Sunday, May 31, 2015

Lake Street Dive photos, Charlotte, NC, May 19, 2015

Lake Street Dive
Neighborhood Theatre
Charlotte, NC
May 19, 2015
photo copyright 2015 Daniel Coston

Shirley Caesar interview

Shirley Caesar: A Short interview
by Daniel Coston

Shirley Caesar is sitting back in a reclining chair, just a few minutes after delivering the commencement address at Johnson C. Smith’s baccalaureate graduation. Despite  giving a rousing sermon that moved both the graduates, and even the University president to dance and shout, she worries that her voice was not up to her own standards. “I had a cold this spring that was hard on me,” she says to a University staffer nearby. “I hope that it was enough.”

After more than 60 years of singing all over the world, and pastoring over her Mount Calvary Word Of Mouth Church in Raleigh, it is still the next speech, and the next message that drives her. “I still want to speak to everyone,” she says when asked why came to Johnson C. Smith. “I wanted to speak to these graduates, provide some help, and say something that will shine a light, and steer them towards what is right.”

It is that willingness to speak of the Gospel that Caesar carries with her everywhere, even to people that may not be prepared for that message. “I was on a plane once,” she remembers, “and I said to a friend of mine, ‘I’m going to witness to whoever sits next to me on this flight’. And the man ended up being Chinese. And I testified to him, and he just looked at me. He didn’t speak english. But that’s okay. There is always someone else to speak to.”

When asked what message that she would want to pass on the graduating students of Johnson C. Smith, and people at large, “Remember that Jesus loves you,” she replies. “I want people to know that they can change the way they think, and use what the Lord has done for you. I tell people to think of themselves as sermons in shoes, spreading the message of Christ, and the Word."

Friday, May 29, 2015

Thank You Olivia

Today is a sad day for me, as it is the last day at the Charlotte Observer for Olivia Fortson, who has been their society editor for the last 24 years. Olivia first hired me fifteen years ago to take photos for her Scene & Heard section. My first event for her was photographing then-tween pop star Aaron Carter at a Walmart appearance. Needless to say, events and gala in Charlotte have come a long way since then. 

Over the past fifteen years, Olivia and I became great friends, and we both worked hard to cover the bright lights of Charlotte’s comings and goings. Many of you first met me at those events. While I hope to continue to take photos for the Observer, I honestly do not know what the future is for me, or Scene & Heard. Change is constant, and change has arrived. The laughs come hard in Auld Lang Syne. Whatever comes from this, it will be different without Olivia, whose elegant work has guided the paper’s  attempts to canvas the town, and brush the backdrop. All we can do is go forward. Columnated ruins domino.  

I dedicate this song today to Olivia, her 24 years with the Observer, and her future. And perhaps mine, as well. I heard this song on the radio last week, while on my way to a photo shoot, and I thought, “That says it all.” Surf's Up, aboard the tidal wave. Thank you Olivia for my being my editor and friend for the last fifteen years, and for all of the photos. It was a wonderful thing, like a children’s song. 

See travels to all of you, and see you on the road.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Updated Book Talk And Signing Schedule

As I gear up for the Charlotte 60s Rock & Roll Reunion show at Neighborhood Theatre​ on June 27th, I've got a number of talks on my books coming up, as well as book signings for my NC Musicians book at a number of Mast General Stores. All of these events, apart from The Wrecking Crew​ documentary, are free. Spread the word, and see you on the road. Columnated ruins domino....

NC Musicians and NC 1960s Rock & Roll book talks-
June 17th, North County Regional Library, Huntersville, 6pm 
June 30th, South County Region Library, 6pm 
July 13th, Plaza Midwood Library 6pm 

Book signings for NC Musicians book-
June 13th, Hendersonville, 11am-3pm
June 19th, Boone, noon-4pm
July 10th, Boone, 1 to 5pm 
July 11th, Valle Crusis, 11am to 3pm

I’ll also be speaking after the Charlotte screening of The Wrecking Crew documentary, at Theatre Charlotte on June 6th. 
May 19, 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

Beach Fossils/Yardwork pics, Charlotte, NC, May 16, 2015

Beach Fossils
Reverb Fest
Neighborhood Theatre
Charlotte, NC
May 16, 2015
photos copyright 2015 Daniel Coston

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Shutter16 Article That Features A Couple Of My BB King Photos

