Category Archives: Docu

5 min
7 Jul
2014

The Hooterville Trolley

The Hooterville Trolley, a band formed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, released only one single. It’s a 1968 release on Lynnette Records, No Silver Bird/The Warmth Of Love. I first heard No Silver Bird about 6 years ago, as it had been reissued on Stoned Circus. I decided to buy it after hearing only the first five seconds of the song. I had never heard such an ominous, spacey, yet groovy intro. I wanted to know more about this beautiful song and contacted Bill Chreist, the organist of the band.

Norman Petty, an influential artist who for example co-wrote a lot of Buddy Holly hits, had a studio in Clovis, New Mexico. It was this studio where the Hooterville Trolley recorded their single. Norman had just received a new machine, which he dubbed a String Machine. He wanted to use this machine on their single.

We liked what he did with it so we printed the records with his string machine in the back ground which gave it a new unique sound that we liked.

The reception of the single was good, though no big success. It was very popular in the band’s hometown Albuquerque, but nationally it didn’t get much airplay. The band never earned any money with their release. Producer Tommy Bee, who produced the song, paid for the recording time and therefore retained ownership of the masters. A nasty move by Tommy Bee is that he released No Silver Bird again on an album by The Magic Sand, he changed the title into Get Ready To Fly.

He later released it under a made up name of Magic Sand but it was our exact recording but that was done without our approval.

As I’m always curious what other artists influenced a band, I asked Bill for theirs.

We were influenced by a lot of the bands of the time including the Buffalo Springfield and The Seeds whom we played for as their opening act when they played in town. Chicago Transit Authority was another favorite band of ours at the time.

Bill recalls doing shows in New Mexico, Colorado and Oklahoma in 1968, which he claims couldn’t have happened without the release of their single (which by the way has been sold a copy of on ebay last year for an astonishing 699 dollars!!!! I’ll stick to my reissue). In the same year they broke up as they graduated from high school. Most of them went to college, anyway they all went their own way.

No Silver Bird is one of my favorite cuts from the sixties, hard to put into a category. Bill himself calls it Psychedelic Rock, but for me it goes beyond that.

5 min
7 Jul
2014

Alan Hawkshaw

It is a great honor for me having the opportunity to talk with the Champ himself, the man who gives the keys a Fuel Injection. I’m talking about Alan Hawkshaw! The name might not ring a bell to everyone, but some of his work will. The man played with Serge Gainsbourg, The Shadows, Dusty Springfield, Cerrone and The Mohawks, just to name a few. He was one of the most groovy, influential and contributing musicians of the british Library scene, for labels such as KPM and Bruton. He recently released his autobiography called: The Champ -The Hawk Talks.

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When did music start for you, not necessarily as a musician, but in general? What, for example, was the first record you remember buying? 

Music was always being played in my house even as I was born. Mostly classical, with a little jazz here and there. As I was learning a language by listening to my parents speak, so I learnt music. When about 8 years old I borrowed my brothers portable wind-up record player and my favourite jazz record, a piano duet played by Fats Waller and Benny Payne playing a tune called After You’ve Gone. From then on I loved jazz piano, Oscar Peterson, George Shearing.

Could you describe the scene you were part of as a young musician? What other music were you into?

As a young musician it was always jazz. It consumed me.

How did you get into the library scene? Were you friends with other label-colleagues, for example Keith Mansfield or Johnny Pearson at KPM? What was the KPM era like?

During the year 1963/4, I was introduced to Robin Phillips who ran KPM. Guy Fletcher, the now president of The Performing Right Society introduced me to him, although I was still in a rock group called The Original Checkmates. Robin was looking to modernize the library, to supply more music of the day, namely rock ‘n roll and funky music. He let me loose in the studio with my group. What resulted was tunes such as Rocky Mountain Runabout, Senior Thump, Beat Me Till I’m Blue and other later Mohawks tracks.. I met up with Keith Mansfield during this period and we collaborated on quite a few pieces. Johnny Pearson was already an established composer and library writer, of the old school.

I first heard of Alan Hawkshaw after a little research I did on the 45 I bought of The Mohawks’ The Champ. The song is considered a classic among the Hip Hop heads, as it has been sampled over and over. Were you aware of it being sampled at the time? What was, or is, your opinion on the whole sampling industry? 

