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Sparkle Moore

SPARKLE MOORE was an early rockabilly star from Omaha who put out just 2 singles: Rock-A-Bop b/w Skull and Cross Bones in 1956, and Killer b/w Tiger in 1957. I came across the first one today. Here are links to the songs.
 
Side one: Rock-A-Bop
 

      http://www.divshare.com/flash/playlist?myId=11772857-1d5

Side two: Skull and Cross Bones

http://www.divshare.com/flash/playlist?myId=11772858-e8e

To read more about SPARKLE MOORE, click HERE!


Cheap Trick in Burnsville, August 26, 2006

Wow, what a show! One hour and 20 minutes of pure bliss. It’s been several years since I have seen Cheap Trick in person, but it was worth the wait. They have slowed down the pace a little bit as they’ve gotten older, with Rick talking a lot between songs so Robin can get a little rest for his voice, but still rock the joint like they were 20 years younger.
Here’s the set list ( I got Robin’s original list from the stage! )
HELLO THERE
BIG EYES
TAXMAN
WELCOME TO THE WORLD
IF YOU WANT MY LOVE
COME ON, COME ON, COME ON (replacing PERFECT STRANGERS, which was covered over on the list, written on duct tape.)
BEST FRIEND
I WANT YOU TO WANT ME
I KNOW WHAT I WANT
VOICES
IF IT TAKES A LIFETIME
THE FLAME
70’s SONG
SURRENDER
Encore:
DREAM POLICE
AUF WIEDERSEHEN (replacing CALIFORNIA MAN on the original list.)
GOODNIGHT
    All four guys were dressed in black: Bun E. with a black CT t-shirt and hat. (He was in the dark most of the time, so I couldn’t see him very well.) Tom in a black western shirt with black jeans. Rick in a black suit, black ball cap, and a black t-shirt, something the bikers at Renegades gave him. And Robin with a black sleeveless CT t-shirt (he has filled out a little, hasn’t he?) and black leather pants. Oh, and the ubiquitous ragged straw cowboy hat. He took it off before Come On, Come On, Come On, but then had it back on for Voices. It’s just as well. When he wasn’t wearing it, he looked like Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show – little hair on top and a pony tail sticking straight out from the back of his head!
     I don’t mean to pick on Robin- he still looks good after all these years, and put every thing he had into every song. He was really in to it, and seemed to be having a really good time. Same with the other three. Everyone was really “on" tonight! I spoke to a twenty-something security guard after the show and he said he was blown away by the show. He said he only knew about 2 songs by Cheap Trick, and was amazed by what he heard.
     The only slight glitch in the show was they still don’t quite have it together on the 3 new songs that they played. Welcome to the World was really good, but Come On Come On Come On seemed to be missing a verse, and Rick’s guitar overwhelmed Robin at one point. If It Takes a Lifetime also sounded very good. I just think when they play them a few more times, they’ll sound perfect. The audience really seemed to get into the new songs, so that’s a good sign.
     After the encore, the band left the stage and didn’t come out to sign autographs or meet fans. The security guard told me they had to leave right away, and wouldn’t be out.
     All in all, it was an exciting show. It was held in a tent on the parking lot. There were probably 500 people or so. (2000 tickets were sold, according to another audience member.) I stood about 20 feet from the stage, in front of Robin, so I heard everything perfectly. As usual, the sound was way too loud, and I absolutely had to wear earplugs most of the time.
     I was able to get 2 of Rick Nielsen’s guitar picks- one blue, and the other yellow, marble-textured. I also got a special Rocket t-shirt that the merchandise man said was made for the Aerosmith concerts-that-weren’t. He said they were almost out of them, so I think I got something special! I don’t see in their store at the website, so I’ll be selling it on eBay soon, for anyone who doesn’t have one. I have included a few pictures from the night. They didn’t allow cameras at the show, but I got a picture of Rick’s guitar case, showing a lot of his guitars and the case that his technician was using as a bench for tuning the guitars. The other pictures show the Cheap Trick signs at Renegades, the ticket and guitar picks, and 3 views of the tshirt. Here is a link to the preview/review from CityPages newspaper from Minneapolis: http://citypages.com/alist/detail.asp?EID=140391
 
