Category Archives: Louisiana

The In-Crowd

In-Crowd Shreveport Times 1966 November 10
In-Crowd Ronn 45 Nothing You DoThis is actually the very first record released on the Ronn label, a subsidiary of Jewel, based in Shreveport, Louisiana. “Nothing You Do” is fine garage-soul, and though there are horns, the vocals, keyboards and driving rhythm remind me of the Music Machine more than anything else. It was written by Roger Barnes and produced by Gene Kent and Don Logan.

Barnes usually wrote soul or funk music, and in fact, the In-Crowd may be the only white artists in the whole Ronn catalog. A good version of “Midnight Hour” is on the flip.

I’m pleased to say I’ve been in touch with Steve Tuminello, the drummer for the In Crowd, so I’ll let him tell the In-Crowd story in his own words:

I was 17 years old when we cut that record at Robin “Hood” Brians studios in Tyler, Texas. Band members on the record were:

James Gordon – Vocalist
Roger Barnes – Keyboard and Vocals
Steve Tuminello – Drums
Drake Lee – Guitar and Bass
Richard Meeks – Guitar and Bass (He is on the fuzz tone lead guitar solo)
Jimmy Lloyd – Tenor Saxophone
Wallace Dingee – Trumpet
Pat Anders – Lead Trumpet

The In-Crowd on stage film still Don Logan and Gene Kent were our managers and promoters of the shows we played. They called them dances, but the kids back then would stand in front of the band and “sweat” the band as they called it. It was kind of like playing a small concert because the halls we played would hold around a 1000 people.

Gene Kent and Don Logan were the top DJ’s in Shreveport, Louisiana at AM 710 KEEL Radio in the 1960’s. Don Logan also was a record executive with Jewel/Paula/Ronn Records. Stan Lewis founder of Jewel/Paula/Ronn records.

I remember Don Logan telling us we had to change the name of the band because we broke the Billboard top 100 (This was late 1966 and the first year Billboard had this designation) and we were being sued by a band named the In Crowd in California. I suggested we change the name to the Inn Crowd. I had the name painted on my bass drum and this was an easy fix. I believe the song hovered around the 10 or 11 mark on the regional charts, as I recall. I didn’t even know we were played outside of Ark-La-Tex.

In-Crowd and Swingin' Medallions poster American Legion Club August 27

The In-Crowd on stage film still

We became local celebrities and the attendance to our shows increased dramatically. We were just a bunch of high school kids but we were booking for a large amount of money for those times. We used to make a $100 per night each and in today’s dollars that would be around $500 per night.

Roger Barnes and Drake Lee are still in Shreveport and I’m not sure about the rest of the band members. I have often thought a reunion would be a lot of fun. As you mentioned we were a blue eyed soul 8 piece horn band playing R & B covers. “Nothing You Do” was not really our style but was fitting for the AM radio waves in late 1966.

The In-Crowd on stage film still My Uncle, A.J. Tuminello, who taught me to play the drums at age 5, was the original drummer on Dale Hawkins’ Suzie Q, and was involved in the origination of the tune. He was not available on the date of recording so Stan Lewis had his younger brother Ron Lewis fill in for my Uncle in the studio. Ron Lewis is the namesake for Ronn Records.

“Nothing You Do” reached #19 on KEEL in Shreveport in January of ’67.This In-Crowd has nothing to do with the many other In/Inn Crowds around in the ’60s, including the Inn Crowd that featured Hal Ellis (of John Fred’s band), that had three 45s for the Montel – Michelle label.

The In-Crowd on stage film still Despite having recorded at Robin Hood Brians studio, they were also not the In Crowd with Jim Glaves and Bobby Rambo on guitar that released a 45 on Abnak and became the backing band for Jon and Robin.

Wally Dingee and some other members continued the band with Bill Wray on vocals, eventually renaming it to Bill Wray and the Showband Royale. They had a 45 called “For Our Friends” on the Readie label that I haven’t heard.

Thanks to Steve Tuminello for his history of the band and the news articles, and to Wally Dingee for the poster and stills from the Super 8 film of the band.

