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It’s been eight long years.
Eight long years to find the right people and pursue one's dreams again.
You see, when Mama’s Gravy, long-time Sacramento funk-rock-soul-rap band broke up eight long years ago, everybody scattered. The boys in the band went their separate ways.
For two of the original guys in the band, a second chance, eight long years in the making, is right around the corner.
On Saturday, June 23 at Old Ironsides in Downtown Sacramento, those two former bandmates will hook up again on stage. Ken Rudulph (lead singer) and John Mullick IV (bass) will be joined this time by guitarist Xavier Altimiras Lupon and drummer John Linn to form a new band called The Tipsy Hustlers.
The Tipsy Hustlers will be the middle act in a night that includes Lauren Wakefield and Crazy Ballhead.
Rudulph, one of the co-hosts on channel 31’s Good Day Sacramento and Cordova High School graduate, was living in the Los Angeles area when the Gravy finally called it quits after four albums and hundreds of local appearances.
“I’ve got nothing but love for all the guys in Mama’s Gravy,” said Rudulph. “We spent a lot of time together - seemed like every day for four years. Then when I moved to Los Angeles and it was strain because I was driving (to Sac) for rehearsals and drive back for shows and those guys wanted to play more often than I could play and I understood.”
“We tried really hard to keep it together, but I was 400 miles away and it made it real hard to for us to continue what we were doing, so obviously things started to fall apart.
The entire time he was away from the music scene, he really wasn’t. He built a recording studio in his house in Southern California and continued to write and record music.
He would have loved to keep playing with those guys but it didn’t work out. The band never got back together but the dream just wouldn’t die.
“Once I realized that it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, and I had all this stuff in my head and in my heart that I wanted to get out, so I’ve been trying for the past five or six years to get another band together. But all the guys I really wanted to play with lived here in Sacramento and I was in Los Angeles.”
Rudulph was furiously jotting down new lyrics and recording new music - coming up with something new almost every week, just in case, he got a second chance at his dream.
As luck would have it, a co-host job on Good Day Sacramento, where he once was a reporter, opened up and he and his wife jumped on the chance to move back home. Why wouldn’t he? After all, most of both of their families lived here in town.
Around Christmas time last year, Rudulph showed Xavier Altimiras Lupon, the Spanish translator on the show, some of his music and Lupon loved the songs. He wondered if there was any chance he could play them.
Rudulph was in semi-shock.
“It was really Xavier that gave me the confidence and the boost to get this together,” said Rudulph.
As for Mullick, Rudulph had stayed in touch with him the entire time away, letting him know that he was stockpiling new material.
But what about Mullick? Was he ready?
You see, Mullick is an all-or-nothing kind of guy. For him, it’s 100 percent or forget it. He was so disenchanted with music after Mama’s Gravy broke up, that he hadn’t really pick up a guitar in eight years.
That was until he got the call from Rudulph.
The phone call changed everything.
“It just really means a lot to play with Ken again really,” said Mullick. “I’ve been waiting to play with Ken again for a while and didn’t think it would happen and didn’t think I’d be playing music. So it feels good to play bass again.”
Second chances are rarely afforded for most.
“I thought I was done playing music, totally done. It was a shock when Ken came to town.”
To fill out the band, they needed a drummer. In an ironic twist, one of the guys that answered the ad for the drummer spot, John Linn, went to Cordova High at the same time as Rudulph, but they didn’t know each other.
After a couple of rehearsals, things were clicking and the new guys in the band were loving the sound and style of Rudulph’s music. It gave him a new burst of energy, enthusiasm and confidence for what he loves to do the most.
So what does Rudulph think he’ll feel when he hits the stage for the first time in over eight years with a new band and all new songs?
“My head might blow off because I’m going to be super excited.”
One more piece of irony. The last time he was on a stage at all was at Old Ironsides in 2004.
“I’m so happy to be sharing my music that I’ve been holed up and writing or the past five years,” said Rudulph. “I’m happy the guys have embraced it and are putting energy behind it. It’s turning into exactly what I want it to sound like, which is rare. It’s going to be really, really exciting!”