Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kanaan

A few months back, I got in touch with singer/songwriter David Waldon who was the brainchild behind an excellent hard rock band from East Texas called Kanaan. The project only released one 45 rpm record on their own Kana label, of which the blistering "Leave It" was recently featured on volume 4 of a compilation series called Brown Acid. Below is an email interview conducted with David in August of 2017.


1. How and when did you get started playing music?

I saw the Beatles land in America on our old black and white t.v. set. That's the day I knew what I wanted to do. But I was the youngest of four and mom and dad didn't have the money to help me for another couple of years...So it wasn't until around 1966 that I got my first guitar...We DID have a family piano so all of us had to learn to play....My sister played the piano for me and my two older brothers who sang...We had a good little family gospel group....

2. Did you play in any bands before making the Kanaan record?

Mom, dad and myself moved to La Marque, Texas in 1967...Dad got a job at Johnson space center as a welder...There is where I was in my very first band....So yes, I played in 3 or 4 teen groups before Kanaan that tortured the public while we tried to learn to play....



3. Was Kanaan a working live band or more of a studio project?

Kanaan never played a gig....I had learned to play drums by this time and was actually playing in the bass players band in Marshall, Texas and the surrounding area....By February of 1968 we had moved back to east Texas...DaingerfieldTx.....

4. What were some musical influences/inspirations on you at the time?

I was a huge Beatles fan....But by the end of the summer of '67 I was into Jimi Hendrix, The Spencer Davis Group, The Buckinghams, Sly and The Family Stone, The Who and pretty much any group with a rebellious attitude and amps loud enough to bother the deaf!



5. What can you tell me about the writing of the two songs on the Kanaan 45?

I was pretty sappy over a girl and wrote Something Inside for her....If I could do it all over again, that song wouldn't have made it on to the record....I worked hard to save enough money to cut a 45....Didn't do it believing anything would come of it....I just wanted to do a record....I had a few other songs written, but nothing that I wanted to use......I almost put a 1, 4, 5 blues song on the flip side, but about 2 days before the session, I wrote Leave It and decided to use it....


6.  What do you recall about the recording of those two songs?

We recorded the songs in Tyler at Robin Hood Brians studio....Robin had engineered the first 3 ZZTop albums...I didn't know that at the time....I wanted to use a fuzz pedal on the instrumental of Something Inside, but Robin talked me out of it....He had me record two guitar leads tuned slightly off from each other in a futile attempt to get a 12 string sound...What we wound up with was a recording that made all who heard it look for the nearest cliff to hurl themselves off of!!.....Then we started on Leave It....Robin really liked this song....At the end of the session he advised me to use Leave It as side A....It DID sound better than the other song, so that's what I did...



7. Who were the musicians on those recordings and what did they play?

On Something Inside, I was on guitar and vocals,...On drums was Garry Bryant....On bass was Doug Fagg....Yep, that was his name!! And on piano was Leon Hass.......We did Leave It as a trio because I couldn't get the guys together but once or twice to learn Leave It, and there just wasn't a keyboard part for it...

8. Did you have much more original material at the time? Any unreleased recordings from this period?

I only had about 15 songs written by this time....I wanted to do heavier stuff and most of the things I'd written were really kind of bubble gum pop....There's no other unreleased recordings from that period....Rehearsal tapes, yes, but anything you'd want folks to hear, no....



9. How did the record do locally? Did you have it available for sale anywhere? Any radio airplay for it?

I had to do the leg work to promote the record...There were a few stores around east Texas that agreed to sell it.....In Marshall Texas, it was pick hit of the week on one station and hit of the week on another...It was played on the radio in Mt. Pleasant Texas, Daingerfield Texas and even on a station in Dallas....It was on several juke boxes in the area....I had a thousand copies made....Sold all but about 50 of them....They've since been sold though...



10. Did you play in any bands after Kanaan?

I'm not sure I could count how many bands I've played in over the years....But that's what I did for a living through out my youth....Traveled the country in several bands.....I even played in two different groups that toured with one of the working versions of The Drifters....I actually became a Drifter at one point too.....As far as I know, I'm the only white guy that ever became "a Drifter".....They made me wear an Afro Freedom wig!  They didn't want people to know I was white so they wanted to pass me off as a mixed race member of the group!.....We got the star treatment everywhere we went...That was an exciting time.....But I got tired of the music after several months of one nighters across the country...Plus I missed actually playing...I played congas and drums in the two groups that backed The Drifters, but when I became a Drifter, I only sang and danced....So I wanted to play again and got off the road from the Drifters one week and the next week accepted a job as the drummer in another group touring the country...
Like any musician that's made a living on the road, the stories are endless...In the 80's I went to California with a group that had a developmental deal with Columbia Records, but it fell through...But I stayed in California and wound up meeting and playing with some really interesting people....I played with former members of Blue Cheer, Big Brother and The Holding Company, Buddy Miles, Norman Greenbaum and even a drummer for the Pointer Sisters....Before we left for California Lita Ford even did a session with us in Dallas......

