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


Band Member Line-Up:
Paul Jarvis - Rhythm Guitar, Keys
Ron Davis - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Steve Webb - Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocals
Phil Ferrell - Bass
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.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Richard B & The Hickory

I recently heard from band leader Richard Batchelor about his late 60's, early 70's band that recorded two 45's at L&F Recording studio in Port Arthur, TX. I only have one of the records, so you will only be able to listen to one of them in this write up. Below is the email that he sent me about the band:

I had written several songs over a period of time .. while playing in groups like 
"The Realms of Darkness" .. and "The Upjohn Spigot".  But by the time we finally
got into the studio to record them .. the "band years" were actually over.  There
were no more dance gigs .. no more "battle of the bands".. no more talent shows,
and no more being on the road to "somewhere" all of the time.  Even so, a few of 
us got back together long enough to record two 45 rpm records (On "Top Ten" label).  

"Soft Summer Dreams"
"Wind At My Back"

I had done a "demo" recording of "I'm Home" in the production room of radio 
station KLVI .. and took that to the record company to see what they thought
about getting it onto wax.  ( The 45 record ).  Things fell in place .. and we
came up with a rather hurriedly picked name for the group. ( Richard B and
the Hickory )  We got the recordings done ... and then had a publicity photo 
made.  The recording process was more complex .. and considerably more 
time-consuming than any of us had expected.  I was the lead singer for those 
recordings .. and played bass.  

The publicity photo was taken on a railroad track, very late in the day.  Things
got rather .. shall we say .. "interesting" during that shoot .. because what you
don't see in the picture .. is the fact that the photographer was using the light 
from an on-coming train, to help illuminate us .. and make up for the fading light 
of day.  He snapped the final shot, and we got off the tracks just in time.  Whew.  

The guys in that photo were .. ( left to right )

Toby Hayes .. ( Drummer )
Jerry Bell .. ( Keyboard )
E. George Strong .. ( guitar )
W. Richard Batchelor .. ( Singer and Bass ) .. with the shotgun

The "push" side for the first record was "I'm Home" and "Soft Summer Dreams"
was the "push" for the second one.  ( Flip sides were "Making a Main Road" and 
"Wind at My Back". )

Many specifics and details are lost in the mist of time, with muddled memories
and uncertainties as to exactly what or when or how ..etc.  I've often said that 
memories are basically quick snapshots that we piece together in our minds, in
order to create the larger overall memory of a certain event or time period.  But
the basic story here is pretty simple.

The experience of being in a professional recording studio and actually cutting 
a couple of records .. was quite special indeed.  The records were played 
locally for a while .. ( In the Beaumont, Texas / Golden Triangle area ) .. and 
although none of us heard it ourselves .. we were told at the time that one of 
the Houston stations picked up "I'm Home" .. and played it now and then.  I 
have no way of knowing that for sure though.  Getting good distribution
proved to be difficult .. but overall, it was a positive and exciting time.

Thanks to Richard for taking time to write the story and for sending me a copy of the 45!

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Ones

The Ones have been a long time mystery band who recorded and released one very rare 45 single on Emil J Henke's Satin Records label in the May of 1967.

With the help of Sam Kinsey, I was able to finally locate an original member of the band: Michael Godowns.

From Left to Right: Jay Miller, Ronnie Weid, Mike Godowns, Tommy Lovelace, Jack Walker

The band line up was:

Ronnie Weid - Guitar, Vocals
Tommy Lovelace - Guitar
Michael Godowns - Saxophone
Coyle Stoffel - Bass Guitar
Jackie Walker - Drums
Jay Miller - Keys (not on the 45 record)

Mike had been playing saxophone in the Alamo Heights High School band when he got the rock and roll bug. He recalls one of his friends doing the twist dance at a class party while "Twist & Shout" played over the loudspeakers. This energetic new music made him decide it was time to join a rock band! The chance soon came in 1964 when a brand new band formed by his classmates asked Mike if he would join them on sax.

For the first year the band played with no bass player, eventually adding a musician named Alan Newman who was the son of an officer stationed at Ft Sam Houston. Alan was only in the band a short while.
By the time they were adding their second bassist (a musician named Coyle Stoffel) in 1966, the band had gotten serious and were doing a lot of regional appearances.

The band would perform at venues in Corpus Christi, Victoria, Uvalde, frat parties at Texas State University in San Marcos, Eastwood Country Club (a mostly soul/R&B club on the east side of San Antonio where the Ones once played with Bobby Bland!), The Cave (In SA), and of course, San Antonio's most well known club for high school bands: the Teen Canteen.
One of their most regular venues was the Mule Stall on Alamo Heights HS campus. It was a teen rec center that would frequently put on after school events.
The band was making decent money at their gigs, and Mike recalls paying for half his tuition with earnings from the Ones nightly appearances.


Guitarist Tommy Lovelace was a huge Yardbirds fan and had built his own fuzz pedal for his guitar in order to replicate the British bands guitar sound. One night after a Yardbirds performance at the Municipal Auditorium, The members of the group stopped in to The Cave while The Ones were playing! The young group was stunned to see their idols walk in, but as soon as they entered the room, they walked right out!

Band member Ronnie Weid's dad George was a business associate of some kind of Emil Henke's and helped organize getting the Ones to do a recording session (possibly recorded at Alamo Audio studio) in the late spring/early summer of 1967. The group spent 12 hours in the studio recording material for their soon to be released single. They chose two original songs written by Ronnie: the excellent jangle pop of "Sure Gonna Miss You" (all copies that have surfaced of this single seem to have the word "You" crossed out and "Me" written in its place), and a fine ballad with "What's It Like To Be In Love".
It seems there was some sort of dispute over the particulars of the recording contract that was to be signed upon release of the record, because paper documents left over from these sessions indicate a delay in paying for and signing the contracts for release of this single. It seems Ronnie or his father were not happy with some element in the agreement and were refusing to move forward. In the end, Emil ended up agreeing to give them 50 copies of the single upon payment for the session or pressing.
Unfortunately Ronnie passed away at a young age in the 1970's, so we may never know what exactly happened there.



"Sure Gonna Miss Me"

"What's It Like"

Tensions must not have lasted too long between the parties, because EJ Henke eventually asked the group if they would change their sound to country and become a touring act promoting some of Henke's more western material (possibly to back up Bailey Anderson or one of his other country acts). They declined.

The bands record did a get a bit of airplay and actually charted and made the top 100 on KONO radio.


A few months later, the band drove up to Dallas to record at Sumet Sound studio. They recorded two songs: "Bells Of Rhymney" (which had recently been covered by The Byrds) and an unknown cover of a Strawberry Alarm Clock song. These sessions went unreleased because the band split up a short while after making these recordings.

Their last performance was at an extremely wild frat party at Trinity University on New Year's Eve in 1967. The trouble that stemmed from that night was the last straw. The Ones broke up the next day, on January 1st, 1968.

Many thanks to Michael Godowns and to Sam Kinsey for their help!