By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon
Last week we talked about the local record by Broken Arrow And The Tomahawks. This week we’ll look at the 45 by ‘Red Arrow & The Braves’ which may be related. Or not! While “I Get Rainy River Blues” was both a serious song and a humorous /novelty track, “The Last Days Of Kinzua” was intended to be serious. But the cliched ‘Indian’ sounds, like those on the Broken Arrow 45 – the Indian drum rhythms, the vocalizations – make it sound a little corny to our 2015 ears. And non-PC.
As with “I Get Rainy River Blues” the thematic background is the building of the Kinzua Dam project and the forced relocation of the Senecas. “The Last Days Of Kinzua” concerns itself not just with the early 1960s Dam-building events but also the historical background. “Cornplanter, Chief of the tribe” was the historical Seneca leader who led the Iroquois Confederacy in war against the Americans. It was his 1796 Treaty with the United States government which reserved the Cornplanter Tract for the Senecas. This is the land which was flooded in by the Kinzua Dam.
“The Last Days Of Kinzua” was issued twice. Both are on Kinzua Records, both are listed as Kinzua 101. One record backs “Kinzua” with “Red Skin Rumble”, a Rock’n’Roll instrumental with growling sax and cool Rockabilly guitar. This was recorded in Rochester at Fine Studios, and Kinzua Records is described on the label as a subsidiary of Fine Records.
The other version labels the A-side as Part 1. The B-side’s Part 2 is actually an instrumental version. “The Last Days Of Kinzua -Part 2” is somewhere in-between the sound of Part 1 and “Red Skin Rumble”, but the sax sound (and the whole track) is a lot smoother and less R&R on Part 2.
It’s more than likely that the sax is by Clyde Dickerson, who is also co-credited as the writer.
Dickerson was a Black sax player and arranger with a jazz background, and a formal music education (Berklee). But on all of the 1950s and 60s records of which I’m aware he played R&B and Rock’N’Roll, as often as not with White R&R combos. Clyde was born in Tennesse, settled in Olean, but often worked in the Jamestown area. He seems to have been the go-to guy for sax and arrangments in the Southern Tier.
He made one record after this on which he receives a prominent credit – as Clyde Dickerson & The Tear Drops on Kinzua 102, the only other record on this label. After that he turned up as a member of Billy Lehman & The Rock-Itts, playing the sax on their 1958 “Take It Easy, Greasy” on Hamburg’s Prime 1 label. He continued on into their next incarnation as Billy Lehman & The Penn-Men and was even a sometimes-member of the later Buffalo-based evolvement as The Jesters.
Clyde was involved with Southern Tier rockers Pat And The Satellites and may have played with them, though on their lone record he only wrote, arranged and transcribed it. Atco brought in King Curtis to overdub the sax! (See my previous articles on them, as well as Billy Lehman & The Rock-Itts, The Penn-Men and The Jesters.)
I have a feeling it’s Clyde’s sax we heard on last week’s “Rainy River Blues” track too.
He later moved to the Washington D.C. where he performed in jazz clubs while working a day job as a doorman at the Watergate Hotel for 20 years – including during that infamous historical event! He was known in D.C. as Watergate Clyde.
Clyde passed away in 2003, performing in a club shortly before his death. I wasn’t there, but I have a feeling he did NOT perform “Red Skin Rumble”!
There’s at least two full compilation CDs of Native American-themed rockers and novelties on the Rockabilly label Buffalo Bop. One of them is ‘Wa-Chic-Ka-Nocka’.
“The Last Days Of Kinzua” and “Red Skin Rumble” both appear on Buffalo Bop compilations, but not on THOSE. “Kinzua” is on ‘Wild Wood Rockabilly’ and “Rumble” is on ‘Strictly Instrumental, Vol. 8’.
And while I don’t know the reason for the two releases of “Kinzua”, I do know that one came in a picture sleeve. The artwork references the broken treaty, and mentions The Kinzua PUBLISHING Company (not RECORDING Company) in Olean. I have a feeling that this contained the Part 1 / Part 2 version and was made to be was marketed in gift shops in the Allegany park area/ Kinzua Dam area. Just a hunch though!