Legendary Musicians and Bands of Texas

Welcome to Astro Mark Music's Legendary Musicians and Bands of Texas. Here you will find a growing selection of great Texas Musicians and Bands who made an impact on music in Texas and around the world! We will feature their music and commentary from publications about their influence on the music scene. 

 

Bruce Channel

Bruce Channel was born Bruce McMeans in Jacksonville, Texas in November 1940. He took up singing and song writing in his late teens. He began his performing career on the radio program Louisiana Hayride , broadcasted from KWKH AM radio in Shreveport , Louisiana.  This was a big opportunity for country western and rockabilly singers.  He performed as Bruce Channel and soon connected with guitarist and harmonica player,Delbert McClinton. 

In 1959, together with Margaret Cobb, Channel wrote the song that would define his career, "Hey ! Baby."  He performed the song for two years before recording it ( with the help of Delbert McClinton on harmonica ) for Bill Smith's LeCam Records in Fort Worth, Texas.  Selling well, the record was picked up by a subsidiary of Mercury Records and went to #1 on the national charts in 1962. The song was also a hit in the UK, going to #2 on the British charts and sparking a successful European tour.
During the British leg of the tour, at least one engagement of Channel's show included the little know group , The Beatles. ( see picture , circa 1962) It has been rumored for years that Delbert McClinton taught John Lennon to play the harmonica.  Though Lennon did admire McClinton's talent it is likely that he had learned the harmonica prior to meeting McClinton. 

Channel released four more singles which charted, but no where near the sensation of "Hey! Baby".

Channel's influence on music has since been  felt as a successful song writer in Nashville. He has written hit songs for Janie Fricke, T.G. Sheppard , Kirean Kane and others. 
 
"Hey! Baby " was featured in the motion picture Dirty Dancing (1987) Bruce Channel has been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame .

Bruce Channel and the Beatles

Bruce Channel and the Beatles

The Nightcaps

Formed in 1958 by Billy Joe Shine, the original lineup consisted of Shine on lead vocals, Gene Haufler on rhythm guitar, David Swartz on lead guitar, Mario Daboub on bass, and Jack Allday on drums. The band's beginnings like most combo's was sock hops and school dances. The band played R&B covers and soon Shine began writing songs. In 1959, the Nightcaps' recorded their debut single featuring two songs written by Shine, "Wine Wine Wine" b/w "Nightcap Rock". The song became a hit in Dallas and eventually led the group to record an album, recorded at WRR's studio in Fair Park in 1961. The album is available for download here at Astro Mark Music.  

Many musicians were greatly influenced by the Nightcaps, Stevie Ray would record Thunderbird for one of his albums. ZZ Top opened their Fandango album with Thunderbird and credited themselves with its creation. In a bizarre twist of legal wrangling the Nightcaps who had clearly written and recorded the song lost their case in court. The Nightcaps' music is an important landmark in music history. Their music marked the evolution from R&B, to rock and beyond. 

 

Commentary and Artist Biographies  

 Allmusic 

The Dallas Morning News 

The Ponderosa Stomp 

 The Dallas Observer 

 WFAA 

  

To read more about the Nightcaps, here is a link to the band's history written by the only surviving band member, Jack Allday. 

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The 13th Floor Elevators

The 13th Floor Elevators, the 60s, and Austin sum it all up into a psychodelic drama of epic Texas proportions. A wild ride into LSD land with a fitting soundtrack from the Elevators. People don't often think of Texas filled with stoned hippies running wild in the bluebonnets or skinny dipping in hippy hollow but that was going on in the '60s. Not quite on the scale of California but Texas in the '60s had a run of music and drugs that lasted until the Republicans took over. My how things have changed. 

The 13th Floor Elevators emerged on the local Austin music scene in December 1965, where they were contemporary to bands such as The Wig and the Babycakes and later followed by Shiva's Headband and the Conqueroo. The band formed when Roky Erickson left his group the Spades and joined up with Stacy Sutherland, Benny Thurman, and John Ike Walton, who had been playing Texas coastal towns as the Lingsmen. Tommy Hall was instrumental in bringing the band members together and joined the group as the lyricist and electric jug player. The band's name developed from a suggestion by drummer John Ike Walton to use the name "Elevators." Clementine Hall added the "13th Floor". In addition to an awareness that many tall buildings in the US lack a designated 13th floor, the letter "M" (for marijuana) is the thirteenth letter of the alphabet.