May 16, 2015

This Week's Report

It's been a crazy past few days. How crazy? Like this...
Tuesday, photographed and reviewed the Pixies/John Grant concert. Wednesday, three events, including hanging with several NASCAR drivers at the Martin Truex event in Mooresville, then running back to Charlotte to see Primal Scream get their rocks off, baby. Thursday, one event, and took gospel legend Clyde Wright to dinner at Merts'. Friday, four events, including photographing and interviewing another gospel legend, Shirley Caesar, at a JCSU graduation, photographing several Carolina Panthers at Thomas Davis' party at the Gantt Center, then photographed Benji Hughes and Stephanie's Id at Snug Harbor. Tonight, Reverb Fest at Neighborhood Theatre. Tomorrow, I've lost count of the events I'm covering. And for those of you that have asked me to a new exhibition of photos? Yep, it's happening, at the Charlotte Museum of History, starting in October, and my largest show of pics to date. More on this soon. Thanks to all of you that follow this madness, and for those that read this all the way through. See you on the road....
May 16, 2015

Monday, May 11, 2015

One Other Event I'll Be Speaking At In June

Hello All-

I've been asked to speak after a showing of The Wrecking Crew documentary in Charlotte on June 6th, at Theatre Charlotte. Enjoy this fantastic documentary, and then watch me try to describe that experience in 20 minutes or less. I may have a few stories and surprises, as well. Tickets are available now through the Theatre Charlotte box office. Hope to see you there,
May 11, 2015

Don Preston & Bunk Garnder/Mothers Of Invention interview, 1997

Don Preston & Bunk Gardner/Mothers Of Invention
interviews, early 1997
originally published in the September 1997 issue of Tangents Magazine
Interview and introduction by Daniel Coston

Whether you've heard all of his music or just heard of him, Frank Zappa is unavoidable in the pantheon of popular music. From his emergence in 1966 to his death in 1993, his groundbreaking mixture of rock, jazz, avant-gardism and a bizarre sense of humor has graced over 60 albums, and a catalog that still continues to grow, through reissues and unreleased recordings.

However, despite the insistence of many Zappaphiles, and the autocratic nature of Zappa himself, Zappa did not create his musical menagerie by himself. It was in fact Zappa's first band, the Mothers Of Invention, that laid the groundwork for Zappa's early musical excursions, and influenced his work for the rest of his life.

Two key ingredients to those early records were keyboardist Don Preston and horn and woodwinds player Bunk Gardner. Originally introduced to each other during the 1950s by Bunk's brother, Buzz (who had roomed with Preston in the army, and would himself later join the Mothers), the two joined the band shortly before the band recorded their second album, Absolutely Free, in 1967, and contributed to various Zappa projects even after his disbanding of the original Mothers lineup in 1969.

While Gardner worked steadily during the 1970s with Tim Buckley, and Preston played on the soundtrack to the film "Apocalypse Now" in 1979, the past 25 years have sometimes a struggle for the two. Both Gardner and Preston have toured with other ex-Mothers from time to time as the Grandmothers (the Zappa estate still owns the rights to the Mothers name), and have spent most of the past ten years struggling with lawsuits with Zappa and his estate over royalties and credits to the early Mothers records, a subject that neither Preston and Gardner can now discuss.

More recently, Preston and Gardner have been performing as a duo in Los Angeles, along with working on their own solo projects, as well as recording with Charlotte native Billy James, who records under the name of Ant-Bee. Out of these recordings also sprang the forthcoming book "Necessity Is The Grandmothers," an Mothers Of Invention biography written by James, with contributions from Preston, Gardner and several other former bandmates.

What emerges from these interviews with Preston and Gardner (portions from which are featured in the book) is their hope that their contributions to the Mothers will finally be recognized, while still remaining loyal and proud of the music that they forged with Zappa.

Don Preston: I met Frank in '61. He called me 'cause he had the possibility of auditioning for a job at a club. He looked like the back of Reuben And The Jets. He was clean-shaven, very straight-looking, actually kind of nerdish. So I went over to his house and we rehearsed, and went over to this place called the Bank Club, and didn't get the job. But as a result of going to his house, I noticed that he had the same records that I had, so we formed a relationship.

