THE OUTSPOKEN BLUES ca. 1967. L-R: J im Carmody,  Dave Luoma,  John Pencak, Chris Christopherson, Monty Sigurdsson, Jim Stanley, and Steve Wypych

Released on Chicago's highly collectable Orlyn label, The Outspoken Blues' "You're A Better Man Than I" b/w "Not Right Now" 45 has become of the most highly sought after of all '60's records. While the single is without question one of the finest examples of '60's garage rock, The Outspoken Blues performed mainly "softer rock" and, like other rock groups from Chicago, routinely featured horns. Fronted by Jim Stanley, the group at times also included Jim's brother Bob - who himself was a member of The Bryds, another Chicago group with a classic garage rock 45 under their belts. The Outspoken Blues and The Bryds both released one sole 45, but the Blues also recorded an entire LP that was never released. Jim Stanley explains why - and provides the lowdown on both groups - in this exclusive interview for 60sgaragebands.com.

An Interview with Jim Stanley of The Outspoken Blues:

60sgaragebands.com (60s): How did you first get interested in music?

Jim Stanley (JS): My family is very musical. My parents, my three brothers, and one sister were all singers. I remember singing at parties my mother had for $.50 when I was five or six years old. I started playing the clarinet when I was in first grade, but switched to the baritone horn in second grade (the baritone belonged to the school). In third grade, my family moved from Waukegan, Illinois to North Chicago Illinois, and the band instructor in North Chicago said I was better suited for the cornet, so I started playing the cornet. I still have that cornet. I stayed with that through high school, where I was the first chair soloist in the high school band. My older brother (Glenn) played Clarinet and still sings. When my brothers Glenn, Bob and I get together, our voices blend very well together when we sing in harmony.

60s: The Empires was your first band, correct?

JS:  My brother, Bob, and I started The Empires probably in 1963, right before The Beatles came out. Bob had been playing guitar for only seven months, but was becoming a pretty good guitarist. I had gone to several dances where live local bands performed and I thought that we could do that. The first incarnation of what was to become The Empires included Bob on guitar, me on bass, and a not very good drummer. I was lousy on bass guitar, and neither Bob nor I even knew how to tune it correctly. I knew of another band that was breaking up. I don't remember that band's name, but, I got in touch with the rhythm guitarist, Tom Nelson, and he knew Tim Wagner who also played rhythm guitar and we had the makings of the band that became The Empires.

We all met at my parent's house. Bob was nervous because he thought they might make fun of him because he thought he wasn't very good on guitar yet. It turned out that Bob was better than they were, so he became the lead guitarist. Tim switched to bass guitar, using my Danelctro bass, and Bob used Tim Wagner's Silvertone Guitar. We got Bill Levak to play drums. He was in high school with my brother, and they also played Little League baseball together. The five of us became The Empires.

  • Bob Stanley - Lead guitar and lead vocals
  • Tom Nelson - Rhythm guitar and vocals
  • Tim Wagner - Bass guitar
  • Bill Levak - Drums
  • Jim Stanley - Vocals and tambourine

I didn't really play an instrument with the band. I was still pretty lousy on the bass guitar, but I practiced a lot on guitar.

60s: Did The Empires perform in public often?

JS: The Empires played at a lot of local functions. The big thing at that time was playing at "Hangout" at the local YMCA on Friday or Saturday nights. My brother said that when we started playing there we were paid a total of $20.00. I think we got $150.00 for the night but I really don't remember. Money, at that time, was secondary to performing before a live audience. Later on, it started paying the bills.

60s: Why did The Empires later split and segment into two different bands: The Bryds and The Outspoken Blues?

JS: I left the band in early 1965 and moved to California to go to college (and get a deferment). The Empires continued on as a four-man group. I returned from California in the summer and brought two records with me. One was "Wooly Bully" and the other was "Gloria" (by Them). The Empires were the first band in Illinois to perform those songs in public. "Gloria" wasn't being played in the Chicago area because of the lyrics. The Shadows Of Knight did a butchering of the song.

