The Vistells, The Cobras and the late ’60’s Santa Cruz music scene


The Vistells, 1963 at Fort Ord, from left to right, Johnny Mullins rhythm guitar, Mike Reesen drums, Dave Kibler lead guitar, and Mike Dokter bass

The Cobras were from Northern California, specifically Pacific Grove, which is right by Monterey. The band had started as an instrumental group called the Vistells, who recorded a few acetates.

The Cobras recorded just one 45, “If I Can’t Believe Her” b/w “I’m Hurtin'”. Dave’s guitar on “If I Can’t Believe Her” is original and fluid, with a nice touch of echo. Drummer Mike Reesen’s fills are much looser than is usual for garage recordings. “I’m Hurtin'” has more catchy guitar work and a plaintive vocal. Amazingly “I’m Hurtin'” has never been comped before to my knowledge.

In 1966, the draft claimed two members of the Cobras. Meanwhile rhythm guitarist Bob O’Neil formed Talon Wedge. When Dave Kibler returned, he and Bob formed Snail. Taken together, these groups show the evolution of ’60s music from surf to garage, to psychedelia and hard rock.

Dave Kibler wrote to me:

The Cobras was a Pacific Grove, California group that evolved in 1963 from two friends who played guitar in different bands. Dave Kibler played lead guitar [in the Vistells] and Bob O’Neill played rhythm guitar. They quit their groups and recruited bassist Mike Dokter of Salinas, and Mike Reesen of Seaside to play drums to form a new combo.

The Vistells recorded in what may have been the only recording studio in Monterey, Meagher Electronics. They made some 78 rpm Audiodisc acetates for us and we were thrilled. The Vistells were Johnny Mullins on rhythm guitar, Mike Reesen on drums, Mike Dokter on bass, and Dave Kibler on lead guitar. On Night Train you can hear what an accomplished drummer Mike was. He started when he was really young, and he knew all the drum rudiments. This is the genesis of the Cobras sound, since this is the same lineup, without Bob O’Neill.

The Vistells – Night Train
The Vistells – Mr. Moto
The Vistells – Summertime
The Vistells – Let’s Go Trippin’

Lots of groups were naming themselves after cars, and the Cobra was a fast and sleek car that everybody liked so it seemed like a natural choice. The Cobras started out as a surf music/Ventures instrumental band, but with the advent of the British Invasion, they started adding vocals to their repertoire.


An early photo of the Cobras.
left-right: Mike Reesen, Bob O’Neill, Mike Dokter, and Dave Kibler

Eventually the group was based in Santa Cruz, California and played venues from Sacramento to Carmel. The Santa Cruz music scene was pretty active, mostly because of the Cocoanut Grove Ballroom and the Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk. It was originally made in the ‘20’s and it had that old-time boardwalk feel to it. It had real atmosphere. An organization called Neighbors of Woodcraft held dances on the weekends during the summer and everyone in town would attend. They had groups from all over California play there.

Ssome of the groups that the Cobras played with were the Syndicate of Sound, the E-Types, the West Coast Five (they were from Monterey and they had a record. I think it was a cover of the Beau Brummels’ “Still In Love With You Baby”, they were more of a garage band), The Tikis, The New Breed from Sacramento, William Penn and his Pals, and Corny and the Corvettes (this was a fantastic soul music show band ala James Brown on a scaled down version. Corny Bumpus played with the Doobie Brothers in a later incarnation. They may have made some records.)

When we played, it was mainly covers that were popular at the time. I don’t think that many of the groups did originals during that period, because we were playing for dances and people wanted to hear familiar tunes.

At that point a producer in Monterey wanted to team the Cobras with a singer/keyboardist named Gary Thomas of Watsonville, who played piano with a popular local group called the Modestics to record some originals that he had written. Nothing came of those sessions, but Gary was invited to join the group so he bought a Farfisa which gave the group a completely new sound. As a result the Cobras started writing and performing originals in their sets.

I don’t think the Modestics ever made a record, but they were a great show band. They had a couple of sax players and everyone had matching blue brocade dinner jackets. They did steps when they played and they looked and sounded impressive. They eventually fell apart after Gary left.


The Cobras, just before Gary Thomas joined.

One night, my dad met a man in a bar who said he was a record producer for a subsidiary of Moonglow Records called Scoop Records. He came to listen to us and decided that he wanted to take us into a small studio in Berkeley to record four original sides.

I can’t recall the name of the studio, but it seemed to be under construction at the time we recorded. I think we recorded on a 2-track Ampex, because we recorded the instrumental tracks first and then overdubbed the vocals. I was used to recording on an old Wolensak mono recorder and being in a real studio was an overwhelming experience. We did all of the tracks in the afternoon and evening.

The result was the “I’m Hurtin’”/”If I Can’t Believe Her” single. There was no promotion or distribution deal and of course sales of the record were limited to copies that people bought directly from the band or in local record stores. There are no known examples of the other two songs recorded at the session, but they were the similar in style to the two that were released. I think we made 500 copies of the record.

When Gary and I were writing I’m Hurtin’ it was during a period when Bob Dylan was very influential in the Folk Rock genre. There were a lot of “wannabes” who mangled his poetic approach and we used to make fun some of the lame lyrics that were a standard on many records. One day I was goofing around with the lyrics and I decided to put in every cliché I could think of just for the fun of it. I showed it to Gary and he thought it was pretty funny and he said we should use that set of lyrics. I was reluctant at first, but when he started singing it, it sounded pretty good. I had a friend who let me borrow his Rickenbacker 360-12 like Roger (Jim) McGuinn played in the Byrds and voila; instant Folk Rock!

