My musical career or calling started in 1965 with my high school band The Lost Souls . The band played local CYO teen dances, K of C halls, armories and Hullabaloos. The Lost Souls' popularity peaked in 1967 when they played at the Cleveland Stadium. From 1965 to 1968 The Lost Souls established 24 attendance records at various clubs. We did mostly covers and a few of my originals that used flute, sax and mandolin along with the usual guitar bass and drums. The band broke up when in Our second year of college when we went our separate ways.
After The Lost Souls broke up I was asked to join The Choir .The Choir had gone through some personal changes and was looking to regroup after their national hit, It's Cold Outside. (#57 U.S. billboard 1967 ) This version of The Choir competed with Eric Carmen's Cyrus Erie for local popularity. The band recorded an album that paved the way for a new record deal, but the band broke up when two members of The Choir joined the Cyrus Erie. I played with the The Choir for nine months. (The Choir...a Cleveland Legend by Catena Galipo with Richie Unterberger and Denny Carleton is a Choir History written in 1987.
A day after The Choir broke up, I was asked to join Moses, a rock theatrical band that became very popular. Moses played in the metro Cleveland and Pittsburgh areas. The group was known for it's theatrics, humor and high energy music. Moses opened for such acts as Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, MC5 and Ted Nugent, but broke up due to a being young and everyone looking for something more.
In the beginning of the 1970's, I began to play folk music in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and as far away as Toronto, Canada. During this same period, I felt a calling from God and became part of the Charismatic Renewal which helped "to rededicate and rebuild my life with the foundation being Jesus Christ". Throughout the rest of his music career I have remained active doing both Christian and secular music.
In 1974 , Brian Sands and I agreed to re-form Moses as a new group - Milk. Randy Klawon was replaced on lead guitar by Al Globakar and Dave Alexy played drums. Moses had been high energy and danceable; Milk was artistic, avante garde, and basically off the wall. Tiny Tim melodies, Rudy Vallee songs, baseball cards thrown from the stage along with group photos posing with man-sized shampoo bottles made Milk too much for the tastes of most audiences. Locally, Milk remains most notorious for nearly starting a riot as the ill-chosen opening act for a Canned Heat concert.
My next band was just as eventful. The Fa band was the trio of myself (Denny Carleton guitar and vocals), Fred Grupe (bass), and Mac Chaefer (drums). We played local YMCA's, bars, and schools, developing a large cult following who enjoyed hearing the originals as well the band satirizing the 70's rock scene. Mac wanted to be more serious and left, but Fred and I continued playing every night to the beat of a different drummer - literally! Occasionally, an extra guitar player appeared, or perhaps a harmony singer ...usually ending in a free-for-all jam session with anyone who wished joining in. In 1975, I Denny Carleton appeared on WMMS Coffee Break Concert, with Fred Grupe and Randy Klawon doing my originals.
Afterwords, i was approached by Dave "99" Hayward's Precious Records about putting out an E.P. My tunes "Could She Love Me" and "Pregnant Molly" were on one side, while Al Globakars' "If I Only Had The Bomb" was on the other.Much to our dismay Dave insisted on calling the band The Cleveland Cuties.
All this publicity changed the Fa band, which was re-formed with permanent members- Myself Denny Carleton (guitar and vocals), Ralph Viviano (drums), Dan Schneider (lead guitar), Fred Grupe(bass) and Joe Balaszic (vocals). The band played locally for about a year until we broke up for a short time.
We reformed as Inner City, but Ralph had gotten another gig with Eric Robertson. So Bruce Moore became the drummer and the band added his wife's (Pam) female vocals doing Heart covers along with originals from Dan Schneider and myself Denny Carleton. The band played mostly at the Phantasy Theatre in Lakewood before breaking up after just five months. Pam went on to sing back up with Bob Seger and then Meatloaf, while Dan became a staff songwriter for a N.Y. publishing firm.
