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Dodge's Sundodgers reside in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you live outside this region, but are very wealthy, we will happily procure suitable transport to your location. Please bear in mind that we number six (6), that our instruments are more numerous still,
and that sadly, none of us is any longer able to
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P.O. Box 9013
Berkeley, CA 94709
Attn: Scott Sparling
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Coincidence? Irrelevance? You decide!"The Sun Dodgers", a musical comedy, opened at the Broadway Theatre in New York on November 30th 1912. It closed after 18 performances on December 14, 1912. Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth, the authors of "Shine On Harvest Moon", grace the cover of this sheet music representing the show.
About this time, in far off sunny California, a group on San Francisco artists and writers christen one of their Bohemian Grove retreats "Sundodgers Camp". Their motto: "Weaving Spiders Come Not Here" (Act 2, scene 2 of "A Midsummer Night's Dream") and their icon, a large owl.
In 1917 a Vaudeville unit that went under the name of "The Shrapnel Dodgers" had a fleeting success with the Sherwood and Donaldson song "Are We Downhearted? No! No! No!" This would undoubtedly have been a very short time after America entered World War One.
Prior to 1921, the "Sun Dodger" was the University Of Washington's newsletter and the name used by its sports teams. The name was changed to "Huskies", possibly to promote a less solar deficient image. "Sundodgers" is currently the name of the University
Of Washington's Men's Ultimate Frisbee Team.
New York, 1928, a dance band called "The Sherman Sundodgers" a pseudonym for Vic Price and His Orchestra, (perhaps also a pseudonym) record for the Gennett label. Some of these sides are also issued on the obscure Herwin and Silvertone dime store labels.
About seventy five years later, back in far off sunny California, a small group consisting of educators, record collectors, parents, luthiers, plant people, book people, flea market and thrift store devotees, Joan Blondell fans, Victor Orthophonic owners, expatriate Southern Californians, and foodies, numbering five in total, form a musical unit and call themselves Dodge's Sundodgers, blissfully ignorant of much of the foregoing.
Over the years a few personnel changes have occurred and now Dodge's Sundodgers number six. Coming from diverse musical backgrounds and sharing a common love of stringed instruments, be they ukuleles, banjos, or stroh-violins, the group looks back for inspiration along some of the forgotten byways of American musical culture, and is often surprised to find some rare neglected gem shining in its path that is fantastic to behold, yet harder than hell to learn how to play. Currents of Hawaiiana, Ragtime, Western Swing, Mexican Renaissance, Parlor Songs, and 1920s Jazz inform their musical meanderings, with always a surprise in store for those who fancy that they have heard everything.
Links to Friends and Supporters of Dodge’s Sundodgers:
- KG Studios Oakland
- Cheap Suit Serenaders
- Jeff Carr
- Mike DaSilva
- Gael Fitzmaurice
- Paul Mueller Photography
- Robert Armstrong
- Tuba Skinny
- Meredith Axelrod
PART ONE: Music From the MassesI was a happy soldier in the ranks of what appeared to be one of "Hoxies" harmonica legions of the 1920's. This is actually The Pasadena Boys Club Harmonica Band. They may have been performing their cacophonous treatment of "Little Liza Jane". There was something about the raging dissonant musette sound that imprinted on my youthful psyche and remains with me to this day. My red plastic "Herb Shriner” harmonica was upgraded to a Hohner "Marine Band" which was in keeping with the repeated and unsolicited performances of my favorite song; "The Marines Hymn". c.1954
An important milestone in this period came while playing a banjo rendition of the Orlon's pop hit "South Street" in front of my fellow banjoist and neighbor Al Barnes' parents garage on a city street in Pasadena Calif. Al Barnes, now a legendary host of vintage jazz programming in Seattle is also pictured in the banjo band photo above. (He's in the row behind me on my right; the knot in his tie is loose). We were approached by the proverbial little old lady, who flipped us each a dime, our first musical tip. On one hand we were feeling a lack of proper compensation, although in the donors mind it may have been regarded as quite sufficient from a "1920's dollar" point of view. On the other hand the gears in those youthful brains were wildly churning over the possibilities of glomming onto more of this marginal remuneration. There was some doubt however that these old banjos would ever take us beyond the walls of local pizza gobbling bistros. c.1962
I'm in the forward ranks of this outfit. "The Big Banjo Band". My front row posturing seems to disregard the safety of my wingman on the left, who is about to loose one of the lenses in his glasses to my hovering banjo peghead as I hunker down for some serious plunking. That plunking could also be responsible for some serious injury to the eardrums of anyone wondering into the vicinity of this nineteen banjos and a set of drums ensemble. Our outdoor venues, such as the parking lot of a drugstore celebrating a grand opening, were less dangerous than indoor events, as pictured above. These indoor events had limited exiting possibilities and this testosterone-fueled outfit was almost as loud as Dick Dale playing through the first Fender Dual Showman amplifier. The white socks are a nice fashion touch.
