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"The Bryson Group "Dry" showcases guitarists Jesse & Wally Bryson"

The Bryson Group: "Dry" showcases guitarists Jesse & Wally Bryson
Mar 26 '05 (Updated Oct 07 '06)

Author's Product Rating

Teen idols 30 years apart, Jesse Bryson (Rosavelt) and Wally Bryson (Raspberries),make a great album..


The Bottom Line
Father and son, Jesse and Wally Bryson, offer "Dry," a CD of rich musical textures and great songwriting. Beatles and power pop influences are everywhere.

Full Review
When Jimmy Ienner, the bass vocalist John Lennon always referred to as "Duke" because of his vocal work on Gene Chandler's "Duke Of Earl," heard The Bryson Group's "Dry" CD, he was blown away.

Ienner, a one-time member of The Four Seasons, is best-known as producer of albums by Kiss, Eric Carmen, Raspberries, Lighthouse, Blood Sweat & Tears, Grand Funk Railroad and Three Dog Night.

Of the "Dry" album, Ienner commented, "The harmonies are so good, they're absurd. The world needs to hear this music."

I couldn't agree more. The songwriting, musicianship and vocal talents presented on "Dry" are the result of an admiring father and son collaboration that truly works.

The Bryson Group:

I can't imagine a more difficult task, for most people, than a father and son working together on a project. Egos and parent-son status usually get in the way of such efforts.

Such is not the case with Jesse and Wally Bryson, whose father-son relationship has evolved into friendship and virtual brothers-in-arms, which is pretty cool, I think.

The son, Jesse Bryson, is an adult now, but he has established himself as one of Cleveland's favorite guitarists.

In 1997, Jesse's former band, Qwasi Qwa, won the Mountain Dew High School Rock-Off which pitted Cleveland's best young bands against one another. One review I read of a Qwasi Qwa live performance at the time in Cleveland Scene magazine noted hundreds of screaming young girls going bonkers over Qwasi Qwa's performance.

Qwasi Qwa's music was hip, alternative, rock and pop all rolled into one. Their CD "Shaking Hands With The Governor" is worth seeking out. The band went on to win a Cleveland Freetimes poll as well and appeared in a showcase at the SXSW Festival in Texas in 2000.

Jesse Bryson went on to perform with some Cleveland legends, sharing the stage with former Raspberries' band members and with Michael Stanley, among others over the years. Most recently, he was a member of Rosavelt, recording their CD "The Story Of Gasoline" before leaving that group in December of 2004.

Jesse's guitar-playing dad is Wally Bryson, lead guitarist for Raspberries ("Go All The Way"), Fotomaker (which also featured ex-Rascals Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli), The Choir (whose members later joined Raspberries and The James Gang), Tattoo (featuring Dan Klawon of The Choir, Raspberries sideman Jeff Hutton and former Nazz drummer Thom Mooney), The Sittin' Ducks and a dozen other bands. Wally's also a former touring member of The New Rascals.

In the late 1960s, Wally and Eric Carmen were members of Cyrus Erie, who cut some singles for Epic Records and were Cleveland's top band. Jeff Beck of The Yardbirds heard Wally sing lead on Cyrus Erie's cover of "Nights In White Satin" and gave Wally an early ego boost by telling him that his version was better than The Moody Blues' original recording of the tune!

Wally has been profiled in such magazines as "20th Century Guitar" (October 1997) and "Guitar Digest" (February-March 2005), and his lovely part-Cherokee Indian face has graced the covers of such periodicals as "Hit Parader" and "Goldmine" as well over the years.

In 1985, Wally was musical director for the Ienner-produced teen pop band Candy, a group that included future Guns 'n' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke and bassist Jonathan Daniel (who later was in Electric Angels and The Loveless, and who later managed American Hi-Fi). Wally was also musical director for the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame & Museum's Topping-Off Ceremony's All-Star Band.

