The History Of Pentwater

back cover art from "Pentwater" 1977 (Beef)

"Out Of The Abyss" front cover art 1990 (Synphonic)

EARLY HISTORY 1971- Mike Konopka and Tom Orsi, both untrained and open-minded, would jam on whatever came to mind and would play for hours doing what they came to later learn were complex time signatures, polyrhythms, modal interpolations, polychromatic modulations and the like. They never heard such sounds before and enjoyed what they heard. The second time Mike and Tom ever played together, they rigged up colored lights to go along with their music. The multi-media bent was evident from the very start. They went on to play "Purple Haze" in each other's parents' basements. Mike knew of a keyboard player, Ken Kappel, who came by and jammed. He was "fast," had a great Farfisa organ and was fun to be around. Soon Ken came aboard, bringing new songs like "Proud Mary" and "Light My Fire."

FIRST GIG - Set up in the main 1200 seat auditorium to give a speech in high school freshman English class on "Being in a Band," the band was used as an "I can't believe the teacher let me do this" speech-prop (well, it was the 70's!) at the last period of the day. The band performed at the end of Mike's speech, and in the middle of "Purple Haze" there was a drum solo. Unknown to closed-eyed Tom, the auditorium had filled up with out-for-the-day students during his solo, and when the band went back into the song, (Jimi had just recently passed on) the place went nuts! That was PENTWATER's first stage gig and the moment that helped establish them at their school. One day a young guy from Highland Park, Illinois, named Phil came down on the commuter train to jam and were they impressed! With his platform shoes, huge guitar set-up and big smile, this guy was a "Star!"

Phil Goldman joined soon thereafter, and Marty Sachs, with homemade leopard skin rig in tow, took up the bass on the spot. The only problem was too much talent. Good problem! If they heard any song, they could play it in minutes. They easily got used to depending on each other, and quickly became a unit. They began playing each others' instruments easily, even picked out CS&N harmonies by ear, with everyone singing and everyone instantly devoted and committed to the new band. The amazing thing is that they were 14 and 15 years old.....


THE NAME - By allegedly removing a tired, old, unnecessary state sign nobody needed on the Pentwater River in the state of Michigan, and by placing said sign in front of the drums, the band became known as "Pentwater River." The "River" was dropped as being too country-esque (and/or felonious), and the sign vanished. But the name stuck. The band formed itself into a loose "Jazz/Rock" format, with Mike and Tom writing the first songs of their life together in the summer of 1970. By the start of school, the band had a repertoire of several originals, along with (now classic) versions of popular songs. Almost in order to illustrate their youth, Marty had to leave the band because his parents were moving out of state.

Luck had it, however, that a dedicated bass player, Ron LeSaar, was available. The real beauty of this band was that it was a true family, a home away from home.

Orsi, Goldman, Konopka, Kappel, LeSaar


- After flirting with "space-rock" by inventing musical "waves" and "fiction-rhythms," the band continued with its intricate blend of melody, harmony, and rhythm. With band-version material ranging from the Who's Live at Leeds and various Santana songs to the original material, "Happy", "Em54", "The Three Journeys" and "Revenepo" (a blend of space and hard rock), the audience got their money's worth. Looking up to such newly-emerging bands such as Yes, Gentle Giant and ELP, PENTWATER, began accepting and eagerly arranging more and more involved music from its composers. This new PENTWATER remained intact and growing until early 1975, when Phil decided to put down the guitar for a while, leaving a position that Ron Fox, a greatly respected area guitarist and composer, aptly filled.

The final group was complete. New material flooded out from all the members, and it was a time of creative juices flowing unchecked. The stage show included moments of repose with oboe, violin, flute, glockenspiel and solo vocals, to bombs, fog, metal guitars, timpani and all five members singing at the top of their lungs! PENTWATER was never to be categorized. Since PENTWATER's music spanned so many idioms, the band seemed well suited to play with the large variety of talent that toured through the second largest city in the USA. This caught the attention of local promoters, and PENTWATER soon found themselves as the openers for Journey, Rush, Starcastle, Ted Nugent, Hawkwind, Muddy Waters, Hound Dog Taylor, Birtha, as well as many others, and of course, as the title draw in regional venues throughout the Midwestern United States with occasional eastern tours including New York's CBGB's, Max's Kansas City and others.

Conclusion - In all, 59 songs were composed and performed before the breakup, ranging from "Lafu and Hatian", a 22 minute mini-opera with uncounted "songs" within it, to "Awakening", an insane blast of heat which was exactly one minute. Unable to face the coming onslaught of Disco in America, "Turn The Key", a Kappel/Orsi eight minute epic turned out to be the last song performed by the group at Janesville, Wisconsin near the Ford Motor Company Plant in late summer of 1978.

Pentwater "Sun" logo concert poster

Front cover art from "Pentwater" 1977 (Beef)

Pentwater today - In the Summer of 2002, Pentwater celebrated its 30th anniversary with a working reunion at Timewarp Studios with all the original members in attendance. The band worked on new material as well as remastering vintage well-preserved studio tapes for future releases. Pentwater has a vast library of analog recordings in the band's archives. We decided to realease the original Pentwater LP on CD. This rare, much sought-after LP, originally released in 1977, is coveted by vinyl collectors and progressive music afficiandos worldwide. In addition to the eight original tracks, the new "Pentwater" CD contains several never-released Pentwater compositions.

For more of Pentwater's history please visit the highlights by date page.

And recently the big news is:

Pentwater's New Album

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Pentwater's Newest CD
17 New Tracks Plus 10 Page Booklet!

$12.97 + shipping

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