Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Instant Orange...Sweet and a Little Acidic

Instant Orange, of San Bernadino, California, were certainly in the right spot to play sprightly, chiming folk-rock…but perhaps were in the wrong time.

Essentially a group of friends playing music they liked, Instant Orange had discipline and ambition but little chance at the opportunities that flashier or more well-connected bands might have had. So Instant Orange played dances, bars, restaurants, parties, live gigs at radio stations, and county fairs, and every so often put out a record when they could afford to make one.

By the time the band released its first recording, a 45 containing “You I’ll Be Following” (an original, not the song by Love) and “Reflecting Emotions” on its own Margacado label in 1968, the original California folk-rock style was long gone.

The Byrds had re-emerged with a weird take on traditional C&W, Love had moved to heavy rock, the Beau Brummels had run through country and baroque styles without regaining chart success, and the Turtles had become one of the land's best straight pop groups. Even Bob Dylan’s bootheels had wandered to Nashville.

But in spite of car trouble, mediocre equipment, day jobs, draft worries, and the like, Instant Orange—usually, but not always, a trio—kept at it. Their approach could be haphazard, but effective; prior to their first gig, at the March 1968 San Bernadino Orange Festival, the group realized it needed a name...instantly. And so it was.

The group eventually issued an album, Five Year Premiere, on Margacado Media in 1973. With no ideas of how to distribute the record to a greater audience, the band simply had local stores stock them, or vended them at gigs, or handed them out to local radio stations or friends. The initial pressing of 100 copies has been whittled by time and inattention to probably fewer than ten. Those who have them want them badly, so they rarely come up for sale.

Many of the album’s songs are arresting in their directness and fragility. While nobody in the band was a virtuoso, each member had a homegrown approach and they played pretty well together. The overall sound transcends the easy characterization of them as simple copyists of well-known acts.

This is the album’s opening track, “The Visionary (Reactive)”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFp866WsSkA

Their record was re-discovered in the 1990s by a collector in New Orleans named Scott Bubrig, who after some effort was able to contact members of the band—by then scattered to the winds—and with their permission and cooperation re-released almost the entire Instant Orange catalog (which included several EPs and singles besides the album) on CD and vinyl. In particular, the two-record set on the Shadoks label is gorgeous, with photos, a band history, and full discographical information. The remastering also gives the songs more punch than is heard on the original vinyl.

Not all of the IO output is great, but all of it is interesting, running the gamut from pop, garage rock, folk, and country and even working in some jazzy excursions. Some of it is as good as hit music on major labels.

Terry Walters, IO’s chief songwriter (the band’s other songwriter, Randy Lanier, sadly passed away after a series of physical problems in the 1990s), was kind enough to answer some questions on Instant Orange’s history. Thanks, Terry, and I hope we hear from you again…

Q.What got you into playing guitar?
Initially, I was going to play trumpet, but that didn’t last too long. My brother, who is older than me, convinced my Mom that guitar may be the way to go. This was 1963, and I was drawn to surf music. In the beginning, I had a Stella acoustic guitar, and I was playing melodies. Eventually, I went electric and graduated to a Fender Mustang. A few lessons and learning bar chords, I was working songs off the radio.

Q. Were the fellows in IO friends before being bandmates?
It was friends first. The fact that we had music as a common bond was almost coincidental. If we had friends who wanted to do music, we’d teach them enough to get started. Being friends first probably kept the tensions to a minimum and the egos in check.

Q. What were some of the bands you enjoyed as a young musician?
I was listening to the Beau Brummels in ’64, and eventually, it was Love, the Byrds, Lovin’ Spoonful, Moody Blues, and Procol Harum, all of whom played a part in my writing and playing style. I was fortunate in that Randy Lanier had the same basic musical tastes. That was what got us going; we started as a duo and later as a band.