THE BRYDS ca. 1966. L-R: Yanez Jamnik, Bob Stanley, Bayard Jones, Dave Inman, Jim Wesley
Bob was becoming a very, very good lead guitarist. He went to school with a couple of the guys who were in The Bryds: Frank Laurie, rhythm guitar and vocals and Dave Inman, bass guitar. The Bryds were a very good band, and played the type of music that Bob liked to play - that is, more guitar-oriented. Frank's dad was the band director at our junior high school. He was also a trumpet player and taught me how to play the cornet. He also taught his son, Frankie, Jr., how to play the trumpet. Bob replaced Frank Laurie in The Bryds when Frankie's father got a new job in Springfield, Illinois and the family moved there..

I was more into vocal and harmony stuff. So, Bob joined The Bryds, and Tom Nelson and Bill Levak went with me to join up with Bill Kirchmeyer (lead guitar) and Jim Korn (bass guitar and vocals). And, rather than get drafted into the Army, Tim Wagner joined the Air Force.  So, that was the end of The Empires.

60s: Jim Korn and Bill Kirchmeyer were both previously with Beat Incorporated.

JS: The only thing I remember about Beat Incorporated was that they had two drummers, which was very unusual at that time. I knew Jim because he lived nearby and went to the same high school as Bob and I did - North Chicago Community High School.

60s: Where did you locate John Pencak from?

JS: Bill Kirchmeyer found John Pencak.  I think he was in another band but we were becoming better known and he joined us.

60s: How much later after The Outspoken Blues formed did he join?

JS: It was maybe six months or so after The Outspoken Blues were formed.

60s: What year did The Outspoken Blues form?

JS: The Outspoken Blues were formed in early 1966.

60s: Why did you decide on the name "Outspoken Blues"? You never really played the blues, did you?

JS: Bob came up with the name. I can't say that I particularly liked it, but the band needed a name. We did play Rhythm and Blues, but not when the band started.

THE OUTSPOKEN BLUES ca. 1967. L-R: Steve Wypych, Jim Carmody, Jim Stanley (top), Chris Christopherson (center), John Pencak (bottom), Dave Luoma, Monty Sigurdsson

60s: We're printing a photo of the band that includes Ray Spoor, Glen Holverson, and Dave Luoma. Where did they fit into the picture?

JS: When Bob left The Outspoken Blues and formed The Bryds he took Bill Levak, our drummer, and Dave Luoma (who replaced Jim Korn) with him. So, Ray Spoor replaced Bill Levak and Steve Wypych replaced Dave Luoma...so that's Steve Wypych and not Dave Luoma. The photo is blurry so it's hard to tell. Glen Holverson joined us in 1967 or 1968 when we started playing R&B stuff. He was a great saxophone player. I also started playing the saxophone along with the cornet at that time. I remembered how to play a reed instrument from when I played the clarinet in first or second grade. I played the saxophone by ear, and Glen helped me when I needed it. Usually I would just search for whatever notes I was supposed to play until I found them. I didn't play any sax leads. I wasn't that good; except for one Temptations song where the lead was only one note. I could play one note pretty well! The only problem was that playing the saxophone screwed up my embouchure (I had to look that up in the dictionary) so that I couldn't play the screeching notes on cornet anymore.

60s: How would you describe the band's sound? What bands influenced you?

JS: When we first started performing we did some Beatles songs but mostly softer rock music. I don't know if we had a "sound" per se. Initially, we did a lot of cover material by The Animals as well as The Lovin' Spoonful, The Bee Gees, The Turtles, The Rascals, The Righteous Brothers, Spencer Davis Group, Moody Blues, Vanilla Fudge, Yardbirds, Rolling Stones, James Brown, and even some Tijuana Brass, etc. We only played one or two Beatles songs. We'd play whatever songs were popular and Top 40 material. They were all influences on the band. 

Later on we played music by Junior Walker and The All Stars, Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd, and Wilson Pickett; more R&B-oriented with horns.

60s: Did The Outspoken Blues participate in any battle of the bands?

JS: The only battle of the bands we were in was with The Bryds. We'd rent out a hall and have a battle. Sometimes they'd win; sometimes we'd win. One thing that I thought was interesting was that when The Bryds played, there would be a group of guys in the front of the stage watching my brother play guitar. He was very, very good by then. When we played, there would be a group of girls in the front of the stage. We had some good-looking guys in our band.

60s: How far was the band's "touring" territory?

JS: We played primarily in Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin.