The In-Crowd on stage film still

The In-Crowd on stage film still

In-Crowd article clipping

The Souls of the Slain

The Souls of the Slain in a New Orleans cemetery, August 1966, left to right: Billy Klause, Carl Flesher, Jim Hutchison, Jerry Heinberg, and Cornel LeBlanc.
The Souls of the Slain in a New Orleans cemetery, August 1966, left to right: Billy Klause, Carl Flesher, Jim Hutchison, Jerry Heinberg, and Cornel LeBlanc.

Souls of the Slain Rickshaw 45 7 And 7 IsThe Souls of the Slain cover two songs by Love on their only 45, released on the Rickshaw label. Besides a great version of “7 and 7 Is”, the flip “Can’t Go On” is their version of “Signed D.C.” with a new title.

“Gigging frequently at the Beaconette on the corner of Napoleon and Claiborne, the Souls of the Slain often squared off against future Radiator Frank Bua’s band and U-Doe recording artists the Palace Guards. Their shining moment was opening for the Blues Magoos at Ched’s on Canal and Claiborne. Jerry would eventually leave the band to be replaced by future Radiator Camille Baudoin, while later members included Richard Rhodes on guitar/sitar and Emile Guest of Roger and the Gypsies fame on guitar.” Quote from the Ponderosa Stomp website.

Carl Flesher wrote to me about the band, listing the original lineup as:

Cornel LeBlanc – lead vocals
Jerry Heinberg – lead guitar
Billy Klause – keyboards
Jim Hutchison- bass
Carl Flesher – drums

The Souls actually started in 1965, our first gig was on Tulane’s campus that year. Three of us, Jerry, Hutch and I were Tulane students. We all dropped out by 1966. Cornel was at LSU and Billy [Klause] was a senior in high school when we started; they were boyhood friends, having lived across the street from one another during their childhood.

Billy was classically trained, I don’t remember if any one else studied music. I did not. Just decided I could teach myself, which I did by watching every drummer in N.O.

The name of the band was Hutch’s decision/recommendation. At the time we decided on the name, Hutch was taking modern poetry in one of his English classes. Our name was the title of a poem he liked.

I left the band in late 67 and returned to New York where my parents lived. I was replaced by Billy Thomason at that time. I returned to N.O. in 68 to get married and finish my degree at Tulane.

The first photo ( a battle of the bands in a downtown hotel ballroom) does depict me; the second could not have been taken in 66 because I was still with the band. I believe that photo was taken in late 67 or early 68. I will search for a photo of the original band. I believe I have an ad depicting us playing at Ched’s on Canal in ’66.

I hate to complicate this but my wife and I remember another recording (45 rpm). I cannot honestly say if a 45 was released, I don’t remember. What I do remember is the muscle fatigue that comes from repetition while in a studio. I did not play on the recording you have pictured, so it must have been recorded after I left, especially since I do not recall covering those songs.

Carl Flesher

Poem: The Souls of the Slain by Thomas Hardy

Souls of the Slain at the WTIX New Orleans Teen Fair, 1966
Souls of the Slain at the WTIX New Orleans Teen Fair, 1966

Later guitarist Richard Rhode commented below and added some info in an email to me:

I came on after the 45 was released. We made some recordings both locally and at Robin Hood studio in Texas, but none were released. On the local sessions Billy played a great honky-tonk piano part in a song that Hutch wrote called “Minnie, Ms. Minnie”. (It featured a 4-part kazoo middle section. Only in the 60s.) He also played harpsichord on a re-arrangement of the Rolling Stones “Play With Fire”. It had a nice 4-part harmony in the chorus.

It was around that time Billy left the band because during the same set of sessions I played organ, harmonica, acoustic and electric guitar on another song written by Hutch. I don’t remember much about the Robin Hood session, but somewhere around here I might still have a CD (converted from cassettes) of some of the tracks from both sets of sessions. ( I say “might” because Hurricane Katrina intervened). The fidelity wasn’t all that good anyway.

I mentioned that after Billy left I doubled on organ and guitar. I have vivid memories of having to play songs like “Light My Fire” and Vanilla Fudge’s version of “You Keep Me Hanging On”. It was like a juggling act. Cornel was a big help during that time because he was a good rhythm guitar player … he should have played more.

I think there’s a tape/CD of Camille and I jamming for about an hour in his parents’ garage. (But again,Katrina). After I quit the SOS, I majored in classical guitar at Loyola University.