Q. Instant Orange went on a long time with different memberships. What was it that made you want to continue with the IO concept?
Randy came from a folk music background [and was] an acoustic guitar player. I was on the electric side. We fused the two. We decided to approach the music as a hobby. We were doing folk-rock, a style whose shelf life had already elapsed. We continued with the style, almost as a folk-rock preservation society, as a core, while exploring other styles.

Q. How did songs get written and fleshed out for Instant Orange?
Randy and I wrote most of the material for the band. Joe Bianchi, our keyboard player, came up with ideas for instrumentals and we did have guys like Bryon PrudHomme and Jim Brown who had contributions. Usually, Randy and I would get together and bring ideas to the table for material. Sometimes we would co-write a song and other times we would bring in something we had done individually. We would work the vocal and guitar arrangements and then take them to band practice. We had an agreement that whoever wrote the song would be the one to have the final say for the song, but guys like Joe and Lynn volunteered ideas that worked well for us.

Q. Is there something about San Bernardino that contributed to Instant Orange’s sound?
San Bernardino was considered by most to be part of the Los Angeles market, but there was a lot of local talent. Several bands charted locally with records that were well produced: The Light, The Good Feelings, The Bush, The Caretakers, [and] The Torquays were the some of the local groups. Groups like Touch were great in live shows, but made no records. It seems as though there was a band on every block. We didn’t sign with any of the major labels—we simply did our own—but we managed airplay through student stations like KVCR and KSDS in San Diego.

Q. Were timely concerns—the War, drugs, political protest, the sexual revolution, etc.—a part of the scene surrounding the band?
The war was a major concern as we had the draft hovering over us. Some of our friends were wondering what to pack for the Canadian winters. I can speak for myself and say that I didn’t get into the drug thing, but there were friends and band members, some of whom were in transition, who were into it. Oddly enough, it was probably the music that kept me away from the stuff, which worked to my advantage career-wise in the long run. We had opportunities with the sexual aspects, but Randy and Lynn were married and I was looking for something a little more long-term. My Christian value system was at work, sometimes to my irritation.

Q. It appears from photos that a lot of your equipment wasn’t name-brand. Was money a concern?
None of us came from money. Randy and I were in college and working menial stuff on the side. Joe toured with the U.S. Army for a couple of years, so he was doing alright. Lynn worked nights doing mobile fuel delivery. When we started, Lynn had a no-name drum set. Randy’s bass was made by Liro and an acoustic guitar made by Orlando, a Japanese copier of fine instruments. In fact, I had a Rickenbacker copy by the same manufacturer. One day, Lynn decided we needed better stuff. We emerged from the music store with a double-bass Slingerland acrylic drum set, two Aims amplifiers and an Aims P.A. system. (Aims was a company founded by a former Fender employee who sold a product guaranteed for life. Randy’s amp had to take the train ride from San Bernardino to Arizona three times, which probably helped destroy the company.)

Q. When you released Five Year Premiere, did you think it had resonance with what was happening in America during 1973?
Other than the Vietnam War, which ended in ’73, I recall all of us being somewhat politically apathetic. We had probed in different directions, including country and, to a degree, jazz, but we remained committed to our core musically. We released “Genesis II” and “Same Old Thing” in January. By springtime, two of the members had left—Dennis Hoff on guitar and Bryan McDonough on vocals, harmonica, and piano. We were more electronically oriented than we had been, meaning recording and effects, but incorporating our original style.

Q. Atypically for the hard-rock era, you continued to plumb a sort of folk-rock sound. Was that decision conscious?
Yes. Hey, I was still making payments on the Rickenbacker. I recall when Thomas Hartlage called from [his label] Shadoks Records in 2007. At first, he said the album sounded like nothing more than a spin on the Byrds, but then he realized that the Rickenbacker gave it that flavor and decided that we were more than a tribute item…not that the Byrds were a bad thing at all, but just because someone played acoustic guitar didn’t make every song a campfire sing-a-long.

