Column

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

Moby Grape: Americana Lost and Found

When Moby Grape got together in 1966 they became the defacto house band at the Ark, an old ferry boat grounded at the north end of Sausalito -- after the ballrooms closed in the city the Grape would play there, along with other bands who were reheasing at the heliport a little further down the road -- the Sons of Champlin, Lee Michaels, The Sparrow (later Steppenwolf), and whoever else happened to show up. The sets were often loose, with players from the various bands joining in -- sometimes to great effect and othertimes not so much. The Grape were a really tight band with great songs, and it was a shame that they got caught up in all the hype. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again without Moby Grape, there is no "Wild Horses".

Another fine blog post.

 

I've heard "Moby Grape" was the answer to the riddle "What's purple and swims?"

Hilarious? Nope, but remember kids this was the sixites!  Don't do drugs. 

 

I agree with you Easy Ed about "Americana" which sounds rather nationalistic to me especially when you consider that many so-called Americana artists are more respected and popular in Europe than in their own country. On the other hand, it has helped market those marginal artists who didn't fit the standard genres.

I was a Moby Grape fan and what you said about bad management was made glaringly true in re-reading your posting about the Monterey Pop Festival with the link above. That could have been their break-out performance but their manager demanding all that money to appear in the film when others volunteered was idiotic.

Didn't Skip Spence play drums for the Jefferson Airplane from '65 to '66? But you have him listed as a guitarist although he could certainly have played both.

 

Marty Balin asked Skip to be the Airplane's drummer, which he did for a period of time -- long enough to record their first album and write "My Best Friend" which appeared on the second one. When he joined Moby Grape he returned to guitar.

Thanks Mark. You seem to have a lot of knowledge about that whole San Francisco scene. I grew up in Cental California and was only 17 in '67 so I didn't start going to cencerts in the Bay Area until about '69 so missed a lot of that early scene before it got polluted by national exposure. However, it was still pretty amazing in the late 60s and early 70s.  I have lots of wonderful memories of concerts at Winterland and other venues.

In the fall of '65 I moved into a house in San Anselmo where three members of the then just born Sons of Champlin (they were called the Masterbeats at that point) were living, and we became good friends -- through them and some astounding good luck I managed to be at the Fillmore and Avalon most weekends in 1966 and 1967, and only somewhat less in 1968, but then the pace and the general craziness of the time began to take its toll and I slowed way down, but by that time I'd had the good fortune to see so many great shows and to meet a lot of wonderful people who remain friends to this day. It was a crazy time and I'm grateful to have experienced and that so many of us survived it!

Thanks for adding in all those comments and personal memories. I didn't receive the usual  notifications that there were any comments being left, so it was fortunate that I chose to check in. I've shared this several times in the past, but I was only fifteen the second time I saw the band and managed to work my way onstage at The Trauma in Philly, sitting at Mosley's feet. Throughout the night he seemed delighted in kicking me until Spence finally yelled out 'leave the kid alone'. Got one more chance to see them, the third time, right before Spence was committed and Mosley cut a solo album and then went off to join the Marines. He ended up working as a school janitor and eventually became homeless in San Diego. Peter Lewis went down to find him and brought him back to Santa Cruz where I believe he still resides. Jerry Miller's house in Washington was either flooded or burned down...can't remember which. After this column posted, a nice guy named Freddie who owns a label reached out to share that Peter Lewis just released a new album. Sure enough, I found it on Apple Music and have been checking it out today. Still a solid songwriter. Check it out. 

I thought you might find this interesting EE:

http://www.chickenonaunicycle.com/Moby%20Grape.htm

I enjoyed the flowchart of Moby Grape band members.

It looks like you must have seen them Dec 5-7 1967?

There is another poster that shows how a number of the Bay Area Bands from the mid to late 60's traded members -- the resolution isn't great on this link, but if you can find it somewhere else it's pretty interesting: https://jowolff.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/sf1.jpg

 

Thank you! I also hate the term "Americana"! In the ten years I had my radio show: "Rootstock & Vine: An Exploration of the Roots of American Music" I refused to utter the term "Americana". It is simply American Roots Music! "Americana" is so kitschy, cute. It demeans the music! I saw Moby Grape several times in SF back in the 60s, and I once saw them in Stockholm, Sweden. Nice article!

Michael L. Castle 

Thanks for the comment Michael. I know that the radio promo people who came up with the name Americana were trying hard to create a new description for roots music, but I think in hindsight it falls flat. Especially when you start handing out awards to Plant and Van...I sort of can get Thompson, since he's lived in the USA for decades. But even he jokes about it, realizing the absurdity. But yeah, I'm done my silent protest. Or maybe I'll rename the damn thing and call it Eugene. 

Ed, you always come up with something that stirs conversation...I intitially ignored them but got all the records later on and CD versions too...they were indeed an amazing band with 5 very talented members...rarely has record business mis-management been so complete and profound...I knew nothing about "Oar" at all...so most of the time, I also get a tidbit of new knowledge from the Broadside...Glad you posted "Someday"...I liked the ballad side of Moby Grape the best...