In early January 1966, producer Gordon Bynum brought the band to Houston to record two songs to release as a single on his newly formed Contact record label. The songs were Erickson's "You're Gonna Miss Me," and Hall-Sutherland's "Tried to Hide." Some months later, the International Artists label picked it up and re-released it.

Throughout the spring of 1966, the group toured extensively in Texas, playing clubs in Austin, Dallas, and Houston. They also played on live teen dance shows on TV, such as Sumpin Else, in Dallas, and The Larry Kane Show in Houston. During the Summer, the IA re-release of "You're Gonna Miss Me" became popular outside Texas, especially in Miami, Detroit, and the San Francisco Bay Area. In October 1966, it peaked on the national Billboard chart at the No. 55 position. Prompted by the success of the single, the Elevators toured the West coast, made two nationally televised appearances for Dick Clark, and played several dates at the San Francisco ballrooms The Fillmore and The Avalon.

The International Artists record label in Houston signed the Elevators to a record contract. It released the album The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators in November 1966, which became popular among the burgeoning counterculture. Tommy Hall's sleeve-notes for the record, which advocated chemical agents (such as LSD) as a gateway to a higher, 'non-Aristotelian' state of consciousness, has also contributed to the album's cult status.

During their California tour, the band shared bills with Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Great Society (featuring Grace Slick), and Moby Grape. On returning to Texas in early 1967, they released a second single, "Levitation," and continued to play live in Austin, Houston, and other Texas cities. In November 1967, the band released a second album, Easter Everywhere. The album featured a cover of Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." However, shortly before work began on Easter Everywhere, Walton and Leatherman left the band. They were replaced by Danny Thomas on drums and Dan Galindo on bass, because of disputes over mismanagement of the band's career by International Artists and a fundamental disagreement between Walton and Hall over the latter's advocacy of the use of LSD in the pursuit of achieving a higher state of human consciousness. As a result, they have not credited in the Easter Everywhere sleevenotes, despite having appeared on "(I've Got) Levitation" and "She Lives (In a Time of Her Own)." Despite the lengthy studio work and resources utilized, Easter Everywhere was not a success. Lacking a hit single and released too late in the year, it sold out its original run and never reissued, suggesting disappointing sales. Record label paperwork indicates that the band's debut album sold upwards of 40,000 copies during its initial run, while Easter Everywhere may have sold around 10,000 copies.

While the band was unable to repeat their national success, they were still a commanding presence on the Texas rock music scene. Chris Gerniottis, the ex-lead singer of Zakary Thaks, has spoken repeatedly of how the Elevators stood apart from all the other bands on the regional scene, and they continued to influence these bands during the late 1960s. Following the local popularity of the track "Slip Inside This House," an edited version was released as a single in early 1968 and was played frequently on Houston radio.

Meanwhile, the Elevators had lost their bass player Dan Galindo, who went on to another International Artists band, the Rubaiyat. Duke Davis briefly replaced Galindo, before the band's earlier bassist Ronnie Leatherman returned in the Summer of 1968. As documented in a lengthy interview and article in the Texas underground music magazine Mother No. 3, the band worked all Spring of 1968 on their new album, which at one point was to be called Beauty and the Beast. However, because of an unstable member line-up and the increasingly erratic behavior of the psychedelicized Tommy Hall and mentally fragile Roky Erickson, little of value came out of these sessions. The live shows had lost their original energy, and often the band would perform without their lead singer Erickson due to his recurring hospital treatments at the time. The last concert featuring the "real" Elevators occurred in April 1968.