Q. The live recordings on Five Year Premiere are especially good. Were you generally a hot live band?
We played a wide variety of venues. There were private parties, dances, the county fair circuit, the battle-of-the-bands gigs and even an occasional bar or frat-party gig. Bob recorded several of our live performances which Lynn had put on an 8-track tape. He found this tape in a horse trailer years later, which we had restored at a lab in Orlando, FL. In listening to it, I would have to say we were not all that bad. We were able to get the crowd moving. And Bob knew how to capture an audio moment.

Q. What would a typical Instant Orange practice session be like? Did you have a discrete space?
Although we began in our garages, we were rehearsing in a house in Crestline, which is a mountain resort community. Lynn lived in a house that was occupied by three drummers, each in a band. Oddly enough, we never had a conflict of schedule for practice, but these were some strange times. Later, Lynn moved to Cedar Pines, another mountain cabin, where we began work on our last two records.

Q. When IO recorded, was any one band member in charge? How did recording generally proceed?
We used studios for everything other than Five Year Premiere. Randy and I were telecommunications majors, so we already had an idea as to how things worked. When we arrived at the studio, I would go to the engineers and explain our setup, microphone needs, song order, and logistical aspects. The guys in the booth always commented on our preparation and execution of material, but we were limited in time and money and we knew what needed to happen. Randy would coordinate the floor plan.

For the album, Bob conned his parents into letting us use their home as a recording studio. We were crammed into corners and Bob was buried with his gear somewhere up against a wall. Bryan McDonough played piano on a cut, and had a song he had written recorded: however, his cut was somehow erased, and he had to leave to go to work. Lynn was irate, as he felt this song was the best thing on the album. Randy and I were somewhat elated, as the song didn’t fit well with the flow. So Lynn took Bryan to work and Randy and I did multi-tracking on the cuts until Lynn got back.

The album music was done in less than eight hours. The following day, we returned to listen to it. Only one cut had an intro by design, “Silent Green,” but then we started getting other segue ideas. By the end of the day, every cut had something.

Q. It seems that IO had its share of car trouble. Were you guys sort of perpetually trying to make ends meet?
Joe has this ’57 Chevy, which he maintained. He was actually pretty handy with that stuff. I was driving a ’58 Chevy, a far cry from my first car, which was an Austin Healy Sprite. I didn’t do a whole lot of maintenance on mine. Maybe that’s why it fell apart? He was still driving that car the last time I saw him. Yep, cash was tight.

Q. What led to the decision to dissolve Instant Orange?
What became our last project was initially was slated as an acoustic project. We met at Bob’s apartment for a pre-production meeting. We brought Jim Brown (formerly of TNF) in and decided that we would have Bob do a synthesized string section. We were operating a six-man line-up. So, Jim, Randy, and I were meeting at Jim’s place, but then the cracks started happening. By this time, Jim was engaged, and there were time conflicts and the chemistry was getting acidic. So, Jim left, and we began thinking this was it. Jim, I believe, was thinking Air Force. We eventually recorded the Ghirardelli EP, and I was now thinking Florida. I told Randy that we could keep this thing going as a recording band, but he wasn’t interested.

Q. Do you still talk to any of the other living members of the band?
We were reunited via e-mail and phone for a period of time when the album was released in 2007. Once in a while, I hear from Lynn. We actually had a reunion album planned, but interest waned. But things were always on friendly terms.

Q. You wrote a bit about how you were involved in other music projects during IO’s time. What were they?
When Instant Orange was going, I was with a hard-rock band called Moon Grass, but that was done by the end of the summer of ’68. From ’68 until ’72, when we brought the band back, Randy and I formed the Walters-Lanier Folk Experiment. This was an acoustic approach. Then there was TNF, which was an acoustic trio. Jim Brown was a high-harmony singer-guitar player. I believe we had our best vocal approach during this time, actually doing three parts.

