The Can Can Room – 1965 St. Louis, Missouri

REFLECTIONS: Larry, Dave, Les, & Mac

[This is from a collection of scenes, stories and little chapters that were left on the cutting floor now that Things We Lost In The Night is complete.]

In early 1965, before the guys in my vocal group, the Reflections, left for California in April, we’d tried to develop a little floor show to play in clubs around Indianapolis to make some extra money. I had serious reservations about that, we’d rarely performed publicly, we didn’t play instruments, and my wife, Pat wasn’t thrilled about the idea. While Dave and I had been singing together since high school, Mac had joined us a few months earlier, and Les, who was supposed to accompany us as our guitar player was drafted into the group as our new bass singer a couple of weeks before we were due to try out our new act in Birmingham, Alabama at some place called the Boom Boom Room. Since Les was going to sing with us and not play guitar, we had to find musicians to back us up. Les found a little trio called the Zeb Miley Trio playing in an Indianapolis downtown bar called Susie’s Twist Club. They agreed to go out on the road with us for a few weeks to tighten up our show in hopes we could find some places to play around town. We named the combined band and singers, the Checkmates, and ill-fated choice as it turned out.

Now Mac had been in the Casinos, a show band from Cincinnati, when we met him. They later had a hit with the ballad “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,” so he knew how dance around the stage and to construct these little shows, though the rest of us shared one single left foot, and a clumsy one at that. At some point I’ll post something about our adventures at the Boom Boom Room right in the middle of the civil rights marches going on at the time but I thought I’d like to post this little bit from the Can Can Room, the next club we played in St. Louis, Missouri, first.

The Checkmates – Monday, March 1, 1965, St. Louis, MO.

We walked out into the cold Missouri night to find Zeb Miley and Johnnie Lamb in a heated discussion with a portly older man in a navy blue suit with an open collared white dress shirt. The heavyset man was poking Zeb in the chest while Johnnie was walking around in little circles looking at the ground. When I walked up the man was saying in a cloud of frosty breath, “. . . what were you thinking, that you could walk into this club on Union paper with non-union musicians in your band? What kind of idiot are you?”

“What’s happening?” I asked.

“Musician’s Union bullshit,” Zeb said. “The usual union crap. As usual, they do more to stop you and then help you get work.”

“You know,” the man said to Zeb, “you should be thanking me. I could yank all of you off the stand right now. Yes I could. Club operator would never have another union band in this joint if they didn’t comply.

“Half your band,” he went on, waving his hand around, “is behind in their dues and the other half,” waving his other hand, “don’t have any union cards at all.”

Zeb turned to me, frowning and said, “He’s the local union rep and he’s saying you guys ain’t union so you can’t go back on stage.”

“You,” the man said, turning to make me his center of attention. “Whatinhell do you think you are doing up there without a union card?” While belligerent, certainly, he also seemed a little perplexed.

“Why would I need a union card,” I said, even more perplexed. “Why would singers need to belong to a musician’s union? We don’t play instruments.” I looked at Zeb trying to comprehend what was going on.

“If you sonsabitches are on that stage, you gotta have a card, period.” Mr. blue suit insisted.

“We just played in Birmingham, Alabama last week, before we came here. No one said anything about union cards to us.”

“Do you know where you are, sonny? Do you now?”

“Yes sir. This is St. Louis, Missouri. And it’s a beautiful city,” I added.

“And, does that mean anything to you, music-wise? Ring any bells?” he continued smugly.

I looked around for a lifeline but no one else seemed to have a clue, either. “Nosir I don’t.

“Well, you ignorant SOB, this is Local #2 of the Musician’s Union of America. Now I suppose you’ll have to tell me that you don’t know what that signifies, won’t you?”

I shook my head negatively. I had failed so many classes in school and now here I was failing Musician’s Union 101, dammit.

“No?” he said, continuing to rub it in. “No, you still don’t know? Well, I’ll tell you. We were the second local union formed, right after New York City. This is probably the strongest local in the United States. You do not fuck with St. Louis Union Local #2. Is that clear?”

“Yes, but I don’t see …”

“No pissant city like Birmy-fucking-ham, Aly-fucking-bama decides whether you need a union card in St.-fucking-Louis. Is that clear?”

“Okay. Okay,” Mac said, “We understand.” By this time, Dave had joined us on the street. Drivers and passengers in the cars passing us by were looking at us. It was freezing out here. “But,” Mac continued, “We don’t play instruments. I don’t get how we have to belong to a union?”

“So you don’t play an instrument, you say, even though I say, if you step on the goddamn stage in there you got to be union. Well, let me ask you something sonny boy. What was that funny metal thing you was tootling around on while ago marching around that club like a loon? What was that anyway? Looked suspiciously like a saxophone, of course I could be mistaken. Maybe you was playing the radio,” the Union rep grinned.