I had this band at the time that was rehearsing experimental music, and I asked Frank to come down there, and he played with us for a while. Then he set up an audition for us to play at ABC [television]. So we got in there, and l showed [Zappa] how to play the bicycle, and so we were doing this really weird shit, and all the musicians that were on the lot all came in and stuck their heads in around the door. They couldn't believe their eyes

Then I didn't see him for a few years, and one day he showed up on my door. He looked like he did in the late '60s, and I didn't even recognize him, with long hair and a monkey-hair coat. So he came in, and we talked. 1 think that he was interested in my wife at that time, because saw was the original hippie of all time. She was extremely intelligent, but this whole about "free this, free that," take your clothes offwhen you dance, she did that. Frank got a lot of inspiration from her. "Absolutely free," all those things were her concepts.

Then I auditioned for his band, and I didn't know anything about rock and roll , and I failed the audition. Then a year later, for some reason, I started getting calls from rock bands, and then I knew all the standard rock songs, and I auditioned again and got in the band.
Bunk Gardner: Don joined about two weeks ahead of me. I went up to Frank's house and spent the whole day, and played my soprano [horn], my clarinet, my flutes, everything. And that's how we started.

Daniel Coston: Looking back, Don, it's surprising that Zappa turned you down the first time he auditioned you.

Preston: At that time, a lot of his music was based on standard rock and roll tunes. For instance, "Suzy Creamcheese" doesn't bear any resemblance to "Louie Louie," but that's how it started out. It started out as "Louie Louie," but with "Suzy Creamcheese" lyrics. Then when he recorded it, he didn't want to pay the writer of"Louie Louie," so he completely redesigned the song, so that it was completely different. He did that with a number of songs. "Flower Punk" was totally based on "Hey Joe." Almost the same music, but Zappa put it in 5/16, 7/16 time. He stole from everyone. There's no secret about that.

Coston: From a musician's standpoint, was playing with Zappa difficult?

Preston: Yeah, because he kind of set himself apart. I think there was a psychological thing that he did, that he chose to be that way so that he would be the leader. And he was tough on people on occasion.

On the other hand, he had a great sense of humor, and was always breaking up at various things that we did. We found ourselves doing things just to make him laugh. Also, Zappa was a very powerful person, and he demanded perfection. Sometimes we weren't capable of giving it to him, but sometimes we did.

Coston: How did the band work on songs?

Preston: As far as learning a song went, there was no method untouched. Sometimes he would pass out music, sometimes he would just show us the song note by note. Sometimes we would figure out ways of improvising with various hand signals, and other things.

Sometimes, we'd play a concert and we'd play for 2 1/2 hours, and we'd only play three songs. Because the band was so in tune with one another that we could do that. We would never have a set list. Sometimes, Frank would jump up in the air, and when he came down, he expected us to start a new song, but we didn't know what song. So we always had to start the right song in the right key and the whole thing, and we got so that we could do that. It was conditioning.

But you have to remember...that we rehearsed for six months, eight hours a day nonstop, including Christmas. Right through New Year's Day, every day of the week. That was the kind of loyalty that he would demand, 'cause if you don't want to do it, then don't be in the band.

Gardner: Even after rehearsing, I'd have to go home and practice some of this stuff. There are things you can play, let's say, on guitar, and if you write it out and try to play it on another instrument, your fingers fall off. Frank would write things where there was no place to breathe. And there were things technically that I had to work out that were just mind boggling.

Coston: What stands out for you about recording with the Mothers?

Preston: One time, he was listening to "Uncle Meat" and writing a harmony part for the song, and if somebody made a mistake, he'd stop them and make them go over that. I always thought that it was quite amazing that while he was writing another piece of music that he could still be listening to this one being recorded.

Frank had the stamina of a bull. We'd do 50 takes of eight bars, and then 50 takes of another eight bars. I always liked to say is that he was a compulsive editor. I saw him three months after an album was already out putting that album together in different ways, and re-editing the album when it's not even going to came out. He used to love to sit there and edit anything.

Coston: Bunk, how did your "bed" recordings come about?

Gardner: When I was in college, I met a couple of young girls, and we became good friends, and after I left Ohio State, one of them was living down in Florida. I don't remember how many times I went down to see her. She was pretty vocal, and it was just on a lark that I recorded it. Through the grapevine, Frank heard about this, and he heard it and it cracked him up, and then [the band] started using it on stage. Actually, she was good-natured about it. I didn't tell her I was going to do this. 1 still get a card from her every Christmas.

Coston: On the Mothers albums, Frank also took sole songwriting credit.

Preston: Frank took full credit for the songs, even when they weren't his. That was the one thing that always pissed me off. For instance, on Live At The Fillmore East (1969) there's a song where there's nothing on the track except my solo. Not even background [music], just my mini-moog solo. And Zappa wrote it. [pauses, then laughs]

Coston: Was this also a problem for the other members of the band?