Here are pictures I took at the Cheap Trick show on August 26, 2006 in Burnsville, MN at Renegades. Check below for 2 of my other articles about Cheap Trick.
Here is a description of the photos: 1) The list of cities from the rear of the t-shirt I got at the concert. 2) The top, front image on the t-shirt. 3) The top, rear image from the t-shirt. 4) Robin’s Set List from this show. 5)The ticket stub and 2 of Rick’s guitar picks from this show. 6) Renegades ad from August 23, 2006 issue of the Minnepolis newspaper City Pages. 7) Renegades, showing the concert tent. 8) The street sign. 9) The rooftop banner. 10) Rick’s guitars and the backstage Tech workspace.

A Brief History of The Coachmen.

The following article, Tyme and the Evolution of the Coachmen, was published in the Sunday World-Herald Magazine of the Midlands on October 21, 1990. It was written by former-Omahan Allan Vorda, originally as part of an interview for DISCoveries magazine, and then included in his book, Psychedelic Psounds: Interviews from A to Z with ’60s Psychedelic and Garage Bands. This book was published by Borderline Publications, UK, 1994.
 
     If you were a teen-ager in the Omaha area in the mid-’60s, there were two local bands that stood above all others. They were the Rumbles and the Coachmen.
     The Rumbles had such great vocalists and harmony that they could not only cover a song but imitate it as well.
     The Coachmen was a five-member group that featured a hard-driving, beat-oriented sound. The Coachmen did not have the longetivity or a list of recordings as extensive as the Rumbles — who are still playing — but their memory and music are probably more definitive of that era than any other band.
     "Mr. Moon" was their big hit and it reached No. 1 in Omaha, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Salem, Ore., No. 4 in Des Moines, and Top 20 in Boston.
     The popular music in the mid-’60s came primarily from England and featured froups like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals, Kinks, Zombies, Yardbirds, and Cream.
     Many Nebraska bands tried to emulate these groups and their music. Dozens of bands appeared almost overnight. These local bands, other than the Rumbles and the Coachmen, included the Chevrons, Wonders, Great Imposters, Green Giants, Shanghais, Fortunes, Impacts, and many others.
     The places to "hang out" consisted of  drive-ins such as Todd’s, then located west of Crossroads Shopping Center near a drive-in movie theater. And if you wanted to dance and hear music you would go to Sandy’s Escape (operated by a former KOIL disc jockey) at 6031 Binney St. in Benson. Once you paid the cover charge you could hear music upstairs or downstairs. When it was crowded, you knew the Coachmen were playing.
     The Coachmen were together with various members between June 1964 and early 1969. Of the 13 musicians in the band over its lifetime, seven were primary players who stayed a substantial length of time. These were  — in order of time with the band — Bruce Watson, Jeff Travis, Craig Perkins, Frank Elia, Rick Bell, Kelly Kotera, and George "Red" Freeman.
     Watson, who started playing drums at age 13 in Lincoln, said he organized his first band — the Wanderers — in 1961.
     Travis said he started playing on a friend’s old acoustic guitar in about 1960.
     Watson said that by the time he met the other members of the group in the spring of 1964, Freeman had become a big influence because he was older than the other members of the band and was the only person among who wrote music.
     "Mr. Moon" (and several other songs) had already been created in Freeman’s mind by that time. "We played it on stage a long time before we recorded it in 1965," Watson said.