“Aw that was  nothin’. I don’t really play sax. I just tote that thing around when we’re doing this dancin’ thing. Can’t play but two notes. You can’t count that,” Mac said.

“And where’s that tall boy,” the rep continued. “Oh, here he is right here. I don’t suppose you play that trombone though you was pushing that slide back and forth like you knew what you was doing. You just another mummer, too?”

“Hell, I just go here,” Dave said, “I got no clue what’s going on. I play a little trombone. I’ll tell you how much though, damn little.”

“Damn little is plenty enough,” said the man as he turned to me. “And then there is you. Yes, you were banging two pieces of wood together so I expect you’re going to tell me you weren’t playing an instrument either. That so?”

“Yeah, I mean no, I don’t think so …” I said, wondering a bit.

“Claves,” he said. “those pieces of wood are called claves, they’re south American musical instruments my fine young friend so you and all the other guys without union cards, including the last guy who had a guitar strap on last time I saw him are not in compliance with union rules and regs. I can fine your asses up to $500 apiece.”

I went white. “Why that would end it for us. We’re just trying to get started. This is only are second job. That’s not fair. That can’t be what the union is for,”

“Fair, did you say. Well fair is as fair does and Zeb Miley here, well he’s the leader of the group. He knows the rules and he’s the one that broke ‘em. I’ll likely be pulling his card tonight and he’ll have to attend a hearing in a couple of weeks to find out how much it will cost to get it back. If he can get it back,” the rep said with finality.

We were all well and truly cowed and intimidated. “Is there some way we can make this right?” I asked. Zeb through his hands down in disgust and turned away. “We weren’t trying to avoid anything. Really, we just didn’t know.”

“I dunno,” he said, looking around at us. “Some of you don’t seem so willing to see the error of your ways.”

“C’mon guys,” I said to everyone on the street. Scott and Les were still inside somewhere. “Please, Mr ….” I started. I didn’t even know his name.

“I am Jonas Lawndale,” he said, “and here is my card. ‘Bout time somebody asked if I was legit.”

“Mr. Lawndale, we are a young band, just trying to get a foothold. If you could see your way to give us some leniency and help us find a way through the mess we’ve made here, we’d really appreciate it.” I said.

“Well sir, Mr. Miley,” Mr. Lawndale gestured in Zeb’s direction. “Does this fellow here have the right of it or do you continue to take exception to my pointing out your failings here? You are the rightful leader, signed onto this contract, and it is in your hands.” He stuck his chin out toward Zeb.

Our looks at Zeb must have conveyed enough fervor for him to get the message.

“Yeah, yeah, I know we’re in the wrong,” said Zeb with difficulty. He thought about it a bit and then said, “I didn’t rightly think these singer guys would have to be in the union especially as they don’t sing but 10 songs a night. But it’s so that a couple of us are late on our dues, so yeah, we need your help if you’d be offering.”

“Hmmm,” hummed Mr. Lawndale, seeming to figure what he would say to us. “First off those ‘singer guys’ as you call them, they ain’t going back on that stage tonight and not again ‘til they got union cards.

We didn’t say anything. Thank God, we’d finished our second show. There was one more set to go but we didn’t go on stage for that.

“Now I’m willing to forget about the fines for ya’ll since you’ve explained so nicely about where your confusions was, and I’ll forget about them late fees as well, but all you union guys got to have your cards up to date starting tomorrow night. And I am firm about that.

“By the way, it does seem that one Mr. Lamb does seem to be up to date so he can play it seems.”

“Mr. Lawndale,” I asked as gently as possible, “What does it cost to join Local #2 of the Musician’s Union of America?”

“Well son, I believe we can make you a member for $150 tomorrow down at the union house.” Jonas Lawndale beamed.

“Wow!” I said, stunned. “Wow!” I repeated since I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“We belong to a different Local, Mr. Rep,” Zeb said, a bit sourly, so do we have to pay our fees on  Local #2’s schedule?” I do believe he had already forgotten the fellow’s name.

“Well, Mr. Zeb Miley, we at Local #2 have a great fondness for our brothers across this great land and so, in token of that respect, we honor paying fees that we forward to those locals. So, in short, you must pay, down at the union house, the fees appropriate to your schedule at your home local.” Mr Lawndale added, “If you decided that you wanted to change your affiliation to the best and strongest union in this United States, while I’m sure we could get you a significant discount, however.”

“Well, then, Mr. Rep, we will get us into compliance first thing tomorrow. But I also reckon we better get ourselves into that club and finish our last set or we won’t have no job to save.” Seeing Mr. Lawndale’s look he added, “And that means without them singers. I know.”