The Cobras – If I Can’t Believe Her
The Cobras – I’m Hurtin’

Talon Wedge and Snail

In 1966, I was drafted into the Marines, and Mike was also drafted, which spelled the demise of the Cobras as a group. Two of the members went on to form the Talon Wedge in Santa Cruz, which ultimately evolved into a successful band called Snail. The Talon Wedge had a fluid band roster, but the first version had Bob O’Neill, Dick Tasano, and Terry Shehorn on guitars, Ron Fillmore on Drums, and Bob Caloca on Bass.

I have a demo tape that they made. I was uncertain of thet titles, so I used the lyrics as a possible reference. I don’t know where they were recorded, or who played on these songs, but I think Bob O’Neill, Ron Fillmore and bob Caloca were some of the musicians on them.

Talon Wedge – Two O’Clock in the Morning
Talon Wedge – Man with the Golden Ring
Talon Wedge – Instrumental
Talon Wedge – See the People


What a lineup!
Does anyone recall this show? Did it actually take place?
Let us know! – See Lost Live Dead for more info.

When I returned from the service, venues were more of a concert setting where people would sit and listen. At that time I joined Snail as the bass player. I was the one with real short hair! Snail was a Cream-style power trio with Bob O’Neill on guitar and Ron Fillmore on drums. [The three Snail songs here] were recorded at a live gig in San Lorenzo park in Santa Cruz. It was a big concert (the one on the pink flyer). You can hear a definite Cream influence. Sittin’ Gettin’ Stoned was a musical departure, but people liked it probably because of the not-so-subtle altered consciousness reference. The bass was a Hagstrom 8-string, which was set up similarly to a 12-string guitar except with four pairs of strings each tuned an octave apart in the bass register. When it was played it sounded like a bass and a guitar playing together.

Snail – Wading in Dirt
Snail – The Wrinkle
Snail – Sittin’ Gettin’ Stoned

I played with them for about 9 months, when they got a second guitar player named Ken Kraft. When I was with Snail in the late ‘60’s we opened for The People, H.P. Lovecraft, Clear Light, and Fritz Rabine Memorial Band. The latter boasted Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks in its roster.

In the late 60’s or early 70’s, Snail put out two albums featuring Bob and Ken fronting the group. The first record was named “Flow.” I don’t know if they are available anywhere, but they had a sound vaguely similar to the early Doobie Brothers.

And that’s the saga of the Cobras. We loved playing music and being a part of the scene at a time when it was fun and innocent compared to the way things are now.

Thank you Dave Kibler for bringing the story of the Cobras and the Santa Cruz scene to light, and for providing the excellent Vistells photo, Cobra cards, Snail posters, and the unreleased acetates and tapes of these bands. For more info on Dave’s current musical work, check out www.thesoundbytes.com

Also, I want to thank JG, who alerted me to the Soundbytes website after my initial post and encouraged me to ask about Talon Wedge.

69 thoughts on “The Vistells, The Cobras and the late ’60’s Santa Cruz music scene”

  1. I am not sure how I found this site but it is great to see some thing written about
    and by Dave Kibler the cobras and all. In the sixties my band rehearsed at a place in scotts valley called the barn. Back then it was a ‘hippee’ music venue. Ken Krafts band ‘the bubble’ also rehearsed there thus we came to know each other. Bob O’neil and I were friends from high school. At some point I remember throwing together a party-jam session in my studio in Capitola. I invited both Bob and Ken.I introduced them and soon they became fast friends and musical partners that has lasted to this day.
    Thats more or less to the best of my memory how o’neil and kraft met. I am currently in a little group called ‘the concaves’ and have run into Ken here and there but not Bob or Dave Kibler. Bob(snail),Dick Tasano(talon Wedge),Ron Fillmore(snail) & myself(back then in a band called the image and currently in the concaves) were all in the class of 1967 at Soquel High School.
    Nice site!
    take care, dogfish(aka bill pitts)

  2. Wow! This is total coolness! I got this 45 about 20 years ago from an auction that Dave Gibson (the “Boulders” guy) ran in Goldmine. Mine is autographed by Dave Kibler!!! Ok. Maybe that’s not the greatest thing ever, but I think it’s pretty cool. Anyway, I LOVE this website. It’s a wealth of information, and I love being able to put my two cents in. Thanks again….
    Dan F.

  3. My brother sent me this link… My name is JOHNNY LUST… I play drums for SNAILHEAD… We are from Las Vegas, NV…. SNAILHEAD formed in November of 2006… Members are: BOB O’NEILL (SNAIL) from Santa Cruz/Monterey, CA. area on guitar & lead vocals, JOHNNY ROCKER (one time SNAIL member, BUDDY MILES EXPRESS) also from the Santa Cruz/Monterey, CA. area on bass guitar & backing vocals and me, JOHNNY LUST (CREATURE, DIZZY BITCH) from Long Beach/Signal Hill, CA. area on drums & backing vocals…

    Please visit: http://www.myspace.com/snailhead for our Official SNAILHEAD MySpace/web-site… All information is there; performance dates, pictures, bio information on SNAILHEAD and SNAILHEAD band members and most importantly our SNAILHEAD music from our debut SNAILHEAD cd for you to enjoy…

