Boneyard Media


Archive for the ‘Utah’ Category

Hot Rod Hundley was the “Jazz” in Utah

Friday, March 27th, 2015

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Non-Salt Lakers don’t understand why the “Jazz” monicker stuck when their basketball team moved in from New Orleans. If they ever listened to Hot Rod Hundley do play by play, though, they’d know that the team had to be called that as long as he was on board. He was the very best – hands down. His verbal skills behind the microphone matched his physical skills as a ball player on the court: elastic, playful, and always entertaining. (He was the perfect voice to put the visual experience of kindred spirit “Pistol” Pete Maravich into words during the New Orleans years.) Every motion on the court crackled off Hot Rod’s tongue in real time with phrases like “yoyo back,” “hippity hop” and “belt high dribble” and when the Jazz won, they’d “put the game in the ol’ refrigerator.” Hot Rod Hundley was music, and if I had recordings of every game he called I would listen to all of them on road trips.

Tom Doyle, Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s (2013)

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

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The following account also appears in Howard Sounes’s Fab (2010). Can’t help but be curious about this Mormon girl who got under Beatle Paul’s skin.

P. 38: “As the spring of 1971 turned to summer, the strangeness that came with Paul’s extraordinary fame began to creep back into the McCartneys’ lives…Determined devotees would make the long pilgrimmage to Argyll, since it was no secret now that the McCartneys spent much of their time near Campbeltown….

“More worryingly, a young girl, a Mormon from Utah, had taken to camping on the edge of some woods just beyond the boundary of High Park, so that she could get close to Paul without trespassing on his land. The McCartneys often saw her, partially hidden by the trees, watching them through binoculars. One day in the summer of 1971, Paul apparently snapped and, according to the girl, came out of the house, drove toward her in his Land Rover, and angrily emerged, shouting and swearing.

“The girl claimed that she couldn’t remember much of what happened next, except that in the aftermath, her nose was bleeding. The implication, obviously, was that McCartney had assaulted her, which Paul denied. ‘I have been asking her politely – pleading with her – to leave me and my family alone,’ he stated. ‘She refuses to recognize that I am married with a family.’ “

The Beach Boys’ Lagoon Gigs

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

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Lagoon is the Farmington, Utah, amusement park that “all the kids dig” in the Beach Boys’ “Salt Lake City.” I’ve just spent some time with Ian Rusten and Jon Stebbins’ new book The Beach Boys in Concert to get the lowdown on how many times they played there:

Sat, 9/7/63: “The audience response was so strong that the group was hastily booked for more Salt Lake shows that December…According to David Marks, Brian and Mike composed the song ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ at the hotel room after this concert.”  The December gigs happened at the Terrace in Salt Lake City.

Fri, 6/12/64 and Sat, 6/13/64: “Over 5,500 fans attended the Saturday show underlining the Beach Boys’ strong popularity in this area.”

Wed, 7/29/64 (with Eddie Hodges, Jimmy Griffin and Lynne Easton, and the Kingsmen) [Jimmy Griffin would certainly visit Salt Lake City many more times in the seventies…will need to wait for someone to write a book called Bread in Concert for details]: “Over 3,500 teenagers attended this show, breaking Lagoon’s weekday attendance record.”

Fri, 9/11/64 and Sat 9/12/64

Sat, 5/29/65 (7:00 pm and 10:00 pm) (with Glen Campbell and Dick and Dee Dee) [This is the tour, I think, where Beach Boy Dennis tried to make the moves on Dee Dee by informing her he’d had a vasectomy. I read about that in her Vinyl Highway. Rock stars…sheesh.]

Fri, 9/10/65 (9:00 pm) and Sat, 9/11/65 (7:00 pm and 9:30 pm): “The Beach Boys…were given the keys to the city by Commissioner Joe L.  Christensen.”

Fri, 9/9/66 (9:00 pm) and Sat, 9/10/65 (7:00 pm)

Sat, 6/15/68 (7:00 pm and 9:30 pm): “A month after the Maharishi fiasco, the Beach Boys headed to Salt Lake City, Utah, where they could always rely on attracting a sizable audience. There the group took part in a photo shoot for Fabulous 208 magazine. Accompanied by writer Cyril Maitland, they took a jeep ride to locations Al Jardine had previously visited and thought would look good in photos. They posed at an old amusement park and pier [Saltair], as well as on the shores of the Great Salt Lake [see below].”  Incidentally, Rusten and Stebbins, I don’t believe the Maharishi was a fiasco for Mike Love.

