1995 Bay Area Music Awards - View image of the 1995 Bay Area Music Awards

Music and Business Forum - Article by M. Wilson -
View image of the Band in the 1993 Music Forum Magazine Cover

Formerly called Secret Service they are now known as The Trial. Their current line up began three years ago in the Bay area and they are continuing to grow and become ever more popular. Mark Busto is the band's motor on stage pounding out nothing but solid grooves. Tom Perry on the bass axe holds down the other half in the rhythm section. Rick Morgan is one of the more tasty power hitting guitarists in Tampa and Steve Gruden, what can I say, he's got the most awesome pipes, and the best I've heard in the club Scene in years! (Tampa or otherwise.)

The styles that influenced these rockers are the ones that set the standard for two decades of music. Groups like Bad Company, Journey, Grand Funk, Aerosmith and the like shaped the very being of each player, and this is reflected in their abilities as writers and players. The concern and respect that they show for each other and their music is truly genuine.

Over the last several years the bend has managed to do some performances with the 95YNF and Morrisound Studios, as well as Players Live, of which they released a cassette that quickly sold 1,000 copies in the Bay area alone. Their popularity has not decreased even though they have steadily worked the Tampa scene for three solid years including being the near house band at Killians on Waters Ave. These guys are a group of serious musicians with a real grip on what it's going to take to spark their careers for the final phase, a record company deal.

The Trial is now undergoing crucial changes. "This is really a turning point for us," Mark Busto told the Forum during the interview. "We are going to get ourselves into some other market areas and spread the group around for better exposure. There are also going to be some visual changes on stage." After a long talk with The Trial I can tell you this is only the beginning.

The Group will be performing some dates that are going to take them to Atlanta this fall and then up the East Coast as well. The quartet, currently writing and recording, plans to have a C.D. quality demo by summer's end to start the shopping of major labels. In a little known venture this past January, The Trial signed a management deal with Cliff Witherspoon out of South Carolina, the same company that got Jackal their deal with Geffen Records.

The group has felt for quite some time that their song material has been worthy of signing but the presentation of the act was not. This is now changing at a dramatic rate. "We don't feel like we have to compete with all the new alternative bands or grunge rock groups," said Steve, "We're just a good solid rock band and we're doing what feels right." The band seems to agree that they're not happy with the way that the music business is doing many groups. Tom says, "The over exposure of bands on video is killing the life blood out of live music and has given the new young generation a distorted view of what rock and roll is supposed to be or what it's really about. It is also giving youth false expectations of what live performances should be like. MTV has really fucked-up rock and roll for the live musician." Mark feels that "Music is an audio thing not a visual thing. It's what it does for the mind and soul that matters not what you see with your eyes."

The Trial members have outgrown the need to sing the highest notes or play the fastest licks, they just want to feel the music and say words in their music that mean something. The members have all been playing for some 10 to 15 years each and have had many good reasons to quit playing music, but none ever did. Their heart and soul is in every beat of the drums and every word that they sing. Steve has always stayed with his love of music with no desire to learn another trade. He says, and I quote, "If you have something to fall back on, you will." Rick and Steve are the main writers in the band, however they have done some CO-writing with Todd Cerney, an acclaimed Nashville Country writer who has written songs for Loverboy, Cheap Trick and many others.

Well we would like to say that they're a greast act to see live and the recordings they did, even though live, were very professional and incredibly good sounding. The Trial with their sound engineer Mick Face will be pouring out original music all over the bay area and soon over the Eastern United States. I believe that in the near future it will be much more than that! GOOD LUCK!

From the Florida Music Association: December 4, 1992

Dear Secret Service:

The Florida Music Association Board of Directors would like to thank you for your involvement with the FMA during the past year, most notably your excellent performance for the FMA Networking Party at Killian's in May. We are grateful for your help in our efforts to support community events and to build a stronger music community throughout the state. Again, thank you for your time and your performance. Florida Music Association Board of Directors (Eric Comas, John Dunn, Bobby Friss, Charlie Logan, Julee Milham, Tom Morris, Lynn Norton, Elliott Rubinson, Bill Templeton)

I had the pleasure of witnessing several SS performances from about late '88 until the Grunge wave hit the beach! Steve was always impressive! I saw no one better in Florida for that musical genre back in those glittery days. Now I am in the DC area and have a band of my own and will probably pinch many of Steve's moves and definitely his vocal style. I think of Steve when I sing, he was a big influence on me when I was young.

Sincerely yours, C Ryan

A Colored Chalk Portrait was given to Steve by Artist Alexandra Fernandez on 1-16-92. The piece in titled "Compassion". It was a beautiful gift that graced our wall with this inscription:
"Compassion" is my gift to you in thanks for the inspiration I have felt through your music. Your songs will touch each of us in our own way - They have encouraged me to believe in myself again. Yours is a true gift and I know success for you is here now.

