"The Strong Contenders"

    Band Biography: (Rock / Funk / Jazz etc.) "The Strong Contenders" was formed in Berlin, Germany in the year of 1993.

    Part of this Story started about along time ago." It was the day when I first saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show on T.V.
    Then I thought just like a lot of people did at that time how great it would be to put a rock and roll band together. Of course it
    wasn't only the Beatles, it was Fats Domino, James Brown, Cannon Ball Adderley, Jimmy Smith, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones
    and so forth. Later on came The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Chambers Brothers and The Quicksilver Messenger Service.
    My brother Dominic and I we both set out to first get some musical instruments together and start learning how to play them.
    We both listened to all types of music, everything, R&B, Classic, Jazz.

    Dominic and I we were both fortunately talented enough to start at an early age to compose music. As you may have it this
    story goes on over several years. The Concept of "The Strong Contenders" is, that a "Rock Band" plays a combination of Rock,
    Funk, Jazz and Classic. Similar to the way that the band "Weather Report" plays Jazz. That simply means, to play music that is
    well rehearsed and properly executed.

    Band History:

    Where did the incentive for this band come from?" I remember walking over the bridge that leads into the Weissenburger
    Strasse in Spandau on the outskirts of the city of Berlin. You know it yourself you probably have heard a story that began just
    like this opening sentence has started. Needless not to say the sun was shining, the birds were singing in the trees. At that
    moment I was pretty happy with my self because I had just stepped off the bus number 145, from the city. I had spent a very
    successful day in the HDK AltBau Studio where I had assisted a musical colleague of mine with his Demonstrational Recordings.
    I don`t know if it was because of the fact that I had played three different musical instruments (Drums, Bass and Guitar), I also
    assisted him with the mix down of his recordings, or was it because the sun was shining and the summer weather on that
    August day in the year of 1993 was so enjoyable. What a day! But still, walking over that bridge leading in to the Weissenburger
    Strasse often led to a lot of sentiment, I mean good feelings. A voice spoke to me suddenly out of the high heavens.
    "The Strong Contenders" said the voice. Speaking as if the Good Lord was just standing behind the clouds, watching down on me.
    I thought that God felt proud of me because He knows that I work very hard for my music, often too hard to say the truth. I took
    that as a recommendation for a new band name.

    Olando-James Bethel

    I was born in New York City, New York USA. I studied at St. Thomas Apostle School, Louis D. Brandeis High School, and majored
    in Accounting and minored in Music at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, Long Island. Because of my interest in Music and also
    for the fact that my Grand Father and Grand Mother, Joseph and Else Ann Brown were very musically inclined I started at an
    early age to develop myself as a musician and a composer. I first started with the piano, at about the age of 5. I received a
    small piano from my Mother Sarah and my Uncle Calvin Brown for Christmas. Outside of playing that piano, I had an Aunt
    named "Tanti", who had a full size piano in her apartment, when I was over for a visit I often played piano at my aunt‘s place.
    Around that time I also started to get interested in Studio recording. This came into being because my Mom bought me a
    Grundig 2 speed tape recorder for my Birthday. With that of course, I started to automatically go in the direction of music and
    production with out really knowing it. At that time outside of my growing interest for music and composing, I was very active
    in sports. At the age of 14. I was being scouted by the New York Yankees Baseball Team. So I had my hands full with activities.
    At that time in New York, fortunately for me and for other New Yorkers it was mandatory for each student to learn an
    instrument. Outside of the normal fundamental musical training you had to learn a Musical Instrument and not necessarily the
    one of your choice. I wanted to at first, when it wasn’t permitted, that I could learn guitar, or the Trumpet. My music teacher
    who was at that time the "First Flutist" in the New Yorker Philharmonic, said that, "You should play the Concert Flute". So I
    then started to learn the Concert Flute in the High School Orchestra, I also started to learn how to play the electric guitar in
    our neighbourhood band. My Uncle Calvin bought my brother Dominic and I our first guitar amp. It was a "Harmony". A year or
    so later, Uncle Cal bought us both each even bigger guitar amps. I believe that they were called "Univox". The amplifiers also
    sounded really good. I took on some temporary employment, working before and after my daily High School Classes to buy
    some guitars. I didnot want to bother our parents with the task of buying us musical instruments. A couple of months after
    High School, I joined the U.S. Army. I was in the service for three years which included 13 months in South Korea. At that
    time I also started to learn how to play the drums and completed instruction in the Photografic field. As a music minor at
    Hofstra University I also learned Orchestra percussion which consisted of Piano, Drums, Tympani, Cymbals, Bells, and

