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Farm interview with Gary Gordon & George Leemon

December 7, 2012

Farm interview with Gary Gordon & George Leemon

Farm was an early 70’s band from Southern
Illinois. They were amazing musicians and sounded very similar to The Allman
Brothers. They released only one LP from 1971. Kevin Rathert spoke with two
members of the band. Gary was the guitarist and George was their manager and
sound man. Shadoks will be releasing reissue of this LP in late January/early February with our interview on insert. Be sure to grab a copy.

Hey Gary, this is Kevin from Psychedelic
Baby, how are you doing tonight?
Gary Gordon:  I’m doing fine
Hey I really appreciate you taking the time
to answer a few questions and give our readers a bit of the history of
Farm.  I’ve gotta say your record sounds
as good today as ever.
Gary Gordon:  I appreciate it.
I really appreciate the cd you sent me
because I know the LP I have is a bootleg from Italy and I wish that hadn’t
happened but you know stuff happens.
Gary Gordon:  Yeah. 
I remastered the cd so hopefully that sounded a little better.
Oh it sounds great.  Tell me, where were you guys all from?
Gary Gordon:  Well, I was from Sparta, Jim Elwyn, was from
Sparta, the bassist.  All of the other
guys, lets see Rodger was from Mt. Vernon (note:organ and piano), and Del
Herbert (lead guitar and 12-string) and Mike Young (drums) were from Mt.
Vernon, and Steve Evanchik (congas, timbales, cymbals and mouth harp) was from
Christopher.  (Note:all these towns are
in Southern Illinois, within 20 or 30 miles of each other).
How did you guys happen to come together
and form Farm?  Did you all come from
different bands?
GG: 
Jim Elwyn and I had played together since about 1966. 
What band was that?
GG: 
Oh, I’m really not sure.  We were
playing like three times a week because gigs were easy to come by.  Lost Times I think was the name of the
band.  We were playing teen dances and
pool parties and we had a regular gig, a couple two or three regular gigs. 
Wow! 
Where were they at?
GG: 
We played each week at the Sparta Country Club, and lots of teen dances,
for instance the Sparta Lions Club, Elks, the Pinckneyville KCs, lots of high
schools, and Community Centers like the one in Steeleville.  We played at the Sparta swimming pool and
skating rinks, and Campbell Hill (note:interviewers home town) we played there.  Hard to imagine now cause there aren’t many
places to play gigs.  I had a visitor in
here from Washington two weeks ago, and he remembered a bunch of gigs we did
that I had forgotten about.  So Jim Elwyn
and I played a lot together since 1966. 
I had also played a little with Del Herbert through high school.  I think we might have called ourselves Farm,
but we teamed up just after we got out of high school.  The guys you’ve got on the record there.
Where was the first Farm gig?
GG:I think Elwyn and I had a group we
called Farm before.  I’m almost certain
we had a band we called Farm before we got together with the other guys.  But no, I don’t remember because we had a lot
of gigs.  You don’t realize what’s gonna
happen when you’re a kid.  I do remember
this.  We were having a rehearsal, Del
Herbert, the guitarist and myself, and Dad hollered down the steps, “Hey,
they’ve lit on the Moon.  Do you wanna
watch it?”
And what was your answer?
GG: 
I don’t know if we even all went upstairs to watch the tv.  I think we might have stepped up there for a
moment, but the music was real important to us.
Gary Gordon
I notice on the liner notes that George
Leemon is credited as the spiritual guide for your band.  Can you give us a little insight into that?

GG: 
Well, we put that down because a lot of the groups back then, like the
Beatles you know, were saying they had this kind of spiritual guidance.  George was a wonderful influence.  He was a close friend of mine and Jim Elwyn’s
all the way through high school and he was a great, a really great
soundman.  He had a lot to do with us
sounding great on stage.
I’ve actually been in touch with George on
Facebook and hope to interview him at some point.

GG: 
He was in charge of our PA.  It
was light years ahead of most bands.  It
was simple but way ahead of what most bands had.  I remember people saying they’d seen Small
Faces or Jethro Tull and saying “you guys sound as good or better than
them.”  And I’d say it was the
PA.  You know George was so good.
Well, who were your influences?

