Pentwater's Mike Konopka
In the early 70's when he lived in Golf, Illinois, Mike co-founded Pentwater along with Tom Orsi and Phil Goldman. He came of age in a towering old Tudor house that had a terrific third floor attic. The high sloping wooden beamed ceiling of that attic served as the first sounding board of Pentwater's original musical compositions. Early offerings like "Synergy," "The Three Journeys," "Nightwing," "Happy," "A Ballad Starts," and "Descends" were co-written mostly by Mike and Tom in that attic haven. Pentwater also cut a few early recordings in that space using the band's Shure Vocalmaster and a friend's borrowed Teac 1/4" reel to reel.
"I remember us all somehow lugging Ken Kappel's hefty Hammond organ up and down three flights of stairs for each gig, negotiating the twisty turns and rickety railings deftly while my father sometimes slept. My dad also helped me buy my first serious guitar. A used, cherry red, 1967 Gibson SG Special. He told me to save up for it, helped me haggle with the seller, and later gave me back the money so I could buy a Silvertone amp too. I played both on "Cause & Effects" at our first big time recording session at Streeterville Studios, Chicago, and I still play that SG on Pentwater projects today."
In 1975, after a stint in Ken's basement in Morton Grove, Illinois, the band moved into their permanent home where Pentwater created the lion's share of their music. "Ron LeSaar and myself found this dusty, out of the way, lumber storage building in the back of the Sigwalt Lumber Yard in Des Plaines, Illinois. The rent was ridiculously cheap and we even put up the proverbial carpet samples all over the walls to tame down the acoustics. Freight trains and cement trucks rumbled by, but actually, it was a great funky-vibed place to make music. And to think of what we created there!"
Mike reflects, "I'm a music business professional, working as a recording engineer, and in the ensuing years since Pentwater's heyday, I've worked with many top level artists. But nothing will ever come close to the creative challenges and rewards that came from being a part of Pentwater. The trust, affinity, respect, loyalty, and friendship that allows these musical adventures is something very rare and unique. And to know that so many listeners around the world enjoy what we achieved as a band makes the experience all the more rewarding."
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