Posts Tagged ‘Jan Lawhon’

Discovering A Treasure – Jan Lawhon…. #121 the 60’s)

October 30, 2016

Jan Lawhon – opening a new door

Booking agent Ruth Salee penning Gary to a four-week club date contract for six nights a week at the Chickasha Holiday Inn, 40 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.  The motel located just off the H. E. Bailey turnpike exit on Highway 81.  The musician finding the club accommodations very facilitating, having a small raised platform bandstand with a console piano and a small dance floor situated to the right of the entrance door.  True to his contract, he was furnished a room and accorded discounted prices for meals, but being only forty-five minutes from  home, he saw no need to utilizing the accommodations unless for some unforeseen consequence.

The weekday evening clientele was mostly made up of road weary salesman, with a scattering of locals, the club normally having a last call by midnight.  Gary finding the  weekends more enjoyable with an opportunity to get re-acquainted with many of the locals who remember him from the Untouchables and their performance at J.C. Hunters El Rancho Club.  A secondary benefit was the El Rancho Club’s presence, discovering that  J.C. would cash his Holiday Inn check, Gary very much surprised, as a general rule Clubs never cashed payroll checks.

Oklahoma City Key Magazine display

The Chickasha engagement about to come to a conclusion, the pianist having never given much thought that a Holiday Inn’s featured live entertainment until now, and this experience opened a new venue of opportunity.  Gary having noticing a display in the current issue of Key Magazine about a new Holiday Inn on South Meridian Ave. in Oklahoma City, and after inquiring  thru the grape-vine, discovering that Herb Carpenter, the manager of the Hi Low club had sold his interest and acquired the franchise for the Pirates Cove,  in the new Holiday Inn West.   Gary was well acquainted with Herb, as a previous employer giving the Untouchables their first longevity sit down job in the City.

A strategy was initiated, it was a slow night at the club in Chickasha, the pianist making an excuse to leave early for home, only the objective was the Holiday Inn on South Meridian, not only wanting to visit with Herb, but also to check out the entertainment.  Upon arrival at the Inn’s location, he was conspicuous of the Holiday Inn West rural Oklahoma City location, a block south of Interstate 40,  its presence, adding a new dexterity to South Meridian Avenue the north south byway to the relatively new Will Rodgers World Airport.  The musician questioning its somewhat boon-docks location and also wondering why Herb  Carpenter would exit the very successful Hi-Low and invest in a club in the middle of nowhere.

The Pirates Cove

Gary was truly impressed with the clubs decor, especially with the booths seating positioned among the painted scenes of pirate activity and the ships rigging,   providing a captivating club atmosphere and high-lighted with its dance floor and circular piano bar.  A negro pianist was seated at the consul behind the piano bar and to his left stood an upright bass player, reminiscent of the Hi-Low’s Preacher Smith group, but to his right, on a raised carpeted platform, stood a  vivacious petite vocalist in a cocktail dress, positioned with a microphone and a stand up percussion drum affiliation.   The musician greeting Herb, Gary revealing his present music endeavor and past accomplishment, espousing a desire to present his capability.

Jan Lawhon

From out of the blue, Herb resounding with an interesting query about Gary working with the talented young vocalist, Jan Lawhon,  and inferring the probability of replacing the current group backing her.  During a break, Gary introducing himself to the commanding young Jan,  complimenting her vocal and rhythmic drum expertise, annotating  his past with Herb,  and mentioning his present Chickasha Holiday Inn situation.   The visit resulting in a cordial agreement to meet  the subsequent afternoon, to journey  to Chickasha where Gary’s piano and keyboard bass was set up,  the two to audition each other’s talent.

Recorded for Boyd Records Inc. in Oklahoma City

Gary providing the afternoons introductory journey south, discovering Jan to be very congenial, her vocal accomplishment demonstrating a resume of  talent,  having  recorded for Oklahoma Cities Boyd Records in the past, releasing several and even venturing a Hollywood audition for a possible film career along with many other  spotlighted endeavors.  Jan stating she was  currently a junior at the University of Oklahoma  striving for a law degree.

