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Sound Circuit

TOAST3R pops up the hits

9/4/2019

Musicians provide complex vocal harmonies.

When Steve Radke played golf with his buddies at Woodward Granger High School, they discussed putts and birdies, but also guitars and music. He and two other guys formed a band in their garage, later renaming it Toaster in 1993. Original band members Radke and Mark Manning remain in the current band. Recently, the group replaced the “E” in Toaster with a “3.” Radke explains why.

“We always do a toast with the band, saying, ‘on the count of 3,’ we toast the crowd,” he says. “We thought it’d be a fun way to spell our name.”

The band plays a variety of “harder” edge rock of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Band members include Radke on keyboards, guitar and vocals; Manning on bass guitar and vocals; Anna Aiello with lead vocals; Ben Busiek on lead guitar and vocals; John Withers on drums and vocals; and Tony Santi on drums and vocals.

TOAST3R has opened for bigger-name acts, including Great White, Jefferson Starship, 38 Special, Quiet Riot and Loverboy.

“Opening for some of those concerts was a blast,” says Radke. “Loverboy was a fun show.”

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Many of the shows include big musical tunes from Journey, Boston and Toto. “Ballroom Blitz” is a favorite to play.

“It’s a hard song to pull off,” Radke says. “Some songs are vocally challenging. But we try to do different radio hits that everyone knows, but that other local bands don’t cover. People are blown away by some of the songs we do.”
Radke says the band’s strength is that all of the musicians sing on nearly every song.

“We have the ability to sing complex harmonies,” he says. “We’re very vocally oriented and showcase songs with big vocals.”

The set list changes based on the venue. With a laundry list of songs, the band is known as an outdoor party band. They recently finished a gig at the Iowa State Fair’s Steer and Stein.

“We’ve been their house act for the past four years. We always see new faces and new crowds every year. It’s good for the masses who have never heard of us to get in front of new faces,” says Radke. “Some of our fans’ kids are listening to us. One young man said, ‘Man, my parents love you guys.’ ”

All band members have day jobs, working to balance family life. The band’s goal is to keep reproducing songs like they’re supposed to be played.

“I like what we’re doing now and the fact we’ve been going at this for years. It’s neat people are still booking us. I didn’t think it would last this long starting out in our garage,” he says. “It’s something we enjoy. Music is what we do.” ♦

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