    SNAILHEAD cd available at: http://www.cdbaby.com/snailhead

    Keep on rockin’!!! LUST out…

  4. I LOVED this site…just a fantastic job! What a trip. I was raised in Saratoga California (reside in Boise, ID now)…to think this was happening in my backyard although just slightly before my time. I found this site looking for info about Snail. Why? Because my current boyfriend and I were talking about our BEST KISS ever. He happened to mention that his was at a SNAIL concert (you never forget your best kiss, right?)!! He has searched for years to try to track down info on the band/music, as we are both music fanatics, but to now avail. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I had hoped to try to find a CD. At the very least, was thrilled to just track down info on the band and learn about their history. Just getting to hear their tracks was fabulous….I can understand why he had an amazing kiss with great music like that to kiss to 🙂 If ANYONE can point me in the right direction for finding an old CD for Snail…I’ve called Ameoba records, Streetlight in Santa Cruz, checked on Amazon, Ebay, etc. to no avail…I would be INDEBTED. Cost is no issue…would give anything to pull this off for my sweetheart….thanks, and once again, GREAT job on the site! Wonderful! 🙂

  5. Hi,

    When I moved to Iowa after the 89 Quake in Santa Cruz I kept the one old record I had which was “Flow” by Snail. My wife had some CD’s made from the record years ago, and would not mind sending you one. 😉

    Sure would be nice to see Ken and Bob again!

    Bill

    CDV Software Entertainment USA

  6. Bill,

    I came across you post and would like to get in touch with you regarding those Snail CD’s.

    Feel free to reach me via email “Wagnon.Benjamin@lycos.com”.

  7. From 1966 to 1969 I lived next door to Bob O’Neill’s mom in Santa Barbara County. She heard some friends of mine & I making noise in my garage and told me her son was a great guitarist from Santa Cruz. He would visit her now & then and help me pick out guitar parts on records. She was right, he is great and as good a rock player I’ve heard, bar none.
    One time he brought along a drummer, presumably a member of Snail, who was about seven feet tall, named “Moose”. Do you know what his real name is?
    Thanks for your site and the information about Snail & its origins.

  8. I grew up in Santa Barbara and remember Snail perfroming there in that time period (69-72). They were the best two guitar RnR band I ever saw up that close in small club. They used to play at place on North Hollister Ave that was at one time called the Bros Galley. I used to stand right in front of the band on the dance floor watching the two guitar players for the entire set. I remember the mile-high drummer with long dishwater blonde hair that they used to bill as Reno Patio as in ‘Snail, featuring Reno patio and his Tubs’. No idea what his real name is. I’d love to hear their music again if any has survived and made its way to some digital medium.

    Great site. Loved reading the stories!

  9. Send me an e-mail and I’ll tell you how to get CDs. We have a live one recorded in the 80s, and have recently finished mastering a double CD containing Snail and Flow. Rock on, Ken

  10. Wow, I don’t really know how I got here, BUT what a treat! I worked for Nocturne Productions in Oakland & San Francisco in the early to late 80’s as well as assist Jack Mariano in booking the Cabaret in San Jose. During that time I bacame good friends with Donnie Baldwin and Brent Bloomfield and was fortunate enough to see both of them with Snail at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz two or three times. I had 2 Snail albums and they got lost in a move to the east coast. I have wondered over the years if there is anyway to get the Snail albums in CD form, and have looked everywhere with no luck.
    Another great band that Donnie & Brent were part of was “Little Gadget & the Soulful Twilights” with Micky Thomas.
    Anyway, if anybody knows of any Snail CDs, i would greatly appreciate it

  11. My wife and I drove back from Joshua Tree, we passed Claremont, and Indian Hill Rd. My first out of town show, El dougle etc. came to mind. I still play and I still don’t take myself seriously! But I do enjoy listening to classical music quite loudly, a la your dad. We’re the sole remaining Bubbles.
    Peter

  12. Hey Guys,How great it is to see the old pals.I did a whole bunch of posters in the 60’s for the dances,and ofcourse I played in MOSES FEBRUARY.I have a SNAIL vinyl album.I dont remember which one I have to dig it out but I will and transfer it to digital if anyone is interested. You can see more of my old posters on my guitar website. Great memories.All the best Frank DiSalvo

  13. Hey Ron,I’m still rockin and rollin and i’ll be 60 this year.I have 3 bands and I’llnever stop playin. I have a 60’s cover band,a jazz quartet,a 7 piece swing band,and I do a Frank Sinatra tribute with a 18 piece orchestra.Can’t hold me back.Its in my blood.Keep rockin,Frankie D.

  14. What a treat to find these pictures. I was playing in a band called the Gold Coast Five. Myself, Hap Scott, Dick Tassano, Bill Jenkins and Ron Filmore. I bet you can guess where this is leading. Ron left to be with the Snail and the rest was Santa Cruz music History. What a great drummer and good guy. If anyone sees him say hi for me. We didn’t complain much after loosing Ron ’cause we got to play with John Craviotto. It was all great fun back then.
    I was never in a league of playing like the guys in the Snail but I loved their music and remember being in a couch one night in the middle if the Scotts Valley Barn listening to them until about 2 in the morning. I think everyone else went home and they just kept playing. What a great night.
    Keep on pickin’
    Alan Souza

  15. Cool site. It is interesting to read about the history of local Santa Cruz area musicians. Growing up in the Santa Cruz mountains I was too young at the time to experience the local music scene in the mid to late sixties and early seventies but I heard all about it from my older brothers and sisters who used to hang out at places like the Barn and the Chateau Liberte.

