Building the Band
It all started with a phone call in early 2013.
Clarks Summit resident Dougie Craig answered his phone to hear a Mississippi twanged, "hello."
"Yes, who's calling?" he asked.
"My name's Johnny. Johnny Laird. I'm answering your ad on Craigslist."
"Yes?" Craig replied.
"You know what," Laird said. "I'm your guy."
Laird called Craig in response to his advertisement for members for a new band, FullCircle. Little did the two men know that it would take several tries - and a lot of patience - before their circle reached completion.
Before the band's inaugural performance at the Abington Memorial Post 7069 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in April, it underwent a metamorphosis that neither Craig nor Laird expected when two of the original band members left the group, leaving them, along with rhythm guitar player Harry Gregory in a situation where they needed to complete the band lineup quickly. Very quickly.
"When I came in the first night, there were five guys; then the next day, there were three left," Gregory said. "I thought, 'what did I get myself in to'?"
"We had a really good chemistry but the members who left had other things they wanted to pursue," Laird recalled. "That left me and Doug. I stuck with Doug because he was really serious and dedicated."
Enter lead vocalist Joe Mercado, a veteran of local bands who was looking for another band to front who had the connections necessary to help the new FullCircle come to fruition.
"I am so thankful for Joe, he knows hundreds of musicians and he called them," Craig said. "We threw together a phenomenal show in eight days with three or four practices."
"We just put together all these songs in a matter of time," Mercado added. "Everybody came along and, for whatever it was worth, we went to the VFW that night and we wowed them."
FullCircle is comprised of Craig, who plays drums, lead guitarist Laird, Gregory, Mercado, bass guitarist Lee Sieminski and keyboard player Len Dobrzyn. The band played at the Summer Oldies Spectacular last weekend at the Ramada Clarks Summit and has several other performances lined up for this summer, including one this Saturday, July 20, at the Villa Maria II, 1610 Washburn St., Scranton, at 8 p.m. Other performances will take place at VFW Post 7069, 402 Winola Road, Clarks Summit, on Saturdays, Aug. 10, 31 and Sept. 21, all beginning at 8 p.m.
"Our theme is feel-good favorites," Craig said. "We like to play music from the 1950s, '60s and '70s. We throw in a few songs from the '80s here in there. We try to play stuff that people haven't heard in a while."
Mercado explained that the band's main goal is to give their audiences not just a memorable concert experience, but the chance to take a trip down memory lane.
"We want to do music that is going to bring you on a trip, that is going to bring you a memory, that will bring you to a good place in your life," he said.
Craig feels that, despite the group's bumpy beginning, it was worth it in the end.
"It can go as far as you want to go, as far as you want to push yourself and as hard as you want to work," he said. "The reason for the name FullCircle is because what goes around comes around. It is amazing, the people you meet one way or another, it's all full circle."Clarks Summit-based FullCircle makes debut on local music scene