By Emily Williams
Some local bankers who got together to learn a few songs for their company’s annual sales party are still rocking out a quarter of a century later.
Total Assets will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a special concert July 25 at Iron City in Birmingham.
Bill Pitts, Darryl Bell, David Salter, John Byrd, Matt Alexander, Michael Milner, Stewart Moore, Terry Baker and Vince DiChiara make up Total Assets, a nine-piece “band of bankers.” Throughout their careers, group members have played at nearly every concert venue in Birmingham, the well-known Greenbrier resort, more than 300 wedding receptions and numerous corporate events.
The July 25 concert will be a celebration of 25 years of hard work and 25 years of devoted fans, DiChiara, the group’s drummer, said.
Band members said they expect to see a crowd filled with former brides, grooms and party guests from past gigs ready to dance and have a good time.
DiChiara said concertgoers should expect a show filled with “songs that everyone knows the words to, songs that they can dance to.”
The band is known to perform classic hits ranging from the early 1950s all the way up to the 1980s.
As they’ve done for all the shows they have performed together over the years, band members will approach the July 25 concert by first figuring out their audience, Moore said.
“When we walk out on that stage, we try to figure out, as quickly as we can, how can we get these folks engaged, how can we get them dancing and moving around,” Moore said.
As is the case with many 25-year relationships, the band members said they have seen their fair share of ups, downs and near catastrophes. But through all of the excitement, they said, they have forged a brotherhood filled with amazing experiences.
Total Assets started out as The SouthTrust Family Band, a group of musically inclined bankers putting together a performance for the company’s annual sales party.
Walking out onto the stage for the first time was a bit daunting, DiChiara said.
“We didn’t know how it was going to be received,” he said. “We just threw it out there and let it happen.”
Much to band members’ surprise, the crowd shouted for more, and the band continued to play the same eight songs they had practiced for six weeks, DiChiara said.
One year later, at the same annual sales party, the SouthTrust Family Band had evolved into something more. The musicians spent that first year practicing and increased their song list to 40 songs. The group went on to perform at events for local corporate awards banquets and changed its name to Total Assets.
Moore said the band started out as a “true novelty” but that its popularity increased rapidly.
“People would watch our shows thinking that for a bunch of bankers (we) really weren’t that bad,” he said. “And then it became, ‘Hey, these guys are pretty good.’ It evolved to a point where we started to get calls all the time, and some people didn’t know that we were bankers at all.”
The men make it their mission to treat the band like a second job and to follow some simple rules, Baker said.
“Give people what they want. Please the crowd. Be prompt. Be courteous to the people that hire you,” he said. “Give them the kind of show they want and a little more than they expect.”
That mentality of professionalism has created memories band members said they would have never obtained otherwise.
“We went from struggling to learn eight songs over a six-month period to being the actual live backup band for Davy Jones of the Monkees,” said Pitts, a vocalist who also plays the harmonica and triangle.
The band has played with quite a few famous musical groups, including the Temptations, Four Tops and Herman’s Hermits. In addition, the band has a history of more than 600 performances, providing a lifetime of good, bad and downright hilarious memories, Pitts said.
For example, the first time the group played “Play that Funky Music” by Wild Cherry, DiChiara fell off of the stage mid-song.
“I was doing a roll around my drums, and my drum stool caved in. I went backwards on my back outside of the tent. The only thing sticking up was my feet,” DiChiara said.
Moore said he will never forget DiChiara’s tumble.
“I heard the noise and I looked back. All you could see was the tent rattling and one foot on the stage,” Moore said.
Another memorable occasion involved the band’s expert sound manager, Jeff Herrin, scaling a power pole in order to restore electrical power before a performance.
“We look up and Jeff is literally climbing up the utility pole, like MacGyver. And, sure enough, he had us power in about five minutes,” Moore said.
The anecdotes prove just how much of a brotherhood the men have formed over the years, Pitts said.
“If you want longevity, you better respect each other,” he said. “Nobody books a show unless they check with the other guys.”
Total Assets members respect their audiences and make it their job to entertain everybody in attendance, DiChiara said.
“The best thing we do is read the crowd,” he said. “If there is a dancer in the crowd, we’re going to reach them.”
If audience members are having trouble making their way to the dance floor, expect one of the band’s six vocalists to come down to the dance floor or to bring a partygoer on stage.
An entertained crowd is the band’s mission, Baker said.
“When you look out in a local club, and you see 900 people cheering, singing along, dancing, spelling out YMCA, things like that make you feel pretty good about what you’re doing,” Moore said.
The band members said they are looking forward to celebrating their anniversary with fans, friends and family members.
“We hope to give our fans an evening to remember,” Baker said.
The Total Assets 25th Anniversary Concert will begin at 8 p.m. July 25. Doors will open at 7 p.m. The concert will be held at Iron City at 513 22nd St. South in Birmingham.
For more information, visit the Total Assets Facebook page or call 202-5483.