I had an engineer who recorded the live Peter Frampton album and the Aloha special for Elvis interested in me in California....But he got sick and has since died....So like so many other players, I came close but went home empty handed so to speak....In '93 I signed a management contract with Bohdi Entertainment Group in Los Angeles...They wanted to promote me as a country singer....I hated every second of it but thought what the heck...I've tried everything else....A producer named Micky Buckins who worked at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals Alabama became interested in me....I flew out and recorded 4 songs of his choosing at Muscle Shoals.....I had done a cable t.v. show in L.A. and several newspaper interviews prior to flying out....They seemed to like everything but my age....In my early 30's I was already too old....So that didn't go anywhere either....But it was a pretty cool thing to record in that studio....Standing on the spot where Wilson Pickett recorded "Funky Funky Broadway" was a real kick for me.....
In '06 I got a call from a guy in Pennsylvania who had found my record at a record show in Baltimore...Wanted to buy copies if I had them....Last year a guy in California had come across it and wanted to put it on a compilation album in L.A.....They did....It's the lead off track on an album called "Brown Acid, The Fourth Trip"......Then I heard from a guy in London England, another guy in Paris France, someone in Japan, a guy in Russia of all places and another guy in Athens Greece!
I have no idea how any of them heard this record or why they wanted it....But this silly little 45 has made it's way around the world pretty much....I have a few copies left that I'm hangin' on to.....And like any musician that's toured the country, the stories go on and on.....From having supper with Buddy Miles in Jackson, Miss. to gettin' drunk with King Crimson in Ft. Wayne Indiana.....It was a grueling ride at times but I have some pretty good memories to hang on to as I head into my twilight years....I'll leave it at that....


Thank you so much for your time David Waldon! Photos and interview courtesy of David.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Allen Mann & The Mustangs

From L to R: Jimmy Simmons, Carlton Buxton, Al Mann, Mike Anderson

Band member line up:

Al Mann- vocals and guitar
Jimmy Simmons - bass guitar
David Swinburn - bass guitar (replaced Jimmy after the record was recorded)
Carlton Buxton - drums
Mike Anderson- lead guitar

The Tennessee Travelers in their western outfits

The band was originally formed in Orange, TX by guitarist Al Mann and Jimmy Simmons who played together in the same church band. In 1963 the duo added Carlton Buxton on drums and then 14 year old guitarist Mike Anderson. The band was led by Al, who was a good 8 or 9 years older than Mike at the time.
Starting out as more of a country western group, they originated under the name of Al Mann & The Tennessee Travelers. 

The Mustangs in 1966 with David Swimburn on bass

The combo traveled all over SE Texas and into western Louisiana playing many fairs, Knights of Columbus halls, VFW halls, and other venues. Their biggest appearance was in 1963 when they were one of the featured performers opening for Hank Williams Jr at the dedication of the Sam Rayburn Dam (in deep east Texas about 70 miles north of Beaumont). The band played for a crowd of 53,000 people in attendance, most notably including President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife Lady Bird Johnson.

Mike Anderson, Gary Ware, and Al Mann at B.O. Sparkle Club in Bridge City, TX 1966

In 1965, The Mustangs went into L&F Recording Studio in Port Arthur to record their first record: "Tears In My Heart" b/w "First Love". Around 500 copies were pressed and sold out, with a second pressing being made.
About 5-6 months later, a second record was reportedly issued with the songs "Up and Down" b/w "My Girl Judy". I have never seen or heard mention of this record anywhere though, so it must be quite under the radar if it was pressed up beyond the acetate stage.

"First Love"
"Tears In My Heart"

In 1967 the group disbanded, though Al Mann continued to tour the club circuit and later played in Narvel Felts band. Mike Anderson went on to do studio work in the 70's at AMI studio in Nashville, working with many well known country artist. He now plays in the Big Thicket Band in Orange, TX and is the director of The County Seat Music Hall.

