The beginning of our journey......

I would like to welcome you to "El Paso's Musicians (Past and Present)" My intent with this site is to bring information about musicians I have known in El Paso from the 60's to present day. Many of the musicians that you will be reading about were either in groups that I played in while living in El Paso, as well as, the ones that I befriended all throughout high school and college. I graduated from UTEP in 1972 and in 1973 my wife and I left El Paso with a vocal show group called The Sounds Royale. The group started out with Sam Stephenson (guitar-vocals), Gayle Hageman (bass-vocals), Tedd McKeever (keyboards-vocals), Debbie Wilson (flute-vocals) and myself, Rick Kern (drums-vocals) The group was based out of Newport Beach, CA. We performed at mainly Orange County venues such as The Disneyland Hotel, Charley Browns in Huntington Beach, The Newporter Inn, Del Webb's Townhouse and the San Francisco Hyatt Regency. Today these musicians are scattered all over the place. Sam is living in Houston, Tx. and serves as the Dir. of Safety for Union Pacific Railroad. Gayle and his wife live in El Paso where he is a self-employed entertainer. Tedd is still performing jazz in Bremerton, WA. We are still trying to find Debbie. I am sure she is warming many hearts out there somewhere with her fabulous voice. There was an additional bass/sax/vocalist by the name of Wayne Mills that played with the group. He is still living in Orange County, CA. and is retired. I moved back to El Paso with my wife to be with our respective families and to start our own family. Both of our kids, Ricky (25) and Nicole (23) are musicians both living in Austin. Nicole plays electric cello with an Austin band called Alex Dupree and the TrapDoor Band. She is also playing with a popular Austin band called "Balmorhea". Both of our kids went to UT Austin. Ricky graduated in May, 2007 and Nicole graduated in May, 2008. They both love photography and film. The YouTube videos on this site were produced by my son to show our capability to show videos of performers on this site. He also did my colorful splash page that you see when you first log on to the site.

There were two other groups that I played with while on the road. When the Sounds Royale disbanded I advertised my profile at the Local Musicians Union that I belonged to in Los Angeles. Two guys were looking for a drummer/vocalist and that was the beginning of "Tapestry". The members were Curt Hespe (keyboard-bass-horn-vocals) Dan Evans (guitar-bass horn-vocals) and myself (drums-horn-vocals) This was the group that travelled the most. We played many show rooms from one corner of the U.S. to the other, including two tours of Canada. Our very first job, after only being rehearsed for two weeks, was the Sahara in Lake Tahoe. During that time we appeared on the same billboard with Elvis, Diana Ross, Isaac Hayes, The Fifth Dimension and the Jackson 5. We were suppose to be there for one week and they held us over for 5. The only bad part of that booking was when we all came down with the flu at the same time. Remember the saying "the show must go on" well, it did with the grace of God and alot of liquids. This group continued travelling all over the country. We even took a three day break to cut an album in Cincinatti, Ohio at Queen City Studios. We sold the album mainly to people that saw our shows. This group lasted about three years. My last group on the road was also called "Tapestry" It consisted of Dan Evans from the first Tapestry, Jerry Johnson (bass-guitar-steel guitar-vocals), Danny Miller (guitar-vocals) and myself on drums and vocals. This group came together as a result of my old friendship with Jerry Johnson. He was a Chaplains Assistant at Ft. Bliss in El Paso around 1967-68. We played in a group called the Basic Sound at the Knights Club. That club was in the old Rodeway Inn at Bassett Center. Jerry was living in Long Beach, CA. when I asked him if he would like to form a new group. Out of my three groups on the road, this one was the group that was more destined for a recording contract and opportunity to break out of the club scene. We will never forget the night that we were playing at the Reubens in West Covina, CA. when our agent came in and told us that we were going to be on the Captain and Tennile TV Special with Neil Diamond. Dick Clark was the producer of the show. We signed the contract and had our original songs ready to showcase. There was only one small problem - none of the networks picked up the contract. How do you say "that's show biz" It was not too long after that that I left the group and came back to my home town of El Paso where I still live. This
is the rest of the story....

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Knights Club - Rodeway Inn at Bassett Center

Just about every musician in El Paso back in the late '60's remembers the Knights Club. Bud Nichols did a nice job rotating many acts in and out of his club through the years. Joe Renteria performed there many times while also playing at the Camino Real in Juarez, Mexico. I was a freshman at UTEP in 1968 when I met Gayle Hageman and Richard Greco in the music dept. We hit it off and started a group called The Basic Sound. It consisted of leader (Gayle Hageman-bass, vocals) (Dick Greco-organ, keyboards, vocals) (Jim Reese, guitar, vocals) and (Rick Kern, drums, vocals) Gayle's strategy was to hold down the big week-end jobs with this group and would add-to with some really talented musicians like Jeff Lynn-guitar vocals, Joe Alvarez-trumpet, vocals, Horst Klauser-sax. We would do the annual new-years bash at the Ft. Bliss Officers Club with the full blown group. There were some other big venues at the Coliseum that required the bigger sound. We had several combinations of The Basic Sound that would play parties at different places in El Paso on the same night. One of my old neighborhood buddies that played drums for many of those events was Johnny Thompson - local radio/tv legend. Curt Warren-guitarist, Jimmy and Gary Leah-guitar and bass along with Dalton Powell-drums, played in these numerous combinations that Gayle would book. The amazing thing was that there were times that these combinations had never played together before but because of their professionalism and great musicianship, it usually worked. I admire Gayle's tenacity and endurance to provide alot of the musicians of that era some pretty nice gigs. The Basic Sound - the original four of us, along with Joe Alvarez and several other featured individuals (several that came out of the 62nd Army Band at Ft. Bliss - Mark Cianfrani, Richard Greco) and several others that were stationed at Ft. Bliss (Lynn Johnson, Steve Whitting, Jerry Johnson and Jeff Lynn) played 6 nights a week at the Knights Club for 2 and 1/2 years. It was a great gig with great memories. Rick Kern

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yep I remember this place too well! LOL
Do you guys remember a club on Dyer St. in the old Woolco building(Fred Wilson & Dyer area) ,called THIS IS TEXAS?
The band stand was above & BEHIND the bar area,OMG, you couldnt HEAR a word the bartender said! LOL
How about THE LAUNCH PAD at The Roadway Inn?????
Herb Walker
NorthernPass@hotmail.com