    I too have had the honor and pleasure of working with “The Legendary” Ron Fillmore in the band Lost in the Shuffle for the last 12+ years. Ron is one of the best if not the best drummer that I have ever worked with. He is a shuffle master and king of the swing. When he gets those vintage Ludwig gold sparkle double bass drums pumping in the funky rock tune Mojo Hanna that we do, look out!! You can feel the power. Not for the faint of heart. “HEAD”

  16. WADING IN DIRT illustrates the point where rock music was no longer beat music or updated beat music, psychedelicized and/or bluesified. WADING IN DIRT IS ROCK MUSIC!!!! HELL YEAH!!!! Sign me up for the Bob O’Neil Fan Club and the Snail Fan Club.

  17. Ron Fillmore
    Just saw Guido at White Pines tonight. He told me of your project. I really hope it goes well.
    I play bass as well, in a band called Electric Zowie. We usually play around Bear Valley. Would like to
    check you guys out sometime. -KB

  18. Wendy, Bob and I have been looking for some old tapes for years and it just so happened that when Bob was here in August I tore my house apart and found them. Ken Kraft is going in to the studio this week to re-master them, so he just might have something available by Valentines day. Contact him, his email is listed in this site.
    It was great hearing from old Friends on this site. I don’t know if this is a good idea, but here is my email address. fillmorer@comcast.net
    By the way, Bobby is coming up this week to my studio and we are starting rehearsing with my current bass player from “Lost In The Shuffle”, Guido {Guy} Valverde, putting the “Original Snail” band back together. Imagine. starting up a rock band at 60. Best Regards, Ron Fillmore

  19. This brings it all back. Hey Alan, I bought my first guitar from you. A nice Gibson ES-330. Me & my high school band bro’s used to open for Snail in the late 60’s. The bands were: Full Power and Feel Machine but, we generally changed the name of our band when Snail was on the bill. We would bill as Bugeta or Cory’s Blues Band (both popular snail bait products). Smartass punks! Those bands featured Carmin Grillo, Dean & Marty Korth, Steve Calloway and Don Karleen.

    I too remember hearing Snail (or was it Bubble?) at The Barn. I was upstairs groovin’ while my parents were downstairs looking for me. Bummer. And there was the wild night with Snail at the 7th Ave. Vets Hall where some kids got into the attic and fell through the ceiling while the concert was raging!

    I’m also playing with Ron Fillmore. Our recorded work is available on Itunes and at lostintheshuffle.com (there are free tunes to download there as well). Check it out…the boy can still pound the tubs!

    Thanks for the memories,
    Doug Silveira

  20. Hey Allan, Was reading your blog about Fillmore. Go to Lostintheshuffle.com. We’ve been playing almost 12 years now.. He still plays the same gold Ludwigs Take Care Guido

  21. Ken,

    I would love to get copies of what ever Snail CD’s are avaiable. Please let me know how to do this.

    Tks, Bill

  22. Hi, I was a big fan of Snail & saw them almost everytime they played in Santa Cruz during the 70’s throught the 80’s. I lived in Ben Lomond & still have their 2 albums stored at my son’s. I’ve been looking for their albums in CD or MP3. Any help would be greatly appreciated. My wife passed in 1988 & we went to all their gigs 7 danced all night to their great music. I went to school with Don Baldwin that was their drummer in later years of the band.

    John

  23. I first encountered Snail while tending bar at the Red Dog Saloon in Bear Valley. I was Hooked. Couldn’t get enough of their music. Caught them whenever I could at the Bodega in Campbell, and the Opal Cliffs Inn.
    I have un-opened copies of the Snail & Flow albums, but no turntable. (They are the things we used in the old days to listen to music). I would love to get my hands on CD’s of those albums, and the one from the catalyst concert.
    Please contact me at mcblur@earthlink.net.
    Thanks,
    Murray

  24. I just stumbled on this site. On August 1st Ron Fillmore and Lost in the Shuffle played at my house for my wife’s 50th birthday party. So Doug Silveria, my brother Guido, with guest Bob O’neil played. They sounded great doing a mixture of Lost in the Shuffle and Snail tunes. The Jerry Miller Band was also scheduled to play but the month before they had to cancelled because a scheduling problem.
    If you “Don’t Do It” you won’t get lost in the shuffle,
    Dennis Valverde