The Big Thicket Band in 2017
Many thanks to Mike Anderson for sharing these memories and sending me his copy of the 45. Thanks to Al Mann for connecting me with Mike!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

E.S. Saunders & The Spades


This entry has extra significance to me, being a post about the only rock band I know of to have released a record during the 50's and 60's in my hometown of Smithville, TX.

The only other local record I know of that was released by a band from my hometown was The Daylighters excellent blues 45 on the Austin based Domino label: "I'll Never Let You Go" b/w "Something Is Wrong". It is noteworthy that a young Sonny Rhodes was an original member in The Daylighters.

Another local 60's era singer who grew up in Smithville (though was living in Austin at the time of his two stellar soul 45's on the Gulf label) was the mighty talented Major Burkes.

Finding in depth information on The Spades from Smithville has been difficult since I have not been able to speak to any original members of the band. Original band leader Everett Saunders passed away years before I ever had the chance to interview him about the group.

Another confirmed member was Glenn Gaertner who lived in La Grange at the time and was a radio DJ over at local station KVLG.


Everett's original band was called The Royal Reltones, and probably contained a completely different set of musicians than were in The Spades. This band featured the following members: Bobby Lawrence, Eddie Sneed, Ken Laake, Frank Riha, Sydney Kasper, and Everett. Several of these band members may have been from around Bastrop county.

During the 70's and 80's when people were first rediscovering lost local recordings, there was much confusion regarding this group because there was a total of THREE unrelated bands named The Spades who made records in Austin during the 1960's! There was also a band who quickly changed their name to the Slades and recorded a record called "You Cheated" which became a big regional hit for the Domino imprint in Austin. Then there was Roky Erickson's first band before he joined the 13th Floor Elevators.

This record was recorded around early 1964 at Roy T Poole's Austin Custom Records in downtown Austin at 6th and Congress. It was released on one of Roy's custom labels called Echo Records, which had previously released a number of excellent country and rockabilly 45's starting in the late 50's.

"My Little Girl"
"Baby I Need You"

Many thanks to Diana Saunders for her help and for use of most of the images in this entry! If anyone else out there remembers these guys or played in the band,  I would love to hear from you!
Drop me a line at shape3 (at) yahoo.com

The man himself, E.S. Saunders

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sounds Unlimited

from L-R: Phil Ferrell, Ron Davis, Paul Jarvis, Ron Mears, and Steve Webb.

Band Member Line-Up:
Paul Jarvis - Rhythm Guitar, Keys
Ron Davis - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Steve Webb - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Phil Ferrell - Bass, Vocals
Chuck Hodges - Drums, Harmony Vocals (later replaced by Ron Mears)

Sounds Unlimited was formed in mid 1965 by WW Samuel High School kids in Dallas, TX.
The band got its first and only manager early on when member Steve Webb invited clothing salesman and National Artist booking agent Kent Alexander over to one of their rehearsals.
Kent started getting the band steady bookings and had connections with a man named Stoney Burns who wrote for an underground newspaper.

During their senior year in 66, the boys showed up to school with their newly grown out mop top manes. The principal, Mr Lanham asked them not to return to school until they cut their hair.
Not only did the band not want to change their hairstyles, but their contract with Kent specifically said that the band was not to cut their mop top hair.


Kent quickly set up a meeting with a law firm called Gibbs, Hooks, and Wyrick. With the boys parents permission to allow attorneys to file an injunction, Herbert Hooks took the lead and the lawsuit became known as "Ferrell VS Dallas ISD".
The case grew to a national level when Mr Hooks was able to get the ACLU to foot the bill.
This was a case that was relevant all over the US as the British invasion took over the countries youth fashion. Kids were growing their hair out and dressing more flamboyantly in every high school in America, and a whole lot of school officials were not too happy about it!


One day in between doing interviews for the Associated Press, Phil, Paul, and Steve quickly wrote a song called "Keep Your Hands Off Of It". Kent wanted the group to seize the opportunity and rushed them into Sumet Sound studio in Dallas to track it and another original song written by member Ron Davis called "About You".
An acetate was immediately delivered to radio station KBOX and was getting airplay the day after the session was completed.
The band struck a deal to publish and press he 45 through Bill Looney and his Solar Records label, which was known for a fantastic 45 by The Penthouse Five: "Bad Girl".
"Keep Your Hands Off Of It"
"About You"

Off to Los Angeles went the band as soon as they had the pressing in hand. Getting the record picked up on a national label was the mission. The band shopped their disc to Snuff Garrett at RCA and several other major labels, but were turned away at every stop.
While in town, Kent used his connections to drop the band by the Capitol Records recording studio while Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys was doing some tracking (most likely during the ill fated Smile sessions).


