By Bob the Record Guy Paxon
In 2012 the Tune Rockers were inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall Of Fame. Their 1958 “Green Mosquito” was the first big Rock’n’Roll hit out of Buffalo and established a pattern of Rockin’ instrumentals which was followed by The Quarter Notes, The Jesters, Kathy Lynn & The Playboys and most famously the Rebels (aka The Rockin’ Rebels).
“Green Mosquito” featured a lineup of Gene Strong, Tim Nolan, Fred Patton, Mickey Vanderlip, with Johnny Capello (later lead vocalist of The Graduates) on sax. This lineup can be seen on an excellent video available on YouTube. Missing on that video is the piano player – a man who has become well-known in the Western New York area in other capacities – the man known as Art Wander!
Not nearly as well-known is a slightly earlier (and much scarcer) 45. Previously credited to a Cleveland recording studio but apparently actually recorded in New York City, and issued on a NYC label (Pet), “No Stoppin’ This Boppin” is a fantastic slice of instrumental Rockabilly and R&R, really raw. The sax player (not Mr. Cappello) remains unknown – apparently a session musician; and the drummer is Vinnie Vincent. NOT the KISS guitarist!
The flip side, “Easy Does It” is equally great, making this two-sider a favorite among collectors who prize the primitive charms of these sides above the smoother style of “Green Mosquito”.
Having taken their two shots at R&R glory, the Tune Rockers promptly disappeared and stayed in obscurity until Gene Strong and Tim Nolan showed up in person to receive their just due at the BMHOF induction in 2012. The story of Rock’n’Roll is filled with great regional bands like this who, on any given night, may have been The Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band In The World.
Fastnacht-Kuchen or Küchle are a holiday food well-known to Buffalonians. Made for the Advent season, specifically Fat Tuesday (Fastnacht), the original purpose of this highest-calorie treat was as a way to use up the sugar and lard in the house before the fasting time of Lent! It’s never a bad idea to name an instrumental after a snack, which brings us to Buffalo’s Fendermen.
They were plagued from the start with a rival Fendermen out of Wisconsin whose national hit ‘Mule Train’ eclipsed the local success of the Buffalo boys. Fas-Nacht-Kuechel and its flip even appeared on compilation albums of these Midwest pretenders, confusing collectors who finally resorted to calling them the Buffalo Fendermen. But to local collectors, ours are The Fendermen and theirs are the Mule Train Fendermen!
One original member was Brent Palmer who co-wrote these sides and signed one of the copies I found. By 1960 they had become “The Fabulous Fendermen” probably in deference to the more famous Fendermen. When they played the Erie County Fair that year the members were Jimmy Lennon and Mike Isola (or Usola) – guitars; Larry Blaze – sax; Freddy Greman (or Germann) – drums. Don Stewart was billed as vocalist, and indeed on their only other record release, a followup 45 also on DAB, Stewart’s name was featured. But Stewart was actually the proprietor of the local tavern they played and perhaps it was this aspect more than his dubious vocal talent that earned him a role.
They are the kind of group that collectors love because it’s easy to complete a collection – they only had two! Both appeared on the local DAB label, owned by Bobby Fonville and Ralph Hernandez. Collecting DAB records is also easy as there was only one other release, Charles Hargro & The Vibraharps (DAB 101).
1959 DAB Records 102 Fas-Nacht-Kuechel / Rain Drop
1960 DAB Records 103 You’re The Girl / More Than Words Can Tell