Jc & the Disciples Are:
Jc Whitelaw - Vocals, Guitars & Percussion
James Sparks - Drums & Percussion
Jimmy Megerian - Bass, Vocals
Additional Disciples :
David Reinstein: Saxophone
Jimmy Dresbach - Keyboards
Johnny Evans - Saxophone
Ronnie Jacobs - Harmonica
Barbara Payton: Vocals
Jimmy Romeo: Saxophone
Henry Nelson - BG Vocals
Maeve Whitelaw - Ukulele
Meg Brennan - Saxophone
Willy Wang - Trombone
Donald Ross - Bagpipes
Jc & the Disciples Bio:
J.C. Whitelaw has had a musical career that spans four decades and genres from Rhythm & Blues to Motown, from Americana to his passion, Rock and Roll. As a songwriter and guitarist, he has worked with greats who include Carlos Alomar, Earl Klugh, Anita Baker and record producing giants like Gerard Smerek, Greg Ladanyi and Michael J. Powell. He has produced and played on countless recordings, has formed bands that include Ash Can Van Gogh, The Broken Toys and The Forbes Brothers and has been the recipient of more than 2 dozen Detroit Music Awards and Nominations.
Jc & the Disciples have now released their latest project “Hammered”. The new work that encapsulates Whitelaw’s recent life’s journey and marks the journey toward a new destination.
At the surface, the record is a solid mix of rock and roll, blues and Celtic Soul, with lyrics that argue the merits or pitfalls at play in love, loss, desire, death and renewal but, after deeper immersion in the album, one begins to hear that Whitelaw’s new record’s real and true enterprise – its real and true arc – is the rough and tumble landscape of human feeling. It never falters from this solid aim.
James Sparks – Drums, Jim Megerian– Bass, Jimmy Dresbach – Keyboards, are the core of the Disciples and with and with Jc – Guitars and Vocals, deliver these new songs as physical and dynamic emotional landscapes without any negotiated compromise.
Hammered’s 12 songs whose topics cover love, lust, murder, desire, time and peace, is like a year long journey through emotional amplitude. To listen to it, from beginning to end, is to drop into the body’s emotional timetable where the heart, harrowed and strung up like a bird in the body’s mine shaft, exalts anyway: it flies free of what endeavors to constrain or to imprison it. The result – what this record actually achieves in its effect
Jc &the Disciples released “Hammered” May 18th, 2019.
The Background of Hammered - by Frank Bunker
John Campbell Whitelaw
Enormous waves, they were. Rogue giants of pure pain, one after another after another, had crested and crashed upon John-Campbell Whitelaw. Their unrighteous pressures could weigh down and drown most any human being.
J.C., as he is known to most everyone, looked up from the dark depths with his eyes wide open. He surveyed the new reality and examined its reflections, where all shapes and hues had presented themselves in the deep.
Separating appearances from reality, J.C. kept his cool and his wits. He determined the direction to go. He looked toward the source of light, shimmering down from far above. Never giving in to unspeakable shock, he struggled through the ocean of pain and swam. Never giving in to exhaustion, he rose and rose. Never giving in to doubt, he rose and finally broke through the surface. He gulped in fresh breath.
Thankfully for his family and friends – and all who appreciate rock ‘n’ roll – J.C. took in a fresh breath and decided to move forward in the hardest days one can endure. And we who appreciate rock ‘n’ roll, are thankful, for we get to enjoy his company and his art.
Tragedy struck the Whitelaw family on September 4, 2014 when J.C.’s father, William “Billy” Whitelaw, was brutally murdered in his Bloomfield Township home.
William shared the condominium with his son while J.C. searched for a permanent home of his own after his divorce.
J.C discovered the horrific scene, accompanied by his three children. Upon opening the front door, he found the home was filled with the smell of natural gas. Candles burned throughout the home, fuses lit to spark a conflagration.
Immediately sending his children to safety outside the building, J.C. re-entered the condominium to attend to his father. Hoping his first impressions were wrong, he confirmed his dad no longer was alive.
