The UNITED TRAVEL SERVICE - 'Gypsy Eyes' / 'Echo Of You' (Ridon 860) 1967
The suggested location for this band was Seattle, Washington but this information
has come from Fuzz, Acid & Flowers and as everyone knows info from this has been
flawed before. So I'm open to any corrections etc....
The United Travel Service may be my favourite 60s group never to have made an album.
This is an injustice because over the four sides on these two 45s songwriter Ben
Hoff certainly laid down killer folkadelic tunes. The high quality on offer makes
me certain they had enough in their repertoire to make a classic psychedelic LP.
To my ears 'The Service' sound just like 'Younger Than Yesterday' period Byrds although
a lot more rawer and punkish but still displaying that Byrdsian raga rock sound and
All four cuts were produced by Rick Keefer who also worked with The New Tweedy Brothers
and Sound Vendor.
If anyone knows anything about this cool outfit be sure to let me know....
Dave Mathew got in touch about this obscure outfit. I love it when more details are
gathered adding 'missing' pieces in the jigsaw before all is forgotten:
This was a band that had several national releases back in the 60’s mainly consisting
of protest psychedelic music and long jams, we did college concerts up and down the
west coast,the band consisted of Ben Hoff,guitar and vocals, John Reeves 12 string
guitar, Ray Doren,bass, and Dale Sweetland, drums. The band originated in Portland,OR
and did several concerts on the West Coast, one with The Doors (yes, the real Doors).
Ben wrote some books that ended up on the New York Times Best Seller list, Dale is
currently playing in Las Vegas with a band called Jerry Tiffe www.jerrytiffe.com
, John Reeves is living quietly in Redmond, WA, and Ray lives in Madras,Oregon. Dale
played with Doc Severenson, Chase (Get it on in the morning), Sante Fe (nationally
recognized number one New Country band in 1998, Eddie Mcketa www.edmcketa.com internationally
recognized Hammond Organ jazz player, James Faunt Trio plus 1, Jamie Font School
of Music in LA, he played with Chic Corea for a while, etc… if you want more info,
contact Dale at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Expo67 at 16:15
Labels: 60s psych, United Travel service
I am an original member of the United Travel Service. After all these years, I was
amazed to find any reference on the internet. For details on the group (originally
from Portland, Oregon), I can be reached at email@example.com
15 May 2008 06:15 oscar sp said...
To United Travel Service members:
Thank you for "Wind and Stone" posibly this is my favourite psychedelic song, this
song transport us to another world
Tonight I won a copy in e-bay to my collection
Thank you another time :)))
Tonight, I´m a happy man
Óscar from Spain
(sorry for my bad english!!)
30 May 2008 00:53 Expo67 said...
The United Travel Service 45 you got is most definately rated very highly by Expo67.
Their other 45 is possibly even better (if that's possible..)pure raga rock...folk
rock with a psych edge or whatever way you wanna describe it.
30 May 2008 09:14 Anonymous said...
For your info, Fuzz stated "Folk-rockers from Seattle, Washington (also quoted as
from Portland Oregon)." The latter turns out to have been correct ...
According to drummer Dale Sweetland
(who "was there and in the band for the duration"), "the band consisted of Ben Hoff,guitar
and vocals, John Reeves 12 string guitar, Ray Doern,bass, and Dale Sweetland, drums.
The band originated in Portland,OR and did several concerts with The Doors (yes,
the real Doors) on the West Coast.".
06 June 2008 13:01
United Travel Service
1967 - 1970
Steve Bennett ~ Guitar
Ray Doern ~ Bass
Ben Hoff ~ Guitar, Vocals
John Reeves ~ 12-String
Jim Roberts ~ Bass
Dale Sweetland ~ Drums
Visit Their page at Last FM
I was the drummer in the UTS and core member, my name is Dale Sweetland. The other
core members were Ben Hoff, John Reeves.. We used a few different bass players. Ray
Doern was the primary. Jim Roberts played bass on Gypsy Eyes, and Ben played bass
on Echo of You.
Jim Roberts was a guitar player from Minnesota who we met at OSU, but we needed a
bass player at the time. John Reeves and I met in 1967 and that was the beginning
of the band. He was from San Jose and used to see all the SF rock bands around the
area, so they were actually a big influence on our sound.
I don't remember the actual end, but it must have been around 69, or 70 as I left
to go on the road in 71 with a band out of Portland. At the same time I was with
UTS I played with Sunday Morning , Madrid and the Counts, and filled in part time
for Aesop and the Fables.
Dale Sweetland, June 2008
This was a band that had several national releases back in the 60’s mainly consisting
of protest psychedelic music and long jams, we did college concerts up and down the
west coast,the band consisted of Ben Hoff,guitar and vocals, John Reeves 12 string
guitar, Ray Doern,bass, and Dale Sweetland, drums.
The band originated in Portland, OR, and did several concerts on the West Coast,
including one with The Doors.
I played clarinet in Junior High School circa 1959-60 and then mostly enjoyed the
growing SF sound of the early-mid sixties. We hit the Fillmore and Avalon on most
weekends during high school and several close friends played guitar and formed a
band which I followed closely. I did not play guitar then . . . that would wait
until college. I was quite influenced by the Byrds, and in particular Roger McGuin's
12-string, but was a big fan of Jeff Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Moby Grape, Steve
Miller, Big Brother, Quicksilver, and all of the great bands playing the SF scene.
Q: Was The United Travel Service your first band? If not, which band was? How long
was it together?
The United Travel Service was my first band. We formed in the fall of 1966, the
beginning of my Sophomore year at Oregon State University. We were together through
college until I entered active duty with the Air Force in July 1969. I think the
guys played some after my departure, which may be why some names that have been attached
to the band are unfamiliar to me.
Q: Where was The United Travel Service formed, what year, and by whom? (You've already
somewhat answered this so I can use your earlier response.)
Once Dale bought into the idea of forming a band with me and trying to bring a SF
sound into the NW, we were on our way. I had a Hoyer acoustical-electric 12-string
but no amp to start. I immediately purchased a Vox Berkeley II amp, on time, for
$10/month payments! Dale had to be nuts to want to do this! This was my band but
it would have never happened without Dale and I will forever be grateful to him for
having the faith to move forward with the idea. Actually, the first name of the
band was to be The Virgin Forest, fitting for Oregon and being a start-up, but that
was only momentary. Our first gig was in a lounge in Corvallis and we may have played
as the Virgin Forest, but if that was the case, it was the only time. Ben Hoff had
a conflict that night and we played just with Dale on Drums, me on 12-string and
another guy on some keyboards - I can't remember his name. It was a miserable start
but we got through it.