  25. I’ll be darn. All the old guys found this site too and so help me I stumbled back onto it accidently again. Just went to Rick Karleen’s celebration of life tonight and found myself online looking up info about when he owned the Capitola Wharf and snap, here I am. Not even sure how. Anyway, I just saw in the new issue of Guitar Player Mag that a book about Howard Dumble is now available. That brought some memories up. Many are connected to Snail oh don’t you know. If I might ramble for a moment; Around 1970 I moved right next door (literally) to Dan Bernard. He played with Ken in The Bubble. I think he played bass. It was on Pelton Street. Well needless to say we had acoustic jams into the night polishing off whatever beverage we could get our hands on. Many times I actually crawled back to my house. Anyway we formed a band. It was Dan and myself on guitars, Ken Sawyer on drums and Dennis Greer on Bass. But occasionally I remember Howard Dumble sitting in on guitar. I have a photo of this band playing at the old Santa Cruz H.S. Gym with Howard playing a Gibson 335 I think. With the amount of alcohol Dan and I consumed it is any wonder how we managed to play anywhere quite frankly. It is also very sad to point out that Dan passed on due to his unfortunate substance abuse problem, as many of you already know. Now the point I am getting to however is related to Howard Dumble and his relationship with Snail. If any members of Snail read this did you guys use any of his early amps? Or did he mod any of your amps? Have you had any contact with Him? Just curious. Seeing a Book available about him is very interesting indeed. His legendary amp building is of course well documented. The list of players who use them is amazing. Anyway I met Howard through a girlfriend of mine whose brother played for Buffy Saint-Marie. He was a great player whose name has completly escaped me. And of course Howard played for Buffy as well. Some where along the line we all met. I didn’t really know that they were on Buffy’s albums until after we knew each other for a time. Then of course it was like “will I’ll be”. Of course my main interest was Mary who was this hottie I met while carousing around in Capitola. She and her guitar playing brother stayed at their grandmother’s house when they visited Capitola. Anyway, I think I introduced Howard to somebody in Snail at that period of time. It was several years later that I moved next door to Dan. I had already known Howard for some time when he played with us. He was a good guitarist as well as bassist. See, I told you I was going to ramble. All these connections that happened so long ago have come back to my memory. Its great to hear that Ron and Bob are still playing. Howzit Ron? Ken works some with Allan Goldwater of Majic Sound Studio where I have recorded two albums. I wanted to get Ken involved with our last effort but it just never came to be. None the less its great reading comments from people I haven’t seen in many a year. This little site is proving out to be very cool indeed.
    Stay Stoked on Music, it can keep you young. Kinda. Bill Pitts

  26. It was cool to see this stuff. I think I still have a lot of posters from back then including the Disalvo stuff. Hey Doug, Allen says hi. Sorry to hear about Steve.. Take care

  27. Just thought I would let SNAIL fans know that Bob O’Neill, Ron Fillmore, and Guido “Guy” Valverde have been rehearsing since the winter of 2009. They have played several times in the Angels Camp area.

    Bob O’Neill and Ron Fillmore can both be found on Facebook, as can a SNAIL facebook site. There are many old and new pictures of Snail posted at the FB site. I am working on a SNAIL webpage as we speak, that should be up and running by Nov 2009.

    There is also a link to buy the CD’s (Both Snail (1978) and Flow (1979)) are on one CD.

    SNAIL is available to play for your events as well.
    I can be contacted via Facebook or Tel # or email
    Ken Champaign/209-495-2869
    diokenc@gmail.com

    Thanks for the great site and information

  28. Man is this ever a find!

    I recognize so many of these names and this brings back so many great memories.

    I played in a number of bands back in the mid 60’s and we would open for all these bands at the Coconut Grove in Santa Cruz, the Monterey Fair Grounds, the Civic Center, etc. The first band was “English Leather” and we did mostly british stuff (didn’t we all) with some Beau Berummels, Grass Roots, Mamas and Papas, etc. We opened for Snail (who I consider to be the best band ever to come from Santa Cruz, I have both of their albums on vinyl), the Tikis: who of course became Harpers Bizarre, People (their lead singer, Gene Mason, is a friend and lives in Monterey now), Stained Glass, The E Types, Syndicate of Sound, and the list gose on and on. When everyone else was out of town, we got to headline.

    The second band was Sabbathe (way before Ozzy) we’re on the second poster, and featured an incredible female vocalist name Karla Heinz, (now Garrison) and her husband Bob: she did a great Grace Slick, & without the drugs.

    I used to go to Dave homes when he lived in the trailer park over by La Selva Beach and I also use to owe a Howard Dumblized “Super Reverb”.
    Thank you for this site, it’s…..dare I say it…..Groovy!

  29. Hey Bill Pitts. We had many Encounters with Dumble amps. They never worked! That is if you could ever get them back from. In fact do you remember Doug Silveira? He and I play in a blues band called Lost In The Shuffle [.com] He was in Feel Machine, with Carman Grillo, Don Karleen. Well he has a story of actually going to Howards shop With a gun to get his amp back. I think Bob and Ken were having Twin Reverbs souped up. And I said, they were always back in the shop more than we used them. I guess Howard has cleaned his act because I’ve been hearing about him for years now.
    Later,Ron

  30. Hey, I know my name would come up eventually. Six degrees of separation and all that…
    I remember an outdoor gig with Snail and Moby Grape at the Chateau, around 1975. Owsley was there and not knowing who he was (yet), I said sure when he offered me a cup of tea. Two hours later I was crawling through the woods trying to find the console…

    Here’s a tune recorded at the Snail house on Oceanview, winter of 1976-77:
    http://tinyurl.com/ygcr2mk

    Some of you will know the group from the first vocal note. Jim Norris was the drummer…

    Best to all,
    Alan Goldwater

  31. Hey Ron, Nice to hear from you. So you guys and others had Problems with Howard. Interesting. I never did. His work and scheduling always worked for me. But yeah his amps are in demand and sell for big bucks I guess.
    Doug Silveira sounds familiar. I remember Carman and of course Don Karleen was in one of my early bands while he was still in diapers I think. (good grief) I always played with younger bandmates. Still do. My fellow guitar player
    in my present band is 30 years younger than me. Was feel machine the band that had an old barn on 38th ave?
    Bill Pitts

  32. I read that you have a SNAIL CD and was wondering about the details (cost, shipping,etc.) Having missed the 60’s, I’m always amazed by the amount of wonderful music from that era. I met a gentleman at the ProShop in Club Sport (Henderson, NV) who said he’s currently collaborating with a former member of the band SNAIL. Having never heard of such band (I was born in ’68 in the midwest-you can’t be further removed from music culture), so I had to start researching. I’m really intrigued by what I’ve found and would love to hear some of the music. I listen to XM Radio’s “Deep Tracks” (channel 40) quite a lot and I get to hear some of the more obscure music (as well as the popular stuff) from the 60’s and the 70’s and there’s not much of it that I don’t like. If you have a CD, I would love to purchase a copy.

