Sunday, June 30, 2013


Hello Everyone-

My thanks to everyone who came out for our NC 1960s book release party on Friday, as well as my appearance at the Joe Newberry/Mike Compton house concert last night, which promoted my other forthcoming book. There'll be more coming soon about the NC Musicians photo book, and you can continue to follow the NC '60s book at

More essays, and stories soon. Thanks very much,
June 30, 2013

P.S. This blog has now passed 20,000 views. Hurrah!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Info About The Big Events For The NC 60s Book This Week

Here's all the news about this week's big events.

Wednesday, June 26th. There Was A Time book signing. Park Road Books, at Park Road Shopping Center, at 7pm. Jake Berger and I will tell stories, and sign books. The book is now available at the store.

Friday, JUNE 28th. There Was A Time book release party, with the Young Ages, Good Bad & The Ugly (featuring Patrick Walters), Abbadons, Mannish Boys (featuring Jake Berger and Donny Fletcher), and Bobby Donaldson. Neighborhood Theatre, on the corner of 36th Street, and N. Davidson, in the NoDa area. Doors at 7pm, show at 8pm. Tickets are $15, and are available at the door, Lunchbox Records, Sunshine Daydreams, and on the Theatre's website. Books will be available to purchase, and have signed.

Please spread the word on these events to local media, your friends, your enemies, and anyone else you know. See you later this week. Let's Rock.
June 25, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

Vince Melouney (Bee Gees) interview

Vince Melouney: Gotta Get A Message To You
Interview and introduction by Daniel Coston
Originally published in the Big Takeover Magazine, summer 2013 issue

For many Bee Gees fans, the question is not so much whether you’re a fan, but what period of the band do you prefer. Their late 1970s disco mega-stardom, or their moody orchestral pop of the early 1970s? Or their continued chart-toppers in the 1980s and 90s? Yet none of these eras in the band are why I’m writing this article.

For me, the Brothers did much of their best work in their first three internationally-released albums, all released between August of 1967, and August of 1968. These albums, 1st, Horizonal, and Idea, are remarkable albums of catchy and atmospheric rock, and orchestral pop that yielded song, after great song. “Massachusetts”, “Gotta Get A Message To You”, “New York Mining Disaster 1941”. The music and the arrangements are so assured, that you forget that all three Gibb brothers were just emerging from their teens when they were made. When Andrew Sandoval and Rhino Records re-issued their albums in 2010, I was reminded again of how good these songs were, and how much I like this era of the band.

Another part of this is the musicians that helped to strengthen the Bee Gee’s original five-piece lineup. Drummer Colin Petersen was adept at playing any of the band’s stylistic changes, and guitarist Vince Melouney helped to make the group the Rock and Roll band that the Gibb brothers had dreamed of being.

Melouney was with the band from when the Gibb Brothers first arrived in England, through the excitement of their worldwide rise to fame. When Melouney left the band in late 1968, it marked a sea change in the group’s history. The band’s fourth album, Odessa, feels very different without Melouney’s influence. Following Odessa’s release, the band tumbled towards their original implosion, and eventual re-birth in the 1970s. 

These days, Melouney is active again, touring as a solo act in his native Australia. He is also working towards a new album, with songs that will be familiar to many. My thanks to Vince for answering my questions via email.

Daniel Coston: What made you want to play guitar, growing up in Australia?

Vince Melouney: I didn’t have any intention or desire to play the guitar until one day there was a knock at our front door. I was in the kitchen with my Mum, she was baking cakes, and it was a guy saying that he had a music school opening in my town, and would Mum have a son or daughter that may wish to learn the guitar, the Hawaiian guitar. Mum asked me was I interested, it sounded so romantic, I said yes and went there for weeks, but found it boring, so didn’t learn very much at all. I by this time was right into Elvis and the guitar that was given to all of the pupils at the end of the course, I changed from a Hawaiian guitar to one I could strap over my shoulder and think I was Elvis, things music changed after that, I would come home from school and practice till Mum and Dad had to drag me to dinner, I was back practising right after dinner till they told me it was time to go to bed.

Coston: Talk about Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, and what brought you to England.

Melouney: I met Billy Thorpe at a major venue in Sydney, called Surf City, where I had got my band, Johnny Noble & The Aztecs, some regular work, the owner of the venue John Harrigan introduced him to me. Billy sang a couple of songs with us at rehearsals and joined the group not long after that as Johnny Noble was leaving. We went on to have two number one hits and three top ten songs in the charts. I left Billy and The Aztecs in 1965, and eventually in 1966 was so inspired by the music coming out of The UK that I decided I had to go there. 

Coston: How did you meet up with the Bee Gees? Had you all played together, and hung out together in Australia?

Melouney: I knew The Bee Gees in Australia, we had met at TV shows and gigs and I became friendly with them. I did some recording with them just before I left for The UK. They said they were going to The UK not long after me and maybe we would meet up again there. The rest is history.

Coston: Was the band already rehearsing and recording, when you joined?

Melouney:  No, they hadn’t started recording. They auditioned for Robert Stigwood, who had already knew they were coming, as The Bee Gees Father, Hughie, had been in contact with Stigwood, sent him recordings etc from Australia. Colin Petersen had joined not long before me. I heard they were in The UK through my friends in The Easybeats, a group from Australia who had a hit in Britain with a song called “Friday on my Mind”.

Coston: What are your memories of recording that first album?

Melouney: It was exciting. To be in a studio in London, actually, just to be in London was exciting. It was IBC Studios, in the centre of London; all of us were together for the first time (that is the five of us, I hadn’t met Colin before, although he was a friend of The Bee Gees in Australia). I can’t remember the first song we put down, but that first night, we recorded “New York Mining Disaster 1941”. The album that followed was a really wonderful experience. Song after song was inspirational. We all got along, we all worked together, it was fun, though we were deadly serious about what we were doing. 

Coston: Did you know early on that string sections and horns would be featured on their songs? How did you feel about that?

Melouney: Yes I did, Bill Shepherd was our arranger and if you listen to the first album, you will notice the string arrangements are quite sparse in most of the songs where they are playing, so it didn’t interfere with my guitar at all, I really enjoyed Bill’s arrangements. The next two albums featured a lot more guitar.

Coston: What were some of the Bee Gee's early live gigs like?

Melouney: Can’t really remember most of them, but we did some small venues around England, supported some acts, I think one was The Rod Stewart Group. We played the Saville Theatre in London, supporting Fats Domino, it was not a good move. All the Rockers had come to see Fats, not listen to young kids with high voices, sing about love, no no no.

Coston: How fast did stardom seem to hit?

Melouney: It came upon us too fast, before we knew it, we were flying first class, doing the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ in New York, staying in VERY expensive, flash hotels. Coming from Australia only a few months earlier, which at that time, was at the end of the earth, we were like kids in a lolly shop.

Coston: At one point, it looked you and Colin were going to have to go back to Australia, and a couple of fans chained themselves to Buckingham Palace in protest. What was that like, and whatever became of those girls?

Melouney:  I just recently heard from one of those girls. She sent me some pics of her chained to Buckingham Palace, don’t know where they are now, must find them. It was a difficult time, just when we had made the grade, they, the home office wanted to kick us out. But with perseverance by Robert Stigwood and our fans, they reluctantly gave us a stay of execution and let us stay in the country.

Coston: How did you and the band work up songs?

Melouney: Like most groups I think, Barry, Robin and Maurice would sing the song and we would try different ideas till we were all happy with it. We did do quite a few versions of some of the songs, which can be found on the 6 CD collection, which came out about 5 years ago.

Coston: Talk about coming up with your guitar parts. I know that on “World,” and other songs, you came up with your guitar parts.

Melouney:  I came up with most of my parts, but did listen to what everyone had to say and made changes where I felt necessary and that made sense.

Coston: What are your recollections of recording Horizontal? It sounds like a remarkably assured band, despite everyone's age, and busy schedule.

Melouney: I think we had settled in by then, felt confident of what we were doing, had a few hits under our belt and yes fitting in recording when we were so busy, flying here there and everywhere, to do gigs, TV shows, personnel appearances, interviews. I get tired now just thinking about it.

Coston: What did the band sound like in a live setting? Was it a challenge to perform some of the songs that had been so strings-oriented on the recordings?

Melouney: Except for right at the beginning, we never performed without an orchestra.

Coston: Has any live recordings of you and the Bee Gees turned up? I keep hoping for a great lost live set.

Melouney:  Not that I know of. There are some recordings to be found on Youtube, I think from a tour of Germany.

Coston: What are your recollections now of recording Idea?

Melouney: Again, it was such a long time ago, I just cannot remember. We were always in the studio, recording something. Sorry, can’t help you there.

Coston: You wrote “Such A Shame”, a great song. Talk about the song. I know 
that you've expressed regret that you didn't let Barry sing the part that you took.

Melouney: Yes, Barry really liked the song and wanted to sing it, and I do wish I had of said yes. Obviously the band was starting to implode on itself at that time, as the lyrics to that song imply. Robert Stigwood was starting to get more involved in the musical side of the band, of which he really knew nothing about except that he had a great ear for picking a hit.

Coston: What guitars did you play, back then and now? On the Idea TV special, you’re playing an Epiphone.

Melouney: Back in the BG days, I had many different guitars, although I did mostly play a Gibson Les Paul. I think the Epiphone in the pic was Barry's guitar. I can't remember all the different amps we used. Vox was one of them. I now play a Gibson Les Paul through a JCM 900 combo, love the sound. They just go together.

Coston: Listening to these records, I'm also amazed at young everyone was. 
Was youth also a factor in the band splitting up?

Melouney:  Probably. Coming from Australia, which at that time could have been on another planet, it was a very young, naive place to be coming from. London was where it was all happening and we were like the straight couple in ‘The Rocky Horror Show’. 

Coston: What finally caused you to leave?

Melouney:  There was conflict within the band, due to outside influences. Robert Stigwood wanted more and more strings, I really no longer had much to do. We had a winning combination and could have gone on to make many great albums. But no, the end was nigh, so time to go.

Coston: I've read that you played on some of the tracks for Odessa. Is that true, and what tracks were those?

Melouney: Yes, I was on three tracks, “Marley Purt Drive”, “Whisper Whisper” and one more that I can’t remember.

Coston: You got involved with a couple of bands after the Bee Gees. Talk about those.

Coston: The first group was Ashton Gardner and Dyke, a very professional group of great players, and with Tony Ashton’s voice and song writing they were a burst of reality after the Bee Gees. The next group was Fanny Adams, of which we were all Australians. The singer, Doug Parkinson, who had and still has the most fantastic voice and his drummer ‘Johnny Dick’, a great drummer who played with Billy Thorpe in Australia after I left the group. We recorded one album, the group came back to Australia to tour, but everything went wrong and the group disbanded. 

Coston: Did you stay in touch with the band over the years? How did the 1999 reunion come about?

Melouney: I saw Barry and Maurice quite a bit after I left the group. But when I returned to Australia, of course I only saw them when they came here. I kept in contact with Dick Ashby, my old friend from when I was in the group. Dick was the roadie way back in the beginning and he stayed on with the Gibbs as personal manager. A lovely man, and he was the one that told me they were coming to Australia and that they would like to ask me to join them on stage at Stadium Australia for three songs. I of course was really chuffed to be asked, and the concert was AWESOME. 

Coston: Talk a little bit about everyone in the band, in particular, Robin and Maurice.

Melouney: Maurice was a good mate of mine, and we used to get along very well. Maurice, being the musician out of the three brothers and a guitar player, we had a lot in common. I didn’t see a lot of Robin outside the studio or on the road, he was a very private person and I respected his privacy.

Coston: What are you working on these days? I've read that you also released a solo album in the last several years.

Melouney: I am very close to finishing an album of Bee Gee songs that I do in my show. They all have my own arrangement, I have done them all in my own way. I play my show all over the country and am heading off to LA in March to catch up with an old friend, Saul Davis, who is a record producer together with his wife, Carla Olsen, and do some recording there. Then I am off to The UK to play my show there. I am contacting agents there at the moment. I want to play Europe again. How long I will be there, I do not know.

Coston: Anything that you'd like to say to our readers, or anything that I missed.

Melouney: Thanks for reading my ramblings and if you see me advertised playing in your area, please come along. Also, keep an eye out for my new album, soon to be released on iTunes.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Just A Friendly Reminder...

There Was A Time book signing
Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC
June 26, 2013

There Was A Time book release party
Neighborhood Theatre, Charlotte, NC
featuring the Young Ages, Good Bad & The Ugly, Abbadons, Mannish Boys, Bobby Donaldson, and MORE!
Emceed by yours truly, Daniel Coston
Tickets are $15
Doors at 7pm, show at 8pm

See you there,
June 16, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Left Banke photos, with Michael Brown, Joe's Pub, NYC, June 6, 2013

The Left Banke
with special guest Michael Brown
Joe's Pub
New York, NY
June 6, 2013 
all photos copyright Daniel Coston

Matrimony, Charlotte, NC, EP release party, June 8, 2013

Fillmore Charlotte
Charlotte, NC
June 8, 2013
all photos copyright 2013 Daniel Coston

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

DJ'ing NC 60s Music At Snug Harbor Tonight

Hello All-

Sorry for the late notice, but I'll be DJ'ing tonight some of the music that is covered in my new book on the NC Rock & Roll scene of the 1960s. I'll be at Snug Harbor, in Charlotte, starting tonight at 10pm, and playing songs in-between performances by three local acts. Copies of the book will also be available. Come on out, and let's turn this music up loud.
June 12, 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

Langhorne Slim photos, Charlotte, NC, June 8, 2013

Langhorne Slim
Fillmore Charlotte
Charlotte, NC
June 8, 2013
all photos copyright 2013 Daniel Coston

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Gary Brooker, Procol Harum interview

Gary Brooker: Shine On
Interview and introduction by Daniel Coston

Originally published in the spring 2013 issue of The Big Takeover Magazine

Gary Brooker is very glad to be here, and on tour again. In May of last year, Brooker nearly died from a skull fracture, suffered in a hotel room in South Africa. His band, Procol Harum, were performing there for the first time ever. Due to circumstances that still have yet to be explained (the band’s website has suggested that Brooker had been drugged, in a robbery attempt), Brooker fell, and ended up spending over two weeks in the hospital, before finally being allowed to fly home to England.

Many of us know the music of Procol Harum. Formed in early 1967, the band’s first single became a song for the ages, “A Whiter Shade Of Pale.” Through the majority of the following 45 years, Procol Harum has evolved and changed, touching on pop, rock, classical, symphonic and the fringes of progressive rock. Sometimes, all in the same song. Brooker’s voice and songwriting has led the band through it all, and continues to lead the band through a healthy touring schedule. The band may have missed out on a Rock Hall nomination this year, but a fantastic new biography of the band, "The Ghosts Of A Whiter Shade Of Pale", is already reminding fans of just how much the band has accomplished over their history.

Just five weeks after the incident in South Africa, Brooker returned to the stage for a US tour opening for Yes. The recovery from the accident has been gradual, and is ongoing. Despite that, Brooker remains a remarkable person to talk to. He talks to you with a knowing sparkle in his eye. Down to earth, yet able to laugh about it all. It was really good to see him. Onstage, or backstage in Alpharetta, GA, where this interview was done. The world around us too often takes our heroes from us too soon, but it is always good when someone can continue, and indeed, shine on, brightly.

Daniel Coston: Let me ask first what a lot of people want to know. How are you doing, and how are you feeling after the incident in South Africa?

Gary Brooker: I’m feeling pretty good. One of the problems that came from that events there was that I got deaf in one ear, and I can’t hear how loud I’m talking, and occasionally I got a little topply and dizzy. But apart from that, I’m fine. I was a bit worried about coming out here, but its all worked out fine. No problems.

Coston: Was it good to jump back into a tour?

Brooker: Well, it was a target. I’ve got to get myself back in shape here for a certain date, so that’s what I did. It involved staying at home, and being pretty quiet for a few weeks.

Coston: Was that hard to do?

Brooker: No. (Laughs) I didn’t feel like doing much.

Coston: Has that incident made you think about what you what you want to do next? Has that incident affected you?

Brooker: It’s made me think that I could’ve laid there in a pool of blood and died. But some of the lads found me, if you like, and figured out what was going on. But therefore, I survived, and I didn’t have any permanent injury, hopefully. It’s made me think that every moment is quite important. There’s a lot of people that come to that in some stage of their life. But as we were saying earlier, the one thing was to make sure that I was able to even get up on stage and hear what I was singing. So that’s got a little bit [to go], so I haven’t gotten through the next stage, yet. Plenty of time to think about this while driving through the United States, though. (laughs)

Coston: This is your first time back in the United States after I saw you on the Jethro Tull tour, in 2010.

Brooker: We also did some some other dates on our own that year, as well. There wasn’t a lot of them, and a lot of it was based around going up to Canada to play with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. We also came back about a week after we went home, and did a date with the Wilmington [Delaware] Symphony, at their Opera House. Stayed at the Dupont, all very nice. Very fair. (laughs)

Coston: Do you enjoy coming back to the US, after all this time?

Brooker: Yeah, yeah. In the old days, we used to come over for about six months of the year.  It’s good to come over, but I think once every two years is all right.

Coston: Would you like to come over here often with your own show, as opposed to opening for another band?

Brooker: Actually, that’s worked out for me [on this tour], because I was in a bed for quite a few weeks. Therefore, I lost a bit of strength. And I’m very glad that we’re only playing for an hour, and not two. (Laughs)

Coston: There has been a number of different lineups during the history of Procol Harum. You’ve had this lineup together now for a few years.

Brooker: Geoff [Whitthorn, guitarist] and Matt [Pegg, bassist] date from ‘92, ‘93. Twenty years. And it seems that Josh [Phillips, on organ] and Geoff [Dunn] on the drums have been with us for, it could be, five years. Some bands don’t last five years (laughs), so we don’t have a constant lineup change. It’s not like every time we go anywhere as Procol Harum, that there’s a different team. We try to stay together, we get on well. It’s a social event, as well. It’s fun, touring. It should be fun. But it’s fun going around with Yes. They’re similar ilk to us. They’re a little older than us, but they’re good lads.

Coston: You have a new live album out [MMX].

Brooker: Yes, as a download.

Coston: Is that something that you think you’d do more of? Putting live albums out via download, or would you like to go back to the more physical album?

Brooker: Do you mean a studio album?

Coston: Yes. That, too.

Brooker: Well, I think that we’ll get back in there, at some point. The great difference nowadays is that you can’t try out a new song on stage, and then go in and sharpen it up a bit in the studio. Because as soon as you’ve played it onstage once, it’s out there. So all that side of it is gone. Once you play it, and if you haven’t honed it, or sharpened it up in that time, you’ve spoiled it. So really, you can’t play anything on stage unless you want it to be out there on download.

We have a method now where we record ourselves every night now, anyway. It’s just, whoever gets the terrible job after this tour of 27 dates, picking out what was a good performance, and what wasn’t.

Coston: This is much a Keith Reid question, as it is for you, but one of the things I like about Procol Harum is that the lyrics are very descriptive, yet not overly so. I don’t know what you guys wrote the song “Shine On Brightly” about, but I know what it means to me. You can take your meanings from the song.

Brooker: Well, that is what it’s all about. That’s a good example, because it’s much harder to think, “What the hell’s that about?” “Whiter Shade Of Pale” is easy, or “Homburg” or something, compared to “Shine On Brightly.” But I think that each person can get something out of it. If it’s a fantasy, it could be glowing pictures, or whatever. Hopefully, the music goes with it, as well, and vice versa.

It was funny. The other night, we were in Clearwater, Florida, and they had a young lady on the side of the stage with a light on her, and she does sign language for all the lyrics. How they’re able to do it is a miracle, to me. How they learn to do that. And of course, I thought, if they are deaf, and if anybody’s watching this performance, what are they listening to? But I’ve been told that it’s the vibration [that they can feel]. There’s a very good percussionist with the classical orchestras in England that’s totally deaf.

But I did give the girl a bit of lip, as they call it in English, because I said, “What’s the worst job you ever had? That’s becoming a signer, and you go for your first job, and you say, ‘What is it?’ and they, “Translating the Procol Harum lyrics at their concert!” (Laughs loudly) How’s she going to do, “Your multilingual business friend”? Her hands were flying everywhere. Luckily for her, we didn’t do, “Shine On Brightly.” She’d have had to do, “My prussian blue electric clock alarm bell rings, it will not stop.” Anyway, she seemed to enjoy it.

Coston: What songs are you really enjoying, playing on this tour? It’s a slightly different set than when I saw you open for Jethro Tull.

Brooker: I’m really enjoying every moment, because I’m really glad I’m here. You know what I mean? Whether it’s somebody signing for the deaf, or just somebody on the road, or anything. It’s great fun, it’s great to be here. With our sets, we worked one out, when we got here. We lost a lot of time in England, with me not being there, and it kind of worked out. We worked out so that we can try something different, and if works, or if maybe it’s not quite right. Unusually for us, we’re pretty much sticking to the plan. (laughs) I’ve been sticking to the plan, but I can call it and change it in the middle of the set. “No, we’ll do that one.” But no, we’ve stuck to [the set list] so far, but we can still make it interesting. We haven’t played it enough, we’re only on about our tenth or eleventh concert [of this tour]. We’re not tired of it. In fact, on the contrary. We’re sharpening them. Trying to find different ways of going with them that are better each time. When it comes to the stage where it’s peaked, then we’ll drop it out, and try something else.

Coston: What is it like to have that kind of a catalog, through your history with this band?

Brooker: It is a big catalog, but sometimes it doesn’t seem so large. We have a certain amount, because at some point, we’ve played most of them, but I seem to have played a couple at soundcheck that no one’s ever played. Unless they’ve forgotten them. (Laughs) But we rehearse before we went to South Africa, and most of that set was meant to be for use here. So we’ve quite got a good stockpile of stuff.

Coston: I want to ask you a question about “Whiter Shade Of Pale,” without going into [the recent court case with former organist Matthew Fisher]. How was your perspective on that song itself changed over the years? Do you view that song differently now, than when you wrote it?

Brooker: It hasn’t changed a lot, except the way that people play it. That is always interesting to me. I can always create lot of interest on the piano, and the way I sing it, and it always remains fresh. If I hear it on the radio, I think, “Blimey, that’s good. Who’s that?” And it’s our record. To me, it didn’t sound like it came from a certain era, but I think it always sounded like it didn’t fit. People have called it lots of things. Ghostly, eerie, haunting. And it was always that. It’s one of its unique properties, I think. But when people refer to it as galvanizing the Summer Of Love, I don’t see that at all. That might have been the era that it was popular in, but since then, people have gotten married to it, and they’re only 25. People get buried to it. Mind you, they were probably around when it first came out. (laughs)

Coston: I’m 39, and I’ve known that song all of my life. And again, it means different things to me.

Brooker: See, you weren’t even born when that song came out.

Coston: You guys were always a little out of your time. I listen to your songs, and I can’t go, “Oh, that’s so 1967, 1968.” You guys were always a little left of what was going on.

Brooker: We were always, slightly not of the time. Not quite getting in with the current, because we didn’t change ourselves to go with might be the fashion, or the way to do things, or all that. In fact, if we were heard anything that was the fashion, or the way to do things, we would go the complete opposite. When “Whiter Shade Of Pale” came out, our first LP came out a little bit later that year. Let’s say September, October. And we didn’t put “Whiter Shade” on it, because we thought, “Everybody’s already bought that. We don’t want to cheat them, make them buy something they’ve already got.” [Editor’s note: Procol Harum’s then label, Regal Zonophone, did go ahead and release “Whiter Shade” on the band’s debut album. However, the album was released in Germany without “Whiter Shade,” and both the US and UK versions did not include the band’s most recent hit by that time, “Homburg.”] Now, you wouldn’t think that a band wouldn’t release an album without “Whiter Shade Of Pale.” That wasn’t their biggest hit that year, but we always worked against the plan. (Smiles and laughs.)

Coston: I wanted to ask you about Douglas Adams, who was a friend of yours, and whom I got to interview in 1996.

Brooker: He was a great friend. He was such a huge fan, and such a creative person, he felt like more than just one fan, but more a whole tribe of them.

Coston: Is the band ever changing, ever shifting for you? As we stated, you have had this current lineup together for several years. Have you been surprised by the number of twists and turns that this group has taken over the years that you’ve led this band?

Brooker: I think the musicians know that in this band, they can take any song we play, be it a old one, or a new one, and any direction that they feel like taking. Add. Their. Bit. They can add their character, or musical notes, or anything. Now and again, there’s bits that have to be in there. Something, a song feels wrong if it doesn’t hear THAT. It’s not written in stone, but you say, “You’ve got to have that bit in.” For the most part, the rhythms have to be somewhere near the originals. We have tried jazzing stuff up now and again, totally change the arrangements and the feels. But people are always happy when we come back to the old version. (laughs)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Article about my new book for Crowd Surfer Magazine

The Rock & Roll scene in Charlotte during the 1960s
by Daniel Coston
co-author of There Was A Time: Rock & Roll In The 1960s In Charlotte, And North Carolina, by Fort Canoga Press.

“Was there a Rock & Roll scene in Charlotte during that time?’ The question was often asked while I worked on a book on that subject, and to honest, I might’ve once asked that same question, myself. To my delight, I discovered that there was a popular scene in Charlotte during those days, and the fruits of their labors are only recently beginning to be appreciated.

Like many other scenes during that time, many of the Rock & Roll bands in Charlotte during the 1960s were still in College, High School, or even Junior High School. Many youngsters heard the records coming out of England, or in the growing Rock scene in America, and quickly acted on this new obsession. They learned how to play their instruments, joined a band (or did both in the reverse order), and found a quick audience in their own classmates at school dances, and Battle Of The Bands competitions. It wasn’t until the 1970s that being in a Rock band became a more adult pursuit, be it part-time or full-time.

Due to the age of many of the group’s fans, many of the Rock & Roll venues in Charlotte were teen clubs. Often, they were in the basement of recreation halls, or churches. The Crested T., The Tin Can, and the Spyder Web were among the most popular teen clubs in town. The Spyder Web was located in the basement of the YMCA on Morehead Street, and did not allow anyone in older than 19 years of age. There were some other clubs that catered to an older (i.e. alcohol drinking) crowd. The Purple Penguin, which was located on the corner of Central and Pecan (where CVS is now), the Box, on South Boulevard, the Cellar, which still sits on Morehead Street, and in the late ‘60s, Phantasmagorica, which was on the outskirts of Charlotte, near Matthews. Many of the bands in town still played these venues, despite not being old enough to drink, or legally step foot in the venue. Many venues told the musicians, “Don’t tell anyone your real age,” so they didn’t.    

Not a lot of bands got the chance to record during that time. Recording was expensive, and the parents of many of these groups didn’t think that people would someday be collecting these records for amazing sums of money. In all, eight groups in Charlotte recorded during that decade. The New Mix (which featured future Spongetones drummer Rob Thorne) was the only Charlotte band to record for a major label, releasing their sole album on United Artists Records in 1968. They also recorded a couple of singles under their previous name, the 18th Edition. The Stowaways recorded an album in 1967 for the Winston-Salem based label, Justice Records. That album now goes for $400 to $600 in collector circles.

Perhaps the best-known single to come from Charlotte was “Abba”, which was released by the Paragons in 1966. “Abba” is now revered as a Garage Rock classic, and has been embraced by a new generation of collectors and fans. That single, which the band sold in the halls of their high school, has brought more than $1,800 on Ebay. The Grifs, who were all of 19 when they recorded “Catch A Ride” in 1965, got more attention from the Midwest when their single got airplay in that part of the country. “Catch A Ride”, with its nasty Fuzztone sound, and follow-up single “Keep Dreaming”, are two of the best singles that ever came out of a Charlotte band, period, and listening to these singles on Youtube is highly recommended. Also recording singles during that time were the Damascans, and the Good Bad & The Guy (featuring future Spongetone Pat Walters). The Young Ages, who were based out of North Meck High, recorded a two-song demo for Decca Records in 1968, which can now be heard on their website.

It has been a pleasure and a joy to put together this book on the Charlotte scene, as well as the rest of North Carolina. I’m glad that I could help to put this together, and my only regret is that someone else didn’t do this sooner. All of these years later, the music that came from North Carolina can be heard on Youtube, or in compilations like the Tobacco A Go Go series. Go out, and discover this music. It’s new, it’s hip, and it’s cool, just like it was when it was first recorded.


“There Was A Time” will celebrate its release with a show at the Neighborhood Theatre on June 28th. Doors will be at 7pm, and show will start at 8pm. The bands will be Good Bad & The Ugly (first Charlotte show since 1994), Young Ages, Abbadons (first show since 1967), Bobby Donaldson & The Ravens/Premiers reunion revue, and the Mannish Boys (featuring book co-author Jacob "Jake" Berger). The show will be emceed by yours truly, Daniel Coston. Tickets will be $15, and copies of the book will be available for purchase at the show. You can get info about the show at We will also be doing a book signing for the book at Park Road Books, in Charlotte, on June 26th at 7pm. Also, check out the book’s website at