Q: If you haven't already done so, please list the names of each member of The United
Travel Service, as well as the instruments each played.
The four primary members for the longest duration were:
John Reeves - 12-String Rhythm/Vocals
Dale Sweetland - Drums/Vocals
Ben Hoff - Bass/Lead Guitar/Vocals
Jim Richards - Lead Guitar
Also playing with us for periods were Ray Doern and Steve Bennett. There may have
been one or two others but I really can't recall.
Q: How would you describe the band's sound? What bands influenced you?
I was trying to bring some of the SF sound to the area, so the acid rock of the day
was evident in our jams and Jim Richards could copy just about anything. He was
particularly good at covering folks like John Cippolina of Quicksilver. Aside from
that, the 12-string gave us a somewhat unique sound. Ben Hoff brought his incredible
songwriting into the picture and we had a rather special sound to offer. All the
bands mentioned above influenced us but we found our own niche with Ben's music and
that is what we will be remembered for. I would say we were about 40% own material
and 60% cover for our live performances.
Q: What was the Portland rock and roll scene like at the time?
In the beginning, it was all Sonics and Kingsmen. Other than that, you had Gary
Lewis and the Playboys and the like. I recall the first time I heard the Jefferson
Airplane (Somebody to Love) on the radio up there . . . the DJ said they should fly
back home. I was committed to changing that attitude. By the time we started recording
and playing regularly, things had quickly changed. Quicksilver headed a card which
we were also on at the Portland Masonic Temple sometime in '68 I believe. We met
them in a small pawn shop by coincidence in Portland. I was a huge fan of Gary Duncan
and John Cippolina and was thrilled to have met them. The UTS name was close to
a plagiarism to be honest. We also opened for the Doors at OSU in and around the
same time, so the music in the NW was changing rapidly. Of course, we also played
on a ticket with the Brothers Four at OSU's Gill Coliseum so some of the folk stuff
remained a fixture.
Q: Where did the band typically play (schools, parties, etc.)?
We played a lot of frat/sorority dances as well as a few in the OSU Memorial Union
building. I recall playing in Eugene at a place I think was called the Yellow Balloon. If
memory serves me, the Vanilla Fudge was heading that card and it was a thrill to
be part of it. We played the gig in Portland's Masonic Temple. We played in Monmouth
at the Western Oregon College. We played at some High Schools in the area as well. After
getting established we spent much of our weekends recording in Portland and Vancouver. We
were a start-up group for Producer Rick Keefer (Engineer Ken Bass if I remember the
name correctly). They were awesome to us and it was more fun than the live performances
as far as I was concerned.
Q: Did you play any of the local teen clubs? If so, which ones? Were there many?
I don't recall any of these, personally.
Q: How far was the band's "touring" territory?
We played from Eugene, OR to Woodland, WA and several points in between.
Q: Did The United Travel Service participate in any battle of the bands? If so, what
other bands do you recall playing against? How well did the band typically fare?
I think we may have played in a couple of these, but really can't recall any specifics. You
know after 40 years the mind slips a bit. There is a fine line between factual memory
and nostalgic creativity.
Q: Did The United Travel Service have a manager? If so, how did you hook up with
him? How active was he in promoting the band?
We managed ourselves entirely. In fact, this was one reason (perhaps) we never really
made any big moves with our recordings or touring. We had no money as we were all
starving students. Had we had some money behind us, I think we could have made
a reasonably good sized splash, even on the national scene.
Q: How popular locally did The United Travel Service become?
At one point, Wind and Stone was #3 on the KFLY charts in Portland. I think we were
reasonably well known at the University but beyond that, I wouldn't really have a
feeling about it.
Q: What were the circumstances leading to the opportunity to record the first Ridon
Between Ben and Dale, they had the connection with Rick Keefer and we were one of his
first groups. Rick basically gave us unlimited time in the recording studio for
no payment. We couldn't have paid anything to speak of so it was a terrific deal
for every one concerned. This started in Ken Bass's basement, I believe, but they
opened their first real studio in Vancouver in '68 or '69. We played back up for
another band they recorded but they had great faith in our sound and gave us a lot.
Q: Where did The United Travel Service record? What do you remember about the recording
See last question. With the first recording of Wind and Stone and Drummer of Your
Mind it is my recollection that it was just Ben, Dale and myself. I believe Rick
or Ken actually laid the bass, but it might have been Ben just laying a separate
track. I thought it was all done with the Vox amp. It was very exciting for me
but being the least experienced musician I think I stressed out about it more than
the others. When we recorded Gypsy Eyes (still my favorite) and Echo of You, we
were throwing in some gimmicks as Laurie Records wanted to appeal to the younger
set. On Gypsy Eyes, I remember laying a track with Dale drumming on the 12-string. Gypsy
Eyes was an incredible piece of work. On the Echo of You, we used a Leslie speaker
for the 12-string, giving off a very unique sound. We also used a metronome, and
in the middle, I rushed into the room with stuffed animals playing Brahms, Bach
and Tchaikovsky tunes. We used a chain across a piano and used a cello bow over
the 12-string toward the end to fill out the sound. I loved the creativity of the
Q: Did The United Travel Service write many original songs? Who was the band's primary
Ben Hoff wrote the lion's share of our original songs and did the lead vocals on
all of them. As I said, we were 40/60 in original vs cover material. Dale penned
a few and I penned a few but none were recorded.
Q: There are a couple of unreleased United Travel Service songs ('Slightest Possibility'
and 'Snow'). Where were they recorded? Why were they never pressed to 45s?
They were recorded with Ridon (Rick Keefer). My memory has it this way. The first
release (Wind and Stone) was national but they did not print a lot of records and
so when folks looked to buy them they couldn't find them. So the record hit the
charts and quickly fell. Because the first release was less than a hit because
of this, they were very reluctant on the second release. We mutually voided the
contract with Laurie Records as a result and Slightes Possibility and Snow were left
on the table.
Q: Did the band make any local TV appearances? Does any home movie film footage exist
of the band?
Q: What year and why did the band break up?
For me the band broke up when I was commissioned into the Air Force and went to Active
Duty in July of 1969. My memory (probably the nostalgic one) thinks that we had
a chance to play the Fillmore in September. That would have been my dream come true. Going
active in July put the kabosh on that idea and it never came about. I don't really
have a feeling to what extent the band played the year I left and Dale and I have
never really talked about it.
Q: Did you join or form any bands after The United Travel Service?
I formed a company band with my employer in 1983 and we played for a number of years
at company picnics and other company events. We played some Little League Adult
events and the like as well.
