The Green Onions
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The Green Onions

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"The Green Onions"

It’s an overcast day at the Harrisburg Artsfest, and The Green Onions, a Lancaster County-based rock and roll band, stand latent with absorbed eyes. Looking across their stoic faces, the audience hears the first licks of the guitar – and blissfully satisfied they gaze at The Green Onions in wonderment. For the next hour or so, the band belts out a miscellaneous hodgepodge of progressive, acidy originals that seem straight out of the ’70s. Then they close up shop with a romp through Peter Gabriel’s "Sledgehammer."
After the set, I duck for cover from the brewing rainstorm with some of the band members to wax about music and gain a better perception of where The Green Onions sound was born.
"We’re based in Elizabethtown," vocalist and lead guitarist Cortlan "Corty" Byron II smiles coyly. "I might as well say that ’cause I guess not much has ever come out of Elizabethtown."
"Wasn’t there a shoe factory?" guitarist Chris Gurreri playfully jabs at his bandmate.
Byron shoots back: "Yeah, but that was a long time ago."
Offstage, The Onions appear a playful bunch, never missing a genuine opportunity at ribaldry. But onstage, these two axe men are all business – two variables in a formula that equates rock ’n’ roll. The rest of the equation includes Michael Dinse on bass, Scott "Fresh" Frenchek on keys, Cortlan Byron Sr. (Corty’s pop) on organ and John Gasparich on drums.
To pigeonhole The Green Onions into one specific sound is neither fair to the band nor to you, dear reader. But a good introduction may suffice to say this: If Nickelback is everything loathsome and detestable in the rock ’n’ roll universe, The Green Onions are indubitably the progressive stalwarts at the other end of the spectrum.
Gurreri succinctly states his venerable progressive influence: "I like Frank Zappa. He is incredible."
"I too like Frank Zappa," Byron II adds. "What I like to take from him is: Don’t give a shit. There aren’t really any rules in music. That is what we are trying to do here. If we like it and it’s good to us, that’s all that matters."
When probed about some local music journalists implying that perhaps The Green Onions are the next Phish, Byron II quickly snaps with a nervous laugh, "Oh! Please don’t say that. I guess it’s a compliment, but we’d rather be our own thing. I mean, I walked 10 miles to get in at their last concert – I’m a dedicated fan. Now that they don’t play I guess there is a void, but I don’t see it as simple as one picking up where [Phish] left off."
With a notable repertoire of material, The Green Onions will validate their fans with a full-length album later this year to follow up the band’s current EP – but it comes after a treacherous studio session that brought about the worst of all recording fates. Initially recorded last summer, the new album was completely tracked and nearing its finishing touches. Then suddenly, a lightning bolt from the mischievous recording studio gods in rock ’n’ roll heaven struck: the album tracks seemed to spontaneously disappear into thin air. Ostensibly, everything was being backed up after the overdubs, but no – the entire album was completely gone, vanished without a trace.
"It was kind of a blessing," Byron II admits. "We got to go back in and rerecord everything. It all sounded better ’cause we learned what worked and what didn’t [the first time]."
The Green Onions boast a penchant for heady experimentation, which manifests in tight jamming – not the excessive, hour-long type that runs rampant in the jam band scene, but the succinct, ear-perking kind that harkens back to the days of Hendrix or Clapton. Scorching hot guitar solos literally bounce about the stage – Byron II swings his axe between his legs, around his head and behind his back during solos in a one-man guitar circus that’s a true spectacle to see. And that’s when things go awry: enter adult sex toy.
"We might be the first group to utilize a sex toy in a jam – it gets passed around and each band member must utilize it," Frenchek cackles. "I would like to be endorsed by Excitement Video!"
A fantasy digression ensues:
"I, Corty Byron, would like to be endorsed by McDonald’s and Fender," Byron II declares. Apparently, this bawdy group has an insatiable appetite for fast food and Coca Cola. A good thing – everyone knows that that’s the diet of all rock ’n’ roll road warriors.
"We’re all going to be dead by the time we’re 27," Dinse adds with a giggle.

