Friday, July 6, 2018

White Pine (Update)



This is actually an updated version of a piece I ran, in 2015, on this country honky tonk duo out of Pueblo. At the time, I couldn't locate anyone from the band, to fill in the holes. Then I was contacted by White Pine guitarist, Jerry Christie, (thanks, Jerry!)

Let's start off with your own story in the Pueblo music scene.

The story begins in 1969, when I first met Doyle Trantham and Brian Richie. We formed the band Uncle Mud, which was exclusively rock. I had been playing drums for a few years prior to this in several bands in town, and attending the University of Southern Colorado, when they approached me to play drums with them. The following year, 1970, we decided to try our hand at the acoustic folk/bluegrass movement by forming the band Eureka which included Brian, his wife Cindy, Doyle, Steve Crocket, and myself (now on acoustic guitar). We played frequently, at clubs like the Irish Pub and college shows. 

How long did Eureka last?

In 1972, Doyle and I left Brian and joined Donovan McNeily, his wife Patty, and Dex Murry in a band named Wheat, which also played the acoustic music circuit of clubs like the Irish Pub. This band was very popular at the time in the southern Colorado area. (NOTE: For two years, Wheat also included Tuxedomoon's Blaine Reininger)

Did Wheat last long?

 In 1975, we linked back up with Brian who was organizing a series of artistic events in Pueblo that he named the Arkansas Valley Artists or AVA for short. This included musicians, artists, dancers, pets, etc. that presented a series of shows and events at the Sangre De Cristo Arts Center and the USC. After the AVA experience we again went our merry way, trying other combinations and styles of music. Doyle and I picked up an accordion player from the AVA named Max Fowler and formed a three piece country/bluegrass group called Redwing, while Donovan and Brian formed a band called The Mountain Dreamers. Both of these bands toured around the state and did fairly well. By late 1976, Doyle and I were back together in the band Arizona Nightingales, along with John Grove and Gary Fowler.

(NOTE from Blaine Reininger: "We played all over Colorado. We even went on tour through Montana and Idaho, playing Seattle and San Francisco, getting gigs anywhere they would have us, playing for gas money. The house where we crashed belonged to the light guy at the bar in San Francisco... turned out to be where I lived with Steven Brown, in the early days of Tuxedomoon.")

And it wasn't the last time you and Brian were in a band together...

No, in 1977 I reunited with him in the Wild Goose Grab Ass Band, and I was back on drums again. We also met Ray Hockaday at that time who played bass in the band. This band took off, and in 1978 and 1979 we opened for The Dillards (a Missouri-based bluegrass band) at the Greenhorn Mountain Music Festivals in Colorado City. After this, we all took some time away from each other, as we cooled our heels for a while and did separate pickup gigs.

And then White Pine happened... 

Later July of 1979, the first version of White Pine was put together by Donovan McNeily (who already owned the name, logo, etc...) as a back up band for a new local female singer named Wanda Lane, so that she could attempt to break into the country music scene. We rehearsed all original songs that we had written for a few weeks prior to opening a show for Tommy Overstreet, at Memorial Hall in Pueblo. This was so successful that we opened other shows in September and October that year. Wanda Lane went on to try Nashville, but never took off in country music.

Where were you all playing, around town? 

In late fall of 1979, Donovan happened to land the house band gig at the Caravan club on north Elizabeth. He had been playing there with Guys and Doll, who left the club. Donovan needed to put a group together quickly to play the following Wednesday night at the Caravan.  Who better to call than his former band mates from the local area, who already knew each other, that could put together a set list of songs that were still familiar to all of us. and could each bring our own following of fans? Thus was born White Pine. We were a six piece band with the nickname "the guitar army" since four of us played guitar (including myself). Doyle added the necessary variety with fiddle and mandolin. All of us could sing lead and harmony vocals, except Don Nelson the drummer, which created the most impressive vocal sound I have ever had he pleasure of being a part of. We played at the Caravan as the house band every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, to standing room only audiences from that first Wednesday night in 1979 until 1983.  It got so crowed at the Caravan that most nights you could barely move from the bandstand to the bar. When we would leave the Caravan to do other shows (which became more and more frequent) we would make a minimum of $1000 a night. We actually wound up buying a second complete sound system and set of amplifiers so that we could leave one permanently installed at the club and take the spare to other gigs.

Did the band ever open for any national touring acts?  

During our time together we enjoyed great success, including several more opening act appearances for folks like Hoyt Axton and Johnny Paycheck, headlining the Greenhorn Mountain Music Festival, numerous events at the Art Center, college and university shows, including USC and the School of Mines in Golden. Getting our songs on KKCY FM radio, with the related interviews we did, really propelled our rise.

So what happened? Why didn't White Pine receive national offers? 

Unfortunately, it is a proven fact that "what goes up must eventually come down." So it was with White Pine. After dominating the music scene in Pueblo and the surrounding area for nearly four years and standing on the verge of a record deal, the pressures associated with our success and the constant struggle for dominance within the group caused us to implode one day, in 1983, as a bitter argument erupted between Donovan, the band's founder, and Brian, who came to see himself as "the prize bull" (his own words) and who secured the financing for our album.  Brian was let go from the band, and since he basically had claim to the master 24 track recordings from Applewood Studios, that was the end of our album hopes.


Friday, June 29, 2018

How a really bad album cover picture became my obsession

I admit to having a fascination (some might say obsession) with private issue (vanity) albums, but somewhere in time, I became preoccupied with LPs featuring this out-of-focus, faded picture of a man wading in a stream, along a mountain backdrop.


Is that man on this cover relieving himself, burying a body, fishing, dancing... or is it Bigfoot?


Here's the deal - I have amassed, not a couple, not even a half dozen, but a grand total of 12 different albums, with the exact same stock photo.       

No kidding.


It all started with this Colorado Springs folk gem, by the Emanon Majority. Then I spotted another one, and another...(see all of them, at the end of this post). Saying I was fascinated, is an understatement. Who is this guy and what the hell is he doing?

I mean, come on, how is one not scratching their head over this, especially when you learn that all of the artists could have chosen any one of the other (much cooler) 49 cover art options, from the custom album art outfit, Bert-Co., the company responsible for this picture.


(Thanks to my friend George Gimarc, for finding the original 1966 Bert-Co custom cover art brochure - click on image to see a larger picture)

Was the art chosen because there is a mountain in it? I guess I get that, for a Colorado group, but what about Al Stewart's (not THAT Al Stewart) Collegiate Singers, out of Chicago? How does mystery guy best represent a choir recording, out of Illinois?


Catalog picture is actually flipped, compared to the final product.

One might wonder if, after receiving their albums, the client also wondered who this guy was. I couldn't help but notice that "Bigfoot" is really unnoticeable in the original picture of the art sample (above). So, I completely understand how it could have been the obvious choice for mountain state recordings (or they could have picked the other mountain art, below).


The back of the brochure shows a drawing of the Bert-Co building, in Los Angeles (which looks very much like the Century Custom building, I might add)



A bit of history: Bert-Co was based out Los Angeles, and founded, in 1930, by Berton P. Couturier. The company was originally in the printed matchbook and travel brochure business, when they started printing record labels for RCA, Capitol and Columbia. In the 1950s they began to include stock album cover art, whereas a guy in his basement recording studio could press a couple hundred LPs for friends and family, and include a cool custom cover.

But don't think Bert-Co was only catering to unknown vanity vinyl. The company's typesetting efforts can be found on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, and Elvis Presley, Loving You, just to name a few. According to the company's website (yup, they are still in business) "Bert-Co had the distinction of printing, Abbey Road, the first record jacket produced in the U.S. for The Beatles."

(Full disclosure, Bert-Co had no clue who the model is in the picture, nor did they have any additional information on cover production, including locale).

No telling how many artists used the "mystery man wading in the water" cover. I'm surprised I have uncovered a dozen. Needless to say, if you find any others. I'm buying!






 Larry Taylor Plays For The Handicapped (Colorado Springs)


 MIA Conference 1968 (Denver)


 Surely Goodness and Mercy - Gene and Bobby Moore (Abilene, TX)


 Beside Still Waters - First Baptist Church Choir (Las Cruces, NM)


 The King's Harvesters - Gospel Favorites (Twin Falls, ID)


 Matt Shumac - Mother Lode Laments (Placerville, CA)


 Meet the Sneed Family (Spanaway, WA)


 Ray Turner and Dick Barron - Christ For Me (Fort Worth, TX)


 Glen Walker - Christ in My Heart (Baytown, TX)


 Al Stewart's Collegiate Singers (Chicago, IL)










Thursday, June 21, 2018

Heat up the Bar-B-Q with Friction

 

 Hey all! I figure, since today is the first day of summer, it's time to dust off the outdoor grill and get the coals or mesquite (or whatever your favorite cooking method is) ready for the season. And oh, the perfect song I have found...

I've had this 1985 Colorado Springs 12" single for a few years and, admittedly, I have never put a needle on it. One of those "I'll get around to it" things. Was not expecting what I heard. The Prince meets Humpty Hump and Michael Jackson vibe on this dance disc is ("Let's Go...") crazy. 


Friction
Creative Minds HM-001 (1985)

Told ya.

The group Friction included Larry Martinez, Maverick Gaither, Larry Francis, Buck Stroud, Danika Oatez, and Al Hazard. Springs engineer mastermind Tom Gregor's name also shows up (the disc was recorded at his StartSong Studios).

Vocalist Gaither, who was originally from New York, came to the Springs via a military stint at Fort Carson. He would later go on to be the lead vocalist, saxophonist, and master of ceremonies for New York Entertainment’s Central Park Orchestra, with whom he has performed since 1990. 

Happy summer! 


Saturday, June 9, 2018

Sam Bachicha Celebration


Phil Rico (left) presenting Sam Bachicha (sitting) with a commemoration, honoring his contribution to Southern Colorado music - June 1, 2018

Hey all! So eight years ago I interviewed Southern Colorado singer, Sam Bachicha, about his contribution to the area's music history. Fast forward to today, and I receive an email from fellow local musician, Thomas Lang.

"I wanted to let you know about an event, this June, honoring Sam Bachicha's much-deserved contribution to Colorado... especially the SoCo music scene."

How cool is that?

On June 1, the good people of Trinidad, including the city's mayor and other city officials, gathered together, on the porch of the Bloom Mansion, to celebrate Mr. Bachicha's talents.


According to Thomas, "It was wonderful night, as Sam and family were present, as well as our mayor and city manager. We performed "I Like Trinidad," and Mayor Rico presented an award, and a framed certificate, for Sam's contributions to the local music heritage."


My sincere thanks to Thomas Lang for sending me pictures of the event, and for sharing this news, with me.

Folks, it's easy to cast a spotlight on those national Colorado acts with the most gold records, or those with the most radio airplay, but let's not forget those bands and singers who chose to stay their hometowns. We need to start honoring those talented people who have given so much to their LOCAL communities - especially while they are still with us. Ya dig?

Hat's off to the city of Trinidad, for making sure nobody forgets Sam.








Monday, May 28, 2018

MORE HELP, PLEASE: Blue Glacier - The Ice Has Broken

 

I'm going to break the "all vinyl" rule of the blog, and spotlight an 8-track tape I found, recently, while thrifting in Denver. After I secured a player to listen to these on, I was blown away with what I was hearing - straight-up 70s hard rock. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, a fellow collector "thought" these guys were from Colorado!

 


Is that cool, or what? Sadly, as is the case with this music format, the tape broke upon changing tracks, so I was only able to hear the first two songs (yes, I ordered some sensing foil, and hope to be back in business, hearing the rest, soon).

So dear reader, I again look to you for help. Who is Blue Glacier and where are they from?

The tape shows absolutely no clue. No information on members, locale, nothing.  Hell, these guys could be from Podunk, Alabama, and I wouldn't be the wiser, but I wouldn't be doing my due diligence without asking.  Thanks, in advance!


Thursday, May 24, 2018

MIA: Michael McGuffy


"Young Man's Blood" / "In My Soul"
Michael McGuffy
US Eagle Records 69

Hey all! Whenever I run into a roadblock with a record, I'm going to add a "missing in action" post to the blog, and open it up to anyone who might have information. I don't pretend to know everything, so I will look to you, dear reader, to fill in the holes, when I need help.