Glad you enjoyed the story. I suspect that the age demographic of the No Depression reader is now so old that they've likely forgotten everything about the Sixties. Fortunately, I have a pretty good memory. :)

You know what they say ( about the '60s ): "If you can remember it, you probably weren't there!"

What I don't remember I hallucinated. 

It is all a figment of your ( hyper-extended, borderless, parameterless, boundless imagination ( dare we say; enhanced..? )! BTW: Yer statement works, differently, but absolutely effectively, whether you put a coma (",") after the word "remembered, or not....! ) Ya kinda had to be there..... I'm guessin' you were.

Sometimes it feels like I never left. 

Easy Ed, your stuff has always been my fave on ND. Everybody just needs to buy "Listen My Friend" ,the Moby Grape best-of, and marvel at the sweetness and excitement......the "coolest" band ever, I think....

 

Don't even need to buy it. You Tube has all the albums up for free, while the streaming sites have altered versions that are missing chunks of tunes. The work of Mr. Katz I suspect. 

thanks!!  ......I still buy cds on principle......

If the the principle is to support the musicians, that's admirable. But note that they aren't receiving a penny due to a poor contract decision in 1967 that still haunts them. 

True enough Ed...someone is making money on those CD's, but it isn't Moby...such is the case with a lot of the older stuff...bad contracts were the order of the day...it was accept a bad contract or get no contract, and most of these bands had no representation at all...

I was in high school 69-72, but how I wanted to be just a little older back in those days...I'd guess you are right on the demographic at ND...

Interesting how that wish when you are young to be older reverses itself later in life...wonder if Pete Townshend still wishes he'd died before he got old?  

Matthew Katz...not a good guy, IMO...typical of the record business sharks I suppose...his obsession with his purported sole ownership of all things Moby Grape is rather pathetic...it has been damn near 50 years now...

 

He was worse than your run of the mill shark. And not just Moby Grape...he also victimized Its A Beautiful Day as well. Remember 'White Bird'? Locked it up good. 

He was worse than your run of the mill shark. And not just Moby Grape...he also victimized Its A Beautiful Day as well. Remember 'White Bird'? Locked it up good. 

I recently ran across a used copy of a 2 disc Moby Grape compilation called "Vintage: The Very Best of Moby Grape" which consisted of 48 songs between the two CDs and 11 cuts were previously unreleased and 2 were the single, mono versions of 2 of the songs included in their stereo album versions. I only ever owned their debut album and I noticed every song from "Moby Grape" is on this compliation. When listening to it "Omaha" and "Hey Grandma" were the two cuts I remembered best probably because that's what FM radio was playing most at the time but the song that knocked me out the most hearing it again was "8:05" a beautiful, mellow song that along with "Someday" which you posted and "Sitting By the Window" are just great, mellow, dare-I-say-it (?) folk-rock. But can anyone tell me why the song "Omaha" is called "Omaha"? I tried to listen to the lyrics close enough to figure that out but never could. Learning that the band members still get nothing for sales eased my conscience about buying a used CD.

As a musician in the Sixties, I know my group had several songs with titles that nothing at all to do with the lyrics. Omaha looks graphically pretty and Chicago was already taken. The album you mentioned doesn't have every Grape track. Misses out on Grape Jam and I think 20 Granite Creek too. There's a latter day Grape album I'm too lazy to look up that it also doesn't include. 

You were in a group in the 60s? I didn't know that. What was the name of your group and did you release any albums? As far as song titles that have little to do with the songs that was something Dylan did frequently in his early work so it's another influence I suppose.

No albums. No fame. However, one mate carried on with an exceptional songwriting career to this day, and along with our keyboard player, they contributed a number of songs to Philadelphia's The Hooters....who for reasons too complicated to explain as I punch this in on my iPhone, are still huge in Germany. If you don't know the Hooters, they backed Cyndi Lauper on her first album...Girls Just Want...etc. Hmmm...perhaps another story for another day. The Hooters guitarist Eric Bazillion, wrote What If God Was One Of Us for Joan Osborne. 

I was/am a Hooters fan and wondered what happened to them. I knew Brazillion wrote "One of Us" for Osborne and thought they backed her on that album too. I've also noticed that Brazillion works with Woodstock musicians these days so I assumed the Hooters were defunct.

Hooters fan?

Really?

https://www.hooters.com/

Oh you provocateur T.A.F.K.A.R. as I guess we must call you now or should we just call you Clown and be done with it? So let me clarify: I'm a fan of the BAND called The Hooters and not the sexist restaurant.

Call him "art", call him "Fountain", call him "urinal", or call Marcel Duchamp...please...

I believe TAFKAR's ultimate end here is to invoke "Eminent Domain" on Paisley Park...

Wrong Hooters Mr. THE ARTISTFORMERLYKNOWNASR.MUTT...

"And We Danced", "All you Zombies", "Where Do the Children Go?" from their excellent  second record "Nervous Night"...Still making records, just made one in fact...Live record called "Both Sides Live" came out a couple of years ago...cool band, excellent live!

