Umbra – Country Paul – Kenny Boy & Neal – The Rossonian – Road Runners
My friend Steve Faulkner – former 1960’s-70’s era drummer for the Denver group “Umbra” – sent in this video link for a song called “State of Mind” performed on YouTube by his current ensemble “Secret City”.
Steve is very active in the Denver music scene – not only performing and recording but also instructing.
A Band Box Update
Another friend – “Country” Paul Clayton sent in this comment relating to my previous Post on Van Trevor and Penny Starr – two former Denver Band Box recording country stars:
“I was working at country station WHIM in Providence, RI, when Van was peaking in his country popularity. I already knew of him because in Providence, we “could see” Hartford, 70 miles west, which had an intense local music scene including several local hits by Van in his rock era. I still have – trapped on a radio station cartridge – a jingle Van cut for me on WHIM, a verse and chorus of “Our Side” with a new vocal track singing the station call letters. Also, I’m tickled that you mentioned Rod Harris; he was this great ol’ guy who looked every bit like the character he portrayed (and who he really was); he’d come up and hang out at the station and do an occasional on-air interview. I wish I’d known more about him back then.
I’d heard of Penny Starr and Penn de Haven, but not known that they were one and the same until starting to get your dispatches. I found a nice post-Band Box side by her, Mama Lou, from ’69 on Imperial (nice but a very “crowded”-sounding recording – no room in the mix to “breathe. Better recorded is her Band Box side, “A Grain of Salt,” sorta “cute honky tonk” and quite charming: (View Below) – (Did I really just use the word “charming” un-ironically?!? I must be getting old….)”
Did you Know that Ken Kesey…..
…was born in 1935 and was born in La Junta, Colorado? He apparently remained there for about 11 years with his family who were dairy farmers. They moved in 1946 to Portland, Oregon. Kesey also was an extraordinary college wrestler just missing be selected for the Olympic Team. He wrote a few novels, two of them turning into successful motion pictures – “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Sometimes a Great Notion”. In the 1960’s Kesey fell in with the Haight-Ashbury crowd – most specifically the “Merry Pranksters” and Timothy Leary.
Later in life he stated in an interview that he was too young to be a beatnik and too old to be a hippie. But he took his best shot, experimenting with LSD and merriment. Kesey passed away due to multiple health problems in 2001 at the age of 66.
Neal Cassady in the Rockies
Kesey befriended and spent a lot time with beat generation figure Neal Cassady – in his new life and with the “Merry Pranksters” in San Francisco. Cassady was also a Colorado boy, being raised in Denver, Colorado. His life started off stable enough, with his family living in the 2563 Champa Street (not on Grant as sometimes reported), that is until his father’s life came tumbling down due to his fight with alcohol. From Grant Cassady’s mother and younger siblings moved to a home at 22nd and Stout, while Neal joined his father on Denver’s “skid row” (Larimer) since revamped as a Mi-lineal haven in the “Lo Do” sector of Denver.
Neal and his father (also “Neal”) took refuge in a run down establishment called “The Metropolitan” at Market and 16th Street. Young Neal was in Denver long enough to attend Denver East High School, at least for a brief time – getting into a lot trouble with the law. In about 1944 he his shenanigans landed him in a Canon City, Colorado reformatory for just over a year. After that, he made his way out of Denver but would return from time-to-time as documented in Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” where he appears in fiction as the vagabond “Dean Moriarty”.
The photo below is of “The Rossonian” at 27th and Welton in Denver’s Five Point neighborhood – It was a hangout in the years when Kerouac would accompany Neal back to Denver – They would enjoy jazz like true Beats at the Ross. The “Rossonian” lives on today.
(For a great account of Neal’s Denver experience visit this web site to read “Visions Of Neal Cassady’s Childhood In Denver, Before He Went ‘On The Road'” – Hart Van Denburg – 2014)
Cassady died in Mexico in 1968 after a party, found unconscious outside laying next to railroad tracks, he could not be revived fully and passed away three hours later – He was 41 years old.