Gardner: You can always rationalize a lot when somebody is that talented, like a genius, the ego overlooks a lot of things, and we attributed that to the need to be in complete control and the master, and "l did all of this by myself." So we kind of accepted it, and we knew that we weren't getting the credit that we deserved.

Preston: I think Mark [Volman] and Howard [Kaylan, formerly of the Turtles] had a few problems with that, because they would improvise a whole thing, and then Zappa would claim ownership.
One song, another guy came in, and he and Mark and Howard improvised this whole song. And Zappa tried to get control of that, but they were going to go into a lawsuit. It got real bad.

Coston: Where you surprised when Zappa disbanded the original Mothers lineup in 1969?

Gardner: It was a big disappointment. We were always struggling financially. And at so many of those [band] meetings, it was like, "You just got to hang in there. We're gonna make it." And that really never happened.

I think that the last eight months of the band's existence, we finally started to get a salary of $250. So we said, "Okay, but as we make more money, let's pay ourselves a little bit more," but it never happened. I think that there was a big letdown that that was it, and I'm ready for the unemployment line, and most ofthe guys hadn't saved any money at all.

Preston: It was a huge shock to everybody. It was like your wife saying, "Okay, I'm leaving you. Goodbye," and just walking out the door. Because we were very close, and we realized that was going to be the end of our friendships. Some people never spoke to Zappa again. Not once.
I maintained contact with him, because I liked what he was doing, so I remained friends with him, and played in two more bands with him.

T: After that, Zappa brought both of you back for various projects over the next few years. Was it weird to work again with Frank after all that had happened?

Gardner: In some ways, but sometimes that's the nature of a lot of bands. Personnel keeps changing. I think Frank felt that he was evolving. When you surround yourself with different people all the time, it gives you a feeling that you're doing a lot of different things, rather than staying with the same thing all the time. And I think Frank needed that.

Coston: Don, you also appeared in the movie "200 Motels" (1971).

Preston: I didn't play in the band at the time, but I was in the movie. I don't know why, but Frank always thought of me as some sort of charismatic character. Maybe Frank thought that I had some sort of acting ability. I was always doing these weird things with transforming, vile foamy liquids and all that stuff.

Coston: Over the years, have you tried to keep in touch with the rest of the Mothers? Preston: Not very much so. I tried talking to Ray [Collins], but Ray's in a strange place. He's got a lot of anger and frustration, and that comes out and gets turned onto whoever's talking to him. Roy [Estrada], he's very shy and timid, and doesn't really want to talk very much. Once in a while, I call Art Tripp, and see how he's doing. He's a chiropractor in northern California.

Motorhead [Sherwood] works on motors in the Bay Area. Ruth [Underwood] has a couple of kids. Ian [Underwood] is a studio musician and does well for himself. Billy Mundi disappeared. Nobody knows where he is. Jimmy [Carl Black] lives in Germany, and tours in some blues bands.

Gardner: When you think of bands like the Rolling Stones, they just keep playing great together. I kind of envisioned that we could do that for 10, 15, 20 years. When [Don and l] go out and play, people are still blown away by "Brown Shoes Don't Make It," "King Kong" and a whole lot of things.

Coston: With this upcoming book, do you hope that people will get the whole story? 

Preston: We are interested in telling our side of the story. Not in a vindictive way, but just setting the record straight. Many of those concepts and ideas and ideologies that were on the records were ideas that came directly from the band members, even though they were copywritten as Zappa's ideas. I wouldn't say that he stole them. Zappa's now being idolized to such an extent, and I give credit where credit is due. But I say, give us credit as well.

I could go through every album and find thousands of things that we created and then Zappa got all the credit for it. Even sounds that Zappa utilized in some hand signals were sounds that Jimmy and Roy used to banter back and forth with each other. There were so many things that were created by us and then Zappa took credit for all of them, and I hope that people will understand that.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Bill Chapman of the Mod VI interview

The Mod VI: There And Back Again
Interview and introduction by Daniel Coston

In 1968, if you were in the South Carolina area, the Mod VI were the band that you wanted to see on a Saturday night. With two regionally charting singles under their belt, this six-piece band from Aiken were opening up for the top bands that were passing through the Palmetto State, and looking towards larger stardom. However, like so many bands during that time, the draft derailed those plans, and the Mod VI were no more by the end of the 1960s.