I played in other groups before and after SOS: “The Grendels”, “The Glass Can”, and “Oak Alley”. I quit playing cold-turkey about 14 years ago. Guess playing 15 minute versions of “Color My World” 3 or 4 times a week finally took its toll.

In September 2012, Bob Sehlinger wrote to me about the Robin Gibbs Band, a precursor to the Souls of the Slain:

The Souls of the Slain evolved from a group comprised of Tulane students variously call the Robin Gibbs Band or the Hollow Men. The group was formed by bassist Jim Hutchinson and lead guitar Robin Gibbs and also featured Dave Wadler on rhythm guitar, vocals by Randy Fertita, and later Peggy Hewitt, and myself (Bob Sehlinger) on drums.

At Mardi Gras in 1965 the group was playing at the Red Garter Club Patio on Bourbon Street, and had just lost its lead vocalist. Cornell LeBlanc, then a high school student, came to the club and approached the band during a break asking if he could sing a couple songs. He pretty much knocked everyone out and was subsequently asked to join the group. After the spring semester Robin Gibbs left Tulane and the group broke up. Subsequently Jim Hutchinson and Cornell Le Blanc went on to form the Souls.

Bob Sehlinger

Promo photo, 1966, l-r (corrected, but may still be wrong): Jim Hutchison, Billy Thomaston, Cornel LeBlanc (in front), Jerry Heinberg and Billy Klause.
Promo photo, 1966, l-r (corrected, but may still be wrong): Jim Hutchison, Billy Thomaston, Cornel LeBlanc (in front), Jerry Heinberg and Billy Klause.

Photos below from the Ponderosa Stomp at the Rock ‘n Bowl, on October 1, 2004. Drummer Billy Thomaston wrote: “the only person not playing at Rock-N-Bowl was then organ player Billy Klause, substituted by close & life long friend Sherman Bernard. The other guitar player is Camile Baudoin of the Radiators who joined after Jerry Heinberg left in late 1967.”

Thanks to Billy Thomaston and Carl Flesher for sending in the photos of the band.

Souls of the Slain at the Ponderosa Stomp, 2004

Souls of the Slain at the Ponderosa Stomp, 2004

Souls of the Slain at the Ponderosa Stomp, 2004

Souls of the Slain at the Ponderosa Stomp, 2004

Ponderosa Stomp, 2005

When I returned to New Orleans in April for Ponderosa Stomp, I remarked at the time how little it had changed since 1995, or even 1986 when I first lived there. It’ll never again be the city I knew. All the closely-knit neighborhoods destroyed, people killed or scattered around the country, it’s crushing to think about.

It’s good to hear Irma Thomas, Eddie Bo, Allen Toussaint and many others are safe and accounted for.

Betty Harris, Ponderosa Stomp at the Rock 'n Bowl, 2005
Betty Harris, Ponderosa Stomp at the Rock ‘n Bowl, 2005

Betty Harris may not be originally from New Orleans, but she made her best records there with Allen Toussaint. She was also one of the highlights of the Ponderosa Stomp this year, coming out of retirement after 35 years to just floor the audience with her voice and charisma. It was a really stunning performance by a true star who hasn’t lost the least bit of her abilities.

Ernie K-Doe's van
Ernie K-Doe’s gone but his van drives on
Irma Thomas at the Lion's Den
Irma Thomas at the Lion’s Den
Little Buck at Ponderosa Stomp, tearing through Cat Scream and Monkey in a Sack
Little Buck at Ponderosa Stomp, tearing through Cat Scream and Monkey in a Sack
Little Buck's horn section at Ponderosa Stomp
Little Buck’s horn section at Ponderosa Stomp
Dr. Specs Optical Illusion downstairs at Ponderosa Stomp
Dr. Specs Optical Illusion downstairs at Ponderosa Stomp – they reformed for the Stomp, the highlights of their set being both sides of their awesomely rare and great 45.
Barbara Lynn with Buckwheat Zydeco at the organ
Barbara Lynn with Buckwheat Zydeco at the organ
Plas Johnson warms up
Plas Johnson warms up
Eddie's records
Eddie’s records
Julie digging
Julie digging
Eddie
Eddie back in April – he and his family are alive and well in Alexandria now, but they’ve lost so much