Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Dan Fogelberg - The 1971 RoFran Demos

While attending the University of Illinois, Dan Fogelberg became a popular performer in the Champaign-Urbana area, especially at the Red Herring Coffeehouse.   The Daily Illini once described him as "astounding audiences with his versatility and magnetic stage presence as a folksinger in the David Crosby-Neil Young mold."  

By the summer of 1971 however, it was clear that Dan Fogelberg had outgrown the local folk scene.  He had dropped out of school earlier that year and was starting to perform in Chicago more than Urbana.

As a result, his return to the area in late June of 1971 was already newsworthy.  A Daily Illini article wrote "a regular Red Herring performer until he made it big in Chicago, Fogelberg will return Wednesday at 9 pm for a benefit concert."

A few weeks after the show, while still in town, Fogelberg approached local musician and sound engineer Roger Francisco about using his studio to record some demos.  Dan explained that his manager, Irving Azoff, wanted to take them to California in search of a record deal with a major label.

The RoFran Enterprises Studio would have been well known to Dan at that time.  Some of his earliest studio recordings were done there as part of the Red Herring Folk Festival compilation albums.  This includes early versions of his songs "Looking For A Lady" and "Hickory Grove."

Thanks to an interview conducted with Roger Francisco in 2015 by the Sousa Archives and the Center for American Music, we have a few details about how the 1971 demo session came about.  Here is the story in Francisco's own words:

Dan Fogelberg ‐‐ he was always helpful for other people. He'd come in and play on sessions with other people. And then all of a sudden, one day, “I've gotta have this demo tape for Irv Azoff is taking it out to LA, and I'm gonna do that. I don't have any money to pay it.” “Okay.” “Come on, you can – you know, day at the studio, we’ll hold it for you.” So we spent a day in the studio and he took the album out."

The RoFran Enterprises sessions log book shows the exact recording date to have been July 21, 1971.  What Fogelberg recorded that day however was not preserved in the ledger.

Incredibly, a tape bearing that same date and Dan's name (misspelled as FOGELBURG) has recently surfaced.  The tape contains three songs, all studio recordings, feature Fogelberg with a backing band. 

The names of the other musicians playing on the session are not known at this time.  The song titles, according to a handwritten note inside the box, appear to be: "Another Daydream," "There Is A Reason (Who Has The Time)," and "Little Miss Mindy."

    

Two days after the recording session, the Daily Illini, somewhat prophetically, ran an article about the impending success of some of the area's talent.   "Don't be surprised if you walk into a record store one day and find an album recorded by a former Red Herring regular.  It may soon be a reality."   

The article tells of Mormos and their new album released in France.  Members of the group, many of which were former Red Herring performers, included Jim Cuomo, Elliott Delman, Rick Mansfield and Annie Williams.  Regarding Dan, the article proclaimed that he was "likely to be recording soon under a national record label."

In fact, Fogelberg soon left Champaign and headed to Los Angeles himself where he waited for months while Azoff worked on securing him the right deal.  Fogelberg wrote about this period in his life on the Super Seventies Rock Site:

David Geffen had just formed Asylum, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel had just been signed to Columbia, and Irving was trying to sell me.  

I was a big fan of Joni Mitchell's. She was a big influence on my songwriting. I'd seen that Geffen had set up this label for singer-songwriters, and I said, "What a great idea. This is where I want to be."

At the same time, Clive Davis had heard about me through Irving, and Clive was offering me a singles deal. I said, "No, I want an album deal, or we don't do it."

Geffen's label sounded like a haven for progressive artists, so I showed Irving an article about Geffen in Rolling Stone, and Irving said, "OK, I'll call the guy."

We got David's number and got him on the phone. He said, "I have no idea who you are, or what you're talking about, but if you send me a tape I'll listen." The rest is pretty much history. Irving went to work for David, and they hollered at each other across Sunset Boulevard.

But the ironic thing was, I didn't go with Asylum. It didn't feel exactly right, and Irving was saying, "Look, there are a lot of places to go here." He wanted to play the record companies, and for six months he just made the rounds. Every day I'd be sitting out in the Valley, in this little apartment, eating chili and waiting for a record deal.