Q: Please tell me about your career today. How often, and where, do you perform (if
at all)? If not, what keeps you busy?
Today I work for Honeywell Aerospace as an instructor in Process Control and Lean
Manufacturing. I haven't played in several years. I always hated the old Hoyer
and fulfilled a life's dream when I purchased a Rickenbacker 12-string which I used
for most of the company band years. It's a dream to play and I really want to get
back into it . . . probably as I retire this year there will be more time. I travel
75% of the time now and it just hasn't been a priority.
Q: How do you best summarize your experiences with The United Travel Service?
Some of the best years of my life for sure. I loved every minute of it and the memories
will be forever. We played at the Air Force Base in Crescent City California one
year . . . stayed at the Trees Motel owned by one of the airmen's parents. They
didn't want us to have to sleep in sleeping bags in the forest. All slept in the
same room and woke up to a NASA space launch and huge breakfast at the hotel. There
are other events just as memorable. We played together at a re-union some years
ago for Ben's 50th birthday. It would be a kick to get ourselves together one more
time. Who knows if that will happen but I'm ready for it.
I don't really have any photos or memorabilia. It is one of my great misgivings. A
couple of the photo's I have seen I can't even remember being taken. It is fun to
see me at that age though. A long time has past. It was fun.
Ask me anything else you like . . . it has been rather enjoyable to think about it
Ray Doern: Life Story in Music
RECOLLECTIONS OF A LIFE IN MUSIC – BY RAY DOERN (7/31/08)
My interest in music began with the birth of rock & roll back in the mid-Fifties.
I remember lying on the floor in front of my parents’ hi-fi, ear to the speaker,
listening to rock as loud as they would allow me to.
When I was about ten, they signed me up for accordion lessons. I don’t recall the
instructor’s name, but it was some guy in downtown Portland.
I became a member of Oregon Journal Juniors and played at Oaks Park in Portland in
1957. This resulted in my picture (with accordion) appearing in the Oregon Journal
(my only claim to fame…ha!)
IN JUNEOF 1958 I PLAYEDATANACCORDIONFESTIVALAT LEWIS & CLARK COLLEGEWITHACCORDIONIST
CHARLES MAGNANTEDOINGTHEJUDGING. ON SUNDAY, JUNE 15, I PLAYEDWITHTWODIFFERENTGROUPS. INTHEFIRST, THE YANKEYS, SIXOFUSPLAYEDTHE BATTLE HYMNOFTHE REPUBLICANDWONTHIRDPLACE. THEOTHERGROUP, THE PORTLAND ACCORDION BAND, PLAYEDMALAGUENAANDALSOTOOKTHIRDPLACE.
As time went on I lost interest in playing the accordion (there didn’t seem to be
any rock groups with accordion players) so I took up piano. A friend from my neighborhood
got a snare drum and cymbal and we started a two-piece band. We must have driven
my parents nuts. I only wish I had some tapes of our crude interpretation of rock
& Roll. Maybe it’s better I don’t!
There was a piano in the gym at the high school I attended, and a friend and I would
go down and play from time to time. One song I remember is What’d I Say by Jerry
Lee Lewis – I plunked on the piano and my friend sang. We didn’t sound too bad!
The upright piano in my parents’ living room wasn’t something you could pack up and
haul to gigs with a band, so my interest shifted to six-string guitar.
In the fall of 1963 I entered Portland State, and by then I had acquired a Harmony
six-string acoustic, which I still have to this day. I bought a “How To Play Guitar”
book and started learning chords. At that point, learning to play by reading music
was not an option I cared for since I had grown to hate the discipline of reading
music while learning accordion. So I simply learned to play by ear.
It wasn’t long before I developed a love for bass, so in December of 1963 I bought
the only bass I could afford – a Harmony H22 hollow body. I think I paid $80 for
it. By the summer of 1964 I was in my first rock group, The Targets (we soon changed
our name to The Ascotts).
Meanwhile I had begun what turned out to be a 35-year career with Nationwide Insurance,
and since our group was new, we offered to play at the company picnic free of charge
in August 1964. I didn’t even have an amplifier/speaker cabinet, so my girlfriend’s
cousin (who was our rhythm guitar player) offered to share his. He had just bought
a new Silvertone from Sears. It’s really amazing we didn’t blow it up because we
both played pretty loud.
A neighbor of mine was an electronics whiz and offered to build me a bass amp (I
think this project cost around $50). I built my own speaker cabinet and got one
JBL D140F bass speaker and passive radiator. I couldn’t afford two speakers. Since
my neighbor’s last name was Coy, I got some stick-on letters and labeled the amp
and speaker cabinet “COY”. People would come up to me at gigs and tell me they’d
never heard of that brand. Indeed!
The Ascotts played a lot of sock hops at local high schools in Portland in 1964-65.
We wore green blazers and – what else – ascots (worse than a necktie, but at the
time we thought we looked pretty cool.) We also bought a 1947 Cadillac hearse from
a mortuary in Moses Lake, WA and used it to transport ourselves and our gear to our
gigs. I remember coming home late one night from a dance. We missed our turn so
we took a short cut…through a cemetery. We got a few strange looks as we came out
the other side!
Some of the band members wanted to do nightclubs but John Morton (rhythm guitar)
and I just weren’t ready for that, so we left the group.
The next group I played with was the Redondos. This was more of a surfin’ group
and marked my introduction to singer/songwriter/lead guitar player Ben Hoff and John
Carter (12-string). The first gig I did with them was a private party in July 1965
on Sylvan Hill west of Portland. I still have tapes from that party.
I played with The Redondos through the end of 1965 and I think the reason the group
broke up was because John went into the army in January 1966.
In late 1965 I joined up with a group called The In Crowd which reunited me with
Gerry Durham, drummer from the Redondos. I think the name of our group is the reason
we landed a regular job at a new nightclub in Portland with the same name.
Our first gig was a Halloween party in October 1965, and we also played sock hops
at the local high schools and one dance at Portland State College in March 1966.
The last time we played as a group was at The In crowd in May 1966. I don’t recall
why the group broke up.
Moving on, I replied to an ad placed in The Oregonian by a group looking for a bass
player. I auditioned and got the position with a snazzy group called The Classmen.
This was my introduction to drummer Dale Sweetland. We only played together for
two months as our lead guitar player Mike Smoke entered the army in June 1966.
My most memorable gig with The Classmen was competing in the first Battle of the
Bands in Portland, held at the Memorial Coliseum. We ended up taking – you guessed
it –third place. We had matching outfits and choreographed steps we did while playing.