  33. I played Bass for Moses February that night, Carmen Grillo “Tower of Power” guitarist was with us along with Frank DiSalvo & Lenny Calandrino. Stained Glass was awsome that night! Jim McPherson played Bass & sang. They don’t make Em like that any more!

  34. This is awesome, I just found this site. Hey Bobby, Kenny, and Donny. Merry Fn Christmas and a happy New Year.. Your Snail Brother Brett. (Chicago)

  35. Bear Valley, Red Dog Saloon is the first time I saw Snail,( no wait, it was the Altitude then) when I was about 14, so I had to hang outside in the snow while listening to them, they did some Cream songs, who I dug having just bought the english ‘fresh cream’ record in Montreal. I took the band on garbage can lid rides on ropes with my snowmobile, we smoked funny cigarettes and shot the shit a bit the next day. A few years later, I hung out in pleasure point, saw Ron, then I played in IAM, then I played with Ron in Gangster on hammond organ, then Snail hired me, but I bailed before the Cream records deal, ironically. I now play with Ken Kraft in the White Album Ensemble, doing Beatles music. Google us…
    Peace!

  36. Howard built me a power amp and it had 003 serial number. I threw it in a dumpster about 1980. How dumb can you get. He made it to power a Magnatone accordian amp I had and he tweaked the Magnatone for guitar use. Howard was cool but he got pissed off at me for critisizing the kind of dog food he fed his Afghan. Howard told me he was a state champion wrestler and suffered an injury which caused him to gain too much weight.I remember Howard playing bass for Snail. Anybody know how Jim Hampton fits into the Snail band. Later Joel

  37. Wow…. I knew I would find you somewhere out there. Brings back old 1330 Capitola Rd. memories….ahhh the good ol days..

  38. Its so cool to read all of these familiar names. Used to live in a house on Capitola Rd and 15th Ave. with Don Karleen, Doug Silviera and Chris Sandman. I remember them practicing I believe at Korth’s house or sometimes out in our garage.
    Remember Don played at the Civic Auditorium one night, took way too much speed and climbed up on top of his amps. This was back when Humble Pie was hot.
    Good memories.
    Dale

  39. LOL.. I remember Howard converting my old bandmaster head. I think it took him like a year. Champion wrestler? No.. His affinity for 7-11 food was common knowledge as well as… well if you ever played with him…he did a song he wrote called “Snowblind”.. Is Howard still alive? Wish I’d kept that amp. One other thing. He was the only guy I knew that had a payphone in his house. LOL

  40. Seen snail live in 79 west of winston Oregon. had 1/2 of the live cd on my hard drive waiting to find the other half. well my hard drive died and I lost all I have. Bought the first two lps after I seen them. let me know Bill

  41. Brett,I just stumbled onto this site looking for the name of Bobs’ new band.I’m sure you don’t remember my name but you would probably remember my face because I was at every Bodega gig you guys did.I’ve got tons of photos.I hope you are still playing.I think that version of Snail with you in it was the best club act I’ve ever seen.Good luck and keep on rockin.

  42. Saw your note…Ken Kraft can be caught at cary321@comcast.net just came out with another old great CD called Snail Nine Song Nightmare plus you can get a double album of Snail/Flow from him! Tell him Tom Chargin sent you!

  43. Bosco! All these blasts from the past, and so many dudes (and dudettes?) still kicking out the jams!. Came across this site while dialing up Ralph Abraham’s “History of Santa Cruz in the ’60’s” website and I’m trippin’ down memory lane. I grew up in the Santa Cruz mountains in the 50’s and 60’s (Pescadero and La Honda) and we were stone cold country boys, a little isolated out there, but I had an AM radio and KEWB and KYA in Oakland and SF were our life-lines to the world (not to mention Wolfman Jack from Chula Vista, whom we could dial in around mid-night out on Hiway 1). I borrowed a tenor sax and formed a band with George McElroy on drums and Shorty Fuller on guitar (his cousin Richard played keyboards for the Kingsmen and Rich used to jam with us when he was visiting). We played the Cuesta La Honda Rec Hall, Aladino’s Bar in San Gregorio and the IDES Hall in Pescadero (where I first saw The Warlocks in ’65) over the summer in 1963. My high-school buddies (graduating class of 16) and I had friends living in Santa Cruz (the big city!) so we’d come down pretty often to party. I remember Corny and the Corvettes at the Coconut Grove and a band from SLV that later became well-known (either the Sir Douglas Quintet or Harper’s Bazaar?) playing at Forest Pool in Boulder Creek (some of my buds from Ben Lomand went to school at SLV HS with guys in the band). I would have gone to more parties up there but it always ended up in some kind of brawl with my pals from Santa Cruz HS who were in the “Jags” car club. Another guy I knew, Frank Moreno, (he went to Holy Cross) later formed a ’50’s/’60’s cover band that might still be around.