Irving would come home and say, "Well, it's A&M, definitely."  I'd say, "Oh, great. When do we start?"  And Irving would say, "We'll talk about it tomorrow." The next day he'd come home and tell me about another record company.

He did this to me for about six months. Finally I said, "I'll believe it when I see it." In the end, we went with Columbia and Clive, but for an album, not just a single. 

Fogelberg returned to Champaign-Urbana briefly in October of 1971 for a concert at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.  He opened for REO Speedwagon and the All Star Frogs at the first ever rock concert held in the Great Hall.

In ads promoting the concert, Dan was bill as being "Back from California."  An article in the Daily Illini mentions that he had been on the West Coast "studying with Neil Young."

A review of the concert in the Daily Illini a few days after the show was however less than impressed with the "new" Dan Fogelberg. 

"Seeing Fogelberg perform used to be an almost mystical experience.  He'd come on stage looking dragged out and sullen, say hardly an audible word during his entire set, giving nothing but his music and the feeling in it.  The cheerful, clean, talkative Dan Fogelberg of Saturday night seemed like a different person altogether, and not necessarily a better one.  The California experience polished him, but it took some of the mystery and appeal away from his stage personality."

The reviewer conceded that "neither his songs nor his playing lost any of their sensitivity or beauty during his stay on the West Coast."

Fogelberg would return to perform one last time at the Red Herring in January of 1972.  That night he shared the stage with Elliott Delman and Annie Williams, both back from Paris.  Like Dan, the two were only in town briefly.  (Recordings of the concert appear to exist and it may have been broadcast live on WPGU.  Later, the three went to the radio station and had a late night in-studio jam session.)

The Daily Illini review of the Red Herring performance was titled, "Fogelberg, Delman Unchanged."  Despite the sentiment, things would never be the same again.  In many ways the concert served as Dan's farewell to his "college years" and to his home state.

Still, Fogelberg shared a new song that night proving he had not forgotten where he came from:  "Three thousand miles east / I may miss the harvest / But I won't miss the feast."  The chorus adds: "It looks like your gonna have to see me again / Illinois, oh, Illinois / Illinois, I'm your boy."

Other Early Fogelberg Recordings

 
 

Monday, January 29, 2024

Bill Keen And The Tradewinds (Bloomington-Normal)

Bill Keen and The Tradewinds were a Bloomington-Normal quintet that included three Illinois State University students.  Members of the group were:

Bill Keen, 19, of Urbana, a music major at ISNU and vocalist for the group
Jerry King, 18, of 910 S. Summit, Bloomington, an ISNU student, guitar
Jim Griner, 19, of Cheneyville, another ISNU student, bongos
Don Abbott, 35, 523 N. Main, Bloomington, organist at the Hi-Do-Ho
Neal Kenny, 22, of Louisville, KY, the drummer

In the summer of 1961 the group released a single on Lesley Records out of Louisville, Kentucky.  An article in the Daily Pantagraph from August 6, 1961 mentions that their record was the first on the new label.

The a-side, "Summer in the Lowlands," was a ballad written by Keen (which was actually a stage name used by Lawrence William Ostema Jr.).



The flip side contained a rock n' roll number, "Don't Call Me," which was written by Al Jones of Bloomington (616 S. Clinton).  According to the Pantagraph, Jones, who was not a member of the group, "has been writing music for about eight years and said he got most of his inspiration for tunes while working in the noisy Eureka Williams plant where he's a machine operator."

Curiously, the article mentions that the Kentucky label, Lesley Records, would be opening a talent office at 614 S. Clinton in Bloomington (next door to Jones) in the near future.   

It is unclear whether or not that office ever opened but at least one other group from central Illinois, Mike Brewer and the Galaxies from Champaign-Urbana, recorded for the label.   Also, between 1961 and 1962, Lesley Records had a bowling team in the Bloomington area.

As for Keen and Tradewinds, their record was reviewed in the September 11, 1961 issue of Billboard magazine with the ballad, "Summer In The Lowlands," receiving three stars or "moderate sales potential."

The group however does not appear to have lasted very long.  Ostema dropped "Keen" and performed under his own name in the years that followed.
 

