Category Archives: Newport News

Adrian’s Sinsations

James Shott wrote to me about a group he was in during the late ’60s, Adrian’s Sensations, or Sinsations. James wrote:

I played in a band called either Adrian’s SInsations, or Adrian and the SINsations (it was called both by audiences) in the Hampton/Newport News/Norfolk/Virginia Beach area. People knew me as “Smokey.”

The SINsations was a very good band, and played a good bit at the Peppermint Beach Club, filling in for Bill Deal and the Rhondells when they were gone.

Adrian Brandt played keyboards, Wayne Beckner played guitar, Joe Smith played drums, Jean Lynch sang, Jim Williamson and I played trumpet, Mike Minguez and Tom Gallucci played tenor sax, Dickie Dawes and David Champagne played trombone (at different times), Curly (can’t remember last name) played bass for a while and then another bass player, too. Gary Church was a singer in the band before Jean Lynch.

The band was quite good. We played soul, but also the top tunes of the day. Somewhat like Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago and Tower of Power, the Sinsations employed elements of jazz into the arrangements.

We spent a good bit of time in Virginia Beach at the Peppermint Beach Club, and played in clubs in Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News and Norfolk, and also played military bases. The horn players were music majors in college, and the rhythm section was mostly self taught, but quite good. Jean Lynch was a very thin girl with a big voice; sounded like Aretha Franklin.

I was in the band from either late 67 or early 68 until I was separated from the USAF (Jim Williamson, David Champagne also in AF, Mike Minguez in Army). I believe the group continued to work for a while after that, but lost contact with the guys.

I’d like to get some feedback from other members and anyone who heard/saw the group.

Danny and the Del Notes

The Del Notes
The Del Notes (photo from the Peninsula Garage group)

Del Notes Top Cat 45 Don't Leave Me GirlThe Del Notes came from Newport News, Virginia. Danny O’Brien attended Newport News High School and formed the group at school.

Early members included:

Danny O’Brien – vocals and keyboards
Tom Clark – guitar
Earl Howard – guitar and vocals
Ronny Methany (also written as Ronnie Matheny) – bass guitar
Dickey Moore – drums

Danny O'Brien of the Del Notes
Danny O’Brien of the Del Notes
The Del Notes recorded their singles at D’Arcy Studios across the James River in Norfolk, VA.

The first included two original songs, “Don’t Leave Me Girl” by Danny O’Brien b/w “I Been Thinking Lately” by Earl Howard, released on Top Cat 968 in April of 1968.

Earl Howard of the Del Notes
Earl Howard of the Del Notes
For their second single on the Sounds International label, Danny O’Brien wrote a great blue-eyed soul song “I Love You” b/w another Earl Howard ballad “I Wish I Was Home” which a commentator said was written for Ronnie Matheny who had been sent to Vietnam.

Twenty Grand Music BMI published their original songs.

Del Notes Top Cat 45 I Been Thinking LatelyDanny O’Brien periodically revived the Del-Notes over the next few decades. Later members included bassist Garland Reese, guitarist Fred Ordonio and drummer Randy Jackson.

Earl Howard was killed in an auto accident on May 16, 1991. Dan O’Brien passed away on December 4, 2003.

The photos seen here Tom Hudgins submitted to the Peninsula Garage yahoo group some years back.

An article in the Daily Press from November 1991 was a good source of information for this post.

I don’t know of any other releases on this Top Cat label, but D’Arcy Sound Studios and Twenty Grande Music publishing show up on many releases on the Sounds International label.

An early photo shows Earl Howard and Ronny Methany jamming with members of the Nite Liters, including Steve Keith on rhythm guitar, Harrell Baker on lead guitar and sax and Donny Falk on bass guitar. The Nite Liters had their own single on Sounds International, “Set Me Free” / “Harlem Shuffle”.

members of the Del Notes jam with another group
Ronny Methany and Earl Howard of the Del Notes jam with Steve Keith, Harrell Baker and Donnie Falk of the Nite Liters.