Q. What are you doing now?
I retired from careers in law enforcement and the military reserves. These days, my wife and I live near Weeki Wachee, Florida. I still do music. I’ve done some CDs and distributed them through thrift shops. My theory is that if they sell it, at least they can keep the lights on for a few more minutes. I play the clarinet for house concerts and in performances here in our community. I’ve done some Praise Team efforts, starting from my days in southern Florida. I’m a Church elder and I somehow ended up on the board of directors where I live. I have a list of hobbies and activities that are physical, mental, spiritual, and hopefully creative. I keep busy, thank you.

Q. When you think back on the days of IO, is there anything you wish had gone differently?
Considering what we had available to us, meaning finances, equipment, and talent, overall, no. I believe we did the best we could with what we had, and we managed to exploit our means overall. It would have been nice had the acoustic approach to the final album come to fruition, but I believe we managed to accomplish what we set out to do. I did do a CD which added instruments to the initial tracks, such as strings, but I never released it.

Q. How would you describe Instant Orange to someone who had never heard the band?
We were your typical Southern California band whose hobby extended to the studio, had a great time “doing our thing,” and lived to tell about it.

Q. When you wrote about having put out other recording projects, I was wondering whether these were post-Instant Orange projects. I'd love to hear about them.
The idea behind the solo projects came when my wife bought me of the first generation multi-track cassette recorders. This was January, 1999. I took ten tunes—two of which were old Instant Orange songs, all of which were instrumental—and went at it.

Since then, I've completed five other projects that I've done the same with. They vary in style from ambience to light jazz to clarinet versions of Tin Pan Alley tunes as well as hymns. Thanks to friends that travel, copies have made it to Massachusetts, Maine, Alabama, and California, as well as England, Japan, and Ireland, all to thrift shops. It's fun.

The Instant Orange material I had done in '99 I shelved, because at the time, the equipment was really ultra-lo-fi, both from the recording side and the keyboard standpoint. That could be a future project.

There was also material recorded for an Instant Orange reunion album. There were some song fragments that Randy and I had worked on, some of which was for the acoustic album that never quite happened. I recorded beds for nine songs and sent them out to the guys. The production style was what Randy and I had planned for the album, but apparently the rest didn't like it too much. Oh, well. That may be issued some day with a different group. I have people here that I deal with that liked it, so…

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Concrete Rubber Band: Believers From Kansas

When I first heard of the Concrete Rubber Band, I was intrigued. A three-piece early 1970s teenage band--two of the members siblings--from rural Kansas, proclaiming their love for Jesus with a unique mix of rock and classical music? Right up my alley. 

Named in allegiance with the acid-rock bands of the day, the CRB had songs, skills, and some fine equipment, but no outside help and little ability to effectively reproduce their sound.

The review in the wonderful Acid Archives called the band’s album, Risen Savior, the "only album of its kind in the world.” Its heartfelt songs, springing from committed young people, are haunting.

The music has grandeur and grunge, sass and peaceful acceptance, beauty and ugliness. Guitars thrash away, but don’t quite sound like guitars. Layers of analog synthesizers make holy and unholy sounds. A brother and sister harmonize, but their vocals whip in and out, sometimes sounding like frightened skylarks trying to escape a haunted house.

Like many other bands of the time, the trio decided in 1974 to have a local company press up the results of their recordings onto an LP (in a run of 500) and sell them at gigs. Most copies have long since disappeared, having been thrown out or lost. Spares are hoarded by collectors, rarely turning up for sale.

These kids were real, their music unfettered by anyone else, but also without sophisticated methods of recording their music. The album suffers sonically from this, but the limitations of the band’s technology also gives Risen Savior a sound of its own.

Day jobs and relationships meant that CRB’s time came to an end. Singer/keyboardist Jan Long went to graduate school; she currently serves as a state representative (!) in Kansas. Drummer Bobby Rhodes moved west. Duncan Long, guitarist, keyboardist, singer, and songwriter, continues to play electronic music and spent a period working for ARP Synthesizers, but is best known as a superb graphic artist.

