Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 3 No. 2 Summer 1981

by Lenny P«e to Stockholm where they played at a counter festival to a UN conference and then peddled their wares throughout Holland, Denmark and Belgium. OLD 7S's THAT HAD COME FROM SOUTHERN RURAL JUNK SHOPS AND BEEN PICKLEDIN MARIJUANA JUICE" with nudists who had been eating peyote since the ’40s while listening to the local faves, the Weavers and Pete Seeger. Many an evening was spent with a gentlemen named Fredrick Ramsey Jr., who a la Allen Lomax went down to the deep South and recorded the real ethnic hard-core spirit for Folkways—from the chants of cotton pickers to Mississippi Fred McDowell, Clifton Chenier and a funky old accordian band called the Hackberry Ramblers. EANWHILE IN Milwaukee, /</ Wisconsin, Peter Stampfel was falling in love with rock ’n roll. It was Stampfel who articulated the possibilities of a merger of folk and rock. “ I saw this babyfaced kid with a guitar case and motorcycle hat. I thought he was some kid from the Bronx carrying around a guitar case so he could get laid. He’s probably a greaser too, because he’s wearing a motorcycle hat.” Bob Dylan was playing at the Fat Black Pussycat. “His first number was a banjo tune called ‘Sally Ann.’ After about 8 bars I absolutely was out of my seat, I could feel my mind bouncing like a balloon on the ceiling trying to get out. I immediately became hysterical telling everybody he was great. The reason he got me was that he obviously had rock ’n roll phrasing down and he obviously understood traditional music.” The seed that flowered the electronic Rounder sound was germinated that evening. It grew during Stampfel’s 10 day, 24-hour-a-day stretches on speed where he would hear the ions coming out of the radio. The music that would later be recorded raced through Stampfel’s mind, yet he and Weber hardly talked. Peter’s experiments with ions would have come to naught, had not Fraser Mohawk offered the lads the princely sum of $300 to play at Stony Brook U. on Long Island. Realizing there was gold in them-there-hills, the first of countless Rounder revivals was hatched. Peter’s experiments continued thanks to their part-time drummer and full-time award winning playwright, Sam Shepard, who integrated their music and performance into his productions of Operation Sidewinder and Forensic and the Navigators. After dazzling off-Broadway, it was only natural that the Hog Farm would invite them f HROUGH THE album Moray • Eels Eat the Holy Modal Rounders (1968), which one Chicago DJ described as perfect proof that musicians can take too many drugs, Good Taste is Timeless (1970), engineered by Scotty Moore, guitar player for Elvis, and Alleged in Their Own Time (1974), the boys managed with the help of Thomas Edison’s invention to continue making music like “chalk scraping a blackboard.” In 1972, with the streets of the eastern cities becoming a junkie’s nightmare, the Rounders headed for fame and fortune in California, only to discover the green pastures of what was reported to be a hippie retirement colony—no, not Woodstock—but our own little burg-was-the-word, when drummer Roger North’s wife Ty, a native Oregonian, paused to have a baby. So one drizzly day, just as Oregon’s archaic no-live-music-in- clubs law was changing, a ’52 Greyhound bus (the silver slug) rolled into town with six of the best musicians from sea to shining sea. From the first evening in the basement of PSU’s Montgomery Building to that brawling, passionate sweat- box, the old White Eagle to the early days on a bella donna cloud at Euphoria, these troubadors would make some amazing music. Steve Weber would suddenly be a “Snake in the Grass” at “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” while claiming “We Didn’t Love Him No More.” His national steel guitar syncopated, Joseph Spence style, while Richard “Magic Fingers” Tyler would tickle the ivory with some honky tonk that would have you floating down the Graphics by David Celsi Clinton St. Quarterly 31