Eventually the gang headed back home and found that their booking guarantees had now doubled and tripled! It seemed that the court case and radio time on their single had garnered Sounds Unlimited a lot of local attention. The band was drawing premiums of up to $300 a night (a LOT of money for a bunch of teenagers back in the mid 60's).
Harold Dunn was the bands biggest fan, friend, and roadie. He would drive them around in their used hearse which they had purchased transport their gear to each gig.
The guys were playing as many as 3 separate engagements on a given Saturday. Some of their day spots included a record shop called Bucks Records that was promoting their 45. They would also play at a clothing shop called "My Friends Place" that would trade the group hip clothes for performing at their store.
Around this time, drummer Chuck Hodges resigned from the band after pressure from his father to drop out of music and go to college. Chuck was replaced by Ron Mears.


Unfortunately for teens across America, "Ferrell VS DISD" was ruled in favor of the school, allowing the principal to choose how his students could appear in class.

The band later made recordings at Boyd Recording Studio and Sellers Recording studio. Both of these sessions went unissued.


Paul Jarvis and Phil Ferrell took correspondence courses afterwards and in 1968 joined the Marines.

Band member Ron Davis had a long career in bands, starting on guitar at age 12 after hearing "Mojo Hand" by Lightnin' Hopkins. Ron played with many other bands such as: Ronnie & The Roadrunners, Bobby Gray & The Gray Tones (who recorded several records for the Jody and Bismark labels), The Warlocks, and a band with the strange name of Mother's Half A Word.

Many thanks to Phil Ferrell, Ron Davis, and Paul Jarvis for their help.


Monday, June 12, 2017

The Capers

Here's another mystery band on the same Austin based custom label as the incredible Merlynn Tree 45: Dixietone Records.

I once spoke to a person over email who told me this group was based in the small town of Marble Falls, located just under an hours drive north west of Austin.

I believe the two songwriter credits were a Jim W. Wyatt and a James R. McMurry.

"Ghost Walk"
"Marie"


The group captures a ghostly otherworldly feel on both sides of this 45. "Marie" is a dreamy ballad about losing your love at sea. The flip is a great reverb laden surf guitar instrumental called "Ghost Walk".

There is an additional 45 that may be related. It is also on Dixietone records, but has a totally different label design. The band name on this record is The Swingsters. The songwriting credit is a J.D. Wyatt. Both tunes totally sound like they could have been recorded by the same band as the "Ghost Walk" 45. However, the recording quality is extra crude on the Swingsters record. Sounds like it was recorded in someone's living room!

"Southern Drums"
"Scotland Yard"


I would LOVE to hear from anyone who remembers or played in this group!

Many thanks to Erik Carter for gifting me the copy of The Capers 45! I could use an upgrade if anyone out there has a cleaner copy!



Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Proper Circle

Proper Circle

Most psychedelic bands evolved their sound from surf rock or garage rock from the fifties and early sixties. The Proper Circle, coming from the beachfront city of Galveston, Texas, followed this evolution in music. The Proper Circle was formed out of the demise of two other bands, The Tempests and The Sonics (not to be confused with the group from Washington). The group was a five a piece with band members coming and going, the main members were: Phillip Ochoa – drums, George Bolton – vocals, guitar, keyboards, Neal Witwer – bass, guitar and vocals, Cheryl “Cher” Comeaux – vocals and Jim Milan – bass, guitar and vocals. Two other young men would play with the group from time to time being Warren Potter – rhythm guitar and Johnny Maisel – guitar. I would like to point out the band members in this group range in ages from 16 -18 years old, which is astonishing, considering their talent. The bands manager was Robert Ochoa who was Phillip’s brother. Robert provided some financial backing for the band, being that all of the members were teenagers without disposable incomes, in the way of instruments and amplifiers.
pcircle66