After the light-hearted diversion covering many topics (a few unmentionable here), we again get serious just long enough to chat about Roundtable Presents (, a local musician’s resource network trying to put together good shows offering local musicians exposure. Roundtable Presents has proven a great resource for The Green Onions. As Byron II describes it, "It’s people like Roundtable Presents and Hawaiian Chris James that want to expose good music to the area – they have a lot of initiative. If people would give it a chance, it could thrive. We opened up for a well-known regional cover band and thought it was going to be like throwing shit at a wall. To our delight, we got 100 people to sign our list."
And speaking of covers … all The Onions concur, covers are a good paycheck for a newly formed band, but they also stunt musical growth. "Oh, we want a record contract. We have great originals but all we do is play covers," Byron chaffs in a mocking tone, giving way to a lengthy band discourse on rock ’n’ roll ethics. "Basing your act on playing other people’s music isn’t on your terms," he furthers. "If you are the greatest cover band in the area, that isn’t on your terms. For us, it might take a little longer to get something started, but it’ll be what we want."
We finally are at the point," Gurreri adds, "where people like hearing our originals. It’s been in the last year that people have really given us a great response."
"Today, if someone like Hendrix popped up, without help, he’d probably never make it, which is a shame," Byron II darts back. "The music industry sucks." Certainly, The Green Onions are proponents of live original music. Unfortunately, many local venues eschew original acts for the more profitable cover bands.
Gurreri, however, resists. "If people of the area knew about the music," he pines, "they would come out and support it."
True to form, the group doesn’t keep it serious for too long.
"Besides," Byron II jabs with a haughty laugh, "we’re better than the Beatles."
Now everybody wants a piece of the pie …
Dinse: "You know what that means – We’re bigger than Buddha!"
Frenchek: "We’re even bigger than Oasis!"
Bewildered looks dart about. Oasis? That’s a pretty bold declaration. Then laughter bursts.
By now, the following act can be heard onstage in the distance where The Green Onions once stood. The wind is picking up, a sign of the oncoming storm’s increasing speed. We figure it a fine time for goodbyes, so we shake hands, part ways and head for dryer ground.

Go to for more info.
- FLY Magazine: July 2005 - BW Smith

"Printed Quotations"

“It's the time of year when green onions pop up in lawns. In the local music scene, however, The Green Onions are a staple...”
-Andrea Kiliany Thatcher, Managing Editor

“The Green Onions will blow you away...”
-93.5 WTPA radio personality Hawaiian Chris James

“...the six-man music machine has been taking all of Central PA. to the
'School of Rock.' "
-Jeff Royer, Fly Magazine

“..soaring, screaming, guitar solos... Byron’s vocals bring to mind Joe Cocker and Greg Allman."
-Stephen Seeber, The Ephrata Review

- various

"Selected Quotations From 'The Green Onions'"

“the band belts out a miscellaneous hodgepodge of progressive, acidy originals that seem straight out of the ’70s.”

“The Onions appear a playful bunch, never missing a genuine opportunity at ribaldry. But onstage, these two axe men are all business – two variables in a formula that equates rock ’n’ roll.”

“The Green Onions boast a penchant for heady experimentation, which manifests in tight jamming – not the excessive, hour-long type that runs rampant in the jam band scene, but the succinct, ear-perking kind that harkens back to the days of Hendrix or Clapton. Scorching hot guitar solos literally bounce about the stage – Byron II swings his axe between his legs, around his head and behind his back during solos in a one-man guitar circus that’s a true spectacle to see.”

- FLY Magazine: July 2005 - BW Smith

"The Dark Side Of The Onions"