    A year and a half after finishing College I moved to Germany, and I started to play with several Jazz and Show Bands. I did
    a bit of studio work as a bassist, guitarist, and drummer. That was done with bands in Frankfurt am Main and later here in
    Berlin. For example I did sessions with Wilbur Little who was the bass player in Rashan Roland Kirks Band, with Taj Mahal,
    Joachim Kühn, Anita Boländer, The Mike Müller Show, Mike Naylor from the Brecker Brothers Band, etc. I then took a few
    years off from the Jazz and Show Bands to develop my skills as a Rock Guitarist. In this period I learned the guitar day and
    night around the clock. Besides learning the guitar I discovered the Fountain of Composition. I started to compose music
    as if there were nothing else in the world but that. I moved to Berlin in 1984´and started to look for musicians to play the
    music that I had composed. I also spend quite a bit of time, over several years off and on, assisting the Studio Sound
    Engineering Students at the HDK Conservatory for Music in Berlin. Of course to make ends meet I had several different
    forms of employment. This ranged from working in kitchens, washing dishes and cooking, as cleaning personnel in
    government and commercial buildings, also as a stage hand (Roady), (Local Crew) for Tina Turner, The Rolling Stones,
    Michael Jackson, Sting, Brian Adams, André Rieu, Metallica, The Who, Phil Collins, Deep Purple, Rod Stewart, Peter Frampton,
    AC DC, Neil Young etc ( a very long list of others!!!). I worked some times off and on in my studied profession Accounting
    again. I did different types of Administrative work and Photography, Photo-Labour technique, I assembled computers,
    Marketing-Marketing Management etc. I also carried Heating Coal. You name it. I started "The Strong Contenders"
    about 1993´ this came to past because of the fact that several other bands never took form. For example the band
    "Slädger" which was formed by Geoff Bohn, Dieter Herzog, and myself in July of 1986 actually was a good Rock and Blues
    Band. "Slädger" had some good gigs and tours and television appearances, in and around Germany. We played covers and
    originals. Before „The Strong Contenders were formed came the bands named "The Olando Band" which was renamed into
    "Radical News". This band started to get off the ground. The band members were Hjalmar Stecher: Bass, and Joe Di Carlo:
    Drums and myself on Guitar and Vocals. Later on came the pianist named Wolfgang Obrecht in the band. We were also
    signed by World Wide Records, Uk. and Germany.

    I have now a very thick Catalogue of original music that I have composed and this realms from Rock, Funk, Jazz
    to Classic. My Catalogue contains approximately 166 titles.----------------------------------------------------

    The Strong Contenders

    The new band consisted of Frank Immervoll: Drums, Hans Peter Vogel: Bass, and Peter Bio-Rhythm us“ on the Keyboards.
    The only problem was, I myself I had spend too much money for the previous band, I was actually bankrupt. I had to take
    time out from the music to earn other money to pay all of the bills that had accumulated from the first band called
    „Radical News“. I put the Strong Contenders on ice till around late in 1995. I took the original drummer from „Radical News“
    Joe DiCarlo, Bassist Ramani Krishner and the Saxophonist Ben Perkoff who had also played with the first Strong Contenders
    band. He was also substituted by Dave Beecraft and Paul Griesbach. Our Video „D.S.“was shown often on television in Germany.
    Between 1997´and 1999´, I had to take another break to earn money to support my band. The Strong Contenders started
    again, in the winter of 1999´, this time with some altogether new faces. Justice Kweku on Piano and Organ, Harold Mahl on
    Saxophone, Olaf Seidel on the Drums, Stefan Jacobs on Bass and myself of course, guitar and vocals. Later on we were a
    Quartet with out saxophone and Lionel Haas replaced Justice Kweku on the keyboards. Justice Kweku had left the band on
    his own request. To constitute the problem of session musicians we were faced with the task of having a permanent
    keyboarder. Lionel Haas supported his cost of living with different studio and concert gigs, with other musicians and
    interpretants. We had a very good array of keyboarders at our disposal; Jeffrey Ernst and Mark MacCean. Justice Kweku
    returned only for one concert, that was on the 1st of May 2003´ in the "Friends Club" in Berlin-Schoeneberg. In 2004´,
    Stefan Jacobs was replaced by bassist Martin Schoenian who was formerly a member of „"Weed"“ a magnificent
    Hard Rock Band from Berlin. 2005´, after a rather extensive survey of the music market situation, The Strong Contenders
    returned. This time with the Bassist Holger Lewin and Lionel Haas once again on the Keyboards.

    On Monday the 18th of September at approximately 23:07 hours after rehearsal, Olaf Seidel collapsed while walking to his car.
    All attempts to revive him failed. He was only 35 years old.--------------------------------------------

    NLBF Music

    The main reason why The Strong Contenders album with such innovative talent was released by an internally initiated record
    company is because of the unprofessional and unserious attitude from serveral other Major and independent record companies.
    As a participant of a Workman’s Compensations Program in Germany, called "Hartz IV", designed for the establishment of
    Self Employment, I started the Independent Record Company. NLBF Music. NLBF Music is reponsible for the production and
    marketing of “The Strong Contenders” CD, “The Art Of Contention”. In the future NLBF Music will cater to the needs of other
    aspiring artists.--------------------------------------------

    "The Strong Contenders":


    "The Strong Contenders" CD:   "The Art of Contention"”

    The Post............3:48
    This Song..........2:58
    Film Clip............0:32
    The Friendly Skies.....6:27
    Such A Long Time.....5:49
    Now Is The Time........5:01
    20 Seconds of Silence...6:35
    She‘s Coming Home....4:38
    Peace and Harmony......4:03

    All Music (GEMA)......50:05.09
    NLBF Music (C) + (P) 2004´
    „BEAT STUDIO“ Berlin, Germany.
    Officially released on November 30, 2005´

    Sound Engineering by: Gerd Bluhm
    Produced by: Olando-James Bethel
    Mastered by: Gerd Bluhm

    Olando-James Bethel:
    all Guitars, Lead and Background Vocals
    Olaf Seidel: Drums and Percussion
    Stefan Jacobs: Bass
    Justice Kweku: Grand Piano and
    Keyboards, Vocals on „She‘s Coming Home“

Immediately available from:

cd Baby Distribution

                Music Video: "Film Clip and The Friendly Skies"                    Vimeo: "Film Clip and The Friendly Skies"
                Music Video: "The Post"
                Live- Music Video: "The Post" and "Now is the Time"
                Music Video: "This Song"
The Strong Contenders CD
can be heard on:
    last fm


© 2016´ Olando-James Bethel & NLBF Music.