This experience landed us a gig at a dance in June 1966 in Corvallis, which was
our last one together.
In August 1966 I was drafted into the army, but I kept playing. My first Army group
was formed at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, and we called ourselves Leon Snarf And The
Boys Minus One Buffalo Fish. I had heard that name somewhere along the way and since
no one objected, we adopted it. Kind of a strange name for a folk singing group.
We played a talent show at the base and took –yep, you guessed it again – third
We also toured as a group through Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio to play
for the troops in the hospital there. I used an old standup bass that i dragged
through the hospital…what a monster. I had never played one before, but it worked
out pretty well. We even received a letter of commendation…someone must have felt
sorry for us!
When I ended up at my final duty station at Ft. Lewis, WA, another group was formed.
I played bass and we had a drummer, a guitar player and a singer. Our name? Vulture
And The Body Lies. I have no idea where that came from. We played a talent show
in November 1967 at The Chinook Club at Ft. Lewis, and at a “company” picnic in February
1968. I was honorably discharged from the army in August 1968.
Around the time I entered the army I became part of the group I’m most fond of –
United Travel Service. It reunited me with two former fellow group members, Ben
Hoff and Dale Sweetland. Our rhythm guitar player was John Reeves on 12-string.
I believe the first time I played with them was in a Battle of the Bands at the
Masonic Temple in Portland. I have no record or recollection of how we did. One
thing I do remember is that this was the first time I heard a group play using Sunn
equipment. It simply shook the house. I knew I had to have a Sunn amp and cabinet.
I played with UTS through October 1969. We cut several records, which did quite
well locally. We were all in college and I guess we epitomized the typical starving
musicians stereotype. I still have tapes of much of our music from that time frame.
UTS was quite a special band. I don’t think any of us realized this at the time.
Ben was (and is) a very gifted songwriter and great guitar player. John was great
on 12-string – it really brought a new dimension to a rock group as I think it added
more depth to the music versus a six-string. And dale – just an incredible drummer.
We all loved the music Ben wrote, and after one or two takes, we had it well blended
into some really great arrangments. I think if we’d had a manager/promoter back
then we could easily have gone national.
I don’t recall why the group broke up –possibly John going into the air force in
Recently, after a nearly forty-year musical hiatus, I got the urge to see if there
was anything on the Internet on UTS, and was I ever surprised to find us on the web
site of a fellow from England. I corresponded with him and discovered that UTS has
a following in Europe. I then located ben’s address and wrote to him. From his
reply I got the addresses of the other band members, and now we’re all back in touch
with each other. It’s great!
I’m certain we’ll have a reunion of UTS later this year and hopefully we can do something
we should have done all those long years ago…make an album.
Like Dale says: “UTS ROCKS!”
P.S. When I retired from Nationwide in 2001, my wife started begging me to start
playing guitar again. Seven years later her wish is coming true. Last night I plugged
my newly acquired vintage Harmony bass guitar into a borrowed amp and tentatively
began to play while she stood nearby grinning from ear to ear. I now have a Sunn
Coliseum 300 bass amp, and will soon have Sunn speaker cabinets with JBL D140F bass
speakers. I’m baaaaaack!
You may donate whatever you feel is appropriate, or just enjoy the tunes, the money
will be distributed amongst the players, as you may know we haven’t made a penny
from any of this so anything would be appreciated!! Thanks, The Band
Special Note: 10,11,12 are “basement recordings” done on a home tape recorder at
a rehearsal in 1968,69
Benjamin Hoff: UTS Recollections
UNITED TRAVEL SERVICE: MY RECOLLECTIONS
By Benjamin Hoff
Sometime in 1966, my second year of college, Dale Sweetland and John Reeves
contacted me from Oregon State University in Corvallis. They said they were looking
for a lead guitar player for a band they were forming, and had heard about me I-don't-remember-how.
I'd been in three Portland-area bands -The Cobras, The Valiants, and Gerry Dee and
the Redondos -- playing mostly surf guitar and my own songs. "Do you know any good
bass players?" Dale and John asked. "Yeah," I told them, "Ray Doern from The Redondos."
And that, if I'm remembering accurately, is how United Travel Service -- named by
John Reeves -- got its main players. Over the next three or four years -UTS broke
up in 1969 or 1970 -- we had three alternate members: John Carter, later to achieve
PNW country-music fame as a much-in-demand pedal steel player, substituted for John
Reeves when the latter went into the Air Force; OSU student Steve Bennett took Ray
Doern's place when Ray went into the Army; and for a while OSU's Jim Roberts and
I traded lead and bass -- we could then tell people that we had two lead guitarists
and two bass players. Wow. Of the three alternates, only Jim Roberts participated
in any of our studio recordings. As for the core UTS members:
Of the four of us musicians, Dale Sweetland was the most technically knowledgeable,
due at least in part to being the son of Elliot Sweetland, all-around musician and
author of music-instruction books for various instruments, published by Belwin Publishing.
Dale was one of the three late-1960s drummers who impressed me the most, the other
two being Keith Moon of The Who and Ginger Baker of Cream. Keith Moon had an uncountable
number of toms, snares, and cymbals; Ginger Baker had two bass drums. Dale just had
the typical minimal set (none of us UTS college boys invested much money in instruments),
but he got more out of his equipment than any drummer I'd seen. He's still playing,
in Las Vegas.
John Reeves impressed me when I first met him as a sort of study in contrasts:
He looked like an open-faced country boy who could maybe by appearances play a few
simple folk tunes on the acoustic-electric twelve-string guitar he carried -- but
who I quickly learned knew the latest songs and bands from the Fillmore, and could
get the wildest feedback loops and other effects from that innocent-looking folk
guitar. Like Dale with his drums, John could coax more sound from his instrument
than seemed possible. John's use of twelve-string guitar for rock-and-roll was highly
unusual for its time. Jim (later to be Roger) McGuinn of the Byrds -- a group with
whom we were sometimes compared -- used a twelve-string for lead, as did George Harrison
on a couple of Beatles songs; but for the most part, twelve-strings were played by
folk, not rock, musicians. As for John's playing, he always did the right thing in
the right way at the right time. One can't do better than that. The effect -- as
in all the best guitar playing -- was simple; the skill -- as in all the best guitar
playing -- was not.
Ray Doern was so reserved and self-effacing that he sometimes seemed to not be
there. But if for some reason he stopped playing, everything instantly sounded crummy.
Ray's bass work was like his personality -- solid, no frills, the way bass, at least
in my opinion, ought to be played. (When I later started learning bass, I patterned
my playing after Ray's and that of Paul McCartney -- who was, it seemed to me, a
very underestimated bass player, highly esteemed though he was as a Beatle. ) When
I hear showoff bass players trying to be heard above everyone else in the band --
increasingly typical -I appreciate all the better the foundation-of-the-sound playing
of Ray Doern.
