Category Archives: Oregon

The Fire

April Brooks and Candy Hunt of Fire
April Brooks and Candy Hunt of Fire, featured in the E.J.D. Enterprises Inc. News Bulletin of Nov/Dec ’67

The Fire Vanco 45 Happy SpringtimeJP sent me this 45 by an Oregon group The Fire, released approximately 1968. “Happy Springtime” was written by Candy Hunt and David Kahl, but I prefer the b-side, “Sorry for Tryin'”, written by Candy Hunt and Jeff Kaasted, with a neat organ solo. Both sides were produced by Bill Downer and engineered by Rick Keefer.The Fire included two female singers, April Brooks and Candy Hunt, Jeff Kaasted on guitar, David Kahl on bass, and Jerry Krauser drums. John Lessig was the original frontman and the first keyboard player, Roger was replaced by Omar Burns who also doubled on trumpet.

I spoke to David Kahl about his time with the band:

I was sixteen at the time. I never intended to join the band, I was always basically a blues lover. The Animals and Yardbirds were the only bands that had appeal for me outside the blues.

I had gotten a call to audition for this band when I hadn’t actually put anything out that said I was interested. They were out in the middle of the sticks. They had a gig, needed a bass player temporarily. I agreed to join for thirty days. I stayed longer than I ever anticipated – almost a year. Getting out of class early was compelling!

We did some good rooms all over the Northwest. Opened for Don and the Goodtimes, the Sonics, the Wailers. The manager, Bill Downer … that was an appropriate name – about the slickest guy you could ever imagine … but he got us a lot of gigs.

The Fire Vanco 45 Sorry for Tryin'I’d been trying to write a tune here, a tune there. The manager said “Look, Candy’s got some words, we want to put out a record, give it a try.” Then I heard the words! I said “Oh God!” So I wrote a decent hook and modulated a couple times knowing full well it would be vocally challenging!

Jeff was supposed to write Sorry for Tryin’. I got him interested in using the fuzztone. Once we got into the studio we were told “that will never do!”

We were a tight, well presented group. I got the guys to do a couple Hendrix and Cream tunes. My older brother was a player too, guitar and also violin; we loved the direction Clapton and Hendrix were going in. I was getting paid incredibly well, but my brother and I formed a quartet then a trio, getting paid a fifth of what I got with the Fire. They went on for another year then dissipated as well.

After I worked with Rod Price, Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins, and spent five years playing with Paul deLay, probably the best chromatic harp player in the world.

David still plays music regularly in Portland. He is now working on MyGigNet.com a social network for musicians and music professionals.

Thank you to JP for sending me the scans and transfers, and to David Kahl for speaking to me about his first band.

The Ultimate

Ultimate photo Garland Records
Clockwise from top left: Jim Hemenway, Bill Walker, Dwight Fenski and Ken (Wimpy) Mitchell. Photo courtesy of Jim Hemenway

Bill Walker – organ, vocals
Jim Hemenway – guitar and vocals
Dwight Fenski – bass
Ken Mitchell – drums and vocals

The Ultimate Garland 45 Keep On LookingThe strong vocals and organ playing distinguish “Keep on Looking”, written and sung by Bill Walker. It’s backed with a cover of Los Bravos’ “Black Is Black”.

It was released on the Garland label of Salem, which also released fine 45s by the Zero End and the Morning Reign.

There was some confusion as to whether or not the Ultimate (singular) were related to an earlier group The Ultimates (plural) until Bill Walker and Jim Hemenway contacted me and left the comments below. Since there was a connection between the two, let’s go back and first talk about the Ultimates.

After touring as part of the Champs of “Tequila” fame, drummer Gary Nieland and lead guitarist Leon Sanders formed the Ultimates in 1963 in Boise, Idaho with bassist Allen Crawford and keyboardist Gary Sullivan. They eventually relocated to Salem, Oregon, where they recorded a 45 on Lavender, “My Babe” / “Little Girl”, then changed their name to Prince Charles and the Crusaders.

Bill Walker picks up the story from here:

Gary Neiland was owner of Garland Records. He was also a talent booking agency. When Gary left Prince Charles and the Crusaders his wife and he started a group called Fatt Twice Together.

He still booked them [the Crusaders], they changed their name to the Dart. Our group was called The Last Resort. A club owner in Salem, Oregon liked our group, but not the name. So Gary suggested we change it to The Ultimate.

“Keep on Looking” was recorded January of 1969 in Salem, Oregon. The record made number one in the top forty in Great Falls, Montana. We could never get our record played in the Portland, Oregon radio market. It’s all about marketing and we were just working musicians.