I gradually became aware of the multi-sampling of The Champ. I suppose sampling breathed new life into a lot of the old catalogue so I am not against it.

What do you consider to be the favorite record you worked on? Or if that’s to hard to decide; which record did you really enjoy working on?

Difficult to answer, but one I really liked and was proud of was the stuff I did with Keith Mansfield, the funky organ stuff and some piano pieces with orchestra, one being a piece called ‘She’. Also some synthesized cool library stuff with Brian Bennett, Synthesis.

Other musicians describe your playing as a “percussive style of playing the organ” (Keith Mansfield in this case, but I’ve read it multiple times), could you tell me more about this technique or style?

The Hammond is a very dynamic instrument. I enjoyed employing its Percussion stops to play my percussive pieces, although I also like playing coller jazz on the instrument with less percussion, more in the Jimmy Smith style.

How is the music scene treating you now? Are you still asked to play on records, provide soundtracks etc?

I’m occasionally asked to contribute to other peoples albums but I’m more into my orchestral stuff, especially musicals, writing love ballads in the classical-crossover vein.

Finally, could you tell me something more about your book, The Champ – The Hawk Talks?

My autobiography The Champ chronicles the start of my professional life in the music business with some chapters on the period of my teenage years prior to going professional. It lists many of the people I’ve worked with, gives details of key sessions I was on and provides interesting photographs, diary details and anecdotes throughout the 60’s, up to the present time.

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5 min
7 Jul
2014

Sumy

Kenneth Sumter, better known as Sumy, short for Surinam-Baby, is responsible for a good amount of synthesizer drained boogie vibes. To me, one the most unique and innovative artists that Amsterdam, The Netherlands or Surinam ever had when it comes to the funk. Although familiar with playing several instruments, he’s probably best describable as a keyboard/synthesizer virtuoso. I sat down with the self-educated Sumy to have some coffee and hear him out.

We met at a terrace in the Bijlmer area of Amsterdam. In the beginning we chatted shortly about what inspired him music-wise when he was young. He told me he really liked the early Kool & The Gang and Cameo. To my surprise he also mentioned being blown away the first time he heard the synth bass line of Madonna’s Holiday. After ordering a cappuccino, we immediately broke loose about the city of Amsterdam back in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

When living in Amsterdam as a youngster, Sumy worked at the bank in the city centre (Keizersgracht). Close-by there was a music store that sold a large variety of instruments (Dirk Witte). As a teenager, hungry for the music, he walked in there to ask for the most expensive thing they had. It was the Hammond organ. Impressed by the instrument he asked for more and was shown a Fender Rhodes and a PPG Synthesizer. He told the man he’d be back in ten minutes, went to the bank he worked at, provided himself a loan and returned to the music store. This is where the banking career of Kenneth ends and the music career of Sumy starts.

Only in a short matter of time he started playing with members of American Gipsy (Steve Clisby & Co), a then popular American-Dutch soul & funk formation. The cooperation was no success, due to the fact that the guys had a different day-rhythm and therefore couldn’t handle the energy of the young Sumy, who’d get up early in the morning willing to jam. Besides that, the American Gipsy blokes used cocaine and then played at night, a routine which Sumy didn’t want to be a part of. He started sharing a studio at the Warmoesstraat in Amsterdam with some Latin American musicians. They were much more interested in Salsa, while he’d rather play Funk. He decided to record a single and release/finance it himself on his own label, Sumy Records. The 45, Going Insane, somehow made it to the radio stations where it was being played to his own surprise, which forced him to develop his distribution. As he always had been intrigued by the blue colored label of Philips records, he called them. Using the phone from the bank he worked at, he said to them he knew a good singer who should be of great interest for Philips. They responded positive and he was invited to drop by at the studios. As he recalls there were several studios at Philips and they were categorized in colors. He recorded his first Philips’ release, The Funky G, in the blue studio. What was kind of particular about the whole deal with Philips, is that he insisted the music rights would be licensed to himself. This way he could also keep the master tapes himself.. Money-wise the record wasn’t that much of a success.

We continue the conversation talking about one of my favorite cuts, Soul With Milk. A multi-layered energetic groove. This song is featured on his 1983 album Trying To Survive, released on his own label, not the previous Sumy Records, but Galaxy Inc.

Sumy lp cover

As a kid, growing up in Surinam, Sumy was often or mostly surrounded by nature. There was always the sound of animals, chickens or ducks in the background. He told me that when he came to Amsterdam, he missed the sound of the little chickens. You didn’t have those in the city or between the suburb apartment buildings. This lack of nature inspired him to hire a group of female vocalists to do a chicken-like background choir on Soul With Milk.

The secret behind funk, is comedy.

According to Sumy, every Funk artist is a comedian. He adds that it’s all about rebelling, freaking and fun, which to him is the base of funk and even literally hidden in the word itself. The studio was a playground. While he starts drumming on a glass bottle, he tells me he would record things like that and use it in his songs.

Sumy always handled his own administration, promotion and international connections. When he played in Amsterdam back in the 80’s, in the Melkweg, he would go door to door to drop flyers around announcing his performance. He also played in Germany, France, Malta, Nigeria and Brasil. He regrets the way Philips treated him in Brasil. Funkin’ In Your Mind was a small succes there and only years later they paid him 35 bucks. The money was not even the issue, but the fact that he wasn’t even aware of the song’s success made him miss out on opportunities. A funny thing about Funkin’ In Your Mind is that he actually sent Philips the wrong cut. The one that was used missed out on a lot of vocals and other additional instruments. In the end it might be this mistake or accident that gives the song it’s mysterious vibe.

The creativity Sumy puts in his music, is often based on his chimeras. Some songs are inspired by a character he plays in his head. He told me about a time a friend told a story about a pimp, as he had never heard of such a thing he played one in his mind for a while to create inspiration for a song. He cherishes a humorous and fun approach to music.

Music is like living in heaven, it’s the only piece of happiness nature blessed us with.

Sumy told me that if he was ever to stop playing music, somebody else should take over where he left it. It’s what nature owes him or us in general. He hopes that that if he ever was to inspire somebody, it should be to play an instrument.

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5 min
6 Jun
2014

Nico Gomez

Back in the High School days, some of my most reliable music sources were skateboard video’s. From Old School Hip Hop to New Wave to 60’s Psych rarities. In one of the videos of that time (Adio – One Step Beyond), there was a certain part (Ed Selego) that had a song by Nico Gomez And His Afro Percussion Inc. The song, Ritual, had this energetic exotic groove. The electric guitars plus heavy bass elevated the song to some kind of psychedelic Latin Jazz.

When I was young, my mother was into this Belgian singer Raymond Van Het Groenewoud. I liked his music too, it was humorous and you could clearly hear he was influenced by diverse music genres. A few years back, I walked into a record store in Amsterdam and asked for the Ritual LP by Nico Gomez. The record shop owner starts laughing and asks if I’m willing to spend 200 bucks. At that time I wouldn’t even dare touch a record that cost that much money. This seller then went on trying to impress, saying Nico Gomez is actually the father of Belgian singer Raymond Van Het Groenewoud and originally from Amsterdam. The seller was laughing at me earlier, so I thought he was fooling me. Turned out he was right though, check out the facts.

For starters, his name is Joseph Van Het Groenewoud. Joseph or Jos had moved to Belgium to outrun the Dutch military service in Indonesia. He changed his name to Nico Ooms because there was a rumour going round that military police was checking Brussels for deserters. In Belgium, though originally schooled to play violin, he started his career as a bass player at a local orchestra in Brussels. Soon he changed his name to Nico Gomez and expanded his oeuvre to arranging, conducting and producing records, providing Belgium with an exotic groove. I haven’t got a clue what inspired him to move this direction in music, the family doesn’t seem Latin rooted. The man is also to be held responsible for arranging/writing the Latin Funk classic Jungle Fever by the Chakachas. Which was not really conservative to say the least.

A funny side note might be the following. I checked Discogs to see which records involved Nico Gomez. To my surprise I saw him credited a bass player on a 2002 release, ten years after his death. The record is Para Puente by Snowboy And The Latin Section on the Cubop/Ubiquity label (worth checking out!). I took this as a lead and contacted Snowboy. He then told me there indeed is a Nico Gomez playing Bass on that record, but not the same Nico Gomez! Snowboy was a bit shocked when touring Japan with his own Nico, the Japanese fans confused him for the other Nico and therefore wanted his autograph. Funny coincidence they both play(ed) the Latin Jazz.

5 min
4 Apr
2014

The Moody Sec

Some years ago, when I first started looking deeper into the Dutch Soul sounds, I stumbled upon a meters-like instrumental funk jam. It was the B-side to a release by a band named the Moody Sec. It took me some time to find the actual record, it wasn’t until then I finally heard the A-side. It was a haunting, raw version of Galt Macdermot/Hair’s Let The Sunshine In. I spoke to founding member and Dutch Soul pioneer Will Matla about this record, which to me is best describable as the Dutch Phil Spector Sound. .

hoesje voor

The whole thing took place around the city of The Hague. The Hague was known to have a big share in the Dutch beat scene of that time. There is a theory that this is because of the fact that there were a lot of indonesians living in The Hague. When Rock ‘n Roll kicked in with Chuck Berry and stuff, they picked up the guitar playing way more quickly than the Dutch fellers. Their bands were inspiring, with acts like the Tielman Brothers, Franky Franken and the Crazy Rockers.

moody sec visite

We’re talking ’67. Scheveningen, The Hague’s seaside, had a roaring music scene. Will had this band doing The Shadows’ act, called The Black Albino’s (check out their 45 Shish Kebab!). There was another act in the same circuit that had an American soul singer accompanied by two ladies called Vin Cardinal & The Queens. Will and his band went to their show frequently and spotted this girl doing the same, this girl was Marva Hodge. The Black Albino’s were changing their formation. The drummer was replaced by a jazz schooled one, a guitarist was added, Marva Hodge came along with two backing vocalists plus a horn section. Having seen Ray Charles and stuff such, soul was being played! This formation was called the Moody Sec. A name that came from drinking coffee opposite a fashion store called Moody. The Sec part probably stood for sect, which was constantly written wrong at shows, so they removed the “T”. The band became a succes and played 4 or 5 times a week. Soul was very small around that time here, probably the only other notable Dutch act was The Swinging Soul Machine (Spooky’s Day Off).

Now we’re talking ’69. The Hague was booming at that time, nearly every street was responsible for two bands (Shocking Blue, Q65, Supersister, Motions, Golden Earring etc). Jaap Eggermont, first drummer with the Golden Earring(s), left his band and wanted to become a producer. Impressed by the Moody Sec, he told Will he had seen The Three Degrees (Philadelphia) in Paris. They played Let The Sunshine In from the musical Hair, and Jaap wanted to record this with the Moody Sec. Accompanied by arranger Frans Mijts, conductor Kees Schramer, and Dutch female soul singing trio The Hearts Of Soul, they recorded both A- and B-side within 12 hours. The kind of dense sound of the record was deliberately created by Jaap, who had a technical background, inspired by Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound. The record, released under the name of Marva Hodge & The Moody Sec, did really well and ended up peaking at the 6th or 7th place in the Dutch charts, it stayed in for several weeks. The instrumental B-side 00-43-GM, which took them one and a half hour to record, was named after the license plate of Fred Haayen’s car (who was also involved and later became president of Polydor!). The success obviously led to playing lots of shows, touring the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. Next to their hit, the repertoire was mostly covers. They played Etta James, P.P. Arnold and when Marva had to breathe Will took over to do some Joe Tex.

Will was already writing songs for a possible upcoming LP. Record companies started showing interest, but the band would fall apart before making an album. Marva was hot and happening, so other bands were interested. Rotterdam soul formation The Free was interested, also Euson & Stax had an eye on her. Marva started jamming with The Livin’ Blues and the band started falling apart. She took the horn section and the girls along and what was left lasted shortly. Will and the others tried to set up a band named Capricorn, but it fell apart after only doing one show. Marva had a few other single releases. They’re frequently considered Moody Sec releases by people on the net, but they’re not. The Moody sec did release one single prequel to their hit, called Mockingbird/Ballad Of A Waiting Man. The B-side, although uncredited, was written by Will and loosely based on Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out. This release was considered to be a flop though.

After the split up, most of the remaining band took a distance from playing music for a while. Will went back to playing the accordion, before joining the band Sympathy some years later. What later happened to Marva we don’t know. What remains are two releases and no film/audio footage of live shows or what so ever….You don’t hear me complaining though!/