Archive for September, 2016

A Return Of Dexterity…….#135 (the 70’s)

September 30, 2016

Gary at the Uptown Club – note the Rt. Hand brace…

.   Temporal progression of his disabled right wrist and hand was dispiriting,  the appendages failing to respond after several months of consecrated effort.    Gary receiving a telephone call from guitarist Jerry Connell,  who was working with Gary at the Holiday Inn West, Pirates Cove Club  when his debilitating altercation  occurred.  Jerry advocating,  not a need for a piano player,  but a bass player,  knowing Gary played keyboard bass with his left hand on his Fender Rhodes Piano,  offering a five night per week engagement at the Uptown Club on North Walker.   An overwhelming affirmative reply reconciled the pianist spirit,  a redundancy to reestablish  his profession.   The musician once again finding a contentment evolving from his left hand bass benefaction and as the weeks progressed  a sense of awakening began in his dormant hand, the numbness beginning to decline.

.   With his right hand poised over the keyboard each night, receiving it instructional command to perform,  a firmness returned,  at first to a finger, then followed by a two, realizing by the grace of God and  his consciousness of mind, it continued to send a musical message to the remaining fingers.   The wrist brace still remained,  but the dexterity of the fingers were  commencing to be more functional and with this he could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It was during a night’s performance a welcome sight entered the Uptown Club, Gary haven’t seen or talked to Jan Lawhon for over a year, Jan accompanied with a friend introduced as Mickey Rogers.  The pianist visiting the couple recalling events of the past and from the conversation it was apparent that Jan and Mickey were in a relationship and that Mickey’s occupation was speculative in nature.

.   A continuing return of dexterity,  Gary appreciative of Jerry Connell confidence in a one-handed pianist, but like other Oklahoma City clubs,  the Uptown  was a  in the scrutiny for a diminutive accordance, business was slow, the band being furloughed to playing only weekends.   Gary deciding to call his Pirates Cove drummer Eddy Ferguson and wife Debby (Swisher) whom he had left stranded at the Cove when he experienced the loss of his hand. The pianist asking if they would be interested in getting back together if he could book them, the two agreeing.

.   Gary’s first recourse was a visit to Herb Carpenter at the Pirates Cove,  finding and not surprised that he was satisfied with pianist Jim Mullen’s,  but suggesting to Gary that he visit with Mitch,  a subcontractor that participated in the construction of the Holiday Inn West, who had recently retained the clubs franchise at the Holiday Inn in Norman.   Gary well acquainted with Mitch, visiting with him in Norman, offering to put together the same group that filled the Pirates Cove to capacity, Jerry con Nell on guitar, Eddie Ferguson on drums, himself on Keyboard bass and piano, and Debbie vocalizing.   Without hesitation Mitch agreeing,  the Cove component was reunited with their Norman engagement.

.   It was a stormy night,  tornado warnings having been issued,  and  the sirens serving notice as  Gary proceeded down Interstate 35  toward Norman.  the buffeting winds accosting the musician,  the driver having difficulty seeing  On the outreach of Moore, where Eddy and Debbie’s trailer park resided,  the musician became concerned, the storm intensified, the wind and rain pelting with a roar,  Gary thankful when the experience slackened.  Upon arrival at the Holiday Inn, discovering a message from Jerry Con Nell,  logging his unavailability because of the storm. 

.   The Pianist awaiting the arrival of Deb and Eddy,  but as time waned his concerned blossomed, finally  placing a phone call to their trailer park  residence, discovering a continuous busy signal.  A determination for not answering the call coming from the television, a weather responder  reporting  a tornado having briefly touched down crossing interstate 35 in moore  causing damage to a trailer park.    Gary hesitant at first but then deciding to provide the storm captive audience with a piano concurrence,   on the bandstand giving an explanation for the solitary performance mentioning he would be happy to play request.

.   It was later during that stormy night,  the pianist recognized the person attesting  the bar,  a renown televised entertainer from the most prestigious network program of the era,  the Smothers Brothers Comedy ,  the Presidential Candidate of humor,  Pat Paulsen was firmly planted on a bar stool.   Gary introducing himself to the celebrated personality,  finding Pat having just concluded an appearance at the University of Oklahoma and was still adhered in Norman because of the storms ineptitude with his airline reservation.   Gary attempting to persuade the television personality to accord a microphone and join him on stage,  but his declination was absorbed in a glass of scotch.  

.   Gary deliberating whether to  announce Pats presence,  a chance  the recognition might spur him to give a sample of his humor, but the pianist having second thoughts,  deciding Pat having already put in a day’s work.  The Norman Oklahoma night coming to a conclusion,  the storms having moved on, the musician tempted to stop at Deb and Eddies  trailer park on his way home,  but reasoned the situation didn’t need another onlooker.  A morning call from the two saying  the tempest played havoc with their trailer, moving it on the cement block foundation, but the trailer and contents were only jostled and the two were safe.   The pianist concluding it was another night to remember.



An Entertainment Foreclosure……#136 (the 70’s)

September 28, 2016

The Traditions left to right – Jack Hughes, Jerry Cooper. Jerry Connell down front – Gary Willson

.   It wasn’t a surprise when Eddy and Debbie approached Gary,  the  drummer and his vocal attraction wife deciding to expand their life in another direction giving notice, the two were no longer interested in remaining with the band.  Gary once again finding himself in search of envoys of music to fill the void with their departure.    A chance  introduction to  Jerry Cooper, a rhythm guitar playing vocalist and his drummer Jack Hughes, discovering they were in a  similar situation, looking for replacements  for their band.   Gary arranging to meet with Cooper at his day job as a T-Fal product pitchman at JC Penny’s in Crossroads Mall.

.   The pianist observing as Jerry demonstrated the attributes of the product in the housewares department, finally  taking a break,  the two concluding a possible union between the  bands would satisfy both group’s needs.  Cooper having  appropriated a band name , “Jerry Cooper and The Nite Beats”,  changing the names spelling from the once local Oklahoma City renown group  “The Night Beats”,  which had digress to Dallas in 1964.  It was readily apparent that Cooper hope to exploit the Night Beats  past reputation.  The meeting concluding,  a conditional decision being agreed upon, Gary insisting the Night Beats name be dropped, agreeing to  “Jerry Cooper and  The Traditions”.   The Norman Oklahoma Holiday Inn club owner Mitch somewhat disappointed with the departure of Debby and Eddie, but having no alternative but to go along with the change.  Gary could sense a wait and see attitude from Mitch, pondering whether or not the band would continue.

