Category Archives: Minnesota

The Fabulous Depressions

The Fabulous Depressions formed in New Ulm, Minnesota, a small town southwest of Minneapolis, in 1964. It took them until 1967 to release their only and excellent 45.

The band went through several lineup changes. By the time it came to record, it included original members Phil Groebner on lead guitar, Peter Kitzberger on organ and Jim Dauer on bass, plus third drummer John Ginkel and vocalist Randy Evans.

Tom Lindsay had been their vocalist, but he left to join the Royal Emperors of Owatonna. Original drummer John Tretault left in 1966, and was replaced for a short time by Greg DeBerry before John Ginkel joined. Ginkel had been in the Shags with his brother Tom, releasing one 45 on the Concert label “Louis Louis” / “Summertime News” (Summertime Blues).

“Can’t Tell You” is a very catchy original by Phil Groebner and Jim Dauer, and features a short but devastating solo by Groebner. The flip is a good version of one of the Blues Magoos’ lesser songs, “One By One”. It was recorded at Lynn Studios in Rochester, Minn.

George’s Ballroom, New Ulm Minnesota

Kal sent in the great band lineup card from George’s Ballroom in New Ulm, Minnesota, probably from 1966, though ’67 is a possibility as well. Acts include the great T.C. Atlantic, Night Crawlers, He-Toos (never heard of this group before), the Poore Boys, the Jokers Wild, The More-Tishans, Prince & the Paupers, the Epicureans, and Marcia & the Lynchmen.

The photo of the ballroom below is a recent one; after years of disuse, it will be back to hosting polka dances and other entertainment this summer.


Photo of the ballroom courtesy of Rubey Kay

The Motifs

Another band about which I know nothing, other than the fact that they were on the LeJac label of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I don’t believe there’s a connection to a band called the Motifs in Idaho, and they sound nothing like the New Jersey group with that name.

“Someday” is excellent upbeat garage pop with nice drum breaks and guitar solo. “Telling Lies” is more conventional but worth a listen if you like “Someday”. Both songs credit the band as songwriters.

One member was John Rusinyak, according to Jay, who had played with John in another group in the 1980s and 90s. He reports John passed away at the age of 58.

LeJac and Agar Records discographies

Ron Gjerde owned the LeJac and Agar labels of Minneapolis, Minnesota, using his basement as the studio.

Partial LeJac discography (any help would be appreciated):

Singles:
3002: Denny Dale – Mr Moon / Why Did You Leave Me (9/1965)
3003: Denny & Jack – One More For The Road / Love You Everyday (9/1965)
3004: Motifs – Someday / Telling Lies
3005: The Peers – Once Upon a Time / Palisades Park
3006: The Bedlam Four – Watch It Baby (Dick Pogue) / Blue Blue Feeling
JK-1942/3: The Transplant – Broken Engagement / With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm (1968)

LPs:
1001: The Starliners – Live at Papa Joe’s Northern a Go Go (1966)

The first two LeJac releases are by Fendermen bassist Denny Dale (Dennis Gudim), with the second featuring Jack Kollodge of the Starliners.

I haven’t yet heard the Bedlam Four on LeJac. Originally known as the Echomen with one 45 “Long Green” / “Chocolate Chip” on Fox, the Bedlam Four recorded ten or more songs at LeJac over the course of a year, most of them cover songs. They had a later release “Hydrogen Atom” on Armada and two later songs “No One Left to Love” / “Psychedelic Mantra” that were finally released by Caped Crusader Records in the ’80s.

The More-Tishans


The More-Tishans, from left: Chris Nelson, Roy ‘Pinky’ Herschleb, Dick Schreier and Hugh Kraemer

The More-Tishans were a major live act in eastern Minnesota. Today they’re known mainly for the only song they ever released, “Nowhere to Run” – the other side is the instrumental backing track. What a tune, though, penned by a friend of the band, Mark LeBoutillier.

The band recorded “Nowhere to Run” at Dove Studios in the Bloomington section of Minneapolis. It was produced by Timothy D. Kehr and released on Peak, a subsidiary of Minneapolis’ Metrobeat label.