     The Coachmen evolved from a merger of the Viscounts and the Chandels in June 1964. Watson said the Viscounts were looking a drummer and he was looking for either a new lead guitar player for the Chandels or another band for himself.
     "We practiced together one night and felt it sounded pretty good," Watson said. "I joined them on the condition that my good friend, Jim Reinmuth, rhythm guitar of the Chandels, be put in the band as well. The Chandels broke up when our lead guitarist, Dan Eickleberry, went to the Air Force Academy.
     They called the new band the Coachmen and started playing in the Lincoln area. The band then consisted of Watson, Freeeman, Reinmuth, Travis, and Perkins.
     The name Coachmen was chosen because it reflected teen-age culture of the time — cars (there were lots of car clubs then) and cruising (Kings in Lincoln and Todds in Omaha).
     "We also thought the name had a British sound," Watson said. "We had good musical chemistry together from the start.
     The Viscounts and the Chandels were rival groups, Travis said.
     "We played a lot of swimming parties and junior high dances and got to be pretty good friends," he said. "I guess those of us in control at the time decided that we would move a few people around from both groups and form a new group."
     Travis said the musical style of the Viscounts changed with the advent of the Beatles and the British music invasion.
     "We were doing a lot of surf music and some old rock ‘n’ roll tunes such as Chuck Berry," he said. "When the Beatles hit we were playing a little place called the 1140 Club. The Viscounts immediately donned long wigs and got ourselves sport coats and started doing the Beatles tunes. I supposed we were like everybody at that time because the Beatles were such an influence that it had to affect you."
     Watson said the Coachmen became widely known in a short period of time throughout Omaha, western Iowa, and northwestern Missouri after they won a KOIL Battle of the Bands competition.
     "The most sugnificant effect was becoming — if anyone can be called this —the house band at Sandy’s Escape," Watson said.
 
     Winning the Battle of the Bands was a big break, Travis said. "When you have exposure to the many people and you’re getting all the publicity it had to make a difference," he said. "I think the Chancellors were right up there with us in the finals."
     Watson said the two-band /two floor format at Sandy’s Escape worked well.
     "It was kind of home for us. Consequently,  we got to know the regulars there pretty well," he said.
     "During the three years we played there constantly, hundreds of bands came and went," Watson said. "The nucleus, however, was formed by the Coachmen, Rumbles, Chevrons, Green Giants, Great Imposters, Wonders, and Shanghais. All were Omaha-based bands except the Green Giants, who lived in various little towns in Iowa and Missouri.
     "We knew the guys in these bands real well — except for the Rumbles. The Rumbles and the Coachmen were the two really big name Omaha bands, which led to a kind of keeping our distance from one another. They were the best cover band I’ve ever heard and were outstanding vocally. I know they are still playing, I’d love to hear them.
     "Our strong point was much different. The styles of the two bands were very different, as were the talents, which led to a lot of division among the public about who was better."
     Watson said the Coachmen played in about 200 cities from Chicago to Denver and from northern Minnesota to Oklahoma.
     Travis said the band played in the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars and opened for the Drifters, Paul Petersen, Jackie De Shannon, Sonny and Cher, the Turtles and the Mamas and Papas, among others.
     "Mr. Moon" was the band’s first and biggest hit, in 1965. It was written by Freeman. Travis said the song was their first original tune that had a beginning and an end, as well as some substance to it.
     "Even if you only hear the beginning of the song with its distinctive bass intro, you know it’s ‘Mr. Moon.’" he said. "It was just a natural. When it was time to go into the recording studio, all of us decided to record ‘Mr. Moon.’"
     The band was surprised by the quick success of "Mr. Moon," Watson said.
     "It seemed like icing on the cake — as 1965 had been an incredibly good year to us," Watson said.
     Watson criticized the band’s manager, Scott Cameron, for his handling of the band while the record was getting good play.
     "The first mistake was having us out on summer tour while ‘Mr. Moon’ was hitting," Watson said. "We were playing one-nighters to packed crowds of several thousand people for $200 a night with no share of the gate. He did this in the name of publicity.
     "We coluld have easily gotten $2,000 or more a night, which was very big money in those days, and that would have made a real difference to all of us personally for obvious reasons. That kind of money would have bought quality recording time on the East or West Coast and some breathing room.
     "Road and equipment costs for the kind of travel we did were very substantial. To Scott, everything was publicity; money was second. He always said that publicity would take care of the money. It never did."
 