Since the Fall of 2004, Wally has been touring with the reunited Raspberries (Bryson, Eric Carmen, Jim Bonfanti and Dave Smalley). The tour continues in the summer of 2005.

You want chart experience? Wally has 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits under his belt, first charting at the age of 17 in 1967 (those hits include seven with Raspberries, two with Fotomaker and one with The Choir).

This is a family in love with music (Jesse's mom, and Wally's wife, is the lovely Kay Bryson, a very busy lady whose many projects include publicity for the men in her life, being Wally's partner in Kay-Wal Music, and running the official Raspberries' band website).


The Bryson Group showcases two John Lennon-inspired guitarists, brothers-in-rock whose love and respect for each other is evident in interviews and in their music --- they seem in both awe and admiration of each other.

Jesse handles all the lead vocals here. He also wrote 14 of the 16 songs on The Bryson Group's "Dry" (the other two songs were written by Jesse and Wally). Son and father share producer credit on "Dry," as well as singing all the background vocals.

Jesse (electric 12-string and acoustic guitars) and Wally (electric and acoustic guitars, percussion and drums) are the core of the band, of course, but they have surrounded themselves with some of Cleveland's best musicians, folks in their 20s like Jesse and folks in their 50s like Wally --- a really interesting mix of youthful energy and older musical maturity.

Kenny Margolis, whose songwriting was a high point on The Sittin' Ducks (which featured Bryson and Choir veteran Dan Klawon) self-titled CD a few years back (also worth picking up), plays piano and keyboards on "Dry." Excellent choice.

Others backing the project include bassist Gary Miller, guitarist Dave Miller, drummer Dave Alexy, drummer John Morocco, percussionist Greg Campolieti and violinist Bob Yocum.

These musical talents provide richly textured music here, and Jesse Bryson shows enormous growth as a songwriter on this project. The guitar and vocal talents of Jesse and Wally Bryson have never been in question.

The CD:

"Dry" by The Bryson Group is an independent release on the Kay-Wal Music label, so it won't be collecting dust in the CD bins at your local retailer. It is available through the band's website and ordering information is at (or you can email the Brysons at Rasp for info).

A video of the band performing live is viewable on the website's main page.

"Dry" has a generous running time of 68:47 minutes. Fans of power pop, alternative rock and late '60s John Lennon will enjoy this. The guitar-playing is tasteful and gutsy, but never falls into a boring jam or an unnecessary long guitar solo. The Brysons understand pop radio listenability better than most artists.

The album was produced by Jesse and Wally Bryson at Suma Recording Studio in Cleveland, Ohio. Paul Hamann (Destructor, Pere Ubu, Grand Funk Railroad, Bloodrock) engineered and mastered the album.

The CD booklet is 4-pages, pretty much the norm for independent releases, with personnel information and photos of the Brysons. No lyrics are provided, but the music does all the necessary talking here.

The 16 tracks:

"Lady K," "Dry," "Train," "Just Dream With Me," "You Gotta Rock," "Shallow," "Violets In The Grey," "Looks," "Another Day," "Disappointed," "World Turned Blue," "Come Inside," "Stay In," "Thank You For The Love," "Brothers With Blues" and "Time Alone."

My favorite tracks:

"Lady K":

Jesse Bryson's lead vocal is a monument to youthful excitement, with gutsy power pop guitar swagger accenting the melody.

The harmonies are glorious here, riding a wave of '60's power-chorded melody:

" sorry Lady K..."


Like much of Wally Bryson's material over the years, I hear the spirit of John Lennon in the music. Here Wally cowrites with Jesse and the result is the same --- Lennon was a Raspberries' fan, and the Brysons' feeling is obviously one of mutual love for the late, great Beatle.

The music is unique and doesn't steal from Lennon, but in capturing the spirit of Lennon's magic the Brysons are amazing. If Lennon were still alive, he would adore this track about a "Dry" world:

"I wanna see the stars come out / I wanna see what the world's about / I wanna see the seven seas / yellow water and purple trees / and I just wanna see the rain / what happened to the ships that sank / all the worlds that vanish in a wink / and where is all this history / 'cause I don't see it anywhere by me / and I just wanna see the rain fall down / 'cause everything's so dry / everything's so dry..."