.   During an evening performance a very familiar person entered,  Jan Lawhon,  accompanied by her companion Mickey Rogers,  Gary having been introduced to  Mickey when playing with Jerry Connell at the Uptown Club.   Seated with the couple, the conversation wasn’t just a social call,   but more like a business one.  Jan relating that her and Mickey might be interested in hiring the band, Mickey having  procured the lease of a Night Club in the City.

.   Gary was somewhat taken back with Jan’s willingness to return to the bandstand, but with their years of  musical affiliation  at the Pirates Cove,  at least they would have an established repertoire.  The couple making an offer to hire the band,  the only immediate drawback was instituting an agreement was with Jerry Cooper’s ego,  Cooper accustomed to having his name highlighted.  Gary discussing the opportunity with the others.  Cooper, Connell and drummer Hughes agreeing to make the move.  The only concern being  it would be three weeks before the club would be ready to open,  and Mitch would have to be given notice, knowing that he wouldn’t be too willing to let them remain when he found a replacement.

.   Jan and Mickey having secured the Dungeon Club,  occupying  the below street level of the ‘Crows V” Restaurant,  located in the renovated once cathedral like monolithic,  saint Johns  Episcopal Church at 31 25 Classen Boulevard.   This midtown large two-story church structure having been remodel to resemble the declination of a castle, Gary having never visited The Dungeon Club, but had seen the past advertisements for the Kelly Q ’Ellar Trio, a semi-jazz group.   Gary was somewhat surprised when Jan and Mickey made a proposal ,  asking if the pianist would be interested in helping with the improvements to the club before its grand opening, offering to reimburse him for his time and effort.

.   Gary never one to turn down opportunity,  agreeing to help. the  first major improvement in a cleanup effort was to replace the once white, now yellowed,  tobacco smoke stained 24 x 48 inch ceiling tiles.   After pricing the expense for new tiles and with some thought, Jan and Gary came up with an alternative solution.   Securing aerosol spray paint at a cost of 99 cents  per can from T G & Y  in black and red colors,  The two would removing each of the old stained 24 x 48 inch panel,  painting them either red or black,  replacing them in a  checkerboard pattern,  and in the darken light of the club,  the finished product providing a colorful semblance of new tiles.

.   The grand opening of “Jan’s”  was enhanced,  Jan having purchased shirts for the band  scheduling a session with the photographer at the Hal Owens Studio.    Gary and Jerry Connell being familiar with Jan’s music,  the rehearsal sessions were for the benefit of Cooper and Hughes to establish their acquaintance with the Lawhon presence.  Just prior to the club opening,  the Oklahoma and Midwest City newspaper entertainment section wrote introductory articles about the club and the return of Jan Lawhon to the Oklahoma City nightlife scene, issuing a direct invitation to the many who experienced her and Gary at the Holiday Inn West’s, Pirates Cove Club.    The  opening night living up to expectations, Gary and Jan greeting many acquaintances from the past.  A strict disciplinarian, Mickey installed a non-drinking and smoking policy on the bandstand,  including a scheduling of regular rehearsals.  Gary very much in favor of this needed professional attainment, a first for the other band members, something he and Jan  had propagated in the past,  rehearsing at his residence as a convenience, because of her OU college schedule.

.   The pianist noticing a change in Cooper, the vocalist demeanor having diminished, no longer a headliner, there was a sense of animosity, Hughes and Cooper  having never  conformed to someone else’s concept of music.   The first three weeks found an exceedingly number of friends and old customers, but then a decline began to sit in, attendance was dropping,  a search for the reason,  discovering the debilitating attendance had nothing to do with the entertainment, but the location of the club.  Classen Boulevard  being a main thoroughfare to downtown Oklahoma City,  and after visiting with customers found that they were concerned with the constant appearance of  patrolling black and whites.  unlike the Holiday Inn,  which was adjacent to Interstate 40 and seldom frequented by local law enforcement.  It seemed the hand writing was on the wall, the continual Black and White’s presence was something the loyal aficionados of late night indulgent didn’t want to confront.

.   Gary was privy to an undisclosed facet from Mickey and Jan, he had remained resolute in his silence,  not sharing with the band of an upcoming possibility.   Mickey having set an eight week temporal decrement on the club’s financial disposition, and would make a judgement as to its  projected fiscal potential and whether to continue their club endeavor.  With the eight-weeks of litigation about to expired,  attendance never fulfilling expectations,  Mickey true to his word announcing the verdict of closure.

.   Gary somewhat dismayed,  but accepting the reality,  but also appreciative of receiving a recognition never bestowed.   for the first time he was a double wage earner, being paid for playing the piano, and a second stipend gratuity for fulfilling the role of  keyboard bass, a wage for each hand.  Gary aware of the clubs possible closure, having the foresight to assess the availability of a new prospect to the night life stage, in the adjoining town of Edmond

Unexpected Aspirations…….#137 (the 70’s)

September 26, 2016


.  Jan Lawhon’s envisioned vehicle of return to the nightlife entertainment of Oklahoma City ending, her and Mickey Rogers club ownership aspirations, a pilgrimages into history,  the band a casualty of Jan’s Club’s demise.   Gary having been privileged to the club’s possible closing, was aware of a booking opportunity at the Derrick Club in Edmond,  a small but growing community north of Oklahoma City, and when inquiring, discovered the  clubs franchise fortified by a well-known acquaintance of his from the Pirates Cove, Bill Diehl.

.   The Peter Falk resembling Columbo looking Bill Diehl was from Chicago, having made a transition to Oklahoma City years earlier as a union organizer,  conducting the unions business out of the Holiday Inn West.  The musician wasn’t surprised that Bill had remained in Oklahoma,  as he was an astute visionary and opportunist, as evidenced by  securing the lease of The Derrick Club.  The band accepting a five nights per week offer, Jerry Cooper’s expertise of the Doobie Brothers,  Jim Croce and Loggins & Messina  enliven a capacity house mainly on weekends,  drawing from the Oklahoma City metro area.