GG: 
My influences were pretty varied. 
I was very influenced by blues music but I didn’t bring that to
Farm.  But there was a big blues revival
in 66; or 67, and I got so into these old guys, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters,
Albert King and I saw some of those guys. 
Then when I was 13 I saw The Who, and they were using a really small PA,
almost like Farm went on to use, and man they were tremendous.  That was a major, major influence.  It turned me around.  That might have been my biggest influence,
but then in 1968 I got to see Jimi Hendrix and then I saw Pink Floyd and again
they had a very small PA system.  The
sound was so good.  I’ve just been a
stickler for tone and good sound.  But I
was, you know, like the rest of the band influenced by The Beatles and
Santana.  And influences in blues,
Santana.  We didn’t worry about copying
though.  I remember, in fact, that we
were decidely not interested in copying.
I notice on your album, there is a cover of
“Statesboro Blues” but all the other songs are originals.  Do you remember what was the first song Farm
wrote?
GG: 
Our first original song that we did was called “Gone.”  It was one I came up with the lyrics for very
early on in our rehearsals.  I’ve gotta
tell you that album is a very poor representation of us because that album was
done really early in our career and we were just starting to get the sound
together.  We were just getting out of
high school and we were immediately into original songs.
Did you do any recording before the album?
GG: 
We had a lot of board taps.  Not
many bands had a console with two sound guys manning the console in those
days.  We did and we were able to make
really nice board tapes.  I remember
listening to those and thinking “My God its coming out fantastic.”  But all of those tapes burned.  I’m just gonna take a wild guess here and say
we probably had a good forty or fifty different original songs.  I know we had a lot.  “Yeah, those are just gone.” 
Were there any Farm tapes that weren’t
destroyed in the fire?
GG: 
There could have been.  Maybe one
of these days something will surface. 
Just any little thing would be cool. 
I have some live recordings because we did two reunion concerts, one
after about 35 years and I’ve got about three of those songs mixed now.  Its a big job to mix that.  My studio is so busy with people who come
from around the world that I don’t get much time to work on my own stuff.
Did everybody get to play in the
reunions?  Was it the whole original
band?
GG: 
It was our original band except our percussionist Steve Evanchik.  He was an important part.  That particular night showed me that Steve
was real critical to our sound becaue he played congas, timbales and other
percussion stuff and he really drove the group, much more so than most groups
in those days.  More like one of the guys
from Santana, just really pushing the group. 
It was the original band except Steve, because I’m afraid Steve had had
a stroke or something.  He was at the
show but he was fairly incoherent.
Joe’s Farm
How did Farm go about writing songs?  I notice on the LP the songs are credited to
the band.  How did the band go about
writing and arranging the songs?
GG: 
We were just very excited about what we were doing.  Remember, we were like 18 or 19 during our
career.  Steve might have been like
22.  He was the older guy.  We knew we had this thing going and it was by
osmosis.  I wrote lyrics down on scratch
pads.  There might be some around
today.  Del came up with some
lyrics.  I borrowed a couple of poems
that I had known about from school days. 
Those songs, sadly they are gone. 
I’ll tell you right now, a lot of our best stuff was not on that record.
Three quarters, more than that, nine tenths of our stuff wasn’t on that
record.  We wrote together because our rehearsals
were really spontaneous and very entertaining. 
It was really fun to play.  We had
songs come out of most every session we had.
Did you open with some bigger bands?  Or play with some bigger bands of the day?

