R.I.P. Phil McCusker

February 28, 2016 by

[from Tim McCusker]

My brother, Phil McCusker, passed away last week in Silver Spring, MD. Phil worked in The Admirals, 1968-69, then went into the Army for 3 years. On his return to the Baltimore area he played with Rody Barthemes, Mike Jones, Hiram Bullock, and many others. He went to the University of Miami where he studied bass with Jaco Pastorius and earned a degree in guitar and composition.

In Washington, DC, Phil played and wrote for Tim Eyermann & East Coast Offering and later was a leader for Gene Donati Orchestras.

Phil fought a battle against ALS which finally took his life on February 17, 2016.

[NOTE: Phil participated in BaltimoreJam J512 with the “Freelancers” led by Rody Barthelmes.]


The Mitch Ryder Show : Courtesy of George Shuba

March 14, 2015 by

In late 1966, Mitch Ryder broke with the Detroit Wheels and formed a 10-piece back-up band in the style of Wilson Pickett and others. This band, which included 5 musicians from working Baltimore bands, toured behind Mitch’s hit record, “Sock It To Me Baby” under the name emblazoned on the tour bus: “The Mitch Ryder Show.”

Ultimately, this was not a happy period for Ryder who suffered under the heavy production hand of star NY producer, Bob Crewe. Crewe gave the Michigan band their name (they were formerly Billy Lee & the Rivieras) and their access to Billboard’s Top 10 — “Jenny Take A Ride” made #10, “Little Latin Lupe Lu” hit #17, “Devil With A Blue Dress” his best at #4, and his final Top 10 entry with “Sock It To Me Baby” at #6 — but after roughly 2 years the ride was over for Ryder. This is how that period is described on the official Mitch Ryder website (http://www.mitchryder.net/biography.php):

Divorced from the power drive of The Wheels, swamped by saccharine strings and pompous pretense (poetry by Rod McKuen and music by Jaques Brel on a Mitch Ryder album, for Chrissakes) … It was the final straw- Ryder bailed out of his contract with Crewe …

After the split, the liner notes on Ryder’s next album, “The Detroit-Memphis Experiment,” included phrases like …

“After being raped by the music machine that represents that heaven-on-earth , New York b/w Los Angeles” and “Mitch Ryder is the sole creation of William Levise, Jr.” [Ryder’s given name]

… leaving little doubt about his feelings over the Crewe experience.

Because of the short duration of this band and Mitch’s bitterness over where Bob Crewe took his career, there is very little untainted information about the band and very few photographic remnants floating around. That’s where George Shuba comes in.

George Shuba’s own website [http://www.georgeshubaphotography.com] calls him “Cleveland, Ohio’s 1st Rock-N-Roll Photographer!”, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that he is one of the first anywhere—48 of George’s prints hang in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

George began his rock photojournalism with his first assignment—the Beatles 1964 U.S. tour appearance in Cleveland. Over the next 20 years, through thousands of photographs, he documented virtually every act to appear at the Cleveland Arena, from Aerosmith to the Zombies. This just happened to include the April, 1967 appearance by The Mitch Ryder Show. The  photos here, courtesy of George, are the only ones I’ve ever seen of the entire band with all 5 Baltimore musicians. These photos are also posted on the BaltimoreJam website.

For anyone interested in the development of rock & roll and the emerging rock concert experience through this intensely creative period, the professional photos of George Shuba are priceless. They capture the spontaneity of these performers better than any album cover, publicity shot or concert snap shot you’ve ever seen. Many of his photos are available directly from George through his website and eBay store. Here are links to George and his work:


Photo #1:
The Mitch Ryder Show, Cleveland Arena, OH – April 1967

The Mitch Ryder Show, Cleveland Arena, OH - April 1967

L to R: Jimmy Wilson (trumpet), Andy Dio (trumpet), Chuck Alder (bass), Don Lehnhoff (trombone), Mike Maniscalco (guitar), Bob Shipley (tenor sax), Mitch Ryder (vocals), Jimmy Loomis (tenor sax)

Photo #2:
The Mitch Ryder Show, Cleveland Arena, OH – April 1967

The Mitch Ryder Show, Cleveland Arena, OH - April 1967

L to R: Jimmy Wilson (trumpet), Andy Dio (trumpet), Don Lehnhoff (trombone), Chuck Alder (bass), John Siomis (drums), Frank Invernizzi (organ), Mitch Ryder (vocals), Bob Shipley (tenor sax), 1/2 Jimmy Loomis (tenor sax)

Photo #3:
The Mitch Ryder Show, Cleveland Arena, OH – April 1967

The Mitch Ryder Show, Cleveland Arena, OH - April 1967

L to R: Don Lehnhoff (trombone), Andy Dio (trumpet), Mitch Ryder (vocals), Chuck Alder (bass), Frank Invernizzi (organ), John Siomis (drums), Mike Maniscalco (guitar), Jimmy Loomis (tenor sax)



A Nod to the Rod

December 11, 2014 by

This Christmas Eve will mark the 18 anniversary of the death of Maurice “Hot Rod” Hulbert who died December 24, 1996 in a Baltimore hospice at the age of 80. Hot Rod was the self-proclaimed seed from which germinated a radio garden.

