Archive for June, 2009

Keeping Pace

June 24, 2009

We were contacted not long ago by a guy named Phil Kawa who played with Roger Pace at the Intermission Lounge in Boston’s infamous “Combat Zone” back in the day. They started a discussion group among musicians and dancers who used to work the Combat Zone clubs … posts go back to 2004. The discussion worked its way to Roger and they got to talking … heard he had died … started getting curious and found their way to the BaltimoreJam website.

I talked to Walt Bailey and Trudy Morgal to help them sort fact from fiction. Apparently someone in their group had some skip-trace experience and eventually they found Roger’s Social Security records. The following is posted at their discussion group:

Roger’s family name was Paesch and according to the social security record he was born Nov. 24, 1944 and died May 29, 2001.

Roger died of sudden cardiac arrest while in the hospital overnight for a biopsy to check a spot on his lung. It was unrelated and totally uexpected, and in Trudy’s words, “Just one of those things … and very sad.” The Boston folks have started a blog in Roger’s honor. It’s just getting started but I thought some this blog’s readers might be interested. It’s at and you’ll also find that link in the blogroll down in the sidebar here. Like I said, they’re just getting started, but they have a great photo of Roger Pace and the Pacemakers that is worth the click … here’s a teaser.


Echoes of Hollywood Park

June 17, 2009

Let’s delve into more of those great pics of the Echoes on stage at Hollywood Park that Sam Towers recently unearthed.

John Piluk played tenor and congas with the Echoes and didn’t sing often, but he had a few choice numbers that he delivered in his own gnarly style. Here he is with Walt Anderson on guitar.

John Piluk sings

People always feel a deeper sense of loss when someone dies young, and without warning.  Such was the case with the death of Echoes sax, keyboard & vibes player Mickey Reed. He was a fine musician and well-liked by everyone. Someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but my failing memory tells me that he died on an icey road on the way to the gig at HP. What I do remember is how hard the band took his death. It was a real blow. Here’s a shot of John and Mickey in a friendly sax duel.

John Piluk and Mickey Reed

I think Mickey Reed was best remembered for his vibes playing. It was unusual at the time to find vibes in anything but a jazz combo, and that just made the Echoes all the more unique. You can hear the percussive chime of the vibes used to great affect in Tommy Vann and the Echoes biggest recording, Too Young.

Here’s a nice shot of Mickey on vibes, with drummer Walt Caldwell. [NOTE: that white Fender Bassman amp is worth some genuine $$ on today’s vintage market.]

Mickey Reed on vibes

Musician Jokes

June 16, 2009

Musician jokes abound. Here’s a batch just received from trumpet player Craig Seaman, apparently originated by guitarist Bob Roetker. I promise not to post endless joke lists, but these I had not seen before … and I’ve seen many. Enjoy …

Chick Corea claims to have heard about a hostage situation where some terrorists were holding thirty drummers hostage, and were threatening to release one of them every six hours until their demands were met.

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A guitarist sat tuning his instrument all through the first set that the band played. Each time the leader pointed to him to take a chorus, he would say, “No, man, I’m still tuning up.”

Half an hour into the job he was still not ready.  “Why do you need so much time for tuning?” asked the leader.  “When I went to hear Segovia he played a whole concert and I didn’t see him tune up once!’ The guitar player gave a shrug.  “Some cats just don’t give a damn man!”

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There are so many stories told about the great tenor man, Al Cohn, like…

Al mentioned at Charlie’s Tavern one day that he’d just finished recording an album with 24 mandolin players.
Someone asked, “Where did they find that many mandolin players?”
“Well,” said Al, “all day today you couldn’t get a haircut in Jersey City

— / —

A disheveled man accosted Al at a bus terminal and asked him for a couple of dollars to get a drink. Al started to hand him the money, and then said, “Wait a minute.  How do I know you won’t spend this on food?’

— / —

When a musician friend once complained to Al that the drummer he was working with slowed down when he played with sticks and rushed when he played with brushes, Al immediately suggested, “Tell him to play with one of each!”

— / —

In Europe, Al was drinking at a bar with some friends who recommended the local beer.  “Have you tried Elephant Beer?” he was asked. “No.” said Al, “I drink to forget.”

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On a Canadian TV show that Oscar Peterson used to host, Oscar would play with his trio and sometimes a guest soloist, and would include interviews with his guests between tunes.  When Zoot Sims appeared on the show, Oscar asked him, quite seriously, ” What do you see for your instrument for the future? What would you like to see?”
Zoot paused thoughtfully, glanced down at the tenor hanging from its neck strap, and replied, “I could use a new lacquer job?”



Jam with Vann

June 11, 2009

Here’s a good example of the usefulness of this blog. We can’t post timely info or commercial info on the website, but you might want to know that Mr. Tommy Vann is still kicking strong with the Boss Band and their gigs include some jamming. They are especially appealing to horn players.

You’ll find links to the Boss Company and Tommy Vann websites in the blogroll (links down the right sidebar), as well as other links that might be of interest. These guys use the ConstantContact email marketing tool. I can’t post every gig here, but if you want to get on their email list you can find out how at the Boss Company website. 

Music is good … jamming is better. Kudos to Tommy, John Sankonis, Barry Gregory and all these guys for keeping it going.


Remembering Hollywood Park

June 3, 2009

What a dump … and what an incredible place for music. My personal association there was limited, and yet on those few nights I heard the Temptations just breaking out with My Girl (and watched these sartorial giants do their last show of the night in sweaters and big-foot slippers); I sat enraptured with the beauty and elegance of The Platters; I backed up The Drifters with The Majestics and their ever-present music director/guitarist, Abdul; I used the privilege of being known by the club’s owners to gain access to the dressing room where I secured the autographs of all 3 Ronettes (it’s no wonder Phil Spector was obsessed); I witnessed one all-out dance floor brawl from the stage, complete with flying beer bottles.

The national acts were many and great, but Hollywood Park presented, night after night, the best house bands in town (no offense to anyone with a fondness for other venues). Tommy Vann and the Echoes, Danny and the Elegants … these guys were so damn good.

Thanks to Sam Towers for this pic that paints the picture better than any I’ve seen … TV & Echoes on stage, the crowd on the dance floor …


This club ad gives a great snapshot of what went on there, week after week … the Fugitives, Tommy Vann and the “fabulous” Echoes, the Elegants … and in the little box we see that coming soon is The Coasters and Patti LaBelle & the Blue Bells … I mean, come on. Are you kidding me? The parking lot wasn’t paved and the building leaned to the east – to call it a “joint” would be an upgrade – but it was just one of those places.


Don Barto wrote and produced a musical homage to HP that bears a listen here. It really tells the story and catches the vibe.



It is said that there’s a time and a place for everything. In my memory of that time, Hollywood Park was the place.