GG: 
We may have.  The only thing I can
think of was Canned Heat.  That was like
a crammed auditorium.  Those days were so
different.  I mean everybody was smoking
pot like a chimney.  That’s the only one
I remember.  There were some other
theaters that were really cool with some bands that were touring.  Let me think on that.
Getting back to the PA and your sound, what
kind of gear were you guys using?
GG: 
Well, early on we used JBL speakers and drivers, later we had McIntosh
amps.  Its collectors stuff nowadays you
know.
Gary’s show pants
Where were you guys getting your gear?
GG: 
I don’t know.  That’s stuff that
George Leemon was handling.  He was our
soundman you know.  I feel that George
was just as much an asset as any of the members of the group because the sound
system wasn’t as large as some of the touring groups, but it was of the quality
of the really fine concert groups of the day.
The sound was kinda magical.  What kind of guitar were you using at the
time?
GG: 
I started out using my Fender Telecaster and then I went to, I had a lap
steel, this really old lap steel that I slung around my neck and played it like
a bottleneck guitar.  It wasn’t on my
lap.  I had heard hardly anybody playing
electric bottle neck in those days. 
Nowadays you hear it all the time. 
Back then the only guy I knew of was Ry Cooder.  I heard him play with Taj Mahal.  And I heard some of Duane Allman.  I’d seen him live with a band called The Hour
Glass and I thought they were just great. 
He really turned me on to the electric bottle neck guitar.
Is that why you guys ended up covering
“Statesboro Blues” on your LP?
GG: 
I had been listening to it by Taj Mahal and I loved his version of
it.  I was so into Taj Mahal.  On the first part of Farm I was playing the
Telecaster and then I got a Rickenbacker which was a hollow body double pickup,
a thin hollow body Rickenbacker 330.  I
loved that thing because we played fairly low powered tube amps that got mighty
loud though.  I used eight twelves and
four tens and you can just about feel the sound all through your body.  The Rickenbacker hollow body would really
sustain well.  I kinda preferred the
Rickenbacker once I got it.  With the
guitars I was using a Sunn Sceptre tube amp, later teamed with a Magnatone
Slave amp.  I’ve got a couple of other
Rickenbackers that I use for rock music cause I still play some rock.
So tell me, how long was Farm together?
Coulterville High
GG: 
You know I’m a little unclear about this.  I talked to Del Herbert the other day and he
remembered having a rehearsal when they walked on the moon.  That was July 21, 1969.  He said we had been playing a little while by
then.  It wasn’t quite the band on the
LP, that came together the first of May, 1971. 
The album was recorded I think in June of 1971.  That’s a pretty accurate guess.  Jim Elwyn and I had been playing since we
were in grade school and then we took up with Del Herbert when we were in high
school, so the three of us had quite a bit of experience together making
music.  The band on the record got
together just right after I got out of high school in 1971.  When we did the album most of us were
18.  I had been out there gigging since I
was 12 as had Jim Elwyn and during the warm weather we’d play two or three
times a week.
Coulterville High
How did you guys end up in South Pekin, IL
to record the LP?
GG: 
I wish I had a better story about that. 
George Leemon would have been the guy who made contact there.  The guy who ran that studio told me, while I
was in the control room, he said “Gary, I had R.E.O. Speedwagon up here
last week.”  I really liked them and
he had some other groups come in who were starting to get pretty popular.  That’s likely how George came in contact with
Golden Voice Recording Studios.
Had you ever worked with the sound engineer
there, Jerry Milam, before?
GG: 
I had not.  But he was very very
good.  I’ve found out from conversations
with Jerry that Chet Atkins respected him and Chet would send groups from
Tennessee to record there because it was a lot lower cost.  Jerry was one of the few sound engineers who
knew what to do with a rock band back then. 
I remember our roadies started bringing our gear in and Jerry said
“No, no, no, you can’t use all that gear.”  We fought that, but I broke my gear down and
just used four twelves and Jim just used one cabinet with two fifteens in an
effort to keep the volume lower and to have better recording.  Del borrowed the amp from the studio.  He used a little Fender.  I now know that using a smaller amp in
recording its easier to get a good sound. 
Jerry did a great job of coping with the loud volume we recorded at.
How did you guys arrive at the songs you
chose for the LP?
GG: 
My mind is a litle foggy about that but one of the determining factors
was that was the first time we’d done a gig without our old lead vocalist.  Up to that point Del and I had been doing a
lot of twin guitar stuff like The Stones. 
The guy who sang didn’t get along with us as well as the rest of us so
it came down to the songs that I could sing. 
So its basically you singing lead on the
LP?
GG: 
Yeah, its me singing lead on everything. 
Later on I had a little support from Del and Jim.  From that point on our originals just really
took off.  But that was the first gig
where I did the lead vocals.  So that’s
how the songs got chosen.
Your vocals seem to fit so well.
GG: 
Well, I thank you very much for that observation.  I was mighty young.  Listening now, I think I did fair considering
how young I was but we did that album really quickly.  We were on a tight budget.  I can’t say exactly how long we spent on
it.  But I can say we only spent one
day.  Everything was tracked in a day and
probably mixed that night.
Were there any other songs that you guys
worked on that didn’t end up on the LP?
GG: 
We just played those to my knowledge. 
Our repertoire was quite a bit bigger but we didn’t want our old lead
singer on the record.  We had decided we
weren’t gonna have him any longer.  Right
after that record the band improved so much cause we really developed our own
sound.  We went away from the sound we’d
had with our old singer.  That was a more
radio oriented sound that we didn’t even like. 
The album doesn’t come off commercial, but
it does sound FM radio friendly.
GG: 
Yeah, FM made it up.  It still
gets some play on FM. 
GG: 
I’ve got a couple of funny stories Kevin, if you don’t mind?
No, no go right ahead.