As for myself: I started guitar in middle school, after trying clarinet -- and
enduring sarcastic remarks about me as "Benny Goodman, King of Swing." I pestered
my parents into buying me a guitar; they bought a small Mexican guitar cheaper than
the cheap case they bought for it, obviously figuring that I'd mess around on it
for a couple of weeks, get discouraged, and quit. They figured wrong. After I'd tortured
their ears for a while trying to learn on my own, they hired a first-rate teacher
for me, former big band guitarist Eddie Covey. I've always been a wanna-be harpsichordist,
and my guitar playing tends to come out sounding, so I'm often told, like a harpsichord.
Although I used fuzz and wah-wah in several UTS songs (not on record), and was even
over-praised by a band admirer as "Eric Clapton, Junior," I've always preferred a
clear, ringing sound.From rock I went to classical. I now own a six-string classical
and ten-string "harp guitar" (both custom made), a modified Godin fretless long-scale
bass guitar, a limited-edition acoustic-electric, a modified SoloEtte electric classical,
and (my latest project) a Chinese imitation Stratocaster® that I and four guitar-and-circuit-builders
have transformed into my idea of what an electric guitar ought to be. (I'd made my
own solid-body electric in high school, and have never stopped hot-rodding guitars,
cars, and whatever else I can get my hands on. ) Some people have suggested that
I patent my guitar construction/wiring innovations and market my neo-Strat®, but
they're a step or two ahead of me.
In the early 1980s, after writing a surprise (to me) hit book, The Tao of Pooh,
I got sidetracked from writing and playing music into writing book manuscripts --
and now screenplays. But I've lately begun to question the wisdom of that career
choice (as explained on benjaminhoffauthor.com). Since high school, song-writing
has always been the easiest thing in the world for me -- I can write a song in half-an-hour
or so, although lyrics can take longer. Guess which profession I should have gone
I've been having a recurring dream, late at night: We United Travel Service
members are on stage in a large, crowded music hall. I step up to the microphone,
playing my old white solid-body. The spotlight swings toward me, the faces of the
audience turn in my direction, and I start to sing.
I've ridden horses at full gallop. I've driven powerful cars very fast. I've climbed
mountains, hot-dog skateboarded, mountain-biked in a make-it-or-die run down a steep,
rock-paved logging road... But I've never experienced as much of an adrenaline rush
as I did playing lead guitar and singing. And for a few years I had the great opportunity
and pleasure to do so, in UnitedTravel Service. I'll always be grateful for that.
Here's some background material on our studio recordings:
"Drummer of Your Mind" was, I believe, the first recording we made at Rick Keefer's/Ken
Bass's home studio in Beaverton, Oregon. The words were inspired by Thoreau's famous
"different drummer" quotation; the tune was inspired by clavichord and harpsichord
minuets. Dale double-tracked the drum part. He's always been bothered by the fact
that, due to the studio headphones he had to use, he couldn't perfectly synch the
second track he was playing to the first, which he couldn't adequately hear. But
I kind of like the effect of the overlap, which reminds me of massed drums in a marching
Next to record -- in the same one-day session, as I remember -- was "Wind and
Stone" (title by Dale, as I couldn't come up with a good one) . John, I remember,
was having trouble at first getting his usual hair-curling feedback effects from
his guitar, but after a while the stubborn instrument started to properly misbehave.
People have commented on my "raga-like" solo. It was actually inspired, as was the
rest of the song, by bagpipe music (I loved massed pipes and drums, and still do).
"Snow" was, I believe, the next song we recorded, followed by "The Slightest
Possibility" -- although it may have been the other way around. Another one-day session,
I think. The occasional shimmering sssss sound was accidental feedback off Dale's
cymbal, which Rick decided to leave in. For an example of what I said about Ray Doern's
playing: Listen to “Snow” and imagine it without his bass work. Drags, doesn't it?
Rick or Dale (the latter, I think) brought a couple of trumpet players to the session,
to add something to the song. Dale wrote out their parts, they and we ran through
the song a couple of times, then we recorded it in (I think) one take. One take instrumentally,
that is; the vocals were always overdubbed.
"Snow" is the only one of our/my songs that I attempted (sort of) to market.
I sent a demo tape of our recording to the vocal group The Association. About a year
later, I got it back in the mail -- no letter, no note.
"The Slightest Possibility" was recorded in the bouncy, nutty spirit of the song
itself. Ken's basement studio had flooded the night before, and he was still mopping
up the water when we got there. We stood on our toolboxes, off the wet floor, to
keep from being electrocuted as we danced, played, and sang through the song -- me
on lead vocal, John and Dale on backup. At one point, Ken was nearly fatally electrocuted
as he reached into the higher-than-house-current innards of the studio circuits to
fix something. That sobered us up for a while.
I got the idea for "ytilibissoP tsethgilS ehtT" ("The Slightest Possibility"backwards)
when Rick rewound "The Slightest Possibility" on the studio machine. As it passed
over the heads in reverse, I thought: It sounds pretty good that way. I later asked
Rick to make me a demo of the song on 1/4" (home-recorder) tape. I then flipped the
tape over on my machine and recorded the running-backwards result on another machine.
I think the lyrics-in-reverse sound a bit like Russian.
"Like Me" has the strangest history of the songs we recorded for Rick Keefer
-- that is, it has no history at all, as far as any of us know. Sometime after Dale
put our other studio recordings on the Internet, Ray sent us each a CD he'd just
had made of our studio-recorded songs. Among the songs was "Like Me." I was moving
around my living room while the CD played. When "Like Me" came on, I stopped, mesmerized.
I suddenly remembered writing it. But I didn't remember recording it.
I played "Like Me" again and again. "I really like that song!" I declared to
the living-room wall. I then phoned Ray. "I just heard 'Like Me,' ” I told him. "I
don't have a copy of it. Where'd you get one?" "A long time ago," Ray replied, "I
asked Rick to make me a demo tape of our songs. After I'd played it for a while,
I put it away and forgot all about it. But a little while ago, I got out my old reel-to-reel
and discovered the tape –and that song." "Do you remember us recording it?" I asked.
"No," he said, "not at all." I talked to Dale. He didn't remember recording it. He
talked to John. He didn't remember recording it. My conclusion: Since the recording
has two trumpets on it, "Like Me" was probably recorded on the same day as "Snow."