Monday, January 22, 2024

Bill Warren And The Country Wildcats (Tiskilwa)

Bill Warren and the Country Wildcats from Tiskilwa, Illinois.     The group, also known as the Tiskilwa Wildcats, recorded just one single in 1960 for Fire Records.

The a-side, "Heart Stepping Stones," was written by Warren.  The b-side, an instrumental track called "Redwing Bongo," was arranged by Warren and the group.  Both songs were published by Poll-Bart Music of Glendale, CA which appears to have been the publishing company of country singer-songwriter Billy Barton.

The Fire record label, which was also based in California, appears to have been closely associated with Barton as well.  All of the known singles on the label have some connection to him including two released by Barton himself.

In a March 30, 1960 article in the Wyoming (IL) Post Herald, Warren's single is mentioned as being released by B & B Enterprises.  Again, this suggests a possible connection with Barton.

How exactly Warren and the Wildcats ended up being in business with Barton is however still a mystery.  Curiously, another north-central Illinois group, the Nite-Caps from LaSalle, also released a single on Fire Records around the same time. Their single was produced by Barton.

As for Warren and the Wildcats, they performed in and around Bureau County and western Illinois throughout the first half of the 1960s.  For several years in a row the group provided the entertainment at the "Annual Kentucky Reunion & Picnic" held in Wyanet, Illinois. 

If you have any more info, photos or memories of Bill Warren and the Country Wildcats please reach out to us at: downstatesounds@gmail.com

 

Thursday, December 28, 2023

The Session (Carbondale)

The Session, one of the first nationally televised music programs to feature up-and-coming artists, was filmed and produced by WSIU-TV (Channel 8) in Carbondale, Illinois.

The half-hour show aired weekly on PBS stations across the country between 1971 and 1973.

It featured primarily rock, jazz and folk groups from downstate Illinois as well as the St. Louis area.  On occasion the show presented new artists from around the country, including a young "Piano Man" from New York.

The Session was the brainchild of Bruce Scafe, WSIU's television producer at the time.  Scafe was an Aurora, Illinois native that held a bachelor's degree in music and a master's in radio-television from the University of Illinois.  Before being hired at WSIU in 1970, Scafe played trumpet for two years in Les Elgart's band.  He was also a member of the U of I Jazz Band for several years.  The Session was a natural marriage of Scafe's two main interests, music and television.

Between August 1971 and August 1972, Scafe directed and produced 67 episodes of The Session.  All of the camera and audio crew were students at Southern Illinois University.   Hosts of the show included London Branch, Larry James and David Langdon. 

Initially the program was broadcast in Carbondale and re-shown on public television networks around the Midwest.  By the summer of 1973, PBS selected 17 programs to broadcast nationally.  Before they aired however, Scafe left WSIU for a television job in Texas.

When asked about the show in 1973 for a syndicated article promoting the program, Scafe said, "We only had two cameras available.   It would have looked great if we had three.  I look at the program now and I find a lot that's lacking."  He added, "But we did the best we could and I think we actually pulled off miracles with the equipment we had."  

A year later, Scafe went on to help create another music show for public television in Texas.  That show, now the longest-running music program in television history, was Austin City Limits.

In a recent correspondence with Bruce Scafe, he reflected on his time directing and producing The Session more positively than he did in 1973, saying "Everything I learned about directing music came from that show.  I had to be quick on my feet.  With only 2 cameras I had to make every shot count and be able to anticipate what was next.  I think we accomplished that…making 2 cameras look like 3.”  Scafe added, "I can honestly say there would be no ACL without that experience."

Thanks to Bruce, we can now watch more episodes of The Session than any time in the last 50 years.  He has shared with us several complete episodes which you will find below.  Also, Bruce has shared a treasure trove of photographs taken by Myers Walker, art director at SIUC-TV at the time.  Walker was responsible for the variety of different sets used on The Session.  His photographs provide a unique view of the show and the musicians.   The descriptions below come directly from the PBS press releases and/or newspaper TV listings.