After we left Gary’s booking agency, we added a horn player. Jim and I also played horns and changed our name to Five Straight Up. The members were all lead vocalists. The band became a rock show band, it was a great group. Jim Hemenway and I have worked together off and on for the past forty years.

Bill Walker

Scappoose, Oregon

Thanks to Bill and Jim for the information and the photo of the group. As an aside, Dart recorded a great 45 on Garland, “Genevieve”, written by Earl Chipley.

disraeli

Disraeli Mantra PS Spinnin' Round

Disraeli Mantra 45 Spinnin' Rounddisraeli (spelled with a lower case d) self-produced four 45s from 1967-70, finding an original sound that was both accessible and psychedelic.

Band members were Steven Mathre lead vocals, Al Nelson lead vocals and saxophone, Thomas Stangland guitar, Roger Everett guitar and vocals, Steve Kernes bass, and Gene “Geno” Faust drums and vocals. Richard Keefer, who did a lot of engineering work for Oregon and southern Washington bands, also helped produce disraeli’s records.

When a copy of their third 45 came up for sale, the seller (I’m sorry, I don’t know who) wrote a good description of the group:

“I recall seeing them a few times and got to be friends with Steve Mathre years later. From Astoria Oregon where the mighty Columbia meets the vast Pacific came disraeli……listen my child and you shall here about 6 fine lads raised up in a quaint drinking village with a fishing problem. These handsome chaps all attended Astoria High School in the mid 1960’s and came of age listening to the Beatles of course. The six fellows knew what they had to do, get some guitars, amps, write some songs and get some gigs! So they did and it was fun.

disraeli Mantra 45 What Will the New Day Bring
Remastered monophonic version of “What Will the New Day Bring” due to DJs being unable to broadcast stereo records
“Then they made a record. Their freshman effort was ‘Tomorrows Day’ b/w ‘Humidity 105’. People liked this record everybody bought copies, fellow students, people at the gigs, their relatives of which they had many and their relatives friends. Everybody liked their sound.

“They had two frontmen, Steve Mathre and Al Nelson who both sang up a storm and played the tamborine so hard they had to wear gloves to keep from getting blisters. Al also played a mean tenor sax. It was obvious these gents would make the big time. They sold stock certificates to their friends and neighbors, got better gear went back to the studio and recorded another 45.

“‘What Will the New Day Bring?’ and ‘Spinning ‘Round’, songs about a peeping Tom with a knife and coming home drunk with the whirlies for the first time respectively. The picture sleeve for this 45 was color and featured the band in matching red blazers out on the south jetty at the mouth of the Columbia, a popular spot to party and race cars not to mention neck ect. This record was supposed to establish disraeli both sides were predicted to be hits, it was recorded in stereo, a big deal in ’67 for a 45 . The record got airplay and charted around the Northwest.

“I remember seeing a billboard for the band in Portland Oregon in late ’67 it said:

disraeli….

listen

“Anyway the record did pretty well but didn’t break out. They went back to Mantra recording studios one more time to record a couple love songs, by far the most Beatlesque of their efforts.”

Disraeli Mantra PS Say You Love Me
Sleeve for their third 45

There’s supposedly a whole album’s worth of songs that were never released. A band self-releasing a 45 with a color picture sleeve was unusual for the time, and to release it in stereo in 1967 is extremely rare.

45 releases:

Mantra 001 – Tomorrow’s Day (Stangland – Mathre) / Humidity 105
Mantra 113 – What Will The New Day Bring? / Spinnin’ Round
Mantra 114 – Say You Love Me (Stangland-Mathre) / I’ve Seen Her One Time (Stangland-Mathre)
Mantra 115 – The Lonely One (Stangland-Mathre-Wiley-McKune) / You Can’t Do That

What Will the New Day Bring back cover
Back cover of the sleeve for What Will the New Day Bring

The Gentlemen Wild

Gentlemen Wild Photo SignedAThe Gentlemen Wild had a lively career based out of Portland, Oregon starting in 1965. The band went through several personnel changes, but early members include Craig Cathey vocals and keyboards, Jay Zilka lead guitar, Page McCallum keyboards, Bill Whitcomb bass, Tom Phelps guitar and David Vermilya on drums.

In 1966 Bob Hart joined from the Beaverton group, the Nightraiders, and his father Ross Hart took over management of the band. Both additions immediately improved their prospects, and they became a house band at a teen club in Portland, the Tork Club.

In May of 1967 they won the state Battle of the Bands, enabling them to travel to the Ridge Arena in Braintree, Massachusetts (just outside Boston) to compete nationally. Their version of “Nowhere Man” from that competition is on a rare two record album released at the time. The photo just below is taken from the program for the Battle of the Bands.

