Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Garage Bands from the 60s, Then and Now

Garage Bands from the 60s, Then and Now: The San Francisco East Bay Scene is a survey of the rock bands of Alameda and Contra Costa counties and the scene that supported them . As the Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World defines them, garage bands were amateur bands in the United States inspired by “British invasion” bands. They came to be known by this name because the garage was the default rehearsal space for these largely suburban, high school-aged musicians. Though the Encyclopedia notes that these bands were often “characterized more by enthusiasm than technical skill,” some musicians did go on to have careers in music.

The concert promoter Bill Quarry was perhaps the central person in this scene. He established the Teens N’ Twenties dances and concerts that became a central part of the East Bay’s youth culture. Venues like Frenchy’s A Go-Go in Hayward and the Rollerama in San Leandro brought in nationally famous talent. He frequently employed local acts to open these shows, providing a platform to move from the garage to the stage.

Most of the book is devoted to short chapters about noteworthy bands from that time and place. Some of these are actual interviews with the musicians. You can read about one of the East Bay’s most famous bands, The Tower of Power, and learn how some of the members originally played in garage bands like the Gotham City Crime Fighters and The Motowns. Author Bruce Tahsler also catches up with many of the musicians to learn of their lives after they hung up their guitars.

Garage Bands from the 60s is full of illustrations--pictures of the bands and musicians then and now, as well as concert posters. These images are also available, sometimes in color, Bill Quarry's website. At the end of the book there is a list of clubs and venues, a selective discography, and page listing hundreds of band names (who knew there was an East Bay garage band named Public Library?).

Garage Bands from the 60's, Then and Now: The San Francisco East Bay Scene (2nd edition), stories written and edited by Bruce Tahsler (Teens N' Twenties Pub., 2007).

Enjoy a selection of East Bay sounds:

Baytovens - “Waiting for you”

Jimmy Cicero - "Sherrie"

Crystal Garden - "Peach Fuzz Forest"

The Epics - "Humpty Dumpty"

The Harbinger Complex - "I Think I’m Down"

Peter Wheat & the Breadmen - “Baby what’s new”

The Rear Exit - "Excitation"

The Savonics - "I Had a Girl"

The Sypders - "I Can Take Care of Myself"

The Staton Brothers - "Oh, Did I Miss Her"

The Tears - "Weatherman"

Tower of Power - "Sparkling in the Sand" (originally from the 1970 album “East Bay Grease” as performed at the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival)

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