Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Wanna know why Y&T Records music maven Rich Ulloa is so charged up lately? Hint: It's something about Mary.

Then tragedy struck. On September 8, 1995, around 1:30 a.m., For Squirrels was traveling on I-95 near Savannah, Georgia, on the way back from a triumphant showcase at New York's CMJ music confab, when a tire blew and the van flipped off the highway. Vigliatura, bassist Bill White, and road manager Tim Bender were killed instantly. Guitarist Travis Took and drummer Jack Griego were injured. The band's album, Example, was still three weeks from release.

Example, spearheaded by its first single, "Mighty KC," was immediately embraced by radio and MTV, which referenced the accident and broadcast fundraising pleas on the band's behalf. After their recovery, the surviving band members soldiered on, eventually releasing a new album under the name Subrosa. Shaken, Ulloa attempted to regroup.

Subrosa eventually faltered, but by 1997, Ulloa was busying himself with a new Y&T artist, Amanda Green, a quirky redheaded singer-songwriter who seemed destined to achieve the same success as Ulloa's previous charges. Despite a development deal with Interscope providing funds for touring and recording, the label declined a full commitment.

Singer-songwriter Mary Karlzen: Y&T's past and, now, future
Singer-songwriter Mary Karlzen: Y&T's past and, now, future


Y&T went on to release a second Green album as well as projects from singer-songwriter Arlan Feiles and local alt-rock group Chlorine, but its flirtation with the majors had come to an end. Ulloa became an A&R consultant for Melisma Records, an Arista offshoot, and helped sign a band called the Exies. In 1998 Ulloa shut down the retail operation to concentrate on management, but his music business career seemed to be winding down. After Karlzen's contract with Atlantic ended, she moved to Minneapolis, married, and put her music on hold to raise her family.

Ulloa admits the next three years weren't his happiest. "I thought I had lost my identity," he says. "Amanda had come so close to getting a contract, but it hadn't come through. Mary lost her contract. There was the accident. And of course the store had been my whole life. I thought to myself, What do I do? My days had been filled with these projects and then all of a sudden I found myself in a whole different world."

In 2004 he joined the U.S. Postal Service to earn a steady income. It was the first time since 1978 he had worked for anyone other than himself. At the same time, Karlzen's decision to return to recording spurred him to reactivate the label. He's currently working on a new record by California country singer Drew Weaver (featuring backing from members of the Mavericks) and exploring the possibility of a South Florida tribute album to veteran British singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading, a longtime personal favorite. Ulloa also toys with the idea of opening another record store.

However, it's Karlzen who dominates his attention again. "I've been fortunate to work with some of the most talented artists in South Florida," Ulloa says. "Every one of them had so much to offer. But without question, the most rewarding aspect of my career has been my association with Mary. Through the years, we've shared some truly great experiences and our share of deep disappointments. However, we're still a team and feeling more enthusiastic than ever."

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