“There are two women up front, inches away from the band,
who just can't contain themselves; they're shaking their booty,
among other things. It's rock 'n' roll, the kind that grabs your
shoes and makes them move ...

They're Duke and the Drivers, a group that in the '70s was
one of Boston's top party bands. At their peak, they were on
the road 28 nights a month, playing the New England prep-
school and college circuit. Theirs was music to drink and
to. They had ... hit singles, including ''What You Got''
and ''Check Your Bucket.'' They opened for J. Geils Band,
Three Dog Night, Steely Dan, the Allman Brothers, Bruce
Springsteen, the Eagles, Chuck Berry, and B. B. King.

Some of the band members have known one another since
grade school ... [going] ... by stage names: Mad Mississippi
Buffalo (Swift), Cadillac Jack (Eaton); Sam Deluxe (Lilly),
Earthquake (Morton), and Rhinestone Mudflaps III (Hixon).

They grew up. There were marriages, births ... remarriages,
and more births. ''We've been friends for 35 years,'' says
[Sam Deluxe].

[Sam Deluxe] is the band's musical director and songwriter...
[Mad Mississippi], lead vocalist and keyboardist ... a lawyer.
Bassist ... [Earthquake] Morton became a chef. [Rhinestone
Mudflaps III] saxophonist and singer, went into investment ...
and banking. [Cadillac Jack] on guitar, percussion, and
vocals, was a Boston TV reporter before going to law school.

Buoyed by a sold-out two-night gig last year at the House of
Blues in Harvard Square [Cambridge, MA] -- they had to add
a third night -- the band ... decided they were having too much
fun to quit. They've ... produced a new CD, launched
www.dukeandthedrivers.com, and [are] playing gigs...

''This is the definitive Duke record,'' [Deluxe] says of the new
disc, ''Check Your Bucket.''

A recent show at the Kings bowling alley and lounge in the
Back Bay brought a full house. Last weekend, Duke and the
Drivers cut some new tracks [toward] another album.

''When the Duke calls, I'm there,'' says Swift [Mad Mississippi
Buffalo], who ... has law offices in Chicago, New York, and
New Bedford [MA]. ''I think we are musically better than ever.''

They all shared a passion for R&B and soul. Their first gig, in
1972, was in Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard [MA]; they didn't
make any money, but the owner gave them free drinks. ''He lost
money on the deal,'' says [Cadillac Jack].

The group didn't even have a name. At the Western Front in
Cambridge, the owner told them they had 20 minutes to come
up with one. The guys had been drinking ''drivers'' -- a drink
similar to a screwdriver ... ''a cheap orange drink with cheap
white wine.'' They needed a name to go with it and came up
with ''Duke.''

Mention Duke and the Drivers to nearly anyone ... in their
teens or 20s in Boston in the 1970s, and he or she will react.
''They were a very cool band,'' says Kai Armstrong ... of
Milton [MA]. ''The music was great, the beat was strong, and
they were very hip and a lot of fun. They were kind of wild,
and of course Tommy [Mad Mississippi] ... was [and may we
add IS] very good looking.''

Today, Swift [Buffalo] ... has a 17-year-old son and, from a
second marriage, a 6-month-old son. He recently moved back
east from Chicago, where he practiced law for 20 years. Part
of the reason was ''The Duke'' -- the fictional bandleader. ''I
feel [music is] the truest expression of who I am,'' Swift says.
''I've been ina band since I was 14 years old.''

''Duke and the Drivers had an infectious sound and a
beat that was absolutely perfect to dance and party to,'' says
[Dave] LaCamera, who [managed] the group in 1973 ... [in]
the headydays of Boston rock, with J. Geils and then
Aerosmith breaking out.... ''It's just the charisma. It's still
there, 30 years later. There's a fraternity ... who don't want to
let the fun go.''

... three decades have passed. Among the five of them, there
are 11 kids. [Rhinestone Mudflaps III] is a grandfather. [Sam
Deluxe’s] 19-year-old son, [the Petulant Prince] will often
jump in and play lead guitar...

Cathy Perron has been married to Eaton [Cadillac Jack] for
20 years ... She was at Kings with their teenagers, Brooke
and Perry.''When the children were young and in the bathtub,
my husband used to play and sing to them,'' she says. ''They
love this part of him.''

Brooke, a freshman at BU, acknowledges that she teases her
dad about rocking out. ''It's funny to see him up there,'' she
says. ''But I love it, because I know he's having a good time.''
Says Perry, 14: ''I think it's good that my dad can still go.''

Pete Cunningham, who roomed with [Cadillac Jack] at
Harvard, is an environmental lawyer in Florida. Thirty years
ago, he was the group's road manager. ''They're very much
out of the soul tradition of the '60s,'' he says.

Each member, he says, brings a unique talent to the group.
He calls [Sam Deluxe] the musical heart and soul of the band.
[Mad Mississippi] is ''the showman.'' [Cadillac Jack] is the
driving rhythm force, [Rhinestone] is the ''court jester,
a natural performer,'' and [Earthquake] Morton is ''Mr. Soul,''
the musical historian.

Morton ... owned the Bridge Street Cafe for 20 years in South
Dartmouth [MA]; now he has a catering business. ''This is
really about relationships,'' he says. ''And we're making [even]
better music now. Our new tracks are just outrageous.''

Hixon ... the MC ... loves stepping into his Rhinestone
Mudflaps persona, calling it ''a walk on the moon.'' He's also
the one who lives the farthest away, in ... Calif., but flies in
whenever he's [summoned by The Duke].”