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Edgewater 'River Rats' Reunite Band, Rekindle Friendship

The River Rats
The River Rats Photo Credit: Facebook

EDGEWATER, N.J. — As young men, a group of Edgewater natives tore up the local bar scene.

Four decades later, the rock n' roll cover band "The River Rats" is at it again -- albeit with more pounds and less hair.

"I never imagined I would find myself doing this again," said "Rats" percussionist John Thompson, 63, who calls it a reunion every time he plays a show with his childhood buddies. "It's a real trip."

The River Rats formed in 1975, when the ten Edgewater High School graduates were in their early 20s.

The group covered popular bands at places like at the American Legion Hall and local bars.

After a few years, careers, marriage, and children sent them in different directions.

Thompson, who works as a stagehand on Broadway with several of his bandmates, said he never really thought about reuniting until fellow Rat Aarne Lofgren suggested they play at his 50th birthday.

"We had so much fun that we decided to keep it up," Thompson said.

That was 10 years ago.

The group now holds down a spot at Klub 45 in Manhattan, where they perform three or four times a year.

In addition to Thompson and Lofgren, there's Bob Batch, Bill Jones, Vito Aviles, Joe VonDohln, Kevin Anderson, Kevin Dow, Gerald Ballerina, and Robert Kennedy.

"I think it makes us all feel young again and it gives us an excuse to spend time with each other," Thompson said, adding that the group's Broadway connections enable them to recruit professional singers to sit in

"What's really crazy is that I think we are actually getting better," he added. "It makes me sorry we ever broke up in the first place."

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