International Artists put out a Live LP in August 1968, which was composed of old demo tapes and outtakes dating back to 1966 for the most part, with fake applause and audience noise added. Around this time, the original 13th Floor Elevators disbanded, as the nucleus of Erickson-Hall-Sutherland had been reduced to guitarist Stacy Sutherland only. Sutherland brought some of his songs for a final set of studio sessions, which led to the dark, intense posthumous album Bull of the Woods. Initially disliked by many Elevators fans, it has found a substantial fan-base today, with some even rating it the band's best LP. These final sessions consisted of Sutherland on guitar, Ronnie Leatherman on bass, and Danny Thomas on drums. A few live gigs were played around Texas during the second half of 1968, until an article in Rolling Stone magazine in December 1968 declared the band gone. International Artists pulled together the various studio recordings from 1968 and, with the assistance of drummer Danny Thomas, added some horn arrangements, which became the Bull of the Woods album, released in March 1969. The final 13th Floor Elevators record released by International Artists was a reissue of the "You're Gonna Miss Me" single in mid-1969.

Singer Janis Joplin was a close associate of Clementine Hall and the band. She opened for the band at a benefit concert in Austin and considered joining the group before heading to San Francisco and joining Big Brother and the Holding Company.

Drug overuse and related legal problems left the band in a state of constant turmoil, which took its toll, both physically and mentally, on the members. In 1969, facing a felony marijuana possession charge, Roky Erickson chose to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital rather than serve a prison term, thus signaling the end of the band's career.

Bull of the Woods, released in 1969, was the 13th Floor Elevators' last released album on which they worked as a group, and was primarily the work of Stacy Sutherland. Erickson, due to health and legal problems, and Tommy Hall only worked on a few tracks, including "Livin' On," "Never Another," "Dear Doctor Doom," and "May, the Circle Remain Unbroken."

Roky Erickson passed away in 2019 at the age of 71. 
Stacy Sutherland died in 1978
 

The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators

13th Floor Elevators

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The Five Americans

The Mutineers formed in Durant, Oklahoma (Southeastern State College) in 1962. The band members crossed paths at the university and began performing a repertoire of Bo Diddley and Duane Eddy standards within the campus. In 1963, the band recorded their debut single, "Jackin' Around," in Dallas, Texas, an instrumental which received extensive airplay in their college. The British Invasion influenced The Mutineers to include Beatles numbers to their repertoire, a change in outfitting, and a slight emphasis on vocals. However, their most impactful acquisition was their utilization of the Vox Continental electronic organ, a later highlight of the group's sound.[2] While in Dallas, the band achieved prominence playing as a frequent attraction in a venue called The Pirate's Nook. There they came to the attention of Abnak Records, whose president John Abdnor took the group under his wing. Shortly after that, the band identified themselves as the Five Americans.

For a short while, after their five top singles, "I See The Light," "Western Union," "Sound of Love," "Evol - Not Love," and "Zip Code" was released, they toured. However, their manager, Jon Abdnor Sr., president, and owner of Abnak Records and Bankers Management and Services Insurance Co., was allowed control of their finances.

After Abdnor's death in 1996, all rights to their songs should have reverted to the original group, but Sundazed Records bought the original tapes. The Five Americans are now receiving their share of the sales and publishing royalties.


In a March 1967 interview that appeared in Michael Oberman's "Top Tunes" column in the Evening Star newspaper (Washington, D.C.), Norman Ezell, guitarist for the group, explained how they came up with "Western Union." "Mike Rabon, our lead guitar player, was just fooling around with his guitar when he came up with a unique sound," Norman said. "It reminded us of a telegraph key. That's when we decided to write 'Western Union.'"


The Five Americans broke up in 1969 and went their separate ways after their single "7:30 Guided Tour" stalled at number 96 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Mike Rabon had a successful touring career afterward, released two albums that sold well, and played guitar for the Tyler, Texas, pop group Gladstone, whose "A Piece of Paper" reached number 45 in October 1972. He later returned to college, acquired a master's degree in public school administration, and has been in the Oklahoma school systems for 28 years.

John Durrill, the keyboardist, who wrote "Dark Lady" for Cher and "Misery and Gin" for Merle Haggard and was also a member of the band The Ventures, now lives in Los Angeles.

Bassist Jim Grant died from a heart attack on November 29, 2004.

