July 1966, Crown Room, King Edward Hotel, Beaumont
Beaumont’s Six Deep formed in 1966, combining local country and r&b influences with contemporary folk and British Invasion sounds. Their only 45 on the De-Lynn label is one of my favorite Texas records of all time.
“Girl It’s Over” has a cutting quality to the vocals and guitars that epitomizes the best in garage music. “I Must Go” is a gentle song with a fine harmonies and a succinct, Byrds-like solo.
Original members were guitarist Ken Hitchcock, bassist Bob Welch, David Bishop on lead guitar, Roger Koshkin on keyboards, and Bill Donley on drums. Soon after forming, Dave Everett replaced Bishop and Paul Box replaced Roger Koshkin. Jim Keriotis joined, playing guitar and sharing vocal duties with Ken Hitchcock.
In Beaumont the band played gigs at the Rose Room in the Hotel Beaumont, the King Edward Hotel’s Crown Room, and the Red Carpet Lounge on Gladys St. and opened for bigger acts like the Moving Sidewalks, SJ & the Crossroads, the Cambridge Lads, the Basic Things, the Barons, the Critters and the Clique. They toured around east Texas and across the state line, playing teen clubs like the Box in Tyler and the Puppy Pen in Louisiana.
On Thanksgiving, 1966, their manager, Jack Crossley, set up a recording session at Robin Hood Brians Studio. One source for this story, Mike Dugo’s long interview with David Everett and Ken Hitchcock, contains a detailed account of their recording session that I recommend. Ken Hitchcock wrote “Girl It’s Over” and co-wrote “I Must Go” with Bob Welch.
When I spoke to Bob Welch about his later band, the Mourning Reign, I asked him about his time with the Six Deep:
As to my reflections on Six Deep. Now, that was something. As the interview with Ken and David states, Southeast Texas has always been particularly rich in musical talent and somewhat unique – it was/is oil country, Beaumont being the site of the Spindletop gusher in the early 1900’s that – the area of interest lies along the Gulf Coasts of Texas and Louisiana and is populated by an interesting and often dangerous mix of southern rednecks, dirt poor blacks, a small but growing number of Mexicans, and Cajuns of various ethnic blends. The Cajun influence on the music in that area is stronger than you might imagine, primarily because anyone who could manage to lay a dollar bill on the bar without using a stool to do so could get a drink in Louisiana. Hence, just across the river were bars and nightclubs that were like flames on a candle for Texas teens eager to explore those mysteries. Several of those clubs, LouAnn’s, the Big Oaks, and others became meccas for the big name R&B acts of that time and so the music was always hot.
If you’re at all familiar with Cajun cuisine, you know that a staple of that diet is gumbo – a rich stew made by browning flour in oil until it reaches the color of deep walnut, using that to saute’ aromatic vegetables (onion, garlic, celery, bell pepper) and adding lots of water to form the base – then throwing anything and everything else available into the pot to give it character – fish, fowl, sausages, roadkill, whatever – then fortifying it with spices designed to clear the sinuses and thickening it with okra and filet, a fine powder made from grinding dried sassafrass leaves. Gumbo is often ladled over rice and best washed down with liberal amounts of beer. This dish along with jambalaya, or dirty rice, is soul food at its finest and is not a bad metaphor for the music in the region. So, we had heavy influences of swing, hillbilly country, blues, zydeco (which at that time was just called coon-ass), swirling all around us. We spiced all that up with folk music lyricism and rocking backbeats and got Six Deep.
Ken and David are still two of my dearest friends.. our time as bandmates was too brief, but the friendships have endured, in part due to the intensity of the experience we had together and the joy we shared performing and drafting on the magic that was the mid-60’s. We were average musicians at best, but more than adequate to do respectable covers of a wide range of styles that were popular plus creative enough to put our own mark on tunes in a way that pleased the audiences wherever we played. Not many bands at the time were confident in or capable of doing original material worth beans… we’d often announce them as being cuts off a new album from so and so (name your favorite band)… just to see what would happen… more often than not… we’d get requests for replays…Looking back on it, and even comparing to today’s bands, the Six Deep was blessed with strong vocalists and performers that could get a crowd on its feet. Ken was just out there, way ahead of the times in terms of freneticism. He really shone on material from the Stones, Yardbirds, or the uptempo Beatles songs. The other thing a little off-beat he would do was male-sung adaptations of female tunes… Dusty Springfield, Skeeter Davis, etc…, no one else was doing that. Jim Keriotis was our R&B singer… holy moly was he a monster on Otis Redding, Mitch Ryder, James Brown, anything of that ilk… the women all loved Jimmy… he was typically the most busy after the shows. Together we were able to do all the harmonies, so Byrds, Hollies, Springfield, etc., were all in the repertoire. We had it all… it was a great little band.
Probably the high point for the band was getting to play at a small festival in Houston on same venue as Mothers of Invention, Canned Heat, Country Joe and the Fish, and other name acts of that time. While we were just a fill-in act, it was an incredible opportunity for a bunch of fresh punks from Beaumont.
Jack Crossley made tapes of the band live and in rehearsal, but no one knows his whereabouts. After the band broke up in 1967 Bob Welch and David Everett formed Mourning Sun, while Ken Hitchcock went on to the short-lived 1984 Revolutionary War Band.Read more about the Mourning Sun on Garage Hangover here. Also check out Six Deep’s website and the aforementioned interview by Mike Dugo. Thanks to Ken Hitchcock for the scan of the band’s business card, and to Bob Welch for his time in talking about the band. Thanks also to Gyro1966 for the transfer of “I Must Go”.
January, 1967, top: Jim Keriotis, bottom from left to right: Bobby Welch, David Everett, Bill Donley, Ken Hitchcock, Roger Koshkin