     During 1965 and ’66, Freeman and Bell left the group and were replaced by Frank Elia and Kelly Kotera.
     Watson said Freeman left "after a hasty decision was made by the rest of us that Frank Elia would fit better in terms of age and style — which he did. We treated Red poorly in the process."
     "It was a spur of the moment thing," Watson said. "This was not uncommon in bands in those days at that level. However, the fact that we got as big as we did and that "Mr. Moon’ was a Freeman tune makes the situation a little wierd in hindsight.
     "Red was a fine musician and a good guy. He really belonged as a front man and eventually became one. We saw ourselves as the epitome of a group and felt that Red was too dominant on stage."
     Freeman left the band in the summer of 1965 before "Mr. Moon" was recorded.
     Bell left the group in the latter part of 1966, not long after marrying Sue Corrigan. Watson said his recollection was that Bell had grown weary of all the road work.
     "Linda Lou"/"I’m a King Bee" on Bear Records and "My Generation"/"No Answer" on MMC Records were released in 1966.They sold only a few thousand copies and could in no way be considered successes.
     "They were good testimony to the fact that Bear Records and MMC Records had no clout at all," Watson said.
     "Tyme Won’t Change" was release in 1967 and managed to crack Billboard’s Top 100, yet only reached No. 28 in Lincoln.
     "Tyme Won’t Change" was our next victim of the MMC Record label and the inablility of our management to make an equitable deal with anybody that could do us any good," Watson said. "The group liked the song and we were getting disheartened with everything by this time.
     "We should have been doing business on the national circuit by now and knew it. Instead, we were playing the same places over and over and eventually lost our capacity to draw large crowds. We continued to have the same experiences and were doing an increasing amount of longer-range travel for very little money and for the sake of the ever-important publicity.
     "By this time, the band was really clicking musically. We were extremely tight and playing a lot of interesting stuff. On a personal level, all of us were pretty discouraged about our chances of making it. The unity among us was falling apart."
     The band broke up in late 1968.
     Watson said he couldn’t say specifically why the band broke up because it happened about three months after his departure in September 1968.
     "Generally, it was a reflection of lack of direction, disenchantment and burnout," Watson said.
     The band considered going to the West Coast, but it did not have the financial backing necessary to make such a relocation — no West Coast connections, no record contract or other means of providing initial support.
     Travis said the band just faded apart.
     "Everybody got other interests. I think it was about the time I was going to get married," he said.
 
     The Coachmen evolved into Alexander’s Rock Time Band in 1967 and had moderate success with a single, "Number One Hippie on the Village Scene."
     Watson said Alexander’s Rock Time Band — the idea and the name — was Cameron’s doing. "In lieu of being able to do business on the national level," Watson said, "Scott believed that a name change and a new record under that name might stimulate interest in a ‘new band’ in the Midwest."
     Watson said "Number One Hippie" was a sellout to the band in terms of style. "And the name was a complete embarrassment," he said. "It was like General Motors changing the name of Corvette to Edsel. I hated it. In hindsight, I can’t believe I stayed in at that point instead of starting a new band."
     Alexander’s Rock Time Band then evolved into Professor Morrison’s Lollipop. That change in 1968 was the recommendation of a New York-based promoter/producer geared to a 12-year-old audience.
     Professor Morrison’s Lollipop was one of the bubblegum names that had a relationship with White Whale Records (Turtles).
     "We were given the opportunity to become Professor Morrison’s Lollipop," Watson said, "which we did as a statement that most everything was lost anyway, so why not. The name wouldn’t have mattered."
     The promoters produced a lot of the old bubblegum craze, with the Ohio Express and 1910 Fruit Gum Company. "Actually," Travis said, "for a couple of years, it worked pretty good for us."
     What are the former band member doing now?
     Watson said Kelly Kotera is an engineer at the Record Plant in Los Angeles.
     He said Frank Elia lives in Omaha with his wife, Sylvia, and three children. He is an ordained minister and director of a Christian ministry oriented to young people and comtemporary Christian music — a rock ‘n’ roll format with a Jesus Christ message. Elia also owns Velvet Glove Transport Service, a car-hauling transportation company.
     Jim Reinmuth, from Lincoln, lives with his wife, Beverly, and two children in Palm Springs, Calif., where he is an architect.
     Watson, president of California Banksite Co., lives with his wife, Kris, and four children in Walnut Creek, Calif., where they have been since 1974. Watson, a competition body-builder and born-again Christian, said he formed his company, a consulting firm, in 1980 after spending 11 years with Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
     "We do marketing and financial analysis for approximately 125 California banks and S&Ls," he said.
     Travis said he has had a souvenir business in Estes Park, Colo., for more than 10 years. In the winter, he said, he goes back to Lincoln to play in a group called the Travis Wagner Band.

