The band that opened for the band that opened for The Beatles

…  Rising Storm timeline

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The Rising Storm, 1967, Phillips Academy yearbook. Clockwise from left: Todd Cohen, Tom Scheft, Bob Cohan, Richard Weinberg, Charlie Rockwell, Tony Thompson


We got our musical start as students at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. We first played together in a jug band that enlisted every student in our sophomore dorm. The six of us soon formed The Remnants, later rechristened The Rising Storm.


We released our album, Calm Before, to an appreciative audience of classmates, friends and family about a month before we graduated from Andover.


We all went off to college, graduate school and jobs. We got married and started having kids. Two of us became lawyers, the others a doctor, a teacher, a newspaper reporter, and an Army officer/surveyor/flight-and-ski instructor. And The Rising Storm ebbed — until 1981, when Bob’s sister stumbled across an article in the Boston Phoenix. It reported our album had become a highly sought-after collector’s item.

That was all the excuse we needed to reunite for three performances in Boston.  The irrepressible Andy Paley joined us on bass.

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We performed at Inn Square Men’s Bar and the Rat in Cambridge, Mass., and the Flowermarket Cafe at Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston.


Joseph Kahn, a reporter and freelance writer and our friend and Andover classmate, followed our exploits and wrote an article for Boston Magazine entitled “The Storm Will Rise Again.” 

In June, the Storm gathered again, this time to perform for our 15th class reunion at Andover.  Our pal Erik Lindgren showed up — unexpectedly but, fortunately, with recording equipment. The result was Alive Again at Andover, our second album.

Without our knowledge, Psycho Records put three of our songs on their Endless Journey compilation

Eva Records of Paris, France, issued an unauthorized re-release of Calm Before.


During this nine-year stretch, we did not play together. Careers and family kept us busy.  But the news media kept a light on us [see Media section of this blog]. And the value of Calm Before continued to rise.

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The Rising Storm, 1992, Boston, ‘Ain’t Dead Yet Tour.’ From left: Todd Cohen, Tom Scheft, Bob Cohan, Charlie Rockwell, Richard Weinberg, Tony Thompson


Erik Lindgren and Aram Heller, by now part of the band, issued a 2-album CD and a 2-EP 45 tribute showcasing our music.

Our 25th reunion at Andover brought us together for what became our “Ain’t Dead Yet Tour.”  Before it kicked off, Liann Hansen featured us on All Things Considered on National Public Radio [to listen, click here.]

The Ain’t Dead Yet tour included shows at TT the Bear’s in Central Square in Cambridge, Mass., and at the late, legendary Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J.

Henry Ferrini of Ferrini Productions in Gloucester, Mass., followed the Ain’t Dead Yet Tour with his camera and made a short documentary about the band. [See Video section of this blog.]

Throughout the Ain’t Dead Yet tour, Washington Post reporter Peter Carlson accompanied the band and later wrote a feature article for the Washington Post Sunday Magazine entitled, “Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture.”

We spent a Sunday at Synchro Sound Studios in Boston, recording five original cuts for Second Wind, our new CD that we finished in 1998 and released in 2000.


Charlie Rockwell at soundcheck for 50th reunion performance at Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass., June 2017

We were quietly courted by Hollywood and, after much internal debate, agreed to sign away our life stories — for a few years — to Warner Bros. But the movie never got made, and we got our life stories back.


Richie Unterberger, a respected rock historian and critic, devoted a chapter to The Rising Storm in his book, “Unknown Legends of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”


We had the ultimate thrill, in a show at the Paradise Ballroom in Boston, of opening for The Lost and for Barry and the Remains — the band that opened for The Beatles on their 1966 U.S. tour.

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The Rising Storm, 1992, Boston [cover of Second Wind]. From left: Todd Cohen, Bob Cohan, Tony Thompson, Tom Scheft, Richard Weinberg, Charlie Rockwell


We released Second Wind.


Steadfast Farm, the pastoral setting for the recording studio of Erik Lindgren, became the location of choice for Rising Storm summer retreats.

Over the years, band members have lived and worked in scattered locations — Vermont, Boston, Washington, D.C., North Carolina. We prepared for performances by circulating practice tapes and CDs, and later by exchanging emails and MP3 files, getting together annually for one occasion or another.


We returned to Andover to play for our original audience at our 35th class reunion.


Tom Scheft, soundcheck for performance at 50th reunion at Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass., June 2017

We performed at a house party in Washington, D.C. The dancing continued well into the night.


In December, we played for the book opening of Time Won’t Let Me, a novel by Tom’s brother, Bill Scheft. The story is based loosely on the trials, tribulations, successes and frustrations of The Rising Storm.


The Rising Storm traveled to Europe to play to enthusiastic record collectors at the Dirty Water Club in London, and for garage-rock fans at the Primitive Festival in Rotterdam, where we opened for the Yardbirds.

The Rising Storm, rehearsing in Maine, August 2016. Front, from left: Richard Weinberg, Tony Thompson, Bob Cohan. Rear, from left: Charlie Rockwell, Tom Scheft, Todd Cohen


The Rising Storm played at Cuisine en Locale in Somerville, Mass., as part of the WMBR 88.1 FM Pipeline! At 25: 50 Years of Boston Rock concert series.


Calm Before soon will be more widely and readily available on vinyl and digitally. Two of our best originals from the album have been reissued on a vinyl ’45. “Frozen Laughter” — another original from Calm Before — has been released on Sky Girl, a foreign compilation. And a documentary film about the band is in the works.


The Rising Storm got together for a week in Maine to rehearse for our 50th Andover reunion June 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 Rising Storm, Maine, August 2016. From left: Todd Cohen, Charlie Rockwell, Tony Thompson, Richard Weinberg, Bob Cohan, Tom Scheft

We performed in June at the 50th reunion of our class at Phillips Academy. And in July the band was the focus of a 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.

“Frozen Laughter,” an original song from Calm Before, is featured in Allure, a new movie featuring Evan Rachel Wood. Written by Tony Thompson, the band’s leader, lead singer and rhythm guitarist, and performed by the Storm, the song is featured in a key scene in the movie and during its final credits.

calm before… the rising storm, a 30-minute documentary movie about The Rising Storm and Calm Before, had its premiere in August at the second annual Jukebox International Film Festival in Carson City, Nev., where it received first place in the documentary short film category.

It also was shown at the Santa Cruz Film Festival in  California, where it received the award for best short documentary, and at the Doc’n Roll Festival in London.

2019 to present

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

calm before… the rising storm has 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.