Veteran Bristol musicians finally land a record deal

Published on Monday, 18 March 2019 21:09
Written by Kayla Murphy


BRISTOL - Over the past summer, David Watson, Stanley O’Donnell and John Cyr, all Bristol natives, signed their first recording contract with Roual Galloway of Cordial Records of London.

They are known collectively as the Rikki Aaron Band. Watson, whose stage name is Rikki, is the songwriter and main musical contributor, while O’Donnell, whose stage name is Aaron, plays drums and sings. Cyr is the sound engineer and manager.

The contract is for years and may include a European tour.

“God works in mysterious ways,” said O’Donnell. “This is so cool; it’s great.”

The Rikki Aaron Band has been together since 1981, and was known for its original song “Say What’s On Your Mind.” Watson, now in his 60s, couldn’t believe the news they had been offered a record deal.

“As I got older, I kind of gave up on the music dream,” said Watson, “But when they told us the news, I just couldn’t believe it. Every time I think I’m done with music, years down the road I get this call and it’s music telling me ‘Hey, you’re not done yet.’ Music pulls right me back in. I was elated and unbelievably happy. I still can’t believe it.”

Growing up in the same neighborhood, Watson and O’Donnell feel they were destined to become bandmates.

“The previous band I was in wanted two drummers. I knew the kid at the end of the street was a drummer; I had heard him playing and asked if he wanted to join our band. We practiced together and became double drummers in that band. Dave then went on to become the lead singer,” explained O’Donnell.

Watson can recall the exact moment he met O’Donnell and joined the band.

“We both lived right off of Lake Avenue. I heard about this local drummer named Stanley and everybody loved his band. I noticed he would walk by my house with his girlfriend and I played the drums like a maniac so he would hear,” Watson laughed, “I remember him telling me that he wanted a double-drummer band. And that’s how I got started with Stanley’s music.”

Watson, who was still in high school when he joined O’Donnell’s band, said he would get out of school, quickly do his homework and met up with O’Donnell to perform at their venues.

O’Donnell recalled all the venues, clubs and weddings they used to play at during the 1980s.

“We used to play 8 days a week,” he laughed, “We toured all over the United States. One night we would be in Ohio, the next night we would be in Vermont, and then the next night we would be in New York For three years at the Foxwoods Casino.”

In late March, the band will be releasing an album for sale on vinyl and digital release. It will contain 11 songs, including “Say What’s On Your Mind”, “For the Love of Music,” “Save the World - Part 1 and 2,” “Hey Girl,” “The Dream,” “Will You,” “Gigi,” “I’m a Young Man,” “Think Fast” and “Brighter Days.”

“They don’t want modern or electronic music,” said Watson, “They want an old soul, raw sound. The record company told us that Japan is crazy about this type of music, so we’ll see how it goes.”

When Cyr became the manager, he made sure the songs became protected and copyrighted and worked out negotiations with Galloway, a producer and owner of a record store called Love Vinyl in London. The store carries records from the ’60s, ’70s and "80s.

“ We’re very thankful for John. He has great negotiations skills and was able to pull the whole thing together. I mean, how many people from Bristol say they made it big? We’re really excited,” said O’Donnell.

“None of this would’ve been possible if it wasn’t for John,” added Watson.

As they prepare their passports and flights to London, The Rikki Aaron Band is setting off for its next adventure.

Watson leaves words of wisdom to those who are hopeful of making it in music: “If you’re going take music seriously, learn to read it. It’s going to make the music process so much easier and quicker. The music industry is very hard,. Always stay humble.”

Posted in The Bristol Press, Arts, Bristol on Monday, 18 March 2019 21:09. Updated: Monday, 18 March 2019 21:11.