I would guess -- but it's just a guess -- that we did it in one try for the instruments,
one try for the vocal, and then quickly went on to the other songs. For various reasons,
it sounds to me like an “idea” recording–a musical sketch to be filled in later,
with a guitar break and so on. Why I don't have a copy is a mystery. Another mystery:
Here and there in the recording can be heard what sounds to me like a viola playing
(especially audible after the words "It's not a bad way to be"). Where, I wonder,
did we get a viola?Who played it?
"Gypsy Eyes" is the only studio recording I have a date for: March 16, 1968. It and
"Echo of You" were recorded by Rick at Ripcord Studios in Vancouver, Washington.
"Gypsy Eyes" is my favorite of our songs on record. I wrote it for a girl I saw at
a downtown Portland bus stop. It's one of the first, or possibly the first, flamenco-rock
songs on record. (The bus-stop girl was a flamenco-rock sort of girl.) It was released
in the Pacific Northwest as the "B" side of "Echo of You," as Jimi Hendrix had released
a song titled "Gypsy Eyes" and Rick thought that to put ours on the "A" side would
appear to be capitalizing on the Hendrix reputation. No offense to Jimi Hendrix,
but we should have made our "Gypsy Eyes" the "A" side.
Ray was gone by then, so Jim Roberts played bass on "Gypsy Eyes" -- a great
bass part.I overdubbed an improvised flamenco-like solo at the end, while Dale drummed
on John's twelve-string as John chorded with his left hand. All three of us were
supposed to start the overdubbed part at the same time, but Dale missed his cue somehow
and started his dum-diddle-um bit four measures late. Sitting on a long-legged stool
by the mixing board, listening to the recording-so-far through headphones, out of
sight of the other two, I started my solo on the downbeat. No backup from Dale and
John. I glanced at Rick. He shrugged. I continued up the neck, then started down.
Just then Dale's pounding-pounding-pounding on the twelve-string began. From that
point on, although I could feel my fingers running over the frets, and was aware
of rocking back and forth on the stool, I was playing in another world. When the
tape stopped, Dale and John opened the control-room door and walked in, looking dazed.
"Wow!" said Dale. When we heard the playback, we all agreed that he'd come in at
the perfect time.
"Echo of You" was the last studio recording we made. I played bass; John played
rhythm through a rotating Leslie speaker; Jim Roberts played backup rhythm. We then
added an instrumental overdub, at the end of which I played my electric bass with
a cello bow while Dale played chords on the studio grand piano, over the strings
of which Rick had placed a chain for a clang,clang,clang sound. Before the final
verse of the song is a brief interlude, during which three music boxes play simultaneously.
John's job on the overdubbed track was to start the music boxes playing -- well away
from the microphone -- then run to the mike, hold up the music boxes for the interlude,
then run back. I have a mental photograph of him, clutching two music boxes and a
large music-box teddy bear, crouching behind a sound baffle, waiting for his cue.
One of the music boxes had been loaned for the occasion by my then-girlfriend
-- it played "The Impossible Dream." Shortly after we recorded the instrumental tracks
-- my vocal track had to be done a few days later, as I had a sore throat -- she
moved from her apartment and out of my life. On the night of the vocal-track recording,
Rick drove me from his house to the studio in his Porsche. We passed the Portland
airport in a heavy fog, the strobe lights flashing like giant fireflies. In the darkened
studio, I sang into the microphone to my by-then-former girlfriend, whom I wouldn't
see again for, as it turned out, twenty-something years:
Today I saw your face in a magazine
Then it changed and it wasn’t you
Someone else – oh no, no, no
But in the night, the echo of you
Drives away the darkness -
I’m no longer alone.
Regarding the three home recordings:
I wrote "Beyond the Rainbow" (for the former girlfriend mentioned above) after
listening to some Neil Young albums and deciding to write a Neil Young song. So here
it is, complete with Neil Young-style lead guitar break. It and the two songs that
follow were recorded at practice sessions, with John Carter playing rhythm guitar.
This recording has the atmosphere of a UTS live performance, and demonstrates the
syncopation and back-and-forth musicianship -- bass reacting to drums, drums reacting
to lead, lead reacting to rhythm guitar -- that made our playing different from play-it-the-same-way-every-time
bands. (I almost always improvised leads, and disliked playing them the same way
"Crystal Land" was written under the influence of Tim Buckley. ("I will sing
silver songs of your smile" -- very Tim Buckley, that.) If I were to perform the
song today, I would rewrite the lyrics. I like the guitar work, unpolished though
it was when we recorded it -- it has a strangely medieval sound.
"Plastic Paradise" was written under the influence of Malvina Reynolds and Pete
Seeger. ("I heard once long ago," it says, "of things called 'grass' and 'trees.'
But where did they go? What do they mean to me?") Like "Wind and Stone," "Plastic
Paradise" is what was then called a "protest" song. Could the "protest singers" of
the '60s have imagined then just how bad things were going to get? A sobering thought.
Of the ten steady and stable bands I have played in, the first four (1963 The Cobras,
1964 The Valiants, 1965 Redondas, 1969 The United Travel Service) are the best. The
common thread is the musical corroboration with Ben Hoff. I relive this epoch in
my life as often as my memory permits.
The story with the United Travel Service can be told in two very different ways:
the first story would have me live the last forty years (from 1968 to 2008) just
missing the success yet living the energy and being part of the power that was generated.
To me this band has always been Ben’s band and during the course of the past forty
years, I unconsciously took direction and meaning from Ben. Story number two, the
story I recently just learned, changes everything. Story number two is that John
Reeves started the whole thing. You have all been able to read his story, so I will
take the liberty to tell you the story I lived.
It’s important for me to start where my music found its beginning. I was always
musical and rhythmical. I can remember listening to all forms of music on the radio
before I could reach the knobs and playing music on anything that could make music.
I tried everything from tapping on the leg of a chair to pressing the keys of a
Baby Grand Piano. My mother was a great piano player and I can remember watching
her hands float over the ivory keys creating anything from one note using one gently
placed finger to as many notes as she could reach with all ten of her fingers coming
down at once. I also discovered that I could sit under the piano and truly feel
the rhythmic changes and the huge vibrations so much so that I sometimes believe
I could move the floor as I listened.
During this time of exploration my older brother (by four years) started piano lessons.
My mother was classically trained and my brother was getting lessons in popular
music. This exposed me to the distinguishing characteristic of multiple time signatures
my mother used and the power and gravity of my brothers’ 2/4 and 4/4 time that he
seemed to end each practice session with. In those sessions, I remember him improvising
chords that didn’t sound like those my mom played.