Arriving at the Holiday Inn in  Chickasha, the two providing a  bandstand presentation in the club,  each confirming their talent,  the two inherently compatible,  Gary discovering he was familiar with almost all of her vocal repertoire and if everything worked out, they could satisfactory start to perform with a minimal amount of rehearsal.  The returning drive to Oklahoma City, the two acknowledging a possible musical union to present to Herb, Gary coming to the conclusion that real talent isn’t elicit but intrinsic.

Jan Lawhon – Nonpareil….#122 (the 60’s)

October 28, 2016

Jan Lawhon

Gary finding Jan’s personality unambiguously unpretentious, an exemplar of congeniality, her musical repertoire capacious and never having experienced a person with such lyrical recall.   Her quality of voice totally acceptable and her timing impeccable, but for some reason standing before the upright percussion set of drums diminished  her ambiance.  Gary having a basic trap-set at his residence according it for Jan who found it more comfortable and relaxing being seated, especially between vocals.

Jan with her trap-set

The two discovering immediate success entertaining six night a week.  Gary at the piano bar playing keyboard bass and piano, Jan seated with microphone behind the percussion trap set on the raised platform stage.  The Pirates Cove decor was truly unique and the newly established Holiday Inn providing weekday seclusion for the road weary salesmen.  The Cove experiencing ever increasing numbers on Friday and Saturday nights as the word of a Jan and Gary venue spread.  The two settling in, to what almost seemed like a family atmosphere, making the acquaintance of Carl Ware the building contractor, George Moore the innkeeper,  Carl Wilcox the day clerk,  Bob Henderson the night clerk,  all installed by the coverall attired Lloyd Hobbs, the Holiday Inn owner and CEO of  H & H  Motels, Little Rock Arkansas.  Herb Carpenter, the clubs franchise owner, who you addressed as Herb when talking to,  but as Herbie when talking about him, delivered a star-studded cast to compliment the club, Wanda Marino and Mary, long-standing employees from the Hi Lo Club.

The Holiday Inn West

The 55 room Holiday Inn West

Gary having noticed another convenience at the new Holiday Inn location, besides its interstate 40 South Meridian location, a new Gulf Service Station, proclaiming the significance of Gulf Oils new affiliation with the Holiday Inn Corporation.  its credit card being honored by the Inn’s,  enabling lower wage earner who could garner a Gulf credit card,  the same opportunity as American Express courtiers,  thus greatly advancing  the availability.   The Holiday Inn remaining in an expansion mode, having opened with only fifty-five available rooms, the additional accommodations soon to  be recognized, and with  Hilton and Ramada lodging opportunities under construction on Meridian Avenue,  competition  would soon prevail.

A dedicated OU fan

Guitarist & Sax – Jerry Willis

Jan’s educational enrollment at OU limiting their rehearsals to accommodate her academic  schedule.  Gary according an index card approach for recording novel indemnities with unusual chord structures to facilitate unfamiliar new songs.   The musician was sustained with the inaugurated accomplishment of the Pirate Cove,  a limited responsibility and a charismatic vocalist satisfying the customer assemblage with the past and current array of musical intuition.   Gary advocating adding a portioned  accompaniment, approaching Herb,  suggesting a trial weekend augmented with the talents of his good friend guitarist Jerry Willis, who accompanied him on weekends in the past.   The Pirates Cove having finally come to full fruition, the weekend addition of Jerry ensured the continuance of the clubs prodigious capacity and success, drawing an increasing audience from  the bounds of the city.  Gary experiencing the best of two worlds, a piano bar paradise, the Pirates Cove Club, and a pianist dream, the talent of a Jan Lawhon.

