Some years ago,
the soundman for the now sadly missed venue, New George's in San Rafael, arrived for his nightly gig. As he began to power up the house system, he asked who was playing that night.
A voice from the stage replied,"The Detroit Disciples".
"Oh", he replied approvingly, "the band that plays songs".
Founded in 1985, the Detroit Disciples have indeed staked a reputation as a band with a keen ear for songwriting. Baptized in the same roots rock river that began with Mitch Ryder and flows through such artists as Los Lobos, Steve Earle, the Mystix and A Band of Heathens, the Disciples have caught the attention of many a discerning fan - such as Chuck Eddy of the Village Voice, who added the band to his Eddytor's Dozen in 2006. Their song Bordertown from their first CD, Stare Down the Dog, received impressive rotation play on Santa Rosa's radio station, KRSH. I Won't Complain, Heartbreak Station and Cinderella Shoes, all from their 2005 release Saving Grace, have been heard on internet stations as far away as ZRO in Belgium.
Based in Sonoma County, California, the Detroit Disciples have a strong following garnered from years of shows in the San Francisco North Bay.
Current members include Ian McMurray (songwriter, guitar, mando-guitar, vocals), Paul 'Boom' Burke (drums, vocals), Tom Miller (bass, vocals), Marke 'Jellyroll' Burgstahler (guitar, pedal steel guitar, vocals), Rich Smith (keyboards), and Cynde Burgstahler (songwriter, vocals, percussion).
This team represents years of dues paying. Members of the Detroit Disciples have played with the likes of Gregg Allman, Eddie Money, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Jimmy Hall, Leslie West and It's a Beautiful Day. Together they share the same vision of a well-honed tune, recognizing that blazing lead guitars and soaring vocals amount to very little if there is no substance to the material.
Disciples fans have their favorites; neophytes ask where they can get a CD. Perhaps their friend Rebel Fagen captured it best when he wrote in their first CD's liner notes:
"On the surface, rock appears terribly simplistic unless it has soul. Then it becomes church music that can touch you where you live. If you can't bleed for it, you don't mean it - then it means nothing."