GG: 
I’ve had this music store in Sparta for 25 years or so and back in about
1990 or 1991, a guy came in and looked around for a while.  So I asked him where he was from.  He said “Colorado Springs.”  And I said “You mean
Colorado?”  And he said
“Yeah.”  Then he said,
“You know I’ve heard there’s a really great rock group from Sparta,
Illinois.”  And I said “Who’s
that, there might have been a few?” 
He said “A group called Farm.” 
I said, “yeah, that was my group.”  And he didn’t believe me.  He said, “No man, it was before your time.”  I said, “How did you hear about
them?”  He said, “Well, they
still play them on the radio.  They had a
really fine album.  It still plays in my
home town.”  He just thought I was
lying.
Can you tell us a little about the label
that the LP came out on?

GG: 
Crusade was a multi-faceted place. 
They were a recording studio and they arranged a lot of manufacture for
rock groups.  That’s how we got them.
Steve Evanchik and Mike Young
The cover art is really interesting.  Is the photo from any particular farm?

GG: 
That’s George Leemon’s relatives place. 
It would have been in Randolph County, Illinois.  It kinda fits, don’t it?
GG: 
Kevin, I’ve got another one for you. 
I was hitchhiking, dressed like I was dressed like any summer day.  Kinda like Neil Young, you know, pants with a
couple of patches on them. I get picked up by about 4 or 5 young folks, a
little older than I, they were probably in their early 20s.  And just between you and I, they had a joint
going, and then I got in and they got another one going, and they wanted to
know something about me so they said, “Hey man, who are you?”  I said “well, I’m Gary
Gordon.”  And they said “What
do you do man?”  And I said,
“well I play in this group Farm.” 
And simultaneously everybody in the car said “Man, you’re full of
shit.  Farm’s famous.”  And I said, “Well, that’s what I
did.”  But they didn’t believe
me.  They thought, well we got a lot of
FM air play back then, and I was on an interstate highway, back then you could
hitchhike on an interstate.  I guess they
thought we were famous enough I ought to at least have my own car.  “Ain’t that somethin’?”
Where was it they picked you up hitchhiking, Gary?

GG:  I was on the far side of Mt. Vernon.  I might’ve been, I don’t remember for sure
but I might have been 90 miles east you know. 
Over toward Indiana, something like that.
Did you guys get any offers from labels to
pick the album up?
GG: 
The only offer we got, and we were only like 19 or 20.  You know your business sense then isn’t like
it is when you’re even like 30.  But the
only offer I remember, I signed with K-Tel, along with I believe all the other
guys from Farm.  K-Tel picked it up or at
least had the rights to it.
I know that in 2000, there was a reissue on
vinyl that came out of Italy, and I think I already know the answer to this
question, but did you guys sign a contract with Comet (Akarma) Records?  Have you seen a copy of the LP?
GG: 
I’ve heard about it several times and talked to people who had
copies.  But I’ve never actually seen a
copy.
I’m gonna assume none of you guys saw any
money coming out of Italy?
GG: 
No, none.  I was talking to a guy
in about 1996 who was interested in putting it out in America, but it never
came together.  I think it might have
been called The Wild Places or something. 
To best of my knowledge, there was never a legitimate reissue, just the
remastering that I put out.
So, 3 Chord Records is your own label?
GG:  I wanted a bar code.  The reason that’s 3 Chord Records is that’s a
man I’ve done business with for years and he’s had some rock re-releases and
records.  He’s the guy who does
manufacturing for Pink Things and other people who have done work at my studio.  He’s a friend of Jerry Milam’s.  Rather than put it out as a brown paper bag
record I asked him if we could have a proper bar code and he said, “yeah,
cool.”  My son helped me a little
with that remastering.  I wanted to try
to get the bass line even and see if I could bring out a little more of the
piano and rhythm guitar.  I just tried to
improve the sound without overcompressing it or anything.
When Farm played live what songs got the
people up dancing and moving around?

Del Herbert
GG: 
I have a recollection when I was using that slide you know, cause Del
was such a brilliant 6 string lead player, far beyond what you hear on the
LP.  Man we could go on with that Hammond
Organ through Leslies and I played slide guitar in a very unusal fashion and I
remember people would just press up against us. 
They were excited.  So that along
with the volume.  Jim Elwyn had a 335
watt Fender bass amp, which would be like 3 Marshall heads used by John
Entwistle of The Who.  It would blow your
pant legs.  The power and clarity got
people.  One of the songs that comes to
mind was called “Honky Roll.” 
We had one called “The Genius Spider” which had really good
twists and turns and jams in it. 
Jim Elwyn
Where did the fire take place that
destroyed all The Farm recordings?
GG: 
I’m not certain of it, but one of the roadies had the tapes at his home
and that’s where they burned.  Yeah, 40
or more recordings by George and the original multi-tracks from the LP
burned.  When I remastered the cd I had
to go from the 2-track, the stereo master, otherwise I would had a chance to remix
from the original eight tracks.
Besides Canned Heat are there any other
bands you gigged with whose sound meshed so well with Farm?
GG: 
Bruce Brown, who was Charlie Daniels’ guitar player for years, had a
band that we gigged with several times and that was a real good match.
Do you have a recollection of the last gig
Farm played before you called it a day?
GG: 
Nobody’s ever asked me that one. 
I have a pretty vivid memory of a gig at SIU-Carbondale and that was a
great gig.  That may have been one of our
last.  It seems like most of our gigs we
were hitting on all cylinders.  I don’t
remember being bothered by any of our gigs. 
We just all enjoyed playing together so much, so maybe that’s why none
really stand out in my mind.
What about the reunion gigs Gary?  When were they and how did they go down?

GG: 
We had our first reunion gig in 2007 in Mt. Vernon at a club called The
Living Room.  The place was packed.  People came from all over the country to see
the gig.  The second reunion was in 2009
at the Sesser Theater, in Sesser, IL. 
The first reunion was recorded both in multi-track audio and video.  The second reunion was also recorded in audio
and video.  At least one song is
available from ITunes from the 2007 reunion gig, the track being
“Gone” the song that was the first child of Farm.  Gary is working on mixing more of the live
recordings and making them commercially available.
What’s Gary Gordon been up to since Farm?

GG: 
At the end of Farm I took a look at the pile of gear we had.  You know there was a lot on stage.  And about that time The Nitty Gritty Dirt
Band put out the “Circle” album 
and I really loved that kind of music. 
So I just dove right into bluegrass and had a professional career for
many, many years, playing all across the country and overseas.  I’m in folk music these days and I produce a
lot of records.  I have made records as
part of The Gordon’s (with Gary’s wife), I’ve made a couple of solo (blues)
records, I’ve travelled to Ireland to produce a record for the man who sings
for The Chieftains, I do a lot of record production at my own Inside Out
Recording Studios.
Are your post-Farm recordings
available?  Where can readers get records
by The Gordons and other records you’ve made?

GG: 
www.thegordonsmusic.com has records, tv footage, video, everything is
there.  I look back at The Farm days and
I thank the musicians I played with because they were so skilled, and I thank
George Leemon because he kept us sounding good. 
Because of that I’ve been able to help other artists out. 
Are you still in touch with the guys from
Farm?

GG: 
I saw Jim, the bassist, 2 days ago. 
I spoke with Del 3 days ago.  I
occasionally speak with the other guys so I feel in touch with them.  Sometimes a couple of years will go by, but
they’re never out of my mind.  You know
its funny you use the word magic, it was real. 
We were very creative.  I can say
that because today I was sent a record from a musician I’ve been working with
from Sweden and listening to it I was able to say I did my level best.  I look back and I think “you know I
think Farm was on a level with these musician.”  It was real. 
Everybody was trying to do their best.
What’s the name of your studio and how do
people contact you to record there?
GG: 
The name of the studio is Inside Out Recording Studio, Sparta, IL and
the best way to reach me is via email at: 
gatormusic@hotmail.com and online at: 
thegordonsmusic.com
What’s the name of your music shop in
Sparta, IL?
GG: 
Alligator Music and you can find it on Facebook.
Gary, I can’t thank you enough for taking
so much time from your busy schedule for the benefit of Psychedelic Baby
readers.  From myself, owner/editor
Klemen Breznikar, and all Psychedelic Baby readers worldwide, thank you so
much.  It has been a real pleasure
talking to you.
GG:  Thanks a lot Kevin.  Likewise, I really appreciate the work you’re doing.  Take care and have a wonderful evening.
A very special thank you to Mr. Randy Nagel for arranging the interview.
George Leemon was their sound man and manager of Farm. Here is our conversation with him about his recollection about the Farm. 
Hi George, thanks so much for taking time
out of your busy schedule to share some of your recollections of time spent as
sound man and basically manager of Farm.
GL: 
My pleasure.
How did you become involved with Gary and
the rest of the members of Farm?
GL: 
I knew Gary (Gordon) and Jim Elwyn (Farms’ bassist) from school in
Sparta.  I played keyboards so I went to
a lot of the gigs that they played under various names throughout school.  Once we got our licenses to drive, we started
going to surrounding towns and met Del Herbert (lead guitarist) when he was
driving age, 16, because he was dating a girl from Pinckneyville and we went to
Pinckneyville a lot. 
What year was this?

GL: 
Well, probably 1967, maybe 1968. 
I had gone out on a date with Betty Joe, the girl from Pinckneyville,
also, but she went out with Del and they kinda hooked up.
On the Farm LP you are listed as the
spiritual guide of the band, what was that all about?
GL: 
They wanted to give me some kind of credit as I was a big driving force,
putting the money up for the band’s recording and pushing the band.  I was out trying to book gigs, I got the
album played on KSHE, an FM station in St. Louis, In fact, New Years Eve 1971,
the album had come out earlier that year and KSHE started the New Year by
playing “Let That Boy Boogie” as the first song they played that
year.  I was an electronics guys as well
and I began tinkering with amps and I built a setup for Jim Elwyn since the one
he had just wasn’t any good.  I also
built a power amp for Gary to go along with the amp he was using to give him a
little bit more power.  So I was deeply
into the electronics part and I was also always promoting the band.  I drove all over the place to get them
gigs.  There was a station in St. Louis,
I can’t remember the name, but it was a kind of underground station in a house
and we set up in a basement and Farm played live on the station.  It was just phenomenal! 
One thing I remember about Farm was that
their PA system was just outstanding.
GL: 
For the time that was just the best thing around.  We modified the amps so that the low end
response was much better and it put out around 800 watts RMS with sustainable
peaks at around 1000 watts, so we had about 500 watts on each side of the
PA.  But more importantly as a musician
myself I mixed the music differently than most sound engineers.  My idea was to pull volume down when someone
was going to play lead rather than constantly pushing things up to make them
stand out.  We had very little in the way
of effects, so it was pretty straightforward although I did buy an echoplex
which we used toward the end.  I was
continually buying equipment and always kept a healthy PA system.
So you were pretty well with the band from
start to finish?
GL: 
Yeah, pretty much.  They were
already playing out when I joined, but I had a Sony reel to reel tape recorder
which I would bring out to shows and I’d set up a couple of microphones and
record in stereo to give them an idea of what they sounded like.  That’s what I did initially. 
You were also involved in the promotion of
the band.  Can you talk a little about
that?
GL: 
Once the album was pressed we had plenty of copies to take around and I
would drive out constantly, all over the place. 
I would try to get it played at all the radio stations and they were
pretty receptive to a band from their area that had an album out, so it was
pretty cool.  Also, I’d drive around and
try to get gigs.  That was a difficult
process at that point in time because everybody wanted a band that was gonna
play Top 40 songs but we had some success at like the Elks Club, the Lion’s
Club and places like that. 
Were you involved in obtaining the gear
that the band was using, like the guitars and drum kits and things?
GL: 
No, I didn’t help them select gear, just build and repair.  Basically if it was broke, I was there to fix
it.  As far as amps go, I was constantly
trying to come up with a better design. 
For example Gary’s amp sounded too tinny, so I built him a 100 watt amp
that we carried in a box, a cardboard box. 
I didn’t know how to build a wooden cabinet or anything so we carried it
in a box and it sounded great, although one time we were driving to a gig and
the box fell over, and things came apart, so we got to the gig, got things set
up and got the mix going, and I sat there with my soldering iron and by the
time they took their first break I had it back together and he had full power
again.
How long were you involved with the band?
GL: 
From 1970 until they broke up.  I
went up to South Pekin with them to record the album.  I sat at the mixing console with Jerry Milam,
the recording engineer when he was recording them.  I was very very nervous because it was a lot
of money to put out at the time and we had no idea what was going to
happen.  When I was working with Styx, as
keyboard tech, later in the 70s I made a point of introducing myself to all the
promoters around the country and one of them based around the St. Louis area
had been hunting and hunting for Farm because he wanted to book them on a major
tour.  He heard the album on KSHE FM and
was trying and trying to find the band but we never made contact.  That could have put the band over the top and
led to a second LP. 
How much money did the recording in South
Pekin cost? 
G.L. 
I can’t remember exactly, but by todays standards it was cheap, $2000,
maybe $2,500. 
Do you remember how many albums were
pressed?
G.L: 
I believe it was 1,000.  And
pressing cost about the same amount, $2,000 to $2,500.  We had them pressed in Flora, IL. 
How was distribution of the LPs handled?
G.L.: 
It was just all word of mouth.  We
handed them out, tried to sell them at gigs, etc.  At one point a guy recorded the album onto
tape and people realized they could sell bootleg copies of the LP on cassette
tape.  That was detrimental to album
sales. 
Can you give us an idea of how many songs Farm
recorded besides the five included on the LP, songs recorded live or at
practices?
G.L.: 
Not that many.  I’ve got maybe
three or four songs live that actually came out okay and we saved.  Tape was expensive so if the songs didn’t
turn out right we just recorded over them. 
Which was terrible but we didn’t have the money to buy reels and reels
of tape.  All of these are songs that
weren’t on the album.  “Ingenious
Spider” and “What A Mess” are two that come to mind. 
Have any of those songs survived?
G.L.: 
I think they may have recorded “Ingenious Spider” at Sesser or
Mt. Vernon, at one of their reunion gigs, which were both recorded.
Are any of the tapes still in
existence?  Gary said that most of the
recordings were destroyed in a fire including the multi-tracks from the LP.
G.L.: 
No, well I think I still have one recording from a gig at the gymnasium
at Sparta High School so its pretty echoey. 
That’s the only one I’ve got and you know its so old the mylar is
falling apart.  Its not even worth transferring
to CD.  Its terrible because when
everything was cooking they had some really nice recordings.  Like the night they backed up Canned Heat in
Springfield, IL at a concert.  That night
everything went relatively flawlessly. 
Del’s amp blew a tube which it always did and Canned Heat’s roadies were
there and they had him plugged back in within a minute and they went right on
with the song.  Bob Hite, the lead singer
of Canned Heat sat down and talked with us and said “you guys are really
good and I’d like to use you guys on the road to back us up.”  We thought at that point, we were really
gonna be going places.  Naturally, Canned
Heat broke up just shortly after that and of course that sank that idea.  Their lead guitarist was heavily into drugs
and he was late showing up for the show and was so drugged up he could hardly
play.  It was terrible.  That was a very monumental gig for Farm. 
That was the gig that stuck out in Gary’s
mind.  I was wondering, can you think of
any others that stick out in your mind?
G.L.: 
Certainly.  Certainly.  We played down in Carbondale, IL at one of
the big community buildings down there. 
We also played outside in the beer garden of Merlin’s (a Carbondale bar)
and then we played at the university, SIU-C. 
We had a huge turnout.  If I
remember right, that was the last gig Farm ever played. 
I had asked Gary about Farm’s last gig and
that one (SIU-C) was the last one he could remember. 
G.L.: 
Yeah, that was the last one. 
Do you remember, was Farm headlining on
that gig?
G.L.: 
Oh yeah.  Definitely, yeah. 
One thing I had wondered.  Was there any interest from major labels to
pick up the album?
G.L.: 
Not to the best of my knowledge. 
However, if we had hooked up with the promoter from St. Louis then there
would have been a good chance.  But by
the time of the gig at SIU-C money was a problem, you know nobody had any
money.  I wasn’t working at that
point. 
It sounds like you were the seventh member
of the band George.
G.L.: 
Pretty much.  I put my heart and
soul into it.  At that point in time,
1971, I got my draft lottery number and it was 18.  The Viet Nam War was raging and I just lost
it because that was the last thing I wanted to do, you know, go over there and
get shot.  I moved out to a little house
outside of Ina, IL and changed my name to avoid the draft.  I was going under the name of Ben Johnson and
I couldn’t work so I didn’t have much money. 
One thing I asked Gary, the cover of the
album, he told that was some family members of yours.
G.L.: 
Yes, we had a glass negative that we found at my grandma’s house.  The photo was taken from a farm about halfway
between Sparta and Pinckneyville.  I
don’t think the house is standing anymore, but we actually went out to it, and
yeah that was some family members of mine on my mother’s side. 
It just kills me that 28 minutes are all
that remain of Farm’s recording career.
G.L.: 
Yeah, we had a lot of other good songs. 
When Farm went into the studio they didn’t tell their original lead
singer, they wanted to do it without him so they could only do the songs that
Gary (Gordon) sang.  Songs like
“Ingenious Spider” which includes an incredible bass solo by Jim
Elwyn couldn’t be recorded because Gary didn’t sing it.  They had a lot of other really good songs
that are just lost.
Can you remember where the master tapes
were when they burned? 
G.L.: 
Up near Flora.  The band stored
them there.  It was tragic, but at the
time they burned they were probably in a very deteriorated condition because
they weren’t in cold storage, they were just sitting on the shelf and they got
really hot in the summer and were probably already beyond usage.
Farm played a couple of reunion gigs, one
in Mt. Vernon and one in Sesser.  Were
you able to attend either one of them?
G.L.: 
I was not. It was my intention to fly back from California but I was
just covered up in work, so it didn’t work out that way. 
What are your most vivid recollections of
Farm, George?  Are there any moments that
really just pop out in your mind like “wow.”
G.L.: 
Did Gary mention the festival at Bull Island, Indiana?  (response from me:  “no”).  We went there.  It was a disaster.  I mean it was on an island in the middle of
