Archive for July, 2009

Cicero’s

July 31, 2009

Somewhere around 1963 0r 1964, Gary Chalmers, Mike Hodgeman and I (and some other guys) had a band.  It may have been the forerunner or after-runner of Gary & the GTO’s, or maybe even Gary & the GTO’s; I’m just not sure.  Anyhow, one of us (probably Gary Chalmers) booked a month-long gig at a club named Cicero’s, located down around the Maryland State Penitentiary.

When we got there, most things seemed normal – the hours, songs requested, level of violence – everything was much like the other clubs we were used to playing. Before long, we began to notice that the guys looked a little different – tough in a different way than we were used to seeing.  As the time there rolled on, we noticed two things, back to back.  First of all, we noticed that the men’s room was spotless – absolutely the cleanest that any of us had ever seen at a bar.  They’re usually beyond scummy; and the smell! Secondly, the reason for our first realization became clear.  Besides us guys in the band, nobody else used the men’s room.

Right about that time, one of the regular patrons at Cicero’s (Marge- I’ll never forget her name) notices our perplexed attitudes and, taking pity on us, sat us down and explained a different set of the “Facts of Life” to us.  Keep in mind, we barely had our driver’s licenses yet and were still in high-school!

The gig sure does mature one very quickly, doesn’t it?

Did anyone else out there ever play at Cicero’s?  If so, leave a comment and tell us about it.

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Stunnegan

July 27, 2009

Bob Grimm’s previous post reminds me of this story.  In the fall of 1972 and the spring of 1973 I was on the road with a show band that played all over the south-west.  We had a tenor sax player (nickname Stunnegan – more on that later) that was also a “chick magnet”.  His attraction to the fair sex was so consistent that I fell into a “weeding out” kind of role for him. I would arrive at the club a few minutes before him, giving myself enough time to order a drink and secure a good vantage point.  Then Stunnegan would make his entrance.

As he would pass tables of girls, I would watch their reaction to him (after he had passes their table, of course) and report my observations to him.  My role would continue through the sets, as he walked around the club talking to girls whom I suggested.  After each set I would update my information on whose head had turned the most and whose tongue was hanging out the furthest.  He would then make his choice for the night based on the physical attributes, attraction factor as I would report it to him, etc.  This went on until Walt Baily yanked me off the road to play with “Touch”.

The Bionic Nymphomanic

July 26, 2009

Thanks to Bob Grimm for this amusing contribution.  Bob writes:

At one point in my career, I was the guitarist for the Al Downing Band.  I got Jeff Lutzi the bass player’s gig and we were performing at the Hurricane Club in Ocean City, Md.  Jeff, in those days, was known as something of a ladies’ man and this one groupie chick had followed him from Baltimore to the gig.  Jeff was making every attempt to avoid her, however she was ardent!

At one of our breaks, the band returned to our dressing room area which was on an upstairs balcony.  Shortly thereafter, this oversexed young lady actually scaled the outside wall to get to Jeff!  I then dubbed her “THE BIONIC NYMPHOMANIAC

If you have funny gig story that you would like to have posted on this blog, send it to me at samtowers@comcast.net or leave a comment here.

Our First Look at a Bass Guitar

July 21, 2009

When the RaVons evolved for a short time, back in 1960 or 1961, we noticed that we had a singer, a drummer and three guitars.  The three guitars tended to be redundant and so, having heard that there was an electric bass on the market, we decided that one of the three guitarists would be a bass player.  We drew straws and Keith Donhauser drew the short straw and had to play bass.  He talked his dad into buying him an electric bass and an amp.

At the next rehearsal, he had it.  At the bottom of my basement stairs, he opened this huge, square case.  We gawked!  None of us had ever seen a Fender Jazz bass up close before , or any bass guitar for that matter, and had never given any thought of how to play one.  The strings looked huge!  Remember, in those days the electric bass was meant to be a convenient substitute for the bulky upright bass and therefore came stock with heavy-gauge flat wounds.  The tuning heads were enormous – three or four times the size of a guitar’s!  We all discussed it.  Having never even thought of how it might be played we wondered things like, “How can you play chords on strings that big, and only four of them?  Won’t strings that big be impossible to press down to the frets?  How can a guitar pick work with strings that big?

It was a sunburst jazz bass – no doubt worth some serious bucks these days.  It didn’t take long for the electric bass to catch on, did it?

Leave a reply or send me your funny memories at samtowers@comcast.net

Sam

1960-Fender-Jazz-Bass-(#FEB0007)

Photo from Gary’s Classic Guitars.

Hello to all

July 20, 2009

Hello to all of my fellow sixties musicians.  My first few blogs will target the start of some of the many bands of which we were all members as the years rolled on.  To that end,  I would appreciate an email letting me know what you remember about how any of the many bands from those times were started.  I’m interested in any information you have, including the very beginnings of groups, as far back as the first time just a couple of people got together if that union resulted in the formation of a band.  I need original member names, original band names – no detail is too small.  Send your information to me samtowers@comcast.net.

Thanks

Sam

> FLASH BACKS

July 11, 2009

Watch here for a new category of remembrances titled FLASH BACKS  and edited by Sam Towers. Sam is looking for stories … the history of bands and their creation … the texture and flavor of specific venues, like we’ve been discussing about Holiday Park. I have some stories to share … a gun pulled at the Satyr House with the Majestics … notorious venues like Unity Hall in Dundalk (?) and the 10th & K. St. cabaret in Washington D.C. with “… and the Echoes.”  Sam wants to hear your story. Judges? or The Carousel? Pleasant Plains Teen Center?

