Category Archives: Texas

Mechanical Switch

Mechanical Switch photo El Campo TX

Here is a previously unpublished history of Mechanical Switch written by lead vocalist and song writer Bart Baca in 1994. Thank you to Bart and to Massimo Di Gianfrancesco for bringing this history to light.

First time I heard the monster Texas garage psych two-syder 45 by Mechanical Switch was in the late ’80s when I bought a copy of Eva Records’ Texas Psychedelia. A few years after in the early 90’s. I bought an original copy with the picture sleeve from an U.S. dealer; I was so happy considering the scarcity of the 45 and for such awesome punkadelic single. At the time we did a small ‘zine called Never Existed, so for the second issue (that never came out), I sent a xerox copy of the pic sleeve to my friends Matteo Bocci and G. Del Buono to try contact the band by phone ’cause they had easier access to call the states. The band was shocked that somebody from Italy in the ’90s were looking for them and liked them so much; they happily sent us the pics and story you find here, enjoy!

Massimo Di Gianfrancesco

Mechanical Switch started in a garage in the small Texas farming town of El Campo. It was 1966, a wild period in U.S.A. history. Sixties music was rocking in Texas. Our group met at high school and began practicing, playing music by the Yardbirds, Stones, Animals, English groups.

The Mechanical Switch core band was Alan Meek, lead guitar; Leroy Shelton, rhythm and bass guitar; Benny Dusek, drums; and me, Bart Baca, vocals and tambourine. Mark Wenglar, organ and several other bass players joined later.

We started playing school gigs and local clubs in 1967. Rednecks and cowboys hated us and our hair and music. Always wanted to fight us. We tried to play in the high school talent contest but the principal read the words to the song we picked (“Satisfaction” by the Stones) and he stopped us. Just driving around town could be dangerous.

The late 60s brought psychedelic music and a dropout-anti-war, turned-on counterculture. We had played some pretty good shows in the Houston area where girls would mob us and start to rip off our clothes. We wore paisley and metallic Nehru jackets and “Beatle boots”. We did songs by psychedelic bands like Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Fever Tree, Iron Butterfly, Spirit and the Doors, and traditional English rock.

We also wrote a number of songs and recorded two in 1969. We recorded in Robin Hood Bryan’s studio in Tyler Texas where other psychedelic groups had recorded. We recorded all night. Our 45 rpm record had a drug-love song “Everything is Red” on the “A” side and “Spongeman” on the “B” side. “Spongeman”, about a flaky guy who lived by soaking up his girl’s love, was a hit and all copies of our record sold, except for a few we kept.

Vietnam was big. The war was always reaching for us, trying to get us into it. We saw friends dying for nothing or skipping off to Canada and blowing off their life. We recorded psychedelic songs and sent them to soldiers in Nam since they did not have live rock to listen to. Some songs were so radical people would not send them to the soldiers. Rednecks and cowboys were worse than ever. They were also our parents. Marching or even talking against the war was risky. Keeping long hair was hell. Mine was curly so I had to use heavy grease or go to a black lady who knew how to iron it straight.

The draft lottery and college deferments kept some out of war, but many went. Anyway, the band broke up during these times (1970). Leroy joined the service, went to Korea, returned to the U.S., and died in a mine cave-in. Benny joined the service and went to Germany. He is now in the Texas oil business. Alan and I went to college. Alan is a farmer in El Campo, still playing a little guitar. I am in environmental work in Florida. Watching for a rebirth of the rebel rock music of the late 60s. Saw it happen again with punk, and grunge. Kind of repeats itself when we need it.

Bart Baca

We recommend On the Road South for more info and photos of Mechanical Switch.

The Mechanical Switch band name

The Nokounts

The Nokounts Venus 45 Hey Girl

The Nokounts came from West, Texas, a small town south of Dallas and just north of Waco. The band released one single in August, 1964, “Hey Girl” / “I Saw Her Yesterday” on Venus 500/501. The A-side is a strong bluesy shuffle while the flip is a fast rocker.

The Nokounts, West News, August 28, 1964
The Nokounts in the West News, August 28, 1964
Both songs list writing credits as Kudelka – Hunt. Ron Kudelka was part of the group while 45cat lists Harmon Hunt and Bobo Wes as producers. Venus Records Inc, based in Waco, published the songs through Deb-Ka Publ.

The West News covered the band in a front-page article from August 28, 1964 titled “Nationwide Sale of Record by the Nokounts” with a lot of interesting information on the group:

Ron Kudelka, Butch Vochoska and Robert Ernst, all of West, Johnny Nash of Arlington and Randy Hudgins of Waco are members of the young group … they are looking forward to additional dates in Hillsboro, Waco and the famed teenage-nightclub “The Sugar Shack” in Dallas.

This record was also the first recording of Venus Records, Inc., a new company formed by several Hillsboro-West area people with the main office in Waco. Harmon Hunt of KHBR is president of the company and Miss LaNelle Duncan of West is Secretary-Treasurer.”

“Hey Girl” was recorded by Sellers Co. of Dallas and pressed by Wakefield of Phoenix, Arizona. Bill Lindsey of Dallas, nationally known for his hit recording of “Blue,” was the arranger for the recording company.

