MARQUETTE - Nudge started as a side project for some area musicians who were friends and has evolved into one of the most rocking bands in the central Upper Peninsula.
Nudge members are Danzo McCracken, Tim "TP" Prisk, Bob Libick and Eric Schulmpf.
"Eric, TP and I were in Buzz Factor and Bob was in 2fitty7," McCracken said. "But we wanted to get into some different things. So Eric, Bob and I had a couple of impromptu rehearsals and decided to play at a party at the Stadler residence. It went great and TP was there to cheer us on. The very next day, we had a phone conference and it all kind of fell into place. We asked TP to jump aboard and decided to make Nudge our priority band."
McCracken started his musical journey at a young age... sort of.
"I got my first guitar (Sears model Harmony acoustic) when I was 8 or so," he said. "I learned a few chords from a family friend and soon after ditched it for sports. I played baseball, football and wrestled until I met some kids in middle school who were dabbling with guitar. Back then it was all about Skid Row, Motley Crue, Extreme, Mr. Big, etc., and I loved it.
"I started playing again thanks to my great friend Dan Auger," he said. "We started a band and played at parties, talent shows, anywhere that would put up with our noise."
We asked Danzo McCracken of Nudge to name five musical acts whose songs the band might perform on any given evening. Here's the list:
- Cheap Trick
- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
We are having more fun than ever and it's great to see in these hard economic times, people still enjoy seeing live music...
-Danzo McCracken, Nudge. Lead Singer
Drummer Schulmpf did start at a young age.
"My Dad was in bands. We lived in Salt Lake City, Denver and Germany, so he played all over," Schulmpf said. "I would watch him play from an early age.
"We moved here when I was in third grade and he brought me to my very first concert, which was Kiss and Ted Nugent at Lakeview Arena during the Crazy Nights Tour.
"From an early age, I always just kind of walked around the house, beating on the couches, beds and the pot-and-pans drumset that I made," Schulmpf said. "My Dad was showing me how to play guitar, but that only lasted a month of two. So when I would go to my Dad's band practices, their drummer would show me a little something every time and I would go home and practice that."
Nudge bassist Libick offers a simple reason for why he plays the low end.
"I got into playing bass because none of my friends want to play bass, so I said I'd do it," Libick said.
Libick, a Marquette native who now lives in Gwinn, has been playing the bass for about 22 years in bands like Frenzy, The Screamin' Buttheads, Silent Rage and 2fitty7.
"I also play a little guitar," he said, adding with a wink, "And the triangle."
McCracken said: "Bob has really livened up our game... He is a hard-working guy, and helps out a whole ton with the 'behind the scenes' work."
Prisk is originally from Ishpeming and now lives in Harvey. He plays lead and rhythm guitar and sings lead and backing vocals for Nudge and prior to that was in Backseat Romeo and a touring band called Pull.
Schlumpf -?or Itch, as he's called by his friends -?hails from Gwinn and has played the drums in bands like Choker, wREC and Exstatic before helping found Nudge.
The musicians' pasts have led them to this band, said McCracken, who took a circuitous path to his place in Nudge.
"I grew up in Mound, near Minneapolis, Minn. My first band (Shattered Glass) was in middle school when I was 13 or 14," he said. "When I was 18, I started playing in clubs in the Minneapolis area with rock and country bands and soon after hit the road with a national touring act called Key Lane.
"I spent years traveling the entire country playing at large nightclubs, casinos and state fairs and was exposed and introduced to a slew of famous classic rockers and country music stars."
McCracken grew tired of the road and ended up moving to the Upper Peninsula.
"It didn't take long for me to get back into music. I met Karyn Johnson and joined her band Kickback as a keyboard-guitarist-vocalist," he said. "It was the most diverse band you could ask for: We played everything."
But his rocker roots were calling him and McCracken started a band called Exstatic.
"Enter Eric Schlumpf. He was 20, I think, and we hit it off like brothers," McCracken said. "We played in Exstatic together for a year and a half when I got an offer to join up with Marshall Law from Houghton to form a new band which became Buzz Factor.
"Only a few short years later, Eric was back in fold and playing better than ever," he said. "TP joined soon thereafter and Buzz Factor had a great run of six years."
McCracken's friend Johnson also played in Buzz Factor, which performed all around the U.P. and Wisconsin.
Nudge is now playing much of the same circuit.
"We are having more fun than ever and it's great to see in these hard economic times, people still enjoy seeing live music and patronizing the bars and clubs," McCracken said.