Have Guitars, Will Travel

The two bands that performed at last month’s PMPA Technical Conference aren’t "metal" bands, but their guitarists both work with metals every day. JoBreen is an acoustic trio that includes Brian Adams of R. F.

The two bands that performed at last month’s PMPA Technical Conference aren’t "metal" bands, but their guitarists both work with metals every day. JoBreen is an acoustic trio that includes Brian Adams of R.F. Mau Company (Lincolnwood, Ill.), while Maiden America is a five-piece rock band led by Jim Fetcko of Ohio Screw Products (Elyria, Ohio).

The two musicians and their respective groups entertained fellow PMPA members at the Columbus Convention Center on Sunday, April 26. Mr. Adams and his acoustic band JoBreen opened the show. The Chicago-based group formed in 2003 and includes veteran artists John Mullin and Kathleen Rude. The band’s name is a combination of the members’ first names.

"JoBreen’s set is mostly classic acoustic songs," Mr. Adams says. "John and I play guitar and Kathleen handles both percussion and recorder. While we’ve created some terrific harmonies, Kathleen is our vocal centerpiece; she’s absolutely phenomenal. We try to do songs that everybody knows. At the same time, they’re songs you might not hear from a typical acoustic band. People who come to our gigs never know what we’re going to play, which keeps each show interesting.

"Our moniker is ‘Classics to Current,’" Mr. Adams continues. "Most of our music is from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, peppered with some terrific current tunes. When I began playing some of these songs, they were current. Now, they’re classic. We try to find music that stands the test of time; something that everybody knows, whether you’re 18 or 48. It’s interesting to see how the music bridges a generational gap.

"The foundation of JoBreen has always been fun," emphasizes Mr. Adams. "We try to get the crowd into the music as much as we are. When our audiences see how much fun we’re having, they follow right along with it."

By day, Mr. Adams is vice president and general manager at R.F. Mau Company, a multi-spindle screw machine shop specializing in high-volume, precision machined products. Its core competency is multi-spindle and automatic screw machines for cutting brass.

The company was founded in 1936 by Mr. Adams’ great grand-father, R.F. Mau. Mr. Adams began working part-time for the family business while in college and came to work full-time in 1983. His uncle is Bruce Mau, the president of the company. "Bruce started on the shop floor, learning the basics and setting up and running screw machines," he says. "In retrospect, it was probably the single most important part of my career. To be an effective manager, I had to gain the respect of the guys in the shop. Learning from them was a unique opportunity. Having a strong understanding of the inner workings of our company has been critical to our success."

The second act at the PMPA Tech Conference was Maiden America, fronted by Jim Fetcko of Ohio Screw Products. "Maiden America began in 1985 as a Top-40 band," says Mr. Fetcko. "We played everything from early ’70s rock to ’80s. The band also played its own originals for a short time. Back then, we performed in bars, nightclubs and even some stadiums around Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Maryland."

During its heyday, Maiden America opened for several national acts, including the Grass Roots, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, Black Oak Arkansas, the B.E. Taylor Group, the Association, Little America and Donnie Iris and the Cruisers. "As an opening act, we had to be diverse," explains Mr. Fetcko. "We had to be able to play songs that matched whatever venue we were in."

After the band took a 15-year hiatus, the members decided to reform in 2005. "We really just enjoy the opportunity to get together and play music," continues Mr. Fetcko. "And we are lucky enough to still be able to do this." Today, Maiden America is a five-man group with Mr. Fetcko on lead guitar and his younger brother Jerrod on drums. The other members are lead vocalist Bret Shafer, keyboard player Matt Bost and bassist Bill Fornwalt. All but the drummer are original members.

"Right now, we’re doing mostly 1980s mainstream Top 40—some older songs, as well as some current stuff," Mr. Fetcko explains. "It’s a pretty good mix. We pick our venues carefully. We don’t play every weekend because the band members are spread out between Johnstown and Lancaster, Penn., and Cleveland, Ohio. We’re about as far away from each other as you can get, so we only do one or two shows a month at the most."

As for his other career, Mr. Fetcko has been in the machining industry for 22 years. In 1996, he joined Ohio Screw Products, where he is currently the vice president of engineering.

"We’re a contract job shop," says Mr. Fetcko. "We do multiple-spindle manufacturing with traditional multiple screw machines, as well as single-spindle and multi-spindle CNC machines."

Both Mr. Adams and Mr. Fetcko say they really enjoy their dual careers. From the response to the bands’ performances at the PMPA Tech Conference, it appears that their fellow PMPA members also enjoy the two guitarists’ side gigs.

R.F. Mau Company is located at 7140 N. Lawndale Ave., Lincolnwood, Ill. 60712.
Phone: (847) 673-4292
Fax: (847) 673-4295
Web site:
www.rfmau.com

Ohio Screw Products Inc. is
located at 818 Lowell St.,
Elyria, Ohio 44036.
Phone: (440) 322-6341
Fax: (440) 322-0750
Web site:
ohioscrew.com