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(KNAK DJ Bill “Daddy-O” Hesterman is the man in orange)

Sat, 9/7/68 (7:00 pm and 9:30 pm) (with the Box Tops)

Fri, 9/5/69 (9:00 pm) and Sat, 9/5/69 (9:00 pm) (with Paul Revere and the Raiders)

Sat, 9/12/70 (9:00 pm): “This was the group’s final appearance at this legendary venue.”

Checking in with Hal Holiday

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

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December’s always a good time to check in with Hal Schneider, a.k.a. Hal Holiday, the man that brought us the deathless “Sleigh Bell Rock”/”Booze Party” single in 1960 and whom I declared, quite astutely, back in ’07 to be “Utah’s King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Hal continues to perform live in the Ogden and Salt Lake areas and recently gathered up some local press when the makers of the Australian film Red Dog used “Booze Party” for a bar scene. A smashing development for someone who, as of four years ago, had yet to see a dime for his nearly half-decade-old songs.

Terror Ride mural

Monday, October 31st, 2011

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This is a mural done by William M. Tracy that once graced the entryway of the Terror Ride at Lagoon, which is an amusement park in Farmington, Utah. See it in full splendor at Ichabod Sanz’s Flickr page.

Song ID: Bill Nelson – “Acceleration” (1983)

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

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In 1982, a shortlived Salt Lake City radio station called Super 107 (KABE-FM) took its cues from KROQ in Los Angeles and aired mostly new wave ear candy. It always felt kinda secret, which is probably why it folded within a year. Modern/alternative radio would soon recover and eventually thrive in SLC, an area that’s perhaps clung to the ‘80s like no other. This song by Bill Nelson, the Be Bop Deluxe frontman gone solo, reminds me of those happy 107 days, though, when it all really did feel like forward motion.

Bill Nelson – “Acceleration” (1983)

Hal Holiday: From a Joker to a King

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

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Three Aces and a Joker – “Sleigh Bell Rock”

Three Aces and a Joker – “Booze Party”

In my world, there’s no better way of kicking off the month of December than by paying tribute to one of the greatest Christmas singles ever – Three Aces and a Joker’s “Sleigh Bell Rock”/ “Booze Party.” I first heard the A-side of this rockabilly shredder back in the eighties on a Rhino compilation called Rockin’ Christmas: The 50’s (1984) and have loved it ever since. Just listen to it chug and bounce like a vintage Big Boy locomotive. Hear the lead guitarist making a run for the Mr. Personality prize with his shimmering, stinger-capped licks. And dig that front man taking iron-fisted control of the Christmas party. And then there’s that B-side, the wall-shaking “Booze Party.” It gets you blotto just by listening to it and it’s no surprise that it’s popped up in cover versions all around the world.

Three Aces and a Joker

Three Aces and a Joker

Because I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, I’ve been particularly intrigued by the fact that such an early slab of wild abandon could find official release during rock ’n’ roll’s baby years in my own mild hometown. This is a place, needless to say, that you won’t hear name-checked in too many conversations about rock ’n’ roll history. (Although as a native Utahn I do hold three other facts close to my heart: 1) The Beach Boys wrote a glorious song about the capital city, focusing on nothing but its fun factors and girls; 2) Brian Wilson and Mike Love wrote “Fun Fun Fun” on 2100 S. on the way to the SLC airport; and 3) Bobby Fuller spent a good portion of his childhood in Bountiful before his family moved to El Paso, where he’d begin his ascent toward rock ’n’ roll godhood.)

I posted and wrote about “Sleigh Bell Rock” here last year and something happened which, in fact, is one of the only reasons I keep fiddling around with this blog – I heard from the person responsible for my subject. The man’s name is Hal Schneider (the “H. Schneider” credited on the label). He still performs, albeit under the stage name Hal Holiday, and he currently lives in Hooper, Utah (I seem to recall the locals pronouncing that to rhyme with “whoop ‘er”). I flipped over the chance to find out more about him and the backstory of his masterpiece. So here’s what I can tell you. Hal is not only the songwriter on both cuts, but also the singer and drummer. It turns out he was serving as Airman Second Class and stationed at Hill Air Force Base in Clearfield when the record came out. He was brought up in the Bronx, and had only recently moved to Utah. He’d been playing tenor sax in a rock ’n’ roll group called the Rhythm Rockers, but was goaded by some friends into singing a few numbers with a band playing a local nightspot called Parls 89. Not only did the group subsequently recruit him as their new singer, but they also talked him into doubling up as a drummer.

So who were the aces and who was the joker, then? The aces were brothers Jimmy Blevins (lead guitar) and Joe Blevins (rhythm guitar) as well as bassist Leon Simmons. Hal was both the joker and the guy who came up with the group’s new name. “I was always known as the joking kind of guy around the base,” he says. “And the ace part just seemed to fit.” Placing a high premium on showmanship, the group started packing the local beer joints in short order. “There weren’t many bands around that could play the variety that we did. We played rock ‘n’ roll, country, jazz, popular, and we put on funny shows,” remembers Hal. “We had a great crowd wherever we performed.”

<i>Hal and Jimmy Blevins today. Jimmy currently plays in a band called Flashback; Joe passed away some time ago and Leon apparently quit playing after his stint in the band.</i>

Hal and Jimmy Blevins today. Jimmy currently plays in a band called Flashback; Joe passed away some time ago and Leon apparently quit playing after his stint in the band.

Hal wrote “Sleigh Bell Rock” and “Booze Party” as a one-two punch for Christmas and New Year’s. After playing the songs at a Salt Lake City nightclub called the Streamliner, they caught the ear of “Bashful” Bobby Wooten, who was then working as a disk jockey on country station KSOP (still in business and still country, btw) and who also ran his own small record label, GRC (General Recording Company). “He suggested we record the songs and so we did,” says Hal. Although “Sleigh Bell Rock” was able to muster up a smattering of local airplay upon its release in 1960, the flipside was a different story. “‘Booze Party’ didn’t get much play on the radio,” he says. “That was understandable because Utah is a Mormon state and they don’t believe in drinking.”

(“Booze Party,” incidentally, is chronologically the third of four notable songs I know of that use the “wine wine wine” refrain – Sticks McGhee’s “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-De-O-Dee” from 1949 is first, Floyd Dixon’s 1952 swing number “Wine Wine Wine” is second, and the Nightcaps’ own 1962 frat anthem “Wine Wine Wine” is fourth. These songs are different enough from each other for it not to really matter, but I do wonder if the Nightcaps were influenced at all by “Booze Party,” let alone the Dixon song. Hal had never heard of Sticks McGhee, Floyd Dixon or “Wine Wine Wine” before I asked him about it.)

Promo pic of Hal and his twin brother Jack, who toured and performed together until Jack’s passing in 1983

Promo pic of Hal and his twin brother Jack, who toured and performed together until Jack’s passing in 1983

It was all a good laugh, and soon enough Three Aces and a Joker went their separate ways. Bobby Wooten, not long after releasing this 45, struck a nerve with Utah’s deer hunting legions with the single “Going Deer Hunting”/ “Deer Hunting Widow,” which never charted nationally, but nonetheless became his GRC label’s steadiest seller. He went on to make a name for himself as a popular radio personality during the 60s on Seattle country station KAYO, and he also wrote the liner notes for Buck Owens’s I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail LP. He retired from radio in the seventies and passed away in 1998. As for Hal, he settled down in Northern Utah with his wife and kids and had no idea that his two songs, especially “Booze Party,” would be taking on a life of their own, showing up on numerous compilations and securing themselves beloved entry in many a rockabilly diehard’s personal Hall of Fame.

James Austin, VP of A&R at the major reissue label Rhino Records is one of these diehards. He’s actually the one who compiled and wrote the liner notes for the 80’s record on which I first heard “Sleigh Bell Rock.” He remains a huge fan of the 45, and I was recently fortunate enough to have a conversation with him about it. “They played with the go broke mentality we’ve come to love and respect about rock and roll,” says Austin. “ ‘Sleigh Bell Rock’ is as good as any rock and roll Christmas record ever made, but the B-side is especially worth taking note of,” he says. “For them to be singing about that subject in that manner at this place in time is pretty damned adventurous. You listen, and nothing seems illegal or reckless in their world, and this is the attitude that helped build the house of rock. And the fact is, all too many originators like them have gotten no recognition.”

Hal (second to left) and friends with guitar legend Bill Kirchen (far left) during a swing through SLC (L to R: Kirchen, Hal, Dan Weldon above Hal, Korene Greenwood, original Three Aces guitarist Jimmy Blevins, and Brad Wheeler; Greenwood currently leads her own group Korene & Company, and Weldon and Wheeler perform as a well-esteemed blues duo called the Legendary Porch Pounders)

Hal (second to left) and friends with guitar legend Bill Kirchen (far left) during a swing through SLC (L to R: Kirchen, Hal, Dan Weldon above Hal, Korene Greenwood, original Three Aces guitarist Jimmy Blevins, and Brad Wheeler; Greenwood currently leads her own group Korene & Company, and Weldon and Wheeler perform as a well-esteemed blues duo called the Legendary Porch Pounders)

Austin’s words say a lot about the record’s enduring appeal. As I mentioned, both titles appear regularly on compilations, many of which are semi-legal affairs that the compilers have never bothered to properly license. This, I confidently assume, happens because 1) the legal homework presents too many headaches for the compilers and their small labels, and 2) so many of the artists who brought these old one-offs into the world were either innocent of the fact that additional steps needed to be taken in order for them to get situated on a business level, or else they moved on and lost sight of their creations’ ongoing profit potential.

Hal’s a good illustration of this latter syndrome. “All these years went by and I never knew that other bands have recorded my songs,” he says. “I never received any royalties on either song. I would have thought I should be making a few bucks on some of those albums that have me doing the singing. Next year I’ll be 70 years old and if anything’s going to happen, I hope it’s soon. But I’ve never tried to find out anything.” Side by side with this sentiment is an undeniable sense of personal pride. “I understand through some of my musician friends that my songs are listed in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame,” he says. “I was thrilled to hear that.”

As for me, my ideal conception of Hal’s future is one in which he at least gets his performing rights registration and general business situation in order – something we’ve already been talking about. But it’s also one in which he gets rediscovered by the kinds of people who can present him to the kinds of appreciative audiences who are most certainly out there, and who can give him the kind of recognition he deserves. And also that he gets an album out.

Hal with Loose Change in 2006

Hal with Loose Change in 2006

On that note, if there’s any point I’d like to make clearest with this write up, it’s that Hal Schneider, aka Hal Holiday, is STILL WORKING as a viable performer. Never stopped, actually. For a long time, he had an act with his identical twin brother Jack, until he passed away in 1983. He continues to perform in the Ogden and Salt Lake areas, frequently with a local band of crack musicians called Loose Change. On top of that, he runs a yearly show called the Hal Holiday Revue, which promotes local talent, and he regularly volunteers as an entertainer at assisted living centers throughout the area. Hal is soldiering forth, in other words, as the kind of performer who can still win people over on his own merits and not simply through his key involvement with a classic record from the past. (I’ve recently heard through the grapevine that he’s done just that, on both counts, with Big Sandy and Los Straitjackets who recently swung through SLC and got a chance to hear him do his thing. Big Sandy’s group the Fly-Rite Boys, incidentally, recorded a cover of “Booze Party” in 1998). My hunch is that Hal’s rock and roll adventures are far from over, but whatever the future holds, Hal’s no longer just a joker – he’s also a king.

posted by Kim Simpson

Song ID: L.M. Hilton – “Zach, the Mormon Engineer” (1952)

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

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Folkways is all about keeping ancient recordings like this one available and viable. Frutiful, even.

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Sunday Service/Song ID: The Three D’s – “I Think When I Read That Sweet Story” (1970)

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

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I found this in a Logan, Utah thrift store last June, so I can now slide it into my collection right next to New Dimensions in Folk and Songs of our American Heritage. 

The Three D’s – “I Think When I Read That Sweet Story”

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Song ID: Boomtown Rats – “I Don’t Like Mondays” (1979)

Monday, February 26th, 2007

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During my three years in junior high school in Salt Lake City (1981-1984), they marched all students into the auditorium one time each year to watch a 45 minute pop music show. I’ll bet all junior high schoolers in the area during those years saw the same three assemblies/shows, each of which featured a brief “don’t do drugs” or “don’t drop out” message. The shows were:

1 – A rock group of frizzy-haired characters called “Freedom Jam.” They dressed in Revolutionary War suits like Paul Revere and the Raiders and played a whole bunch of covers, mostly from REO Speedwagon’s Hi Infidelity album. Their keyboardist, who looked like a member of the Bus Boys, would bend over impossibly far to the side when it was time for a solo. At least half the school behaved as though this were a real rock show, leaping out of chairs and high-clapping.

2 – A guy and girl duo with British accents. The guy stood behind a synth console and occasionally picked up an electric guitar after he got the loops going. The girl sang and skank-danced and reminded me of one of the female Jetsons. The only songs I remember them doing are “Tainted Love” and “I Love Rock and Roll.”

3 – A one man band synthesizer/karaoke guy also with a British accent. He may well have been one half of the duo from above. He had a microphone headset and regularly stepped away from the console and gesticulated along with the lyrics he sang. The only song I remember is “I Don’t Like Mondays.” He spent quite some time on the song’s back story, telling us about the girl who went on a Monday shooting spree, which now strikes me as strange. And I’ve never been able to hear that song since then without thinking of him in his headset, fluttering his fingers in the air to the Telex machine inside his head.

(Not posted, because the song’s on my don’t-mind-if-I-never-hear-again list.)