|The Sedate Sunshine Colony came from Kingsburg, just southeast of Fresno. Their time together is documented in these photos and a tape of a fascinating live show from April, 1968. The band chose some very unusual songs to cover live, including the Grass Roots’ “Where Are You”, the Byrds’ “Thoughts and Words” and the Peanut Butter Conspiracy’s “Dark On You Now”, making for a portrait of the underground side of pop music during that time. They could really rock out on songs like “Slow Down” and “Evil Hearted You”, or play very delicate pieces like “Summertime”.|
The most noteworthy songs on the tape are the originals, all written by guitarist and vocalist Craig Anderson: “Change Yourself for the World”, “Visionary Pumpkin”, and “Bentley Road”. They show Craig to be a distinctive and creative songwriter, and the band capable of a range of textures and styles to suit each composition.
Bassist and vocalist Jeff Anderson gives the history of the group in his own words:
One of the greatest joys of my life was playing in a rock ‘n roll band in the 60’s. Music was just exploding and influences were coming from all over the world. People were only then learning how to play guitar and structure songs and the evolution was quite remarkable. Anyone in a band had grandiose visions of becoming the next Beatles.
My brother Craig and I started our first group, I think in 1962, as ‘the Schillings’. It was an instrumental group that did mainly the usual stuff from the Ventures, Dick Dale, Duane Eddy, etc. We had Craig and I on guitars, a bass player that was so bad we actually had him bring in his tuba and play the bass part on that, drums and sax. We then morphed into ‘the Eccentrics’ and later ‘the Essence Reality’ where I took over on bass and we brought in another guitar player, Harvey Adair. The drummer, Russ Zakarian, is now the drummer for the Sedate Sunshine Colony’s current project and was the drummer for our 2004 reunion concert.
The Sedate Sunshine Colony was comprised of Pat Erickson (vocals & flute), Craig Anderson (vocals & guitar), Woody Bell (vocals), Jeff Anderson (vocals & bass), Jonnie Sue Bartell (keyboard & vocals), and Chuck Zendner (drums). We played in the Fresno area, but all of us came from the small town of Kingsburg, California. The band was together from 1965-1969.
l-r: Pat Erickson, Jeff Anderson, Chuck Zendner, Craig Anderson, Jonnie Sue Bartel and Woody Bell.
|The Sedate Sunshine Colony was the first band for Pat Erickson, Jonnie Sue Bartell, and Chuck Zendner. I think Woody Bell may have been in a sort of band prior to SSC. Pat was actually in a folk group with my brother, called the Four-tells.|
We were a folk-rock band with psychedelic overtones. Folkadelic, I would call it. Above all, we had vocals. Five out of the six of us could sing and harmony was what we did best. We were learning to play our instruments, just like everyone else, and we did ok with one guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, and flute. We mostly covered other music, but my brother Craig was a good writer, and we ended up doing quite a few original songs.
We played at dances, proms, picnics and just about everywhere including local fairs. We usually got paid about $100 for the whole band, while performing for about 3-4 hours. When the songs were only 2-3 minutes long, we had to know lots of music.
We were good friends, had a lot of fun, and somehow, almost all of us avoided the booze and drugs that were starting to happen with the music scene.
We continued to increase our fan base over the years and in the summer of 1967 the band caught the eye of a local TV producer. The group appeared on the ‘Dick Carr Show’ in 1967, making their first and only TV appearance. The Dick Carr TV show was a local Fresno show with viewers from Bakersfield to Sacramento (San Joaquin Valley). I would have loved to get my hands on the tape of that show. It was a 30 minute segement where SSC performed three songs totally live. We played two cover songs and one original. It was written by Craig, called ‘Visionary Pumpkin’ and featured a flute solo by Pat. The drummer, Chuck, borrowed the timpani drums from the high school band, and let it rip.
The Sedate Sunshine Colony competed in a number of ‘battle of the bands’ against a wide variety of local groups around Fresno, including rock, soul, psychedelic, & folk-rock. Other bands that we competed with or were friends with were local bands, such as the Accents, Twelve Miles Out, and Jim K and the Vibradors. Our best outing was a 3rd place finish in a large competition in Visalia in 1968. We decided to play four songs, without a break, with transitions that Craig designed. The winning group was a soul band that had about ten members, including a full horn and brass section and Hammond organ.
l-r: Jeff Anderson, Pat Erickson, Craig Anderson and Woody Bell.
|The cassette recording date was April 25th, 1968 at the Dinuba Memorial Auditorium, Dinuba, California. A reel to reel recorder was set up with two mics out on the dance floor, about 20 feet from the band. About 15 years after the recording was made, I copied it onto cassette and that sat around getting old for a long time. No wonder it sounds so bad.|
The complete song list on the tape is as follows: Dark On You Now, Thoughts and Words, As Tears Go By, Evil Hearted You, Visionary Pumpkin, Where Were You, Change Yourself for the World, Whittier Blvd, Bentley Road, Summertime, Different Drum, Run for Your Life, Slow Down, Whiskey Man, Break on Through, My Back Pages, Soul Kitchen, and Morning Dew.
I asked Jeff to comment on individual tracks on the live tape:
“Dark On You Now” has always been one of my favorite songs to do, simply because I can selfishly wail on bass. If I had my way, I would be Jack Cassidy from Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna on every song. I always felt that SSC could really rock if it just let itself go, but it didn’t happen as often as I wanted. I was thinking of sending a copy of Dark On You Now to the Peanut Butter Conspiracy for a laugh. I’m sure nobody covered their song. We changed it quite a bit as well.