"Just Dream With Me":

Wally Bryson cowrote a beautiful ballad with Eric Carmen, "Don't Want To Say Goodbye," that became Raspberries' first Billboard chart hit in 1972 (since covered by The Lettermen and Sha Na Na, among others). His ability to write a great ballad has passed on to Jesse Bryson --- the evidence is in the string-laden, Jesse Bryson-written ballad, "Just Dream With Me."

"Just Dream With Me" is flat out gorgeous. It's a slow, moving ballad, that again reminds one of the music of Lennon and McCartney circa The Beatles:

"...just dream with me / and I know you could / and we will never fall apart / I just want you to hold my hand / let me know you understand / you have to see through a grain of sand / that it would kill me if you changed the plan..."

Listen to the gently strummed guitars here, soothing and tender to the ears like a gentle lullabye. The lush strings, just right and never overpowering, add to the song's impact. Great stuff.

"World Turned Blue":

Uptempo, guitar-driven pop-rock with beautiful multi-part harmonies, all highlighting Jesse Bryson's talent as a lead singer. This is glorious power pop worthy of the Raspberries' lineage, while still standing on its own merits:

"...everytime I think of you / my world turns blue / just another tragedy / and my world turns blue..."

"Time Alone":

The Brysons are so comfortable in their own musical talents as guitarists that they think nothing of bringing in guitarist Dave Miller's wonderful blues slide guitar on the upbeat "Time Alone." The song is short and sweet, but that slide guitar-work is to die for.

"...need some time alone / to help me understand..."

"Stay In":

Gentle acoustic guitar underscores Jesse's sweet lead vocal on "Stay In." It's an introspective, intelligent tune that betrays a maturity beyond a man of Jesse's youth. He obviously has studied himself and the world around him.

The tune could be written to a friend or a lover, written by someone afraid of being alone, at least for tonight:

"Let's just stay in tonight / and have a talk / and have a laugh / and have a cry / and wonder why 'til morning / been alone for too long / just going out and acting wrong / and now I just need someone to love me / I wish you could stay home..."

Related websites:

Official Bryson Group website:

Official Raspberries website is run by Kay Bryson (Jesse's mom, Wally's wife):

Interview with Wally Bryson by "Peanuts" in Ohio Online magazine:

Related reviews:

Capitol/EMI's 24-bit digitally remastered CD released in May of 2005 in the U. S. and Europe, "Greatest," features all 7 of Raspberries Hot 100 singles, has 20 tracks and runs 78:53 minutes:

Wally Bryson and Kenny Margolis, both veterans of The Choir and The Bryson Group, were also members of The Sittin' Ducks, who appear on the compilation CD "Talkin' Baseball":

My review of the first Fotomaker album with Wally Bryson, "Fotomaker":

My review of the second Fotomaker album with Wally Bryson, "Vis-A-Vis":

"Choir Practice" by The Choir CD (featuring Bryson with future Raspberries' bandmates Dave Smalley and Jim Bonfanti): (available in either CD or vinyl from Sundazed Records, the manufacturer, at

"Internal Monologue" by Dave Smalley features Wally Bryson on backing vocals on the track "Someone Like You":

"Raspberries" by Raspberries:

"Fresh" by Raspberries:

"Side 3" by Raspberries:

"Starting Over" by Raspberries (one of seven albums named Album Of The Year in 1974 by Rolling Stone magazine):

"Refreshed" by "The Raspberries" (reunion album from 2000 with Raspberries' veterans Bryson, Smalley and Scott McCarl and using "The" in front of Raspberries' name for the first time):

You might also enjoy the inexpensive 2003 EMI release, "Back2Back Hits: The Raspberries & The Babys," reviewed by me at:

Of interest:

In a 2005 issue of Guitar Digest, Wally Bryson cites guitarist/songwriter Ron Elliott of The Beau Brummels as an influence. You may enjoy The Beau Brummels' "Greatest Hits" CD:

Special thanks:

To Epinions.Com Music Category Lead Shelly, aka Lambchops (, for adding this title to the Epinions.Com database


Great Music to Play While: Hanging With Friends


"Vintage Guitar Interview - Wally Bryson"

WALLY BRYSON: Of the Who and the next generation (parentally-speaking)

By Willie G. Moseley

Veteran guitarist Wally Bryson is in a definitive position to know whether or not “Cleveland rocks.” He came of age playing in more than one notable band in that metropolis. His most famous aggregation, the Raspberries, were a primeval and successful “power pop” band. Bryson is still active, most notably with his son Jesse, and we recently talked about his music and his classic guitars.

Bryson’s first band, the Mods, had to change its name to the Choir due to another band, the Modernaires, shortening their name to the same moniker.

“I just recently got my first Mods guitar back; the first electric I ever owned,” Bryson enthused. “An old Silvertone with the amp back built into the case. I had tried to repair a little scratch on the front of it with some model car paint, then I sold it. I saw it in a music store three or four years ago, and checked for my fingerprint where I’d smeared the paint, and sure enough, it was there, and they had the amp in the case in the back.”

“After the Silvertone,” he continued, “I got a Fender Vibrolux (amp) and a Goya Panther with pushbuttons. I don’t know what happened to that one but I wish I could get it back, too. When we became the Choir, I got a semi-solid Gibson, then I also got a Gibson 12-string semi-solid. I got a white Telecaster around that time, too. I broke the headstock off of the Gibson 12-string at a gig we did with the Lovin’ Spoonful; I was pretending to be Pete Townshend. I hit the headstock on the side of my Showman, and when it broke I took it a step further and rammed the guitar through the speaker.”

The guitarist got a Rickenbacker 360-12, which he still has, as a replacement. He played in Cyrus Erie after the Choir split, which was the first band in which he was associated with singer Eric Carmen. Cyrus Erie had a definite Who fixation, which was evident when they performed “Get the Message” on the fabled syndicated “Upbeat” television show.

“‘Get the Message’ has the (Gibson ES-1275) doubleneck 6/12 that I got when I was in Cyrus Erie,” Wally recounted. “Both the Choir and Cyrus Erie had opened for the Who, about a year apart. Townshend had a doubleneck that he was running through Dual Showmen (amps), and I thought it was a cool idea---not having to change guitars, and he sounded great!”

POE, which Bryson says “…stood for ‘Peace on Earth’ or ‘P*** on Everybody’,” was a progressive rock band that was up next, but the guitarist remembers that “…we didn’t get a lot of repeat gigs. We had real long hair, and played what we wanted to. But it was a good guitar jam band, which is what we were into.”

When the Raspberries cranked up in early ‘70s, Bryson got a ‘60s Gibson Flying V and a ’65 Fender Strat. His other primary instruments for that hit band were the Gibson doubleneck, the Rickenbacker 12-string, and a Gibson Blue Ridge acoustic. In addition to the Ric, he still has the V and the doubleneck.

The band’s breakout hit, “Go All The Way”, set the standard for primeval “power pop” singles, but the chord structure of that song and other Raspberries tunes are more complicated than listeners may realize.

“I was into the Who before they even played in America,” said Bryson, “and that energy and the power chords were things I keyed on. But we liked the Beatles, too, and we wanted to write pop tunes to be successful. ‘Go All the Way’ has a ‘power’ intro and open strings, but then it goes into a pop song. I liked the intro, but I didn’t think much of the song, back then…but it worked; it was our first hit.”

All four Raspberries albums were produced by veteran Jimmy Ienner, who had also worked with the Chambers Brothers and Three Dog Night. Bryson remembers that the lead guitar on “Go All The Way” was the six-string neck on the ES-1275 through a Dual Showman.

