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The Penetrations, page 2

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J-W ad 6-72    

The Red Baron

In 1972, one of our favorite places to play was a "3.2%" bar called the Red Baron.  A simpatico guy named Jim Smith owned the bar and he treated the bands well.  He also brought in some big names to play there.

Years later I would spend four nights a week there in the Billy Spears Band, when the place was the "Billy Spears Country Playhouse."

Notice that the venue's name does not appear in this ad.  The Red Baron was in arrears to the Lawrence Journal World and the paper would not print an ad with the Red Baron name.

Recorded at the Red Baron:
Ray Charles's I Don't Need No Doctor

A 15-minute dance medley of Tell the Truth, You Got Me Hummin', I Thank You, and I'll Go Crazy.  The "beating" sound is the Leslie tweeter almost touching the microphone.

B.B. King's Woke Up This Morning

The Supremes' Back in My Arms Again

A medley of Aretha Franklin's Rock Steady with Booker T. and the MG's Chickenpox

Pitching a wang dang doodle...

As mentioned before, our practice space was a loft over Burk Awning at 706-1/2 Massachusetts, where Michael Duby, Becky Reed, and I also lived.
One night in our early days we decided to have a party in the loft and play for our own party.  There must have been a keg or two, because hundreds of people showed up.  With the dancing, you could feel the floor shake - a lot - but it did not fail, thank God. Burk would have been upset the next day had his ceiling fallen into his shop!.

We began to get gigs here and there.  We played at the Red Baron, the Red Dog, the Mad Hatter, and the Zodiac Club, which was downstairs from the Red Dog and later became the Seventh Spirit.  Of course, we also played for dances and outdoor gigs.

   Warming up for Muddy Waters
 Muddy review 1
Muddy review 2

Above:  An excerpt of a review of Muddy Waters from the Insider Magazine, Fall 1972.
Below:  Muddy Waters, with George "Mojo" Buford on harp, at the Red Baron.

A real highlight of the Autumn of 1972 was warming up for Muddy Waters and his band at the Red Baron.  Three nights in a row, we sat in the front row after we were done and watched Muddy, Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins, Calvin "Fuzz" Jones, Luther Tucker, Carey Bell, and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith - all now dead - play the blues.  Muddy invited Becky up to sing "I Got My Mojo Working" with him.  We presented Pinetop Perkins with a bottle of his favorite beverage, mint gin, and I was able to procure a little weed for Muddy (at his request).  I still have his autograph on my Muddy Waters Chess compilation album.  Muddy gave me the name of the A&R man at Chess and said we should send him a demo.  We never did.

One time, early in our existence, we heard that Bobby "Blue" Bland would be playing in Topeka.  Hey! "Turn on Your Love Light, alright!!!"
The whole band went to see him.

It was a DIVE, a little bar in Topeka; we were the only people in there with  long hair, hippie clothes, and white skin.   The band was great, but Mr. Bland had to use the house P.A., which was a 35-watt Bogen amp with ONE P.A. horn on a stand - the kind of speaker you associate with an old junior-high football field.  It was way inadequate, and it was obvious that the star of the show was not pleased with anything about the gig; but, of course, he soldiered on as professionals do.  We sat close and tried desperately to be hip.

It opened my eyes to the fact that life doesn't necessarily get better for you just because you're a great artist.

On the not-so-good side of the ledger, a true story:

We were booked to play a club in Hutchinson one Friday night during the Summer.  We arrived to find another band setting up.  It was Kansas - yes, THAT Kansas, who later achieved stardom with "Dust in the Wind."  But at that time they were just another band, formerly called "White Clover," from Topeka, with whom I guess you'd say we shared the sandbox.  It turns out that both bands had been booked for that night.  Well, guess which band went home?

There is a lot of material on the band(s) Kansas to be found on the web.  Two of the better pages IMO are here and this Russian site.


On our way back home, we were riding through Newton in our rental van.  In the van we had some Boone's Farm wine and some ditchweed which yielded more of a headache than a high.  Becky "small bladder" Reed had to relieve herself, so we stopped at the side of the road when it seemed no one was around.  So, four of us got out to urinate, and a few moments later a police car pulled up behind us.  The officer read us the riot act and was about to let us go when Brad, who was in the van and very nervous, dropped the Boone's Farm out of the van.  The cop heard the bottle hit the ground, giving him cause to search the van, so he found the pot.  

We spent the weekend in the Harvey County Jail.  We got out on bail due to the kindness of Deanne Hochstetler's parents, who lived in Harvey County and put up their property as surety for the bail. 

