In spring 1997, UD sophomore Will Johnson, BA '99, shared some early fruit of his blossoming songwriting skills with fellow guitarist Terry Landry, BA '00. Eager to team up, they enlisted Jon Bird, BA '99, on bass and Pierre Dupree, BA '99, on drums to become Second Hand Smoke, which will reunite on Feb. 1 at the Groundhog Party in the Park to play their first show together in 14 years.
A few months later, guitarist Jeff Brignac, Landry's best friend from high school and the only member who wasn't a UD student, joined the band. For the next two years, with its wide array of musical influences including Led Zepplin, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Stevie Ray Vaughn, Second Hand Smoke played UD's music scene from the Rat to Mallapalooza.
In 1999, when Bird, Dupree and Johnson graduated, the band members went their separate ways, from teaching to graduate school to working on UD's Eugene Constantin campus in Rome.
Today, all the band members are married—many to UD alumnae—with kids and day jobs. In spite of these full lives and busy schedules, Johnson, the self-described songwriter, reluctant singer, guitar player and benevolent dictator of Second Hand Smoke, says that one day in 2013, it hit him: "We're getting the band back together!"
After several months of planning (and negotiating with their wives), the group convened in Fort Worth at a top-secret location that wasn't, Johnson insists, Brignac's kids' playroom.
The album, produced by Dupree with nine new tracks, is titled "You're Welcome," in response, according to Johnson, to legions of loyal fans who had been waiting patiently for almost a decade and a half.
PHOTO: Bird and Landry played Groundhog 2013, and look forward to returning to the stage in 2014 with the full complement of Second Hand Smoke.