.  Bill spending less and less time at the club, finally  mentioning to the band that he spoken with the owner of the building,  and was putting his five hundred dollar  per month club lease on the market, for a walk away price of fifteen hundred dollars,   halfheartedly asking if the band would be interested in acquiring it,  and as part of his sale pitch. offering to exhibit the club’s financial records, demonstrating as operators, the band could marginalize the entertainment overhead expense.  A discussion of convenience between Cooper, Hughes and Gary was engendered, a possible partnership was up for consideration.  Guitarist Jerry Connell deciding it was time he moved on.   The three deciding to move forward with the purchase of the lease,  each to contribute five hundred dollars

T.  he night of acquisition, Gary with a five hundred dollar check in hand,  making a fathomed discovery, he was the sole responder to the agreement,  Jack Hughes venturing no expenditure,  Jerry Cooper accrediting that he would provide monetary support for the cosmetic enhancements to the club,   equal to his agreement share.  Bill accepting Gary’s token five hundred dollars and a promissory note for the balance, Gary’s wife Kaye and longtime drummer friend Glenn Froman witnessing the transaction. The lease transferring event concluding, it was the band’s first night as club proprietors

.  Gary about to embark onto the bandstand when drummer Jack Hughes approached, from out of nowhere, Jack with one blow to Gary’s jaw.   sending the pianist sprawling to the floor, Hughes immediately pouncing upon the now prone pianist,  making threatening accusations,  but presenting no other physical response.   The pianist responded with a call for someone to remove Jack from his endowed position, a glance at the two hundred and twenty pound Glenn found no response.   Gary’s ninety five pound wife Kaye arriving, clutching Jack’s shoulder with a resounding , “get off my husband”.    Jack rescinded his position,  the pianist arose,  the blood trickling from an endowed split in his lip,  the what and why perplexity of what just  transpired remaining, the open mouth onlookers projecting a scene of bewilderment.

.  Jerry Cooper immediately taking Jack aside seeking an explanation,  but discovering the drummer unresponsive,  not giving a reason for his actions,  even to his closest friend, and also refusing  to fulfill his percussionist expectations on the drums.   Gary approached his friend,  drummer Glenn Froman about playing,  Glenn not enthused, but said he would.  Jerry Cooper again visiting with Jack, returning stating that Jack still refuses to play, but would bow to Glenn using his drums.  Gary having maintained what he thought was mutual respect with Jack, but Hughes,  younger and a bachelor, the two having little in common except for their shared interest in music.

.  Gary finding Jacks action perplexing, but a lesson was instilled, the drummer never acknowledging the rational for his action that night, and from  henceforth the pianist would question the drummers character.  Gary receiving  later disclosure from Cooper that was somewhat chilling,  Jack was in possession of a thirty two caliber handgun  he carried in a briefcase that was always with him,  realizing if Glenn had intervened instead of his wife Kaye,  there might have been  an entirely different outcome.

.  Gary and Jack putting their differences aside,  but Gary soon discovering  what could have been a successful affiliation  was not to be.  The band, a trio on Tuesday thru Thursday,  with Gary’s longtime friend Jerry Willis,  playing lead guitar and sax on Friday and Saturday nights.  it was just a matter of time before the so called partnership crumbled. Gary offering to withdraw from the club if compensated for his investment amount.   Cooper and Hughes now working in conjunction,  at first accepting Gary’s offer,  the pianist about to return to his piano bar calling,  but the two reneging on the agreement, not coming up with the compensation, and after a brief attempt to operate, they locked the doors walking away.  Gary having to make a decision, whether to write off his investment and also walk away, or accept the challenge of the Derrick Club


A Derrick Challenge…………..#138 (the 70’s)

September 24, 2016

Bob Wallace


Kenny Kannada

 .  With Jerry Cooper and Jack Hughes having bailed out of operating the Derrick Club, Gary excepting the challenge of keeping it a viable entertainment platform.  A call to his friend  Jerry Connell in Midwest City,  informing him of the circumstances, inquiring about his playing availability, discovering Connell willing to return to the bandstand and take an active part in club as a silent partner,  investing some financial assistance.    With Connell on board,  Gary’s immediate concern was acquiring a drummer, his good friend Glenn having once again returned to Indiana, but having another person in mind.

Bob Wallace was scripted, his self-assurance attenuated personality was blazon, but without a doubt substantiated by his vocal talent and percussion ability.  Gary meeting this slender tall resemblance of an Elvis in the past during the Derrick Club’s Wednesday sit in night, his smirking curling lip projecting an attitude of ascendancy.  With the departure of Jerry Cooper and Jack Hughes, Bob Wallace’s’ arrival was heralded as an asset, his duo presentation,  drums and vocal was recognized as an ordained deliverance for the band.

.  Gary’s good fortunate was short-lived,  Jerry Connell was having family problems.  Jerry’s wife Donna wasn’t happy with Jerry’s Derrick Club affiliation, giving him an ultimatum, resulting in him apologizing to Gary,  but bowing out of the Derrick venture.   With Jerry’s departure, Gary and Bob began a duo Monday thru Thursday.  Jerry Willis, guitar and sax still on the Bandstand Friday and Saturday nights.  Gary would arrive at 10 a m every morning to ready the club for it 12 noon opening. early one afternoon a guitar conveying,  six-foot two Stetson adorned musician, named Kenny Kannada entered,   asking Gary if he needed a singer, Gary replying, there was always a need for a good vocalist.

.  Without hesitation, brandishing his guitar,  Kenny took to the bandstand, Gary activating  the P A  system,  the Stetson adorned musician demonstrating his talent.  A bouquet of sound enhancing the atmosphere,  the guitar playing singer hosting the songs of country music icons,  with just enough impersonation in his voice, to give them recognition, without a doubt the pianist recognizing an immediate hire.   Gary soon discovered the lanky musician retained an essence of humility,  a warmness of personality prevailing in his character, a trait that would be recognizable and retain an immediate acceptance from an audience.  Gary was astonished how providence could change from a need to an abundance.