His music—unknown at the time—could have been lost to the world it not for music freaks and record collectors. Many performers whose work had no chance to enter the commercial marketplace were truly talented, and the best examples of what is now called "private-press" music belong square inside the pantheon of popular music.

Risen Savior soon developed a reputation in the rock underground from collectors of obscure 1960s and 1970s rock, both secular and those devoted to the harder side of the era’s Christian music—which was then called “Jesus Rock.”

Here is Risen Savior's second song, “What Shall We Do?” (It's not the LP's title track, despite the labeling on the video.) it as much as any on the album, captures the group’s facets: the hard rock drive, familial harmonies, biting but hopeful lyrics, startling tempo changes, and billowing, bubbly, overpowering synthesizer fills.

Sometime in the 1990s, a fanatical record collector burned a copy of the now-sought Risen Savior, had it pressed onto CDs, and released it (without Long’s permission) on a label called Radioactive. Soon after, the small Hidden Vision Records label worked with Long on an expanded, authorized CD issue. The new product included two extra songs from the album’s original sessions and improved sound—the result of using the actual master recording tapes rather than a dub from an old album.

Hidden Vision was eventually forced to shut down because of losses incurred fighting bootleggers such as Radioactive. In 2007, Long worked on another re-release of the album, this one with the GTR label, and provided twelve previously unreleased extra songs. (GTR has an excellent catalog, re-releasing artists ranging from American pop star Gene Pitney and Canadian hard rockers It’s All Meat to experimental British saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith.)

Having heard them, I wanted to know more about the Concrete Rubber Band. What drove them? How did it feel to be in the band? How did they write and record and play? What was their contemporary reception? 

So I contacted Duncan Long, who graciously agreed to answer my questions and share his recollections. I thank him for his music and his time.

Q: What are some of your early musical memories?
My folks were both pretty good musicians. So I grew up in a house where music was performed. My mom played the piano and my dad guitar – and a little mandolin, banjo, and violin.
Q: What got you into playing music?
 I was sort of late into playing music, starting as a young child with piano lessons but dropping out. Later in junior high I wanted to play piano so my folks got me started on lessons again. But I think [that] starting at that late a date sort of left me without some of the innate skills that seem to develop with a child learns at instrument at an earlier age. In high school I took up the trombone in the school band and taught myself to play mandolin. Later in college I picked up the bass guitar and electric guitar. I guess I just was drawn to music.

Q. Did you grow up a Christian? If not, when did you begin your path?
My whole family was converted at a revival meeting when I was in seventh grade. That made quite a change for all of us and we were sort of all at the same level of Christian maturity for the coming years. A unique experience, I think.

Q. Who were the musicians you admired as a young man? When CRB began, what music of the time were you attempting to emulate or extend on?
J. S. Bach and Beethoven were always favorites of mine, and I suspect there’s a lot of classical music behind all our music, at least to some extent. On the pop side, the Electric Prunes, 50 Foot Hose, Jefferson Airplane, the Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix were big influences. But it’s sort of an odd thing because none of us listened to the radio much or had that many LPs. We just sort of made our own music to fill the void.

Q. Without sounding disrespectful...how in the world did you learn about an obscure band like 50 Foot Hose while living in a small Midwestern town in the early 1970s? How did you buy/consume music in those days?
Although I didn't listen to much radio, there was a station down in Oklahoma that broadcast all sorts of weird rock music late in the night. I happened to tune in one night and heard them…and remembered the unique name. Later when shopping in a record store in Wichita (probably in 1971) I found their albums being sold at a discount (a dollar an LP, as I recall). So I bought one and fell in love with most of the songs.