Thankfully, the story of the Mod VI did not end there. The band is reuniting for the Charlotte 60s Rock & Roll Reunion in Charlotte, NC. The show, the band’s first in Charlotte in 47 years, will feature the Mod VI alongside the Mannish Boys, the Kinksmen, and the Bondsmen, who themselves will be reuniting for the first time in 45 years. The Mod VI are also looking at releasing their original two singles, which have since become collectors items, and a CD of new material.

Guitarist Bill Chapman talks about the history of the Mod VI, and the history to come.

Daniel Coston: How did you get interested in music?

Bill Chapman: Dennis (lead singer) and Johnny Gardner (drummer) had already formed a band in Jr High School called The Surfers.  I joined the band and received thumbs up after auditioning playing the song "What I Say", by Ray Charles. We played a lot of west coast stuff back then; such as "Wipe Out", "Walk Don't Run", "Little Deuce Coupe", and “Sleepwalk". This was in 1964.  This group developed our chops for later Rock & Roll. Dennis and I heard the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show; that really got us started to play Rock & Roll.

My Daddy started me playing the guitar when I was twelve. My Daddy and Grandaddy played guitar; my Grandmother played the panio, and my great Grandmother played the spoons (just like Granny Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies!). As a family we played church hyms and country tunes. 

Coston: How did the Mod VI come together?

Chapman: Started out in 1965 at Aiken High school. We met Ted Dubose (original bass player) in school. He and his family moved to
South Carolina from Florida. Ted knew Ricky Peterson (original drummer). They joined Dennis and I. I knew Buddy Parker (original keyboard player) from jamming with him in another band. I ask Buddy if he would come on board with us and he agreeded. Buddy knew of  a Sax player (Steve Bellamy).  Steve joined, and we 0ffically became the MOD VI. Steve dropped out of the band after playing with us a couple of months; but we kept the MOD VI name.  

Coston: What were the early influences of the band?

Chapman: Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Cream, Jimi Hexdrix, Paul Revere & The Raiders, & Chuck Berry.

Coston: What was the music scene in Aiken like during that time?

We were the Original Garage Rock Band in the Aiken area. We were the first to start playing hard rock. There were a couple of other bands around, but they played beach music. The MOD VI were different in that we put on a show to include over head projectors (psychadellic water colors); also used a variety of lights, including strobes. We played one song after the other (no breaks in between). Had a great repore with the audience. Seeing the Woggles recently remind me a lot of the early days of the Mod VI.

Coston: How did your first single come together? What inspired the songs?

Chapman: Our band wanted to write a song; so at practice one day; Dennis and I started discussing lyrics. Dennis came up with 'Baby It's Not The Same' in the writing of the song. This became our turn around lyrics for the song. As Dennis wrote other verses; it seemed to all fit together. We named the song 'It's Not The Same'; the keyboard player and I wrote the music. I would say we wrote the whole song including music in about thirty minutes. My guitar lead was influenced by Chuck Berry. Our primary influence for this song was the Beatles after listening to Sgt Pepper’s.

Coston: The Mod VI toured a lot of places. How far was your touring range?

Chapman: South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Texas were the main places.

Coston: You’re told me that you managed and booked yourselves. Talk about that.

Chapman: We had a original manager (Joe Poe) that financed our first record (It's not the same). Joe provided a venue for us to play at in South Carolina.  Joe owned a large BBQ resturarant and had a large area in the back of the place where people could dance to a juke box. We started playing there and packing the place every time we played (about once a week).  Eventually, Joe built a huge club that included a small bar beside his orignal resturant. The name of his place was 'The Rhythm House'.  The MOD VI opened the new place, and once again packed the house. This was the only gig Joe got us.   We would usually ride around when we didn't have a secure gig and go to clubs that had no bands for the evening and ask, "Can we play here tonight?"  And usually they would say, "YES; 'come on in boys!” Most of the time we would be invited back for another gig.

Also would carry copies of our record ("It's Not The Same”) with us, this helped in getting future gigs. We were primarily our own managers.   We did use promoters from time to time; such as playing with Aurthor Conley, and Tommy James & The Shoundells.   We had a local record store in Aiken at the time. The record store took a large amount of records from us and sold them and helped us promote the record thru several other avenues.  We sold over 10,000 records. I guess back then that wasn't too bad for a local group. One final note, we bought all of our original band equipment ourselves. This included Guitars, Amps, Drums, PA Equipment and Bus.   

Coston: Tell me some road stories. 