.  The Oklahoma adjoining  community of Edmond,  population 16,000, was a closed environment to interlopers in the beverage dispensing business,  a hierarchy status was in place, the established bars and clubs resenting the sudden procrastination of the Derrick-Club.    Gary was a believer  in innovation,  advancing the advent of a live radio broadcasts from the club, a first for Edmond.  The KW HP radio truck, accompanied by a search light flooding the nighttime sky,  it’s beacon giving notice, a drawing card for the club,  that in itself had become an attraction.  As advertised on the radio that night,  upon entering each customer would receive a numbered ticket stub, a drawing to be held  for five hundred dollars for a lucky person. The drawing to be held the following afternoon at the radio stations location, hosted by Dave and John, the broadcasting sales representatives who initiated the idea .  ,

.  Gary was opposed to the idea because of  financial reason, he didn’t have $500, but taking him aside Dave and John explained the drawing was a scam, it was engineered, the winning ticket would be palmed by Dave, the person winning would be an employee or an acquaintance whom would receive a nominal fee for her deceptive participation.   Gary still didn’t like the idea but a justification was pronounced from the broadcasting reps, unbeknownst to the public, deception  was common practice in the advertising profession.  The Derrick Club’ beginning to have an adverse effect on the competitions,  the  success of the club causing some consternation, Gary concluding besides adding a new entranceway door, redesigned band stand, decorative candles place on table and the installation of a large Derrick Club sign on Broadway , it was the addition of Kenny Kannada and Bob Wallace that was making the difference.  With the success of the club came a continuous  scrutiny and  pressure from local law enforcement, It became apparent their  reaction was a measure of the clubs accomplishments and the Derrick’s horizon looked promising.

A Realm of Justice……..#138A (70’s)

September 23, 2016


. The eighteen wheeler was accomplished behind the Derrick club,  Paul Ambrose the responsible pilot,  a cousin to Gary’s longtime friend the anomalous Glenn Froman.  Paul was inhibiting the accolades of the Saturday night entertainment  awaiting a departure hour to direct his transport east,  his trip a journey of frequent stops,  the final destination Indianapolis.  In the past, Gary having made his Master Charge credit card available for Paul to use, especially after spending too much of the company traveling expense money at the club.  Paul making an offer for Gary to accompanying him on his delivery escapades,  to experience  the vivacity of an  ‘over the road driver’ and visit his good friend Glenn whom had returned to Indianapolis.   Gary concluding he need a break from his routine and being Saturday night the club could do without him until Tuesday, yes he would accept Paul’s invitation.

  .  At 3 a m,  the Kerr McGee Corporation big rig loaded with a cargo of antifreeze pulled out,  the two were on their way to Indiana with stops in Arkansas and Tennessee.  Gary impressed with the highway perspective from  the Freight Liner, its panoramic view, with the CB  on channel 19,  there was a continuous vocal narration from the highway transport navigators.  Paul ascending his first stop in Conway Arkansas, Gary recalling   the music icon Harold Jenkins,  Harold having borrowed the city name,  better known as Conway Twitty, the name Twitty also borrowed from a town in Texas from viewing a map.  Memphis was the second stop, Paul unloading  a portion of his load at a Kerr McGee station, a local convenient distribution storage point, before continuing northward crossing the Ohio River at Paducah Kentucky.

 . Paul having entered the bridge approach  when discovering he was not on the 4 lane interstate  crossing, but on the narrow 2 lane  State High Oops!,  he was already consigned to the bridge when he noticed the sign, ” trucks wider that 96 inches prohibited”,  it was too late, there was no area for a turnaround,  continuing across the bridge,  the good-natured Paul making light of the problem, wondering why they hadn’t seen any truck traffic on the approach to the bridge.  The consigned delivery completed, the two travelers soon accosting the Indiana state line and Indianapolis, Paul dropping Gary off at Glenn’s.  Gary somewhat disheveled and tired from the lack of sleep,  making every attempt to enjoy a night-life excursion provided by Glenn.  The following afternoon a weary traveler achieving flight reservation, not sure how to evaluate his expedition, leaving it as an experience. 

. Upon his evening arrival at Oklahoma Cities Will Rogers World Airport, Gary placing a phone call to the Derrick, canvassing  for an available person to retrieve him from the airport,  his pickup still deposited at the club,  a club waitress arriving.    Resuming his presence at the club,  later Gary found himself alone in the process of closing,  a known patron,  Donny Sledge entered with a look of disdain.  Approaching Gary,  demanding an explanation for his girlfriend picking him up at the airport,  followed by an accusation of an illicit relationship.  Gary was perplexed,  explaining he had just returned from Indiana and  had no idea who was going to pick him up at the airport.  His explanation having  no avail,  Sledge evolving a handgun,  wavering it in a threatening manner, then discharging it, the projectile rifling overhead  striking the wall just above the musician.

. The explosive sound reverberating in the empty premises,  the pungent smell of gunpowder adding to the complexity,  Gary momentarily shocked at the action of his assailant,  was at a loss for disposition.   Sledge  retreated to the door,  his final words before exiting,  ‘if you mentioned this,  you’ll be a goner’.   Gary hesitating,  unsure of what to do,  then administering a call to a club acquaintance,  a retired lieutenant from the Edmond City Police department. 

. Awakening him,  relating the accusations and actions of Donny Sledge.  Indecisive,  Gary asking whether or not to report the incident to the authorities, a negative response from the ex-lieutenant,  telling him to remain silent,  then giving Gary assurance that he would resolve the incident.  The musician  discovering two days later,   Donny Sledge was  stopped for an alluded traffic violation, and was arrested for  weapons possession,  a direct violation of his parole.  Gary concluding,    there still exist a realm of justice.


A Restoration for Dignity…#139 (the 70’s)

September 22, 2016


.  The water transport was secured from its temporary storage domain having been neglected and abused,  no longer a proud stature of its adumbration, but a memory of attainment being retained.   A new concession was accorded,  a redemption to again accommodate its intended ambition.  A renewal of esteem to be enhanced with the tenderness of application,  a restoration of dignity would prevail.  The residency of purpose was to install a meaningful artistry,  once again providing awareness to its physical attributes,  a brush of countenance would again endure with the ensconcement of a majestic allurement,  the results bringing a once forgotten prominence.   The 1954 18 ft. aluminum hull 8 passenger, Lonestar seaworthy vessel finding a home at Gary’s S.W. 46th Terrace residency.

