Brandon Ross and Lynnette Shelley first met in the winter of 1998 when Brandon auditioned for Lynnette's short-lived Newark, Delaware-based psychedelic rock group, Copperthrush. The band's first gig was at Philadelphia's Theater of the Living Arts (TLA) at the inaugural "Scrapplefest", hosted by a local radio station in honor of the dubious fried Philly delicacy made from leftover pig parts. Copperthrush played in front of 800 people, a hog, a chicken and pig mascot, Mayor Ed Rendell and an MC named Mr. Sparkles. Pay was 11-pounds of uncooked scrapple for a band that was half vegetarian. Despite such auspicious beginnings, the group disbanded only a few months later.
Moving on to greater (or at least less greasy) bands, Brandon and Lynnette moved to Philadelphia from Delaware in 1999 and spent the next two years putting together various groups and playing together with an eclectic group of musicians (and surviving many a bizarre musician try-out session) until the prototype The Red Masque lineup was formed in 2000. The band was then named Brandy of the Damned, and featured The Red Masque original players Steven Blumberg and Nathan-Andrew Dewin. When the drummer for this lineup decided to call it quits, Brandy of the Damned auditioned drummer Kevin Kelly in February 2001 and the band was renamed The Red Masque.
Onwards. Upwards. Less pigs.
Brandon and Lynnette circa 2000. Photo by Deborah Lattomus