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The Eiffels performing at the Common Ground Cafe in mid-1994. From left: Scott Finter, Kathy Phillips, Mark Hurst and Sharyn Murray. Not pictured and not yet in the band: legendary percussionist Tom Witzel.
Sharyn Murray -- rhythm guitar, vocals, original
Scott Finter -- rhythm and lead guitars, vocals, keyboards, original songs
Kathy Phillips -- keyboards, percussion, vocals, original songs
Mark Hurst -- bass guitar, questions about Friendly's restaurant
Tom Witzel -- drums, percussion, entertaining remarks at gigs
The founding members of this exciting mid-90s pop/rock band first met on Sunday night, April 10, 1994, at an open mic held at the (now defunct) Common Ground Cafe in Summit, NJ. Following a solo set by Scott and a duo performance by Sharyn and Kathy, a conversation resulted in Sharyn's suggestion to "do something."
By early May, the trio was rehearsing regularly on Tuesday and Thursday nights and playing a mixture of covers and originals at open mics. Principal songwriter Sharyn had a selection of unusually good pop songs even though she had only recently begun writing, singing and playing guitar. Scott had been playing guitar, singing and writing catchy pop tunes for 14 years at that point and was also active in several other bands. Kathy had played in various bands since high school and also had a few original songs but was still polishing them up for future submission.
In mid-June, pro bassist Mark Hurst was added, providing a solid and much-needed bottom end to the music. A series of drummers were auditioned and a very good jazz-influenced drummer named Vinnie joined for a series of gigs, beginning with the group's debut at the Broadway Central Cafe in South Amboy on Friday, August 12.
By this point, an appealing mixture of Sharyn originals, Scott originals and choice covers frequently featured two and three-part harmonies supported by an increasingly tight rhythm section. Interest in the band increased as gigs grew more exciting.
Next, the group returned to their launch point, the Common Ground Cafe, where they played a successful and well-received gig on Tuesday, August 23. It was the first time they appeared at the venue as a full 5-piece band. The show was videotaped, as most of the gigs would be for the next seven months.
Expanding to new clubs, the Eiffels enjoyed a good show at the relatively new Palmyra Tea Room in Bound Brook, NJ, on Friday, September 9.
Scott, Sharyn and Kathy performed as a trio shortly thereafter at an afternoon Ciba-Geigy corporate function in Summit, NJ, on Tuesday, September 13. This provided the best videotape record of 3/5ths of the band, since videos of evening gigs were usually very dark.
By this time, the group was enjoying a respectable following at many gigs and was considered a top priority at the Common Ground Cafe because they routinely packed the room.
More good gigs followed, at Broadway Central on Saturday, September 24 and the Common Ground on Friday, November 11. Kathy contributed some of her original songs to the set around this time and keyboards were added to certain songs, played by Kathy or Scott, depending on the song.
Next, legendary local drummer Tom Witzel was invited to join the band to replace one of the string of drummers who had come and gone since Vinnie left for a wedding band gig. Tom first performed with the Eiffels on Friday, March 17, 1995, again at the Common Ground Cafe. This was the last show captured on videotape.
By this time, divergent ambitions were creating some friction in the band. Sharyn, Kathy and Scott all saw different futures for the band and just when it seemed the group was poised to move to the next level, disagreement on direction undermined it.
The group played its last gig in the spring of 1995 at Lovesexy in Hoboken, NJ. Though the magic had left the polished pop quintet by this time, some of it returned for their last public performance. An enthusiastic crowd had very favorable comments and expressed regret that an exciting band with such potential would soon be history.
Scott, Mark and Tom took some time off from music while Sharyn and Kathy continued as a folk trio with new recruit Jay. Within two years, Sharyn and Kathy had gone their separate ways as well.
Today, Scott is playing around the region while assembling his new originals group, The Aysides. Sharyn is performing with her band, C9, while also doing occasional solo shows and will be releasing a CD soon. Kathy has just released her debut CD on a flourishing indy label, Black Potatoe Records, and continues to perform throughout the New York metro area with a full band as well as duos and trios. Tom recently got married and has retired from music. Similarly, Mark is no longer active in music and now focuses most of his time on stock market speculation and competitive biking.
While all the ex-Eiffels are on good terms and share many positive memories, multimillion dollar offers to reunite have not been forthcoming.
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