Whatever the style, this was live music that wanted to live with me and I wanted
to live with it. Four years passed as my life and music experience for the most
part stayed in our home. Then one night our family went out to
dinner. I can still remember so clearly. At the Three Star Restaurant in the far
corner of a very large dinning room with a dance floor, I saw my first band. I knew
that was so cool. My mind left the dinner table for the whole night and several
times I even walked over to the band to watch them work. It was amazing to see,
hear and feel the pulsation of four men playing four different instruments. I can
remember being able to focus on one man at a time. I remember being able to move
from one instrument to another sound and back again when finally I let them all come
together to form one perfect sound with four parts. I can’t remember any singing
or a singer so all I can say is this was my introduction to the musician or the “sideman”.
From that moment, I wanted the same connection with a band.
Since my brother was the piano student, he more or less controlled the time at the
piano. So, my interest took me to a different direction. I went with my mom to
visit our neighbor. As they talked I found a way to entertain myself with a ukulele
I had found in the corner of the room. Before the morning was over she gave me the
ukulele and a book which taught me to play.
Another musical milestone occurred at Christmas during my fourth grade year: my father
gave me a record player that played 33s and 45s. This would ignite a new freedom
of major importance. I was able to collect the music that left me speechless and
more than anything else I was able to listen to music whenever I wanted to. As my
record collection grew, my social life changed. My latest record and I were invited
to the house of the girl across the street. She was my age and I still think she
is one of the prettiest girls I’ve ever known. I spent a lot of time with her listening
to our records. On one of these days we were sitting on the floor together when
she said, “all of your records have one thing in common, they all have a guitar playing
a major part. Why don’t you get one?” (A guitar,) I said as she nodded. I don’t
know if I did it for her or for me, it didn’t matter I went out to purchase my first
guitar. I got a $20 Sears Spanish Acoustic. It came with a small instruction book
I used to helped me tune it to our piano and to play a few chords.
To say this new guitar changed my life is an understatement. I began playing the
instrument more than listening to my records. My record collection included Eddie
Cochran, Gene Vincent and Chuck Berry, guitarist that would have an influence on
my early development. I stayed with them for several years until Duane Eddy and
Rick Nelson gave me something new
in which to be absorbed. I loved Rick’s voice and I still do. (I even tried-and
got very close to!-sounding just like him.)
Duane had the biggest guitar sound I had ever heard. He knew how to achieve a warm,
luminescent, vibrant tone I had not heard from any other guitar player. I was lucky
enough to hear him at a live concert only one time and he had the same richness in
person as he produced on the records. I have every record he has made and with the
exception of two or three songs I could listen to him all day. I learned to play,
as best I could, every song he made.
In the seventh grade I sang in a talent show but my skill level at guitar wasn’t
ready to play and sing at the same time. I asked a friend, Phil, who was already
a very good player to help me out. I sang the Rick Nelson song “There’ll never be
anyone else but you” and I nailed it. Phil played terrifically and as a consequence
he introduced me to the ever so useful C Am F G chord progression. I was trapped.
I think I wore that out for the next two years. A few months later Phil had a talent
show of his own and he asked me to join him. I still have the program. We were
called “John and Phil”. We played once in a while for the next few years. Then
I got a phone call.
The call came from Ben Hoff. He said “I got your phone number from my cousin Phil.
Phil said you like to play guitar. Would you like to get together?” I told Ben
that I didn’t know any songs but I liked playing chords. He said that was good because
I know a lot of songs and need some rhythm. Thus began my intro to Surf music. Ben
was so skilled and polished that I fell right into the grove he was building. The
first time we played together felt like we had been together for years. I had never
experienced so much fun. That connection I saw, felt and heard so long ago at the
Three Star Restaurant was no longer a dream. I knew the feeling and I was hooked.
Two weeks later Ben and I were in our first band (The Cobras) and by the end of
that week we played our first job. And earned real money!
Ben and I continued to play from 1963 through 1970. In early 1965, Ben and I joined
a band (The Redondos) and to the best I can recall Ray Doern was already the bass
player. This was the first time I got to meet Ray not to mention the first time
I played with a truly great bass player. This experience opened my ears to the joy
and need for that most important part
of a band. From that moment I learned to listen to the base player. He will make
you believe in the song.
During this time, ’63 through ’65, I finished high school and went on to Mt. Angel
College. In December ’65, I was drafted into the Army and that lasted through Dec
’68. It was in this time period the United Travel Service (UTS) formed. I continued
to write to both Ben and Ray sharing all of our related music experiences. By this
time Ray was also in the Army (Ft. Louis) and playing bass in a folk band. Ben was
at the University of Oregon getting ready to meet John and Dale and I had secured
a place with Special Services playing guitar in a touring show. I did three or four
road shows during the three years I was in the Army. They were very good and well-produced
package shows that I was proud to be part of. It was an experience that became useful
later in my music career.
When the United Travel Service (UTS) released “Wind and Stone” Ben sent me a box
full of records. I was in El Paso, Texas (Ft. Bliss) keeping the Hawk Missile operational.
I took the records around to the radio stations to get airplay. I recall talking
to a station manager about our record he said he remembered seeing it but hadn’t
listened to it. I asked why. He pulled open a drawer that was filled with records
and said we just received these and will try to listen to them. He asked me again
for the name of the band. I said the United Travel Service. He said, “oh that’ll
be at the back. We file them alphabetically. We might not have the time to get
to the end of the stack.” I eventually talked him into listening and he liked what
he heard. He had a few reasons why he wouldn’t play the record. One was that I
had to show that the record is on a chart. Luck would be with me as Ben had included
a radio station chart from Portland that had it in the top ten. Upon seeing the
chart the manager agreed to started playing it. Several stations in the area put
the song on their play list and I was also able to get some of my friends to call
in and request it. This was easy because they all liked the song. I even made a
day trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I visited some stations and left copies. They
all said they would play it. I have no way of knowing if they did.
During this time, I was able to make several trips home on leave from the Army. These
were on holidays like Christmas or the 4th of July. I got together with Ben when
he had a job to play. On these occasions I thought this was the UTS and I was just
a sub for John Reeves since he had gone
home from school for the holiday. When my time in the service came to an end I went
right back to Mt. Angel College to pick up where I had left off.
In March of ’69, I went to what I believe was the last recording session for the
UTS. This was the first time I met John Reeves. I can only remember little bits
of the evening. The building was new and didn’t have any steps to the front door.