Email Sam at <samtowers@comcast.net>.

A New Look.

July 8, 2009

Thanks to everyone who provided feedback. Based on the comments I found another theme that wasn’t on the original list, but has a little of what everybody liked about the original. I can’t do anything about the type size, and most themes use a size similar to this. Hopefully the black-on-white will make it easier to read, even at this size.

We’ll go with this for awhile and see how it feels.

-//-

In case you’re interested, this is what the traffic has been on this blog over the past 2 weeks, with 83 today. The software does not count my visits as administrator.

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A New Look?

July 7, 2009

It’s been suggested that the black background and small type of this blog does not respect the current state of eyesight of many of its readers. It’s also not as printer-friendly for those who would like to share it with their non-computer friends. In response to those concerns we’re going to take a look at some options and seek opinions.

First, you need to know that this blog is built on a “theme” that is designed and available for use at WordPress, where the blog is hosted. I didn’t design it from scratch. I picked it for it’s Maryland colors and customizable header. You’ll see a credit for its author at the bottom of the blog:

Theme: Black Letterhead by Ulysses Ronquillo.

Some themes allow you to customize the header (which is what I’ve done with this one) and some let you change the theme’s color scheme (this one does NOT allow that). I also can’t adjust the type size, but you can do this on your own computer. Depending on the web browser you’re using, there should be a command to “zoom in” which will increase the size of the type on your screen for easier reading. On my Mac, using Safari as the browser, I just hit “COMMAND +” and it bumps up the type. Each time I hit it, it bumps up one more knotch. The command is the same in FireFox. I’m sure there’s a similar command in Internet Explorer. Try it … you’ll like it. I’m of that same age where this comes in real handy, and I use it often.

The colors are another issue. In that regard, I am posting a few examples of other themes that might work for this blog. I’ve picked these as ones I think I can work with the header and colors. Look them over and leave a comment with the one you like. If enough people agree on a new look , I’ll change it.

Let me know … and thanks for your participation in making this blog work for you.

Misty Look

Misty Look

Neat

Neat

Andreas09 - colors are customizable

Andreas09 - colors are customizable, header is not

Benevolence

Benevolence

Freshy

Freshy

Garland - colors are customizable

Garland - colors are customizable, header is not

Grimm’s Light Bus, Woodstock Icon

July 5, 2009

Whether or not you know what it was called [the Light Bus], or why [named for the Baltimore band “Light”], or who painted it [Dr. Robert R. Hieronimus] or who actually owned the famous 1963 VW Bus [Bob Grimm], you have undoubtedly seen it. It would be almost impossible to avoid, for as much as the music and history of that legendary festival of hippie yore and lore, this iconic photo of the vehicle and its Baltimore passengers [Ricky Peters and Trudy (Cooper) Morgal] on the roof, has evolved as the media’s go-to symbol of Woodstock. Don’t believe it?

The 40th anniversary of Woodstock is on this summer’s calendar, and here’s how Yahoo!News presents its announcement of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s commemorative exhibit. Need more evidence?

The Light Bus has reached the kind of status where a detailed replica can now be purchased directly from the artist’s website. (I just hope Mr. Grimm is getting a royalty on each one sold … it was *his* bus after all.)

If you still need convincing, check out the cover of this interesting new anniversary book on Woodstock. Along with generic images of the ticket and the crowd you’ll see the “BIG 3” of Woodstock iconography: Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and the Light Bus.

This book is unique by virtue of its claim as the story of people who were actually there. Following are excerpts from the contributions of Bob Grimm to this eye-witness account, and the story of the Light Bus’ journey to Woodstock:

“Light” was my Baltimore rock group in the 60’s.  We were the proverbial big fish in a not-so-little pond; stars on the smallest of scales!  In those days we had a full time house gig at the “Mardi Gras” on Harford Road and became well known for our original music and long, self indulgent jams.  We were pleased to take off for a week in August to attend the Woodstock Rock Festival.

Our painted VW bus was a truly inspired work of mystical and esoteric symbols, and we believed it probably had an esteemed destiny in the company of our generation’s musical heroes.  The artist, Bob Hieronimus, had planned to be at Woodstock but was ultimately commanded by a busy schedule not to attend.

It was the day before the first performances and we discovered that we might not be able to get in!  Approaching the access road, a policeman said, “You can’t drive in, you’ll have to walk!”  Thinking quickly I said, “We’re taking this bus to the art exhibit.”  He paused momentarily and said, “OK, go ahead.”

And the rest, boys and girls, is history.

Thanks to Sam Towers for the post topic, and to Bob Grimm for this photo and his personal account.

Thanks to Sam Towers for the post topic, and to Bob Grimm for this photo and his personal account.

Caldwell, Walt – drummer

July 1, 2009

The old Echoes photos continue to surface, thanks to Sam Towers. Walt Caldwell was the kick in the Echoes, and on the rare occasion he was allowed to sing (“Rescue Me” by Fontella Bass or “Uptight” by Stevie Wonder) he brought the house down.


WaltCaldwell

Here’s Walt in August, 2001 at Stingers Bar.

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