By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 11, 2005 at 5:18 AM

{image1}Like E.I.E.I.O., with which they have connections, Milwaukee's roots rockers The Carolinas have had a long, tortured career here. Formed in the mid-'90s, the quartet has undergone some changes over time and has survived more than one tiff and hiatus. But the three core members are back and working on a new record, according to bassist Jack Rice.

Anchored by frontman Dan Patscot, Rice -- who is also bassist for The Lackloves and the sporadic Mighty Deer Lick -- and guitarist Bob Eickhoff, The Carolinas have had a string of spontaneous drummer combustions to rival Spinal Tap. Original drummer Brent Kirby was replaced by Rob McCuen, who was replaced by John Carr, who was replaced by current sticksman Scott Gorsuch, who is also a member of E.I.E.I.O. Gorsuch arrived with guitarist Mike Hoffmann, who joined after working as the band's producer.

All the while, The Carolinas were recording and releasing music on locally-circulated tapes and one exceptional CD EP.

According to Rice, despite this complex family tree -- and did we mention there was a short-lived name change, too? -- The Carolinas have never officially called it quits, so this can't rightly be called a reunion.

"The band has sort of been together all this time," he says, vaguely. "Back in about '97, Hoffmann joined as a full-time member, so we were a five-piece. The chemistry didn't really work all that well, though. So, I insisted that we change the name, as The Carolinas were always Dan, Bob, myself and whatever drummer we were with at the time. We changed the name to Vida Blue, played some gigs over the next year or two under that name, and then just kind of stopped functioning around 2001."

But for the past couple years, The Carolinas have been back together, although gigs have been sparse; just four or five over three years. But the quartet has been recording. A new disc is in the works, Rice says, and it will come from sessions that date back a number of years.

"Some of the bed tracks that we are still planning on using for the current recording were originally destined to be Vida Blue songs. We're taking our time, obviously, and really trying to get it right, all cohesive and whatnot."

So, when will the disc be out?

"We hope to have it out by, oh I don't know, 2009 or so," jokes Rice. But it will be worth the wait since the band's recordings have always been uptempo country-accented rock and roll with a tight rhythm section and melodic tunes. The new record will also feature guest appearances by Wilco's Ken Coomer (recorded in 2003) and Cheap Trick's Bun E. Carlos (2004), adding two more drummers to The Carolinas sprawling genealogy (Pete Frame, we need you now!).

"The guest hookups were all Scott's," says Rice. "He's from Rockford, and he's a producer and engineer himself. He's done a lot of work with the Cheap Trick guys and knows them from way back. I'm not sure how he got Coomer, but he's worked with him before."

Once the disc is finished, Rice says the band will work some connections to try and get it released by a high-profile indie label. In the meantime, there's still work to do.

But The Carolinas take a break from recording for a rare gig Saturday, Feb. 12 at Points East Pub, 1501 N. Jackson St.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.