Big Luke and the Fouresters / Tiny Reed and the Velours / Marble Cake


Kent, 1964-70

“Marblecake” was a band in Kent from 1968 until 1970. They appeared at the Kove on North Water Street, 5 nights a week for 22 months and 5 days. But the story of Marblecake is really a bit longer than that.

In 1964, Glenn Lucas, bass player from Lorain, started out to form a band. At the KSU theatre he met singer Marty Kralik from Cleveland. Next to come, drummer Bob Boettcher from Dayton. Bob found an electric piano player on campus by the name of Bruce Rusin. The final piece was an underage guitarist local to Kent, Ken Yovicson. This group of mostly inexperienced players became known as “Big Luke and the Fouresters”. They played several places around Ohio and were best known for a dark green Econoline van with a giant BIG LUKE on the sides that could be seen all over the KSU campus. They’re one gig in Kent was as back-up for a local group, Tiny and the Dunnaways. The Dunnaways, an all girl singing group, was fronted by another KSU student, Alaina “Tiny” Reed, originally from Springfield, Ohio. That would turn out to be a momentous meeting. Big Luke eventually disbanded in 1965. During one of their trips to Dayton they recorded a 45 at a local studio of a pounding instrumental called “The Gronk” backed with “In the Midnight Hour”. The 45 was financed by Bob’s family and released on the studio’s label, RoX records. The band name was shortened for convenience.

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In 1966, Glenn got a call from “Tiny” who wanted to start a group doing R&B covers for the annual Talent Show weekend on campus. Tiny got the band a special guest spot, closing the show each night. She brought a guitarist by the name of Marty Davey and in the fall of 1966, Glenn, Bob and Bruce with “Tiny” and Marty formed “The Velours”. No one at those shows had ever heard anything like Alaina “Tiny” Reed. With Bruce now on a B3 organ, the group had the crowds on their feet, dancing in the isles.

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L-R: Glenn Lucas, Bob Boettcher, Ken Yovicson, Bruce Rusin

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L-R: Bob Boettcher (drums) Glenn Lucas (bass), Bruce Rusin (organ), Tiny Reed (vocals), Ken Yovicson (guitar) – both pictures taken at the Kove.

Following the success at the Talent Show, Marty was able to get the band a gig at the Kove. The start was February, 1967. They played continuously, 5 nights a week, until December, 1968. Crowds on weekend nights of 800 to 1,000 people packed the Kove, a place rated at 250 seating capacity. During the run, Marty decided to enlist in the Army and the original guitarist, Ken Yovicson, was brought in to replace him. In early 1968, another member was added who brought about the name. Steve Foltz, a vocalist from Cleveland who came to JB’s in a Temptations cover group. After hearing the Velours next door, he petitioned to join the group. Now, with 4 white guys backing 2 black front singers, playing all R&B music, “Marblecake” was born. Marblecake did R&B music, Motown, Stax/Volt, and their theme song “With A Little Help From My Friends”.

But the story doesn’t stop in Kent. In January of 1969, the group packed up and headed to Chicago, brought there by a promotion company, the Rann Group. They opened as the Grand Opening act at famed Chicago club Mother’s, worked mainly Rush Street, and did occasional gigs in Wisconsin and Michigan. They also spent a month in Aspen, Colorado. During the summer of ’69, Alaina left the group to join the Chicago cast of “Hair”, the Broadway musical. Shortly after, Ken also left to join the show. Other changes included bringing Joe Vitale out from Kent. Joey, of course, went on to a stellar career as drummer with Joe Walsh’s Barnstorm, JW solo, the Eagles, Stephen Stills and Ted Nugent to name a few. He continues to tour and record with International acts while based in his Canton, Ohio home. Go to http://www.joevitaleondrums.com/ to learn more. Finally, in the fall of ’69, after 9 months, the band returned to Kent. They returned to the Kove and finally disbanded in 1970, after the riots. For one of their last gigs, Marble Cake played the Piper Rock Festival in Newton Falls (May 24).

In early 1971, Glenn got another call from Alaina, offering him the gig as bassist in the Mercury National Touring Company of Hair. Joining in March, Glenn was back with Alaina and Ken. Soon after, the opportunity came for Bruce to join the show. The tour lasted until September, 1972, when the show closed. Four of the original five were part of an American iconic legend.

Alaina went on to a marvelous career with lead roles in “Chicago” the musical, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club” on Broadway as well as 12 years in the role of Olivia on Sesame Street. She starred in the prime-time NBC series “227” with Marla Gibbs of “Jefferson’s” fame. Her credits include several movie rolls and many TV commercials. Sadly, Alaina succumbed to breast cancer in December of 2009. Glenn now lives in Florida, Bruce resides in Cleveland. When last heard of, Ken was in Texas. Whereabouts of Steve is unknown.

Discography:

Midnight Hour / The Gronk (RoX 1002) 1965

Story and pics courtesy Glenn Lucas