The Nokounts were originally organized by a group of West High Students [sic], and were first known as the Counts.

The Nokounts at the Playdium West, TX, October 17, 1964
The Nokounts at the Playdium West, TX, October 17, 1964

The Nokounts at Cottonwood Hall West, TX, December 27, 1964
The Nokounts at Cottonwood Hall West, TX, December 27, 1964
The article also noted their Venus 45 had distribution throughout the U.S.

An ad for a teenage dance on Saturday, October 17, 1964 at the Playdium ran in the West News of West, TX on Friday the 16th saying “The Nokounts of West … Recording Stars on the Venus Label “Hey Girl” and “I Saw Her Yesterday” … Their Second record Will Be Released in December “I’m Alone” and “I Don’t Care”.

To my knowledge that second record was not released and those songs have never surfaced.

The Nokounts Venus 45 I Saw Her Yesterday

The Stowaways

Arturo & Pat with The Stowaways
Arturo & Pat with the Stowaways, from left to right: Norma Longoria, James Buckley, Pat Buckley, Wendall Maloy, and Arturo Longoria

The Stowaways were:

Arturo Longoria – vocals
Pat Buckley – vocals
Norma Longoria – keyboards
Romolo Montalvo – lead guitar
James Buckley – rhythm guitar
Wendall Maloy – drums

Wendall Maloy sent in the clipping above and wrote to me about the Stowaways:

This is the first “garage band” to play the Grapefruit Bowl in Sharyland, TX. The photo is from The McAllen Monitor and mentions our parking lot dances in front of Carl’s Minimax in Mission. The photo was taken before the Pharaoh record we cut where the name of the group was changed.

Mr. Longoria paid for the record. On the record, we were listed as Arturo and Pat with the Stowaways. I don’t have a copy of the record. The title might have been, “Turn Your Light On Me.” It got lots of air play on KRIO because we were local. Jimmy Nichols, owner of Pharaoh Records, never signed a group and paid for their recording. He always got paid for studio time and pressing, in other words … he never invested in an artist or group. Anyone could cut a record with Pharaoh if they had the money. If I remember, it was about $500 for 500 records turnkey.

That was our only record with Arturo and Pat. They later were backed by The Invaders. [Arturo & Pat with the Invaders – “Oh Yes Tonight” / “So Tenderly & Faithfully” on Pharaoh 134]

Romolo Montalvo was a great lead guitar player.  I played with Romolo, Juan Guerrero (bass guitar) and Oscar Villareall (vocals) at the Grapefruit Bowl after Romolo and I left Arturo and Pat. I soon left the Valley to attend college in Victoria, TX.

Oscar got a record deal with Falcon Records and had a successful career. He was killed in an accident while touring and his records started selling like crazy. I know that Juan played with Oscar’s band. I lost touch with most everyone, except Juan. He played with several Tejano groups like Los Fabulosos Quatro and later had his own group Los Sheekanos. He is in the Tejano Music Hall of Fame.

The best group from the Valley was the Playboy’s of Edinburg. They had a top 40 hit with “Look At Me Girl.” The song was recorded at Pharaoh and later released on Columbia.  Bobby Vee covered the song, had it out at the same time on Liberty Records and kind of screwed them out of having a bigger hit.

I got drafted in 1967 and while serving as NCOIC of the Radio-TV Section at the Ft Hood Information Office, got the Playboys assigned to me when they came for summer camp with the National Guard. We are still close today.

Wendall Maloy

The Haustofs

The Haustofs, Bobcat News, Nov. 23, 1966
The Haustofs, Bobcat News, Nov. 23, 1966.
from left: Doug Gahan, Gary Thorson, Steve Rollofs (kneeling), Pat Buckley, and Randy Clark with manager Delon Wright lying on the grass. Not pictured: Bob Doty, keyboards.

Gary Thorson sent in the news clippings and wrote to me about the Haustofs:

I grew up in Pharr, TX during the 60s and was a member of a garage band there known as “The Haustofs” (supposedly named after a German beer known for its strength). We never cut a record, but played all the popular venues (the Valley Bowl was one of our favorites), sock-hops and private parties. We even shared the stage with some of them, like the Headstones and the Playboys of Edinburg. The Souls‘ David Lott and I were good friends.

Our band was primarily know as being from Mission, TX because that’s where our lead singer Pat Buckley (of the former Arturo and Pat hit record), our drummer, Doug Gahan, and our keyboard player, Bob Doty were from. Stephen Roelofs our bass player, Delon Wright our manager, and myself were all from Pharr, TX and Randy Clark our lead player was from Edinburg, TX.

Pat Buckley has released a single with another Mission student, Arturo Longoria as Arturo & Pat with the Invaders on the Pharaoh label, “Oh Yes Tonight” / “So Tenderly & Faithfully”.

The Bobcat News profiled the band on November 23, 1966, saying the band “was assembled by Doug Gahan, a senior at Mission High.”

