Seeds of The Dooley Brothers Band were planted in 1970 when Paul Swisher and Gregory Opalinski met as 10 year old boys in MPP (Major Progress Program). MPP was (and still is) an educational juggernaut in which hand selected, high achieving students are plucked from elementary schools across the North Tonawanda Public School system and subsequently immersed in a college-type atmosphere designed to challenge their developing minds and stretch the boundaries of their academic and creative limits. The brainchild of master teacher Norman Schoell, MPP allowed Paul and Greg to boldly go where few elementary students venture and to experiment, in an advanced fashion, with a vast array of subject areas including music. Paul is pictured above in the class photo (see if you can spot him). Greg was mysteriously absent when this picture was taken but he was undoubtedly there in spirit!
A decade later, Greg and Paul had grown into a pair of fun loving goofballs, partying their way through college and dabbling in songwriting, singing and playing instruments. Greg developed an amusing expertise on the recorder and Paul garbage picked a beat up acoustic guitar and taught himself all the wrong ways to play it (which he continues to do to this day). Greg found a pin button on the ground that said “Dooleys” … The young men liked the name and The Dooleys were born.
Over time, The Dooleys became a more serious entity. Greg developed a proclivity as a lyricist and Paul set his words to music. The duo also recognized that they had an interesting vocal blend and began to experiment with harmonies. Almost all of their free time was spent “jamming” and they actually started to sound pretty good.
After assembling a songbook composed primarily of politically twinged material (The Capitol Hill Scum? Ouch!!!), Greg and Paul got their first taste of recording with the help of Dooley aider and abettor, Frank Pusateri and producer/guitarist Dick Bauerle. Frank introduced the boys to some of Buffalo’s A-list musicians and The Dooleys cranked out their first cassette album on Frank’s label, Lionsheart Productions. Paul’s girlfriend, Candy Sweet created the very cool artwork for the cassette cover which captured The Dooleys “head in the clouds” persona (a mushroom cloud no less). Ironically, this debut effort was the impetus that led Paul and Greg back into collaborative songwriting after a lengthy hiatus in the 90’s and early 2000’s.
Following the release of their debut cassette, Paul and Greg joined forces with the talented Donnie Roy (above center) and began performing at local bars whenever and wherever they could. Donnie was a Neil Young fanatic and was an excellent cover of all things Neil. The trio dubbed themselves “Original Friends” and played mostly original songs along with a steady diet of Mr. Young. They rented a house in North Buffalo in 1985 and jammed constantly for a year. For a short time, they experimented with drummers and bass players and ventured out occasionally as The Dooleys. Then Donnie fell in love, got married, and had a son. The three amigos remained buddies but Donnie returned to his solo roots and Greg and Paul resumed writing Dooleys material. Under the direction of Frank Pusateri, The Dooleys softened their sound and focused on writing material that could be reasonably reproduced at “unplugged” acoustic performances. This new approach proved to be popular and expanded The Dooleys’ audience.
The release of “Ring In” in 1988 caught the ear of Amherst, NY singer-songwriter Glenn Colton. Glenn had previously met Paul’s girlfriend (Candy Sweet) in a bowling class at Buffalo State College and a meeting was set up at Outdoor Jam, an annual open air concert hosted in the back yard of Glenn’s longtime friend, Daniel Carnevale. Greg and Paul sat in on a few tunes and Glenn was smitten. Hence, the stage was set for Glenn’s entry into The Dooleys as the third voice in the band. It marked the beginning of a “three singers, one voice” approach.
The addition of Glenn Colton (above center) got The Dooleys on the right track in terms of building songs around three-part harmony and acoustic guitars. A natural showman, Glenn provided an air of confidence and bravado while Greg and Paul nursed their stage legs. The Dooleys became a popular draw on the local club circuit and began work on their first CD, God Bless America. They were among the first bands in Western New York to put their music out on the “new technology” of compact disc.
Through Glenn Colton came an enduring association and friendship with WNY business entrepreneur Mitch Rubin (pictured above with his wife Vickie). As co-owner of Watch World, Mitch became a Dooleys sponsor and Watch World helped finance many philanthropic endeavors by the band including the CD release of God Bless America. Years later, Mitch was recruited by Paul Swisher into Kan-Jam, a sports game company featuring the popular game invented and patented by Swisher and fellow North Tonawandan Charlie Sciandra in 1996. Mitch and Charlie subsequently lifted the company to new heights.