All of us, that is, except for Darrell.  Somehow his father, a Topeka psychiatrist, found out about the bust.  He went to Newton to bail out his "wayward son," and Darrell had to ride home with an irate parent...

Deanne Hochstetler, pictured at left at 1317 Rhode Island, was Michael Duby's girlfriend AND Becky's best friend at the time.

We were all charged with possession, but we knew to keep our mouths shut.  The case was ultimately resolved when Becky, who was under 21 and didn't even like reefer that much, took the rap for us and pled guilty.  As I recall, the penalty was a $150 fine and six months of probation.

He's So Fine Medley - a combination of the song by the Chiffons, "Baby, I Love You" by Aretha Franklin, and "Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)" by the Isley Brothers. It's ten minutes long and was typical of our dance medleys.  Really nice work by all of us.

Money (That's What I Want) - the Barrett Strong classic.

Back Seat Driver - this is Darrell's original tune, with a James-Brown-inspired beat.

Saturday Night Fish Fry - an abbreviated version of the Louis Jordan saga.
Our professionally-produced demo.

We recorded a demo tape in Jim Stringer's studio, The Atelier.  This recording is certainly the best we ever made in terms of sound quality and lack of mistakes, but it lacks the nervous energy of our live recordings; and, I would prefer the drums to be a little more present.  But Jim worked with four tracks, lest we forget the olden days!

I think it's a damn good demo.

We try a sax player.
Later that year, for a few months, we added an 18-year-old saxophonist from Hays, named Jim Martin.  Unfortunately, we never developed a personal or musical chemistry with him.  A sax would have been a great addition, but we were spoiled:  The guy who ran the Zodiac Club, Bobby Watson (no, not the well-known jazz guy) kept his tenor sax behind the bar and would sit in with us sometimes when we played there.  He'd obviously been around and knew how to blow the blues.  As I recall, Jim Martin was technically proficient but not sufficiently schooled in R&B, and we were not into schooling anyone.  We had all "picked it up" on our own, and we expected him to do the same.

Here are a couple of songs we recorded in the loft with Jim Martin.
You've Got a Great Big Problem - a Ray Charles number, from his ABC-Records era.  Bud's high harmony makes it sound kinda  like the Raelettes... Everything goes alright until the sax solo.
Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While) - we didn't give Jim much to do on this one.

Shakin' that Thing, recorded live at the Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base NCO Club, outside of Belton, Missouri.

We played a few military venues, the most memorable being Fort Riley, where the entire audience was men ... and they were dancing half-way through our gig.   Remember, our troops were still in Vietnam!

The following images are of an article written by Steve Wilson and appearing in "The Insider Magazine, King Harvest Review" for the Fall of 1972. 
Perhaps I should simply have put this article on the web page and left it at that...
It makes reference to our impending addition of Jim Martin on sax.  That lasted for all of about two months.

Insider page 1
Insider page 2

(Joshua Fit the Battle of) Jericho -  an instrumental arrangement of Brad's, with our assistance.
Chain of Fools - This Aretha number was one of our "greatest hits."
Saturday Night Fish Fry -  Andy singing the Louis Jordan tune.
Money (that's What I Want) - the Barrett Strong song.
Can't Nobody Love You - a Solomon Burke bedroom ballad.
Little Bitty Pretty One - Bud has lead vocals on this fun tune by Thurston Harris.
Compared to What - Brad sings this long and powerful social commentary, taken off a live recording by Les McCann and Eddie Harris.  I think the lyrics are just as fresh today as they were 35 years ago.
The "Do Your Thing" Medley - a combination of
"Do Your Thing," by Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band,
 "Cold Sweat," by James Brown,
"I Thank You," by Sam and Dave,
 and "I'll Go Crazy," by James Brown.
Crazy Feeling  - an Etta James blues ballad.
Back in My Arms Again - the Supremes song, with a nice use of dynamics at the end.

The Zodiac Club.

The Zodiac Club was one of a long string of bars to make its home under the Red Dog Inn.  I think it was previously The Underdog, and later became the Seventh Spirit and/or simply the Spirit.  Being in a basement, it was dark, low-ceilinged, and poorly ventilated.  But, if you liked the night life, it was a fun place to be.  It was run by a black man named Bobby Watson, who was a pretty good tenor saxophonist as well.  The clientele usually was black, but when we played there, it became mixed.  We played there quite a bit, four nights a week.  Didn't pay well, but it was just around the corner from the loft, so it was very convenient.  It seems like the Staples Singers' "I'll Take You There" played in a loop on the jukebox.

The selections listed to the left are in order from the original live tape recording.  The sound quality is not so great, but you can almost smell the stale beer, mildew, and cigarette smoke.

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Copyright 2006 and 2013 by Andy Curry