60s: What were some of the national groups that The Outspoken Blues either opened for or played with?

JS: We opened for Creedence Clearwater, The Vogues, Cryan' Shames, and a lot of groups that had their first or second record out but weren't playing in the large venues yet. We opened a lot of times for The Turtles.

60s: Did you play any of the local Chicago teen clubs?

JS: We helped start and played in a club circuit (that we called the "teeny bop clubs") for three or four years. There were several clubs located in the northern Chicago suburbs, and they were all 21 and under clubs. They were owned by a guy named Don Manhardt, and a Chicago disc jockey named Dex Card (who later became our manager). Manhardt and Card ran the Green Gorilla (Cicero), the New Place (Algonquin), the Wild Goose (Waukegan), the Wild Goose 2 (Lake Villa), the Pink Panther (Deerfield), and the Cave (Libertyville). We also played at the Cellar (Arlington Heights) and other Chicago area clubs. There were a lot of clubs to play at in the Chicago suburbs. Plus, there were two late night bars in Park City (which is right outside Waukegan) such as the Mouse Trap (later called the Night Gallery), and a club next door called Down The Street. (We also played) the numerous bars and clubs in Chicago. We were booked maybe four nights a week at those clubs, and then we played fairly often at a local girl's Catholic high school named Holy Child. We also traveled to Wisconsin and played in some bars up there. Also, we rented out a local hall and held our own dances there. We were always busy.

60s: How did you hook up with Dex Card?

JS: Initially, we didn't have a manager. I guess we felt we didn't need one. We did start using a talent agent who booked us into bars in Wisconsin. We used to hire disk jockeys from the two main rock stations in Chicago, WLS and WCFL, to host the dances we put on ourselves.  Dex Card was one of those disk jockeys. And, we got to know him and I guess he liked us. Later Dex Card became our manager. He brought the band to Chicago to see Kenny Rogers and The First Edition in their first public performance. We were there to meet with some A&R guys from Warner Brothers/Seven Arts Records. Dex also played our record on his station as often as he could.

60s: What were the circumstances leading to the recording of the Orlyn single?

JS: We wanted to record a 45.  So, we looked in the phone book for a recording studio in Chicago. We saw a listing for "Recordings Unlimited", called them and went there in the afternoon to record two songs: "Mister, You're A Better Man Than I" and "Not Right Now".

60s: What do you recall about the recording session?

JS: The studio was on the seventh or eight floor. It had two two-track tape decks and was very primitive. They'd bounce from one deck to the other. It was sort of a poor man's overdubbing. We were there until late. Towards the end of the session, one of the engineers, a black guy, opened up a window, threw out a water filled balloon, and yelled like Tarzan. It was funny at the time.

All of our other songs were recorded at Talbert Studios in Chicago
John Talbert owned the studio. He had a four-track Crown tape deck, which was used for the master. When we recorded there, we could overdub some of the parts. The studio had very good equipment for its time. We never had to pay for studio time. We had horns in the band and in return for studio time we agreed to play horns for other sessions when he needed us.

When I sang the vocals, I'd have to put up a screen so I couldn't see the other guys in the band. I was self-conscious. They'd either make me laugh, or make me nervous.

60s: The Orlyn single lists the A-side as "Misty You're A Better Man Than I" (instead of "Mister").

JS: We thought they were pretty stupid for misspelling the name. I don't really know why we chose that song. We didn't have a great lead guitarist; maybe we just liked the song.

60s: What was the line-up when you recorded the single?

JS:  Bill Kirchmeyer, Jim Korn, John Pencak, Bill Levak, and Jim Stanley!

60s: Why didn't you sing lead on "Not Right Now"?

JS: We had two lead singers.  I sang one song and Jim Korn sang the other.

60s: Did you used to play "Not Right Now" live?  What type of reaction did it receive live?

JS: Well, "Not Right Now", was supposed to be the B-side of the recording. You can't have an A-side without a B-side. We did play the song live many times, and it did get a good reception, but the other song got the airplay. We never thought of that song as something special. But, towards the end of the song, it was fun running my fingers up and down the neck of the bass guitar. That song was written by Tom Nelson, but the arrangement was a collaboration of all of the guys in the band.

60s: Did The Outspoken Blues write many original songs?

