45 Friday: It’s the Fendermen and their holiday tribute “Fas-Nacht-Kuechel”

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

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