By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon
Last week we talked about the Tweeds, and how they won a contest in 1967. That was a Battle Of The Bands, part of WKBW’s annual Fun-A-Fair. Sponsors for the show included Wink (the soft drink) and the Battle was ‘presented’ by Fender Musical Instruments, with drums provided by Kubera’s, the much-loved local music store. The prize the Tweeds won was a recording session and release on Coral Records. I don’t know if the bill was footed by Coral, KB or some of the other sponsors but that was a big prize to win!
1968’s Battle Of The Bands included thirty bands. The Fun-A-Fair itself lasted eight days and there was constant Rock’n’Roll and Teen music with five to eight performances a day. Some of the Battle contestant bands also performed often (multiple times) as part of the entertainment. These included The Rogues, The Mellow Brick Rode (pre-The Road), Caesar & His Romans, The Twiggs, The Tweeds, The Union Gap (local, not the famous one), The Vibratos ‘with Miss Toni Castellani’, and Wilmer & The Dukes.
There were also some national acts performing, who were not currently chart toppers – like Roy Orbison, Josh White Jr, and Ray Stevens (‘backed by The Vibratos’). Delevan, New York’s The Free Design was given ten performance slots. I’m guessing they weren’t in competition, as they already had a contract. In fact by this time they were well into their career. Their hit ‘Kites Are Fun’ 45 and album had come out in 1967 and their second ‘You Could Be Born Again’ album was due out at this time. I don’t now if they were at this time (or ever) considered a local act by Buffalo-area people, but I’m curious to find out – did they ever play around town otherwise?
Info on the outcome of the 1968 Battle is sketchy. I’ve been told it could have been semi-unknown local band The New Breed. They did release a scarce 45 around that time but the label it’s on seems to be their own label. So if they did indeed win the prize must have been a recording SESSION only, and they used the tape from it to make their own record.
If another band won either they didn’t put out a record, or I just never realized a record I’m already aware of is the result of this process! Information, as always, is need and help is appreciated.
1969’s Fun-A-Fair took place at the Pepsi Center in Amherst – I THINK. Previous ones were at either the Aud or the Armory. The Battle Of The Bands that year was sponsored by Amherst Cable Vision, a fledgling and visionary attempt to get people to pay for something they were used to getting for free- Television! They needed all the help they could get and they worked this event for some name recognition here.
The Subconscious Mind were a six-man band from Cheektowaga. I regret to say that any info I found on them – names and instruments – currently is avoiding capture! What I do know is that they don’t seem to have been particularly active. Their name doesn’t appear in any local club ads I’ve ever seen, and other musicians never mention them as a band with a presence on the scene. Maybe most of their gigs were High School dances.
In any case they weren’t expected to win. I’ve heard two stories about that. One was that other bands were played better that night, but Subconscious Mind packed the place with their fans. The other is that the second place band was considered by local fans to be a better band, but on that night everything just clicked for Subconscious Mind. Voting was close, but they won.
The prize was a recording date and it took place at Audio Recording in Cleveland. Local music maven Richard Sargent produced it, Cleve technician Arnie Rosenberg engineered, and it came out on the Vintage Records label. As far as I know this was a one-shot ‘label’, with no other releases and no connection to any other labels. It was probably pressed at Rite or Queen City in Ohio as a custom job.
The band chose to record two cover versions for the single. “On The Way Home” is the Neil Young song which he recorded with Buffalo Springfield, while “No Fair At All” is by The Association. Both of these are very good folk/rock with a heavy vocal presence. I’m guessing two of the members were vocalists only, in the style of The Association – who were BIG in 1969. The Buffalo Springfield were of course always popular locally, with The Road doing two Springfield covers on their first album.
So here it is – Buffalo teens doing their take on Neil Young. Enjoy!