Chapman:We played a week at the Old Dutchman club in Panama City, Florida. All of us were so excited about playing there and couldn't wait for opening night. When we first arrived, we threw our gear and clothes into our rooms and headed for the beach. We felt like the Beatles at that point (LOL); running on the beach heading for the surf. All of us jumped in the water exept for Dennis. I looked back and saw Dennis lying in the sand behind us. I went back to see what was wrong. He had stubbed his big toe on a small stake in the ground and while running to the beach (bummer!!). Dennis was in great pain, but soon shook it off an came in swiming. We rocked the club later that evening.

We played a week at the Myrtle Beach Pavalion at Myrtle Beach, SC. During that week after playing each night, we had to drive back to Aiken, SC due to a summer school session that we had to attend. The summer school session was held from morning to afternoon and we played late at the pavilion. This was not a good combo for driving all those miles in one day. After playing late in the evening, we were tired and worn out, we headed back to Aiken. Back then there were no train track signals at the crossings before the train came thru. We crossed train tracks around 1:00 AM in a small town called Blackville. About 30 seconds after crossing the tracks a freight train heavily loaded with many cars rushed down the tracks behind us. Dennis was in the back seat of the bus sleeping while I was driving.  I pulled over to the side of the road after crossing the tracks. Dennis woke up. We were both white as a sheet and thanked the Lord for keeping us safe.

Dennis, Buddy and I were driving back from a gig in Folly Beach, SC around 1:00 AM. Our bus broke down as we drove thru a long swamp area. The only house around us was a little small shack about half a mile behind us. Dennis and I left the bus to walk back to the shack to see if they had a phone we could use. Buddy stayed in the bus. When we arrived close to the front yard of the place; two huge dogs came out of the shadows growling with red eyes shinning (just like in a horror movie). We ran hard back to the bus, with the dogs close at our heels. When we arrived back at the bus; we yelled 'Buddy, Open The Door' dogs are after us! Buddy yells back, "WHO IS IT???"   LOL. Dennis and I had to climb on top of the bus untill the dogs left us.  

Coston: How did your second single come together?

After releasing our first record, "It's Not The Same" we were invited to record in the Emrald Records studio in Greenwood, SC. We were playing a lot of Jimi Hendrix and Cream at that time. Those bands had a lot of influence on us as to heavy sounds (such as using the Fuzz pedal on the guitar solos). The two songs "What Can I Do" and "Show Me How" were both written within a hour. Dennis and I wrote the lyrics and music for those two songs together. Each member Ted Dubose (Bass),  Buddy Parker (Keyboards), and Ricky Peterson (Drummer) had a lot of input as to arragements to include starting the songsand melody background.

Coston: The Mod VI was poised for bigger things, and then what happened? And how did that lead into your next band?

Chapman: Record discussions with Capitol Records was coming into play in 1969. We knew we needed a group manager to handle the technical details signning with a major label. We had contacted one of the better managers/booking agents in the Augusta, Georgia area.  This major discussion/signing did not ever take place due to the ugly hands of Uncle Sam. Dennis received his draft notice and was inducted into the Army. I too received my draft notice a couple of months after Dennis. I joined the Air Force. Prior to me being inducted the Mod VI disbanded.  A new group was formed  with a new lead singer (The Acme Reposessing Company). We basically played all hard rock at that time. I played with the new group for about 4 months before leaving for service.   

Coston: Tell me about some of the bands that you shared a stage with, with both bands.

Arthur Conley                                    (Backed him up at the National Guard Armory - Augusta, Ga)

BJ Thomas                                          (Backed him up at the National Guard Armory - Augusta, Ga, and
                                                             National Guard Armory - Washington, Ga)

Tommy James & The Shondells      (Performed with them at National Guard Armory - Augusta, Ga)

Question Mark & The Mysterians  (Performed with them at the National Guard Armory - Augusta, Ga)

The Hombres                               (Performed with them at the National Guard Armory, Augusta, Ga)

James Gang                                        (Performed with them at the Bell Auditorium   - Augusta, Ga)

Steppenwolf                                       (Performed with them at the Bell Auditoirum   - Augusta, Ga)

Dennis Yost & The Classic IV           (Performed with them at the Whiskey A Go Go - Augusta, Ga)

Swinging Medallions                        (Performed with them at the Whiskey A Go Go - Augusta, Ga)  

Coston: Tell me about the Arthur Conley show, and how you just missed backing up Otis Redding?