His mind reeling at the discovery, J.C. proceeded to blow out the candles, open the windows, and attempted to shut off the gas. He saw the lines had been cut and could not be turned off.
The cause of William’s death was a savage beating, delivered by 16 hammer blows to the head. After taking a good man’s life, the killer left “evidence” to create the impression someone else had committed the heinous crime.
In the days to come, J.C. would tell investigators he could not fathom why anyone would ever want to harm his father. He had no idea who would take his father’s life.
William Whitelaw was a friend to all who knew him.
No Good Reason
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s national crime data show the large majority of homicide victims know the identity of their killers. In more than half of the homicides in the United States, the FBI reports that the innocent and the guilty are related through kinship or marriage.
However, the man who took William Whitelaw’s life was a complete stranger to him. Furthermore, the murderer should never have been in a position to even step foot into the good man’s home.
A condominium management company had contracted a Roofing company to perform work on their client’s buildings where William lived. Among those fulfilling the work was a felon living and working in Michigan who was in violation of the terms of his probation and had not had undergone a pre-employment criminal background check.
Unknown to William Whitelaw and the others who lived in the complex, a man convicted of several violent felonies would walk through Whitelaw’s door and into his home.
The felon had moved to Michigan, ostensibly to live near his brother and to follow up on the offer of a job. On probation after a 12-year prison sentence for armed bank robbery in Ohio, the man failed to report his activities and movements to court authorities in Michigan as required.
Federal authorities overseeing the convict’s change in residence from Michigan to Ohio never followed up with state authorities after his move. Those sworn to protect the public failed to track the whereabouts of a violent man and let him bring harm to others.
The authorities would add to J.C.’s emotional torment by being the prime suspect of the crime. “I would never hurt my father,” J.C. told them. “He was my dad. He was my best friend.”
Contemplating the Unimaginable
After several days under the cloud of suspicion, J.C.’s sister remembered that work had been done on the condominium and the man was fired from weeks before. J.C. remembered meeting the man and got very bad vibes from him and asked his father to get rid of him. It all connected.
Three days later Police investigators received word from a pawn shop that someone was trying to sell items that may have been stolen from William Whitelaw. The “Hot Sheet” had led to a tip and detectives soon had the man and his girlfriend under surveillance.
After warrants were issued the Police moved and arrested the suspects.
Faced with the mounting evidence, the man would admit to the murder of William Whitelaw after two days of questioning. The killer also told authorities he had tried to pass blame for his horrible actions on J.C. Whitelaw.
A Lasting Legacy
More than 400 people attended services for William Whitelaw.
“Many people shared about how my dad had made a major and lasting difference in their lives,” J.C. said. He also knew that his father would always continue to be a central influence on him, his family and friends in their own future lives.
“Dad encouraged me as a musician since I began to play,” J.C. said. “And helped support my interest in music throughout my career.”
J.C. from the age of 4 always wanted an electric guitar. He would build unplayable guitars made from plywood scraps and constantly ask his friends older siblings and friends to play theirs. At age 10, Billy made a deal with J.C. that if he took up a brass instrument in school and learned to play it, then he would get him a real electric guitar.
“A year later for Christmas, he got it for me,” J.C. said. “I haven’t put it down in 40+ years.”
“In the months following this tragedy,” J.C. said, “I had become a very different person and it showed, it was a feeling I did not like.”
He tried to live with a heart broken by sadness and a mind filled with rage.
A Michigan jury determined the man was guilty of first-degree murder and five other felony counts in June of 2015. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
One question kept coming back to J.C.’s mind: “How many more will you never answer for?” Pondering the answer would serve to add to his own loss, he said. He wondered what the future now held for his family, a future much different than the life he had been striving toward.
J.C. pondered the questions. And, he played his guitar and started to write the words .
“Angry songs,” J.C. said. “They were the angriest I’d ever written. They were not really me.”