I played in a few bands after Inner City, including the legendary Punk Band, The Pagans ..The The Pagans were the name of a band not a lifestyle,at least for me and sounded a lot like the Ramones. Denny Carleton's biggest contribution to the punk band the Pagans was writing one of their best known songs "Boy Can I Dance Good".
After so many bands breaking up for so long, I decided to play out locally, doing 60's covers to make money to invest in publishing my own music on my own label, Green Light. Around this time, I also became a guitar teacher, eventually being hired at the Willoughby Fine Arts Association, Goose Acres and The Music Emporium. I also worked at Zondervan's Christian Family Bookstore and began to teach Lakeland Community College Students for college credit through the Willoughby Fine Arts.Its Important to pass on your talents talents
The first cover band in this new direction was the Last Street Band. Every Friday, for the 9 months the band lasted, the 12 year old younger brother of Doug (the band's lead guitar player) would sit in and jam. The place would be packed to see "The Kid" play guitar. Doug's little brother is Tom Bukovec, who has gone on to be one of the top studio musicians in Nashville
I then played locally with the Surprize Band in 1981-1989 , which eventually changed its name to The Window because no one could figure out who the "Surprize Band" was. The original band included: Mike Wey (bass), Mark Luthardt (lead guitar), Denny Carleton (vocals and guitar) and Roy Laboy (drums). Later, Mac Chafer replaced Roy and Tom Mackle stepped in when Mike dropped out. During the period 1982 through 1989 , The Window was WMJI's house rock band and hosted many food for the poor jam sessions for Clevelanders in need.
At this time I joined and played guitar at St Felicitas's charismatic prayer meeting and healing service. St. Felicitas had a wonderful priest named Father Kraker. Denny continued to play during the Healing Service until 2001.
That same year, Green Light also issued the new Cleveland Green Light sampler, featuring many local Cleveland artists including Wally Bryson's Sittin' Ducks. Because of the success of all these tapes, Option Magazine featured an article of of my career in a full page article . The mail poured in and Jim Marquardt joined Green Light helping to organize it. In 1986, the first Green Light catalog was issued, featuring My songs and , a dozen local artists, The Cleaners from Venus (from England), and other musicians from around the world. The tape label was similar to "K cassettes.". Green Light was mentioned by the New York Times as one of the established 'cassette only' companies in the U.S. Anastasia Pantsios, in her Plain Dealer article, said that Green Light was one of Cleveland's five legitimate record labels.
Between 1983 and 1990 , I released nine solo cassettes and was known as one of he musicians doing home taping in the Alternative Underground Music scene. My music was played on over 300 College and Public Radio stations, including WFMU in New Jersey, and CKLN in Toronto, Ontario and WAIF in Cincinnatti, Ohio. Both WFMU and CKLN did two hour programs on my home tapes and sixties music, once appearing live in Toronto on CKLN.
One of the home tapes was my radio drama/play Who's Been Fooling Who? It concerns an idealistic musician in the future who is trying to escape the confusion in the world through music, communication and art. Lance, the main character, is being trained to submit confusing information into a symbol translator which then helps him weave through the maze of confusion and helps him live. This Sci-Fi, Lo-Fi drama was reviewed favorably by Dino Dimuro, in Option Magazine [see Reviews], and it was also performed by the Willoughby School of Fine Arts Theatre Workshop.
I received a scholarship from Cuyahoga Community College in 1988, where it helped to sharpen my teaching skills and to broaden my music to include classical, jazz and arrangements. I was then hired by the College to teach music, be a consultant and play bass for their cultural art shows about the history of rock - which took place at the State Theatre in Playhouse Square. A fellow teacher and friend, Paul Schmidt, recorded my song, If I Had a Bride during this same time. I composed an avante garde jazz song as a duet at this time, with vibe player Cecil Rucker, entitled Nations I Have Never Seen. Another I composed was a classical piece written for a string quartet entitled Fall to Winter Flight.
