MP3 Bonaroo - ROCK: 70´s Rock
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10 MP3 Songs
ROCK: 70's Rock, ROCK: Modern Rock
Warner Brothers circular
vol.7 number 10, Monday, March 17, 1975
The Band That Began Without a Beat
By GENE SCULATTI
It ain't no easy run. Between organizing personnel, lining up gigs and paying the rent,
it's a wonder anyone would undertake such a task as assembling a rock & roll band. But it happens, even in this enlightened age. And some times it even involves grown men.
The way in which such foolhardy loons set about such a mad mission varies: spontaneous generation, fission and fusion each year account for the formation of many new bands, all of whom want to be fed and sheltered and heard. But there's one that didn't come into the world in a normal way.
Got No Rhythm. Bonaroo sprang into the heads of two musicians, guitarist-singer Bobby Winkelman and keyboarder-singer Bill Cuomo, about a year and a half ago. Winkelman, coming off a hitch with the Steve Miller Band which included duty aboard the best-selling #5 album, and Cuomo, a seasoned vet who'd backed up Paul Williams and Gene Clark, wanted to form their dream band. Their only problem was they lacked three semi-essential ingredients: a drummer, a bass player, and a rhythm guitarist.
"It was sort of weird at the beginning,"soft-spoken Winkelman explains. "We're a complete group now but we were actually part of the way through recording our first album before we had all our members.
"Both Bill and I had been writing for quite a while so we had plenty of material, but what we needed was to attract competent players to join us. It Wasn't easy."
Starting at the Top (Searching for a Bottom)
Drummer Mike Hossack had been a longtime jamming partner of Winkelman's. He left the Doobie Brothers after three albums to join Bonaroo. Bassist Bobby Lichtig, who may or may not wear the official nickname "Animal Crackers,'passed an audition set by Winkelman and manager Marty Cohn. Jerry Weems, whose hot guitaring garnished Edgar Wiinter's Free Ride album was the last Bonaroo to sign on. He'd been recommended to Winkelman and Cuomo by another old friend, Ronnie Montrose.
"We were hoping to get someone sooner,"Cuomo recalls, "but every time we'd come close to signing somebody something would go wrong. And we auditioned a lot of guitarists: some of them pretty good. We finally found exactly what we were after, though, with Jerry,"he smiles,
"... A creative, well-rounded superstar you could talk to...just in case we made it."
They finally made it, but that's getting ahead of the story. Next came the mysterious, but most necessary, process of choosing a name. Lichtig, a former classical clarinetist who now works out on bass and horns, came up with "Bonaroo>" According to Winkelman,"it's a cajun term meaning Number One or premium, the best. If something's good, you say it's bonaroo."
The newly formed band quickly lived up to its name, rehearsing original material intensively in the Bay Area most of last year. Thankfully, they were within earshot of Warners producers Lenny Warnoker and Ted Templeman.
"Teddy was going to produce us," Winkelman explained,"but he had a lot of prior commitments at the time, so Marty Cohn, our manager, did it, with Dave Hassinger."
First Time Ever. With material and arrangements worked out, Bonaroo was recorded and mixed with a maximum amount of care in a minimum amount of time, so that the gold-on-blue and black package could precede the groups arrival on the Continent. Bonaroo's first official tour was that now legedary Warner Bros. Music Show which made its way through nine cities in five countries in 21 days last January and February.
Bonaroo's clean accoustic and electric edges rubbed audiences the right way in England, France, Germany, and Belgium, causing no small stir among the native citizenry and the record company alike.
No stranger to the road himself, Bill Cuomo called the European adventure "the softest tour I've ever had. Everything worked. Being a young band, there was a lot of pressue on us, we felt,because we were on the bill with much bigger acts like the Doobies and Tower Of Power.
"Our first gig in England was only our second professional public appearance, but we got a standing ovation, which helped put us in the right frame of mind for the rest of the tour."
The enthusiasm was contagious. Buoyed up by the growing record sales they'd leave in their wake after each concert, the band rocked on with renewed vigor and confidence. Manchester, Munich, and Brussels stood out as the brightest highlights for Cuomo.. "Warner Bros. Made the whole thing so easy. I wouldn't go through Germany without them."
Future Games. Upon their return to San Jose and the Santa Cruz mountains in Northern California, Bonaroo were greeted by additional good fortune; their album bubbled under as a bonafide "pick" in the trades and sales started to perk nationwide.
Despite a full compliment of friends and associates, a cast which includes Ronnie Montrose, the Guess Who's Dom Triano and the Doobies' Pat Simmons, Bonaroo, the album, spotlights the impressive contributions of its five charter members. The accent is on clean, punchy rhythms over-laid with bright harmonies which might remind the listener of the Doobies or even the Beach Boys.
The group composition "Melody Maker" is a full-sounding production suggesting some of the spaciousness of the Moody Blues records while Winkelman's Dream On is an infectious pop rocker. Cuomo.'s niche is securely cinched by his affixing the classic line "Met her on a Sunday/Though she had me coming' back on Monday" to those delicious chords in "Sally Ann."
High times and the promise of success beckon Bonaroo from around the corner. The possibility of going out on a national tour in April or May is being talked about.
"We're in no hurry," says Cuomo.. We had a couple of chances to go out with some name acts but we want to wait for the right bill. I don't know how we would have gone over with Zappa's audience or Humble Pie's."
Beyond that, Bonaroo is "happy with the way it's all going. Th album came out better than we expected and the European tour was fun. All we can hope for,"says Winkelman, is that people will listen to our record and forget their troubles. If we can get them to do that we can justify our own existence."
©1975 Pants Down Music. BMI
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