“You will be seeing me tomorrow night, Mr. Miley. I give you fair warning, though, should you fail in any respect to meet the stipulations I have given you, I will not be so easily swayed as I have been tonight.” Mr. Lawndale turned without another word and walked into the night.

“Damn, where are we going to get $150 each I said to Dave and Mac?” I said despondently.

Before Zeb headed into the door, he said, “That’s not the hard part. You guys can run back to Indy and get union cards for $35. The big problem is your guitar player. Boy is underage and I don’t know if he can figure a way to get hisself a union card. You better check with him about that.”

Free Night People Kindle edition

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WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

Amazon Best Sellers Rank:

NP 61 Star ReviewsOne of the best biographies written by a musician!
A Riveting, Mythic, Rock and Roll Memoir
Wonderful! Excellent Read!
Thoroughly Entertaining.
A Great Read
A Window Into a Fascinating Era
Rock and Roll, baby!
A Must Read
A Great Read About An Exciting Life
Music Has Found Me Again
SO Worth Reading!
My Life Seemed Extremely Boring After Finishing “Night People”
Lessons of Life, Love, and Sex in the 60s
Genuine, Exciting, Graphic and Memorable – life in the 60’s
Fantastic Coming of Age Memoir!
Compelling
Great Look At An Era
Meant to be savored
Engrossing
Rock and roll band life
Brilliantly crafted
Passion for music
Car Thieves take me away!

On the Passing of the Jefferson Airplane

74 seems to be a fatal number. So many greats falling by the wayside at this milepost. Since it’s my number, can’t help but wonder, but I don’t think it’s my time yet. I’ve still got things to say … Read this fascinating article about Paul Kantner and Signe Toly Anderson, Airplane’s first girl vocalist. She was 74, too

It was sad enough that Jefferson Airplane founding member Paul Kantner, the keeper of the famed San Francisco band’s flame throughout its turbulent half-century, died last week, from heart failure. A deeper melancholy set in with news of the death the same day of the Airplane’s first female vocalist, Signe Toly Anderson, from cancer. Both were 74.

Source: On the Passing of the Jefferson Airplane

Complete Guide to the 2016 Candidates’ Favorite Music | Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone reached out to all the major candidates, conducting new interviews, examining rally playlists and digging deep into their musical history to find out. Some of what we discovered was predictable (Ted Cruz claims he “didn’t like how rock music responded” to the 9/11 attacks and turned to country), and some of it was surprising (Mike Huckabee will talk your ear off about Grand Funk Railroad).

From Hillary Clinton and Selena Gomez to Marco Rubio and N.W.A, here are the candidates’ favorite musicians

Source: Complete Guide to the 2016 Candidates’ Favorite Music | Rolling Stone

NIGHT PEOPLE Book Party, Indianapolis, Oct 11

IRB-NP-102515 Flyer copy

THANK YOU SUE SHAPIRO

From Susan Shapiro –

Sue Shapiro, NYC

“Do you watch Dennis Leary’s new FX show ‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’ about a crazy old time rock-in-roller? Well, Larry Dunlap lived it. His memoir ‘Night People’ is a frank, funny, frenzied chronicle of the 60’s music scene.” – Susan Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed memoirs Lighting Up, Only as Good as Your Word and Five Men Who Broke My Heart.

I’ll be going in to Santa Monica next Tuesday night to see Sue read from her new book “WHAT’S NEVER SAID.”:

L.A. READING OF “WHAT’S NEVER SAID”
with ASPEN MATIS (“Girl In The Woods”)
& ALISON SINGH GEE (“Where The Peacocks Sing”)
Santa Monica Barnes & Noble
1203 3rd Street, 3rd Street Promenade
Tuesday September 15 from 7-8 pm

It’s free & open to the public so join us if you can

I’m afraid I’d disappoint a lot of people who really watch S&D & R&R TV show on FX ( I watch it avidly) since we were never as crazy and weird as Johnny Rock and the Heathens. Btw, if you haven’t see it yet, it’s a hoot, and every once in a while I see something I can relate to, especially when they are all visiting a psychiatrist together…

Keith Richards: Beatles’ Sgt Pepper was rubbish

Here in the United States in the middle sixties, there was always a friendly competition between East Coast and West Coast bands, personified by the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons. And though there became a creative competition between the Beatles and the Beach Boys, the long and winding visceral rivalry for the Beatles has always been the Rolling Stones. Especially as they put their own opposing brands onto rock and roll stardom as they entered the Seventies. You always had to choose if you were a Beatles fan or a Stones fan. Though I didn’t care for the Beatles originally, as I mentioned in Night People, I did come to appreciate them, and to be astonished, let alone highly influenced, by “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” as you’ll read about it in Enchanted, should you chose to read it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/08/06/keith-richards-the-beatles-sergeant-pepper-rubbish-album_n_7946520.html  - Rolling Stones' Keith Richards Slams The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper Album - 'A Mishmash Of Rubbish'