Cheap Trick’s Rockford Review.

     Cheap Trick has reached a new plateau in the world of Power Pop Rock. Rockford, their latest album, is a great listen from start to finish. Not one clinker in the crowd. If you listen all the way through each song, you’ll hear the full range of Robin Zander’s vocals, Rick Nielsen’s understated, but more varied than ever, guitar, powerful drumming by Bun E. Carlos and substantial bass from Tom Peterson. The overall sound of Rockford is in the minor key, with a certain longing feeling to almost every song. There is a touching melancholy to this music without as much outrageous foolishness of some of Cheap Trick’s earlier music or sappy radio-friendly music of their 90s output.

     This is a band that knows its status in the music world, longs for the glories of the past, but forges on, with a wonderful sound for today, while looking forward to the future with no regrets. Rockford reminds me of the Beatles Revolver, with song after memorable song that still stands up years after it was made. On this album, the vocals are up front, with Nielsen’s excellent falsetto backing up, responding to, and in harmony with Zander’s voice, which goes from a whisper, to a scream and all points in between. The rhythm section plays a big part, while the guitar experiments with single riffs, kazoo sounds, startling swings, and psychedelic noise at the end. Robin’s real voice is used throughout – no electronic trickery. Cheap Trick produced Rockford themselves, and it shows their true unaltered greatness. What you hear is what they played and sang in the studio. No gimmicks that rely on computers to duplicate.

     The lyrics on many of the songs are filled with witty wordplay and references to their own previous songs, other songs on the album, and the songs of other people. All the words are well-chosen , and for the most part, show where Cheap Trick is now in it’s career, it’s relationship with the overall music business, and it’s faithful fans.

     “Welcome to the world, it’s a brand new day!” is how the album starts out. Welcome to the World is a cool, powerful start to pull us into the album. My first impression was the Kinks on speed. 

     Perfect Stranger – 60s sound, with lots of depth, a great beat, vocal, harmonies, and guitar bits. “Don’t need another perfect stranger driving me insane, saying it’s time for you to change.” Enough said about what this song is about!

     If It Takes a Lifetime – Breathy, low vocals grow to a determined strong voice singing “All I want to do is just be with you.” Guitar part sounds like it from a Revolver song, including strings playing in the background. Cheap Trick saying they will always be here for the audience. It ends abruptly and goes directly into…

     Come On, Come On, Come On, a real rave-up rocker that you will remember for a long time. I guarantee you’ll be singing it to yourself long after the CD is over. They’re asking all of us to join in the fun that they obviously have with each other and their music.

     The fifth song, O Claire is by far my favorite on this album and one that I sing over and over. The first time I listened to it, it brought tears to my eyes. It has two parts with two memorable melodies and lines: “Just Between the two of us” and “Bye bye love, goodbye, see you on the other side.” It’s a ballad, but not a sappy love song. It reminds me of George Harrison.

     This Time You Got It. That’s for sure – they definitely got it- a near-perfect album and song. This starts with a piano and a Beatle-ish “Yeah”, a memorable guitar riff, and lots of tricky lyrics, like “You could be king for a day” and then “You could be queen for a day.” After a pause, Zander sings “You blew me away.” It then becomes a full-out rocker with a great guitar part and floating, falsetto vocals.

     Give It Away is a hard charging song about throwing out all your bad memories and living life to the fullest, with an unusual guitar lick and great words.

     One More is the most fun song on the CD. It starts out with drums like I Want You to Want Me. Then it changes to a quirky, funky sound that reminds me of the Rolling Stones’ Miss You, with hilarious high-voiced responses from Rick to Robin’s calls. I laughed out loud! Then it morphs into a different song after Zander sings “All I need is one more day…” I think they will have a lot more good days. Then Nielsen does some frantic guitar playing to the end with phantom "Yeahs" and one last chorus from Robin.

     Straight forward 60ish rocker with a sentimental message, Every Night and Every Day is about living life to the fullest, with Zander hitting some of his famous high notes and Roger Daltry-type screams. Memorable line “In the key of life.”