JS: We wrote several songs. Bob wrote several songs for us. Of the first incarnation of the band, Tom Nelson and I were the primary songwriters, but most of the songs we played were cover songs.  In later versions of the band, Steve Wypych and I wrote the songs.

60s: Besides The Bryds single, Bob wrote songs that were recorded by The Flock, and Michael & The Messengers, and Cherry Slush. How did he get his songs in the hands of these other bands?

JS: The Bryds rented some studio time at a studio either owned or used by U.S.A. Records. U.S.A. Records had several Chicago area groups signed to their label. One of the owners of the record company heard the songs The Bryds were recording, and asked Bob if some of the U.S.A. Records artists could record them. Not knowing much about the music business at the time, my brother said yes. That's how Bob met Bob Monaco (later a record producer in Los Angeles) and Jim Golden (who became a Talent Agent in Los Angeles at Management Three), the two guys who owned Destination and U.S.A. Records. They gave Bob a tape recorder and Bob would record his songs and let Monaco and Golden hear them. Bob was a staff writer for U.S.A./Destination Records except he didn't get paid by the record company; and after the songs were recorded and released he never got paid for writing the songs. He was never paid for the mechanical licenses like he should have been. Monaco and Golden didn't pay the royalties that were owed. Bob was only 15 or 16 when he wrote some of the songs for them. After I became an attorney, I got the copyrights to all of Bob's songs back from them.

60s: Do any other Outspoken Blues recordings exist? Are there any vintage live recordings, or unreleased tracks?

JS: There are no live recordings of The Outspoken Blues that exist of which I'm aware. I still have the tape (now recorded onto a CD) of the album that The Outspoken Blues recorded.

60s: Apparently the album was recorded for Mercury.  What year was it recorded, and why was it never released?

JS: It was recorded in 1967. We self-produced the album. Mercury Records, based in Chicago, was interested in the group based on our self-produced album. When they heard our demo, for some reason, they thought I was a black singer. But they lost interest when they found out I was a blue-eyed blonde. Also, the song we wanted to release had just been released by another Mercury group.

60s: Did the band make any local TV appearances? Does any home Movie film footage exist of the band?

JS: No. We never performed on TV, local or otherwise…but I think one of my ex-fiancées has a home movie of the two of us. However, the rest of the band isn't in it.

60s: Why did The Bryds breakup, and whose idea was it to have Bob join The Outspoken Blues?  What year would this have been in?

JS: I'm not sure, anymore, why The Bryds broke up. I think the other guitarist (Jim Wesley) was going to leave for college, but I'm not sure. I think it was in the spring of 1967. It was my idea to have Bob join The Outspoken Blues. We had talented musicians, strong vocals, and horns. It was a very powerful group. Musically and vocally, that was the best band I was ever in. But, that particular line-up only lasted for one summer. My brother (then) left to form a group called The Brydes.

60s: How many of the same members of The Bryds were in the reformed Brydes after Bob left The Outspoken Blues?

JS: I think only Dave Inman, the bass player, was in the reformed Brydes. The Brydes were, initially, a seven-piece group. They had two trumpets and a violinist.

60s: What year and why did The Outspoken Blues break up?

JS: The Outspoken Blues broke up in 1968. The Outspoken Blues went from being a seven-piece group with horns, to a four-piece band without horns. I think we were all just tired of the travel and performing.

60s: What about The Brydes?

JS: The Brydes went from a seven-piece group to a three-piece group, and I think broke up in 1971.

60s: What year did The Prod form?

JS: The Prod formed in 1968.  The lineup was:

  • Bill Kirchmeyer - Lead guitar
  • Jim (Butch) Maynard - Drums
  • Gary Myers - Organ
  • Herb Eimerman - Bass guitar and vocals
  • Jim Stanley - Bass Guitar and vocals

Herb Eimerman left The Prod to join Hot Mama Silver with Bob, replacing Dave Inman. But it's really hard to remember the time lines of when one band ended and another started. Hot Mama Silver was a three-piece group initially.

60s: Did The Prod record?

JS: Yes, we did record two songs.  Bob wrote one of the songs we recorded.

60s: How do you best summarize your experiences with The Outspoken Blues?