Norman Ezell (guitar and harmonica) became a teacher and minister in Northern California. He died of cancer on May 8, 2010, at the age of 68.

Drummer Jimmy Wright (born James T. Wright on December 2, 1947) left the music industry to become a freelance photographer. He died at Texoma Medical Center on January 30, 2012, at the age of 64.

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Floyd Dakil

Floyd Arthur Dakil (June 16, 1945 – April 24, 2010) was a Texas musician best known for his often compiled song "Dance Franny Dance." He later went on to play guitar in Louis Prima's band. 

Dakil was born in Childress County, Texas. In 1964 his band won a competition to become the house band at the Pit Club, located at the Bronco Bowl in Oak Cliff, Texas. and soon released their first 45, "Dance, Franny, Dance" b/w "Look What You've Gone and Done" on Jetstar. The record was picked up for national distribution on the Guyden label. 

Floyd Dakil went on to record three 45s on the Earth label as the Floyd Dakil Four. 

In 1969 Floyd joined Louis Prima's band as guitarist, and remained with him for several years.

In 1975 he released a solo LP Live in which he runs through 42 songs in as many minutes. 

In 1991 he contributed several songs to the soundtrack of the film Love Hurts credited to The Floyd Dakil and Larry Randall Band.

The Chessmen

The Chessmen were an American garage rock band from Denton, Texas, who were active in the 1960s. They were one of the most popular bands in the region and recorded for Bismark Records, where they recorded three singles including, "I Need You There", which is now considered a garage rock classic. The band is notable for including several members who went on to greater fame. Jimmie Vaughan, brother of Stevie Ray Vaughan was briefly a member, joining after the death of original band leader, guitarist, and vocalist, Robert Patton, who died in a boating accident in 1966. Drummer Doyle Bramhall later played with and wrote songs for Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Bill Etheridge later played bass with ZZ Top. Following the breakup of the Chessmen, several of their members, including Jimmie Vaughan, went on to form a group that would come to be known as Texas Storm, which eventually included Stevie Ray Vaughan on bass.

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The Briks

The Briks

1965 (left to right ) Mike Meroney, Cecil Cotton , Richard Borgens, Lee Hardesty , Steve Martin

60's punk band from Denton, TX

The group formed in 1965 at  Texas Tech, moved to Dallas in 1966. Broke up in late 67

All members except Steve Martin are now deceased. 

Richard Borgens also played in Kenny and the Kasuals in 1967/8. and later a professor of biology at Purdue University until his death in 2019.  

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The Sensations

The SENSATIONS was a group of four who came on the Dallas music scene in roughly 1966.   Individually they were a year or two younger than most of the popular local groups. The group comprised of ( clockwise in the picture starting at the top) Mike Nelson (lead guitar and backing vocals ), Roe Cree (lead vocals, guitar) Richard Schulze ( drums ), and Michael Cooper ( bass ). Characterized by good playing and great vocals, the band never received the attention they deserved. 

After about two years, the Sensations dissolved, and each went their separate ways. Roe Cree went on to become a member of Rose Colored Glass.  In 1971 this group recorded a cover version of "I Can't Find The Time To Tell You," originally by Orpheus, 1968. The release by Rose Colored Glass sold well in the United States, reaching  #54 on the Billboard Magazine "Hot 100". 

Mike Nelson continued to play guitar with several groups, including Gladstone,  a Tyler group who had made the charts with "A Piece of Paper" in 1972.  Nelson continued to play after leaving Gladstone and was the lead guitarist for Kenny and the Kasuals in the early '80s. Mike left the Kasuals in the mid-1980s.
  
In the early '90s, Mike joined forces with his brother-in-law, Lee Hardesty (formerly a guitarist with the Briks ), and together they invented and marketed the "Boomerang," an electronic looper. A successful device that is still available nationally. 

Mike was a player on many of the songs and a co-producer of the newly released Kenny and the Kasuals album, "The Real Band in Real Time."  Mike continues to play with the group "Fast, Cheap and Easy."

Freddie King

Born Fred King in 1952, Dallas Texas, Freddie moved to Chicago in 1958 .  

