The Strong Contenders

    Band Concept:

    Part of this Story started about along time ago. It
    was the day when I first saw the Beatles on the Ed
    Sullivan Show on T.V. Then I thought just like a
    lot of people did at that time how great it would
    be to put a rock and roll band together. Of course
    it wasn't only the Beatles, it was Fats Domino,
    James Brown, Cannon Ball Adderley, Jimmy Smith,
    The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones and so forth.
    Later on came The Who, The Jimi Hendrix
    Experience, The Chambers Brothers and The
    Quicksilver Messenger Service. My brother Dominic
    and I we both set out to first get some musical
    instruments together and start learning how to
    play them. We both listened to all types of music,
    everything, R&B, Classic, Jazz. Dominic and I we
    were both fortunately talented enough to start at
    an early age to compose music. As you may have it
    this story goes on over several years. The Concept
    of "The Strong Contenders" is, that a "Rock Band"
    plays a combination of Rock, Funk, Jazz and Classic.
    Similar to the way that the band "Weather Report"
    plays Jazz. That simply means, to play music that
    is well rehearsed and properly executed.

    Band History:

    This story begins about a long time ago. I
    remember walking over the bridge that leads into
    the Weissenburger Strasse in Spandau on the
    outskirts of the city of Berlin. You know it
    yourself you probably have heard a story that
    began just like this opening sentence has
    started. Needless not to say the sun was
    shining, the birds were singing in the trees.
    At that moment I was pretty happy with my self
    because I had just stepped off the bus number
    145, from the city. I had spent a very
    successful day in the HDK AltBau Studio where
    I had assisted a musical colleague of mine with
    his Demonstrational Recordings. I don`t know if
    it was because of the fact that I had played three
    different musical instruments (Drums, Bass and
    Guitar), I also assisted him with the mix down of
    his recordings, or was it because the sun was
    shining and the summer weather on that August
    day in the year of 1993 was so enjoyable. What
    a day! But still, walking over that bridge leading
    in to the Weissenburger Strasse often led to a lot
    of sentiment, I mean good feelings. A voice spoke
     to me suddenly out of the high heavens. "The
    Strong Contenders" said the voice. Speaking
    as if the Good Lord was just standing behind
    the clouds, watching down on me. I thought that
    God felt proud of me because He knows that I work
    very hard for my music, often too hard to say the
    truth. I took that as a recommendation for a new
    band name.

    "Olando-James Bethel"

    I was born in New York City, New York USA. I
    studied at St. Thomas Apostle School, Louis D.
    Brandeis High School, and majored in Accounting
    and minored in Music at Hofstra University, in
    Hempstead, Long Island. Because of my interest in
    Music and also for the fact that my Grand Father
    and Grand Mother, Joseph and Else Ann Brown were
    very musically inclined I started at an early age
    to develop myself as a musician and a composer.
    I first started with the piano, at about the age
    of 5. I received a small piano from my
    Mother Sarah and my Uncle Calvin Brown for
    Christmas. Outside of playing that piano, I had
    an Aunt named "Tanti", who had a full size piano
    in her apartment, when I was over for a visit I
    often played piano at my aunt‘s place. Around
    that time I also started to get interested in
    Studio recording. This came into being because
    my Mom bought me a Grundig 2 speed tape recorder
    for my Birthday. With that of course, I started
    to automatically go in the direction of music and
    production with out really knowing it. At that
    time outside of my growing interest for music and
    composing, I was very active in sports. At the age
    of 14. I was being scouted by the New York
    Yankees Baseball Team. So I had my hands full with
    activities. At that time in New York, fortunately
    for me and for other New Yorkers it was mandatory
    for each student to learn an instrument. Outside
    of the normal fundamental musical training you
    had to learn a Musical Instrument and not
    necessarily the one of your choice. I wanted to
    at first, when it wasn’t permitted, that I could
    learn guitar, or the Trumpet. My music teacher who
    was at that time the "First Flutist" in the New
    Yorker Philharmonic, said that, "You should play
    the Concert Flute". So I then started to learn the
    Concert Flute in the High School Orchestra, I also
    started to learn how to play the electric guitar
    in our neighbourhood band. My Uncle Calvin bought
    my brother Dominic and I our first guitar amp. It
    was a "Harmony". A year or so later, Uncle Cal
    bought us both each even bigger guitar amps. I
    believe that they were called "Univox". The
    amplifiers also sounded really good. I took on
    some temporary employment, working before and
    after my daily High School Classes to buy some
    guitars. I didnot want to bother our parents with
    the task of buying us musical instruments. A
    couple of months after High School, I joined the
    U.S. Army. I was in the service for three years
    which included 13 months in South Korea. At that
    time I also started to learn how to play the
    drums and completed instruction in the
    Photografic field.