“Hot Rod was still programing two Baltimore stations until the mid-’90s, leaving after medical problems took away his voice [suspected throat cancer – unconfirmed]. He was in and out of hospitals and then the hospice for the last year, but he stayed in touch with many of the people he’d met in his travels.”

[from friend and admirer, Jonny Meadow, in a New York Daily News article]

Maurice "Hot Rod" Hulbert

In 1951 Hulbert left radio station WDIA in Memphis to work at WITH 1230 AM in Baltimore, Maryland. The most remarkable thing about that move is it made Hulbert the first full-time black air personality to work at an all-white Baltimore radio station – a minor revolution for 1950s Baltimore.

There is surprisingly little information online about Hot Rod, considering his originality and influence. If you google him, most of what you’ll turn up is the meager collection we have at BaltimoreJam.org. Much more well known is a Hot Rod protege and “appropriator” named Douglas “Jocko” Henderson. Henderson knew Hulbert and was on the air in Baltimore briefly in 1952 on WSID. A year later Henderson “borrowed” Hulbert’s trademark rap, rocket ship show format, great googa mooga and the rest, took it to Philadelphia and presented it as his own. From there he became much more widely known than Hulbert, and most people today think of Jocko as the originator of that radio persona.

The best single article I’ve seen about Hot Rod appeared in a Boulder, CO magazine, Blues Access, in 1997. That article is still available online, written by a DJ named Cary Wolfson who counted Hulbert as an influence. These are the words of the Rod as published in that article:

“Hello mommios and daddios, keen teens, ladies and gentlemen. Commander Hot Rod moving and grooving, wheeling and dealing, hop, skipping and jumping here, there, each and everywhere bringing you the best in music, oyay, the best in songs, the best in jive, the best in helpful information, dedicated to you, the greatest people in the world, my listeners, as we move and groove, wheel and deal, hop, skip, jump here there and everywhere, I gotta say this is without a doubt the High Priest of Space, not the flower, not the root, but the seed, sometimes called the herb, sometimes called the burner.


WITH Hot Rod ad - March 1964

Buddy Deane Remembered in the UK

November 9, 2014 by

Back in July we were contacted by Ian Whent. a writer for the popular British music magazine, Mojo. He was doing research for a story on Buddy Dean and in the process had come across BaltimoreJam.org and our page on Deane. In addition to the information on our site, I referred him to John Sankonis who I was sure would have more detailed info, unpublished recollections and possibly some unseen photos. The resulting article came out in the October issue of Mojo and it’s a great capsule story of the show, it’s origin and impact, and eventual demise.

I’m posting the article here with the assumption that Mr. Whent won’t mind. It’s one small story in a magazine packed with great stuff including the final interview with the late Johnny Winter, Smokey Robinson’s take on how to write a soul classic, and a great tour of New Orleans, past and present, conducted by the Night Tripper himself, Dr. John, a.k.a. Mac Rebennack. There are also stories on Queen, the Kinks, Kate Bush and much more … a pretty cool magazine.

Mojo, Buddy Deane Article, page 1


Mojo, Buddy Deane Article, page 2

R. I. P. Ray Quigley

November 9, 2014 by

(From Walt Kraus on Facebook)
Ray Quigley, who was Jim Hughes partner in the Charmed Times magazine, passed away yesterday. [11/8/2014] Our condolences to his family.. He will be buried next Saturday in Essex, MD, there will be at viewing at the Candlelight funeral home, 1835 Frederick Road, on Friday, Nov 14, from 3-5 pm.

In Honor of Ivan

October 16, 2014 by

It was almost 3 years ago that we learned of the death of Ivan Bowser, Band Director at Parkville High School from 1954-1972, and at Loch Raven High after that. With the 50th reunion of the Class of 1964 coming around, a few of Mr. Bowser’s students from that class got to talking about how much of an influence and inspiration he was, to them and many others. As a result and with the blessing of current principal, Matt Ames, and Ivan’s family, these former students designed a wall plaque to honor Ivan and his many contributions. Last week it was installed by Ivan’s son, Gregg, on the wall of the “new” music wing — there was no music wing in 1964; Ivan’s office was a large closet and the band rehearsed in the cafeteria.

It was a great moment to see the plaque go up. Ivan was the band director when the high school was founded, 1953-54 in what is now the middle school, and the first band director at the high school’s new building and present location on Putty Hill Ave. Mr. Bowser was a dedicated teacher and fine musician, with high standards for performance and a lack of tolerance for lack of effort. As a Parkville graduate myself and one of those many students he influenced, it is an honor to pay tribute to Ivan Bowser.

R.I.P. Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

December 5, 2013 by

nelson mandela







The End of an Era

September 24, 2013 by

Volkswagen announces it will stop production of the VW Bus, first introduced in 1950 and the 2nd VW model produced after the Beetle. Brazil is the last remaining producer of the VW Bus, and that country’s impending requirements for air bags and anti-lock brakes in new vehicles has prompted the company to discontinue, rather than upgrade, the classic “hippie van.”