The photo below is from the Google-Mobile – Appears that both the Cassady home and adjacent property are boarded and abandoned – Hopefully protected from demolition – Planning to drive by when the snow clears here in Denver.
(From Westword Article – January, 2015 by Jamie Siebrase):
The Rossonian & Kerouac
“Ninety-five-year-old Norman Harris Sr., who still owns a liquor store and apartment complex in the neighborhood, remembers Billie Holiday and Joe Louis staying at the Rossonian, and Sonny Liston hanging out at the adjacent barber shop. Duke Ellington once spent an entire summer at the Rossonian.
The Rossonian happily accommodated anybody with money and attitude in its first-floor lounge, where the top-notch talent performed. “It was no different than in New York,” says Webb. “If people wanted to hear good jazz there, they’d go uptown to Harlem. For whites who wanted to hear good jazz in Denver, it was Five Points.”
“Jack Kerouac, who walked past the Rossonian when he first visited Denver in the 1940’s, immortalized the area and the era in On the Road: “At lilac evening I walked with every muscle aching among the lights of 27th and Welton in the Denver colored section, wishing I were a Negro, feeling that the best the white world had offered was not enough ecstasy for me, not enough life, joy, kicks, darkness, music, not enough night.”
Denver’s Roadrunners & Buddy Biglow
Sometimes the Denver Roadrunners, who recorded “Road Runnah” in the 1960’s – a song which went to the number 2 spot on the KIMN charts but flopped elsewhere, are confused with a group that recorded at the same time out in California out of Fresno. Denver’s version had involvement with L.A.’s Gary Paxton of Hollywood Argyle fame (Alley Oop”) as well as involvement with Denver Finer Arts record label owner Morey Bernstein, who worked with Gary when the label was first based in Los Angeles, before Morey took control and moved the label to Denver.
This from song writer Buddy Biglow on “Cute Little Colt” in September of 2014:
Biglow: “It was a great record by the Road Runners and another one I co-wrote with Gary Paxton. The legendary George Sherlock the west coast promotion man for London Records did the leg work. We all remember the Rolling Stones record, ‘Under assistant promo man’ right. Well George was the model and inspiration for that song and he brought the group (Rolling Stones) down to Gary’s Studio on Melrose Avenue called Nashville West in Hollywood in hopes they would record there. This was when their Record of the Old Buddy Holly song “Not Fade away” had just been out a short time and long before they had become the Legends they became.”
The long play by the Road Runners on London, has several of the hot rod “standards” by Brian Wilson, DJ Roger Christian, L.A. composer/producer Gary Usher four songs written by the Road Runners.
Biglow also composed
Biglow: “On the promo of Red Hot Honda the original title was released and pulled back before ‘Red Hot Scrambler Go’ the eventual title was released and before the production version. When It was changed because of a threatened law suit by Honda motor cycles who didn’t want their brand to be associated with the so called hot rod image and long before the Hondels’ record..Gary’s name should have been there all along and was correctly added.”
A couple of other singles are shown with Biglow involvement (Dick Dale and The Cochrane Twins)
Biglow re Dick Dale: “Hi TOKENHIPPIE, you are probably getting a lot of mileage out of that BW production story, but having been there at the session at RCA studios I can assure you the Two Jim’s given credit and listed are correct along with the incredible production assistance and musical mind of Gary S. Paxton who co-wrote ‘Wild, Wild Mustang’ with me. We are older now, I am 77 years old and up there a little, Dick did a great Artist job on this song, both vocally and with his one of a kind Guitar.”
High in the Mid Sixties – Colorado Garage Bands
Picked up this LP from the Archive International Record series of vintage 60’s band from throughout the United States. This one has some great stuff – “The Soothsayers” from Greeley – “The Astronauts” (first recording pre RCA Victor) – “Sur Royal Da Count” – Colorado Springs group “Our Gang” – “The Doppler Effect” – “The Elopers” – “The Poor” who evolved from several Denver-area band – “The Moonrakers” – “The Rainy Daze” – Commerce City band “The Lidos” – “The Trolls” from Pueblo – “The Soul” – and Northern Colorado’s “Monocles”