     Most Beatle-like song on the album, Dream the Night Away, is the first of the Power Pop trio that ends the disc. Strident vocals, clanging guitar, kazoo-sounding guitar, great harmonies, a truly wonderful song.

     With more obvious 60s influences and very emotional vocals, All Those Years brings out the singer in all of us, with it’s high verses and low choruses. The title immediately reminded me of George Harrison’s song All Those Years Ago, but that is a bright song compared to this. This is the most emotionally meaningful song on the CD. The guitar sound , with some keyboards mixed in is unique and restrained enough to let the words shine through. “It’s a lonely, lonely life” For many it is. The one will make you think back on what you had when you were younger and maybe even bring a tear to your eye.

     Decaf is the big bang-up finish to the album. It is the heaviest song in this set, with serious-sounding, but tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Sounds like some one on a caffeine high, urgently talking about the stresses of life. “It could happen to you” will stick in your mind forever. And the line “You’ve got everything to die for” is another one of their funny lines. Robin’s voice keeps getting lower until Rick ends the song with guitar feedback and a disjointed scream in the background.

I ask that everyone who listens to this CD and likes it call their local rock station and ask them to play Rockford! This great music really needs to have a chance for everyone to hear it. Every song on the radio these days does not have to be by the latest fave. Some older bands like Cheap Trick put out great contemporary music that the Clear Channel stations and their ilk won’t play. Let them know there is an audience for quality rock music, no matter where it comes from.


The Rumbles’ “Jezebel” + Herman’s Hermits

The Rumbles’ biggest hit was Jezebel, written by Wayne Shanklin for Frankie Layne. He had a Billboard #2 hit with it in 1951. The Rumbles got the idea for recording this song after seeing Herman’s Hermits perform Jezebel on the Ed Sullivan Show in about 1967. It was never released as a single, but appeared on Herman’s Hermits album from that year, There’s a Kind of Hush All Over the World. Here are the lyrics to Jezebel:
 
If ever a devil was born without a pair of horns
It was you, Jezebel, it was you
If ever a pair of eyes promised paradise
It was you, Jezebel, it was you
If ever a devil’s plan was meant to torment man
Deceiving me, grieving me, leaving me blue
Jezebel, it was you
Been  better had I never known a lover such as you
Forsaken dreams unknown in the silent tone of your charm
Jezebel
If ever a devil’s plan was meant to torment man
Deceiving me, grieving me, leaving me blue
Jezebel, it was you
Night and day, every way
Jezebel, Jezebel, Jezebel!!!!
 
Some of the original words were changed for their version. This was a really good recording that I believe was done  in a studio in Chicago, with a horn section to add a Latin flavor. They still play it today in their shows since Steve Hough, the only original member, was the lead vocalist on the recording. I will report back Sunday if Herman’s Hermits performs this song at the Iowa State Fair. I saw Peter Noone do it at Prairie Meadows in Des Moines in about 2003.
Added 8/13/06: They did not play it, but put on a hell of an entertaining show!
Here is a link to Jezebel as performed by Herman’s Hermits in the 60s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_6f4VvEoBQ

Cheap Trick in Omaha

     I have written a review for Cheap Trick’s new album Rockford on eBay, and that reminded me of my long association with Cheap Trick over the years. I first heard of them in 1976. When I heard the name, saw what they looked like,  and read some of their song titles, I assumed they were a gay group. It turned out that was just a tongue-in-cheek act that they put on as part of their overall image. (Side note: I thought the same thing about AC/DC, but they most certainly aren’t gay!) Cheap Trick, as I’ve seen over the years, has 2 sides to their music: the oddball, goofy music that the die-hard fans love and the rest of us just shake our heads at, and the power pop music people have come to love and remember always.
 
     I think Cheap Trick’s first time in our area was opening up for KISS at the Pershing Auditorium in Lincoln, NE. in 1977. I missed that show, but first got to see them in a seminal 1978 show with Rush and AC/DC. Imagine the bombastic music of Rush, the wild singing of Bon Scott and manic guitar of Angus Young of AC/DC! All the groups played with wireless equipment, so Angus came all the way up into the balcony of the Omaha Civic Auditorium Music Hall and Rick Nielsen was all over the stage with his own brand of wild guitar-playing. Cheap Trick had ramps on each side of the stage for Nielsen to use as he ran from side to side. I thought they put on a great show. It made me a fan for life.
 