This is very accomplished garage with fine harmonies. Scott Schell explained to me that after two early lead singers, Steve Peulen and Jim Bancroft left the group, the group needed to rely on their harmony singing to carry the songs. It’s hard to believe they would never cut another record. I find the instrumental worth a listen as well.

Scott Schell has been researching bands from Stillwater, Minnesota and will publish a history of these groups next year. I’ll turn the rest of this article over to him. Scott also sent in the great photos, articles and promotional materials.

The More-Tishans – a history by Scott Schell

From the beginning the More-Tishans were a unique group with almost flawless harmonies, wit, and the ability to work up a crowd. This foursome were all somewhat shy, but on stage a transformation would take place and they would become the impeccable More-Tishans.

In 1963 when the idea of starting a group came about the only one with any musical background was Roy (Pinky) Herschleb. Pinky had been playing drums in the school band for some time, but as for the other three, Hugh Kraemer, Tom Cafferty and Chris Nelson, it would be bloodied fingers, hours of practice and determination.

With the help of their parents the More-Tishans set up a four-way partnership that would include being responsible for bank transactions, deciding on payment, and of course IRS tax and writing off equipment as needed; not bad for high school kids not yet old enough to drive!

The very first job that they would play would be a turkey trot at a local church, at this point they only knew about six songs, but would indeed entertain the crowd for several hours nonetheless. One member of the group went the whole night with his amp on standby, because he wasn’t quite there yet on guitar. As time went on and after hours of grueling practice after practice things began to take shape.

As the musicianship grew so did the image as well. The More-Tishans would not only work their songs to perfection, but also the way they looked: wearing matching suits of which I think there was four or five different ones, and the posters, the pictures, the top of line equipment and last but not lest the hearses; of which over time there would be three.

Time would prove that the hearses wouldn’t be all that practical. The weight of the equipment added to the weight of the hearse itself was very hard on tires and universal joints; as a result the group would have to carry along with them a number of spare parts and two jacks. The two jacks was the only way the hearse could be lifted with all that extra weight.

The next vehicle the group would own was a brand new Ford wagon the boys would lay down cold hard cash for. In the begining these guys weren’t old enough to drive, their first manager Doc Lee would bring the group to gigs in his station wagon touting trailer behind.

Management? Back in the early sixties the venue for live music was big business with over more than likely three hundred clubs, school dances, ballrooms etc. The competition was intense and Doc Lee would prove to be a fierce competitor in the field of entertainment. The More-Tishans would soon find themselves traveling the entire state of Minnesota and all surrounding states, logging thousands of miles a year.

In the spring of 1965 the group was graduating high school. My first job was stocking shelves in a corner store and here these guys are traveling all over the place playing music and learning life lessons from the road, doing what most of the rest of the world could only dream of. Well, so the summer of 65 is upon the More-Tishans and there’s plenty of work to go around before college starts and it’s time to buckle down. As the summer comes to a close and the new school year is upon us, all four of the group have enrolled in college but the More-Tishans are now playing the college circuit. And by now their skills as musicians are honed to a tee. Over the next year it would be school work during the week and rock & roll on the weekends. A tough schedule for most, yes, but this bunch is driven, not just by rock & roll but by life and all it has to offer.

1966 would prove to be a major break through with the writing of, by high school class mate Marc LeBoutillier and recording of (I’ve got) Nowhere To Run on a local record label.

The first blow the More-Tishans would take came in 1967 when Tommy, lead guitar and vocalist, would be drafted into the military; [yet] this was nothing more than a minor setback. A group out of Marshall, Minnesota had a more than qualified lead guitarist / vocalist who would be ready to fill the shoes of Tommy. Dick Schreier came on board and the group continued playing the Midwest, and the college circuit with Dick at the helm.

In late 67 the More-Tishans would suffer yet another blow when drummer Pinky Herschleb would be stricken with a condition that would cause him so much pain in his arms he could no longer play drums for an extended period of time. Once again it seemed as though this might be the end for the More-Tishans, but a young and eager Dan Monson was ready for the chance.


Click to see full article

Now considered one of the top ten of Twin Cities bands, the More-Tishans seem to be unstoppable, yet on Aug. 23, 1968 it would end. In front of a hometown crowd at the National Guard Armory in Stillwater, Minnesota with all six present and past members of the More-Tishans in attendence the band would give their final performance.