The Session - Performers and Episodes

Brownsville Station  (PBS Ep. 101 / Tape Date: ? /  Air Date: 6/9/73)

 
   
   

Fanny  (PBS Ep. 102 / Tape Date: ? / Air Date: 6/16/73)
 
    
Fanny, an all-girl rock band who write, sing and play today's music will perform on "The Session," a new summer series of rock and jazz programs produced by public television station WSIU, Carbondale, Illinois. With four albums to their credit, Fanny has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe where they are well-known. A hit single, "Charity Ball," put the group at the top of the charts. Of the group, two Manilla born sisters, Jean and June Millington play bass and guitar respectively, with Nicoel Barclay on organ and piano and Alice deBuhr on drums. Nicoel (Nickey) does most of the song-writing for the group. For "The Session" the group does several numbers from their third album, "Fanny Hill," including "Knock on My Door," "Hey, Bulldog," "First Time," "Ain't that Peculiar" and the aforementioned hit, "Charity Ball."
John Hicks Quartet  (PBS Ep. 103 / Tape Date: ? /  Air Date: 6/23/73)
Besides being an excellent jazz pianist, John Hicks does a great deal of composing and arranging. He is joined by Julius Hemphill on alto sax and flute, Gerald Brantley on bass, Phillip Wilson on drums, and Marcella Hooks, vocalist.

Mike Murphy and the One-Eyed Jacks  (PBS Ep. 104  Tape Date: ?  Air Date: 6/30/73

    
Mike Murphy and the One Eyed Jacks, a rock group with a good measure of rhythm and blues in their act, will be featured on The Session. Group leader Mike Murphy does all of the song writing for the One Eyed Jacks and plays a total of 13 insturments, including calliope, accordion, French horn and of course guitar. Through the years Murphy has played with such rock superstars as Janis Joplin, the Jefferson Airplane, Blood, Sweat & Tears and many others. Other players in the group are: Van Gray, congas; Terry Murphy, organ; Bruce Hall, bass; and Greg Sagesser, drums. For The Session, Mike Murphy and the One Eyed Jacks perform "You Don't Seem to Realize," Untitled," "You've Got Your Nerve," "La La Song," all Mike Murphy tunes and Burt Bacharach's "The Look of Love."

Don Crawford  (PBS Ep. 105  Tape Date: 3/22/72  Air Date: 7/7/73)
Folk-rock singer Don Crawford will appear on "The Session," the PBS series of popular music. Crawford, a native of San Francisco is known as a singer of folk songs, rhythm and blues oriented music and is also an actor, monologist and composer. A professional performer since the age of 14, he is adept at six and twelve string guitar and is an accomplished jazz bassist. Among others, he has performed with musicians John Handy, Paul Horn and Gerald Wilson. For "The Session," Crawford performs "I I See You Inside My Mirror," "The Colorado Sweet / Suite," "Gonna Buy You A Music Box," "Lady Anne," "4th Of July Party Song," "For All The Ladies," and "All Because Of You."

Burton & Cunico  (PBS Ep. 106 / Tape Date: ? / Air Date: 7/14/73)


Jake Jones  (PBS Ep. 107 / Tape Date: 5/3/72 / Air Date: 7/21/73)
"a rock band whose instruments include a mellotron"

Gerry Grossman  (PBS Ep. 108 / Tape Date: ? / Air Date: 7/28/73)

Gerry Grossman, a singer-guitarist-comic from Chicago, will perform on The Session. Twelve years of guitar experience, plus an extensive knowledge of rock n' roll all the way back to the Big Bopper, provide Grossman with an impressive repertoire. He is continually called upon to defend his claim that he can perform ninety-five percent of all pop songs recorded since 1955. Comedy figures prominently in Grossman's act as well. During a performance he parodies the subjects that are amusingly close to us all - pop music, television, social customs and adolescence. Grossman has appeared at many clubs in the Midwest and has performed on college campuses across the country. For The Session Grossman sings "Rock n' Roll Medley," "When She Smiled," "I Found You," "Watching the World Go By" and "Christy."