Green Onions to perform Pink Floyd at LaserDome
Sunday News Correspondent
Most aspiring rock musicians who strap on a guitar or pick up a pair of sticks dream of becoming like their heroes. For those who favor the limitlessness of jam-based rock, those heroes include Pink Floyd.
A true musician's band, Pink Floyd's longevity lies not in album sales (which are respectable), but in the fact that everything they played was performed by four unique, contrasting musicians.
Their songs have influenced everyone from minimalist composers to rappers and have provided the soundtrack to many an adolescent boy's musical awakenings.
The members of Lancaster-based Green Onions will take hero emulation a step further Friday, when they perform an entire show of Pink Floyd classics at LaserDome in Manheim.
The folks at LaserDome contacted the band more than a year ago about combining their high-tech laser light show with the band's music.
"But at the time we didn't feel confident enough to do something like that," said Cory Byron, the septet's singer/guitarist.
But following a very active year and the release of the band's first full-length album, they welcomed the challenge. A demonstration by LaserDome of its visual and technological capabilities sealed the deal, Byron said, and helped provide inspiration.
For the show, the band members had to learn scads of precisely arranged songs they had never played before and had to record the many layers of background noise, indecipherable conversation and other sound effects on Pink Floyd's classic albums.
"Our biggest effort has been put into trying to make the music sound right without it being a photocopy of the original," Byron said.
And even though the concert has been comically dubbed the "Dark Side of the Onions," in reference to Pink Floyd masterwork "Dark Side of the Moon," songs from nearly the entire Floyd catalog will be included in the set.
"We'll be doing something from every album from Piper at the Gates of Dawn' all the way up to The Wall,'" Byron said. That span covers more than a decade of classic material.
"We always like doing Pink Floyd covers in our regular shows from time to time, mostly because we never see anyone else doing them, or doing them very well," Byron said. "But I think we are at the point where we can do the music justice."
Pink Floyd, in its classic lineup, consisted of guitarist/singer David Gilmour, bassist/singer Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason and keyboardist Rick Wright. Waters left the group in the early 1980s.
The remaining three toured successfully, if sporadically, over the next decade and a half. All four reunited for a triumphant set closing out London's edition of the historic Live 8 concerts in July 2005.
Founding member Syd Barrett, who left the group in 1969 following problems with drugs and mental illness, died this past year. Byron said the Green Onions show will be a tribute to Barrett, as well.
With six players onstage (Floyd usually had only four until they began adding supporting players in the late 1970s as the music became more theatrical), Green Onions has the ability to recreate the funky, swirling, multilayered experience of Pink Floyd.
"The really interesting thing for us has been learning how they made really intense music but kept it really simple when it came to individual parts," Byron said.
At their best, Pink Floyd were cinematic without sounding spacey, psychedelic without being a band solely for stoners, and futuristic while remaining grounded in the blues, R&B and even folk music.
"They really created with the space between each other," Byron said. "Like it was another instrument in itself."
The Green Onions will present "Dark Side of the Onions," a multimedia music event under a live laser show, at 8 p.m. Friday at LaserDome, 2050 Auction Road, Manheim. Tickets for the all-ages show cost $10 in advance or $13 at the door. For more information, call 492-0002 or visit
(Copyright 2006 Lancaster Newspapers)
(c) 2006 Sunday News; Lancaster, Pa.. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.
-John Duffy, Dec. 2006 - Lancaster Sunday News


Down The Drain
The Green Onions (12 song self-titled debut album)
The Green Onions (limited edition 5 song EP)
Live at Gullifty's Underground '05



If you could combine the sounds of The Band, The Black Crowes and The Faces, you might just end up with The Green Onions. It has once been said that how often can a group sound just as good acoustically as it does when they're plugged in...The Green Onions seem to be the answer. Formed by Corty Byron and some of his high school classmates in 2001, this five-piece rock outfit draws its influence heavily from the Rock and Roll back catalogue. Corty fronts the group with his soul-drenched vocal style, blues-based guitar licks and uniquely captivating stage presence. After various incarnations, the group’s current line up features Chris Gurreri on guitar, Mike Dinse on bass, Ffej Herb on Drums and Cort Byron Sr on organ (who also doubles as Corty’s father).

In the beginning, the band spent its time cranking out their favorite classic rock songs, while performing underage at the local bars and clubs. The group quickly decided it was time to focus on creating their own music and set out writing songs. After taking the top spot in two “Battle of the Bands” competitions, they were able to finance their first, self-titled studio album. Mostly performed live in the studio, the 12-song record showcased The Green Onions discovering their sound and received national and overseas radio airplay.

Following the release of their first album, The Green Onions began work on a two hour career-spanning tribute to Pink Floyd. This multimedia laser & light event called “Dark Side of the Onions” was a huge success. The band quickly sold out three performances at the LaserDome in Manheim, Pennsylvania. After this successful endeavor into the dark side, the Onions began work on their second 12-song album. Completely self-produced by The Green Onions, “Down The Drain” made its debut August 11, 2007 a raucous wall to wall crowd at the Appalachian Brewing Company in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. ”.

In the summer of 2009, Corty began recording a lot of the songs that would end up on his first solo album, titled, “Endless North”, at Sun Studios in Memphis, TN. The 10 song record from The Green Onions’ frontman, is slated for an early 2010 release.

In their time together, the band has shared the stage with artists such as The Doobie Brothers, Bruce Hornsby, Gin Blossoms, Vanilla Fudge, Hot Tuna, Project Object, The Disco Biscuits, Lez Zeppelin, The Bridge, The Brakes, Family Groove Company and The Badlees. The Green Onions continue to perform together as a group and are also gearing up for Corty’s new direction as a solo artist. They are currently touring locally and nationally while riding a wave of momentum unparalleled thus far in their career.