Zephania Cross


Cleveland, 1969-73

L-R: Skip Roberts, Mike Ihde, Dave Niksa, Dan Zamostny, Cookie Castelli - photo taken at the Rocky River in Cleveland's Metropark

Zephania Cross was formed by Selective Service members Skip Roberts (guitar), Dave Niksa (bass), Mike Ihde (vocals/guitar/sax), and Cookie Castelli (keyboards). They wanted to form a band that played originals and more progressive music. They parted ways with remaining SS members Jerry and Bob Bruno, and brought in Dan Zamostny on drums.

The band started out playing local clubs like the Agora, the Plato, the Spectrum (on W. 117th), the Woods (in North Royalton), the Longhorn, and Big Dicks. They also played on a regular basis at the Smiling Dog Saloon, where they featured one of the first 'unplugged' acoustic sets of orginial and cover songs. The band's material included songs by Spirit, Jethro Tull, and similar styles, but they were most known for featuring original songs. Denny Geffert replaced Dan Zamostny on drums, and that lineup recorded an all original demo LP at Cleveland Recording. They tried to pitch to a label, but nothing came of it.

Zephania Cross were popular enough locally to get an opening spot with the San Franciso band Lydia Pense and Cold Blood with whom ZC played the Agora clubs all around Ohio. They also had some major gigs with Glass Harp, who had released a couple LPs at the time. GH manager Chip Killinger caught the band and asked them to be the Harp's opening band for some shows in Cleveland and New York State.

Toward the end of the band, another drummer, George Haley, replaced Denny Geffert. Denny had been woodshedding with a band called Braino, who ended up releasing some of the recordings in the early 2000s under the name of Pi Corp. Not long after Hailey joined, the band reorganized by adding singer Woody Leffel, who was been in Braino/Pi Corp (and before that, Granicus and Renaissance Faire). The new band was called Believe!. Skip Roberts, George Haley, and Dave Niksa have continued to play together through the present day, in the band Raisin' Cain, which formed in 1977.

Thanks to Skip Roberts