Category Archives: Ethiopia

The Mauroks

The Mauroks at Kagnew Station, Ethiopia, 1967
The Mauroks were a psychedelic white group on a label better known for soul and funk. On “Susan” the opening keyboard riff combines with reverbed guitar strumming over deadened strings and a great drum beat to make a instantly arresting groove. A quick, wild chorus with excellent distorted guitar and it’s right back to that fine opening pattern. A great and danceable obscurity, it was written by bassist Tom Kaup and keyboardist Larry Keiser.

Their guitarist Howard G. Salada (“Butch”) was stationed at Kagnew Station, a U.S. military base in Asmara, Ethiopia (now Eritrea) in 1966-67.

On a Kagnew veteran’s website he wrote “I played in several bands at the Top 5 and the Oasis [nightclubs on the base] as well as a few of the clubs downtown. First with the Counts, then the Mauroks and then the Remains. We had a good time. The Mauroks joined together again in ’68 in NYC and made an attempt at the BIG time. The other members of the group were: Larry Keiser (linguist), Tom ‘Tuck’ Kaup (Navy) & Vic D’Amore. Bobby Ward, who was there before me also joined us in NY. Our first drummer was a Navy guy called Willy. The only one I’ve kept in touch with was Tuck. The others are lost in America. Maybe someone knows where they are?”

Howard’s own email address as given on the site is now defunct so I haven’t been able to contact him directly.

The reformed Mauroks in the States, 1969
The photos below show the Counts playing live at the Oasis in 1966 while stationed at Kagnew in Ethiopia. Larry Keiser and Butch Salada played in the Counts before forming the Mauroks.

l-r: Tony from Asmara on sax, Lauren ‘Larry’ Keiser going wild on the keyboards, Daniel Pomerleou on guitar, unknown playing the tambourine, Howard ‘Butch’ Salada playing the left-handed Gibson SG guitar, and Al Trautman is playing bass in the striped shirt on the far right.

Willy is on drums in the back.

Al Trautman played bass guitar for the Counts. He writes:

I heard Jerry Lee Lewis on the Steve allen Show, told Grandmaw that I wanted to play piano and she GAVE me the upright in her living room. Dad put the piano in the shed (was working midnights) and 3 months later the Del Royals were driving down John Lewis Road, heard me and hired me on the spot.

I joined the USAF the day JFK was assassinated. When I got to Asmara, I had the bass guitar and a GOOD amplifier. Larry auditioned me and the following week I was playing. It beat the Nam thing, that is sure.

The guys were GOOD people, great musicians. I was MORE in the Fats Domino/Lil’ Richard/Jerry Lee Lewis vein BUT doing the Beatles, England thing was what the Mauroks was all about.

I volunteered for Asmara, did 6 months and stayed messed up with the VERY cheap beer that was so popular there. Tuck came in right about then, used the bass system and I went back to Turner AFB.

Danny (don’t remember the LAST name) was a great guitarist. Butch has a good technique.

Nov. 22, 1967 I got out, got married to a high-school sweet-heart from the pass and have been married to her 35 years. Damned, how time flies, God bless, please keep in touch…AL

Nowadays Al is busy fixing up his home after Hurricane Rita hit in 2005 and is back to playing his first instrument, the piano. More photos of the Counts and Mauroks are available on the Kagnew Station website.

Thanks to Dirk Sermeels of Belgium for alerting me to the Kagnew Station site.

French sleeve – can anyone give an accurate who’s who in this photo?