This as a photo of us playing at Brechtel Park in Algiers circa 1976-77. This was a big hangout place. the cops were cool about it. You could park there with your girlfriend and at around 10;pm the cops would come through with their lights on just to let everyone know it was time to go. To the far left is George on bass, Mike on drums, Johnny playing the Strat amd me. We played there quite a few times til it was shut down for renovations. That's all part of the golf course now.
We were playing there one afternoon and it was getting dark and we had no lights. There was a big crowd and nobody wanted to leave.. Suddenly this guy pulled his car around and turned his headlights on us, then another, and another until there was a half circle of headlights aimed at us. Between th headlights and were people dancing and having a ball. It was very surreal. One of those things you don't forget.
We're kids of the 60s, Beatles, Stones, Dylan, it was all new. Our folks spent a bunch of money on a good Catholic education for us to hippie out on them. I started playing in bands when I was 13 or so. A friend of my Mom had played with Buddy Holly and gave us a box of 45s that we never bothered with, I mean that was old stuff. But when I was 17 I started listening to them. Chuck berry, Little richard, all that. and it clicked. Then we started Jamming. I had a band with my two mates and we drafted brother George to play bass instead of going fishing.
Our folks had removed the wall between two bedrooms so we had this one big room with our gear set up at one end.They would go out on the weekends and we'd pack the room with friends and play all night. It was great when they'd go out of town. Party for days. They did come home early once to find a Harley in the living room and a couple sleeping in the bathtub. The leash tightened up after that.
So around 1973 Johnny started playing with us. The original drummer wasn't showing up all the time so Mike started playing drums when he was absent. Finally we confronted the dude and he was gone and that was it. It was a bad scene, we were friends but I had to play and I couldn't have people sitting on the fence. My other mate came and went, but was a non factor. It was the four of us against the world. So we bashed around the bars, eventually finding a home at this place by the Algiers ferry called The Rete (reetee) A biker bar with artists and all kinds of fringe people hanging out. Great environment. We played there so much we'd juat leave our gear set up. When bikers are your friends nobody messe with you or your stuff. The back cover is us playing there.
After about 9 months the cops closed the place down so we split town and wound up in Bay St. Louis. Folks were building a house out there, the kind you finish on your own. I met these good ole boys and played the honky tonks up in the sticks where they sold beer and moonshine. We bought an old school bus, put some bunks in it. Scraped up a few gigs and hit the road.
Now this is the late 70s. We were a flat out jam band. Club gigs were weird. The best places would let us roll and it would be great. Some would want that 45 minutes and break, some even wanted a set list which I never did. The worst though were the joints that had disco. We'd play for an hour, then disco for an hour. It was sick.
We'd finished a gig and were going down the interstate when this drunk oil exec. in his company car slammed into us. Nobody got hurt but the bus needed repair and we got put up in a nice motel all expenses paid. For days we ate like pigs and slept like kings. I'd take 3 or 4 showers a day, making up for lost time. Anyway we decided we were going nowhere and needed to change course. First we needed something to present, a record. Second, we needed to be where things were happening, either New York or Los Angeles.
We bought a Teac 2300 two track tape recorder and used our Bi amp 12 channel mixer from our pa system. a couple of AKG mikes and a bunch of Shure SM57s. Mike had a Ludwig 4 piece set, George had an Ampeg VT23 bass rig with these two big folded cabinets and a Gibson Thunderbird Bass. Johnny had a Marshall100, and I had a Fender Dual Showman w/Reverb head. We each had 2 small Fender Bassman Cabinets.. He had a Les Paul Standard and I had a Les Paul 57, thinner with P90s. I also used an old Epiphone acoustic. She looked like a Hummingbird but broen sunburst and the pickguard had cactuses on it and a Dobro. We would decide on a song and as we worked on it we would mix it since it was live so after a few hours we'd have the sound and the mix. Then we'd take a break before going for it. A lot of work, a lot of fun. We were recording Neighborhood and had gone through a few takes where we almost had it and somebody would blow it So fourth or fifth take and it's going good and we hit the break and I knew I was out of tune. I somehow managed to keep playing and get back in tune and not lose it. When we finished we rented another Teac to do a clean up sort of balancing mix and I added the harp on Good Dog. Now you didn't have tuners back then. We used tuning forks. So I didn't know if we'd be in key with the harp or not, fortunately we were close. Someone came up eith the idea that The Beatles had The White Album, we'll do The Black Album, and it fit. 300 pressings were done. You put all you've got into something and it's not happening like you want and you get tired and frustrated. So we took a box of records out to a field with a shotgun and blew those suckers to hell. I think it was a week or so after that a local record company got hold of us. This record collector wanted one of the shot up ones, they no longer exist. So I'd been writing songs and we had some we'd already recorded and thought of doing them but decided to do what was happening and that's what you get. The whole thing is kind of dark and gritty cause that's where we were. A lot of attitude. Most of the songs speak for themselves. March I'd just finished reading The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich. Never going, always gone is about a girl that never happened. Slip away is about a friend who got really messed up on drugs, had to let her go.. She comes is about me. No one heard her was from a senseless murder on the news. No reason to cry is pretty plain faced, Good dog, we've all had rotten jobs,Neighborhood, us against the world.
So we never made it to either coast. A forming company signed us and we came back to New Orleans. They had production rights and an eye for the then emerging Adult Contemporary Radio market. It was a bad marriage. There was too much Cocaine and too many opinions in the room. We recorded an album, they released this horrible single. We stole the master tapes from the producer's apartment and burnt them and walked out on the contract. We played gigs together into the 90s, still get together now and then. In 1993 I met Dave Sharp who was the guitar player for The Alarm. We played together until he went back to England a few years ago. Dave and I and 2 other friends opened a recording studio in the late 90s I released a cd titled Odd Fellows Rest in 2000 and another in 2002. I have a trio called The Hurricane Refugees and we just finished a cd called The Kerry Sessions. It's named after The Kerry Irish Pub, a very cool place in the French Quarter where we play at least twice a month. We've all adapted to the straight world in as much as we can tolerate it. I have a beautiful wife and son, and an 11 month old Labrador retriever named Raymond who must want me to buy new furniture cause he's eating everything in the house.
Thomas did a great job. I love the vinyl. I'm glad it's out there still being heard. I'm a player, always have been, always will be. The thing I've found in life is to enbrace the things you love and believe in. Art is all around us. So much beauty to behold, so much life to live. Every day is a new adventure. Peace out.
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011
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