Jan – The Cove….#124 (the 60’s)

October 25, 2016

Gary, Jerry and Jan

The Holiday Inn West access to Interstate 40 enabled residency for the many  whom traversed the highways of discovery pitching a diversity of occupational endeavors.  Their weekday nightly patronage of the Pirates Cove provided Jan and Gary not only a sense of accomplishment but one of satisfaction.   Another benefactor of the Meridian Ave. location was Oklahoma City’s Mike Monroney FAA Center providing edification for air-traffic control and flight-instructors, the professionals and students from across the nation in attendance,  the assemblage also contributing to the Pirates Cove’s nightly capacity.

As the months progressed the two acknowledging a steady increase in regular city customers thru the work week and with the addition of Jerry Willis on weekends it was a thriving success.  Attorney Leo Thompson, a alumnae  of the University of Oklahoma College of Law was a fixture at the piano-bar weekday nights, it was obviously  he was captivated with Jan was who was young enough to be his daughter,  never failing to tip and request his perfunctory favor song, ” Till There Was You”.   Jan mentioning that on occasions Leo would insist on donning her with gifts, and from Leo’s cordial and father like demeanor the pianist was confident that their relationship was paternal.   Gary was somewhat puzzled about Ron another piano-bar regular, a slight bi-speckled,  self-proclaimed NASA engineer,  whom the pianist had questionable doubts until Bob Henderson the Inn’s front desk night clerk approached the piano bar to inform Ron of a message,  Gary able to over-hear  ” Someone called from the airport, the planes ready for your return to Houston”.

The pianist life at the Cove becoming one of unanimity,  working with Jan was like a working with a family member, the two able to communicate because of their analogous propensity in their music.  Gary never ceased to be amazed with Jan’s photogenic lyrical memory, Glen Campbell having just released a big hit, “Gentle On My Mind” , the young lady able to recall the lyrics in one sitting, especially the tongue tying last verse…

.        I dip my cup of soup back from a gurgling, crackling cauldron in some train yard
.             My beard a roughened coal pile and a dirty hat pulled low across my face
.       Through cupped hands round a tin can I pretend to hold you to my breast and find
.            That you’re wavin’ from the backroads by the rivers of my mem’ry
.       Ever smiling, ever gentle on my mind

Apparently talent was an inherit quality,  the Pirates Cover being introduced to Jan’s younger Sister Joy, who like her sister demonstrated a quality stage presence, exhibiting her vocal talent with a acoustical guitar.   The two sister somewhat contradictory in physical stature, Jan very petite, Joy a statuesque blonde proclaiming a flavor of the  hippie generation sporting a Haight-Ashbury wardrobe.  Gary confirming, although the two were about the same age, but there was a mindset generational gap,  Joy mentioning she was having difficulties having a pay phone installed in her apartment.  When ask why, she said it was just a way of expressing herself.  The two sisters, both graduates of Midwest City High School, diametric in personality, however they blossomed when vocalizing together,  a perfect harmony.

It was during an evening presentation break that Gary and Jan were approached by an emporeutic person inquiring about their exigency for sheet music and if they might be interested in what he had to offer.   The pianist questioning his mitigation, the two accompanying the person outside to the parking lot, accordingly viewing the opening of the trunk of his car.  Displayed were stacks of bound music manuscripts,  better known in the music world as fake books.   Gary having never seen such a wealth of music, each books containing over 1000 songs with lyrics, chords and a single note melody line.  A gold mine of opportunity was thought to have been discovered until the price for each was acknowledged.   The pianist exploring the mother lode find, setting three large volumes,  standards,  show tunes, current hits aside, then because of the price having reconcile himself to obtaining a single volume.  Jan who had briefly departed, reemerged with club owner Herb Carpenter in tow,  excitingly espousing the find to Herbie,  the club owner without hesitation according the full cost of their selections.

  Gary discovering the comradery at the cove many of the local weekend customers were married couples becoming regulars also on weekday nights making lasting acquaintances of sales and company reps whose base was Oklahoma City. The Cove, a life experience in the making.