The condition and size of the American flag backdrops symbolize the metamorphosis of The Dooleys as they worked their way through the late 80’s. From humble origins of backyard jams to respectable theaters and concert venues, Glenn, Greg and Paul (pictured above with the irrepressible Dick Bauerle) honed their craft and became known as WNY’s version of Crosby, Stills & Nash.
The Dooleys emphasis on social consciousness, politics, and spirituality led to them being selected to perform at No Greater Love’s Tribute to American and British Hostages Held in Lebanon. The event took place in Washington, D.C. in 1991 and featured high ranking political figures and media personalities. The tribute to the hostages was broadcast live to a world-wide audience on CNN.
The release of God Bless America led to new opportunities for The Dooleys. Paul, Greg, and Glenn sang a three part harmony rendition of the national anthem at Pilot Field (home of the then fledgling Buffalo Bisons AAA baseball team) and embarked on a continuing mission of community service donating their time and talents to Musicians For Kids, Kids Escaping Drugs and Roswell Park Cancer Institute. They also became media darlings on local television and radio and built a long standing relationship with Buffalo’s 97 Rock.
Greg and Paul performed at 97 Rock’s 20 year anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival at Darien Lake along with legendary Buffalo rockers Frank Pusateri (left) and George Doran (center). Frank and George sat in for Glenn Colton who had a prior summer commitment touring as a solo act across Long Island, NY.
At the peak of their popularity, Greg decided to pursue a degree in voice and was accepted at Bowling Green University. Greg’s departure left a huge void in The Dooleys’ established identity as a three piece acoustic act built on the foundation of three-part harmony. Paul and Glenn decided to forge on and recruited an effervescent bundle of energy in the form of Timothy Wright. Tim was a founding member of Musicians For Kids, an organization dedicated to helping kids through music and he fit like a glove into The Dooleys’ format and persona. Tim was (and remains) an upbeat, positive, fun-loving human and The Dooleys continued to build momentum throughout the early to mid 90’s. Paul, Glenn and Tim continued to record original material and build their Dooleys audience.
The Dooleys revisited political themes on Tim’s first album, Livin’ In America. The band also revisited the cassette format for this project.
Two years into Tim’s tenure, Glenn Colton began building a career performing educational concerts for kids and as his business began to thrive, there was not enough of him left to spread around. Consequently, Glenn departed The Dooleys and was replaced by Tim’s good friend, the multi-talented master of all things musical, Paul Weisenburger.
With Paul Weisenburger on board, The Dooleys began to focus more on recording than performing in clubs. Studio collaborations with Greg Opalinksi and Glenn Colton resulted in The Dooleys Green Album which included tracks from all Dooley members (past and present) and set a precedent for “a band of brothers” mentality that continues to this day. The adage “once a Dooley, always a Dooley” became a mantra of sorts and the band became a symbol of ongoing friendship, cooperation, and united purpose.
By the time the Green Album rolled around, The Dooleys had essentially become a band of interchangeable parts. Live performances were relegated to occasional “reunions” but recording projects continued in earnest. The only constant throughout the evolution of the band was co-founder Paul Swisher.
The Second to Nun CD was the first “hodge podge” collection of songs contributed by Dooley members as solo recordings and piecemeal collaborations. The 1995 disc included a song co-written by Paul Swisher and Lebanon hostage Terry Anderson about Father Lawrence Martin Jenco (see above blurb). The Dooleys were joined at the Tribute to the Hostages event by world renowned saxophonist Jack Prybylski (pictured above to the right of Greg). Jack contributed his talents to many Dooleys recordings over the years and is an important member of The Dooleys brotherhood.
Tragedy struck in September, 1999 when Dooley brother Donnie Roy collapsed after completing a solo performance at a benefit concert in Ft. Erie, Canada. Immediately after finishing his set, Donnie walked off the stage and fell to the ground. He could not be revived and he died at the young age of 42. Donnie Roy was a wonderful human being and was always generous with his time and talent anytime he was asked to lend it. The above photo captures Donnie at the ill fated gig moments before he passed. Rest in peace Donnie!
Donnie recorded two tracks for this benefit album of covers less than one week before he died. Heart of Gold was his favorite song and he knocked it out of the park on this recording. He added a haunting version of My, My, Hey, Hey in one take. The Retro Acoustic Gems CD was financed by North Tonawanda native and Mighty Taco founder Andrew Gerovac and was the last group project from The Dooleys until Paul and Greg got the ball rolling again in 2011.