An article in the Mission Eagle has many interesting quotes, such as Dough Gahan saying he was “‘an ardent admirer of Bill Reed,’ who plays drums in the Kavaliers.” Another is “As far as the other groups that the Haustofs admire are concerned, the Headstones are their favorite Valley group. They like the Kinks best of world-famous groups, although they also like the Beau Brummels and the Yardbirds.” It also mentions that Randy Clark of Edinburg High School had played rhythm guitar in the Tempests.

Gary Thorson adds the status of the individual band members as of today is:

Pat Buckley – Retired and living in southern Colorado
Stephen Roelofs- School teacher living in the Dallas, TX area
Bob Doty – Works for a large tool company living in Arkansas
Gary Thorson – President of a computer consulting firm living in Fairhope, Al.
Randy Clark – still pursuing his musical career in San Antonio, TX
Doug Gahan – unknown

The Haustofs, Mission Combo Had Original Beginning

The Pathfinders from Fort Worth

The Pathfinders photo, Ft Worth, Texas, Larry Funchess, Freddy McDonald, Joe Reddinger and Parker Cook
The Pathfinders from Ft. Worth, Texas
From left: Larry Funchess, Freddy McDonald, Joe Reddinger and Parker Cook

I didn’t know the identity of this group until Nate Lamb wrote in to confirm it was the Pathfinders from Forth Worth, Texas, and named the members.

Larry Funchess – guitar
Freddy McDonald – guitar
Joe Reddinger – drums
Parker Cook – bass

As far as I know the band didn’t make any recordings.

The back is stamped Brewer Photography Class, possibly the Brewer High School on the west side of Fort Worth. This photo came with one of Buddy and the Beaumen, who were also a Fort Worth group.

Buddy and the Beaumen

Buddy and the Beaumen photo
Buddy and the Beaumen

Buddy and the Beaumen Gretchem 45 Blue Feelin'Buddy and the Beaumen had one single on Gretchem 101, “Blue Feelin'” / “Hold On I’m Comin'” released in 1967.

Although the label for “Blue Feelin'” lists J. Henslee as songwriter, “Blue Feeling” was written by James Henshaw and made famous by the Animals in 1964.

Buddy Smith produced the single but I didn’t know any other names for group members until comments below: Steve Hill played keyboards and Danny Hukill played drums. The band photo lists Fort Worth for their location.

The Beaumen are listed as playing on the opening night of the 19th Annual Optimist Carnival in Waxahachie in August, 1966, followed by a group I haven’t heard of, the Unexpecteds on the next night. Waxahachie is about 30 miles south of the center of Dallas.

In early 1967 Buddy & the Beaumen shared billing with the Mystics as the top attractions at the Irving Teen A-Go-Go in early 1967.

When I bought this photo, it came with a photo of the Pathfinders, from the Brewer Photography Class, probably the Brewer High School on the west side of Fort Worth.

Steve Hill played keyboards with Bloodrock, he passed away in 2013.

The Cloud V of Waxahachie, TX

The Cloud V, August 1967, from top left: Eddie Lord, Charles McCutchen, Gary French and Gene Lord, with Bob Walker seated in front
The Cloud V, August 1967, from top left: Eddie Lord, Charles McCutchen, Gary French and Gene Lord, with Bob Walker seated in front

The Waxahachie news in August, 1967 featured the Could V, who were competing in a Battle of the Bands at Getzendaner Memorial Park. Waxahachie, Texas is a town about 30 miles to the south of the center of Dallas.

Members were:

Eddie Lord – rhythm guitar
Charles McCutchen – organ
Gary French – bass
Gene Lord – lead guitar
Bob Walker – drums

They did not record to my knowledge.

Theze Few

Theze Few, March 1967, Dan Seals, Buddy Lay, Larry Stevens, Mike Woolbright, John Colley
Theze Few, March 1967

Theze Few formed in Dallas and cut one single for the BlacKnight label in 1966, “Dynamite” / “I Want Your Love”. Dan Seals wrote both songs, though the labels mistakenly list his name as D. Feals, published by Tall Pine BMI.

Members of the band were:

Danny Seals – saxophone
Larry Stevens – lead guitar
John Colley – piano
Mike Woolbright – bass
Buddy Lay – drums

By the 1968 Irving Teen-A-Go-Go, the band had changed their name to the Southwest F.O.B.

The blog …from the rear view mirror… quoted the Dallas Morning News from when Dan passed away in 2009:

Dan Seals, 61, was born in West Texas but moved to Dallas as a teenager. He graduated from Samuell High School in Pleasant Grove in 1966. He and classmate John Colley, who later changed the spelling of his last name to Coley, formed a group with three other Samuell students called the Playboys Five. That became Theze Few, which morphed into the legendary Dallas high school band Southwest F.O.B.

As the friendship blossomed, Seals’ brother Jim was emerging as a musical superstar. Jim Seals was part of the multi-platinum-selling duo Seals & Crofts. But Dan Seals and Coley would soon put their own stamp on music.

They formed England Dan & John Ford Coley and became the toast of 1976 when their single, “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight,” and album, Nights are Forever, became gold records, meaning each sold more than 500,000 copies.

Lonestar Stomp covered the Seals family, including brother Jimmy and father Wayland.