The Menus were formed in 1983 in drummer Brandon Ryan’s family basement, on the west side of town in Cincinnati, OH. The lineup consisted of Brandon on the drums, Mark Wills on the bass, and Steve Perrman on guitar and vocals. Although at this very early stage of development, the trio never actually performed at a paying gig, bigger and better things certainly lay ahead. Without any better ideas, “The Menus” name developed due to the hundreds of collected menus from restaurants frequented by the band, which now were plastered and taped to their P.A equipment, so the stories told.
A few month’s later, Steve quit to get married and Mark decided to do what’s right and left to attend The United States Air Force Academy. Along came Barry Taylor on bass, and a spunky little fellow named Tim Goldrainer on the vocals. In search of a guitar player, Tim and Brandon (friends since grade school) put out an ad and soon after hooked up with Jim Doyle, and the nucleus of The Menus was born. After a few months of rehearsal and a big push by Brandon’s father Steve (mainly to get the guys out of his basement and give his ears a rest), the band played their first gig together in a small bar on the west side of Cincinnati called Destiny One. This was early 1984. The place was packed, mainly due to Brandon and Tim’s friends from LaRosa’s Pizzeria, a famous Cincinnati Restaurant. After the show, the owner asked the band to play every Sunday and Monday night. Their first steady gig.
After a few months at Destiny One, the band was hungry for more work. Another player was hired, Gary Salsbury, or “Steak” as most people called him. An excellent vocalist and fine keyboard player, Steak brought to the band something very important it was lacking–experience. After several months it was decided a new bass player was necessary. Barry’s real talent hid in art and sound engineering. Hence, Mr. Taylor moved on, no longer a Menu. His shoes were filled with one of Steak’s old buddy’s, Kenny Farmer. Kenny was an incredible bassist with a voice to match. Soon afterwards The Menus were playing in much more exotic places, such as Norwood, Beechmont, and Clifton. Thus began their legendary six year stint at Hot Shotz in Clifton (Corryville). On the road to fame and fortune….
Not long after, Steak was becoming too much to handle. After several bouts of tension and a few rounds of fisticuffs, the band decided that some “corporate downsizing” was necessary, so our keyboard player was given his walking papers. He was not immediately replaced, as the band decided to continue playing as a 4-piece. This worked fine for a while, but change was in the air again. In June of 1989, Jimi Orwig was hired for his keyboard and vocal ability. In the midst’s of bringing him into the band, Kenny decided he had had enough and put in his “2-minute’s notice.” Strapped but determined to go on, word quickly spread that The Menus were in search of a new bass player. Patrick “Rerun” Linville to the rescue! On July 14th, 1989, the new and improved Menus played their first gig together at Hymie’s in Cheviot, OH, and musical legacy was established.
It was from here that this present roster would successfully transform a once shaky, rookie type band into professional, polished musical veterans. Winning many local awards and filling every bar on a no less than a five nights a week work schedule, The Menus built a loyal fan base and their earlier natural chemistry ignited even more. They played in Cincinnati for almost every job, with the same array of faces present almost every night. In the fall of 1990, the owner of the most popular bar in downtown Cincy, Caddy’s, declared he was opening another side to Caddy’s, a nice little room he called Sleep Out Louie’s. He offered The Menus a house gig on weekends, they gladly accepted, sparking one of the most successful 6 year stints in Cincinnati history. But as always, all good things do indeed come to an end. With the desire to conquer new markets and the impending destruction Sleep Out Louie’s in lieu of a new Bengal stadium, The Menus began some regional travel. Already dabbling briefly in Columbus , Lexington, and Louisville,, the band developed a huge following outside their hometown. Things were still going incredibly well.
But then a sad thing happened. In the winter of 1997, Jim Doyle , after 14 years of excellent guitar work, decided to hang up his picks. Jim, a computer wizard, announced he was leaving the band for a job to utilize his hard-earned degree in computer science. The band was shocked and slightly devastated, but understood his decision and wished him all the best in the world.
After much confusion and several tryouts, the band hired its new guitar player. Enter Stephen Chiodi. A well-seasoned veteran to the business and an astounding player, Steve fit in nicely with The Menu’s sound and style. Traveling increased and success continued for the band, as the once frightening crisis had been subdued.
Next crisis, please. Just less than a year later, after bouncing back to their feet, the boys were hit another damaging blow. Rerun, a crowd favorite, announced he also had his fill of roadwork and craziness, and decided he too, was resigning from the Menus. The band’s future was indeed shaky at this point. They survived one long time member leaving the team, could they make it through another? Tim and Brandon, the foundation of the band, decided the answer was yes. On Jan 6 1998, John Castetter strapped on his bass for the first time as a Menu, and filled some shoes some thought were once unfillable. John, a Columbus native and also long time professional, clicked immediately with his solid playing and his matching personality.
It was at this point The Menus continued their regional work, capturing new venues, drawing new crowds, and proving it is possible to make a good living playing in a band.
Jump to 2007. After almost a decade of wonderful shows and a myriad of great times, John Castetter saddened the band with the news that he would be quitting to pursue other interests. As this type of blow can be scary and quite intimidating, the future of The Menus was uncertain. Could they survive once again after losing another integral member? There were honestly many, many doubts. Finding and working in a new member in a short period of time is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Anyone who has ever played in a band can attest to this. Then the band heard about Jimmi Muench. Everyone in the group knew of Jimmi and had seen him play around the Cincinnati music scene for a number of years. They knew he was good. A great bass player with strong vocals accompanied by an impressive stage presence. But would he be interested? Or even available? A few weeks later, The Menus met with him, ran through some songs, and discussed their options. It clicked right from the start. He was hired on the spot. And just a few short weeks and a few rehearsals later, Jimmi Muench played his first job with The Menus at The Blue Note in Cincinnati on January 18, 2008. The new addition added a fresh look and feel to the band as well as the opportunity to learn new material, and was instantly accepted by the band and of all of their fans.