Vintage REAL VIDEO of Gaston & Purcell with Don Polec, circa 1998.|
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Gaston & Purcell
What began as a seemingly harmless stunt by an adolescent with too much time on his hands soon developed into an all- consuming passion. From the moment he awkwardly squeezed a tortured version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” from his blistered palms,
Bruce Gaston sensed what destiny had in store for him. Initially inspired by childhood friend and fellow musical hands pioneer Al Manero, young Bruce plunged into a lifelong pursuit of palm pumping artistic excellence. Undaunted by the excruciating difficulty of learning his chosen instrument (and unable to locate any Mel Bay books on the subject), he practiced night and day in stairwells and bedrooms, cars and buses,
at work or at play---wherever the opportunity to “squeeze a breeze” presented itself. He relentlessly rehearsed and refined his technique and gradually, oh so gradually, improved.
He mastered the “Colonel Bogey March”
along with the “Andy Griffith” theme and “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.
His perseverance and tenacity were finally paying off. He was on his way to becoming a virtuoso. In 1974, after winning a talent show hands down at Bloomsburg University in PA, Bruce realized that he had finally
become a MANUALIST!!!
Later in the 1970’s he met Ken Purcell, a musician who recognized Bruce’s extraordinary talent. They dabbled at the notion of making a sincere effort to play music together, but this did not occur until years later.
For over twenty-five years Ken Purcell has been entertaining audiences that are as diverse as his repertoire. As an accomplished guitarist and pianist, Ken sings with a warmth and enthusiasm that spans a wide range of emotion and invites the audience to join along as he leads them down the musical road less traveled. With a wealth of material ranging from the silly to the sublime,
Mr. Purcell’s tuneful renditions bridge generations with memorable melodies that audiences of any age can relate to.
Nursery schools and nursing homes as well as street corners and concert stages have all echoed with the many moods of his music. Specializing in
Irish, Novelty, and Americana,
Ken’s ever expanding repertoire is a musical grab bag that features
POP STANDARDS of the 20’s & 30’s,
CAMPY CAMPFIRE SING-A-LONGS,
AND NUTTY NOVELTY NUMBERS.
Whether accompanying himself, Manualist Bruce Gaston, or the
Novelty maestros “The Three Tendons”,
Ken Purcell’s musical merriment is a perfect way to perk up parties, picnics,
Banquets, receptions, or any event
LARGE OR SMALL!
Gaston & Purcell first performed publicly in 1992 and have been delighting and mystifying audiences of all ages ever since. Their performances shamelessly pander to their own offbeat taste for music often far removed from the musical mainstream.
Gaston’s unorthodox instrument soon gained the attention of the media and he eventually earned the respect of the musical community for his unparalleled quality of tone, exceptional range, and exactness of pitch. In 1995, the duo received an
Honorary Master of Manualist Arts degree from Philadelphia television personality Don Polec on a special entitled “Amazing Achievers”. On the show Ken sang his paraphrased version of Pat Ballard’s hit “Mr. Sandman” in which he refers to
Bruce as “Mr. Handman”. THE NAME STUCK. As a result of
international attention received from appearing on CNN in 1996, Mr. Handman
has played his musical “mitts” on hundreds of radio stations from Altoona to
New Zealand. It was this enthusiastic worldwide response to Mr. Handman’s
phenomenal ability that inspired Gaston & Purcell to retreat to a troglodytic studio
where, for two years, they labored under the discerning ear of Clark Ferguson, the
audio alchemist, who recorded the unique sounds captured on the album
“Amazing Feats on Musical Hands”, now available at handman.com.
Fittingly, for a manualist, the recording phase of the project was completed on
Palm Sunday, enabling Gaston & Purcell to finally emerge from their
subterranean laboratory with this debut recording effort, the
only full length CD of its kind!!!