After a ten year latency period defined by solo projects, family life, career focus, and general ripening, Paul and Greg decided to revisit the waters of collaborative songwriting. The impetus resulted from Paul accidentally stumbling across The Dooleys’ first recording, It’s Only Matters of Times. He sensed a familiar itch and contacted Greg to see if he might be interested in doing some writing. A gush of material burst forth and the original duo decided to assemble a studio band for recording the new songs. Since the material was comparatively edgy and sarcastically playful (think Rage Against the Machine, Frank Zappa, Flo and Eddie, Smothers Brothers), they decided to name the project MPP (Major Progress Program) in honor of their elementary school roots and to pay tribute to MPP’s creator, Norman Schoell.
Greg and Paul went back to the well and fetched former Dooley studio drummer Ted Reinhardt. Ted was struggling with hearing loss from a viral infection and was working with approximately 10% of his normal auditory function. Ted however, was Ted and he enthusiastically signed up for the project. A virtual clock, this master drummer locked in the rhythms and laid down the foundation for each track. The new material did not require improvisation and the band instead played to the percussive maestro behind the kit.
Through Ted came fellow Gamalon monsters George Puleo and Tom Reinhardt. MPP holed up at Select Sound Recording Studios in Kenmore, NY and began to bang out the tunes. The sessions began in August 2011 and the tunes kept coming. The unlikely pairing of The Dooleys with Gamalon was producing eccentrically interesting fruit.
A year or so later, Paul and Greg reached out to Them Jazzbeards legend David Kane to seek permission to adapt one of his instrumental pieces (Eliminated) to some lyrics Greg had composed (The Eleventh Awakening). David was happy to oblige and also accepted an invitation to join MPP in the studio to play on the song. This initial session paved the way for David to become a permanent fixture in the studio and he added keyboards, electronics and a heavy dose of creativity to the ongoing evolution of MPP.
With David on board, the stage was set to add some additional spice in the person of Dooley alumnus and fellow Jazzbeard, Jack Prybylski. Jack had a longstanding relationship with Paul and Greg and added saxophone to two tracks, What We Are and For With God, All Things Are Possible.
In March 2015, the world lost a true shining light when Ted Reinhardt was killed in a plane crash along with two childhood friends and his beloved dog, Henry. The Buffalo music community was simultaneously shocked and devastated by his sudden death. By this time, MPP had recorded more than twenty songs and Paul and Greg decided to press the collection onto vinyl and use the project as a foundation for a scholarship fund honoring Ted and his best friend, Bruce Brucato. Bruce, an original founding member of Gamalon, had succumbed to cancer only months before the plane crash.
Greg and Paul stitched together a story line for what ended up being a triple vinyl album and talented artist Justin Tartick created a collection of uniquely masterful graphics. The process was a labor of love and the concept album was completed by the summer of 2016. The themes that were developed for the sequential three album set are described below.
An Abstract of “Life And Death In Pandora’s Box”
ALBUM 1 Uncle George’s Farm
Perspective and circumstance shape one’s vision, tells you what you see. An Orwellian dystopia is what some may see. Whether one is an optimist or a pessimist, or an ostrich, there’s no denying many have become lost in the land of opportunity, or that opportunities are evermore difficult to come by. The disenfranchised are growing in number. The mathematical analysis of our present condition clearly indicates that we are no longer at the top of the heap.
However, this doesn’t mean that we should throw in the towel, or let our patriotic sense dwindle. It does mean that we should use our voice and speak to the injustices that take place in front of us every day. It has always been the credo that governance is by the people, for the people. All that can be suggested is to protect and defend the freedoms that are our constitutional right. That’s what being an American means, yes?
Suffice it to say too many hardworking people do not have a fighting chance in today’s America. You may draw your own conclusions as to why this is true. Uncle George’s Farm puts forth a suggestion as to what has gone awry. It’s abrasive and rather harsh, but please remember that we still believe in our forefather’s words.
ALBUM 2 What Darwin Learned From God
How can we invent things and not upgrade our own condition? Science and spirituality were never intended to be mutually exclusive. Technology has been doubling in scope every ten years. Over the last 60 years that’s two to the sixth, or by a factor of sixty-four. We are now, at least, half of the way through Y2K.2. Where do we stand? What is humanity’s present course? Technology has warped time, and acts as a magnifying glass. It exaggerates our perspective, oftentimes mocking our shortcomings. We seem to be developing a propensity for worshiping the machines that we have created more so than the one who has created us.
