Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gary Gene & The Kounts

Gary Zaskoda was a senior at El Campo High School when he started singing with a group called The Kounts. This was 1962. He was the oldest in the band, being one or two years older than the rest of the guys. They made their debut at the schools talent show.
After performing at the El Campo town fair, they were noticed by KULP radio DJ Jan May, who approached the band about being their manager. He soon got the band to head to ACA recording studio in Houston, and convinced local record label baron Bennie Hess to release their first record on his Space ("out of this world sound") imprint.

The front of ACA studios where The Kounts (and 100's of other TX groups) recorded.


"Do You Love Me"

The band became quite popular locally from their live appearances and the added boost of Jan May's sponsorship of their recordings on the radio.
They eventually changed their name to Gary Gene & The Kounts inspired by the names of older local favorites like BJ Thomas & The Triumphs and Roy Head & The Traits.
They recorded and released two further 45 singles: One for Charlie Booth's Spinner label "Do The Tiger" b/w "Over The Mountain". The former song was an upbeat R&B flavored dance number inspired by the Exon commercial for "Put A Tiger In Your Tank" that was appearing on TV then. The last single was on a one-off label called Jabet, which was named after a combination of Jan (May) and his wife Betty's names.
The band folded around 1964.


Kenneth Moore - Drums
Patrick Krenek - Trumpet
Andrew Dittert - Trumpet (later replaced by future Barons member Frank Sebesta on organ)
Mike Sallee - Trombone
Mario Bustos - Bass
Dora Bustos - Backing vocals
Ed Tenant - Rhythm Guitar (later replaced by Eddie Van Hoesen)
Larry Everett - Lead Guitar
Gary Zaskoda - Vocals

"Do The Tiger"

"Fool In Your Sight"

Performing at tiny village venue: Hillje Hall

Thanks to Gary Zaskoda!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Johnny Tee And The Titans

Shortly after first getting in touch with John Thomason from the Unexpected Party (see earlier entry from Kerrville for the story on that band), he revealed that he had played in an earlier group who had recorded and released a demo 45.

It was an interesting record I had never seen or heard of, a Texas Sound Studios custom pressing with a low fidelity recording quality. The top side is a crude early rock n roll song coupled with soft melodic vocals and an unhinged guitar solo!
The flip side revealed itself to be a down-n-out ballad with jazzy guitar chords and a slow churning ominous bass-n-piano line outlining the backbone. Good record!

Below is a short story on this recording in John's own words:

"I had written the two songs and wanted to send a demo version around to some record labels and artists. So I asked Bob Schmerbeck (piano) and Bobby Hunter (guitar) if they would play for me. We were all three students at Schreiner Institute and in the glee club there so we were pretty much aware of each others' musical interests and abilities. Bob knew lots of other musicians in town and lined up a bass player and drummer to play with us. We played at a couple of dances on campus (when the official band took a break), but we were never really a live performance band. If my memory serves me correctly, the drummer who had played with previously was not available on the day we were to record and so Bob asked another drummer to play with us. I think his name was Bobby Sanchez, but I need to check on that. Anyway, he was an experienced rock and roll drummer and a quick learner so he worked out just fine. And I was always amazed at Bobby Hunter on guitar. I played for him, on piano, what I had in mind for the guitar part and he took it from there and made it very much his own. It's pretty obvious he was a Chuck Berry fan. To bring the story to a close: I did send the recordings to 10 or 12 labels and artists, but never heard back from any of them. I was later told that labels and artists were hesitant to even acknowledge receiving such material for fear that they would later be accused of having plagiarized from it."

"I Was A Fool"

"Since I Don't Have You"

Thanks John!