I am sorry to say with deep regret that four of the six More-Tishans are no longer with us. Dick was first to leave us in the 90’s followed by Dan, then Tom in 2003 and then in 2004 Pinky would join them. Only two are alive: Chris Nelson and Hugh Kraemer.

As a footnote I would like to add that the success these six individuals showed in the business of a rock & roll would also come shining through in their personal lives, all achieving and excelling in the business community.

The persona of the More-Tishans paid for their college educations and paved the way for what it takes to be successful, so; what many see as youthful fling with sex, drugs, and rock & roll is on the contrary; a lesson in business savvy, learning to be responsible, making the right choices etc.

Talk to any musician in the Valley and they will agree the More-Tishans set the bar for everyone to follow. The More-Tishans gave us much more than their own unique talent and showmanship, they also forced the rest of us to go that extra mile.


Peppermint Club promo from 1964

The Jokers Wild

The Jokers Wild later trio lineup, from left: Denny Johnson, Pete Huber and Lonnie Knight
Photos from www.lonnieknight.com[/caption]

Jokers Wild Metrobeat 45 I Just Can't Explain ItThe Minneapolis area was home to a great music scene in the 60’s. The Jokers Wild were one of the most progressive groups of the era.

Original lineup:

Dave Wagner – vocals
Gene Balabon – lead guitar
Dave Middlemist – keyboards
Denny Johnson – bass
Pete Huber – drums

Original lead vocalist Dave Wagner (Dave Waggoner) and guitarist Gene Balabon formed the Jokers Wild after leaving the Aardvarks (“Josephine” / “Reminiscing” on the Bell Concert Recordings label). Neither would be in the group by the time they recorded. Gene was the first to leave, replaced by Bill Jordan.

In 1967, their booking agent/manager David Anthony organized an interesting switch of personnel. He took Dave Wagner and Dave Middlemist from the Jokers Wild and joined them with Dick Wiegand, Larry Wiegand and Harry Nehls of the Rave-Ons to form South 40. Lonnie Knight of the Rave-Ons joined the Jokers Wild on vocals and guitar.

Lonnie Knight – vocals and lead guitar
Bill Jordan – guitar (replaced by Dale Strength, then Danny Kane)
Greg Springer – keyboards
Denny Johnson – bass
Pete Huber – drums

The Jokers Wild as a trio, clockwise from top left: Denny Johnson, Pete Huber and Lonnie Knight
The Jokers Wild as a trio, clockwise from top left: Denny Johnson, Pete Huber and Lonnie Knight
Lonnie Knight had been in the Castaways before they hit big with “Liar, Liar” then joined the Knights with the Wiegand brothers and Harry Nehls, the band name eventually changing to the Rave-Ons. They had three great 45s on Twin Town and Re-Car plus some unreleased songs cut at Dove Studio. Lonnie left the Rave-Ons partly because he wanted to pursue a more folk-oriented sound. He would get to that in the early ’70s, but not before spending a couple years with the Jokers Wild, a heavy, progressive rock group! (Read the Rave-Ons full story in Lost and Found #3).

The Jokers Wild first 45 was released on the Metrobeat label. “All I See Is You” is a good original by Knight, given as Lowell Knight on the label. “I Just Can’t Explain It” reminds me somewhat of the Who, and was written by guitarist Bill Jordan.

To me their best moment comes from their second 45, “Because I’m Free” / “Sunshine” on the Peak label – anyone have good scans of this 45, or a copy to sell?

They had one more 45 on Peak, “Peace Man” (also written by Knight) and “Tomorrow”, produced by Tony Glover. There’s also a light pop-psychedelic number “All the World’s a Copper Penny”, unreleased until the Best of Metrobeat LP in the 1990.

The band was down to a trio of Lon Knight, Denny Johnson and Pete Huber when the time the group broke up in the fall of 1969.

45 releases:
All I See Is You / I Just Can’t Explain It (Metrobeat 4451)
Sunshine / Because I’m Free (Peak 4456)
Tomorrow / Peace Man (Peak 4459)

Sources include: Lost and Found #3 (Rave-Ons article by by Jim Oldsberg and Mark Prellberg), Lonnie Knight’s website and an interview with Lonnie Knight by Ray Stiles from mnblues.com.