    As a music minor at Hofstra University I also
    learned Orchestra percussion which consisted
    of Piano, Drums, Tympani, Cymbals, Bells, and

    A year and a half after finishing College I
    moved to Germany, and I started to play with
    several Jazz and Show Bands. I did a bit of
    studio work as a bassist, guitarist, and
    drummer. That was done with bands in Frankfurt
    am Main and later here in Berlin. For example
    I did sessions with Wilbur Little who was the
    bass player in Rashan Roland Kirks Band, with
    Taj Mahal, Joachim Kühn, Anita Boländer, The
    Mike Müller Show, Mike Naylor from the Brecker
    Brothers Band, etc. I then took a few years
    off from the Jazz and Show Bands to develop my
    skills as a Rock Guitarist. In this period I
    learned the guitar day and night around the
    clock. Besides learning the guitar I discovered
    the Fountain of Composition. I started to compose
    music as if there were nothing else in the
    world but that.

    I moved to Berlin in 1984´
    and started to look for musicians to play the
    music that I had composed. I also spend quite
    a bit of time, over several years off and on,
    assisting the Studio Sound Engineering
    Students at the HDK Conservatory for Music in
    Berlin. Of course to make ends meet I had
    several different forms of employment. This
    ranged from working in kitchens, washing
    dishes and cooking, as cleaning personnel in
    government and commercial buildings, also as
    a stage hand (Roady), (Local Crew) for Tina
    Turner, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson,
    Sting, Brian Adams, André Rieu, Metallica,
    The Who, Phil Collins, Deep Purple,
    Rod Stewart, Peter Frampton, AC DC, Neil
    Young etc. I worked some times off and on in
    my studied profession Accounting again. I
    did different types of Administrative work
    and Photography, Photo-Labour technique, I
    assembled computers, Marketing-Marketing
    Management etc. I also carried Heating Coal.
    You name it. I started "The Strong Contenders"
    about 1993´ this came to past because of the
    fact that several other bands never took form.
    For example the band "Slädger" which was
    formed by Geoff Bohn, Dieter Herzog, and
    myself in July of 1986 actually was a good
    Rock and Blues Band. "Slädger" had some good
    gigs and tours and television appearances, in
    and around Germany. We played covers and
    originals. Before „The Strong Contenders“
    were formed came the bands named "The Olando
    Band" which was renamed into "Radical News".
    This band started to get off the ground. The
    band members were Hjalmar Stecher: Bass, and
    Joe Di Carlo: Drums and myself on Guitar and
    Vocals. Later on came the pianist named
    Wolfgang Obrecht in the band. We were also
    signed by World Wide Records, Uk. and Germany.
    I have now a very thick Catalogue of original
    music that I have composed and this realms
    from Rock, Funk, Jazz to Classic. My Catalogue
    contains approximately 166 titles, I also have
    a title as a Composer here in Germany.


    "The Strong Contenders"

    The new band consisted of Frank Immervoll:
    Drums, Hans Peter Vogel: Bass, and Peter
    „Bio-Rhythm us“ on the Keyboards. The only
    problem was, I myself I had spend too much
    money for the previous band, I was actually
    bankrupt. I had to take time out from the music
    to earn other money to pay all of the bills
    that had accumulated from the first band called
    „Radical News“. I put the Strong Contenders on
    ice till around late in 1995. I took the original
    drummer from „Radical News“ Joe DiCarlo,
    Bassist Ramani Krishner and the Saxophonist
    Ben Perkoff who had also played with the first
    Strong Contenders band. He was also substituted
     by Dave Beecraft and Paul Griesbach. Our Video
     „D.S.“was shown often on television in Germany.
     Between 1997´and 1999´, I had to take another
    break to earn money to support my band.

