Back Stage Magazine
Out to change the world!
In November Back Stage magazine caught up with local music heavy-weight Instant Karma. We sat and talked with Karl Werne, the founder of the original Instant Karma back in 1982. We asked Werne where he came up with the name, he told us, "It's a do unto others... philosophy, with a 60's vibe, I'm so fond of." The band as seen today came together from a Thursday Night Jam Session at a local club at the beach. Werne, the ring-leader behind the act, started playing music professionally at the age of 16. His musical debut was with acoustic partner Chris Kemp in the duo Karl & Chris. Since then Werne has been performing original compositions as well as a variety of cover material. He is self taught on the guitar, after a while he traded in his acoustic guitar for an electric. Along with Chris Kemp he built an ambitious young garage band armed with thoughtful lyrics ready to change the world. After graduating high school, Werne spent the next eight years in a successful career with local favorites The Lewis McGehee Group. Included with that span came tour dates as an opening act for Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is" tour in 1986-87. The Lewis McGehee album Distant Voices was released in 1990. Following were personnel changes in Instant Karma, and many solo gigs, performing as opening acts for the likes of Richie Havens, Taj Mahal, Jessie Collin Young, John Sebastian, Leon Russell, David Bromberg, Juice Newton, The Ventures, and Livingston Taylor. Werne is an incredible song writer, his songs he told us, "All have messages, listen closely to the words, cause we're trying to change the world. Each original song is a true life story." One song in particular "Brandon" is about his 10 year old son. On the tape, and at the show we saw A.J. Long, formerly with Buzzard, sing the "Our Father" at the end of the song. Elaine Dempsey sings harmonies in "Brandon" on the album. Werne also performs with barefeet, we asked him about that, his response, "I like to be comfortable... It's just the last of the living hippies." Instant Karma also consists of Robbie Meade, former bass player for Nyte Flyte, David Julian & The Playmates, and Cam Head and The Noisemakers. Meade performed in venues such as the Sands Casino and the Frontier Casino in Las Vegas, Fitzgerald's Casino in Reno, and the Nevada Lodge in Tahoe. He returned to the Tidewater area to join Nyte Flyte in 1984, a popular show band that performed up until 1990, covering the Virginia Beach, Baltimore and Washington area. Meade is a self taught bass player, and currently teaches bass guitar at Moe's Music in Virginia Beach. On stage he is quite the character, shining with an energetic personality, but still takes care of the bas playing with utmost professionalism. And last but definitely not least is drummer Randy Caffee. Formerly with a number of bands, such as Country acts, Thunder Road, Melissa Lewis and The Heavy Cowboys. After this Caffee spent a few years as a jazz musician playing the Williamsburg- Richmond circuit. Caffee studied jazz and clasical guitar at Norfolk State University for three years. Among these other musical stints Caffee has accomplished, his versatility goes to extremes in his variety department. He's played with local beach bands, The Snard Brothers, Built For Comfort, Too East and the Rhythm Kings. His other training includes private studies with several of Tidewater's premier drummers of jazz - rock. His performance we saw, was absolutely great. The fresh, original compositions by Karl Werne, and the wide range of experience among all the members in the band allow Instant Karma to cover many different music styles such as Pink Floyd, Paul Simon, Junior Wells, The Grateful Dead, and so many more, including material from some local entertainers. Take our advice. Go see Instant Karma tonight.