    Snail was always great to catch at the local clubs, real high-energy. I used to see them at a club up on High St. (can’t remember the name) and I think I saw them at the Barn (heard a lot of music there). They were like the real “pros” and we’d groove and learn good stuff from their gigs. I remember they would add and lose different players but O’Neill and Kraft were a solid core, great musicians.

    When I was living and working around Santa Cruz in the mid to late ’60’s I started jamming with some local country pickers and we formed “Horsepower” and “The Lonesome Strangers”: Last Chance Lance, beautiful Lee Greenwood on vocals and rhythm, “Wild Bill” Kanamoto on lead, Romo Commons on guitar and drums, and Johnny “Mac” McNicholas, guitar/vocals would also sit in. We played some local gigs, in Boulder Creek on Hiway 9 – can’t remember the club name but it was run by Kamel, a Turkish guy – and at the White Buffalo in SC. We would also jam with a popular local University based band called Chaw who played the Catalyst and other local venues. In the late ’60’s I sat in at an audition with local jazz/rock bass/guitarist Steve Venom, and his R&B band immediately split into Jasmine (jazz) and Women and Children First, with the amazing Jimmy Mahoney(?) on keyboard/vocals who rocked the local scene.

    I lived overseas for a while and when I came back I hooked up with “Hot Rod” Annie Steinhart on fiddle and vocals; the Schneider brothers, David and Jonathan on lead guitar, banjo and vocals; Ron Ogle on rythym and vocals and John Forbes on drums, to form Jango. We soon added Zack Bass on drums/vocals and “Slippery John” Weston on pedal steel/vocals. We sort of inherited a niche from the hot UCSC based electric bluegrass band Okanookie (Bob Stern, George Stavis, Timmy Ackerman, Bruce Frey and Jack Bowers). Jango was pretty popular, playing hundreds of club dates all over the place: a once-a-month weekend slot at the Catalyst for a over 18 months; Mountain Charlies in Los Gatos – it got so packed the city shut us down (the over-flow who couldn’t get in packed the Wine Cellar across the street, whose owners complained to the Los Gatos city council for pulling our plug, to no avail); the Chateau Liberte, Town and Country in Ben Lomand, the Interlude down on Pacific Ave., The Bodega, The Country Store, Sophie’s, Original Sam’s, the Wooden Nickle, Andy Capps, Chuck’s Cellar, The Crow’s Nest, the O.C.(OD)Inn, Margarita’s (now Moe’s Alley), Dave’s Wintergarden Casino, etc. Other local bands we gigged with included the terrific Fly By Night (Pat and Anne Hubbard, Duane “Beans” Sousa, Jimmy Norris, etc.) and Red Ragged Rose. We had a rehearsal studio off 41st Ave. in a warehouse and used to have open jams and players like Lorenzo Hosford (Snail, Larry Hosford and Friends), “Doc” Epstein and Kenny Stover (Chameleon) would show up. We were self-managed but couldn’t keep up with bookings so a local promoter, John Chesley, stepped in. He also took on Jerry Miller and the various Mobey Grape configurations and we and opened some gigs for those guys. Things got a little crazy, like they do, and fell apart. We had a pretty good sound, opening for groups like Sons of Champlin, Maria Muldaur, Weather Report, Larry Hosford and Friends, John Denver, Kingfish, Hot Tuna, and others. Jango only recorded once but never made it to vinyl. I believe we recorded with Alan Goldwater off California St. so I’m wondering if Mr. Goldwater has any tapes of those Jango sessions. Later I hooked up with the fine guitarist/singers the Schragg Brothers (Sweeny and Wee Wa), Michael Knight on drums and Christine Hawley on bass/keyboards, to form The Ravers. We gigged up and down the coast, playing local venues like the Shaggy Fish, the Edgewater, Catalyst, Vet’s Hall, Crow’s Nest, Portola House, Zyante Club, etc., and in the No. San Diego Co. area. We produced one 45 in a studio in Harvey West (name?) on the Prisma Record label.

    A couple of more things: In ’65 some of my hippie tribe and I got a house together by Emeline St. (the Avalon House). Housemate Eddie Lawrence did occasional handyman work for a local real-estate tycoon named Ed Leslie, whom he invited over. One day a big red Caddy convertible pulls up and Leslie walks in, short-haired, slacks, sport-shirt, carrying a bag of groceries. Eddie and Sandy I. whipped up dinner and then we all got down to some some serious smoking. Leslie wanted to know all about this scene. He had a good time and the rest is history. P.S. Eddie and I actually did a lot of the remodel work for Ed on the house he bought up on Keystone and Branciforte that Snail moved into. I think it was around the time they had that fine guitarist Frank (Rickard?).

    Also: A lot of the local hip scene would flow through Avalon House and 7th Ave. House. One day some folks from Bakersfield who had just come to town stopped over and I met Big Howard Dumble. He would come by frequently on business or for dinner and would play guitar. He was starting to build amps and later, talking to other friends who grew up with him (Michael Tanner of Cross-Currents on KUSP, Mike Odum of the Odum Sound Co.) learned how well regarded he was back home. He once came in the door after being gone for 6 months and I didn’t recognize him. He had lost about 200 pounds. We all gave him lots of strokes but a few months later he had put it all back on. I felt bad for him but I was always in awe of his many talents.

    For anyone who cares to read this and even those who can’t or won’t, rock on!