“Thoughts and Words” … This recording was a bit experimental, as I tried to make up and sing the counter melody you can hear…I wasn’t even sure of the words.
“Where Were You” was done by the Grassroots in mid-60’s. Our band was infamous for choosing obscure songs on an album that never got any air time. So, a lot of it sounded original.
“Visionary Pumpkin” … My brother Craig, used to set his alarm at about 3 AM so he could wake up and remember whatever he was dreaming about. Then he would turn on the light and write a song about it. I was upset and amazed by this. I think “Visionary Pumpkin” came from one of those nights. He tried to come up with words, but in the end, the melody was good enough. We had a fine flute player in Pat and he was looking for a showcase for it and this was it. We did this song on the Dick Carr TV show in 1966 or 67. Chuck, our drummer, borrowed the tampani drums from high school band and dragged them in to get more dramatic. I wished I had a stand up bass with a bow to play the bass part. On the tape, the bass lines sustain without hearing individual picking, as I used a felt pick and played very fast, back and forth like on the lead guitar on surf music (Pipeline).
Q. Because of the flute “Visionary Pumpkin” vaguely reminds me of California Dreaming, but there seems to be other inspirations – Gabor Szabo or Charles Lloyd Quartet, or Sandy Bull maybe?
I don’t think any of us had any jazz influence for this song. Pat was just good on flute and later graduated with a music degree in flute performance. You should have heard her senior recital.
“Whittier Blvd.” It was lots of fun to really rock. The organ was never loud enough, as Jonnie Sue was a concert pianist and had very little interest in rock music. She sort of hung in the background. Craig was always having trouble with his fuzztone.
“Bentley Road” is another original of Craig’s, which became the name of his band that recorded those 2 songs [the 45 for Forward Records]. It’s a very dark number about an aging maid that gets in a car with seven men and never comes back. The song is not complete as the tape ended in the middle and had to be flipped over. That’s why the quality of the sound improves briefly. Craig redid the song a couple of years ago.
|The group broke up in 1968 and most of us continued in music. Craig got his college degree in music composition at Fresno State College. You couldn’t believe his senior recital. It was 1969 and he got most of us in the band to do a short film with weird images. Pat was in a wedding dress rolling down a sand dune. I was in a suit and tie running from something chasing me and end up falling into a huge mud puddle! Craig then composed four songs with differing moods. He took each scene in the movie and made it a different color…red for anger, blue for joy or whatever. He then showed the film while directing the college choir singing the songs. It sounded a little like the choir on 2001 (A Space Odyssey). He says he still has the film and I plan to borrow it and use it for some kind of music video for one of our new songs.|
Craig formed a new band with Pat (vocalist) and Jonnie Sue (keyboard) and moved to LA to make it big. Dave Nyberg also went along for the event. They asked me to go along, but I was getting married and needed to finish college. I knew it was the end of the music road for me and I sold both my 1964 Fender Precision Bass and my 1967 ‘blackface’ Fender Bassman for about what I had paid for them. I have kicked myself so many times about this over the years.
Anderson, l-r: Pat Erickson, David Nyberg, Craig Anderson and Jonnie Sue Bartel.
|The band, called Anderson, played in many clubs, such as the Wine Cellar in Westwood. They changed their name to ‘Bentley Road’ and signed a recording contract and a management contract with Nick St. Nicholas, the bass player for Steppenwolf.|
They recorded two songs, the first, written by the producer, was called “Michael, Michael”. It was a pop song and the label chose this song to push. The flip side was written by Craig, called “Kill the Cobra” and showed what the band could do creatively. It also demonstrated their expertise playing their instruments. Because the first song failed to gain any traction, “Kill the Cobra” didn’t have a chance.
The band became very disenchanted with the label and recorded no more songs. They continued writing and performing for several years, while Craig produced and recorded their songs in his own studio. They broke up in 1975.
|The lead singer, Pat, stayed in LA and has been quite successful over the years. She sang back-up vocals for Pat & Debbie Boone, Tony Orlando, and Charlie Rich. Pat appeared many times on TV shows, such as the ‘Johnny Carson Show’ and was a consistent studio back-up vocalist on many records. She continues to make her living through music.|
After SSC broke up, the drummer and I started a new SSC with four new members. We had some ability and talent, but didn’t take it as seriously as we should have. We played at a few college dances and broke up in 1971.
Since then, I have played little music, but have dabbled in it for years. I would pick up a bass here, and an amp a few years later and play with friends a couple times a year. I still wanted to play.
[The band reunited for the first time in August, 2004 for a concert at the city park in Kingsburg, producing a CD and DVD of the event.]
In 2007 our high school class of ’67 had its 40th reunion and the Sedate Sunshine Colony was the entertainment for the evening. The concert went very well and the highlight was the debut of a song I wrote just for the event, called “Summer of ‘67”. It was well received.
Partly due to the excitement of performing an original tune, the band has decided to enter the studio in May of 2008 and record an album of 12 original songs. It was quite a job deciding on the songs, as 4 of us have been writing songs for a long time. We are excited and hopeful for the result, but the joy of playing together again after so many years is the real pay-off. Stay tuned for a studio update…
The 2004 reunion, Kingsburg, l-r: Jeff Anderson, Pat Erickson, Woody Bell and Craig Anderson.