At 15 years of age, I’d catch a bus from North Highlands with my amp and harps in tow and somehow make my way over to piano man James Monroe’s 30 and H walk up flat to listen and play blues all day and into the night. I was in heaven playing the real stuff with James and along with him and Guitarist Ray “Catfish” Copeland we put together the Quikshake Bluesband. My first band. We played the Parapow Palace, Toad Hall and wherever we could. They were all at least 10 years older than me so, of course, I was “The Kid.”
They were my introduction to Steve Samuels, Dave Fraser, The Nate Shiner Blues Band, Little Charlie and the Night Cats and the rest of the burgeoning Sacramento Blues scene of the early 70s.
Dale Lyberger was the bottom end of one the most popular Sacramento bands at that time, The Four Skins later to be David and the Four Skins. Sacramento Blues Hall of Famer Steve Samuels and I had started a group called Nite Owl Express. We had a rehearsal house on 14th and C St in old Alkali Flats. I was17. I remember being in the basement where we rehearsed one day when Steve Samuels, the one-armed guitarist extraordinaire walked in and glared at me and said, “ ya got the call kid.” I didn’t know what he was talking about but was soon to learn that the Skins were going to San Francisco to record two songs at the famous Funky Jack’s or Funky Features where Steve Miller had recorded… and I was to get paid $100!! In 1972!! Now all I had to do was get permission from my mom. It went something like this, “Hey mom, can I go to SF to record with a band?” Who are these people? “They’re called the Four Skins!! “ What???!!! I said yeah they’re really big!! She just shook her head and said “just get out here. Yes you can go. But get your homework done.” I was in heaven. The studio was in Haight Ashbury, home of the hippies. My first paid session and recorded harp solo.
Tim Wilbur was the 4th drummer Nite Owl Express had hired and we were stoked. He was a legendary figure on the scene as he’d played in top bands in Sac back in the 70s like Slo Loris. By that time, we’d fired Steve Samuels over musical direction differences and were now a funk band soon to be part disco. Tim became my mentor and big brother. Schooled me like a step child he’d say. Enlightened me to the coolness of the music of John Coltrane to the Meters. All kinds of music and different ways of thinking. We even learned to tap dance together in our duplex in Stockton that some rich farmers down there put us up in. We became Buddhists and chanted every morning and then practiced music all day. He taught how to play drums and during Nite Owl shows he’d come out front and sing James Brown’s “The Big Payback with me on the kit. He stretched the damn thing out for 20 minutes sometimes and I’d be cramping up back there in my platform shoes!!
Doug Crumpacker is a new friend and a fine guitarist.
As you can see I’ve kind of come around full circle with these fellas from my budding musical journey since I left Sac for LA in 1980 too soon join the Rod Stewart group in 1981.I could go on and on with stories of those times but we’ll save it for later.
I really do hope you all can make it to the show on June 11, 2016. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed by the music.