Wretched Group marks 50 years, sets performances

Reaching a milestone

Members of the Wretched Group will be playing in Dunkirk on Aug. 1 and 2.

The Wretched Group is returning to the area to perform two live rock and roll shows this summer on Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 in a special two-night engagement at The Clarion Dockside Cafe in Dunkirk.

Both shows will be from 8:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. The Thursday night show will begin immediately after the concert on the pier. The band urges everyone to head right down to The Clarion after the show at the pier.

This year, the band will feature a special set of songs from Woodstock to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the legendary festival.

Several members of the band attended the original Woodstock Festival in 1969.

The Wretched Group formed in Fredonia and Dunkirk in 1965. They are celebrating over 54 years of making music which makes them one of the oldest rock and roll bands still performing.

This photo is from The Hub in Fredonia in 1967 and includes teenagers then in attendance to hear The Wretched Group.

“If The Rolling Stones are the oldest rock and roll band, we’re not far behind,” says the band.

“We were best friends before we formed the band. And we’re still the best of friends,” band members agree. “We get together once a year with little time for rehearsal, but there remains a special bond between us that makes it work.”

The band members believe there is also a special bond between the band and the many friends who come out to see them play every year. In many cases it is the same folks who came to see them play as teenagers in the ’60s. “It’s so cool to look out at the crowd and see so many familiar faces from our youth,” band members noted.

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, The Raque, The Cavemen, and The Squires.

The members of the band would like to extend a special invitation to those attending the many local high school reunions that weekend. They played regularly at teen dances at Fredonia, Dunkirk and Cardinal Mindszenty high schools in the ’60s, and they hope to see many old friends.

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. They were the first band to play at The Hub on opening night in 1967. *(See attached photo of the Wretched Group and opening night of The Hub from The Observer on 1-1-67).

The band started out in 1965 in Dave Greenleaf’s garage in Dunkirk. They practiced every Saturday afternoon, playing their little hearts out until it was time to go home or until the local police cruised by to make them stop, whichever came first. Their first paying gigs were Saturday afternoon Dunkirk Jr High School dances where they were paid a total of $5 — to be divided among six band members. And their first big break came when a Fredonia High School sorority hired them to play at a teen dance at the Fredonia Grange hall in the fall of 1965.

The Wretched Group disbanded in 1968 after high school graduation and the individual 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 over the past 20 years. In addition to annual performances in Fredonia and Dunkirk, the band has played in Albany, Latham and Vermont. They performed twice at the legendary Colony Cafe in Woodstock in 2006.

It is always a special event when these longtime 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, Colo., on bass guitar and vocals, David Greenleaf of Boston, Massachusetts on percussion, Vince Gaeta of New York City on drums, Rob Nichols of Cicero, New York on guitar and vocals, Ken Colby of Woodstock, Vermont on guitar and vocals, Bill Smith of Silver Creek on guitar and vocals, Mark Brown of Corning NY on keyboards and vocals, Jodi Pasquale of Dunkirk on vocals, and Jack Pasquale on sound and lights.

This year’s performances will be very special as they continue to honor and celebrate the lives and memories of Hank McKee and Jim “Quale” Pasquale. Both were original members of the band who have passed away. McKee was the the band’s lead singer and Pasquale was their drummer. But they were so much more than that. They were their life-long friends. The band firmly believes that they are with them in spirit when they play.

The Wretched Group would like to invite everyone who knew and loved McKee and Pasquale to join them on Aug. 1 and 2 to pay tribute to them.

The band has issued the statement: “We urge everyone to bring your dancing shoes because we’re going to rock the house on both nights. Hank and “Quale” wouldn’t have it any other way.”

A Wretched Group performance is truly a celebration of over 54 years of music, fun and friendship.

Additional information about the Wretched Group may be found on its Facebook and Instagram pages.