One of the famous names from the heyday of the Jersey club scene is Kinderhook Creek. The band had a nine-year run of success, not only playing all the major area clubs, but opening up for many of the top acts of the day at venues such as the Capitol Theater in Passaic ad the Palladium in New York City.
The nucleus of the band included Yuri Turchen on fiddle and guitar, Jerry Kopychuk on lead vocals, Andy Fediw on bass, Craig Barry on drums, Joe Breitenbach on guitar, and Stan Taylor on pedal steel and lap steel. All the members sang, making the group one of the top vocal bands in the area. During the later years, they were joined by keyboardist John Korba.
Their vocal prowess allowed them to do much of the top music of the day, which included L.A. bands such as the Eagles and the Doobie Brothers. “We were instrumental in bringing country rock into New Jersey,” remembers Yuri. “It was southern rock, and country rock.” They would often do their own interpretations of songs. “We would dig up an old Moby Grape tune, and turn it into a country rock song,” he adds.
The band drew big crowds at clubs such as the Royal Manor in New Brunswick, the Royal Manor in South Belmar, the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Baby-O’s in Seaside, Creations in West Orange, and the Final Exam in Randolph. “We played six or seven nights a week for nine years,” says Yuri. “Timing is everything, and sometimes something you believe in captures the public’s ear.”
The group finally called it quits in 1982. People started getting married, and losing interest,” says Yuri. “We all did it out of college, and we had parlayed it into a good business.”
Today, Yuri heads the jazz group Grupo Yuri. They play a world beat type of music, with African and Steely Dan influences, merging with jazz. You can see them occasionally at shore clubs such as the Brighton Bar. They’ve recently completed some recordings, and have several labels seriously looking at the band. “I’m very proud of it,” says Yuri.
Jerry embarked on a successful insurance career after the demise of Kinderhook, and now heads his own agency. Andy, meanwhile, manages an auto dealership.
“Craig is a big shot up in Rhode Island,” says Yuri. “He’s in the communications field.” Joe is living in Florida, and works on computers. Like Yuri, John has stayed active in music. He composed all the music for the Amtrak commercials, as well as the Chevrolet “Heartbeat Of America” jingles. He is now playing with well-known folk artist David Buskin.
“We got so sick of each other,” remembers Yuri. “All of our 20’s were spent together.” “We didn’t speak to each other for a year after we split up. But now we’re all friends. It’s nice to be remembered… The memories are very good.”
Copyright © Hal B. Selzer/The Aquarian/East Coast Rocker and transcribed with permission.