The group recorded “One Day Love” in the Goldstar Studios in Houston for the Picture label. This single “One Day Love” would be Picture’s last pressing before the demise of the label. Their drummer Phillip Ochoa wrote “One Day Love”. The Proper Circle recorded a slew of singles on the Picture Label starting in 1966 and ending in 1968. This track in particular has a Free Design feel with driving dark eerie keyboards, a touch of fuzz, however still retaining an almost folk influenced harmony. The Proper Circle changed their name in 1968 to The 1900 Storm giving homage to their Galveston roots. This change was lead by the loss of George Bolton from the line up to be replaced by Roy Crawford. The group went on to tour in the golden triangle with such acts as Moving Sidewalks, The Clique and The Sixpence. While the band changed their name, the one defining quality they assumed was their amazing harmonies, even being compared to such bands as the Cowsills, which was an influence on the Partridge Family. 
pcirc661


This entry was originally written by Michael Selman and posted at ImShakin.com. Thanks to Michael and the rest of the shakin crew for letting me give this post a new home!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Argyles/The Mind's Eye


Another San Antonio story, The Argyles were a group formed in early 1965. The band rose to fame from one regional hit and would eventually relocate to California and rebrand as The Children.
All five members hailing from different sections of the Alamo city: Alamo Heights, Keystone, Macarthur, Jefferson and Cole graduates, jumped into music at a young age.
The Argyles regularly played Sam Kinsey's Teen Canteen and Ft. Sam Houston.

The Members were: Steve Perron on guitar and vocals, Louis Cabaza on the keys, Ben Treiber on bass, Steve Anderson on drums, Chris Holzhaus on guitar and vocals.


 "Farmer John"

Some time in 1966 The Argyles meet up with the Cajun producer Huey Meaux. Meaux recorded and produced the bands first single: Farmer John/White Lightnin’ on his Pic-One label. Both sides were recorded at Meaux’s recording facility, Pasadena Sounds in Pasadena, TX, which at the time of this recording would have only been up and running for a little less than a year. Farmer John was a cover written by Dewey Terry and Don Harris who were a part of a group called the Squires in the mid and late 50s. Their song became a hit by the California based group The Premiers in 1964 after being covered by The Searchers a year prior with no success.

Both the Searcher’s and Premier’s versions follow the original lyrics “Farmer John, I’m in love with your daughter.” The Argyles veered from the original giving the song a real Texas Raunchy feel with “Farmer John, I’m in love with your Mother.” I’m not sure who had the idea to change the lyrics of the chorus whether it was Meaux or The Argyles, however I love it and feel it is the best of the three versions. The Argyles also deviated by excluding the guitar break on the Premiers version and shoving in a real nice slice of organ. The Premiers started a trend with their cut of Farmer John by creating a live feel on the recording. The track was supposedly recorded live in the Rhythm Room in Fullerton, California, however they laid down the track in a studio in Hollywood. The Argyles also went after a live feel for their version of Farmer John with laughter and party noises in the background through out the track.

Note the nifty dark red vinyl on this promo copy!

"Turn On Your Love Light"

Later in 1966, The Argyles recorded a second single at Abe Epstein's recording studio and released it on his Jox records label. This one featured two cover songs: "Turn On Your Love Light" (made famous by Houston legend Bobby Bland) b/w "Still In Love With You Baby" (originally written by Ron Elliott of the Beau Brummels).
A rift between Chris Holzhaus and the rest of the band led to his departure. Chris would soon be replaced by Bill Ash from the legendary band The Stoics. Ash then introduced new drummer Andy Szuch to the group.

The new line up changed their name to The Mind's Eye and recorded another single with Abe Epstein, once again releasing it on his Jox imprint. As the new name would suggest, the band ventured into a more psychedelic style at this point with the classic "Help, Im Lost". The flip side would see the group reusing "Still In Love With You Baby".


"Help, I'm Lost"

The band also opened their own eponymously named music venue at this point.
From what I can tell, The Minds Eye was a real hip joint with smoke machines and strobe lights creating one of the first hippie hangouts in San Antonio.
The Mind's Eye club only remained open a few months after pressure mounted from the city to close the place down after allegations of frequent drug use on the premises.

Ben Treiber died in 1969 in a boating accident only three years before Steve Perron passed on, far too young for both of these talented men.
The group went on to form The Children and move to California. The Children released one LP originally released on the local Houston based Cinema label, but was then picked up by national Atco records.

Story originally assembled by Michael Selman and posted at ImShakin.com. Additional editing, research, and writing by Jason Chronis in 2017.
Michael's information source was from a now defunct website: www.saboomie.com. 
Thanks to Sam Kinsey for the Argyles band photo.