If you ever owned one, you know why this is sad. If you are of a certain age, this news just made you feel a little older.

VW Microbus

VW blueprint

VW Woodstock

R.I.P. Michael G. Athas

July 10, 2013 by
Michael G. Athas obit photo

Michael G. Athas (Baltimore Sun / June 8, 2007)

From the Baltimore Sun Obituaries …

Michael G. Athas, owner of Club Venus
His nightclubs attracted some of the biggest names in entertainment

Michael G. Athas, who during a more than 30-year career in the entertainment business established some of the Baltimore area’s most memorable and legendary nightclubs, died Monday from a glioblastoma at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. He was one day shy of this 87th birthday.

The son of Greek immigrants George and Arhontoula Athanasakos, Michael George Athanasakos — who later changed the family’s name to Athas — was born in York, Pa.

“During the Great Depression, financial strain necessitated his father to send the family to Greece to live with grandparents while he pursued scarce job opportunities in the U.S.,” said a son, George M. Athas of North Potomac.

The family returned to Baltimore in 1938, where the elder Mr. Athas owned and operated the Capitol Grill on West Baltimore Street. Mr. Athas “worked long hours at his father’s restaurant” and on weekends sang with the church choir at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, his son said.

After graduating from Polytechnic Institute in 1944, where he had been valedictorian, he enlisted in the Navy. He was trained as a radio technician and served in the Pacific. At the end of World War II, Mr. Athas received a full scholarship to attend the Johns Hopkins University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

Mr. Athas, who first worked with Industrial Research Laboratories and later with the aerospace division of Aeronca Manufacturing Corp., decided on a career change in 1960 and entered the entertainment industry.


In Honor Of Gil Monroe

March 2, 2013 by

Post from elsewhere by Tim Landers – PLEASE contact Tim Landers, (443) 686-1450, to help with this event in honor of Gil Monroe.


Dear Fellow Entertainers, Musicians and Friends, I am sorry to have to write this but I am attempting to pull off something that is very difficult to do. With the exception of a few people, many of you will be startled and I hope even outraged by what I am about to tell you. As many of you know, one of the truly great mentors in my life is Gil Monroe. I don’t think that I need to go into a long drawn out story of everything Gil has accomplished but for those who need a little history here goes: This man lead one of the most successful orchestras in the country starting in the 1940’s. Johnny Mann was one of his piano players and singers, Hank Levy played Sax for him and he worked with the likes of everyone from Guy Lombardo , The Temptations and Buddy Rich to Stevie Wonder. Gil also ran a music store in the Overlea area where many a young musician was given their first taste of what it was like to truthfully be a professional.

We were taught, nurtured and even promoted by this man. He gave freely of his talent and his own equipment so that we could begin to earn money doing what he and the teachers in his studio had taught us to do and never asked for anything in return (except the equipment back). I am fortunate to be living one of the lives that this man touched and have never forgotten him for it. We kept in touch over the years and had lunch and dinners regularly. At 90 years old he’s still sharp as a tack but sadly through no fault of his own has become the victim of what so many of our senior citizens have been experiencing. I will share the actual details with anyone who would like them but for now let’s just say that Gil has been seriously taken advantage of even abused. He was literally tossed out on the street. I know this to be true because for the last month Gil has been living with me. A nurse punctured his eardrum so he can’t hear that well and he’s not up with the latest technology like computers (which is why I feel safe sharing this on facebook) but otherwise he’s in great shape and is not on a single medication.

Recently Gil moved in with his niece briefly until other arrangements can be made. With the exception of a very meager Social Security and Retirement income (which his ex-wife gets part of) he has nothing except a 1997 Lincoln Town Car. What I am proposing is for everyone who wishes to give back something to this man who gave so much to others, pitch in together and organize an event to celebrate his life and give all of the proceeds to Gil. I have already spoken to a few folks but I need alot of help. We need to have a committee set up to handle this huge undertaking so please don’t volunteer unless you are truthfully willing to do a great deal of work for nothing in return other than feeling a little bit better about yourself.

I am proposing that we get a hall in the Baltimore area and organize a volunteer group of musicians to play. Everyone, whether they are playing or not has to buy a ticket and hopefully almost everything from food to drinks and the hall will be donated or acquired at an extremely low rate. All egos must be set aside as we must keep our eye on the ball so to speak. Gil is a very proud man but I know he would greatly appreciate help now and HE DESERVES IT. One thing I do know about entertainers is they tend to have very big hearts and also take care of their own.

If you are interested in helping out, please respond to me via Facebook or call me at (443) 686-1450. I will also be posting this on Baltimore Bands and would appreciate it if everyone out there would send it to everyone they can. Once I see how much interest there is I will make my decision on how to proceed. Remember, hopefully we are all going to be 90 one day and I don’t know about you but I would like to spend my final years with at least a bit of my dignity left. Thank You And God Bless You, Your Buddy, Timmy


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