“It was a battle recording guitars in those days,” said Bryson. “We almost didn’t include ‘Go All the Way’ on the album because it sounded flat, but they brought in a compressor, which made us sound like we were playing live, in an armory. And that’s what brought the track alive.”

The Raspberries’ first album was released in the early ‘70s, when gimmicks were pretty much a given to call attention to a new release. The Cleveland quartet’s initial effort sported an aromatic sticker that gave off an odor that matched the band’s name.

“That was Jimmy Ienner’s idea,” Wally recalled with a chuckle. “He had done some marketing research, and we were the first to use scratch-and-sniff (stickers).”

Following the demise of the Raspberries, Bryson gigged with former Rascals Dino Danelli and Gene Cornish in Fotomaker, a band that was critically praised but commercially unsuccessful. He’s remained in the Cleveland area, has played in and produced other bands, and has participated in Raspberries reunions. He was preparing for a reunion of the Choir when we talked.

Wally has also worked with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, contributing items for display. He also coordinated the Hall’s “Topping Off” concert, which included performances by Bobby Womack, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Gilby Clarke.

Bryson’s latest project is the Bryson Group, a collaboration with his son Jesse. Their album, Dry, shows that Jesse’s got the “power pop” facet in his genes.

“I’m really proud of him,” said Wally. “He brought me these songs he’d written, and I said ‘Wow; you wrote these?’, so we worked on an album together.”

Ienner is also impressed, saying of Dry, “The harmonies are so good, they’re absurd. The world needs to hear this music.”

Wally’s still got his cool guitars from the glory days of the Raspberries, and has been playing a Martin acoustic and Parker Fly as of late.

More Raspberries reunions may be in the offing, and longtime Cleveland music fans were anticipating the upcoming Choir reunion as well. Wally Bryson is proud of his musical history as well as his son’s efforts, and plans on continuing to provide great guitar music.

Willie G. Moseley is the senior writer for Vintage Guitar Magazine, and is also presently working on his eighth book. This article originally appeared in the June 2006 issue of Vintage Guitar Magazine. Reprinted by permission.

- Vintage Guitar Magazine

"Free Times Interview - Jesse Bryson"

ArchivesVolume 11, Issue 36
Published December 31st, 2003
Locals Only : Like Father, Like Son : Jesse And Wally Bryson Team Up For The Bryson Group's Debut, Dry
By Anastasia Pantsios
In the late '60s and early '70s , many predicted that the children of the hippies, freaks and rock 'n' rollers would be tomorrow's straight-laced conservatives who, presumably, would spearhead a Mantovani/Lawrence Welk revival. In fact, today's musical landscape is littered with kids of players from the first great flowering of underground rock. Instead of rebelling against dad's or mom's profession, these kids are intrigued by it and the promises of self-expression it offers, and want to follow in their parents' footsteps.

Take Jesse Bryson, for instance. His father, Wally Bryson, was lead guitarist, vocalist and songwriter for Cleveland's influential Raspberries from 1970-1975. At a time when it was fashionable to make “serious” music that valued musicianship over a good tune, the Raspberries harked back shamelessly to the '60s British invasion, earning praise and ridicule in equal measures.

Three decades later, 23-year-old Jesse is doing the same thing on his new disc, Dry , released as the Bryson Group. The other half of this “group” is none other than his 54-year-old father, who produced the disc, played guitar and sang harmonies on a batch of songs composed mainly by the younger Bryson. The two share a cross-generational affinity for tunefully romantic Beatles-styles tunes and Stonesy goodtime rock 'n' roll.