Chapman: Arthur Conley was a great showman and was a great guy to hang out with. He performed a lot of sweet soul music, and also a couple of 'Otis Redding' songs. My favorite Otis Redding song is 'Sitting On The Dock Of Bay’. Otis died the week before the Arthur Conley show.   

Coston: Tell me about opening for Tommy James & The Shondells.

Chapman: We (The MOD VI) didn't really have a chance to talk with Tommy James & his band before the show. They stayed to themselves in a seperate dressing room behind stage. We opened up our show with our original lineup of songs, but we also added a Tommy James song into our act ("Mony Mony").  When we played this song, the crowd went wild due to being a big chart topper. After we completed the show many, many young ladies mobed the stage, tugging at our clothes. This was an awesome surprise to us since we were not the head liners.

Tommy James and his crew/band was trying to get thru the crowd for their act but the girls/crowd would not leave the side of the stage that gave them access.  Therefor, I'll have to say that Tommy James was really pissed off at us.  They would not talk to us at all after the show!  We all laughed for days after that event. 

Coston: What brought about the end of this second band?

Chapman: The second band Acme Repossesing Company was formed after Dennis was drafted into the Army. At this point; a new singer joined the band. I played with them for several months before I was inducted into the Air Force. After I left Acme, a new guitar player came into the group.  This group broke up due to the leader singer leaving the group at a later time. 

Coston: How did the Mod VI get back together?

As it's been quoted by the Eagles, we never broke up, we just took a long vacation. All of us have been in touch with each other over the years. In 1985; we had a MOD VI reunion show in Aiken, SC. The show was a big success; we had several bands playing with us on the show (Aiken's mini Woodstock!). From that time forward we have played together and remained great friends. We've been practiceing a good bit over the past few months. 

Coston: What are the current and future plans for the Mod VI?

Chapman: Rock the June 27th show in Charlotte, NC. We have been attending quite a few band shows in the recent months, and sitting in with the bands. Looking forward to playing on future shows and recording new material. We would really enjoying performing future events with The Mannish Boys,  and other groups from the North Carolina area.

"It's Not The Same" 

"What Can I Do" 

For Bev Cheney

Bev Cheney was the youngest of my grandfather's siblings. As a child, I would visit her in Phelps, NY, where my mom's parents also lived. Bev shared with me a love of history, and a lot of energy. After I moved to North Carolina in 1983, I lost touch with Bev, apart from occasional reunions.

Bev and I reconnected in 2006, at a large family reunion. After talking to her, I couldn't believe that I hadn't thought about reaching out to her before. She was a living, breathing link to the family that I loved. We lined Bev and her older sister up in front of a huge contingent of King family members. It was so large, I couldn't tell you how many there were. But we did it, with me taking the photos. I had been the first great-grandchild of Bev's parents, and I was proud to document this history.

For a long time, I tried to stay in touch with Bev. However, she was still a very busy person. She was involved with the Phelps Historical Society, and the local food bank. I tried many times to email her, or call, but she was hard to catch. Much like myself and my grandfather, I don't think she ever stopped, or slept.

Thankfully, I saw her again when I returned to Phelps in the last few years. She saw me deliver eulogies for both of my father's parents, mustering all of my nerves to say what needed to be said. Bev told me that George (her brother, my grandfather) had always been so proud of me. I think that she might have been proud of me, too. Thinking about that today still stops me in my tracks.

In the last few months, I finally got around to scanning and organizing my grandfather's World War II scrapbook. Bev and I traded emails about myself donating copies of this to the Phelps Historical Society. I also asked her about talking about family history. I don't think that she was ever keen to talk about this, but I wanted to ask, one more time.

Bev passed away suddenly this morning. Her death was quick. She thankfully never had to slow down, despite recent health issues. She never had to go into a home, or become someone other than who she'd been. Just like my grandfather. As I sit here, it's tough to acknowledge that a generation of family that I once knew and loved so well is no longer on this physical plane. But they, and what they created, lives on. In the family that has sprouted from those long ago seeds, and the people and memories that Bev and her family touched along the way. That, I'm proud to say, will never end.

I came home this afternoon, and wrote Bev one more email. All it said was, "I love you." What else is there to say?