.  The musician having discovered the vessel relegated to the weed infested back-lot of a boating sales concern on South Shield Ave. in Oklahoma City,  a despairing sight,  its presence adorning a trailer and an undersized 35 horsepower Evinrude motor.   Its past history was of the Texas Gulf,  the vessel small in stature for a proud  inhabitant of the sea,  a neglected relic of the past .   A restoration,  a gleaming white coat of paint,  the wooden interior beckoned an ocean blue coat,  new light fixtures,  the twelve volt electric starter,  forward and reverse controls all renovated for activation.  A celebrated launching at Lake Thunderbird in Norman was instilled,  although the diminished power train was inexpedient,  the 35 hp Evinrude would suffice for the pianist aspirations,  providing a recreational ride around the lake for his family and a platform for fishing.

.  The journey to lake Thunderbird was found to be somewhat of an obstacle ,  the 35 mile road trip, the boat ramp insertion and extrication of the craft was time consuming. Gary making an inquiry at the marina about a rental slip, discovering an unsheltered inexpensive rental space for one hundred dollars per year.  A visit with band member  Jerry Willis asking if he would like to share in the slip expense and use of the boat,  the majestic Lonestar finding a new residency.   The first family lakeside gathering found his wife Kaye, young Scott,  Marlo and an unexpected invite,  his mother-in-law Helen venturing on the waters of Thunderbird for an excursion around a portion of the lakes 60 mile shoreline.

.  An early morning expedition to Thunderbird finding Gary,  Jerry Willis,  his wife Darlene, her three sons Corky, Ricky, Donny and  friend Donna aboard the 18 foot Lonestar,  all excited about a fishing venture. The Thunderbird fishing emporium was apparent to bass,  catfish,  bottom feeding carp and the ever schooling crappie, with some other unacquainted species joining the fray.   The motley crew having little or no luck in the coves, Gary deciding to venture to the lakes dam site where he had success before,  and it wasn’t long before an array of schooling crappie began to flourish.

.  The pianist knew it was time for an immediate conversion from single hooks to the multiple hook crappie rigging.  Darlene having never before fished, on her first cast with the multi-hook rigging,  the bobber disappearing, a retrieval discovering three crappie on her line,  an exclamation of exhilaration prevailing.  Gary admitting that he had never achieved an introduction to fishing like that.  The schooling crappie adventure concluding,  the group returning to Jerry’s residence discovering a total of 82 crappie harvested with one disposition.  Gary discovering  no one was interested in cleaning the catch,  save Jerry’s eldest son Corky, noting the difference between people who fish and true fishermen.

.  Dave and John the sales representative for KWHP radio remained regulars at the Derrick Club,  Gary having acquired the stations services in the past to promote the club.  Dave having being very inventive with a large carbon arc searchlight, stationing it outside of the club to correspond with a special night broadcast, the beacon in the sky seen for miles designating the club’s location.   Gary having related his fishing stories about lake Thunderbird, the two bachelors having never been lake fishing deciding they were interested.   The 2:00 a.m. closing having arrived and passed, Gary and the prospective fisherman remained in the locked club awaiting a time to leave for Norman so they could arrive at the lake just before dawn.  Entering the marina boarding the 18 ft. aqua transport,  the fishing gear still in the rear bench where it was stored,  the three consigned with an ample supply of beverage, bait and expectations.  Proceeding with diligence in and out of several coves but this morning finding the submerged marine life elusive,

.  Gary having experienced that the ideal time for the fish to bite had arrived and would soon erode.  The late morning overcast sky was darkening the musician was aware of the possibility of  thunderstorms,  a tornado watch having been forecast,  but was confident they could abscond to the marina if a menacing weather status developed.   The expedition continuing, the wind beginning to expedite briskly, and for the first time it was noticed that a white-water crest was beginning to develop on the lake.  Off in the distance southwest of the lake there appeared to be a wall-cloud forming, the boat beginning to bob with the swells, Gary decided it was time to depart and return to the marina.   Activating the starter button the motor turned over briefly but then came to a halt, the battery having lost its initiative.  .  Dave and John having a concern look on their face and it deepened when Gary told them that he had never pull started the motor before and being the slightest of the three he gave it his best, the motor barely turned over.

.  The much bigger John volunteering,  but the Evinrude was in decline, failing to even fire and with the craft  buffeting, the water lifting the boat and beginning to drift, it was apparent the anchor was no longer set.  The riveting motion and drifting continued, as did the adrenalin, the three deciding to don life jackets, although Gary mentioned that the worst that could happen would be that they would drift ashore.   A scanning search for other lake activity found a vacancy,   save a person in a small ten foot boat being swept along by the waves toward the marina, Gary making an effort to stand up,  maintaining his balance, waving for recognition.   The person in the boat noticing their quandary, turning about into the wind-driven waves to attempt their deliverance.  The small craft arriving, tossed about, a rope line being cast, the person aboard fastening it to enact a tow, the Lone Star towering over the rescue boat.

.  Gary realizing the only reason the smaller boat could make any headway was because the marina was downwind.   Entering the marina area,  the normally subdued waters of the slip area were abashed with white water,  the waves splashing dockside, the boats moored in their slip bobbing like corks,  the towed Lone Star cresting against the docking area, Gary leaping to the boardwalk and with the tow line in hand conveying the craft to its appointed disposition.  A resulting conversation with the two advertising entrepreneurs finding their first lake fishing experience would probably be their last, especially if accompanied by a journeying tornado giving notice of its presence


A Gunshot Name Changer…..#140 (the 70’s)

September 20, 2016

The Derrick Club on Broadway in Edmond

The Derrick Club in Edmond

.  The   proprietorship of the Derrick Club taking a toll,  enacting a triad of volition,  physically,  mentally and financially.  Gary on the bandstand at night,  returning before  11:00 a.m. in the  mornings,  his journey on the Broadway Extension serving two purposes, a frequent stop to pick up  supplies,  and the daily housekeeping chores making the club presentable for the night and the noon liquid lunch  patrons.  The entertainment aspect of the club’s fiscal operation was a roller coaster  often  barely breaking  even,  the weekends producing just enough profit to instill it’s fortitude to continue.   A visit from Freedom Oklahoma businessman Bob French,  approaching Gary during a band  intermission.  Bob the proprietor the Freedom Cattlemen’s Cafe,  questioning if the band  would be interest in playing an upcoming dance at the Rodeo Pavilion Building.  Gary having no idea where Freedom was,  but the money was exceptional,  even if it meant having to find a band for the Derrick on a Saturday night, and with the band all in agreement, the gig was on.

