The Sweet Comfort Band | Bryan Duncan by Orange County Headshots
The decade was the 70’s. Rock ‘n‘ Roll was in its heyday. The Sweet Comfort Band | Bryan Duncan band was just a few years award from Breakin’ The Ice.
How I met The Sweet Comfort Band | Bryan Duncan and photographed them is a story that does not lend itself to a quick summary.
However, in the interest of brevity and getting you on your way, the following is a compact version. If there are areas where you’d like me to elaborate, I’m easy to find.
My first guitar, and subsequent lessons, began on my 10th birthday. I launched my first rock group two years later.
My primary role was bandleader, chart writer, and rhythm guitarist. My father had advised that I add bass to my musician’s bag of tricks, which he proclaimed would keep me hopping. He was right. By the time I was in my midteens, I was typically playing in three bands. Bass players were indeed in demand!
The band relevant to my story was Ox. I can still see the iridescent orange card with the thick black typeface. My recollection of the five members is limited to David Spicer. He was a phenomenal lead player whom I feel a certain degree of pride in encouraging (if not abetting…).
It was David who introduced me to Rick Thomson (the drummer for Sweet Comfort Band).
As to the details of how David, Rick and I began hanging together, it’s lost in a fog of way too many gigs and players.
What I do recall, however, is that after we began some semblance of playing together, David and Rick made a life-changing decision that transformed everything – they found Jesus.
Though I was happy for their newfound faith, I was not ready to join them. While I was very much in the search-for-meaning frame of mind, I had yet to experience my forays into EST, Lifespring, Scientology, Kundalini Yoga, and a host of lesser isms.
Rick’s brother, Kevin, on the other hand, also became Christian at that time and had just taken up the bass (or at least that was my understanding). One afternoon while showing Kevin a few bass-chops, it occurred to me that Rick could take my place in the fledgling “band” we were sampling. I took the opportunity to graciously bow out.
On a quick sidenote – while Kevin became a fine bassist in his own right, I was unsuccessful in dissuading him from playing with a pick. As it turned out, he did exceedingly well in spite of my guidance…
It wasn’t long after I left Thomson’s trio when I too accepted Jesus into my life. The telling of this journey is for another time and purpose. Regardless, a snippet of this story is relevant to the topic at hand.
Suffice it to say the seminal event of my conversion occurred one evening while failing to navigate a U-turn at an intersection where a new church (Calvary Chapel, now “Harvest”) had just opened in Riverside, CA. I ended up in a parking lot and turned off my engine to take a quick pause before collecting myself and continued on my way.
Unexpectedly, I was captivated by a rhythmic torrent emanating from the opened windows. It had a gripping quality that compelled me toward it.
Curiosity got the better of me and I decided a cursory investigation was unavoidable. The operative M.O. was stealth – get in and out quickly!
After walking into the church foyer, however, I was met by a couple of official-looking men who directed me to an open seat. Actually, the placed was packed and I was accommodated for only when a row of worshipers kindly squeezed in a bit tighter.
In any case, once my tush was planted, I felt obligated to stay put. I was not about to risk making myself anymore conspicuous. This was not the scenario I had imagined or bargained for.
What transpired next, though monumental, is best left for a later date. Long story short, I walked out a new man. Born again.
It was upon revisiting the church where I discovered that the Thomson boys were heavily involved with the music ministry. We reconnected. Shortly afterward, Rick invited me to his home for a Sunday barbecue. I went.
While at the luncheon, I sat down at a piano and was banging out a song that I had recently written. Without warning, a stranger plopped himself to the right of me on the bench. To my surprise, he began to add a few flourishes of his own. Though unsolicited, they were sweet and tasty.
That gentleman was Bryan Duncan.
As the party flew along, I discovered that the Thomsons and Bryan had just formed a Christian band. Gone was David Spicer (who I learned moved to Nashville). He was replaced later by the inestimable Randy Thomas.
I don’t recall at that time whether I heard the name of the promising trio. However, it wasn’t long before my new band, Whalin’ Jonah, became the warmup act for the Sweet Comfort Band. It was exciting times.
More than anything, I look back upon these days and can still feel the palpable passion to make amazing music radiating from both Bryan and Rick.
They succeeded, magnificently – and we are all the better for it.
The rest, as they say, is history.
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Master Craftsman Photographer
American Society of Photographers
International Photography Hall of Fame & Museum
Orange County Photographer of the Year
3-Time Honoree -EPCOT’S World’s Greatest Photographers Exhibit