By age 18 he was playing guitar with such famous individuals as Elmore James, Willie Dixon , Muddy Waters and T Bone Walker. 

Freddie recorded with multiple labels and with ShowCo founder Jack Calmes as his manager he appeared at the Texas music festival in 1970 along with Led Zeppelin and others, which led to a contract with Shelter Records , a label created by Leon Russell.   Freddie was the first black blues artist to have a multiracial backing band. 

Primarily known for his guitar work, a cross between Texas and Chicago blues, he was also an accomplished singer who, it is said "sounded  like B.B. King".  His work, especially his hit "Hide Away" has become a standard for guitarists everywhere.  

Freddie toured continuously throughout his career .  He was a frequent patron of Lucas B&B cafe, a favorite late night eatery for Dallas musicians.  

 

Freddie King died in 1994 at age 42 years. Most of his recordings  are still commercially available.  He was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. 

 

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The Mystics

The mystics were a rock group formed at South Oak Cliff High School in 1964.  They were composed of David Mitchell ( bass ) , Glenn Strubble ( percussion ) , Danny Fugate and Robert Farris ( Guitars ) .  They played mostly in Oak area clubs and parties, but with the help of Bob Sanders ( Sandlin Recording ) they produced a single , "Didn't We Have A Goodtime" on Sanders' Spectra label which was played by local top 40 stations, KLIF and KBOX.  Ultimately the song was picked up by DOT Records who , unfortunately , did little to promote their rock artists, 

 

The (Dallas) Mystics had a well deserved good reputation but like so many, never gained national traction.  

 

It should be mentioned that there have been a number of bands named "The Mystics", including a New York 60's group and a later group from Ontario, Canada.  

Norah Jones

Norah Jones ( born Geethali Norah Jones Shankar ; 1979 ) is a singer, song writer and pianist. 

She has sold in excess of 50 million records and was named the top jazz artist of the 2000's decade by Billboard Magazine. 

Born in New York, the daughter of producer Sue Jones and sitarist Ravi Shankar, she was moved by her parents to Grapevine , Texas in 1986.  She attended Grapevine High school before transferring to the Booker T. Washington school for the performing arts in Dallas.  During summers, she attended the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. 

She attended North Texas State University where she majored in Jazz piano and sang with the schools jazz vocal group. 

She met Jessie Harris when he passed through Denton.  In 1999, she moved to New York and worked as a lounge singer for a period.  Within a few months she began a band with Jessie Harris. 

In New York she signed with Blue Note Records  ( a legendary Jazz label ). 

Norah worked with numerous jazz groups and larger bands, including Peter Malick, Charlie Hunter and Wax Poetic. 

In 2003, Norah was nominated for eight Grammys and won five. 

Time Magazine named her one of the most influential persons of 2004. 

At the 2005 Grammys she won best best record of the year and best collaboration for "Here We Go Again", a duet with Ray Charles. 

She continues to write and record.  Her records never fail with either the public or critics.   

Sir Douglas Quintet / Texas Tornado

Douglas Wayne Sahm was born in San Antonio, Texas in November 1941.

Sahm was a child prodigy and learned to play guitar , mandolin and violin before he was 10 years old.  At age 11 years he played a show with Hank Williams Sr in Austin which turned out to be William's last show before dying in an automobile accident (1953).

Sahm was offered a spot on the Grand ole Opry at age 13 , but his parents wanted him to finish school. 

 

In his teens, Doug began sneaking into San Antonio Clubs to watch the players.  In 1958 he met Freddy Fender and Roy Head.  The three appeared together a few times. 

 

In 1965, urged by manager Huey Meaux, Sham and his friend Augie Meyers formed a group they named the "Sir Douglas Quintet".  They thought this would compete with the coming British invasion , despite that two of the group were Hispanic.  Nevertheless, they recorded and released "She's About a Mover"  which hit the national top ten in the us and England.

 

The group dissolved after a minor drug arrest in Corpus Christi .  Sahm took off to San Francisco , but the group group ultimately reformed , including Augie Meyers and scored another hit with the album "Mendocino".

By that time they had attracted the attention of Bob Dylan who once said there were only three groups that amounted to anything: Paul Butterfield ,the Byrds and the Sir Douglas Quintet. 