They appeared on local and national television shows, including the Paul Revere & Mark Lindsay hosted show, Happening ’68. In the episode I’ve seen, the Gentlemen Wild lip synch to their version of “Keep On Running”, easily beating out a California band, the Good Friends and Merry Fellows, who did “Heat Wave”. Judges for that show included Bobby Vee and Sal Mineo, who says “have beads will travel” during the introductions! All the photos below are from the Happening ’68 show.

They released just one 45, recorded at the local NWI (Northwestern Incorporated) Studios and pressed on its vanity label. This is a label I’d definitely like to know more about! “You Gotta Leave” became a big hit on the west coast, reaching #2 in Portland. It was written by the guitarist, Jay Zilka.

The flip side, “I Believe”, wasn’t written by any of the band members. It’s not garage, more like the last slow song at a dance, the kind to get you to leave! Other members of the Gentlemen Wild at one time or another included Dave Cookson drums, John Crowe drums, and Steve Joslin keyboards. The band broke up in 1969.

Thanks to Mike for the Gentlemen Wild appearance on Happening ’68, and to Paul for the scan of the Braintree Battle of the Bands program.

 

 

 

 

 

 


All the screen shots above from the Happening ’68 TV show

The Chaen Reaction

A group out of Salem, Oregon, the Chaen Reaction recorded this one 45 around 1968.

Members were Larry Carroll guitar, Craig Gunter drums, Lee Gunter keyboards, Lane Weinberg bass and Jim Burris vocals. Earl Chipley seems to have been the maven behind this distinctly uncommercial venture, co-producing and releasing the 45 on his own Earl label, a “division of Royalty Records.”

“Sometimes I Think About” was written by the Blues Magoos and included on their first lp. A good song, but it’s a bit of a downer no matter who performs it. It was also covered by Delaware’s Fabulous Pharoahs who must have realized its lack of hit potential and threw it on the b-side of their great Reprize 45, “Hold Me Tight”.

The flip “Chain Reaction” is even less commercial but far cooler, featuring distorted guitar and a heavy organ and drum pounding over a collage of screams and crowd noise. The vocals are buried in the mix and almost unintelligible, but seem to have a very trippy bent. Hard to believe anyone but the band really wrote this ditty, but Chipley gives himself sole credit. It was produced by Earl E. Chipley, and Clayton Caughill was the engineer who put this all together.

Thanks to Lee for correcting the group lineup and to Bonnie W. for the photo.

The Bystanders

Vanco was a label from Vancouver, Washington, near Portland, Oregon, so bands on the label could be from either side of the Columbia River.

The Bystanders had at least two 45s on Vanco, but I haven’t been able to find out much else about the band. The label credits Rick Keefer as engineer – he later went on to produce the New Tweedy Brothers among others. “Just Exactly Off” is pretty fine garage. The b-side is a ballad, “Flower Song”. Songwriting credits for both songs are Robinson – Tobius.

Another band on the Vanco label was the Twilighters.

Anyone have a photo of the group?

The Zero End

The Zero End band

The band came from east of Astoria, Oregon, the small communities of Knappa and Svensen to be exact (the area had a large number of people of Swedish descent).Zero End Garland 45

The members were:

Carl Salo
Bill Tynkila
Tom Kayser (Keyser?) – guitar
Bill Maley
Toivo Lahti – drums

The Zero End’s first 45 on Garland, “Blow your Mind” / “Fly Today” from late ’67 has a dark sound. Their next and last shows the influence of psychedelia, as “Lid to Go” has the lines “don’t you know he’s a flower child/ what a crime, being high.” The version of “Hey Joe” has a good fuzz solo. Dig the cool drum head in the photo above.

Both sides of the first 45 are by Tynkila/Salo. Songwriting on “Lid to Go” is by Bill Maley and Carl Salo. Dale Hansen produced both 45s. The Garland label was from Salem, OR, owned by Gary Neiland of Prince Charles & the Crusaders.

I didn’t much about the band until JP Coumans sent me the article from Hipfish, below. As the article states, the band started out as the Vanchees until Bill Tynkila suggested Zero End. They had a manager, Dale Hansen who booked them throughout the Northwest. At the club below the Portland youth center The Headless Horseman, they saw a band called Seattle Gazebo that was playing the new psychedelic free-form music. It was a revelation to the band, who returned to Knappa and remade their sound completely.

They played venues such as the Riviera Theater in Astoria and the Crystal Ballroom in Portland. The Hipfish article mentions a live recording from the Riviera, which I’d love to hear.


Hipfish – Arts & Culture Monthly, vol. 2, issue 19: Astoria & the North Coast, March 1999
– does anyone have the continuation or know the author?

Thanks to J.P. Coumans for the article scan.