gallon of gas cost 89 cents, IBM unveiled the world’s first laptop computer, and one of Rochester’s most durable and popular bands, Incognito, was born. The band that formed after a few jam sessions above the Vine Funeral Home is now celebrating 30 years together.
507: How do you account for Incognito’s longevity?
Lieser: We do not play for ourselves so much as the audience. If they are having fun, we have fun.
McGarry: One of the things that has accounted for our longevity, was much of it [the music] was written down. If someone couldn’t make a gig, a sub could be found. The inertia lost with member changes was minimized as well.
Stucky: Opening for the Temptations at the Mayo Civic Center.
McGarry: Rochester Fest Street Dances.
Evjen: The Beer Street Social outside of the Tap House.
Lieser: Opening for Down Right Tight featuring Big John Dickerson.
507: What was the worst gig you ever played with Incognito?
Stucky: We played for the Coon Creek Festival. We were picked up by a flatbed truck. The stage was quite far away…I was wearing heals and had nothing much to hang on to for the ride. The high that day was 40.
507: How do horn arrangements for the band work?
McGarry: One of the initial challenges was trying to arrange a chart so it could be played by 2 horns or 5 horns. I didn’t want to do 2 arrangements. I think the way I arrived at doing that helped establish a definable sound for Incognito.
507: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen an audience member do?
McGarry: Steve and I bought a manikin at a party one night, and we took it to a few gigs and people would try to dance with her. Usually, a hand or arm would fall off and they would set it down and walk away.
507: What changes have you observed in music venues and experiences?
Lieser: There are a lot more bands now than there were when I joined Incognito in 1992. We were fortunate enough back then to get all of the prime gigs – RochesterFest 17 or 18 years total but not consecutive, Down by the Riverside opener, festivals, opening for national acts that came to town. There were several local venues where we played regularly, and we played lots of private events.
507: What advice do you have for emerging Rochester bands?
McGarry: Don’t play for nothing.
Lieser: It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth it, so hang in there.
Evjen: Just go out there and show what you’ve got and the crowds will respond in kind.