Gather round kids - it's story time. Back in the 70's, I played with a trio called "Free & Easy". We did the Holiday Inn circuit throughout the Mid-West - a week here; two weeks there, etc. The leader, Tony Carinio, was a Philippino, and I was a big, tall Swede. We did a lot of the popular songs of the time as well as some 50's stuff.
One particular week we found ourselves playing in Rapid City, South Dakota. At the risk of sounding particularly "politically insensitive", in Rapid City, you're either a cowboy or an Indian - excuse me, Native American. Remember this was back in the 70's, in fact, it was exactly the time when Dennis Banks, an Indian activist was barricaded at Wounded Knee, South Dakota - a few short miles from Rapid City. The FBI had him surrounded and tensions were running high.
We, being musicians, were not so much politically insensitive as we were politically unaware. Even though the situation at Wounded Knee was right
around the corner, we gave it absolutely no thought what-so-ever. We were
Remember I said we did some songs from the 50's? Well, one of the songs we did was a song called "Running Bear" by Johnny Preston and written by the Big Boppper. For those of you way too young to appreciate this you can go to:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3meEmDpaDU and listen.
It was a big hit everywhere we went and so we did it all the time.
That, I suppose, would have been bad enough, but did we leave it at that? Oooh nooo - we had to take it a step further. We weren't just musicians - we were entertainers. When we started doing that song, we went to a local dime store (remember those?) and bought Tony an Indian headdress. You know - the kind
that probably cost $1.98 back then. I bought some black yarn and made braids
with a single feather in the back.
You got the picture? Tony, this slight Philippino, played and sang Running Bear complete with headdress, and I, the tall Swede, played Little White Dove - complete with braids and a feather, singing the background - Uum ba chucka, uum ba chucka. All this taking place just a few short miles from where Dennis Banks was fending off the FBI in defense of the Native American Culture and Heritage.
To say it went over like a lead balloon would be an understatement. We finished the song and there was dead silence for what seemed an eternity. The cowboys didn't want to laugh and have a fun time with it (our usual reaction) for being thought racially insensitive and inflaming an already tense situation, and those with Indian heritage thought we were making fun of them. I swear we weren't. We were just having a good time with an old song from our past. Needless to say, we never (even up to this very day) have played this song again. I guess it's always a good thing to be aware of and sensitive to your audience.
We're getting close to the second half of 2013 and it looks like we're going to have another good year. We have over 100 gigs booked so far, so only 50 more to reach our yearly goal.
On a sad note, we've had the passing of a good friend and musician - Igor Khramov. We worked together for several years in his band "Raving Polka". We did a lot of Oktoberfest parties together all over Southern California. He had just turned 50 last December and a few short months later collapsed in front of his wife with a massive heart attack. He was one of those unique characters who once you met him, you never forgot him. I bought my first pair of lederhosen because the gigs he booked and I'll never be able to wear them again without thinking fondly of him. He will be very much missed.
For our friends that dance with us at Buena Park Community Center, hang on just a little bit longer. The renovation of hall is almost complete. I've been told that it should be ready by the 2nd week of July, but keep an eye on our calendar for updates.
Well, we're into the new year. I think it was about our 15th year playing at Seal Beach Leisure World for their New Year's Eve party and a great time was had by all who attended. We were joined by Tim Messina on sax. He did an incredible job and made us sound even better than usual. I hope we can get him again next year. He tours regularly with the Brian Setzer Orchestra and might not be available. We'll have to wait and see. While 2012 was a great year for us, (I think we may have had our best year ever) we don't want to dwell too long on it. We'd rather look forward to an even better year in 2013. We already have over 80 gigs booked and have had to turn away potential clients - I HATE that. So if you're contemplating music for an upcoming event, I'd urge you to give me a call or send me an email now so that we don't have to turn you down later.
As always, check out our calendar as it has been updated and does change on a regular basis.
Well, the Big Squeeze is behind us for another year and
it was a rousing success. The rented dance floor was kept busy even though the
weather was quite warm. Fans spritzing a cooling mist were a big help. While
it's a busy day for me, the real credit goes to Jill Lloyd who had the vision to
put this event together 4 years ago - hard to believe it's been 4 years already.
She's the one who does all the heavy lifting. Now it's the end of October and
the end of all the Oktoberfest parties (I still have one tomorrow) so things
will get back to a little more normal pace. The easier schedule will allow me
to get some long neglected business taken care of. While the Oktoberfests have
kept me running, I'm actually thinking of booking myself out as a one-man
Oktoberfest band for those organizations who don't have the finances to hire a
3-pc band. I'll keep you up to date on this as it develops. I also have to
think about finally putting out a CD. Still not sure on this but I kind of
promised someone that this would be the year - we'll see. As always, check the
calendar. It's up to date through the end of the year. I've got a guest
book/blog page on this site but haven't really used it. So that my home page
doesn't get over-whemed with these "comments". I'm going to copy this post to
that page to see how it works out. If ok, I'll be leaving all future comments
Please leave a reply below so that we know who's been visiting our site. Hopefully, you've had the chance to enjoy one of our performances - if not, check out our calendar and we'll see you soon. If you're on Facebook, we'd appreciate a "like".
I'll also be chatting with you here occasionally when something strikes my fancy. I've already started to put gigs on the calendar for 2013 - 11 so far. If you've been to one of our recent gigs, we might have noticed that we've been doing some recording and filming. If I can figure out the audio/video software I have, maybe before long we can get some examples of our playing posted.