Keeping the beat — in obscurity — for 50 years

The Rising Storm, April 2019, Riverrun International Film Festival, Winston-Salem, N.C. From left: Tom Scheft, Charlie Rockwell, Tony Thompson, Bob Cohan, Todd Cohen, Richard Weinberg

The Rising Storm is a rock band whose six members started playing music together in 1965 as sophomores at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.

The original members of the band, all still active, are lead singer and rhythm guitarist Tony Thompson, lead guitarists Bob Cohan and Richard Weinberg, bassist Todd Cohen, keyboardist Charlie Rockwell, and drummer Tom Scheft.

‘Calm Before’

In 1967, The Rising Storm released Calm Before, considered to be “one of the rarest and most respected garage band albums” by rock historian Richie Unterberger, who devoted a chapter to the band in his 1998 book, “Unknown Legends of Rock ‘n’ Roll”.

Peter Carlson, writing in the The Washington Post, called The Rising Storm “the most famous utterly obscure rock band in America.”

Rising Storm playing at Andover dance. From left: Todd Cohen, RIchard Weinberg, Tom Scheft, Tony Thompson (Not shown: Bob Cohan)

Today, mint copies of Calm Before can fetch four figures among vinyl collectors. In 2016, an original vinyl sold for $6,500.

In addition to Calm Before and reissues of it, The Rising Storm has released two other albums — Alive Again at Andover in 1983 and Second Wind in 1999.

The band and its iconic first album were the focus of articles in the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Washington Post, Mojo magazine and The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., and featured on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Keeping on

The Rising Storm has reunited over the years to perform many times, most recently in 2014 at the WMBR 88.1 FM “Pipeline! At 25: 50 Years of Boston Rock” concert series.

We performed in 1981, with rock musician and record producer Andy Paley sitting in for Todd.

In 1982, 1992 and 2002, we performed at our 15th, 25th, and 35th Andover class reunions.

Soundcheck for performance at class dance for 50th reunion at Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass., June 2017. From left: Richard Weinberg, Tony Thompson, Bob Cohan. (Not show: Tom Scheft, Charlie Rockwell, Todd Cohen)

In 1999, we opened for the Boston reunion of The Remains, the band that opened for the Beatles on their 1966 U.S. tour.

In 2007, with progressive musician and composer Erik Lindgren on bass, we played at the Dirty Water Club in London and opened for the Yardbirds at the Primitive Festival in Rotterdam.

In October 2014, with Todd back on bass, we performed at the Pipeline! festival featuring 50 years of Boston rock.

More Storm

Charlie Rockwell at the keyboards, rehearsal, Maine, August 2016.

Two of our best originals from the album have been reissued on a vinyl ’45. And “Frozen Laughter” — an original from Calm Before — is featured in Allure, a new movie featuring Evan Rachel Wood. The song also has been released on Sky Girl, a foreign compilation.

The Rising Storm got together in August 2016 for a week in Maine to rehearse for a performance at our 50th Andover reunion in 2017. We also worked on new original songs. Documenting the get-together was a California film crew making a documentary about Calm Before and the band.

The 30-minute documentary — calm before… the rising storm — had its premiere in August 2018 at the second annual Jukebox International Film Festival in Carson City, Nev., where it received first place in the documentary short film category.

It now has been shown at 18 film festivals, received top awards at eight of them, and will be screened at four more in 2023.

Rock writer Richie Unterberger named the movie one of the top 10 rock documentaries of 2018 in a list that includes movies about Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell, The Doors and The Beatles.

We performed in June 2017 at the 50th reunion of our class at Phillips Academy. And the band was the focus of a July 2017 feature story in The New York Times.

In January 2018, Sundazed Music reissued Calm Before on vinyl and in CD format. [To buy a copy, click here.] It also is available on Apple Music.

And In June 2022, we performed in Andover, Mass., at a dance party in for all classes at Phillips Academy and Abbot Academy celebrating reunions, including our 55th.

Stay tuned.

Tony Thompson in his studio in Maine, August 2016

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