.  Leaving from the Derrick, Bob Wallace joining Gary in Old Blue, Gary’s 66 Ford pickup to Freedom followed by a  number of loyal fans, the small  town located about 30 miles west of Alva on highway 64 then south on 50.   Once finding the pavilion  in this small community,  some of the followers from the  Derrick helping to unload and  set-up the band equipment. Gary somewhat questionable about the attendance, especially in a small town that doesn’t sponsor any nightlife.  The band starting promptly on time, but it turned out to be one of those night you had to settle with a lackluster crowd, Bob French blaming himself for the poor turnout.

.  The bands appearance completed, Gary more than ready for the return trip to Oklahoma City when in the midst of packing up the equipment he heard a popping sound, and a voice  call out,  ” someone’s been shot”.    Dropping what he was doing, he rushed outside.  Standing by the door was Chuck, a groupie from Edmond who had been helping with the band equipment,  he was holding his left shoulder,  wincing in pain,  saying that he had been shot,  babbling that  Norman Phillips,  another Edmond follower,  was the shooter.  An ambulance having been called but  would be a while having to travel 35 miles from Alva.  The sheriff’s department arriving almost immediately at the scene,  the musician realizing it was going be a long night.

.  Asking the band to finish loading his equipment in his pickup, Gary making a decision to ride in the ambulance to reassure a disheveled chuck that he was going to live.   The ambulance arriving  at Share Medical Center, discovering he wasn’t alone for very long, apparently the Woods County Sheriff had asked the other members of the band to meet at the hospital to answer questions about the who, what and why of the incident,  the narrative of the circumstances providing little as there were no witnesses save Chuck.   Jerry Willis returning Gary to retrieve his pickup and with the dawning of a new day discovering that chuck wasn’t the only person injured by the  incident,  the band was a victim too.  The local papers  propagating the incident about the shooting and the name of the visiting Oklahoma City band, the publicity not a good introduction for the Traditions.

.  The introductory journey to Freedom although disastrous  provided another opportunity.  Bob French who booked the VFW was somewhat of an entrepreneur.  Besides owning Cattlemen’s Cafe in Freedom,  he was involved with the RCA National Finals Rodeo held annually in Oklahoma City, having procured the publicity rights to, of all things a bull, not just any bull, but the retired Tornado owned by the legendary Jim Shoulders, un-rideable 2 hundred and 20 times until paired with Freckles Brown.   also projecting himself as a personal friend of the icon country band leader and singer,  Red Steagall,  another Rodeo familiar celebrity.  Gary receiving a Sunday night phone call from Bob mentioning he was at the Havana Inn, asking  Gary to meet with him.

.  Gary accepting the invitation, finding Bob waiting in the Copa Club, the man from Freedom apologizing for his past failure,  but asked about booking the band at a club called the Nite-Lite in Alva.  Questioning if the band would accept a Friday and Saturday Booking if the money was right and he could arrange it.  Gary saying he would give it some thought and for Bob to get back with him.  Later in the week,   a call from Bob confirming he had spoken with  Veldon Wolley the Night-Lites owner about playing a scheduled Friday and Saturday, adding, if they didn’t want to commute or spend money on a motel,  he could make arrangements for the band to  stay in a friends furnished double wide.  Gary having two weeks to once again find a replacement band,  beginning to wonder where this new-found road would end.

.  Unlike the journey to Freedom, there were no tag along fans joining the band for their first Alva appearance.  Gary and Jerry Willis in Gary’s pickup,  Bob Wallace, Kenny Cannada with their own transportation.  Unlike single night road engagement using only the Fender Rhodes, Gary loaded the Wurlitzer spinet from home with the rest of the band equipment, wanting to make a good impression at the Night-Light.  On arrival discovering numerous posters plastering the outside of the club and others having been distributed announcing their engagement, the only problem,  the posters had the name of the band wrong, announcing the band as the Persuaders,  not the traditions.   Gary surmising that Bob French was responsibility for the name change,  and in all probability not wanting to advertise a  band involved in the Freedom shooting incident.

.  Entering the club Gary finding the night-light prodigious, belaying its outward appearance like many others in rural Oklahoma.    It was a large 10,000 square foot windowless building able to seat well over 200,  the corner raised bandstand providing ample room to accommodate a band.   The night light also providing  sporting activities with three pool tables, air hockey and other gaming machines.  The club, probably by design, slipping under the ABC Board’s radar,  catering to an early evening underage college beer drinking consignment from Northwestern Oklahoma State College,  being  Alva’s only  late night after hours liquor serving establishment.  The club providing after hour’s enlightenment for the 2 a m closing customers from the Elks,  VFW,  Moose and other civic establishments.   Gary finding this new source of income more profitable even after the expense of hiring a replacement band for weekends at the Derrick.  and playing before packed house again,  instilled a sense of purpose.


A Perception of Despondency……#140A (70’s)

September 19, 2016


.  A despondency began to infiltrate the character of the musician,  the correspondence with the daily commitment  to  the club had become a burden, finding it a non-fulfilling enterprise.  the endeavor a solitary responsibility and investment, what began as a shared interest was no more,  Gary desiring a way out.   A visit with previous proprietor  Bill Diehl to see if he was at all  interested in the club,  discovering that he had found other means of opportunity.   Gary finally writing off his investment, the financial aspect was of no great loss, but the time effort invested was.   The Derrick would close its doors, bowing to the custodial care of receivership, a walk-away solution.   Gary’s home life was experiencing the same tribulation, there was an apprehension of a failure, the couple beginning to find little meaning in their relationship.  A cloud of depression descending, enveloping one of  despondency, a lack of communication halting a search for a solution.

.  The engagements in Alva was an ongoing  success with a discovery of bookings at the Moose Lodge, Elks Club and other established venues on subsequent weekends when not booked at the Night-Lite, the out of town bookings giving Gary a relief from the depression brought on by the recent decisions and self inflicted guilt.  Veldon  Woolley,  the owner of the Nite-Lite Club  offering the band a steady weekend booking if they would no longer require a contracted wage,   willing to accept control of the door and play for the cover charge.  Gary convincing the band to accept the challenge, the club already at times overflowing,  and the number of customers  was continuing to grow.    Jerry Willis’s wife Darlene,  and her Oklahoma City Cattlemen’s Cafe co-worker Donna,  volunteering to monitor the door on Friday and Saturday nights, the club attendance exceeding all expectations.  With the weekends booming,  Gary and Bob Wallace deciding to expand the entertainment,   journeying to Alva a day early performing Thursday nights as a duo.

. The regular Alva residency of the  Oklahoma City band,  now named the Persuaders,   was the Western Motel, finding Bill, the owner,  giving the group special budgeting price accords for their regular weekend stays.  Gary discovering the motels  primary income discerned during the  week  consisted mostly from the transports of commerce,   the big rigs.   The bands motel occupancy would include Gary,  Jerry Willis accompanied by his wife Darlene and several friends that worked at Cattlemen’s in Oklahoma City.   Bob Wallace with his current friend Vicki also partaking of the motel and pool.   One afternoon, poolside,  everyone couldn’t help but notice when Kenny Kannada introduced a striking concert from Kiowa Kansas,  Jan Murrow. 

. Gary remaining resolute in his confines having invited his wife Kaye to join him on several occasions in the past, but always getting the same declination, given the same reason, they  might call her to work on weekends at the FAA Center.   As time progressed, the musician realizing mixed feelings when away from his Oklahoma City domain, The prevailing solace lifting, the encroachment of  concupiscence no longer prevalent but still a need of something,  or somebody. 


Vulnerability and Dereliction….#141 (the 70’s)

September 18, 2016

Kiowa – 1 mile

.  Gary’s  home life dissidence becoming a factor, an encroaching  desire of withdrawal surfacing,  the musician still able to continue fulfilling his musical comment,  finding the out of town weekly excursion to Alva providing a temporary relief from the dysphoria of Oklahoma City.  A lack of communication with his spouse propelling no chance of abatement,  with a resolute atmosphere prevailing,  the toll of adversity of the past year events having vividly been etched with in.  At a loss for direction,  a decision to let circumstances dictate the path  and the future.

.  The throes of summer finding the Night Lite Club and the Persuaders remaining an overwhelming success,  being approached with several booking opportunities.  An evening finding Gary,  being introduced by Kenny’s concert Jan Murrow,  to her boss Judy Stairs,  the owner of a ladies apparel establishment, and the president of the Kiowa Chamber of Commerce in the stateline Kansas community of Kiowa.  Judy asking about the availability of the band to play a Labor Day weekend dance.

.  Gary having been informed that Kiowa was well known for its gala Labor Day presentation, the visitors to this event doubling the town’s population.  The City events, renown for its free afternoon bean feed, craft exhibits, a tractor pull, an amusement ride concession and the Labor Day dance.  The offer spurring Gary’s interest, and without hesitation accepting Judy’s offer to play the labor day weekend event.

.  Kenny Kannada making a decision,  giving the band notice because of a sultana obligation in Oklahoma City.  Jan continuing  to attend, conversing with Gary and the band during their breaks.  The pianist was conscious of his station,  but when in  the company of Jan,  an acquisition of compatibility began to evolve,  registering an inauguration of more than just friendship.  In a moment effeteness and dereliction,  accepting Jan’s suggestion that they venture to her place in Kiowa for breakfast.  During the weekends before labor day, Jan a mainstay frequenting the club, Gary,  when in her company,  discovering a blinding solace never experienced before,  a patented subjectiveness over shadowing his resistance and vulnerability

.  The Persuaders didn’t please everyone labor day, when Gary had signed the contract,  Kenny Cannada was with the band, and Judy Stairs,  the chamber of commerce president expecting the country music talent to be performing.   Old Blue,  Gary’s 66 Ford pickup, as penned by Bob Wallace, was readied with the band equipment for the return to Oklahoma City,  Gary spending the night in Kiowa, was not looking forward to the calescent drive back to the City in the non-air conditioned Ford.  Viewing a Wichita newspaper,  discovering the central plains and southwest all attesting to the exceedingly high temperatures, with the exception of  Colorado Springs,  the temperature augmenting a high in the sixties .

.  An agrarian accord enveloping Gary, a wild but definitive purpose surfacing,  an excursion to find cooler weather,  Colorado Springs meeting the criteria.  It being less than a day’s journey,  Jan’s air-conditioned 71 Ford  Torino availing the transportation.  The Musician having no qualms about leaving the tarp covered equipment in the bed of the pickup parked in the residential area of  the quiescent domain of Kiowa.  The only concern was voiced by Jan saying, that her Aunt and Uncle, Esther and Charles Terry would be able to view the parked pickup in front of her rental from their residence on Coates Street. With the sound of John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High on the radio,  the ensuing journey began, the couple looking forward to the of cooling atmosphere of Colorado Springs. An early evening arrival, the morning, a planned venture to Pikes Peak, but discovering it was an hours distance, opting for a drive to Cheyenne Canyon and the road to Seven Falls,   called  “The Grandest Mile of Scenery” in Colorado. Their brief excursion coming to a conclusion, their time together resolving several unanswered questions

.  The perdition of the Night Lite presenting a quandary for the band, Vel apparently never anticipated the Persuaders would continually draw such a crowd,  coming to the conclusion of relinquishing  the door cover charge to the band was a mistake.  He could do the math,  witnessing the potential loss of income,  deciding to renege on the agreement.  The band  having no alternative but to agree to his terms,  at least for the time being.   No longer established as a fixture, the band  wasn’t without recourse,  enhancing other opportunities, partaking of the acquaintances made in Alva, availing  the Moose,  the Elks Lodge, an open air dance in Anthony Kansas,  and even a very high paying private barn dance sponsored by a wealthy farmer.

.  Gary’s home life continued on a downhill slope,  coming to a defining moment, congruent with his spouse, a decision was made that it would be in the best interest of both parties  for him to dislodge himself from the residence.  Packing nothing but his clothes,  he enrolled in a one-bedroom downstairs apartment in the Penn Apartments at Southwest 36th and Pennsylvania Avenue not far  from his home for the past 13 years.  The budding relationship between Jan and Gary  was on hold because of miles of separation,  the music commerce in Oklahoma City was in transition,  the number of accomplishments providing live entertainment was in declination.   An application of the past years of experience finding Gary utilizing his talent for retention,  traversing the highway when the expediency of local expenditures failed,  a combination of travel and local acuity filling the band.

.  Gary having a serious discussion with Jan about her moving to Oklahoma City, understanding the difficulty she would have confronting the contentions of her parents,  about residing with a married man almost eleven years her senior.  Gary also having a concern but accepting the inevitable, he would have to meet her parents.


Silent disapproval………#142 (the 70’s)

September 16, 2016

The Penn Apartments

The Penn Apartments

.  Gary’s first impression of Jan’s parents was one of apprehension, considering the situation, outwardly they displayed a politeness that could be considered typical of parents when introduced to a friend of  their daughters, but beneath the surface, he suspected a cloistered disdain because of his circumstances and his involvement with her.  To him,  the Murrow’s assessment of the musician seemed  more of a reaction to Jan’s past discretionary prose.  Gary surmising that the retrospection of their daughters two prior marriages may have had something to do with their sentiment.

.  Jan’s first marriage, the groom having just fulfilled his naval service military obligation,  the marriage inaugurated,  but abruptly ended with him according an annulment.  Her second and recent marriage was to a wannabe biker, whom she soon discovered was prone to physical abuse, resulting with her filing for  divorce.  Helen,  Jan’s mother,  openly displaying a concern about her daughter’s undertaking a move to Oklahoma City, but for some reason ignoring Gary’s marital status or questioning a concern about his intentions,  just a silent amplification of disapproval.

.  Jan arrived in Oklahoma City with her poodle Mitzi having decided to discount the wishes of her parents,  and with her arrival the clouds of uncertainty all but disappeared in Gary’s world, but at the same time realizing a new financial burden.  Gary deciding to approach the Penn Apartment management concerning their rent, having discovered  the waiting period he experienced before moving into his apartment, was cause by the unavailability of a painting contractor to ready the apartments for rental.  Seizing on this information,  he informed the manager that he was an experienced painter, and that in exchange for his apartment rent,  he would be on call to paint all vacancies on a ‘as needed basis’  with no per diem charge.

.  The lady  manager was more than susceptible to idea of no longer having to delay a rental because of a contractors schedule,  but would have to get an approval from corporate.  Gary soon receiving word,  corporate giving its approval and his apartment and utilities were now considered complementary.  Jan deciding it was time to look for work,  but was having a difficult time finding employment,  applying ,  being turned down  at 7 11  for being truthful on her application about having smoked pot, but her perseverance paid off,  accepting a nighttime position  at a packaged sandwich endeavor, which supplied their product to 7 11’s and other small convenient stores.

The ventured new life finding the bands Bob Wallace retaining an apartment in the Penn Complex with his steady girlfriend Vicki,  who was expecting, Gary suspecting it was the reason for Bob to mellow from his normal lifestyle. The vocalist providing a daily acquaintance,  establishing a new perspective to Gary’s outlook,  discovering that he shared nothing in common with Bob except music.  Bob was a pot smoker, Gary having been exposed to it as an occupational hazard years ago,  and admittedly having tried it,  but came to discover that after smoking pot,  a five-minute song seemed to last ten minutes,  so he never indulged again,  and like his closes friends Jerry and Glenn,  the only cigarettes they smoked cost 35 cents and came out of a machine.  The local bookings were scares, the 70’s having brought a change to the club activity of Oklahoma City, the musician surmised the boom days of  the clubs, like the top 40 music stations on radio,  were fast becoming a memory.

.  Gary lay prone beneath the 1966 Ford pickup in the Penn Apartment parking area,   removing the  starter during the thunderstorm induced deluge hoping that new brushes  would reconstruct its performing appointment.   Once removed, the dissembling completed, the rotor and armature looking satisfactory, but the brushes appeared worn to the point of almost  nonexistent, a glance at his watch telling him that  the temporal clock was evicting a halt to the starters final recovery.  It was 90 miles to Clinton,  and for the band to start on time they needed to get started.  Jerry Willis arriving, both knowing there was no way the band equipment would fit in his car, the excursion would have to be made in Gary’s Pickup as is.  The slope of the driveway onto Southwest 36th providing just enough roll for Gary to pop the clutch, the motor turning over.

.  The rain having receded in Oklahoma City,  but resumed again when traversing west on interstate 40,  the plastic visqueen covering the instruments loosening,  but still provided ample protection.   Arriving at their destination with no choice but to  leave the Pickups  running while they unloaded the instruments.   Gary having some concern about getting it started after the gig but luck intervened,  discovering a United Supermarket Store  two blocks away with a slightly slanted downhill parking area.  The only casualty during the trip because of the loosen visqueen,  was the Fender Rhodes,   a number of keys receiving moisture, when a single key was depressed it would be joined by another,  but as the night progressed individuality prevailed.  The night concluding *Ole Blue, Gary and Jerry finding an unassailable return to the City.

.  The band’s recently acquired young drummer Joey Marino’s first telephone call wasn’t too much of a concern, but the second registered an uncertainty, Joey on the line explaining,  he had loaned Bob his drums and now was unable to locate Wallace.  Gary following up with Joey’s call,  making some inquiries,  but like Joey,  unable to discover Bob’s whereabouts. It wasn’t very long  when he received a phone call.   “Coach”,   Bob never calling Gary by his first name,  always referring to him as Coach,  “I’m in California and don’t know when I’ll return”,  Gary somewhat taken back,  but the worst was yet to come,   the shocking news, Bob saying that he had hocked Joey’s drums in Albuquerque for gas money.  Now wasn’t the time to panic,  the band having several weekend Clinton club dates still remaining,  Gary needing a singer and a drummer.  Having heard that Kenny Kannada was still in town, driving for a tow-truck operator and possibly available, but the question was finding a drummer

.  A phone call to the Kelly Q’Ellar agency asking about a  drummer, Kelly surprising Gary, mentioning that his trio was not booked,  and although having never worked with Gary’s band he would play the Clinton engagements himself,  and with Kenny Cannada available, the Clinton engagement was cover, but uncertainty still reigned.  Without a full-time singer and drummer he didn’t have a band,  Gary somewhat hesitant about returning to a piano bar appearance.  In the past playing a piano bar was an option, but this time  with the current circumstances thrust upon him,  there might not be a choice.