The Soul Persuaders started in 1989, fronted by Steve and Mark Siers, as a side project to their long-running Siers Brothers band, specializing in horn-accented funk, rock, and soul.
Frontman Larry Grano, a lifelong Allied Gardens resident, initially tried to sit in with the band as a drummer but was talked into singing. At one early gig, Grano was so nervous he sang a song with his jacket over his head. Warming to the spotlight in front of the drum kit, when the last of the Siers brothers left the group, Grano took the lead spot. “Mark just said, here are the keys,” he recalled.
The group eventually consisted of Grano, Phil Lenud (co-lead vocals), Mark Moorhead (keyboards), Mark Fulton (guitar), Mike Holguin (drums), Rick Nash (bass), Brad Steinwehe (trumpet), Les Jennings (tenor sax), and Chuck Phillips (saxophone).
After 22 years, the Soul Persuaders played their final show on January 19, 2012, at Humphrey’s Backstage Lounge. Grano says he pulled the plug for two reasons: the band’s members unavailability due to performing with other groups, and the lack of suitable substitute musicians.
“The fact that we can’t get everyone there on a night has been a caraway seed in my gums for years,” he said. “Now that [music] has become a profession for most, their time is spent with their ‘A’ bands. Completely understandable but a bummer nonetheless.”
He also laments the availability of substitute players who can cover a wide range of material. “The problem I always have is finding people who are versed enough in different styles and could hang with a night of doing this stuff,” he said. “I’ve run through trumpet players like Kleenex. They play one set and their lip is like prosciutto, they’re done.”
Despite plenty of activity on his own plate, such as playing drums for Eve Selis, Grano is sad to let the Soul Persuaders go. “This town does not necessarily support live music all the way down the line,” Grano remarked.