Dub Crouch, Norman Ford, and the Bluegrass Rounders  (PBS Ep. 109 / Tape Date: ? / Air Date: 8/4/73)

Dub Crouch, Norman Ford and the Bluegrass Rounders, a veteran bluegrass group from St. Louis will provide a rousing program of entertainment on The Session. The group has been together for sixteen years, and in 1971, were the winners of both the National and International Bluegrass Band Festival, held in Oklahoma. Along with Dub Crouch, who plays the 5 string banjo, and Norman Ford, who plays the flattop guitar, are Stan Wagganer, mandolin, Bob Wagganer, fiddle and Jesse Sanson, bass fiddle. For their appearance on The Session, the group performs "Panhandle Country," "Midnight Train," "Just A Used-To-Be To You," "Doin' My Time," "Roll On Buddy, Roll On," "Rawhide," "Live and Let Live" and "Ozark Breakdown."


St. Louis Ragtimers  (PBS Ep. 110 / Tape Date: ? / Air Date: 8/11/73)

St. Louis Jazz Quartet  (PBS Ep. 112 / Tape Date: ? / Air Date: 9/8/73)
Formed four years ago, the Quartet has made several appearances with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and has performed more than 200 concerts for the St. Louis Chapter of Young Audiences, Inc., in addition to numerous special concerts on college campuses throughout the Midwest.  Jeanne Trevor is the vocalist for the quartet.  Other members are David Schrage, pianist, Terrence Kippenberger, bass, and Charles Payne, drums.  Their program on THE SESSION will include “I Got Love,” “Green Dolphin Street,” “A House Is Not A Home,” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Mike Murphy and the One Eyed Jacks, a rock group with a good measure of rhythm and blues in their act, will be featured on The Session. Group leader Mike Murphy does all of the song writing for the One Eyed Jacks and plays a total of 13 insturments, including calliope, accordion, French horn and of course guitar. Through the years Murphy has played with such rock superstars as Janis Joplin, the Jefferson Airplane, Blood, Sweat & Tears and many others. Other players in the group are: Van Gray, congas; Terry Murphy, organ; Bruce Hall, bass; and Greg Sagesser, drums.
The Ship  (PBS Ep. 113 / Tape Date: ? / Air Date: 9/15/73)
An unusual folk-rock opera called "The Ship" embarks on a "a voyage through the human emotional range." Authors Steve Melshenker and Steve Cowan - who also perform on the program - describe "The Ship" as a "a contemporary folk music journey, a journey of the mind." Their opera uses a voyage metaphor to involve the listener in "an exploration and penetration of the senses." Segments of the opera are entitled "The Storm," "The Calm," "Lost," and "The Island." Performing "The Ship," which will soon be released by Elektra Records, are Todd Bradshaw, electric bass; Steve Reinwand, guitar, dobro, harmonica and vocals; Mark Hamby, piano, flute and vocals; and composers Melskenker and Cowan, guitar and vocals.

Ron Elliston Trio  (PBS Ep. 114 / Tape Date: ? / Air Date: 9/22/73)

The Ron Elliston Trio - all members of the University of Illinois Jazz Band - are Fred Atwood, bass; Chuck Braugham, drums; and Elliston, piano. Braugham won the "Best Big Band Drummer Award" at the Mobile (Alabama) Jazz Festival in 1969, and the same year was named "Best Drummer" at the Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival. Bassist Fred Atwood has appeared with Phineas Newborn, Jr. and toured with the Maynard Ferguson Band. Elliston appeared with Dick Schory at Carnegie Hall and worked with the Al Cohn - Zoot Sims Quintet. Their program will include "Skating in Central Park" by John Lewis; a medley of Miles Davis' "All Blues," Bach's Prelude in E Minor and "Django" by John Lewis; and "Minha Saudade.


Coal Kitchen  (PBS Ep. 115 / Tape Date: ? / Air Date: 9/29/73)
   
Band members: Carla Peyton, vocals; Kevin Cox, flute and congas; Harry Washburn, guitar; Bob Pina, keyboards; Andre Mossotti, bass; and Billy McMullin, drums

Oliver Lake and BAG (Black Artists' Group)  (PBS Ep. 116 / Tape Date: ? / Air Date: 10/6/73)

Illinois Quartet  (PBS Ep. 117 / Tape Date: ? / Air Date: 11/9/73)
Modern variations on a classical form - the string quartet - are offered by the Illinois Quartet, as they perform two compositions.
There were roughly 50 additional episodes of the Session that aired in Carbondale and around the Midwest in 1971-1972 that were not selected by PBS.   This includes some of the earliest known footage of the "Piano Man."

Billy Joel & Friends  (Tape Date: 2/10/72)
Billy Joel would just as soon chuck the whole music business, buy a boat and spend the rest of his life fishing. But now that he's in music, he writes all of his own music and displays unusual versatility and range of expression on both his vocals and the piano. Backin up Billy Joel are Al Hurtz on guitar, Larry Impelletiere on bass and Rhys Clark on drums. Numbers include "Travelling Prayer," "Everybody Loves You Now," "Captain Jack" and "Tomorrow is Today."
The show also featured a number of groups from the Champaign-Urbana rock, folk and jazz scenes:
REO Speedwagon  (Tape Date: 10/13/71)

Head East (Tape Date: 11/12/71)
    "who make use of their Moog-Synthesizer"

Finchley Boys
    "a rock group perform with an electric violin"

Sunday
    "group combines hard rock and jazz music"
  

All Star Frogs

Rocky Maffit
    "Rocky Maffit is a composer-lyricist-singer-guitarist. His music is on the quiet side, but not without a distinctively underlying rhythm and an interesting and unusual blend of voice and guitar. The numbers he performs include 'Gasoline Rainbows,' 'On the Boulevard' and 'Only Suckers Worry'"

James Barton & Friends
    "sing his original folk songs"

Ron Bridgewater Quartet
    "perform 'Naima' and 'Arman,' characterizes its music as the black man's experience through jazz"

Many of the other performers featured on The Session were from southern Illinois or the St. Louis area.

Magna Crunch
    "a six man rock band that blends rock and jazz with choreography and unique musical instruments"
    "a St. Louis rock band plays a program of entirely original music incorporating a wide range of styles from ragtime to an Old English Round"
   

David Earl
     "composer-singer peforms his own work.  Puts his poetry to music"
   

Bob Rembke
    "folk-rock guitarist and comedian presents his own works and some by Bob Dylan"
   

Dalphene McAdory
    "sings in a small nightclub atmosphere"
   

Oldfield, Branch & Company
    "The jazz trio performs four original compositions, plus Simon and Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Waters'"
   

Fee
     
  

The Singing Sphinx & The Souvenir Sounds
     "The Carbondale, Ill. chapter of the Sweet Adelines of America, who call themselves the Singing Sphinx, combine with their barbershop brothers from Herrin, the Souvenir Sounds, to bring an evening of barbershop harmony."
   

Ed Jenny
    "sings excerpts from his three rock operas"

Spoonriver Band
     "'Funky rock 'n' roll plus a little touch of soul' is one way of characterizing the music of The Spoonriver Band from St. Louis. The varied backgrounds of several of its members presents a tasteful blend of styles"

Frank Bellino 
    "plays the viola d'amore"

Gand Family Singers (Tape Date: 4/12/72)

    "Bob Gand and his daughter Gale and son Gary are joined by Joan Berstein in a  performance of traditional American folk songs"

The Group
    "a small jazz trio"

Rich Crandall Trio
    "a contemporary jazz-rock group"

Stanton, Sullivan & Riley
    "freedom and intense involvement are the cornerstone of this group, a folk trio from Carbondale, Illinois"

Corey Jones
    "guitarist plays folk-rock and bluegrass"

Kay Pace & The Inspirational Wonders 
   "gospel singers from Freewill Baptist Church, Carbondale"

Olive Brown
    "blues singer"

SIU Baroque Ensemble 
    "performs Bach, Handel"

The Riverfront Ragtimers
    "features Jean Kittrel on piano, Don Frantz on banjo and Don Summers on tuba"

London Branch Quartet 

Don Brown & The Ozark Mountain Trio

The Country Sounds

Diamond Rio

Equinox

Vince Huffman Quartet

The Jazz Progression

SIU Faculty Brass Quintet

The Session - Behind The Scenes

   
   
    
      
   
     

The original story was posted in July 2023.  Special thanks to Bruce Scafe for generously sharing videos, photos and documents from The Session.