This is the second incarnation of R. Crumb and the Cheap Suit Serenaders. Is that an ice bag on my head? c.1977
Part TWO: Transitioning out of the loop of success and popularity.
Five fresh faces approach the camera with undecipherable expressions; Seemingly angelic but truly with mayhem on their minds. The jug player is Bob Armstrong, at age 15, and was later to become a core member of the Cheapsuit Serenaders. I'm holding that same tenor banjo. At this point it's an icon of the establishment and vilified older generations. There's just a hint of white socks and no pizza in sight. c.1965
At the gulag in the Pines, completely off the grid, wood shedding outside of Crumbs' ramshackle cabin by the river, The land of rubber boots and attack geese. c.1973
Two years later and beyond the pale, three counter culturists rag the Wedding March. Lohengrin, huh??? c.1967R. Crumb's Keep On Truckin' Orchestra…just trying to cash in on that optimistic catchphrase. We proudly display our first record, which was 78RPM.
Not a profitable format. c.1972
I created the concept of "Couch Rock" as a humanitarian effort to keep hordes of electric guitar blues and jazz noodlers at home where only their significant others would be subject to the inane music- like inventions punctuated by ridiculous histrionics that characterized the crap that was pop music in the last decades of the 20th century. Needless to say the couch rock movement was ahead of its time and I had the couch all to myself. c.1981
Part Three: Remaining out of the loop of success and popularity
Everyone has to go here sometime. This instrument was a collaboration with Ralph Novak. I found I could raise as big a ruckus as the nineteen banjos, it just wasn't as quality a ruckus. c.1990
The old millennium Suits; R. Crumb and the Cheap Suit Serenaders somewhere in a far off land. c.1995
"The Cheapsuit Serenaders circa 1980's, this personnel lineup remained unchanged for 30 plus years"
The original Cheap Suits "celebrating(?)" a forty year association.May 9, '09, Oakland, Ca.We're plunking on some Kaleponi Ukuleles I made that are copies of the early portuguese Santo & Diaz ukuleles made in Hawaii in the 1890's.
Q. How did you become a Sundodger?
A. Well, my induction was long and torturous and consisted of several parts. First I had to have a mutual friend beg, like a proxy Lucy Ricardo, to pleeeese let me sing in the band. This went on for about a year or two. Simultaneously, I unwittingly "auditioned" for Al Dodge by occasionally singing in his basement with his wife's jazz band and not offending him by trying to sound like Billie Holiday. Then I had to agree to learn to play the ukulele, so I wouldn't be just sitting there looking bored or uncomfortable during instrumental numbers. Finally, I had to play with the whole band outside at a yard sale and demonstrate my ability to avoid the sun. That was pretty much it, except at some point I did have to buy a special hat.
Q. Speaking of collecting, how many ukuleles have you acquired since joining the band?
A. Oh, only this one, and this one, and this one and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one. Please help me.
Q. Any other musical interests?
A. This is strictly between us, but I actually like contemporary music too. When I am not Sundodging, I have been writing and singing some original material.
Q. Any other thoughts about the sun?
A. Generally speaking, it is way too hot and way too bright. Also, one of the very few numeric facts I have memorized is that it is 93 million miles from the earth.
Q. Is this really an interview or did you just make all the questions up yourself for this bio page?
A. I decline to answer that. It seems rude, and you seemed so friendly before!
An Interview with Kathy Sparling
Q. Was all that worth it?
A. I still can't believe my good fortune at getting to play and sing and be exposed to all this great, underplayed music, all by fraternizing with such nice and talented musicians. I don't know of any other band where I could sing lines like "list while I woo thee with soft melody" or "life's no gloomy race, light your happy face" without a trace of irony and with an accompaniment entirely respectful of each song. I got to study ukulele with Al Dodge (he only kept me on as a student briefly -- all errors or omissions in my playing are mine alone). Because my fellow band members are long-time collectors with really interesting and sophisticated taste I have access to many thousands of rare recordings and pieces of sheet music, and sometimes even first right of refusal on unique and wonderful instruments. Fred provides high-end ice cream at rehearsals. It was definitely worth it.
Tell me about your musical debut?
I was seven years old. It was a piano recital at the Hillside Club in Berkeley, California, my home town..
No, I learned that later. The first “Dover” editions of ragtime sheet music reprints were just coming out, but it was several years before I saw any of them. By then I was taking piano lessons from Jonathan Khuner in Berkeley who taught me to play Maple Leaf Rag and several other Joplin pieces, in addition to more standard 19th century classics.
Your first paid work as a musician?
That was on piano, at the now vanished American Victorian Museum in Nevada City (now called The Miners Foundry Cultural Center). I was about sixteen. Dinner was included. I recall the occasion was an anniversary of Charles Dickens' birthday. The impresario that hired me, well into his cups and dressed like an Edwardian undertaker, kept requesting that I play the theme from Doctor Zhivago.
When was the next time anyone ever paid you any money to play music?
Come on. People were very nice and appreciative of piano players in the Sierras then, as most bars and restaurants had pianos. And if you could play any kind of ragtime or jazz you could usually play for tips.
Yes, it was a different world.
So you studied music in Mexico? What, Ragtime?
Mexico City. I was a student at the UNAM, but I didn’t study music there. Through friends I heard quite a bit of Agustin Lara's musical legacy. I spent some time at the Lagunilla Flea Market searching out just that sort of thing. Through that I became interested in early 20th Century Mexican vocal music, Guty Cardenas, Juan Arvizu, Trio Garnica-Ascencio . There really was no other way to hear those wonderful old songs except on obsolete 78rpm records, as there were hardly any reissues of Mexican music at all at the time. There are precious few even now.
So you started collecting 78s. Could you find any in Mexico?
I used to go around door to door in the city of Oaxaca looking for 78rpm records. Some people thought I was balmy. I remember the beautiful old colonial homes, with marvelous wrought iron bars covering the street windows, where in the parlors you would still see old victrolas and cylinder machines, antique French and Italianate furniture along with caged parrots and family portraits dating from the time of the revolution ( I once saw a parrot in one of these homes that the family claimed was a hundred years old. It looked even older.) The 78 records were usually long gone, worn out or broken. But sometimes I would negotiate a purchase and come away with a few treasures that I have managed to preserve after all of these years. Pre-1910 Mexican recordings are some of the most interesting and scarce. Truly a window on a vanished world.
An Interview with Zac Salem
What got you started singing and playing guitar?That was back in California. One thing leading to another, I met and interviewed some of the surviving members of the original vocal group "Los Madrugadores", Josefina Caldera and Victor Sanchez, who I greatly admired. I learned some songs and some guitar accompaniment from them. I later met Nancy Torres, and learned segunda voz (harmony) from her, as well as how to prepare some really outstanding Mexican dishes. She gave me a lot of encouragement. She had made a series of wonderful vocal duet recordings with Guty Cardenas in 1928, which were very inspirational to me. She also appeared in “The King Of Jazz” (1930), and several of the Hal Roach comedies, Spanish language versions of Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chase films.
We all love the music that Leroy Shield wrote for those Hal Roach comedies. What a connection!Yes, what a pleasure it is to come across an unexpected nexus of two of one’s favorite things, in my case, the Hal Roach comedies and Mexican music of the 1920s. In fact, some great Mexican records were recorded at the Hal Roach studios in Culver City, including some by the famous Trio Garnica-Ascencio and some of Agustin Lara’s first songs. I met Pilar Arcos around this time, and learned a lot from her about the early days of Spanish language recording in New York. She had been one of the first and one of the most prolific Spanish language recording artists in the US in the 1920s. Lydia Mendoza was also big inspiration, I cherish the memory of going to her performances every year when she came through town. Later I did the transcriptions and translations for several of her CDs.
You wrote liner notes and did translations for a number of CD reissues back in the 1980s and 1990s?Yes, several dozen CD reissues. On the Folklyric and Arhoolie releases I’m listed as “Zack” Salem for some reason. They’re mostly to do with Mexican Popular Music from the Golden Age, a subject that I also covered for nine years as host of a bi-weekly radio show broadcast over station KPFA in Berkeley, on the Pacifica Network. I did quite a bit of original research, and interviewed surviving musicians and songwriters from the old days. The program was always in a bilingual format, which meant that I had to say everything twice. I promise not to do that here.
Thanks. Our three minutes are almost up…..I do have to mention Margarita's Restaurant on 24th street in San Francisco. I sang duets with Margarita Rodriguez for a few years, she was an angel. We had a repertoire of great old Mexican songs from the 1920s. A wonderful guitarist, Jacinto Castillo, from Jalisco, used to perform with us, as well as singer Ignacio Reyes. The Mission District in the old days!
What are some of your current musical endeavors?I started playing with a group called Dodge's Sundodgers a few years back. The eponymous “Dodge” is Allan Dodge, a founding member of “The Cheap Suit Serenaders”. I play mandolin, tenor banjo, and sing in this group as well. A lot of what we play is ragtime based, but not what I would call revivalist. Rather I think we are approaching the music with certain stylistic precepts, some of which pre-date the ragtime era proper, and some of which are more typical of the 1920s and 30s. Did I just say that? I am also a member of a vintage Hawaiian musical ensemble called The Tin Pan Haoles, where I play rhythm guitar, and a member or The Banjo Racketeeres, where I play tenor banjo.
I moved to Los Angeles for grad school at UCLA and began taking guitar lessons at Bob Baxter's guitar shop in Santa Monica. At the shop I met Kathy Kamen and Chris Guttierez, and we formed a band playing folk/country style tunes. On our way to an actual paying gig at a biker bar in El Segundo we passed by the El Rancho Motel, and decided that was the name of our band: El Rancho Motel.
Later on my father became church choir director, and recruited my mother and me to join in. This led to my first experiences in singing in public. As is often the case, when I embarked on my teenage years I gave up music for a while, but in college at the University of Texas in Austin I took it up again. This was not long after Charles Whitman made a place in history for himself there as the first mass murderer on a college campus. I started playing guitar with my father's 1936 Martin 000-18, which he'd bought before the war from Eddie Arnold who needed some money for car repairs. In Austin I used to hang out at Kenneth Threadgill's place, where I listened to him sing old Jimmie Rodgers songs. Other people would drop in and sing too—Janis Joplin being one of them. I still have that old Martin guitar.
Music was important to my family. My mother's family were big gospel music fans and encouraged her to take up piano, and she encouraged me to play it too. But she also told me stories of sneaking out of church in San Angelo to listen to Ernest Tubb playing across the street on a hay wagon. My father sang professionally off and on for a number of years. Before World War II he sang with a number of gospel quartettes, and continued doing so after the war, although too much of his time was spent on the road. After giving up the road life he continued singing on a local television station in Fort Worth sponsored by Leonard's Department Store, in sketches with a barbershop quartette that sang to the show's guests while giving them a shave. The black and white striped shirts of the quartette presumably sold lots of black and white TVs.
The Pilgrim's Progress
Kathy decided to move to San Francisco to be closer to her boyfriend, who was the program director at KSAN, one of the era's progressive FM radio stations, and we followed her north in our search for fame and glory. Chris and I found a house on the edge of the Haight. One evening we went to see a band playing at the Other Cafe that turned out to be the Cheap Suit Serenaders. During a break Chris started talking with Robert Armstrong and Allan Dodge and they hit it off. Al said why don't you come out to Dixon, so we did and ended up playing music with them for an afternoon.
The Pilgrim's Progress Continues
I'd been playing off and on with various people when Al called me saying he was forming a party band and wanted me for bass and vocals. Terry Zwigoff had been playing bass with them until the commute from San Francisco became too much of a hassle. Al persuaded me to buy a used Kent hollow body Paul McCartney copy bass with a cracked peghead and so I became a member of Goat Injection. After the Goats finally broke up I began playing and occasionally singing with the Albany Night School Big Band. Before long I started taking serious jazz lessons at the Berkeley Jazz School, which led to my reuniting with some of the former Goat Injection folks as a member of the Wakefield Jazz Quartet. This was in 2005 and I'm still playing with them.
Chris eventually moved to Boise, Idaho, where he still is a professional folk singer. Though I'd played guitar with El Rancho, I became interested in playing bass. I figured that given the oversupply of guitarists it would be easier to get into another group as a bass player. I saw an ad in the Chronicle from someone starting up a band and decided to check it out. The plan was to form a Manhattan Transfer-like vocal group, to be known as Vocal Point, and do covers of the Boswell Sisters and similar material. My time with Vocal Point acquainted me with the songs and styles of that era, along with Western Swing and jazz. I took bass lessons for a year and after Vocal Point disintegrated I moved to Berkeley but kept up with my lessons.
More recently, I was invited to play with the Sundodgers after a corporate reorganization produced an opening. I interviewed for the position and after much hemming and hawing members let me in on a trial basis. And it seems to have worked.
With little prior music education, I’ve fallen into a niche I could not have foreseen, especially when I think back to my childhood in Wisconsin, impatiently awaiting whatever TV show followed Dairyland Jubilee; those swirling polka dancers were the epitome of cornballness to be avoided, as was any form of country music, and the Lawrence Welk show was an insignificant blur on my grandparents’ TV. Later on, as an art student in Richmond, Virginia, and then San Francisco, I honed my musical tastes on the random assortment of records found mouldering in thrift stores, used record stores and flea markets – cheap thrills well within an artist’s budget, and also a kind of time travel. I collected punk 45’s, bad Beatles covers, obscure 60’s psychedelia, 70’s soul, and amusing arrangements of pop tunes of decades past, along with rare soundtracks, horoscope theme songs, loon calls, Christian ventriloquists…much of which will never be reissued in any form.
With little prior music education...
I DJ’d in a few bars and restaurants, carting my boxes of treasured records, mixing absurd mash ups of the Three Suns and Gregorian chants, or 2 simultaneous sitar orchestras playing the same Beatles song, or Johnny Cash and tablas. Hours were squandered making mix tapes, now themselves decaying in bins somewhere in my house. The best “Hawaiian” blend I came up with was 2 Andy Williams records moving dreamily out of sync. The song was “To You, Sweetheart, Aloha”, and I believe it is a vast improvement over his original recording.Once I began to play the steel guitar, my tastes in music shifted to sweeter, less ironic, and more straightforward sentiment. This was perhaps dictated by the instrument itself, which lends itself particularly well to songs such as “ Home”, “Ua Like No Like”, “Blue Skies”, “Where the Blue of the Night”. This is not to dismiss Kane’s Hawaiians playing the wackiest version of “Hula Blues” I’ve ever heard, and I don’t mind exploring that terrain either. Initially I was drawn to country blues, then to the roots of the Hawaiian guitar and the old masters: Sam Ku West, Sol Hoopii, the Kalamas, Andy Iona, Dick McIntire, among others…From there to Tin Pan Alley, western swing, blues, and back to cheesy exotica, which is one of the consistent threads from my record collection. I now find myself in 3 bands, having added lap steel, ukulele, banjo and tenor guitar to my repertoire, and am immersed in a seemingly limitless supply of old music. Though this music is 80 or 90 years old, so much is new to my ears and refreshing. I was recently impressed by a 1930 recording of “Thrill Me” by Lawrence Welk, who was cool for at least a little while, or at least his band was, and I genuinely enjoy strumming a 2/4 polka rhythm on my banjo. An increasing number of shellac records are finding their way into my collection, though I draw the line at collecting supplements, and maybe one Brunswick record player is enough.
Once during those years I was wandering down a street in Berkeley when I came upon someone who seemed even odder than me. He had a long ponytail and was sitting on the porch of a dilapidated house playing the mandolin. We struck up a conversation about music, and I followed him upstairs to check out some of his instruments. Sadly, it was his girlfriend’s apartment and she wouldn’t let him show off his prized plectrum banjo with electric lights around the rim, which apparently was a source of great humiliation to her. This, of course, was Allan Dodge. We either did or did not play a few tunes together, and I lost sight of him for several years.Time moved on, and after working for a while in Los Angeles I’d saved up enough money to buy a different kind of guitar, a big 30s Gibson arch top, with f-holes like a violin. Owning this guitar made me feel obligated to learn how to play some of the tunes that instruments like it were designed for. Not all big Gibson arch top guitars are created equal, so after years of trading and swapping I ended up with some nicer ones that I play today, sometimes with the Sundodgers—although it turns out you can’t beat modern luthier technology when it comes to making really a lot of noise with an acoustic instrument.
When I was three years old, I gathered all my kiddy records, 78s of “Sam Bass Was Born In Indiana,” “The Bear Went Over the Mountain,” and so forth into a great pile, surveyed what I had accomplished and then proceeded to jump up and down on them until they were reduced to tiny shards. I’ve probably been doing penance for that act ever since. Growing up in Los Angeles, I compulsively watched Spade Cooley and his Western swing band on the local television, even though I couldn’t stand the music and Cooley himself creeped me out because I thought that his head looked like a skull (I might have been on to something there). When rock and roll came along, it didn’t do much for me at first. Maybe my earliest immersion in music that already was before my time had taken its toll.I caught the tail end of the folk boom and learned to play songs such as “Wildwood Flower” and “Freight Train” along with a few hundred thousand other teenaged kids about to enter the spaced out sixties, and before long I had picked up an electric guitar and experienced the joys of plugging into a giant amp and controlling the movements of dancers by the tempo at which you played the music.
The electric music was just a sideline though. I’d been lucky enough to hear many of the great old-time blues singers and bluegrass bands during the short interval between their being discovered by city folk like me and their becoming part of a giant, temporarily profitable folk music revival industry, followed, generally, all too shortly by their being dead. I teamed up with a banjo playing friend and we attempted to play bluegrass by ourselves, and then hooked up for a short time with a fiddle playing girl from the San Francisco Art Institute. Even with our search for authenticity and purity (embarrassing as it may be to me today), I had a weakness for at-the-time looked down on (by city folk at any rate) country-western singers such as Buck Owens, and found myself having to sing harmony and expostulate narratives while keeping up the beat on songs such as “Sweet Rosie Jones.” We managed to find gigs as novelty opening acts at peculiar small time venues such as the debut of a country-western boutique in Oakland.
"Al and I accompanying the TV"
Of course the crowd couldn’t have been friendlier, or the sound man worse—Crumb had showed up to see us, and out of nowhere several Crumb girls, complete with fringed cowgirl outfits and big boots suddenly became visible, as if they’d been conjured up out of thin air. For those who don’t already know this, while playing on stage in an amplified band, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to hear a single note that the other people are playing, and possibly not even what you are playing. It’s pretty disconcerting until you learn how to get around it, and that night I hadn’t really figured it out. But no one attacked us—which I guess is a kind of favorable review in itself.
"A typical pre-Sundodgers gig"
This band went through several stages of existence—at one point it was called Middle Aged Spread, and we managed to get booked at the Mabuhay Gardens. We were nervous about playing in a punk club, partly because even though it was amplified, our music was still probably best suited for people in their seventies and eighties who might actually remember the songs. We recruited two or three new people to play extra rhythm guitar or whatever, just so we would have an at least somewhat intimidating appearance on stage.
The Legend Continues...
During this extended (and still ongoing) period of musical expansion Al and I renewed contact. The many hours we spent sitting on various couches at various peoples’ houses watching TV and playing music together led to the formation of a kind of party band composed of most of the Cheap Suit Serenaders and me. One thing that we did have going for us was the ability to play from, say, eight at night until four in the morning—we might not have been good but we were persistent. I remember once after practicing at Robert Armstrong’s house (in the middle of a wheat field near Dixon) seeing Bob with a look of genuine concern on his face about the kind of music that we (including him) had been making. Mostly he was right, but it was fun.
"Cosmic Cowboy Jr. in days of yore"
Middle Aged Spread (maybe the least appealing name of any we’ve come up with) evolved into Goat Injection—same general idea but more peculiar than repulsive. We lost a couple of Suits because of logistical difficulties in getting together, and added Ed Elliot as bass player and vocalist, Pete Greenstein on all kinds of saxophone and Kathy (at the time) Sheehy (now Mrs. Dodge) on drums. I have to say we played almost as odd an assortment of electric instruments as we now use in acoustic performances. The Goats gradually divided in two like an amoeba, Pete, Ed and Kathy currently making up three quarters of the Wakefield Jazz Quartet, and Al and I teaming up with Glen Jordan who played either very large or very small four stringed instruments. We formed a mostly instrumental trio that gradually grew to include Kathy Sparling as our prized girl singer. She was recommended by a friend, so we put off listening to her for over a year—everyone has a friend who’s a really good singer. Yeah, right. To our amazement when we finally gave her a chance, she actually was really good and almost unendingly agreeable. Not too long afterward, Zac Salem came along, with his songs from the “Mexican Renaissance,” a good voice and a real quick learning curve on all these odd instruments. After a job, at a house where a piano happened to be present, Zac started to play, and we wouldn’t let him stop for forty-five minutes—unfortunately pianos aren’t easy to travel with so not that many people get to hear him. Most recently Ed Elliot has rejoined the band but without his Fender Precision Bass from Goat Injection days, or his standup acoustic bass from the Wakefield Jazz Quartet. Instead, we make him play an easily portable bass ukulele and also get to hear his vocals again, in solos, duets or in three part harmony.
So here we are. Oh wait, this was supposed to be my bio. Let’s see, my sign is Escobaria, I like to sit by the fireplace and go for long walks on the beach, my pet peeves are people who play old, corny music—wait, I am one of those people! All this may be nothing but a sick, complicated lie!
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