Safe travels, Bev. Tell Mom and Pop King, Mary and the ol' kid that I hello.
May 4, 2015

New Interview I Did With Michael Calabrese Of Lake Street Dive 

May 4, 2015

Friday, May 1, 2015

This Summer's Book Talks And Signing Schedule (so far)

More soon,
May 1, 2015

NC Musicians and NC 1960s Rock & Roll book talks-
June 17th, North County Regional Library, Huntersville, 6pm 
June 30th, South County Region Library, Charlote, 6pm 
July 13th, Plaza Midwood Library, Charlotte, 6pm 

Book signings for NC Musicians book at Mast General Stores-
June 13th, Hendersonville, NC, 11am-3pm
June 19th, Boone, NC noon-4pm
July 10th, Boone, NC, 1 to 5pm 
July 11th, Valle Crusis, NC, 11am-3pm

For Jeff Sebastian

I drove past a cemetery in Mint Hill, NC last week. The cemetery is just around the block from where I went to high school. Within that cemetery lies Jeff Sebastian. I thought about Jeff, and realized that it had been 25 years since he had left this place. 25 years. Where did it all go…

Jeff had joined my high school’s drama department about the same time I did, in my sophmore year. Jeff was a year older than me, and was popular within the class. We knew that Jeff had dealt with issues in his past, as he told us about them one day during class. We acted in a couple of plays together, and during my junior year, Jeff was one of the many classmates that took part in a comedy TV show that I put together for local TV. I spent way too long in putting that first show together. My whole junior year, in fact. In retrospect, I should have been more organized, more open to the input of others, and done more shows. But the shows we did do were good, and ultimately, it’s the work you do that one leaves behind. Sometimes, I have to remind myself of that. 

Jeff had moved to a school in South Carolina before Christmas of 1989. In April in 1990, my friend called me to say that Jeff had died in a car accident. At Jeff’s wake and funeral, none of us knew how to act, or respond. We were all teenagers, dealing with something that we had not planned on dealing with. My upbringing made me deal with it all in a more internal way. I just got on with things, although it was a long time before I really dealt with it in a real way.

By the end of the school year, our first show was finally ready to go. I also knew how I wanted it to end, with a sketch that Jeff had done early in our filming. When I went to edit the tape, I realized that I had a problem. The school’s video camera that we’d used at the time was old, and had a weak signal. You could play the video, but the signal was too weak to be copied to the show’s master tape. After some thinking, I decided to use my then-new video camera to video my TV as I played Jeff’s original tape. I even included shots of a TV channel being changed, so it looked like it was a planned part of the show. It wasn’t, but there was no way that the show would not run without Jeff. Again, I just put my head down, and got on with it, and made sure that Jeff was with us, again.

25 years. Six years longer than Jeff was alive. In retrospect, I’m not sure how well I knew Jeff. He was a good guy, but there was more to Jeff than I ever had the chance to know. I understand that better now, all these years on. All of that being said, I still miss him, and the life that he never got to experience. In these internet-heavy days, it has been said that if your name is not online, people aren’t sure if you exist, or ever did exist. Consider this an online post about someone who left this place all too soon, but was not forgotten by those that knew him. 

Safe travels, Jeff. Wherever you are.
April 30, 2015

RIP Doug Coates

Doug Coates passed away right before Christmas, but it talen this long for me to get my head in the right place to say someything. I first met Doug in 1996, when I start wandering back into WTVI to find work. Doug was the production manager for the station, and had come down from Pittsburgh, where he had with Fred Rogers on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. We all thought that was pretty cool. In fact, I still do.

In January of 1997, Doug started hiring me as a camera operator for projects at WTVI. Early morning Catholic diocese programs, call-in talk shows, zumba classes, we did them all. By the end of thes year, I was working on County Commission meetings, and working on for what was like an eternity on thev station’s Tel-o-Rama extravaganza. Which was nicknamed the Hell-o-Rama by several people, myself included. Over the years, Doug kept me employed at the station, and those checks helped to keep me afloat for a long time. Thank you, Doug.

Doug’s health had been starting to decline when the station let him go. I knew in my heart that Doug was not going to get better, but it was a sad end to a long career. I saw Doug some after he retired. I should have some him more, and time, and left got in the way. I left a message for Doug before he died, sending him my best wishes. I really did mean to call again, but I didn’t know what to say. Maybe I had said all I could say.

Once again, Doug, thank you. Safe travels, and see you down the road,
April 30, 2015

Happy Birthday

Hello All-

My grandfather George King (9th Division, 47th Inf., F Campany, if you're militarily inclined) would have been 99 today. How I wish you were still have to take me to breakfast in those early hours of the morning, and riding in your pickup truck.

Happy birthday, ol' kid, wherever you are.
May 1, 2015