 

By the 1990, Sham had become a figure head in Tex-Mex music and formed the Texas Tornados with  Flacco Jimenez, Freddy Fender and Augie Meyers. By that time Sham had worked with the Grateful Dead, Dylan ,Credence Clearwater and had performed bit roles in two movies , notably More American Graffitti.

 

Sahm died of a heart attack in New Mexico at age 58.  His son , Shawn Sahm has continued on with Augie Meyers and Flacco Jimenez. 

A film entitled "Doug Sahm & the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove" premiered at Austin's South X Southwest in 2015. 

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The Marksmen

If your grandmother ever told that "there are things that are meant to be " , she may have been referring to the Dallas Marksmen .  Throughout the 50's 60's and 70' there have been too numerous to count bands named the Marksmen. However, there is only one that produced a Rock and Roll hall of famer and another who will probably end up in the Hall of fame. 

Steve Miller was born in 1943 . His mother was a jazz singer, his father , though a physician , was an enthusiastic recording engineer and close friend of Les Paul and Mary Ford.  Les Paul is Steve Miller's godfather. 

In the 50's the family moved to Dallas and enrolled Steve in St Marks Preparatory school.  Various blues artists were frequent vistators to the Miller home.   In 1956, Steve met fellow St Marks student William Royce Scaggs, who students began to refer to as "Bosley", later shortened to just Boz.  Together with another student , Baron Cass ( drummer ) formed a group. 

The two young musicians formed a band they named after their school, "The Marksmen".   Scaggs was the lead singer. They played rock and roll and competed with Jack Calmes' band the Jades for jobs.  Miller left St Marks ( later said he was "thrown out ') and finished high school at Woodrow Wilson High in Dallas. 

Upon graduation , Miller headed north to go to college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in literature .  He spent part of his senior year studying in Denmark,  but dropped out one semester short of graduation. 

He considered finishing school in Austin , but instead headed to San Francisco where he saw the Jefferson Airplane and others and began forming a new group, now the Steve Miller Band ". 

In the meantime, Boz headed to London, then to Sweden and tried his hand at forming a successful group.  However, by 1965 he decided to 

to return to San Franciso and teamed up with Miller for a while before writing and releasing his own material in the 1970s.  

Both have gone on to spectacular careers. 

 

Steve Miller was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.

Boz Scaggs, winner of many Grammies  will probably end up in the 

Hall of Fame before long. 

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Joe King Carrasco

Born Joseph Charles Tuetsch, Joe "King" Carrasco , known as the king of Tex-rock / Neuvo Wavo rock and latin rhythms He began playing music in the 7th grade while living in Dumas , Texas.  Like so many, he began with garage bands, but soon found more interest in Mexican music.  He formed the band Joe Carrasco and El Molina, which included future members of the Texas Tornados. 

In late 1979 he joined up with Kristine Cummings, Brad Kizer and Mike Navarro to form Joe King Carrosco and the Crowns .

The band worked New York, toured England and Europe and appeared on Saturday Night Live . Influenced by a British raggae band , Joe wrote and recorded "Don't Let a Woman ( Make a Fool Out of You )".  It is rumored that the background vocalist was Michael Jackson.  

Since that time, Joe has lived and worked in Central America, especially Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  He has worked as an actor in movies and his music has been used in at least two motion pictures including "Breathless" with Richard Gere in 1983.  

When not working out of town, he regularly plays at Nacho Daddy, a Tex-Mex club in Puerto Vallarta.

He reunited briefly with the original Crowns for an appearance at the 2012 SXSW in Austin, Texas. 

Joe has been elected to the Austin Music Hall of Fame and received the Lifetime Achievement from the Texas Music Academy.  

 

Lisa Loeb

Lisa Anne Loeb was born in Maryland ( 1968 ) , but raised in Dallas, Texas.  She attended Hockaday School for Girls and Brown University , graduating in 1990.  Initially a pianist she took up guitar and attended a summer session ( 1990 ) at the Berklee School of Music in Boston.