From Wackypedia:

The melodica may colloquially be referred to as a "hooter". This was the source of the name for Philadelphia band, The Hooters. The melodica, also known as the pianica, blow-organ, key harmonica, or melodyhorn, is a free-reed instrument similar to the pump organ and harmonica

"Hooters", except for the fact that it brings to mind a sleazy sexist chain restaurant, is certainly a better band name than "Blow-organ"!

My recollection of the band is a few radio hits. I never dug any deeper.

They've been around for a long while and off and on over the years...Hooters the restaurant was just a wet dream in someone's eye at the time...actually that isn't true, but "And We Danced" features the melodica or a similar keyboard that you blow into at the beginning...Donald Fagen occasionally plays one (on record and) live with Steely Dan and New York Rock and Soul Review...

Bazillian is a fine "strings" player...he does mandolin as well as guitar...he's on a couple of Eric Andersen's later recordings... 

Bazilian (that's the correct spelling) also plays the hurdy gurdy. There's a clip of him playing with Joan, Taj Mahal and others on David Letterman from years ago.

So here's the story...I met 'Ricky' when he was 13 and I was 15 or so. We used to make the Saturday rounds at all the various musical instrument stores in downtown Philly...Sam Goody's (before they were a huge mall chain, they were a multi-level music emporium in NY and Philly), Wurlitzer (they were the Vox amp dealer), Music City (our version of Manny's...all the pros shopped and hung out there) and Guitar Workshop. He would go from store to store, grab a guitar off the rack and blow everybody away. The 'kid' studied Pete Townsend and knew every single lick. He finally settled on a Rickenbacker 12 string as his main weapon of choice, but could do runs on it as if it was a six-string, as well as making it sound like a symphony. He started up Evil Seed, a quartet with Bob Tankel, Paul Vernick and Bernie...I can't recall his last name. Tankel was my neighbor and in my first band, Erebus. In 1968 I helped start up a country-rock band with Glen Goss and Jeff Ziv (the two songwriters who contributed to the Hooters music), with Evan Kaplan on drums. We were named Lewisburg...after the federal jail for draft resisters...and under the wing of the late Danny Starobin of Sweet Stavin' Chain....check their album out kids. All three bands, along with about a dozen others, regularly played places like Hecate's Circle, the original Electric Factory, local colleges, Be-Ins, Earth Days and you name it. 

All of us were friendly rivals and great friends, and there's a huge social circle that keeps in touch via social media. Bazilian was always the most talented guitarist of the bunch, hands down. And the bastard is still damn good looking at sixty-four too. When he went to Penn he hooked up with Rob Hyman and Rick Chertoff....who is an incredibly amazing producer...and put out one album as Baby Grand on Arista. From there they did Lauper, and morphed into the Hooters. Lots more to this story, but I'm going to stop here and let you all run off to Wikipedia and read it for yourself. 

So, ahem, Hurdy Gurdy Man was Donovan's ode to Bazillion?

Great story!  And your personal touch, in columns AND your comments, makes your posts always worth a read. 

Man, thanks for that, great reminiscence, I love that stuff...and you are right, we have all butchered the spelling of Eric Bazilian...and he is a great musician...sounds like he did pretty well in other areas too...

Love the band name Ed...both of them actually, but I was referring specifically to Lewisburg...I have that Baby Grand album too...Chretoff has produced lots of records that I own...

Thanks Ed for taking the time to answer my question and tell an interesting story. I must say I envy your life in the musical world which seems to span almost every aspect of it.

Oh I don't know Mr. Clown. The Blow Organs sounds like a fine band name.

Dennis, many years after Omaha was written, Peyton Manning would pay esoteric tribute to the song during NFL games.

I'm sorry Jack 11.0 but I'm not a sports fan so I don't even know who Peyton Manning is so I have no idea what you are talking about.

But you do know some about sports...He was a quarterback, now he plays golf with Trump and John Schlatter who founded Papa John's pizza, two of the world's greatest liars: "Better Ingredients, Better Pizza, Papa John's" and "We'll Make America Great Again", America was great before Trump and Papa John's pizza sucks...Peyton used to yell 'Omaha" when he came to the line of scrimmage...I believe he was referencing Counting Crows instead...but that's just me...

So, he wasn't just from Omaha or something?

it was code for something, or maybe it wasn't...in football it's about making people think "this is the play they are runnning", and then the play is really something else...

In the liner notes to Vintage:  "Miller recalls that the band used to just call it "Listen My Friends" Then the people at Columbia asked Skip what the title of it was, so they could put it on the album cover. He couldn't think of anything, so he just said "Omaha". It has nothing to do with the song."

Now that makes sense Mark. "Listen My Friends" is what it sounds like the title "should" be. Thanks for clearing that up. There's quite a few liner notes to "Vintage" and I obviously hadn't got around to reading them all.

Now that makes sense Mark. "Listen My Friends" is what it sounds like the title "should" be. Thanks for clearing that up. There's quite a few liner notes to "Vintage" and I obviously hadn't got around to reading them all.