     Around that time, I also saw them open for Eddie Money. Later, I saw them with Aldo Nova and Danny Spanos in Lincoln , at the Buffalo County Fair in Kearney, and at a Z-92 (KEZO-FM, Omaha) anniversary concert with Foghat, Jefferson Starship, and REO Speedwagon. I wrote a review of the show for Fast Lane magazine, a local Omaha entertainment paper. I also got to meet them for the first time, including their long-time keyboard player Todd Howart. In the 90s, I saw them at a big outdoor rock concert at Levi Carter Park in Omaha with Ted Nugent, Joan Jett, and George Thorogood. In the mid-90s, I saw them up close at the now-defunct Ranch Bowl in Omaha, one of the most unique rock clubs anywhere. I got to talk to them a little bit again, and they were very friendly, as usual. The most recent time I saw them was in 2006 at the Nebraska State Fair in Lincoln. They played a nice long set with lots of favorites ("I Want You to Want Me", "Surrender", "The Flame", "Dream Police", etc.) plus some obscure songs, including one of my favorites, "She’s Tight." My only critcism  then and, often times in the past, was that they play much too loud, so there is no way to enjoy them without earplugs. Why they persist in doing this, I’ll never know.
I will be seeing Cheap Trick again in Burnsville MN on August 26th!

When I was a kid – the 50s

Here are a few memories from my pre-teen years:
     My introduction to rock ‘n’ roll music was through my mother, of all people. She was 37 years older than me, but knew a coming trend when she saw one. She recorded Elvis Presley, off the radio, doing "Hound Dog" and "Don’t Be Cruel" on our Recordio record-cutting machine. Our family had the only one of these devices I had ever seen. (I still haven’t seen another!) It looked like a suitcase, but when you opened it up, there was a turntable, radio tuner and a microphone on a cable, attached to the lid. It was made by Wilcox-Gay. You could use it to make 6" and 10" records at 78 rpm speed, on blank metal and plastic based discs. It had a cutting needle for recording, and another needle for playing records. She also recorded "Stranded in the Jungle" by the Cadets and other songs I can’t remember at the moment. The main reason Dad bought this device was to record the family. I still have several albums of these records with my voice as a little kid, along with Mom and Dad and my 2 brothers and various aunts and uncles.
More to come.

More about The Coachmen.

While going through some personal papers today, I ran across 3 things concerning The Coachmen:
 
1) A clipping from The Omaha World-Herald, dated 11/23/65. It’s an ad for Omaha teen night club the Way Out Club at 6104 Ames. I remember this place was on the second floor of a small office building. It ended up having to close when Ames Ave. was closed down shortly after that date to be completely rebuilt. You couldn’t get to the place for months! The ad lists The Coachmen on November 21st for a dollar admission. (See picture below.)
 
2) A clipping from The Omaha World-Herald, dated 12/14/65. On the back of a High School Press column that I saved because it included something I wrote, is part of an article entitled "Beatles, Elvis Vie for Teen Popularity". Did you know that, according to this, The Coachmen shared Favorite Singers honors with The Beatles, Elvis, Petula Clark, the Rolling Stones, and the Supremes, in a Question of the Week poll for teenagers? Pretty good company, I’d say!
 
3) And did you know Coachmen drummer Bruce Watson also was a journalist? He wrote this article in The Gateway as a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (also my alma mater) in the October 18, 1968 edition:
 
