Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Pack

Though the record label that released their lone vinyl waxing would have you believe they were from San Antonio, The Pack had their roots firmly planted in Austin soil. 
Over the course of a couple years, original member Bob Snider and I exchanged various emails regarding that band and the previous one- The Moonglows. Following is a composite of several of his emails…

 "Zilker Hillside Theatre 1963. The Moonglows was the precursor band to The Pack. There were 5 of us in this original iteration of The Moonglows. Jim Mings, around whom both of these bands revolved, Bruce Kirtley, bass guitar, Tee Bowman, guitar, Mike Leet, Drums, and me, Bob Snider, guitar, joined with Jim Mings, guitar. We were a band put together by legendary Austin guitar teacher Wayne Wood. If you played guitar in Austin Texas, chances are your learned from Wayne Wood. Wayne taught out of his house on Avenue G. Several years after my days at Wayne Wood's studio he would teach Eric Johnson in Eric's beginning days. Eric mentions Wayne in the liner notes of one of his albums.
Following this gig at Zilker the band thinned out, dropping Tee Bowman. The remaining 4 of us carried on and did quite well for a bunch of kids.
I don't remember exactly why, but we were called to be photographed for The Austin American Statesman. I guess we were pretty popular, and a novelty since we were so young. We were all 16 years old in this photo, Jim and Mike I think were actually 15.  Times were much different. Austin was not "The Live Music Capitol of The World." There were only a handful of garage bands like us, and really only 3-4 professional "adult" bands as far as I can remember.
We played at high school and junior high dances, The Teen Canteen, and several Battle of The Band competitions. We always placed, and won first place once.

I think the novelty of our young age, our song selection, and the fact that we took our music seriously gave us some notoriety. We were well practiced, Jim and I both being perfectionists. We played a wide variety of songs that appealed to both adults and kids.
For reasons I don't clearly remember, The Moonglows broke up. I think it was a combination of Mings wanting bigger and better, and my girlfriend was putting pressure on me to quit because she got tired of either staying home on Friday and Saturday nights and/or being a "band girl" and sitting and watching us play every Friday and Saturday night. Anyhow, The Moonglows dissolved and I thought nothing about it for several months. Jim formed another band, The Pack. I don't really know how he met the new members as none of them were former Moonglows. Anyhow, Harry Buckholts on bass. He was from Travis High School. There was a second guy from Travis on second guitar. I'm blocking on his name at present. Mike Christian from McCallum High School on drums. Mike Christian was friends with The Moonglows drummer, Mike Leet as they both went to McCallum and I think were in band class together.
The organist was Doug Balfour from Travis HS. He was getting serious and wanted to go to medical school I think, and quit The Pack. Jim, in need of another second guitarist visited me to see if I would "come out of retirement." I said yes, and The Pack now consisted of the members, the equipment of whom, is in the photos I sent you of my mother's living room at a band practice. Jim Mings lead guitar and head honcho. Me rhythm guitar. Harry Buckholts bass. Mike Christian drums. I was not with the original band when they cut the 45. There was actually a guy named Clay Smith who was on guitar before Doug joined. 

There was a competing band of our age group, The Trojans. We convinced their keyboard guy, Doug Harmon, and their drummer/singer, Bill Gossett, to quit The Trojans and join us. There were now six members, so we changed our name to The Six Pack...quite controversial for high school guys in the 1960's. So, the line up was Mings lead and honcho, me rhythm mostly, some lead, Harry bass, Doug Harmon keyboards, and Bill Gossett singer and front man. Harmon's dad, for unknown reasons, had what he called a recording studio in a separate room...away from the house. Actually nothing there but an old reel to reel. Anyhow, we practiced there. We played high school parties, some frat parties, The Jade Room and Club Saracen. At the end of our senior year of high school, we went to different colleges so The Six Pack dissolved."

Bob later went on to play with Georgetown Medical Band, who are known today as being one of the handful of local rock bands who recorded at the Sonobeat Studio. Their summer 1969 session went unissued.

I was also able to speak with Doug Balfour, and I pieced the following information together from  a phone conversation we had earlier this year:

Doug Balfour was in 10th grade at Travis High School when he caught an early live performance of The Pack at a local YWCA dance. The band was a 3 piece at that point and lacked a bass player and keyboardist. Doug enjoyed what he saw enough to ask the trio if he could join the band as their organist.

After Balfour joined, he suggested they add his classmate and friend Harry Buckholts on the bass guitar. Harry did not own a bass and had little experience playing, but that was no problem!

Doug recalls the whole band being situated in front of the TV at Jim Mings parents house the night that The Beatles debuted on the Ed Sullivan show.

Now bearing a full line up, the band started out playing benefit events but quickly graduated up to playing wild frat parties where they would get paid up to $100 a night (remember, that was good money for the time) and all the beer they could drink. This was heavy stuff for high school kids.

"Baby I Ask You Why"


Around September 1965, the band drove down to San Antonio to record a couple songs at Jeff Smith's Texas Sound Studios. The chose the studio because they had heard that Sunny & The Sunglows had recorded their hit version of "Talk To Me" there.
For $100 they were able to obtain a tiny pressing of 100 copies of their 45 record, which featured a crude garage rocker called "Baby I Ask You Why" backed with a ballad simply called "Time."
Both songs were written by Jim Mings.
Take note that the dead wax inscription bears the number code of 650929, which was Jeff Smith's dating system for when he would master a record: September 29th, 1965.
The record got some airplay on long defunct Austin radio station KAZZ-FM, mostly thanks to DJ Jim Vern. Otherwise, it went unnoticed.

Sometime after that, Doug went away to science camp and when he returned, Clay Smith had been replaced by Bob Snider.

One of Doug's last memories before he moved to the east coast for college was a battle of the bands event where they came in 2nd to the legendary Baby Cakes.

Many thanks to Bob Snider, Doug Balfour, and Harry Buckholts!