Early on Lisa worked with Elizabeth Mitchell as a duet, but  while at Berklee she formed a full band named "Nine Stories ".  The band was prolific and produced her song "Stay(I Missed You )". 

Her big break came while living in New York. She met Ethan Hawke and began providing music for his plays .  Hawke, in turn was instrumental in having her song "Stay" included in the movie "Reality Bites". 

Lisa's accomplishments are legion and include music, children's music, her own line of eyewear, acting ( film and TV), the Camp Lisa Foundation , a non-profit to send kids to summer camp, which is funded by her own line of coffee ( Wake Up! Brew ) and even a TV cooking show with Dweezle Zappa.  

In 2017 , she constructed a cross-word puzzle for the New York Times.   

This is one remarkable lady. 

Lady Wilde and the Warlocks

No recounting of Dallas bands in the mid 60's ( specifically 1965 ) would be credible without  mention of Lady Wilde and the Warlocks.    The group was actually called the Warlocks and consisted of Rocky and Joe ( Dusty )  Hill , Phillip Vickery , and Kean McClelland .  On occasion they would team up with Marie Smith ( Lady Wilde ).  The group recorded a single titled "Poor Kid" backed with "Another Day" on ARA Records and was credited to  Lady Wilde.  

In time the Warlocks would pick up drummer Frank Beard and form the American Blues, while Billy Gibbons, in Houston, joined a group called "the Moving Side Walks"  

 

In 1969  Dusty Hill and Frank Beard found themselves in Houston. They got together with Billy Gibbons and the rest, as they say, is history. Forty six years and 50 million in albums sales later , ZZ TOP was  elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. 

The Jades

The Jades were organized by Jack Calmes at Highland Park High School. Calmes would later say that he formed the band to compete for dances, parties and store openings with The Marksmen from St Mark's High School The Jades produced a locally successful single entitled She's "So Tough" , and followed that with an album which suffered lack of distribution  and promotion. 

 

Members came and went and when Calmes graduated from high school he decided to remain in Dallas and attend SMU. 

The Jades were well known on the party circuit and frequent entertainers at at a Dallas Club called the Disc-A-GoGo.,as well as the Dallas institution known as Louanns as well as a few short lived venues including the Pirate's Nook and the Three Thieves. 

When the British invasion occurred around 1964, the Jades found it hard to compete although their musicianship was as good as anyone in town.

Never fear, however, Calmes soon teamed with  a college friend , Jack Maxson and together formed a business to supply bands with sound equipment.  In 1967, Calmes married Dallas actress-to-be Morgan Fairchild. The Calmes-Maxson  company , Showco would go on to be an industry leader in sound and lighting, culminating in the 1980's with their biggest success, the computer controlled color and movement stage lighting known as Vari-Light.   The company won Primetime Emmy's for technical achievement in 1991, 94 and 2001. 

Jack Calmes and Jack Maxson died in 2015 and 2016 respectively. 

These are live recordings made by Buddy Boron in 1964

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The Outcasts / Blues Bag / Bennie Darvon

In the mid 60"s and beyond, there were and are bands called "The Outcasts" in almost every part of the country.  

During the 60's surge in rock and roll there were two bands named the Outcasts in Texas. One in Houston and one in Dallas. 

This article will concern the Dallas group .  Their story is unique. 

In or around 1965 several students from Highland Park High School in Dallas formed a musical group consisting of Clint Denman ( guitar ) , David Davis (drums) , Wally Wilson (bass) and a keyboardist. 

They were a good cover band and wrote a few songs here and there.   At any rate, when they emerged as a group they were called the Outcasts and had a record deal with DOT records.   Further, their DOT producer was Tommy (Snuff ) Garrett who assigned them to DOT's A&R man, Leon Russell ( before his personal stardom days ) . Over the first year or so they played local clubs and TV shows and pretty much blended into the Dallas rock scene. 

