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Versatility trademark of FYNAL TYME

| Thursday, Oct. 9, 2003

The "TYME" has come.

After years of musical endeavors in America and overseas, a local guitarist and bassist have found their niche back home in the Mon Valley.

The story behind the band now known as FYNAL TYME stretches back more than 15 years.

After moving to Donora, Chicago native Mark James crossed paths with a Mon Valley musician known simply as CJ. The two shared similar musical interests and agreed to form a band.

In the next decade or so, the duo played in numerous rock 'n roll bands with random other members.

As drummers -- and the occasional lead singer -- came and went, the two songwriters continued their search for the right blend of talent.

After a few years playing separately and together at times in Germany, James and CJ returned to the Mon Valley once again.

They began to search for a drummer to fill out a three-piece ensemble.

James and CJ began perusing "musicians wanted" billboards on the Internet.

It was there that they found TedEx, a younger drummer from Blaine Hill with a promising background.

A lengthy audition/initiation and one live performance was all it took for TedEx to become the third member of FYNAL TYME.

The percussionist added a heavier and more modern feel to the group and helped revamp some of CJ's and James' songs.

Instant chemistry developed into instant karma.

The trio easily formed new tunes in about a year's time and began touring Mon Valley clubs and bars, as well as occasional appearances in the Pittsburgh area.

They now play 70 to 100 shows a year.

FYNAL TYME presents a blend of original songs with a diverse list of cover tunes -- featuring alternative and classic rock along with blues selections -- in their typical four-hour show.

James, who has performed throughout America and in Europe, agreed that a special bond among band members is essential to creating worthwhile music.

The band members support creative freedom and allow each other to take up musical side projects with friends outside of FYNAL TYME.

FYNAL TYME's original music comes across strictly as rock 'n roll -- featuring gritty vocals, well crafted melodies, rhythms, harmonies and smooth transitions.

James writes the first stages of FYNAL TYME songs on guitar. Then, CJ and TedEx add their touches.

CJ contributes lyrics derived from personal experiences.

"Everything I've done, I could tell you the event and the reason I wrote it," he said.

CJ has played bass and guitar for more than 20 years and says penning lyrics came naturally and became addictive.

"I'm a lyric junkie," he said.

James said the band strives to create a musical theme as songs come along.

"All the songs, as a whole, are a picture," he said.

James began playing drums at age 8, and later found guitar to be his instrument of choice.

His drumming experience helps move songwriting along more easily, he said.

James says he brings a blues background to the band and CJ claims to be the "showboat" on stage.

While the two front men exchange vocal duties, TedEx rounds out the band's energized performances and supplies a comic element offstage.

"He's pretty much the total package," CJ said of TedEx.

Playing to and for the crowd is a major part of FYNAL TYME, the band's founders agreed.

"We are primarily a live act," CJ said.

"We're not a bar band. We're a concert atmosphere," James added.

The bassist said FYNAL TYME performances are visually captivating, with lighting, props and stage effects.

James said he believes in spontaneity on stage.

"It's like Eddie Van Halen said, 'If it sounds good, it is good,'" he said.

FYNAL TYME will tell you versatility is the band's greatest asset -- a product of years of experience and experimenting musically.

"All three of us play all three instruments," James said.

Being familiar with and able to perform a wide range of musical styles keeps each show interesting for even the FYNAL TYME die-hards, the band members said.

"Nobody can believe a three-piece is playing (Pink) Floyd," James said.

CJ said the band members appreciate all styles of music.

"Between the three of us, we'd have probably the most bizarre record collection if you put them together," he said.

James and CJ agreed that, in their many years of musical experience, they are most satisfied with their current lineup and musical production.

Aside from FYNAL TYME, James professes to be a "closet producer."

He orchestrates the band's recordings through his personal recording studio at his home and has helped other groups lay down tracks.

James and CJ are working to establish FYNAL TYME Productions and hope to lend their expertise locally to help other bands succeed in the music industry.

"We're trying to knock down the doors -- and we are," James said.

FYNAL TYME recently began recording a full-length CD, which will be available soon.

James and CJ said FYNAL TYME is now searching for the right record label to sign a contract with -- and they are being both cautious and selective.

But for now, James, CJ and TedEx just plan to keep rockin'.

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