So many have lost the ability to do what is the most natural, i.e. communicate on a personal level, freely give and receive love, think for ourselves, and so on. There is a conflict brewing. The final stage is being set. We must be attuned to the available energies and arm ourselves. Multiple bands of energy fill the void. Dimensions beyond our visual perception exist side by side.
In the grand scheme it’s been but a blink of an eye that the vast majority of the vibrational domain was borne of organic circumstances. The point at which the balance began to tip can be linked to the mainstreaming of the television. Since that time we have been led by the piper toward the brink. Our natural inhabitance is under siege. Our energy-space is systematically being eliminated. Non-human vibrations are on course to becoming predominant. Survival of the fittest can now be seen as blatant bullshit. Many are being possessively cultivated so as to become subliminally suppressed into submission. Survival in this present tense is no longer a logical means for a peaceful end.
We are living in a present that allows no recourse for the reversal of humanity’s story. We are being encapsulated by a vast neural network of cyber-activity. A system that we must be able to detect, and possess the wherewithal so as to escape it’s detection.
ALBUM 3 Revel In The Reveal
Simplify. That which is the most profound is the simplest in scope, yet the most difficult to create. Mystics and martyrs, or mystics as martyrs, paragons as old as the evolution of man, have sacrificed their time to preserve this intent. Self-organizing, chaotic cycles indelibly permeate the fabric of our being. These times are marked by illuminations of every kind. Those that are synchronized to the vibrations will have moments of extra-sensory perception.
The human race must reclaim it’s opportunity to have an age of innocence. With innocence comes clairvoyance. We can no longer stop what is happening to our physical inhabitance. However, our spirituality can never be coerced. There are so many places that have a sublime existence. Our alternate reality lies within one of these planes, one of these dimensions. The world may belong to the aggressor, but the meek shall have it’s inheritance.
Sequential transpirings and tenses of time are no longer separated by chronology. Our present tense is transitional. It is a time to see that this now is finite, and that, at some point, there must be a morphing to another state. We will all carry on. Our means of transition will be determined by our free will.
The release of Life and Death In Pandora’s Box generated thousands of dollars for the Ted Reinhardt and Bruce Brucato Memorial Scholarship and the first awards were presented in May 2017 to two Kenmore East High School students who planned to pursue careers in music at their respective colleges. Kenmore East High School was the alma mater of both Ted and Bruce. Two additional awards were presented the following year to KEHS students and will continue in perpetuity as long as the scholarship fund remains viable. Hopefully, these two giants of the Western New York music scene will be honored for decades to come.
Supergroup Gamalon in the 1980’s, from left to right … George Puleo, Ted Reinhardt, Greg Piontek, and Bruce Brucato. George is the sole survivor of the group pictured above.
After the MPP triple album was released, Paul, Greg, George, and David performed several gigs with various drummers and bassists. In an effort to increase draw at a Sportsmen’s Tavern gig, Greg and Paul performed an opening set with Dooleys’ alumnus Glenn Colton. This was the first time George Puleo heard Dooleys’ material and he enthusiastically encouraged Paul and Greg to move away from the relative obscurity and hard edge of MPP toward the more accessible melody and harmony of The Dooleys.
Over the next year or so, the MPP boys recruited the multi-talented Joe Mombrea (JJ Swing, Thurman Brothers Band) who became the third voice in the band’s trademark three part harmonies along with multi-instrumentalist-producer Paul Weisenburger (Nickel City Pimp Choir) and dynamic drummer/percussionist Shannon Street (Dive House Union). Pictured above, from left to right, are members of what has become The Dooley Brothers Band: Joe Mombrea, George Puleo, Paul Swisher, Gregory Opalinski, Paul Weisenburger, David Kane, and Shannon Street. In January 2020 The Dooleys added George’s DJO bandmate Jack Kulp (Damone Jackson Outcome).
George Puleo with bassist Jack Kulp
The Dooleys rehearsing at The Strand Theater in North Tonawanda, NY in Summer 2018.
The Dooleys embarked on the recording of a new collection of original songs at Paul Weisenburger’s “Pickle Patch Studio” in Cheektowaga, NY in Winter 2019.
The Dooleys rehearsing at David’s Cave (above) and David live at a Dooleys’ gig at The Strand Theater in North Tonawanda, NY.
Principal Dooleys’ players/writers Greg, Paul, George and Joe in concert at The Strand.
The Dooleys released their first vinyl LP, “Peace, Love & Kindness” in October 2020. Ongoing COVID-19 protocols have thus far hindered promotion and live performance of the album.
Please pray for peace and kindness … The world needs it! XXXOOO, The Dooleys