This musician was looking to retire but instead found a new band in Riverside – Press Enterprise


Longtime musician Stephen Parker’s first love was sports, he said, rather than music.

“I took piano lessons from my mom when I was young and hated it,” he said.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and raised in both Kalamazoo, Michigan and Wilmington, Delaware, Parker sang in church choirs but said he showed no real musical inclination in high school and college.

“I tried singing with several bands but never took it seriously,” he said. “However, I realized when I was in my last year of college that I really wanted to be a singer / songwriter / guitarist. I had been writing poetry for a while and most of my friends were playing instruments.

Stephen Parker of Riverside, longtime musician and founder of his new band, Chimera. (Courtesy of Stephen Parker)

Parker bought his first instrument, a Martin D-18 acoustic guitar from Manny’s Music Store in New York. He then embarked on a rigorous discipline class to learn to play on his own, training eight or nine hours a day.

He received a BA in English Literature from the University of Delaware. To date, he has had no formal musical training, and writes and plays by ear. His main instruments are electric, acoustic and classical guitars.

“I write on the piano, but you are unlikely to hear me play someday,” he said.

Parker explained that he was never interested in being in someone else’s group.

“I’ve always been super focused on creating my own music and my own lyrics,” he said. “My first band, Cheyenne was formed only as a logical next step after recording my first solo LP ‘Cheyenne Autumn.’ “

Parker said his favorite accomplishments were hearing his songs on the radio for the first time, opening for Leon Russell and recording his live CD “Joined in Progress” at the Sellersville Theater in Pennsylvania. He has led several groups over the years. The last thing he expected after retiring and moving to Riverside three years ago was to start another.

“Having retired to Southern California and left all of my really good friends and talented musicians behind, I really didn’t expect to form and play in another band,” he said. “Chimera was formed two years ago, just before the onset of the pandemic.”

He described the group as being made up of talented musicians who have been playing music since the 1970s. The group includes guitarist and vocalist Thel Rountree, drummer Bill Dragoo, bassist Mike McNichols and keyboardist Tim Peterson. Parker, who also serves on vocals and guitar, writes all of the band’s material with Rountree. “Coming out of this dreaded COVID pandemic, I hope Chimera can start getting more bookings, playing more gigs and starting to build a dedicated fan base,” Parker said. “We want to become your new favorite SoCal rock band and share our musical journey. I can’t wait to get into the studio in the near future and start recording songs with Chimera.

Personally, Parker is hoping to be able to resume traveling, as he and his wife Ruth Ann had planned to retire. They are also looking forward to spending more time with their son Conor, who lives in Moreno Valley.

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Patrick Brien is executive director of the Riverside Arts Council.


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