Late in the 80's, a man by the name of Bob Pilskaln started Just Guise as a group that did parodies for a local Cleveland DJ named John Lanigan. Lanigan mc'd Cleveland's most popular morning drive program. [Just Guise would take a song like "Margaritaville" and do a parody singing "Cuyahogaville", instead. (For the non-locals, Cuyahoga county is the county where Cleveland is located). They would use famous songs to poke fun at Cleveland, it's politicians and leaders. At some point Bob wanted to expand into more original songs and into college radio. That is where Denny entered the picture.
Bob Pillscaln and Denny Carleton did skits on Just Guise' college radio program that were broadcast locally on WUJC (John Carrol's radio station) and the syndicated nationally (via satellite) by U-net to 300 college radio stations. I was in Just Guise from 1988 to 1990, when Bob decided to go in another direction with his creativity and he began teaching college.
In 1989, i married Theresa Galish and played in bands for a while until we found our niche. As a folk duet in area coffee shops, libraries, churches and bookstores, we played my originals plus had a song list of over 350 tunes in the progressive folk music tradition of Austin City Limits. Theresa and myself also played on the same bill as country artists Radney Foster, Leroy Parnell and Steve Wariner. As a duo, we had two tapes which were released in 1995 and 1996, playing regionally which led to two newspaper articles about our folk act. Additionally, we did Church services for St Mary's Mentor (Life Teen Mass), St. Paul Presbyterian Church, St Mary Collinwood, Villa Angela St.-Joseph High School, St Felicitas and St. Christine's. In 1999, Theresa and I went their separate ways.
In 1990 My retro CD was released, and and began to compose music for the theatre.
The first play, The Phantom Tollbooth, and the music was composed in 1990 . During this time He also wrote music from the poems of his distant cousin, Will Carleton (1845-1912); who was the Poet Laureate of Michigan . I also wrote music for Way Out Cinderella for the Chagrin Valley Little Theater. This was followed in 1998 by being commissioned to write St. Paul's Presbyterians Church's theme song, Let's be Glad.
With Dan Klawon i hosted the Christian Open mic in the the early 2000's. Many performers from various backgrounds came and sang their songs for the Lord. A truly wonderful and fruitful experience.
From 1999 to 2006, I hosted MY own radio show on WELW and interviewing local Cleveland musicians.In 2006- 2008 I was on the Word Radio a Christian Station
In that same time frame, I also composed music for a play about Catholic Saints performed at the St. Joseph Christian Life Center in 2001, and in 2003 another commission came during 2003 by the School of Fine Arts to write music for the Ohio Bicentennial, resulting in Beautiful Spring and Ohio These songs were performed by the Willoughby Fine Arts Children's summer camp. Again theses songs were performed in 2004 by The Peaceful Children's Montessori School at the Geuaga Little Theatre.
From an open mic night a new group evolved called the Elements.Fred Grupe on bass, John Hlavka accordian,Ed Mills bazooki, and percusssion, Art Lazar percussion,David Hlavka acoustic, Doug Bukovic electric guitar, Bob Howrie bass and guitar,Grege Coleman, zen drum , Dr Juan Hernandez,and others all took turns playing in Denny Carleton and the Elements. Very casual and laid back we played local coffeehouse,the Fine Arts coffeehouse series, the Beachland ballroom,Seekers and the Barking spider. We did my originals with and off beat sense of humour and a strange variety of instruments, including zen drum, bazooki, percussion, baritone guitar and more. The Elements peaked when they played in downtown Cleveland at in front the Hanna Theatre at Playhouse Square , in Cleveland Ohio the Ingenuity festival
Currently, I is very active in all sorts of venues in addition to writing music for plays. he also play out solo at coffeehouses, nursing homes, wineries, private affairs and book stores. Additionally, He plays in a trimmer version a group called The Elements with John Halvka on accordian,and Ed Mills on percussion backing him on hissongs,
As a Christian musician,Denny continue to record new CDS and I lead contemporary praise music every week at Sts. Cosmos and Damian in Twinsburg, Ohio, and lead music for the FPC contemporary morning service of Wlloughby.
On Oct 20 2012 Denny Carleton wed Brenda Quinn and now live happily in Twinsburg Ohio