I think most of our music came from large stores (Willey's was one) that had small book and record departments. Oddly enough I can't remember actually buying most of the records I owned, or where we bought them. Sort of strange how many holes there are in our memories.  I suppose had I used drugs, I might have some truly massive gaps  :o

Q. Did you find any difficulty in being a Christian and making rock music?
Making the rock music was easy. Getting anyone to listen to it was hard. We were unaware of the “Jesus Music” movement, being out in the sticks of Kansas. Churches were very conservative and not too interested in having rock music in their sanctuaries, so we were sort of the Lone Ranger of bands. Churches just weren’t into guitars and drums in church the way they are now. So we didn’t really get to perform in a lot of places other than for a few youth groups and a couple of churches wanting to have some sort of special service to reach out to their youth. There was very, very little money in it and we often played for free. It was a labor of love for the most part.

Q. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, did you listen to rock music of the day? Christian music? The classics?
By the early 1970s we were listening to a variety of music, but our style was pretty “set,” so I don’t think you could see much influence between what we listened to and what we performed.

Q. Were you or your bandmates involved in the pastimes of the day (politics, drugs, promiscuity, school protest), or did you live very much a quiet small-town life?
Our town had a population of 200-some, so long hair and loud music were already an amazingly rebellious thing in the eyes of our peers. There was a lot of alcohol abuse in our tiny burg (Alden, Kansas), but the three of us in our band were pretty straight-laced.
My sister and I went to Sterling College (Sterling, KS), which was a Presbyterian School, so it was pretty straight-laced as well, though there was some drug abuse there (the mid-1960s; many drugs were still legal at that point). But none of us ever got mixed up with the drug scene or such. I think perhaps our early conversion to Christianity spared us from a lot of the trips a lot of young folks fell into during that period.

Q. Some of the lyrics on Risen Savior seem to address the real-life concerns of teenagers. Did you feel it was important to do so?
I think it was more of a need to express our own feelings rather than make some big statement for the masses. Again, the fact that we were playing for small audiences and not that often sort of made it less about sending a message than about expressing a message.

Q. When you decided to record an album, was there any thought toward trying somehow to get it on an established label?
I’m not sure we ever even sent any demo tapes anywhere; I don’t think we did, or at least can’t remember ever doing so. I was a music major at Sterling College, and at the Music Educators convention [I] noticed that school bands were getting their own records pressed by vanity press labels for a very small investment. This of course struck me as a way to create a record without much of the expense while keeping full control over our music and our sound. So it just seemed like a “quick fix” for getting an LP of our music out there.
Sadly, we made the master tapes before we really hit our stride; had we made them a year or two later, the sound would have been much more refined and polished. I have always regretted that our best sound isn’t there for people to hear, but that’s just how it is.
I am not sure how many records were pressed, but I’m guessing maybe 500. We each put up the money and then divided the money from the records. When the band dissolved, we divided the remaining records between us. I gave most of mine away to the students in the school where I taught.

Q. With the sounds you created on Risen Savior, did you ever feel that you were really going “far out”?
Well, it was certainly perceived as far out by some listeners of the time. But basically we just made the music the way we wanted to hear it without any eye toward making it weird for weirdness’ sake.

Q. What was the division of labor between you and your sister you in terms of playing keyboards?
Jan handled the electric piano (an RMI – Rocky Mountain Instruments harpsichord/piano) which I’d rewired so the keys on the lower end were bass-boosted. We then put the lower half of the keyboard through a bass amp so we had a bass guitar sound even though it was actually the electric piano. We also had a Vox electric organ that she played, sometimes one hand on each keyboard. I generally played electric guitar, especially when we started performing. But as we added synthesizers (an ARP 2600 and Pro Soloist) to our band, I alternated between them and the guitar.
Sometimes we put the ProSoloist atop the electric piano and my sister would play both (I think…I’m a little unsure, as we tried all sorts of combinations when we practiced and recorded, some we never used in performance). Toward the end we also had a string machine for string-like sounds but I don’t think we used it on our LP.

