The Wretched returns to honor Hank McKee

Submitted Photos Above: This photo was taken in 1967 in Barker Common in Fredonia for the FHS 1968 yearbook. From left are: Tom Benton, Jim Pasquale, Jim Modisher, Hank McKee and Michael McEntarfer.

The Wretched Group rock and roll band is returning to the Dunkirk/Fredonia area for two performances in 2017, on July 20 and 22.

This year’s performances will be very special as they honor and celebrate the life and memory of Hank McKee, who passed away in 2016. McKee was an original founding member of the band. He was the band’s lead singer, but he was so much more than that. He was their life-long friend.

The band members gathered in Vermont this past December to attend and perform at McKee’s memorial service. A decision had to be made about the future of the band. It was decided, with the full support of his family and friends, that McKee would want the Wretched Group to continue. The Wretched Group would like to invite everyone who knew and loved McKee to join them on July 20 and 22 to pay tribute to him.

The band has issued the following statement: “We are sad beyond words. We expect there may be tears. But we urge everyone to bring your dancing shoes because we’re going to rock the house on both nights. Hank wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The band members invite everyone to join them on the evening of Thursday, July 20 at Rookies on the Lake in Dunkirk. The music will start at 8:30 p.m., immediately following the concert on the pier.

The public is also invited to see The Wretched Group perform on Saturday night, July 22 at The Clarion Dockside Cafe in Dunkirk. This show will be from 9 p.m. until midnight.

The Wretched Group formed in Fredonia and Dunkirk in 1965. They are celebrating over 52 years of music.

The band would like to extend a special invitation to those attending the many local high school reunions that weekend.

The Wretched Group is an authentic 1960s rock and roll band that consisted entirely of members of the Fredonia High School Class of 1968. They performed regularly between 1965 and 1968 at many local teen dances in Chautauqua County at venues such as Fredonia’s Teen Center “The Hub,” St. Anthony’s CYO Youth Center, the Fredonia Grange Hall, and area high school dances.

Teen dances with live music could be found on most weekends during the height of the 1960s. Local high school football and basketball games would usually be followed by dances in the school gymnasium, and chances were good that the live music was provided by local bands like The Wretched Group, The Children of Stone and The Cavemen.

The Wretched Group disbanded in 1968 after high school graduation and the band members left Fredonia for college.

The Wretched Group reunited for the first time in 1999 to perform at the members’ high school class reunion and has continued to reunite for performances regularly over the past 18 years. In addition to annual performances in Fredonia and Dunkirk, the band has played in Albany; Latham, New York and Vermont. They performed twice at the legendary Colony Cafe in Woodstock in 2006.

It is always a special event when these long-time friends get together to recreate the music of the 1960s including many classic songs by The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Animals, Bob Dylan and more.

The current members live all across the United States. Current Wretched Group members, or “Wretchies,” include Mike McEntarfer of Fredonia on keyboards, Mickey Mamp of Fredonia on percussion and vocals, Tom Benton of Woodstock on lead guitar and vocals, Jim Modisher of Boulder, Colorado on bass guitar and vocals, Vince Gaeta of New York City on drums, Rob Nichols of Cicero, New York on guitar and vocals, and Ken Colby of Woodstock, Vermont on guitar and vocals.

There will be several special guest musicians this year joining the Wretched Group, including Chris Sargeant and Jim Driesch of the Vermont-based River Road Blues Band and Mark Brown, cousin of fellow Wretchie Jim Modisher.

And the Wretched Group is pleased to announce the return of their original drummer and founding member Dave Greenleaf, who will be making his first appearance with the band in over 50 years.

A Wretched Group performance always celebrates over 50 years of music, fun, and friendship. This years’ shows will be extra special as they remember and celebrate the memory of Hank McKee.

“You can’t simply replace someone as dynamic as Hank. Anyone who witnessed a Hank McKee performance understands that he put his heart and soul into every song. He had a big voice, a big laugh, and a huge heart. We can never replace him. We believe that he will (be) there with us on both nights. We invite everyone to join us as we do our very best to make Hank proud,” said a band spokesman.

Additional information about the Wretched Group may be found on its Facebook page.