Alexandra Fernandez

Secret Service began a newsletter and mailing list in 1991. We had thousands of responses and did a big mailing monthly. To get on the mailing list you had to fill out a green table-tent card. Many of you added really great comments to the cards that were shared at band meetings and rehearsals. The following are some of the most memorable:

Hey S.S. - I saw the band in Tampa last December and thought you were great... being a musician myself ('66 Strat) really enjoyed your guitar work. I signed up for your monthly newsletter, and enjoyed it - (change of address) Would love to hear what you guys are doing - Wolfie

You are AWESOME - come back soon - Trina

If you guys need a place to stay in Orlando, you can stay with me - Christy

Yeee Ha - Pierre

I want the guitar player - Karen

We want a video - Mitzi

I'm in love with the drummer - Debbie

Don't wait to come out so late at Killians - Jane

Secret Service: Best Band heard in Tampa area seriously!! Especially the originals - Robert

On your way - Would pay $25 a ticket - Michael

Rick - Play "Misty Moon" it's the f--king best song in the world! - Pat

Really hope you guys make it! - Gina

We think you're great! - Truly - Rock & Roll! - Barb & Barry

Dear Secret Service,

About two years ago I was in Killian's (Tampa, FL) for the first time. Your band was playing that night, and it was also the first time I had seen Secret Service. I fell in love with your music that night, and have been a fan ever since. I do not get to see the band as often as I would like to, but when I do, I always have a great time! I think your music is terrific and I was glad to hear that you were up for the Band of the Year. That is an award Secret Service truly deserves to win, and Steve really does have a beautiful voice. Mainly, I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know what a great band Secret Service is! Keep Rockin' ! Stephanie

Order of the Worm. Click here to View Image.

To: Secret Service
From: Southeastern Music Conference, December 9, 1991

We appreciate your interest in SMC, and are happy to inform you that you have been selected to participate as a showcase artist at one of the showcase venues SMC will be hosting.... We are proud to have you as a showcase participant for SMC "92, and look forward to seeing you and hearing you in February. Cordially, Tom Morris, SMC Co-Director Lynn Norton, SMC Co-Director .

To: Secret Service From: Tampa Bay Music Awards June 9, 1992 Click here to View Image.

Congradulations on being chosen to perform at this year's Fourth Annual Tampa Bay Music Awards at the fabulous Tampa Theatre. This will be the best Music Awards ever. We hope you will enjoy it... Good luck! Max Borges Tampa Bay Music Awards

The Fourth Annual Tampa Bay Music Awards July 3, 1992 Click here to View Image.
Nominees for the Best Male Vocalist:

Steve Gruden - Secret Service
Jonathan Harrison - Edison Shine
Joe Popp - Dogs On Ice
Kacy Ross - Deloris Telescope
Brij St. Warren - St. Warren

And the winner is ... Steve Gruden - Secret Service!

Nominees for Band of the Year:
Clang, Deloris Telescope, Savatage, Secret Service, UROK

Subject: Greatest Time I Ever Had.
Just want to say after all these years I've never lost the memories of seeing or hearing Secret Service playing at Killians Bar. I have been living in Dallas/Fort Worth area in Texas. I brag to all my friends and family members what the greatest time in my life I have had. That was living in Tampa, Florida and watching Secret Service play. I moved back to Texas when I finished getting my degree from ITT in 1993. I got a job in Dallas/Forth area at Texas Instruments. The job only lasted a year. I had made some friends when I was living in Tampa and stayed in touch with most of them. When I went on vacation it was about March 1995. The vacation was return to Tampa to see everyone. One of guys that knew Secret Service told me that Steve Gruden had passed away, I was very very very sad. I was hoping to see which later became the Trial/Secret Service when I was visiting. But I did manage to buy Steve Gruden's Celebration of Life cd. Been listening to ever since. I was wondering what the other guys in the band are doing now? Are they continuing there music? Thank you for the web site. It is always fun to reflect back. Look forward to the DVD coming out. Just want to say, music will always live forever. And that means Secret Service/The Trial and Steve will live forever in my memories. - Andy

Hi Sheri!
Hope everything is going great for you and your family. Just want to share some more stories with you. In the prevoius little story I said I moved from Fort Worth, Texas to Tampa, Florida to continue school at ITT to get my Bachelor's degree. A friend of mine from Texas moved with me. He was having problems with his girlfriend. Thought it might do him good to get away for awhile. I was only 20 years old about to turn 21. Well, you know what that means? A place to party! A neighbor at my apartments knew Tampa pretty well. He suggested to go to Killians Bar. So, off we all went. I tell you when we got there it was great from the start. Drinks were great, the people they were great, and then.... this band got up on stage. The band was know as Secret Service at the time. This band was awesome! Everything they played was awesome. It was the greatest night of my life. Just turned 21 and seeing an awesome band playing. Well, a few months went by and continued to see Secret Service play when a got a chance. This one night my friend from Texas won tickets to see U2 in concert. Both of us went to the concert, but we looked at each other after U2 was into the 3rd song due to everyone looked like they were sleeping. Believe it or not the concert was lame. So, we left and decided to go see Secret Service play at Killians Bar. That show was 10 times better than what U2 performed. And I'm not just saying that either. I mean that. Those were the two greatest stories that I remember. Hope you enjoy reading them. - Andy

If you have a Story you would like to share about Steve, Click Here.
We will post your Story on The Legendary Scrapbook. Send Pictures Along with your Email.
Thank You, Sheri

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