Q. Some songs don’t have drums. Was that a proactive decision?
I did a couple of tracks on my own on the Risen Savior LP and those would be the ones without drums. I’m not sure exactly why it was done that way, looking back. I think part of it was that as I picked up more skills on the synthesizer, I wanted to hear more of an orchestral sound to the music, and thus needed to lay down lots of instrumental tracks to do that (the synthesizer being a single-note instrument at that point).
Also, I think Jan had headed off to Law School, or at least wasn’t available to do the music at that point, but I might be wrong about that as time has made memories of “what” and “why” a little hazy.
Anyway, I had to layer all the sounds on those tracks by overdubbing, recording one track along with the next and hoping the balance wasn’t all out of whack, and it was basically a one-man job. At that point I only had a two-track Akai recorder to work with, so those multiple layers basically resulted in a mono recording with one extra track on one side for “full stereo” (ha).
Sadly, our PA had so much hiss that we had to run our microphones into an Ampeg tube amp for the vocals, which made our vocals pretty muddy by today’s standards.

Q. When you recorded the Risen Savior album, did you think that it sounded like anything else around at the time?
We were pretty much unaware of what else was going on, especially in Christian music where most of the stuff was Gospel or such. It wasn’t until years later that we even heard of the Jesus Rock movement.

Q. Were you a “gear-head”? Did you find it easy to learn how to use tape recorders, mikes, mixing boards, amps, effects, synthesizers, etc.?
Yes, I seemed to take to it like a duck to water. I was constantly tearing into stuff and rewiring it, building synthesizer modules, and such, some from scratch and others from kits. I can remember spending hours with a soldering iron and playing around with the then-new ICs (Integrated Circuits) that allowed frequency doubling, square-wave generation, and other weird things when the electrical output from a keyboard or guitar was pumped through them. Probably the neighbors were glad when I quit experimenting and went to bed   :o)
Mixing boards were a luxury we couldn’t afford, so we basically just winged it with on-the-fly adjustments and care in controlling the volume of our instruments as we performed.

Q. Was there a reason The Concrete Rubber Band “broke up”?
Mostly we just had to earn a living and each went our separate ways. There had never been even the suggestion of a dream that we could earn money with our band’s music. So after finishing college I found some music teaching jobs nearby and we continued the music in the evenings and spare time.
But when Jan headed to law school some distance away (at Kansas University in Lawrence, Kansas), things started to get less and less viable for the band. Bob Rhodes (our drummer) and I tried to perform places, with me on the keyboards sans guitar. And for a time we had other people try to play the keyboards. But it just wasn’t the same and when I got a job some distance away, that was the end of the band. The proverbial “not with a bang but a whimper” death.

Q. Do you think that the Concrete Rubber Band album has any parallels in rock music?
I’m sure it does, but not being all that aware of the musical history of the Jesus Rock bands—or even rock music in general—I really don’t feel like I’m in a position to comment on that in any meaningful way. We just sort of did our thing with little regard to what others were doing and that was basically it.
I suppose that many other groups did the same thing and, being creatures of our society and the pop music scene, likely the various “sounds” of many bands were quite similar, especially given that the electric guitar and various pedals were being fielded to a large market of players. A guy always hopes that some of what he did was unique, but sometimes that is a relative thing and best decided by unbiased reviewers and historians.
I suppose that in the end we were just another of those little garage bands that sprang up in the 60s and 70s, made some nice music, and then moved on to other things. I wish we’d had a few more breaks and could have continued creating music a little longer since we basically quit just when we were hitting our stride, but that’s sort of how things are in a society where the arts are a bit of an afterthought—especially with churches—and people need to earn their livings.
But it was a lot of fun while it lasted and I have no regrets. I do have a lot of good memories when it comes to making music in our band.

You can buy the CRB album, and learn a lot more about the group and about Duncan, here: http://duncanlong.com/MP3-music/concrete-rubber-band.html

Thursday, July 25, 2013


This is a blog about music on records. Or, if it's not available on records, then CDs. Cassettes. Whatever.

I usually find myself having about ten records out near my stereo at any one time. A few are new acquisitions. Some are old favorites. Some are ones I'm transferring to digital. But it's usually around ten, hence the name of this blog.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy.