2000-2011: Stages, Kids, and a Smash Record!

The commercial release of "5000 Days" (featuring highlights of the 5000 Days final show) and its concurrent Bad Examples reunion shows set the pattern for the next several years with a few shows a year at Fitzgerald's and other fine indoor venues and outdoor festivals. Ralph would play more shows ranging from solo to septet but only use the Examples name when the vast majority of the members were available. Some of the talents lending themselves to "Ralph Covert and Friends" included Brian Sheridan and Andy Perostianis of Middle 8, saxophonist and singer Rich Parenti (from the Remainders), trumpeter and vocalist Matt Lewis, and pianist Andy Jones.

Ralph Covert's theatrical career had already begun to grow during the late 1990's. His first major succesful theatrical endeavor was a dramatic play co-written with G. Riley Mills based on the creator of the multi-ring circus, "Sawdust And Spangles," which earned them a Joseph Jefferson citation for Best New Work. In February of 2001, Mills and Covert's "Streeterville," based on a true tale of early Chicago, opened at the Time-Line Theater in Chicago to critical acclaim, and won another Jeff citation for Best New Work. Combing music, drama, and a love of the Big Top, the pair created a "rock'n'roll fable" called "The Flower Thieves," which featured live music and the many talents of The Midnight Circus. A studio recording was made available at performances and online only.

And then there's Ralph's World. You can read much more about it elsewhere but here's the condensed version. The concept evolved from teaching a toddler's music class at The Old Town School Of Folk Music so Ralph could spend more time with his daughter Fiona- just playing good music that he liked, kids liked, and parents liked. Chicago-based Minty Fresh label (Cardigans, Tahiti 80) saw the possibilites and the first Ralph's World album was released in 2001. Billboard's Moira McCormick dubbed that debut "the children's record of the year" and now it's more than a decade later with nine albums, a Grammy nomination, videos on Playhouse Disney, national tours playing to thousands, four books, and a forthcoming television series, Time Machine Guitar, slated for Fall 2014 on PBS stations. Combining his winning music for pre-teens and his dramatic prowess Ralph has also created a number of hit children's musicals ranging from "A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas" (also in book form and presented nationally) and "The Hundred Dresses" based on the Eleanor Estes novel and soon to be a road show.

A kid-friendly compilation of Bad Examples tracks called "Good Examples Of Bad Examples," which featured one all-new track, "Find Your Cherry Bomb," and a holiday rarity, "Christmas In Vegas," and a full-band version of "The Amazing Romero," was released in 2006 in response to parents demanding a selection of Examples tunes suitable lyrically for younger listeners.

And now we come to the present. As noted before, the Examples never stopped playing or recording. But somehow it took until 2011 for the many songs to be pared down into an album. Once the song selection was completed the band, working together, did overdubs and were all actively involved in the mixing of the un-named album. Thematically it starts with "Big E Chord" and ends with "Gets All Messy." Steve Gerlach served as co-producer and final mixes were handled by Sean O'Keefe with mastering by Jonathan Pines. Release date was January 11, 2011. The track "Pictures Of A Masquerade" was in regular rotation for weeks on WXRT and the band returned to playing around a dozen dates a year.

In August 2013, bassist Pickles Piekarski unexpectedly passed on. While there have been a few shows since then and Ralph Covert has recorded some tracks for a new Bad Examples record, no permanent replacement has been found.

Click on any chapter heading below for a chronological history!

The early days & the MEAT album
The making of Bad Is Beautiful; AEMMP Records signs the band
Bad Is Beautiful released, Europe, West Coast touring
CNR ends, Eat At Godot's
Landmark falls, enter Steve Gerlach, the Kisses 50 Cents band, the origins of Birthday
The return of Tommy O'Brien, Ralph tours Europe with the Moondogs, 1996 European tour
Rob Newhouse, Ron Barnes join the band; Sawdust and Spangles, Birthday come to life
The 5000 Days Studio sessions, The Last Show
Stages, Kids, and a Smash Record!