    1. Brothers Yaya (Jonathan) and David Schneider played in the band Jango. Went to some gigs when I could but lived elsewhere (SFO or Hawaii at the time). Just wish we had some recordings like from the Catalyst, Mountain Charlies (LG) or the Chateau. Love my memories … music is in my soul. .. or my soul is entwined in the sound.

  44. The santa cruz music scene was on in 1965. when myself and three dreamers started our second band Psychedilic Sounds the name was nothing like our rock n roll sound. we played the local coconut grove,civic auditorium,bandstand on the beach,everywhere we could chocolate watchband was rippin, the Etypes,the jaguars the bands were of that time were the begining for santa cruz. i was young but never to young for MUSIC took a 20 year break myself, but been playin again for the last 10 years
    ” Play it like it is the last time “

    1. i was rays friend just hagn around when you were in psychedilic sounds. was wondering if you know how ray ted and allen are doing now? you can reach me on facebook under john gaylen liberatore thanks

  45. I do know that Jim played in the Snail around 1970 or so. He went with my sister for awhile and he and his previous band would actually practice in our living room. He loved Hendrix and was the first person I’d ever
    seen play a wah pedal live. I play myself now and looking back he did have talent but, let face it, most of the
    musicians of that day and now, were more interested in the women than the music!!

    Santa Cruz was such a great place to be in those days. I still have many fond memories of being raised there.

  46. Bill,

    Thanks for your comments on the Snail. Those were crazy but good times. I miss the old band and their sound. Ron soloed on drums at our 40th reunion. An outstanding and nostalgic performance…..loved by all.

    I was looking for Ron Fillmore. I understand he may have a few solo CD’s out there. Still looking.

  47. Thanks to Ricky Alan for the nice history of past Santa Cruz music memories. It’s nice to see mention of so many of old friends in the piece. The names and venues experienced are a great reminder of those aging grey cells I’m re-discovering lately. In 1973 I started mixing sound for the band Timbercreek – http://timbercreek.marymccaslin.com/- learning from folks like Zero with the Sons of Champlin and Maurice with the Airplane, mixing at many of the mentioned venues. My favorite Bob Weir quote was from the Chateau Liberte ’75 when Timbercreek opened for Kingfish, a week after they opened for Timbercreek at Boots and Saddles in La Honda and Bob’s second time playing with Matt Kelly, Dave Torbert and the guys. At the Chateau when Bob saw our dual PA stacks on both sides of the stage he asked me “Why didn’t you use the Baron von Owsley speaker stacking technique”?
    An interesting Timbercreek time at Forest Pool in Boulder Creek was when it sold out and the Chateau bikers were our security turning away their own. We had Whizzo’s lightshow and showed the film “Sunshine Daydream”, serving tequila sunrises at both Forest Pool and B&S.
    All of that led to managing the Boulder Creek Theatre/SC Mtn. Community Theatre where I worked with many of the folks mentioned. Besides mixing for bands and clubs at the time, I also worked at KFAT as the production/traffic manager before starting my lighting/electrician gig at the Catalyst during the 80s and 90s.
    I know this isn’t as far back as the 60s, but growing up in Saratoga and hearing and photographing the South Bay bands in the mid 60s I hope connects me somehow to this conversation
    Just a brief FYI in appreciation of the tales from the past.
    PS – we have the carved wood Oganookie sign on our porch, it was under the Catalyst stage for years

  48. Hey Rick,

    Bill Jacobs and I used to roady with the band. Such history from those days. I learned a lot growing with Puch up at Pogonip ranch. Remember the Haze?

    Tom

  49. My name i John Liberatore I hung out with ray with your band in the 60s you can find me on facebook under john gaylen Liberatore

  50. the psychedilic sounds band from santa cruz. were are they now? i was about 15 or 16 when i hung around them. saw most of there concerts from coconut grove to the battle of the bands on the beach stage boardwalk in the 60’s. lead singer alan smith, bass player dwight gills,ted on drums,and ray canetti on lead guitar.when they broke up. alan smith sang lead for with ken kraft lead guitar, and peter on drums. not sure who was the bass player.i still have a couple of old photos of psychedilic sounds band at the coconut grove santa cruz beach.but none of the bubble.the only thing i have of the bubble is a poster i drew for them when they played at cabrillo collage. you can see it in my art work album on facebook under < john gaylen liberatore > also i was at the coconut grove when the bubble played. i can still remember the first song they opened with. ken kraft starting out with some simple cords then moving into really fast riffs. ray canetti showed me how to play it. i can still remmember and play the riffs and cords on my guitar to this day. anyway any info on the band members now would be great!! i now live in north carolina about 30 years now per meeting a girl on the santa cruz beach. she draged me out here, ha thanks for reading jgl

  51. Please keep me posted as new comments are made. Loved reading this site. Will be back. Presently live on Long Beach, WA peninsula… but have lived in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Hawaiian Islands, CA, NV, WV, MD IL MN ND…. etc. 🙂

  52. Growing up in Santa Cruz with snail was epic. Bob And Ken, thank you for doing what you do. Miss you guys.
    And thank you Ken Champaign for the reconnection!

  53. I am searching for someone named Corky (I am unsure of the last name) that was a musician and played in a band in the Santa Cruz, California area in the early 1960’s. I have been told this person, Corky, played the guitar and/or possibly the bass and might have played at The Sail Inn during that timeframe. I know it’s extremely farfetched but I have exhausted a lot of other options in searching for this person and I thought it may be worth a shot to try and see if anyone knows of this person. Please get in touch with me if anything rings a bell. Thanks!

    LLappas@live.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *