Friday, July 27, 2018

The continuing story of (one of) the greatest Colorado-recorded songs, ever.

Genesis (revolving lineup):
Gilbert Cordova - Organ / Bass / Vocals
Bino Cordova - Lead Guitar / Vocals
Charley Vigil - Rhythm Guitar
Eddie Gallegos- Lead Guitar
Marc Gonzales - Bass Guitar
Nick Garcia - Drums
Paul Garcia - Drums
Sam Kortnicki - Trumpet
Steve Webber - Tenor Sax
Lloyd "Buttons" Trujillo - Keyboards
Richard Velasquez - Keyboards
Jim Quintana - Percussion / Background Vocals

Genesis (band lineup on single):
Standing (left to right): Gilbert Cordova, Paul Garcia, Lloyd Trujillo, Jim Quintana and Bino Cordova 
Front (left to right): Sam Kortnicki and Steve Webber
(Photo courtesy of Sam Kortnicki)

Back in 2012 I wrote a post on the late 1960s Denver group Genesis, and a frantic search for any information on what I thought was one of the greatest Colorado records ever recorded.

I mean, seriously, give a listen to this sweet-oh-my-God Latin soul recording. This song still gives me goosebumps.

If a tornado were bearing down on the house, it's one of those records I would race to grab, with the family pictures.

(The flipside of this record is the fantastic guitar rocker, "Follow the Sun.")

I dropped the ball on following up, and then I got busy moving back to Colorado, in 2015. I was going through some archived emails this week, and discovered I really needed to revisit this story.

Two years after I initially posted that "Does anyone have any information?" story, I rediscovered an email from past Elk Bugles blog subject, Job Vigil.

"Charley Vigil is my cousin. He died of kidney failure."

Job didn't have any additional information, but offered to put me in contact with another member of Genesis, Marc Gonzales, who also contacted me, in 2014.

Charley Vigil

"My first recollection of Charley Vigil would have been the mid 60s when he was playing with Johnny Maul and the Cutups, out on West Colfax Avenue," Marc says. "He later went on to play with the Bluetones, who went on to win a Battle of the Bands contest and got to play with The Rolling Stones, at a concert in Denver.


The Bluetones - David Raines, Charley Vigil, Mike Weingarten, 
Richard Valasquez and Larry Ferris


(All photos courtesy of Marc Gonzales)

"I later went on to be a member of the group Offspring, with Charley. Eddie Gallegos and I were friends from Regis High School, we both grew up in Denver. Nick Garcia, the drummer in Genesis, was from North Denver, and a friend of Eddie's.  The three of us started playing in a band called 3.2 Blues to Go around 1966 or 1967.  It was this core rhythm section, which merged with the Cordova Brothers and Charley to form Genesis around 1969.  Gil and Bino lived in Denver."

"Gil and I go back to childhood, when he was in a band called the Ravens," Eddie Gallegos said. "I was in a band called the Mergers. We all knew the same musicians." Gallegos was a prolific local guitarist, who also played in three other Denver bands of the era, The Basements, Distance, and Mestizo.

"In Genesis, We all sang, but really it was Charley, Bino, and Gil who did the lead vocals," said Marc Gonzales. "Gil and Bino had voices very much like Felix Cavalieri of the Young Rascals.  Charley's voice was a bit deeper, Bino had the highest voice.  The harmonies were really something,  as the three of them sounded just like Three Dog Night, no better!  We also did a fine arrangement of 'Because,' by the Beatles, which had four and five-part harmony, I believe."

"Wow, it's been over 35 years since I have heard that 45," says Genesis trumpeter, Sam Kortnicki, who contacted me this month, with additional information. I was in the group, and I believe this record was recorded in 1969. We also performed it, on TV, in Denver [KRMA, now Rocky Mountain PBS]. It was recorded at the Rayo Recording Studio, on North Federal Blvd."

According to Sam, there were actually three different incarnations of Genesis. He would play in two of them.

According to Sam, "Time is All We Need" was sung and written by Gilbert Cordova. "You can hear the horns on this recording," Sam said. The flipside rocker, "Follow the Sun” was sung and written by Bino Cordova. "Bino was a master guitar player," he added.

"Jerry Corbetta [Sugarloaf] told me years ago that our keyboardist, Richard Velasquez, was one of the best rock keyboard players in the country." According to Kortnicki, Velasquez passed away about a year ago.

Genesis would only be a brief chapter in the history of Colorado's music history, lasting less than two years. "It's unfortunate Genesis didn't last very long.  Lots of strong personalities and talent don't make for harmonious relationships," said Marc Gonzales. Sam Kortnicki also confirmed that fighting among band members was the cause of the group's breakup.   

After Genesis broke up, Sam would go on to play several years with the popular Denver band, Brass Monkey.

I'm guessing there is still much more to this story, but this is all I have, for now. I reached out again to those who contacted me, in 2014. Will add more in this post, when additional information becomes available.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Bob Yeazel - Before Beast and Sugarloaf

 Hey all!

Anyone familiar with Colorado music history knows the name Bob Yeazel, the former member of two Colorado power groups - Beast and Sugarloaf. Sadly, we lost Bob, in 2016.

Sugarloaf Spaceship Earth LP
Bob Yeazel, far right

So, I'm digging in a local thrift store, when I spot this gospel LP, from the Hope Tabernacle, of Denver, Melodies of Hope - Gospel Music in Rhythm. The front cover shows a pastor by the name of Chester Yeazel, along with Glenn Yeazel and Laverne Yeazel. Now, since this surname is not "Smith" or "Jones," my brain immediately wondered, "Are they related to the rock guitarist of the same name?"

A quick trip to Bob's still up-and-running website confirms, "I started playing guitar, at the age of 14. My father, Glenn Yeazel was a Pentecostal preacher. I was raised around gospel music, since the womb. I started playing in the church band..."

Well, how about that?

Bob is not credited on this fantastic, old-fashioned, country-gospel album, which unfortunately doesn't show a date. His mother and father, Laverne and Glenn Yeazel show up on several cuts, including the duet, "Every Hour, Every Day."

Hope Tabernacle was located at 5250 W. 1st Ave, in Lakewood, home now to the New Life Center Church. Other credits show Brenda Bailie, Violet McPherson, C. DeVon McPherson, Lester McPherson,  O'Audean McPherson, Melva Mossman, Ray Nettour, Gladys Nettour, Lloyd Peterson, Gloria Quimby, Naomi Sterling, Yvonne Talmage, and Jess Van Horne.


One has to wonder what may have happened, had Bob decided to stick with the church music. His website notes, " I joined my first band at the age of 15, and started playing professionally, no longer playing in the church. This alienated my family pretty bad." 


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.