Washburn high school band from 1970s reunites

Billy McLaughlin and the Paradox come together at the Parkway Theater with special guests on Sept. 24


Acclaimed artist and composer Billy McLaughin’s first band at Washburn High School (WHS) in south Minneapolis, an 11-piece group – counting the roadies -- called Paradox, with a gifted female singer (okay, she really went to Southwest High), had a lot stacked against it in the mid-70’s. First, they were too young and had to sneak into play in clubs and bars. Second, there was another older, hard rock band in the cities also called Paradox knockin’ down gigs all over town. Third, agents like Marsh Edelstein and the guys at GMA kept booking them at high school dances out of the metro.
That didn’t prevent them though from getting an unsolicited critique from Robert Hilburn, who went on to become one of the nation’s most revered rock critics at The Los Angeles Times! Read on to learn more.
On Sept. 24, 2023, Billy’s Paradox band is getting back together at The Parkway Theater for a one-night-only reunion show that will transport you back 45 years or so in what promises to be an evening of late 70’s nostalgia with at least 5 original members, including the band’s terrific singer, Karen Pedersen.
Paradox’s core included Washburn’s McLaughlin, PJ Letofsky, Dan Cross, Bruce Bailey, the late Dave Pedersen, John Doyle and others from WHS. The talented band members went off on various paths – see below -- but this show reunites many original members playing a wide-ranging repertoire, from rock to new wave to R&B music from 1978 through 1980. Special guests include Randy Casey, John Hartley, Todd Bergum and members of the Belfast Cowboys horn section led by Tim Martin.
“It’s pretty bizarre that Robert Hilburn even knew about us, but PJ’s father Irv Letofsky was the LA Times Sunday Calendar Editor, and Hilburn’s boss. Irv was in town for PJ’s graduation, and Hilburn for the opening of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ tour,” McLaughlin recalls. “So, we played in PJ’s garage for the graduation party, and they were there. After that, Hilburn brought most of the band to the Springsteen show -- 10th row!.”
“What he told me was that you guys know how to play -- you just have to do original music,” PJ said. “Hilburn was my buddy. He gave me my first Sex Pistols record, snuck me into the Whisky A Go Go to see Blondie’s first LA appearance when I was visiting dad in LA! And many more when I went to college there that next year.”


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here