the Wabash River.  There was a motorcycle
gang from Carbondale called the “Boneshakers” and they were, you
know, bad ass, riding choppers and everything and they came up on us as we were
sitting in this long line and they escorted us in.  They cleared a path, cause there were 40 or
50 motorcycles in front of us, and we followed them all the way backstage.  There were all these choppers, separating all
these people, and an old farm truck following behind them.  A big box truck with me driving it being
escorted right backstage.  It was pretty
cool.  The very first thing that
happened, a guy staggered up until he turned blue and collapsed right in front
of me.  I gave him mouth to mouth
resucitation and we punded on his heart until the paramedics got there and
basically saved his life.  He’d
od’ed.  Somebody sold him bleach as
heroin and it stopped his heart.  That
kinda how that whole thing went.  We went
backstage and we unpacked our gear and were all ready to set up, when the stage
manager came over and said “I’m taking over, nobody is playing except top
acts from now on.”  We had all our
gear ready to put on stage and then got pushed back.  And of course there were 22 wells there,
water wells, and only 2 of them worked so the people were just going nuts and
there were 500,000 people who needed water, and there wasn’t enough food or
portapotties or anything, so it was a horrific situation.  I saw that everything was getting out of
control, all the big acts were getting out by helicopter.  A lot of big bands were there, like the Jefferson
Airplane, and all these big bands were in their trailers behind the stage,
there were lots of huge semi tractor trailor trucks full of gear.  But things went sour and the crowd set the
stage on fire, and I jumped in the truck and said “I’m gettin’ out of
here.”  We got the gear loaded up
and I put the pedal to the metal and got there.
So Farm never actually played Bull Island?
G.L.: 
No we didn’t.  You know, they
wanted to stick around, and I was like “we can’t stick around, there’s all
this gear.”  So I pulled the plug on
that one and we got the gear out of there. 
The crowd broke through all the barriers and burned all the trucks back
there and all the gear.  It was terrible.
I really appreciate your recollections of
Bull Island.  That was one thing Gary had
not mentioned.  I cannot thank you enough
George, you have added so much texture and color and flavor to what Gary had given
me.  I can’t thank you enough.
G.L.: 
As far as me, I haven’t done a lot musically the last couple of years,
but I did release a studio cd with a band here in Anaheim, CA last
December.  Its progressive rock, with
lots of keyboards.  I do have a few cds
of “Purge” the band I recorded in Illinois with Jim Elwyn and Jim
Beattie in 1975. That one never did get released.  We broke up before that one got
released.  Also, I started working with
Styx in January, 1979 as an electrician, then in June of that year I became
their keyboard roadie.  The very first
gig, up in Wisconsin had 25,000 attending. 
They had me soundcheck the keyboards and the crowd charged the stage.  I spent the next 5 years with them.  Those years were a highlight of my life.  I got married in 1986 and had to get a real
job but I still play occasionally at open mic nights and play keyboards at
home.
Thank you so much George.  I know our “It’s Psychedelic Baby”
readers will appreciate your great contribution to the Farm saga.  Thank you so much.
G.L.: 
Thank you Kevin.
Farm Discography:
Farm s/t LP released 1971 on Crusade Enterprises
catalog #LPS-465
Bootleg reissue by Akarma Recods, Italy on
10″ vinyl catalog #AK2012
Official remastering and cd release by Gary
Gordon on 3 Chord Records (no release date or catalog #)
Track listing:  Sunshine In My Window; Cottonwood Woman;
Statesboro Blues; Jungle Song; Let That Boy Boogie.
Interview made by Kevin Rathert / 2012
© Copyright
http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/ 2012
5 Comments
  1. Anonymous

    I'm from Mount Vernon, and I remember Farm. Thanks for posting these interviews. It brought back some great memories.

  2. Anonymous

    I am from the S.F.Bay area,growing up listening to this type of music.Discovered this band on u-tube.Awesome sound.I am surprised i have never heard of them until now.I would love to some how get this Record.

  3. Anonymous

    I'm from Mt. Vernon and lived down the street from Mike Young when I was kid. He had a band called Nebula after the farm days that was good to. I more hard rock sound but kicked ass for those days! We would sit outside and listen to him and his friends practice at Mikes house, you could hear them a block away at times, the great old days!

  4. Mike Young

    Yes we practiced at my mom's house for a long time. On occasion we would pull the gear out of the basement and play outside under the carport drawing a mass of spectators. Try that in today's world.

    Mike Young

  5. Robert Armoneit

    Hey
    Will anyone from the Farm band play at gigs in Mt.Vernon during 2017?
    I have the original album and would enjoy a live concert!
    Bob

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