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The Trolls: Ready To Drum Up Their Music For Spring



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The Trolls:

Ready To Drum Up Their Music For Spring

By Kendra Bobowick

Newtown resident and bass player Dennis Simonson is a culinary graduate who has been in the food service business for more than 30 years. He has lived in Newtown for five years, with his wife Carolyn, and their children Jessica 21, Rebecca 18, Jake 14, and Sarah 10.  

A musician in his free time, Mr Simonson plays with The Trolls, a band established more than 20 years ago. In addition to Mr Simonson, the band’s members are George Parow of Danbury on lead guitar, Liam Glynn of New Fairfield as lead singer and guitarist, and Scott Merckel of Brookfield on drums.

The band’s music is influenced by bands and musicians including Pearl Jam, Grateful Dead, Stone Temple Pilots, and Tom Petty.

The Trolls have often played in neighboring towns including Danbury, New Fairfield, Brookfield, Danbury, Redding, and wants to reach into Newtown.

“Last year we were in Monroe, New Jersey, in New York City, sometimes as a full group and sometimes just two or three of us,” he said. The Trolls also has an acoustic act, said Mr Simonson, who picked up the bass as a teenager.

 “When I was about 15 I was at a friend’s house where two of my friends were jamming away — one on the guitar and one on the drums,” Mr Simonson said. Although he liked the sound, he remembers thinking, “It’s definitely missing something.”

He thought about the bass guitar. With so many players interested in the lead guitar, he said, “I decided to be the guy that ties together the rhythm [drums] and melody [guitar]. To me, that is what the bass guitar does — brings it all together.

“So I picked up the bass,” he said. “I wanted to fill out the band.”

Three decades later, he is still playing.

“What I love about music is that it is infinite, there is always a lot to learn,” said the musician, 47. To “keep things interesting,” he said, “I like to play other instruments and learn other parts.”

“As a musician, you are a student for life,” he added. Thinking of his own climb up from his teens into a bass player for a band, he said, “Although I have learned to play by ear, I regret not learning how to read music.” But, he is not out of time yet.

“I’ll be playing music ‘til I die,” he said.

Bands like the Rolling Stones are “my music icons,” he said. “I am amazed they still play.” Encouraged? Laughing, he said, “I am not that far away!”

“They’re playing in their 60s!” he said, back on a serious note. “I look up to them.” He hopes, he said, to be playing with his grandchildren 20 years from now.

Scrolling back through his music career, Mr Simonson stops at years 1997 to 2003, when he owned the former Classic Rock Brew Pub, located just off the runway at Danbury Airport. Describing it as museum-like with “tons of rock n’ roll memorabilia,” his restaurant over a bar often featured live music. The entertainment also included an open mic jam that he hosted with house band, The Mugheads.

With his thoughts on one night specifically, he said, “Zakk Wylde [guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne] showed up. We had an incredible jam.”

Blues Traveler bassist Tad Kinchla would also join in on occasion. “He would hand me his bass and I would sit in,” said Mr Simonson.

Skipping to another favorite memory, he said, “I also got to jam with members of The Band.”

Mr Simonson also used to love open mic nights.

“As the emcee I also would put great musicians together and a lot of times it was pure, unrehearsed magic.” He misses the “improvisational music scene, which was a skill in itself.” Some musicians are not comfortable playing “out of their element,” he said, “but I always enjoyed it.”

The open mic nights brought out “a lot of talent. It was great to be so in touch with the music,” he said.

A Freedom?

Music is his creative outlet, said Mr Simonson.

“I know I am not someone who is going to be a rock star, I work for a living, but I am happy to do [music],” he said.

He loves performing and entertaining, he said. “It’s not about the money.”

Playing music also affords him “a night out.” He said, “I can be with others that [play] and it’s satisfying.” Cover songs also do not have to be imitations, but pieces the band practices and “works on,” and plays its own way. “You don’t want to be the other band, you want to be your own.”

Original music, however, is better, he said.

“I was in my 20s and an ‘angry young man’ and my songs reflected that.” Some of the songs he wrote “reflected the time,” he said. “I guess I wasn’t having a good time.”

He recently wrote a new song, “Never Too Old To Rock N Roll,” which reflects “now, and it’s not about getting away from old girlfriends or anything anymore,” he laughed. Songs and styles change. He feels that even in cover songs, a band can “find something different.”

Skipping to another venue, Mr Simonson turned his thoughts to parties. “You don’t have to sell yourself, you just entertain an audience and it’s relaxed.” He recalls playing one party “for hours,” and the people “appreciated us. We made new fans.” People will often join in and play or sing with them, “which we encourage!” he said.

“I could never imagine not playing,” Mr Simonson said. “Unless I was physically incapable, I would still find something to play.”

“If you saw us you would know we enjoy what we do,” Mr Simonson said. “We want to put a smile on and thank friends for coming. My enjoyment is other people getting their enjoyment form music.”

At the end of a night when the party ends or the bar prepares to close, he said, “I like when people say, ‘You rocked!’ That’s the best satisfaction.”

So Who Are The Trolls?

Around 1984 the band was originally the Sailin’ Shoes, having adopted the name of a Little Feat song for their moniker.

Originally the Sailin’ Shoes formed with friends after school, Mr Simonson explained. “Our original drummer was  on the shorter side with a deep voice. He was nicknamed ‘The Troll.’” He said, “We sort of adopted it as the band name, and it stuck.”

The Trolls have had between 15 and 20 members “in and out.” The current group has been together for roughly six years, although the core of Dennis Simonson, George Parow and Liam Glynn have played together for 20 years.

With the band since it began, Mr Simonson has seen many of its faces change.

“I am the only original member,” he said. The Trolls are “really good friends,” but the band relationship takes work.

“It’s like a marriage,” said Mr Simonson. “It’s hard to have four or five guys all get along with their different creative opinions; it’s hard to get along year after year.” Pausing in his story to smile, he said, “We take little breaks, but we all come back to it.”

At times, a member might try to quit, but others say, “Yeah, we’ll see you next week.”

They play their acoustic, electric and semi-unplugged music including originals and classics.

“We pepper in our own,” Mr Simonson said.

Where To Hear The Trolls

As one member continues to recover from foot surgery that took place this past winter, The Trolls look forward to playing again, starting with events in April.

The band will be at Widow Brown’s Café in Danbury on Saturday, April 2; Saturday, April 9, at a benefit for New Fairfield Little League; and then Friday, April 29 at The Redding Roadhouse.

Upcoming gigs also include May 7, at The One-Eyed Pig, Newtown; as well as Friday, June 17, and Saturday, July 16, at Villa Pasta in New Fairfield.

Mr Simonson said the group has been in the studio for several months working on a demo and original CD due out in May. The band plans to publicly release its CD of original singles at The Festival Of The Arts at Harrybrooke Park in New Milford on May 14.

“As a band we can sit and play [at our booth, at the festival], but we’re scheduled that day on the main stage where we’ll showcase some original tunes,” he said. “We’ll talk music and try to make new fans.”

Recording on the Under The Bridge label, the group will also be recording demo CDs, and use those in a search for larger venues. The group wants to “play bigger places,” Mr Simonson said.

Keep up with The Trolls online on their Facebook page, or see a performance on www.ExposureRoom.com (do a search for The Trolls).

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