JS: Those were the greatest times of my life. I can talk about what went on, but unless you lived through it you'll never really understand or know what it was really like. I met the girl I'm still in love with. She was one of the most beautiful persons in looks and personality that I ever met. The music scene in the Chicago area back then was great: A lot of clubs to play at, just having a good time. It was a great time to be in a band. It was the most fun, and the best experience, I've ever had. I still have many close friends from back then. I only wish that I knew then what I know now. It was just a great time!

Jim Korn Recalls The Outspoken Blues

I basically got interested in music in the grade school band. I played the trumpet. Beat Incorporated was my first band (and included) Bill Kirchmeyer, Rick Finn, Dick Robards and Ron Granna. I provided vocals. In joined that band in late 1965. Bill played guitar, Rick played drums, Ron played guitar and Dick played bass. I played usually every weekend, Friday and Saturday nights. Later, Rick Finn wanted out of the band and Dick Robards got married.
Bill Levak (new drummer), Bill Kirchmeyer (lead), John Pencak (keyboards), Jim Stanley (bass and vocals) and I (bass and vocals) became The Outspoken Blues in early 1966.

We played mostly covers of The Animals, Stones, and Motown like The Temptations, and Sam and Dave.

We didn't have a manager but we hooked up with a local businessman, Don Manhardt and a Chicago deejay, Dex Card. They rented out VFWs, Legion Halls, etc. on weekends and would have live bands play.  We became the number one band and would usually appear with Dex Card at several places on any given night. These places included The Green Gorilla, The Coop, The Cave, The Wild Goose and a big barn that may have been called The Barn, but I'm not sure. They were all between Chicago and Northern Illinois. We were in a couple of battle of the bands. We won the only two we were in.

While I was with the band, we opened for The Turtles one time and after I got drafted they opened for The Vogues several times.  We mostly worked Northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

I remember our Orlyn recording session in Chicago like it was yesterday. It took 17 takes for "Not Right Now" and 22 takes for "Mister, You're A Better Man Than I". I sang "Not Right Now" and played bass on "Mister, You're A Better Man Than I" and Jim Stanley played bass on "Not Right Now" and sang lead on "Mister, You're A Better Man Than I".

"Not Right Now" was the only original song while I was with the band. I got drafted November, 1966.

I can't tell you exactly when the band broke up, but when I came home in '68 they had broken up already.

The band was gas; I had a lot of good times and I still stay in touch with Jim Stanley.

"Groupie" J. Hines Recalls The Outspoken Blues

I met the band as a result of being part of a blind date, which was set up by a friend of one of the band members, the organ player, John Pencak. John and I didn't hit it off right away but gave it another try and dated for about six months. After that I was a friend of the band. I later dated Bill Levak, the drummer, briefly but we were better as friends; it was the same with Jim Stanley.

I know it sounds really bad...but I was just friends. I started making posters to advertise where The Outspoken Blues would be playing; I think that's when I became an honorary "groupie" and they just always let me travel with them locally and of course be the first one there.

They played mostly Friday and or Saturday nights during the school year at places like the Slovenic Hall, the Lituanian Hall (?), and high schools and, during the summer, played Monday nights. I didn't go on any overnights. Another place they played at was the Wild Goose.  I believe a deejay of that time, Dex Card, was owner or part owner.  It used to a bowling alley.
They played current music for the time and a lot of favorites. Whenever I hear certain songs I still think of them: "Midnight Hour", My Girl", "Summer in the City", "Brown Eyed Girl", "Hey Joe" - and Motown was popular, Van Morrison, The Young Rascals… we're talkin' the mid '60's and early '70's.

Everyone pretty much knew everyone. Most people danced and a lot of kids went just to see what was goin' on or who they could pick-up.  And even though I was 16 or 17 and they were 18 or 21 they were bigger than life.  I always felt special; honored to be allowed to be a part of the band - and of course there was the "talk" about me (and a couple other girls) that wasn't very flattering. But the relationship I had with Jim and the rest of the band was as a friend. Good friends...and Jim and I are still friends. I think that was a time of transition.