    The Strong Contenders started again, in the
    winter of 1999´, this time with some altogether
    new faces. Justice Kweku on Piano and Organ,
    Harold Mahl on Saxophone, Olaf Seidel on the
    Drums, Stefan Jacobs on Bass and myself of
    course, guitar and vocals. Later on we were a
    Quartet with out saxophone and Lionel Haas
    replaced Justice Kweku on the keyboards. Justice
    Kweku had left the band on his own request. To
    constitute the problem of session musicians we
    were faced with the task of having a permanent
    keyboarder. Lionel Haas supported his cost
    of living with different studio and concert
    gigs, with other musicians and interpretants. We
    had a very good array of keyboarders at our
    disposal; Jeffrey Ernst and Mark MacCean.
    Justice Kweku returned only for one concert,
    that was on the 1st of May 2003´ in the
    "Friends Club" in Berlin-Schoeneberg. In 2004´,
    Stefan Jacobs was replaced by the musician and
    bassist Martin Schoenian who was formerly a
    member of „Weed“ a magnificent Hard Rock
    Band from Berlin. 2005´, after a rather extensive
    survey of the music market situation, „The Strong
    Contenders“ returned. This time with the Bassist
    Holger Lewin and Lionel Haas once again on the

    On Monday the 18th of September at
    approximately 23:07 hours after rehearsal,
    Olaf Seidel collapsed while walking to his car. All
    attempts to revive him failed. He was only 35
    years old.


    "NLBF Music"

    The main reason why The Strong Contenders album
    with such innovative talent was released by an
    internally initiated record company is because of
    the unprofessional and unserious attitude from
    serveral other Major and independent record
    companies. As a participant of a Workman’s
    Compensations Program in Germany, called
    "Hartz IV", designed for the establishment of
    Self Employment, I started the Independent
    Record Company. NLBF Music. NLBF Music is
    reponsible for the production and marketing of
    “The Strong Contenders” CD, “The Art Of
    Contention”. In the future NLBF Music will cater
    to the needs of other aspiring artists.


    "The Strong Contenders 2009"

    Olando-James Bethel: Guitars, Vocals
    Eberhard Baschien: Keyboards,
    Mike Schuh: Bass
    Dagmar Kürbis: Drums



    “The Strong Contenders CD
    “The Art of Contention”

    The Post............3:48
    This Song..........2:58
    Film Clip............0:32
    The Friendly Skies.....6:27
    Such A Long Time.....5:49
    Now Is The Time........5:01
    20 Seconds of Silence...6:35
    She‘s Coming Home....4:38
    Peace and Harmony......4:03

    All Music (GEMA)......50:05.09
    NLBF Music (C) + (P) 2004´ Re-released
    ...2009´     Recorded In May 2000.
    Additional recordings and Mix and Mastering
    in July 2003.
    Remastered in September 2004. at
    „BEAT STUDIO“ Berlin, Germany.
    Officially released on November 30, 2005´

    Sound Engineering by: Gerd Bluhm
    Produced by: Olando-James Bethel
    Mastered by: Gerd Bluhm

    Olando-James Bethel:
    all Guitars, Lead and Background Vocals
    Olaf Seidel: Drums and Percussion
    Stefan Jacobs: Bass
    Justice Kweku: Grand Piano and
    Keyboards, Vocals on „She‘s Coming Home“

    All Compositions by: Olando-James Bethel,
    "Peace and Harmony" by: Olando-James Bethel
     and Lenjis Robinson.

    C D. Drawing of (band members)and Re-released
    Album cover by: Chiu Ming Lo. Graphic:
    Olando-James Bethel.Photography by: Fung
    On Lui, Jan Dey, Peter Kuetschera, Ti Ming Kang,
    Olando-James Bethel, Stefan Ziegenspeck,
    Thorsten Glade.

The Strong Contenders

c/o NLBF Music Ltd.
Postfach: 42 01 37
12061 Berlin, Germany

Mobile: +49(0)171-9631249

to be read in English:


NLBF_Music_Animation_topaz.gif NLBF Music

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Music Video:

"The Post"

Music Video:

"This Song"

Live- Music Video:

"The Post"
"Now is the Time"


Selective song tracks

"The Strong Contenders" CD,

can be heard on:

Schrott Scrap Auch Nicht

(C) Olando-James Bethel & NLBF Music.....2000´-2012´