The control room was narrow. Ben sat on a high stool in the corner of the control
room. Dale spent most of the night at a set of drums elevated on a platform behind
a baffle. John sat in the middle of the studio with his twelve-string guitar. I
can’t remember a plan that would involve Ben or John. I talked a lot with Richard
Keifer, the producer, as he kept playing back parts of the song and working on a
sound check with Dale. I don’t remember how long I stayed or when I left or whether
we all left at the same time. I’m sure that we stayed for several hours and the
time flew by. About 15 years ago in 1992 I did a recording session in that same
In June of ’69 when John Reeves finished college and joined the Air Force, Ben asked
me to join the band as a full time member. Because of our day jobs we were able
to play together just a couple of times before the infamous Basement Tapes on Sunday
July 20, 1969. Why do I remember the date? We made the recording on the same day
Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Why did the recordings happen? Before I met
Ben I bought my first tape deck, a Roberts reel to reel stereo, and I used it to
record a lot practice sessions so that I could have something when I practice at
home. Through the years I have made over a hundred reel to reel recordings of every
band I played with to include the very first day Ben and I played together. I admit
most of them by accident turned out well. I just spent the last five years reviewing
these tapes and sharing CD copies with Ben, Ray and Dale. (By the way I’m still
not finished listening to my collection of tapes. Who knows what mystery is magnetized
within those reels.)
Lets return to the magnetic Basement Tapes. The day started without the mystery and
magic that I began to feel as the day progressed. It was a simple summer morning
about 10:00 AM when we began to gather at Ben’s “old” apartment in the basement of
NW Portland on July 21, 1969. I had no way of knowing that by the time the heat
would settle and the dust would linger, the reward from that day would never end.
And yes, I still feel it pulling on me today.
The energy I got was from watching Ben, Dale and Ray play with a collective passion
that I had never seen, felt or lived before or since. I know I felt the day because
I lived it but I have wondered if I could have believed it except for one thing:
I got it on tape, nearly the whole day. There is a lot more on the tape than just
the eight songs when including the out takes and bloopers. You can hear through
the jokes and candid moments where the tension was broken how much we trusted each
other. We only worked on eight songs each from start to finish that day. We lasted
until about 3:00 PM when Ben, Ray and Dale crashed and I, wanting to be alone, went
up on the roof of the three-story house. Rex, Ben’s landlord joined me and had to
talk about the moonwalk. And yes, that’s how I can remember the date. Thanks Rex,
wherever you are. I have listened over and over to those recordings and I don’t
know how to say what I feel or what to say except I simply like to listen to what
happened and I’m glad I was there and lived with it.
We played a couple of jobs that summer and several more times at Mt. Angel College.
The last one at Mt. Angel is the most memorable. We had a light show by “Toad Hill
Projection”. The Commons area was a semi-circle with a dome ceiling that he was
able to project and cover almost the entire room. I remember at the close of the
night we broke down one at a time. I was first to put my guitar away and moved my
amp to the back of the room as Ben, Ray and Dale kept playing. Next I helped Ben
take his amp and effects out to the car. Ben and I helped Ray move out. That left
Dale playing a drum solo. The three of us came back for a piece of Dale’s kit and
left him with the snare and Hi-Hat. Last we went in and I got his stool, Ray picked
up the hi-hat while Ben grabbed the snare and walked Dale to the door playing and
not missing a beat all the way to the car. Ben, Ray and Dale got into the car and
drove away as I stood there waving to them. I went back into the commons that was
still half full of students with that look of not sure what just really happened.
As a band we were always able to do spontaneous things on and off the stage that
kept the energy alive and always changing. I have so many stories I could tell.
Ray said that I should write a book. Well, we’ll leave that to Ben. He’s the author.
That takes us through the fall of ’69 and the winter of ’70 until the point where
Dale would find another band to work with. In September, I started my last year
of college. In January of 1971, with positive advice from Jerry Garcia, I purchased
my first Pedal Steel Guitar. That event changed my whole life. I became a full
time student of the steel guitar. From that first day and every day since I have
learned something new on that instrument.
Ben and I have always stayed in touch. We never lived more than a few miles away
from each other. With Ray it’s been a little different. We stayed in touch until
October 1972. We had dinner at my house and at the time my head was really into
the steel. He left that night and we were not to see each other for 35 years.
As for Dale, he went on the road. Then, in 1997 I got a call to sub in a band for
someone that was sick. I played one or maybe two weekends and it’s still hard to
believe, but the drummer was Dale. What a night that was. There is no one who can
drum like Dale. He is the most musical drummer I have ever worked with and to me
that quality makes him the best, cleanest, solid musician I know. And, he is fun.
I could do some name dropping right now and list some of the drummers I have been
lucky enough to share the stage with but the point would be missed and lost in the
naming. So it should be said that Dale is the “Sweetest” drumming you can buy.
The guys talked about their instruments so I will follow suit. With the UTS in the
“Basement Tapes” I used a Fender Electric 12 string Strat. which I sold a few years
ago. I still own the 1962 Gibson ES 330 TD that I bought new when Ben and I started
playing together. At that time I was using a Fender Vibrasonic amp. I also just
sold that a few years back. I hadn’t used it for about fifteen years. In 1968 I
bought new a Martin D-35 12 string which I still own and continue to play because
it sounds so good. Can I say I love it? As well as the above listed I own two Emmons
D-10 pedal steel guitars, one is MIDI controlled. I have a 1934 Rickenbacher Electro
Fry Pan lap steel. An Oahu tone master lap steel and the Oahu amp that it came with
in 1945. A really cool sound. I have a ten string Dobro custom made that I ordered
in 1978. Last but not least I have a Fiddle that has been in my family for way more
than 100 years. Yes it is a good one. For power I use a Peavey Nashville 400 amp.
I bought that in 1984 and it’s never been in the shop. I use it a lot, too. My
signal processor is a Korg A-3 and for processing my MIDI sounds, I use a Roland
JV-880 and a Roland S-550 sampler. My recording equipment has grown from a simple
reel to reel deck that I still have to a 32 track Digital workstation and lots of
other equipment. My studio is computer based with Sound Forge software.
The last forty five years as a stage musician have made me a very satisfied player.
Each year brought me something new and exciting. Some of the high lights have been
as a backup musician for Hank Thompson, Susan Ray,
Del Reeves Red Simpson and the Hagger Brothers. I preformed at the International
Steel Guitar Convention, and also worked as a representative player at NAMM Convention
in Los Angles. I have been a part of an opening act for a number of shows that include
Charley Pride, Gretchen Wilson, Randy Travis, and Carrie Underwood.
I have had so much fun. Who can ask for anything more? Well, I can. I just want
to spend a little more time with Ben, Ray, Dale and this time I don’t want to miss
out on John Reeves. What a fun band we are.