Thom Caccetta hadn’t played in a band for close to 20 years when one day, a couple of his friends asked him if he wanted to sit in with them.
The offer came in 1995 from Dan Hodan and Kyle Miller, who usually played at The Balcony Club on Thursday nights.
Caccetta, who had moved to Dallas in 1975, first became interested in music when he was a kid.
“When Elvis Presley came out, I knew I had to play guitar,” he says.
He had been in bands since he was a teenager. But when Caccetta’s first daughter was born, he had to work more, and music was set aside.
So when the opportunity came, Caccetta, who was living on La Vista at the time, took his bass and started playing with Hodan and Miller.
After a while, Hodan left, and the trio became a duo, calling themselves “Kyle and Thom.” Then Ric Phifer, who had played with Miller in high school, joined them.
It was after Phifer joined that the band took on a name, in 1998. Miller was at Enchilada’s on Northwest Highway when he noticed a post card for a bank, advertising how simple it was to make a deposit. “Cheap, fast and easy” was printed in big letters. Miller picked it up and put it in the tip jar the band had on the piano while they performed, thinking it would be a good way to encourage tipping.
During a performance, one of the band’s fans, a lawyer, put some cash in the tip jar and asked if the phrase “cheap, fast and easy” was the name of the band. So that’s what the band started calling themselves: Cheap Fast and Easy.
Miller eventually had to leave because of work, and Phifer and Caccetta welcomed percussionist Zeke Durell, saxophone player Jay Josha and David Mills, who played keyboard and viola.
They played Americana and acoustic rock, covers of Paul Simon, Neil Young and others. For a while, they performed at The Balcony Club on Saturdays, and then they moved to the Friday slot.
When Durell died of cancer, Denis Howard filled in. Then Phifer was diagnosed with cancer, and while he was undergoing treatment, the band alternated between two lead singers. But the club’s owner wanted more stability and asked the band to select a leader. Since Caccetta was one of the original members, he was tasked with deciding who would take the lead.
“I knew both guys pretty darn well, so it was tough,” Caccetta says. “But I went ahead and picked Glen [Jernigan] because I did see that moving forward, we could do a lot more variety of music.”
Phifer was the second band member to die, and it was difficult for the group.
“It was tough enough for us to keep it together. But we did,” Caccetta says. “And I think it’s because we all really just love to play.”
Cheap Fast and Easy still plays The Balcony Club (1825 Abrams Road, upstairs next to the Lakewood Theater), now on the first and third Fridays of every month. A few crowd favorites are “Guilty,” “Into the Mystic” and “Nights in White Satin.”
There’s a $10 cover starting at 5:30 p.m.