The sounds reminded him of a world he had helped build was now disintegrated. The music had added to J.C.’s pain. He also saw how his pain was creating an emotional toll on the people he cared about.
“My friends and relatives all wanted to help,” J.C. said. “They reminded me I still have a life to live – for myself and for my family. And they all asked, ‘How can I help?’”
The love of family and friends helped answer his questions. They helped J.C. remember the importance of his own life and work.
In addition to his day job as an audio-video producer/director and engineer, J.C. Whitelaw has had a musical career that spans four decades and genres from Rhythm & Blues to Motown, from Americana to his passion, Rock and Roll. As a songwriter and guitarist he has worked with greats who include Carlos Alomar, Earl Klugh, Anita Baker and record producing giants like Gerard Smerek, Greg Ladanyi, Jimmy Romeo and Michael J. Powell. He has produced and played on countless recordings, has formed bands that include Ash Can Van Gogh, The Broken Toys and The Forbes Brothers and has been the recipient of more than 2 dozen Detroit Music Awards and Nominations.
“Music became my way to move forward,” J.C. said. “Songwriting has always helped me express things I wanted to say. And I will always thank my family and friends for helping me remember that.”
A Remarkable Place
J.C. knew what he needed to express through his art. To do so, he would employ production techniques of a bygone era to capture the exact sounds he wanted recorded. And he knew just the place.
One close friend, a prominent attorney and counselor, helped arrange a recording session in the house, located on one of the most historic estates in Grosse Pointe. The home not only possesses great acoustics, it holds a most remarkable history.
The house had been the home of a great businessman and philanthropist, one of the men deserving of being called a “Pillar of the Community.” He and his wife were supporters of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Grosse Pointe Symphony, Pro Musica of Detroit, and many other music and cultural organizations. Its rooms had entertained many of the musical greats of the 20th century.
The businessman had bought the home for his wife, who especially enjoyed the grounds because they reminded her of her favorite book, “The Secret Garden,” a story about a magical place two special children entered to escape the confusing world of grown-ups. Located next to Lake St. Clair, its expansive lawn would entertain guests enjoying live performances.
Upon his passing, the philanthropist willed the estate to be used by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to house visiting artists, as well as to entertain prominent civic leaders and supporters of the arts. Decades later, the symphony’s directors, with the approval of the original owner’s children, had decided to put the home and estate up for sale.
“A couple of musician friends lent their talents and time,” J.C. said. “Seven days became seven months. And it was pure magic.”
The home would provide more than a studio for J.C. It served as a gateway to a completely different future. It freed J.C.’s creative energies.
The World Ahead
“This is the best work I’ve ever done,” J.C. said. “I was a songwriter long before this tragedy entered my life and will continue to be because that’s what I do. What I hope to accomplish raise awareness and try and give something back to those who have cared about my father and my family. Perhaps I also can give back to those who want to prevent violence and those who work to help the victims of violence."
Now J.C. and the Disciples stand ready to release his latest project “Hammered”. The new work encapsulates his recent life’s journey and marks the journey toward a new destination.
Every note counts on the new recording. Every word sung has special meaning. Every track is crafted to share an experience.
Perhaps to an untrained ear, J.C.’s new album is a collection of new rock songs. For J.C., it is a work of catharsis and a gift of art for all who care about others. It is a gift of art made for recording loss and pain and all they contain for each of us. The new work also contains a central message to inspire those who want to build a better community for people of good will in the future.
The music takes a different nature. Some of the songs speak of violence and mortality. Other works suggest to its listener that music plays an essential role in keeping our most important ideas alive in our hearts and minds. Among these are the memories of special people with whom we have shared our lives. In the remembering of those who really matter – those who love us and teach us - we are never really alone.
Thankfully, for his family and friends and all who appreciate rock ‘n’ roll, J.C. took in a fresh breath and decided to move forward in some of the hardest days one can endure. Today we get to enjoy his company and his art. And when we listen, we can hear J.C. shaping a future built on love.
Written by Frank J. Bunker
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