The Funky Broadway and Boogaloo were very popular with the white kids even though it was the blacks that made the dance.  It was definitely the beginning of some changes for blacks and whites (Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were shot during this period).  A lot of mixed feelings came out in the music, too; hippies influenced our dress and hair and I remember radical changes in people.  Pot was becoming very popular.  The bands started out wearing jackets and ties and in two years time went very "mod" or hippie, and short hair to long hair.  Knee length skirts went to mini skirts.

There were a lot of changes and the bands all reflected the changes; and when they changed the rest of us changed. They were big influences.

I knew quite a few other bands, too, only because the bands would all go to each other's "gigs". The Brydes, Bob Stanley's, band seemed to be better known at first and I think they played at different places. A few other bands played often, but weren't as strong and didn't create a real following, even though some of them were very good.

A typical Outspoken Blues performance was a lot of energy.  They all tried to have light shows - or so they thought. The guys all tried to make all the girls think they were singing to them.  They did sets, took a few breaks. They had fun and we had fun.  Most people stayed to the end.  There was almost always a cop or two (usually the same ones), almost always a fight or two, and someone puking.  The places were always smoke filled.  There were always groups of cliques - the popular kids, the surfers, the greasers, the hippies, and the few of us who knew we were the really special kids because we were "with the band."

"Copyrighted and originally printed on www.60sgaragebands.com by Mike Dugo". Text revised by Jim Stanley and Rolf R. for The Outspoken Blues CD with bonus tracks by The Bryds made by Feathered Apple Records in 2008.

The Outspoken Blues biography by Jim Stanley:

The Empires, The Bryds, The Outspoken Blues, The Prod, and Hot Mama Silver were all "garage bands" that were formed, and began performing, in the 60's, or early 70's! One common thread for the five groups was that either my younger brother, Robert A. Stanley (Bob), or I, James K. Stanley (Jim), was a member of the group.

Bob (Lead Guitar) and I started the group, The Empires, in 1963, along with Tom Nelson (Rhythm Guitar) and Tim Wagner (Bass Guitar). We added Bill Levak (Drums)! I left the group in early 1965 to return to college. 

The Empires broke up in late 1965, when one of the members of the group, Tim Wagner, decided to join the Air Force rather then get drafted.

Two of the three remaining members of the group, Bill Levak (Drums) and Tom Nelson (Rhythm Guitar), myself (Bass Guitar/Vocals), along with Bill Kirchmeyer (Lead Guitar) and Jim Korn (Bass Guitar/Vocals), (from a group named Beat Incorporated), then formed the Outspoken Blues. A short time later, John Pencak (organ), joined our group, and Tom Nelson left the group.

We then went into a recording studio in Chicago (Recordings Unlimited), and recorded a demo record with "You're A Better Man Than I", and "Not Right Now" being the two cuts. We had 900 copies of the record pressed on Orlyn Records. I sang the vocals on "You're A Better Man Than I", and Jim Korn recorded the vocals on "Not Right Now"! (The Outspoken Blues' 45 has since become a valuable collector's item.) 

Jim Korn was then drafted, and he was replaced by Dave Luoma. The group eventually went through several personnel changes, including Ray Spoor, and later Jim Carmody, on Drums, and Steve Wypych on Bass Guitar.

John Pencak and myself, were the only individuals who were members the whole time the group was in existence!

Glenn Holverson was our original Saxophone player. He was great. He was later replaced by Rick Shultis. Chris Christopherson was added later on to play Trumpet when we had a small horn section.

Bob Stanley left The Empires and joined The Bryds, as lead guitarist, a group that had recorded two songs that he wrote for them ("Your Lies" and "Why Did You Have To Break My Heart"). After The Bryds broke up, Bob became a member of The Outspoken Blues for the summer of 1967, helping to create the strongest vocal and instrumental version of the group.

Bob left the 'Blues in the autumn of 1967, and reformed The Bryds, adding an "e" to the group's name to become The Brydes. He added two trumpets and a violin!

With the breakup of The Outspoken Blues in 1969, Jim again joined Bill Kirchmeyer (along with Herb Eimerman (Bass Guitar/Vocals), Gary Rosberg (Organ) and Larry (Butch) Maynard (Drums), in a group called The Prod. With the eventual breakup of The Prod in 1971, Herb Eimerman joined Bob Stanley to form Hot Mama Silver!

Jim Stanley and Bill Kirchmeyer formed a 10 piece group that played one time. The group featured piano, organ, two guitars, bass, drums, and 3 female backup singers! Bill Kirchmeyer and Bob Stanley were the guitar players for that performance at a high school prom!

A few words from Tom Nelson

THE COLOURS OF AUTUMN (1967) Ken Chrzanowski (Drums, Vocals), Tom Nelson (Guitar, Vocals), John Leonowitz (Lead Guitar, Vocals), Charlie Alden (Bass Guitar, Vocals), Kent Youngberg (Organ, Vocals)

My first band was The Cavaliers, a trio of myself, Tim Wagner (bass player for The Empires), and Steve Kelly on drums, later replaced by Ray TruskyWe played instrumentals, stuff like Wipeout, or Ghost Riders in the Sky.

The Cavaliers played the annual talent show at our high school, Waukegan Township, in Waukegan, Illinois in March of 1963, and brought the house down! We were the first rock band to play at a school talent show! I think that maybe that is where Jim may have heard of Tim and I, and contacted us about joing up with Bob and him to form The Empires. The Cavaliers were only together for about a year.

I think The Outspoken Blues first gig was at the Hangout in Waukegan, Illinois, but I don't remember the date. probably spring of '66, as the last gig for The Empires was November of '65. The reason I think that was our first gig is because Bill Kirtchmeyer, our lead guitar player, was working there, and probably got us in there.

I think you are right, I did not play on Not Right Now, as I think I left about a month before they went into the Orlyn studio. 

The Colours of Autumn was a band I joined after leaving The Outspoken Blues. It was just a local band in the Waukegan area. We played a lot of Animals, Beatles, Stones and some original stuff, also. We played together for about a year and a half, broke up in 1968, I think. I did about 1/2 the singing. 

The Colours of Autumn was made up of John Leonowitz, (lead guitar and vocals), Charlie Alden, (bass and vocals), Kent Youngberg, (Farfisa organ) Kent can't be seen in the pic below, as he is behind Charlie, Ken Chrzanowski, (drums), and myself, (rythym guitar and vocals)

Sorry, no tapes or anything recorded of the Colours of Autumn. I do have an old, terrible sounding cassette tape of The Empires at our last gig together! Over 40 years old now!! Sounds terrible, and I'm trying to get it restored, but not much luck so far. 

The Colours Of Autumn on stage, ca. 1967

I hope to at least play on "Not Right Now" during the reunion, as I did write the lyrics and melody, and also the encores, but it's up to Jim. There were so many of us in the 'Blues over the years, we might not all fit on the stage!! But I plan to be there at the reunion!

Thanks to Jim Stanley, Mike Dugo (60sgaragebands.com), Tom Nelson, and Bob Stanley.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8/22/2014

    Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s in the Waukegan - North Chicago area I clearly remember the music of the Bryds and the Syns played at Slovenic Hall and Lithuanian Hall. These two halls hosted dance band music for our parents' generation in the 1940s. Many of us were conceived by parents who met at these halls. But in the mid to late 1960s the music was so ELECTRIC...so LOUD.. so NEW. I can still see and feel the dark hall overflowing with teenagers dancing to the throbbing music on Friday and Saturday nights. I swear those halls vibrated and shook to their foundations. The Bryds and the Syns raised our musical consciousness by playing the latest from the Animals, Yardbirds, Stones and Van Morrisons' Them among others. Who can forget the Bryds version of the Animals' version of the song "Bury my body" ("Lord I don't care where they..)? Who can forget my Lithuanian brother Mr. Michael Zaugra (RIP) singing with the Syns and suddenly jumping from the stage onto the dance floor to start what had to be one of the very first MOSH PITS ever while Jack Kostoff (RIP) kept time on the drums.? PO-DO they called it. I called it special. I still do. In my.minds-eye I can see my other Lithuanian brother Mr.Frank Zavaski wandering the floor and keeping an eye on things as good band managers do. Or how about John Jamnik, my little league team mate hunched over the keyboards (was that a Farfisa?) making serious music? Because of these guys I found the power and beauty of music for the rest of my life. I bought albums, listened to every word and eventually picked up a guitar and became a self - taught musician. Now I'm 65. I'm retired and enjoying life in Florida. But I still remember. Thanks guys. God Bless you each and ever one.