As soon as they heard the words “special delivery,” Greg Shipman and John Grimes knew they had a band name. It was 2002 and they were brainstorming ideas with their former singer, Paul Graham, a mail carrier in downtown Frederick.
“Paul was like, ‘Yeah, I was at work and I looked down and saw a package that had “Special Delivery” stamped on it,’” Grimes said. “And it just kind of stuck. Nobody else had anything that sounded as good, except for Paul.”
Sixteen years later and the band’s lineup has shifted slightly. Another Paul (Boismenu) now supplies the lead vocals. Kevin Delmolino is on the bass guitar. Rick Tehansky, the newest member, just joined on the keyboards. But there’s still Shipman and Grimes, the drummer and guitarist, fast friends and bandmates for more than 30 years.
The pair met through a garage band, Triple Irony, and then played together in a blues cover band called Bone Daddy and the Hot Licks. They can remember warming up for bigger acts at the Rabbit’s Foot, a once-popular nightclub on Md. 355 that’s since become Mariachi Restaurant.
Throughout it all — day jobs and down periods and changes in the Frederick music scene — Shipman and Grimes have stuck together in one cover band or another. And in their eyes, it’s paid off. They’re set to perform at Alive @ 5 tonight, their fourth appearance at the event. They’ve got steady gigs at Buckeystown Pub and Champions and even some of the wineries (which is nice, Grimes said, because they can play earlier in the day).
They’ve also got some great fans. Just a few weeks ago, one of their regular followers presented each member of Special Delivery with a framed portait collage of the band. About 300 people came to their last show at Buckeystown Pub.
That’s not too shabby for a band without a single member under the age of 50. Their oldest member, Tehansky, is 65, Shipman said. But even though Special Delivery is a cover band, they’ve always tried to be just a little bit different.
“We try not to play what everyone else is playing,” Shipman continued. “We do a lot of songs by Steely Dan or the Eagles. We even do some Motown.”
“It’s all about the detail for us,” Grimes added. “We really like the songs that are more technical, music-wise. The best compliment for us is when someone comes up and says, ‘That sounded really close to the recording.’”
That’s not always easy for a band with limited practice and performance time. Boismenu is a union electrician and Delmolino still works as a commercial airline pilot, so it can be difficult to juggle work schedules. Special Delivery only performs about 25 shows a year, including private parties and larger events.
Luckily, Grimes and Shipman stay closer to home. Shipman owns a painting company and Grimes runs a screenprinting and embroidery business, which translates to plenty of band swag and merchandise to give away. He’s also responsible for all the set-up.
“John definitely has a golden ear,” Shipman said. “We have a very clean sound. And that’s important because we’re not able to put the time into it like these other bands. We don’t have that advantage of a weekly set rehearsal. We probably turn down more work than we pick up.”