Ready?

I don't recollect when or where I acquired this single. It was this year, and I'm thinking it was in Pueblo, but when you get to be a certain age, the particulars tend to get blurry...but I digress.

Here's what I know, so far:

Michael McGuffy (I've also seen it spelled "McGuffey") was based out of Fort Collins.  According to what I learned (off the Internet) he used to teach guitar at a music studio in the Musical Arts Conservatory, there.  In 1969 (possibly 1970), he recorded this one single,  before he teamed up with Bobby St. John to form the group Utah and St. John. This was confirmed in a 1975 blurb in the Greeley Daily Tribune. I've also seen a reference to him, in the group Cunningham Corner (thank you, invaluable Lost Fort Collins)

As for the record? You know when you think a single is going to sound a certain way, just based on the title, or label art, and must admit you were completely wrong? Yeah, I had that moment. I was thinking country twanger. Holy cats, yes, I own up to my inaccurate guess.

First off, "Young Man's Blood" might be one of my favorite Colorado finds, of the year.  Yup, I'm going to gush. The single starts off as a slow, singer/songwriter psych folk loner vibe about, I'm assuming, the wartime atmosphere of the period.

"The ground is covered with young man's blood. Where is God and what happened to love?"

Then, starting at the :48 mark...wait for it, wait for it.  He slowly builds up to a heavy-on-the-electric-guitar jam that I was absolutely not expecting. WOW.


The flip side doesn't disappoint, with the oh-so-breezy "In My Soul."

Thank you, Michael, wherever you are.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Unpredictable Nu-Sett

I rarely ever find any Colorado records in antique malls. No, wait, I DO find a few, but when you have a dollar-bin mentality, antique malls are NOT the place to go bargain shopping. We have two mega-antique malls in my zip, and there is most definitely a premium on any vinyl.

While running some errands today, I decided to pop into one of the mega malls, just to see if the trend has changed. It hasn't (Whipped Cream & Other Delights for $30, and it looked like it was used for sharpening knives). I'm always up for a challenge, so I continued to dig, looking for something unpredictable. Then lo and behold...there it was.

The Unpredictable Nu-Sett, out of Denver.

 

Mint vinyl.
Mint cover.
Autographed.
I swear I heard it calling my name.

I gladly got out my wallet to fork over the (more than I usually pay) $7, and headed home.

First off, I love the cover of this 1968 LP. The members of this bi-racial group (in order on the cover: Scott Roberts, Rod Jenkins, Buddy Brown, and Chuck Mills) look like they are having a blast, in their matching suits, on the tiny stage, at the Inn-Timate Lounge.

The LP opens up with a short introduction, then on to a rockin' cover of "Devil With the Blue Dress / Good Golly Miss Molly," which segues into the Lonnie Donegan ballad, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again." Plus there are a handful of comedy routines added to the mix, which makes for a pretty darn good lounge effort.

 

Side One:
Devil With the Blue Dress / Good Golly Miss Molly
I'll Never Fall in Love Gain
Comedy Routine
Along Came Jones
Mack the Knife
Comedy Routine
I Wonder If I Care As Much


Side Two:
Satin Doll
What Kind of Fool Am I
Comedy Routine
Act Naturally
Gimme a Little Sign
Comedy Routine
Green Green Grass of Home
Comedy Routine
Love Me
Hava Nagila

As for the players (according to the liner notes written by Rocky Mountain News columnist Pat Hanna:

 

Buddy Brown attended Adams State, and then joined the military (as a member of the Steppin' Brothers). In 1964, he joined the group, the Capricios, who were regulars at the Inn-Timate.

 

Scotty Roberts was originally from Illinois, who ended up in Colorado, by way of Minnesota. Buddy enlisted Scotty into the Capricios.

 

Chuck Mills grew up in Wheatridge, and was briefly a member of the Capricios, which had quickly changed their name to the Unpredictable Nu-Sett, after his arrival.


Rod Jenkins was a former member of the Astronauts and the Contrasts. He also appears on the Hustlers Ski Country LP.