Northwest News

Rich Meaty Taste

Band founder picked 'the stupidest name ever'

Band to perform its Songs of America program July 5 at Franklin Park Conservatory

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Rich Meaty Taste at a recent gig at the Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus.

The band with the joke name that Mark Reinhart founded in 1993 has lasted so long, the Northwest Side resident sometimes finds his sons playing beside him.

Rich Meaty Taste -- seriously, that's what they call themselves -- came together practically by accident but the members have, in the main, stayed together with a purpose.

They all enjoy playing a wide range of music, embracing rock, country and blues that dates from the 1950s to covers of current hits, according to Reinhart, 49.

They also have some reverence for the history of music, he added, which is how the "Songs of America" program the group performs came about.

It's a musical journey through 200-plus years of history in this country, and includes such songs as Yankee Doodle, Follow the Drinking Gourd, This Land Is Your Land and Fanfare for the Common Man.

Songs of America is geared for all ages; the program has been enjoyed by tens of thousands of children through Columbus' popular Artists-in-Schools program, as well as by many large audiences at civic concerts throughout the city, according to the website for RMT, which is how band members generally refer to the group.

Reinhart and RMT keyboardist Brian Preston will be putting on a duo performance of Songs of America Saturday, July 5, at the Franklin Park Conservatory, 1777 E. Broad St., starting at 2 p.m.

The backing musicians in RMT include Fred Fochtman on harmonica, congas and vocals; Todd Berry on bass guitar and vocals; Preston on keyboards, guitar, bass and vocals; and Bruce McLaughlin on bass.

The band has worked with various drummers over the years, including Dan Boyd, Rob Fratianne and Joe Mamlin.

More recently, Reinhart's son Keaton has played with them at shows.

Of the early days of RMT, Mark Reinhart had this to say:

"It was actually a total joke."

He recalled that he was in another band in 1993 and they got to joking about outrageous names of musical groups.

He came up with Rich Meaty Taste and pretty much everyone agreed that was the worst.

"It was like the stupidest name ever," Reinhart said.

He and harmonica player Fochtman and another musician formed RMT as a lark and wound up with a gig at the Cox Fine Arts Center during the Ohio State Fair.

"It was just a spectacular day with tons of people and they really liked us," Reinhart said.

One member of the audience who especially enjoyed their music was a fellow who booked bands for the now closed Borders Books and Music store at Kenny and Henderson roads.

When the musicians in the band jokingly pointed to one of the crew as their manager, Reinhart said the Borders Books guy sought to book them.

The "manager" requested way more money for the gig than Reinhart would have had the guts to request, and the guy said yes.

But the band's original blues guitarist said no.

"He totally bailed on us when we got real shows," Reinhart said, which is how Berry became a member of RMT.

Berry and Fochtman had never met, but they performed together for the first time at Borders, playing the songs that both of them knew, Reinhart recollected.

Since those inauspicious beginnings, Reinhart said Rich Meaty Taste has done thousands of shows, but only rehearsed perhaps half a dozen times.

"It's very much based on friendship," Reinhart said.

"Fred and Todd and I have remained very good friends. The band has come to be sort of me and a number of backing musicians, but I call my guys my main band members.

"I think we've been able to survive because if someone couldn't make it, had other obligations, we worked around it and stayed close."

Performing their own material makes RMT different from most other local bands, in Reinhart's view.

The band has released four CDs of original music, a "blend of rock, country, swing, blues and funk," according to the website.

"Most guys get chased out of doing their own music and just doing covers because that's what audiences want," he said.

Although 20-plus years is an exceptionally long time for a local band to stick around, Reinhart said he's still having a blast and doesn't plan on calling it quits anytime soon.

"The great thing about it is, what we've developed musically is something we could do well until we're senior citizens," he said. "It's not connected to any time. I can see years and years of doing it."

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