PCG and the Alleycats

We all know that life is full of surprises. Usually we realize that when something bad has just happened. Like when the water heater goes out on a cold winter morning and we are faced with the reality of a bitterly cold shower or you realize that you just ran out of toilet paper. But sometimes life throws you a surprise that is a true blessing that changes the way you look at everything you ever knew. Life recently threw me a curve ball from way out in left field that I never saw coming.


If you follow my postings on facebook or any of my blog articles you would know that my father and namesake of Pasquale Custom Guitars, John Pasquale passed away recently. Of course this brought together family that I have not seen in years. Through this process I got reacquainted with a cousin I have not seen in almost 40 years.

When I was 17 years old  I started playing guitar and by 22 I had decided that I was going to pursue a career in the music business, or as an 22 year old kid with long hair and an attitude problem would say “I’m gonna be a Rock Star”. When I made my bold declaration all of my family just said “You’re just like your cousin Donnie!”  Now I knew I had a cousin Donnie but I had no recollection of him because his family moved away from our small coal mining town of Burgettstown Pennsylvania to the Motor City of Detroit when I was 5 years old. 
Nonetheless I was not deterred.   I set my sights on the bright lights and big time of Hollywood. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my heroes like Eddie Van Halen, Warren DiMartini and George Lynch so I packed up my 1984 Kramer Focus 2000 guitar and my Crate GS150 half stack into my 1986 Ford EXP and headed for Tinseltown.  I enrolled in The Musician’s Institute and immersed myself in the Hollywood scene.

Fast forward 23 years …after my father passed away I got reacquainted with my cousin Don Pasqualini. (He no longer wanted to be referred to as “Donnie” but you just can’t get that through the heads of an Italian family).  His father Dave Pasqualini married my dad’s sister Mary Pasquale and moved the whole family to Detroit to work at the General Motors plant when I was young and I hadn’t seen him since.

 As it turned out I was more like Donnie than anyone ever knew.  I set out to find my fame and fortune in Hollywood in 1990. He did the same thing in 1977 but rather than setting his sights on the hard rock scene in Hollywood he set out for the Chicago blues scene.

Don Pasqualini moved to Chicago from Detroit and honed his chops among the great blues players that came up through the Chi-Town scene in the 70’s He even spent some time playing in Son Seals house band.  He gigged under the name Don Copeland and played guitar to make a living for years. He still lives in Evanston Illinois and still plays music. The irony is that through my travels I ended up in Chicago living about an hour from where Don lived.


My sister came out to visit shortly after my father’s passing  and she arranged to get the family together again.  The original meeting was a bit awkward since neither of us had seen each other in nearly 40 years.  Things loosened up quickly and we learned that even to this day Don  was still heavily involved in music and He and his wife had a blues, folk, country band call DP and the Alleycats.  In true musician fashion the entire living house was set up like a jam session studio complete with 24 track digital recording gear.

So, on one particular Sunday afternoon, I found myself sitting in a living room in Evanston Illinois with DP and the Alleycats sitting in on blues classics and jamming along to some of their originals. After about an hour of playing and getting myself reaquainted with the G minor pentatonic  blues scale as well as  my long lost cousin I realized that we had more in common than we ever knew. (I also realized that these guys didn’t know any Metallica tunes!)


Don and I had the same passion for music and a mutual love for the guitar. He told me how he and my father would ride for hours in  an old bread truck making  deliveries while listening to Johnny Cash and Charlie Pride and how my Dad introduced him to the pedal steel guitar.  We had the same gene that made music our passion and we were both blessed with wives that allowed us to follow our hearts. 

We sat and jammed for hours and talked about gear and bands and all the stuff that bonds musicians together. We weren’t cousins at this point, we were just 2 musicians sharing our love for music and the guitar. We talked about his choice of Paul Reed Smith Guitars over his beloved Les Paul’s because the Les Paul’s just became too heavy to play for long periods of time. We traded off playing through his brand new Mesa Boogie Mark V combo amp and long after the families had gone elsewhere we just jammed and bonded.

We spent the next day with Don giving us a tour through Old Town Chicago showing us the places that he haunted when he was an aspiring musician and I could see the joy in his face as he told the stories of the old days when he was thrilled to play all night in a blues club for $50.00 a night.  He told me stories about the difficulties the family had with his choices to follow music and his passions and I reassured him that I had the same struggles. We took some pictures that day and looking back on them I realized that he and I even stand alike when we are forced to take pictures.

He told me how he changed his professional name to Don Copeland because in the old days no one wanted to hear a white blues guitar player named Don Pasqualini and how proud he was that I put my father’s ( and his mother’s )name on my guitars. We talked about adding a Pasquale Custom Guitar to his collection and how we needed to stay connected and get together again before another 40 years passes.

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