In 1966, Marc Benno, another Highland Park graduate joined the band and brought with him extra energy and a James Brown-styled show.  Within a few months they changed their name to " the Blues Bag  featuring Bennie Darvon, the White Tornado"  They usually appeared with other bands, doing one or two of their carefully choreographed performances. It is a damned shame no one seems to have any film of the show.  The show was usually well received but by 1967, "real" soul music was coming on strong and the blues Bag Bennie Show began to  lose momentum.  With little or no help from DOT records and white folks going to see real black/soul acts, the Blues Bag-Bennie Darvon -Outcast guys drifted apart.

Wally Wilson formed a group called Wally Wilson and Hot Sauce, eventually moving out of state.  Marc ( Bennie Darvon ) Benno went to California and is said to have lived with Leon Russell for a while and becoming a integral part of the Asylum  Choir.   Benno's contribution to the sound tract of the movie Beverly Hills Cop won him a Grammy. Since the 80's Beno has performed solo and with various groups. 

 

Brave Combo

Austin has become the apparent capital of Texas music, but there was, and still is Denton, Texas 25 miles north of Dallas.  Denton has long been known for producing serious , and I mean really serious jazz musicians for well over sixty years.  This is due to the music program at the University of North Texas and it's Grammy winning Jazz lab band.  

A lot of very talented musicians have called Denton home, but few as unique, inventive and fun as Brave Combo.   Formed in 1979 by Carl Finch the combo has entertained  hippy Be-ins, Octoberfest parties, concert goers, musical sophisticates and even the country and western crowd for four decades.  Their music ?  Atomic Polka ! The term doesn't begin to describe the array of styles and arrangements they perform.  They do play polka music, but mixed with Tex-Mex, rock and roll, jazz , folk music and anything short of Vietnamese country-western, although I'm sure they're working on it. 

Fun is the name of their game, but they are a very talented group of musicians, the group has been nominated seven times for a Grammy and won twice.  They perform across the country to throngs who dance, bunny hop and do the chicken flap to their music .  They still play in Denton, but were also the band that played at David Byrne's wedding reception. 

I enthusiastically recommend that anyone who has never seen them do so and check out their website at Bravecombo.com.

Ed Burnet and the Levee Singers

Levee Singers Music

The History of the Levee Singers

Very few individuals have done as much to promote music, musicians and recording in the Dallas area as Ed Burnet . 

Burnet is a native of Highland Park ( a suburb of Dallas ) , a graduate of Highland Park High School and SMU .  He played football at SMU , then a short stint with the Pittsburg Steelers ( 1955 ) followed by the AFL's Dallas Texans  ( now the Kansas City Chiefs )   in 1960.  Ending his football career in early1960, Ed turned to music and formed the "Dixieland Seven'.  In 1961 he contacted the owner of the Dallas Sovereign Club ( Jack Ruby ) for a place to perform, but could never reach a mutually acceptable agreement. 

Later in 1961 he purchased and renovated a small club on Mockingbird Lane and named it the Levee Club.   In March 1961 the Levee opened with the Dixieland Seven as the weekend headliner.  During weeknights, the Levee Banjo Band played, later named the Levee Singers.   Two of the members were already well-known players, including Ronnie Dawson and Marvin "Smokey" Montgomery, both prior members of the "Light Crust Dough Boys" 

Working with a Los Angeles based agent, the Levee Singers appeared on multiple TV shows, including the Jimmy Dean Show, the Danny Kaye Show, and Hollywood Palace.   The Levee Singers also made appearances in Las Vegas. 

The Levee Club was sold then closed in 1970. 

Throughout the 1960s, Burnet also entered the recording industry, opening Sumet Sound ( later Sumet Burnet ) Studio, with engineer Bob Sullivan.  Sumet was a popular studio with local and national musicians.  Kenny and the Kasuals recorded, "Journey to Tyme " at Sumet Sound Studio in 1966. 

Jimmy Vaughn and the Fabulous Thunderbirds as well as the Rolling Stones also used the studio when in Dallas.  The studio was a working enterprise and productive into the late 1980s. 

The Levee Singers celebrated their 50th Anniversary at The Pocket Sandwich Theater in Dallas ( actually down the street from the old Levee Club location in 2011. 

Thanks Ed.

Neal Ford and the Fanatics

Shiva's Headband

Edie Brickell and New Bohemians

B.W. Stephenson

Willis Alan Ramsey