New Shops Liven The ‘Old Market’
     Drive downtown, go past the busy neon-light show, and you’ll find rows of dingy fruit warehouses and empty buildings, smothered in dust.
     This is the natural and real setting of the "Old Market" and it’s growing number of children.
     Those children are infants, existing in the form of shops. They are small and incomplete, but growing in size and number. More important, together they have all the potential of Chicago’s "Old Town."
     The market is not impressive as it is now, but only because it is far from finished.
A Start
     It has a start in the form of a women’s boutique (Reba), an import shop (British Imports), an underground film house (Edison’s Exposure), an excellent art gallery (Gallery at the Market), an art school (The Loft) and a psychedelic goodies shop (The Farthest Outpost).
     William J. Johnson, Art Director of Northern Natural Gas and co-owner of "Reba", predicts "There could easily be 100 shops in operation by next summer. Most of the available space has already been rented for appropriate businesses."
     Among these shops will be a coffee-record shop called "Other People." It will open Nov. 1 and feature live music.
     The Market will sport another art gallery, a leather shop, a candle and pottery shop (The Wicked World), a French restaurant and bar, an antique shop, a book store and more clothing-import shops.
Relaxed Atmosphere
     The atmosphere will be relaxed. Sales people won’t hassle you. No one will frown if you want to sit down, drink coffee and talk. Much of the activity will happen outside as in European markets.
     Next year, a fountain will be built in the intersection of 11th and Howard Streets, the heart of the Market. According to Johnson the cost will be split between the Nebraska Arts Council and the city of Omaha.
     Johnson likes to think that Omaha isn’t as conservative as it might appear.
     "We opened three weeks ago and sold half the stock during the first weekend. Women over 40 bought most of it. We were really surprised," Johnson commented.
     "This type of thing hasn’t been offered here before. Many people want an atmosphere like the Market will offer and the things that go with it, like outdoor concerts," he added.
Impressive shop
     The most impressive Market shop operating right now is the "Gallery." It’s loaded with good original art and is a must for those who know art is more than a source of decoration.
     Much of the work on display was created by local artists.
     The Gallery sits quietly at 1102 Howard, below "The Farthest Outpost" (second floor) and "The Loft" (third floor).
     Edison’s Exposure screens underground film on Friday, Saturday and some Wednesday nights.
     Andy Warhol’s "Chelsea Girls" will have its first Midwestern showing Oct. 18-19.
     Films begin at 6:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m., depending on length, and are repeated at 10 p.m.
     The Market is not yet a complete reality, because it isn’t physically together. It has a start, plus the necessary ideas, promotional support and interested people.
     By next summer it will hopefully be at or near completion. It should  be worth waiting for.
 
If Bruce hadn’t been a Coachmen, he could have made a great entertainment reporter!

The Coachmen Vs. The Rumbles – Part Two

     The Coachmen were thought of as Omaha’s Rolling Stones. Somewhat dark, moody, looser, and more rhythm and blues oriented than The Rumbles. They often wore matching outfits, also, but were more likely to have on sharkskin suits than a Beach Boys preppy look, like The Rumbles. They could almost be called a greaser band.
     The Coachmen also opened for many national bands. I remember seeing them open, with The Rumbles, for The Mamas and The Papas. That was a really good show.
     The Coachmen had two other identities in the late 60s: Alexander’s Rock Time Band and Professor Morrison’s Lollipop. Apparently trying to go for the hippie and the bubblegum market as tastes changed in rock music at that time.
     The Coachmen made many singles over those years. They had the first big hit from a local band, Mr. Moon. Everyone loved that song. Their choices of covers were somewhat presumtuous, though. Linda Lou kind of sanitized the original song. My Generation would not be mistaken for The Who. And the one not mentioned on their website, (see RockinOmaha Links list at left) Tell Her No, also would not be mistaken for The Zombies!  Their stint as Alexander’s Rock Time Band produced one single, the forgettable Number One Hippie on the Village Scene. Somehow they just couldn’t pull it off as pseudo-hippies. On the other hand, their stint as Professor Morrison’s Lollipop produced a great single that sounds great even now, in a minimalist way: You Got the Love.
     One big difference between the 2 bands was that The Coachmen had a keyboard player most of the times that I saw them. This opened up their sound to play more songs that The Rumbles couldn’t do exactly right. As you may have gathered, I loved both bands, so it would be hard to choose a favorite. While The Coachmen were looser, more personable and down-to-earth, The Rumbles were like celebrities- always very professional and tight. Since today is my birthday, it reminds me of a faux-pas by The Rumbles. On their greatest hits album, for some reason known only to them, they included a version of The Beatles’ Birthday. You definitely wouldn’t mistake them for The Beatles on this one!