Garry Manuel and James D. “Goona” Wilson are the original founding members of the late 1960s-70s band Sunup and have now transformed their music duo to make it a family affair.
Their new band, Sonsup, plays edgy acoustic-rock with gritty vocals laced with harmonies, along with some electric guitar embellishments, with their sons, Ethan James and Marshall Westlake Manuel.
“The Sonsup Project has given Garry and I the opportunity to pass along our message through song that now includes our talented sons, with the hope that they carry on and embody the true meaning and spirit of Sunup,” said James D. “Goona” Wilson. “This album is a mixture of personal stories from the four of us, involving justice, the dismantling of racism and addiction recovery. It is truly a labor of love.”
Garry Manuel and James Wilson met in 1967 when they attended Minerva Deland High School together, in Fairport. Both were musicians in separate bands and knew of one another. They later connected and became friends in their college years at Monroe Community College.
The pair worked together at MCC’s first radio station and discovered they had a passion for bands such as: The Beatles, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Stones, Crosby, Stills & Nash and more shared favorites. Garry and Wilson kept in touch, but parted ways for a couple years after Wilson transferred to Ithaca College to finish his education in radio/television.
After graduation, Garry came up with the idea to start a band — an acoustic duo playing their own arrangements and songs from their favorite artists. From there, the Sunup band was born. For close to a decade, Garry and Wilson played clubs, coffeehouses and concerts in Rochester and did limited touring in New York and New England areas.
After several years performing, Wilson felt the need for more stability in his life and landed a first full time on air-radio gig at a classic rock station, WRKI, or I95 in Danbury, Connecticut. Listeners might know him better as Ethan Carey.
Garry went on to continue his passion for music and opened Manuel’s Music Studio at 31 W. Church St., Fairport. The studio was recently renamed RAMP — Rochester Area Music Project — with the expansion of music talent and class offerings and provides a variety of voice, percussion, string, woodwind, keyboard, recording lessons, production classes, recording, publishing, and a record label arm, along with instrument and accessory retail.
It was 2017 when Garry approached Wilson again about bringing back their own band with a twist — the additions of their sons, Ethan James and Marshall Westlake Manuel and supporting musicians. The Sonsup album would be recorded and include one cover and new songs.
James and Marshall were destined to be involved in the music scene. From a young age, they inherited their father’s passion and skill in everything music oriented. James is a singer, songwriter and guitarist living in Danbury, Connecticut. He has opened for headliners Lesley West (Mountain) and Hotel California (Eagles tribute band). James openly shares his fight with addiction. Before his music success, the band member was finding a way to deal with his borderline personality disorder, becoming drug addicted in his late teens. Today, he is an example of the benefit of using his gifts.
Ethan James stated,
“Every compliment, criticism, promotion, setback, good vibe, cough or really long line you have to wait in, is a gift that was meticulously designed to make possible your becoming more than who you were and happier than ever before,” said James. “My struggles have motivated my contribution to this album. Music has a feeling and a sound — it has helped me through some tough parts of my life.”
Marshall, whose hometown is East Bloomfield, is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, recording engineer and instructor. He holds a degree from the New England School of Communications, with an audio engineering focus. Marshall is known for his recording engineering abilities and his quick intuitiveness with recording technology. Marshall is now involved in the family business in the role as vice president of Rochester Area Music Project.
The Sonsup band also includes supporting musicians: H. Luke Anderson on the electric five-string bass, Ray Boss and John Arbuckle on drums and Ed Castilano on upright bass. Anderson is on Marshall’s Wav Pool Records and is an alum of what is now RAMP. One of the drum tracks was recorded at Cove City Sound, Long Island, by John Arbuckle. Boss and Arbuckle are also alums of the Fairport music studio of 39 years. Castilano is a double bassist in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Sonsup album is an acoustic-rock with gritty vocal sound.