Although their musical tastes are clearly sympathetic, Bryson doesn't sound all that much like his father, whose voice is rawer and whose songwriting always had a harder rock edge. The songs on Dry are soft-centered: even rockers like “Come Inside” or “You Gotta Rock” have a sort of relaxed, sunny sweetness. But Bryson seems most comfortable on ballads, whether they're acoustic-flavored and intimate like “Stay In,” “Shallow” or “Dry” or sweeping and orchestral in feel like “Just Dream of Me” or “Disappointed.” His clear, gentle voice seems better suited for these or even the acoustic, country-flavored “Looks,” and the ringing harmonies on most of the track emphasize the tunes' sheer prettiness.

Bryson's fate was cast early. He was 17 when his high school band, Qwasi Qwa, won the first High School Rock Off at the Odeon in 1997, launching it on the local club circuit. The band worked steadily for five years, putting out a live CD and showcasing at the prestigious South by Southwest Music conference in Austin, Texas. Bryson's dad lent a hand in mixing the live CD and even played onstage with the band occasionally.

But Bryson had a backlog of songs he'd never done with Qwasi Qwa, and he'd always wanted to work with his dad.

“A lot of them we did in a different way in Qwasi Qwa and we overhauled them,” he says. “Some I'd just done on demos, but [Wally] would come up with harmonies on the spot and make them better. He's good at working out harmonies on the fly. Dad is a great harmony singer, and I fancy myself to be a pretty good harmony singer.”

Prodded by Kay Bryson, Jesse's mother and Wally's wife, they went into SUMA Recording in Concord Township to do the CD with the help of engineer Paul Hamann and a mix of musicians that included Jesse's contemporaries as well as musicians like drummer Dave Alexy and keyboardist Ken Margolis from his dad's generation.

“I wanted to have a mix of old guys and young guys,” he says. “We didn't rehearse much. We had five rehearsals and then we recorded. We didn't want to work like maniacs — just go in and keep it loose.”

These songs and working with his dad definitely constitute a side project for Bryson, and one he'd like to repeat. But his musical energy is currently focused on a band he joined about a year ago, veteran local roots rockers Rosavelt, who will release a new studio album in the spring.

“Qwasi Qwa was kind of tailing off. It had kind of lost its luster, guys moving away and things like that,” Bryson says. “I'd been going to see [Rosavelt] since they put out [1997's] Carp and Bone and had talked about getting together to jam. I've been a fan since the first time I saw them. They'd been looking for a replacement for Kevin [Grasha] for a while, and after the first time I played with then, they said ‘you're in.' I've been having a blast playing with them. I hope to be in this band for a long time.”
- Free Times


Jesse Bryson
"Shaking Hands With The Governor" - Qwasi Qwa
"Dry" - The Bryson Group
"The Story of Gasoline" - Rosavelt

The "Dry" CD was recorded and produced with:
Wally Bryson
"The Choir Practice" - The Choir
"Raspberries" - Raspberries
"Fresh" - Raspberries
"Side 3" - Raspberries
"Starting Over" - Raspberries
"Tattoo" - Tattoo
"Fotomaker" - Fotomaker
"Vis A Vis" - Fotomaker
"Sittin' Ducks" - Sittin Ducks
"Refreshed" - Raspberries
"Dry" - The Bryson Group
"Song Spirit" - Bronking Buckos
Also many Greatest Hits singles, CD compilations.



Jesse Bryson grew up in rock and roll as the son of Raspberries' lead guitarist Wally Bryson. The two collaborated on the "Dry" CD with most songs written and sung by Jesse, in combination with their harmonious voices and guitars. Both Bryson's started playing music at the age of sixteen. Jesse's bands won many major awards in the Cleveland area, and he relocated to New York City in 2007. Wally's work with Raspberries, Fotomaker, and Tattoo is world renowned. His innovative guitar playing distinquishes him as one of the forerunners of power pop. The intent for the "Dry" CD was great rock songs with melodic feel and lush harmonies. Influences for both artists are The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Free, Sly & The Family Stone, Ryan Adams, Oasis, Radiohead, and every other artist that plays from the heart. The two perform together with a back-up band while continuing their work with other bands and solo projects.