Beatles Cosplay for Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, genius album

I didn’t care much for the Stones when I first heard them either, and even now I only grudgingly appreciate some of their classic songs like “Symphony for the Devil” and “Gimme Shelter.” Especially since I had to sing several Stones songs, all of them non-melodic, like “Get Off Of My Cloud” and “Satisfaction.” However Keith Richards has now officially hit my idiot list with his criticism of the Sergeant Pepper album. In a recent interview for Esquire Magazine, without provocation Keith volunteered:

Keith Richards from Esquire Magazine article: http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/music/interviews/a36899/keith-richards-interview-0915/

Keith Richards, open mouth, insert guitar – Esquire Magazine 6/30

“The Beatles sounded great when they were the Beatles. But there’s not a lot of roots in that music. I think they got carried away. Why not? If you’re the Beatles in the ’60s, you just get carried away—you forget what it is you wanted to do. You’re starting to do Sgt. Pepper. Some people think it’s a genius album, but I think it’s a mishmash of rubbish, kind of like Satanic Majesties—”Oh, if you can make a load of shit, so can we.”

What? Are you kidding me? Read more about weird Keith in this Huntington Post UK article.

Night People review – Readers’ Favorite

This is a review of NIGHT PEOPLE, Book 1 – Things We Lost in the Night, A Memoir of Love and Music in the 60s with Stark Naked and the Car Thieves from Readers’ Review. Thank you, Mamta!

Reviewed By Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite

Things We Lost in the Night: A Memoir of Love and Music in the 60s with Stark Naked and the Car Thieves by Larry J. Dunlap is an honest memoir in which the author has carefully depicted his years as a young and struggling musician, along with his friends as they strive for fame and fortune. The book also captures the essence of the 1960s when there was a cultural and musical shift. Their transformation from a small band to that of a famous one and their successes change Larry’s perspective on a lot of things in life. In a nutshell, the memoir exposes the 1960s, the music industry, vocal groups, R&B cover bands, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Hollywood recording studios, the nightlife, and the sexual revolution that happened during that period.

The memoir connects with readers intimately as the author shares every small detail of his life. Readers are taken into the author’s world of music, the problems they face as a band, and their struggle for survival initially. The rise of the band opens the way for many other things, and the author also speaks about the sacrifices they make on their way to the top. Many moments in the author’s life are poignantly mingled with misery, happiness, music and sex. I found the book interesting as it speaks about music, the band, recordings and many other things related with music. The challenges the author faces in his life and his love life and other casualties make this memoir a very exciting read.

Across the Musical Universe

Caesars-Palace-1966-300x230IN AUGUST OF 1966, CAESARS PALACE, the most incredible casino/resort/hotel of it’s time, opened its doors to the public. A few months later the most improbable event imaginable happened when Trish Turner, a talented R&B singer who occasionally sang with us in early morning jams introduced me to Clyde Carson, a slight, pasty-faced guy with a mustache so thin it looked painted on ….

“Clyde made me the most inconceivable proposition I’d ever heard. “Would you guys be interested in playing across the street at Caesars Palace?” he said after we’d settled in with our drinks.

He told me he was well connected at Caesars and thought he could get us an audition to open the rumored new Nero’s Nook lounge at the opulent resort hotel. I was incredulous, it had to have been written all over my face. Caesars Palace being just across the street from the Pussycat might be geographically true, but for a band like Stark Naked and the Car Thieves that mammoth edifice was far across the musical universe from us. Only the biggest, most well known stars played there. Andy Williams, who hosted his own prime time television show, opened the main showroom to an international audience of celebrity and wealth flown in from all over the world just a few months ago. No rock star or group, no matter how famous or talented, had ever broken into a major Las Vegas Strip hotel, not even in the lounges. It would happen one day, but it was utter fantasy to imagine that event would take place now, with an unknown group like us. And certainly not at Jay Sarno’s, Jimmy Hoffa financed, luxurious Caesars Palace, already legendary among the elite for glamor and extravagance. When a rock artist did break that barrier, it would be the Beatles or Elvis, or maybe the Four Seasons, somebody famous worldwide taking the stage. Never an unknown band with no hit records, no matter how good anyone might think we were. It was laughable to think how being popular in a local rock n roll dance club would translate to a stage in the immense casino. Caesars overshadowed every other hotel on the Las Vegas strip, even the storied Sands and Flamingo. What Clyde was suggesting was like a talented Little League team being offered an opportunity to play with the Yankees in major league baseball.

And, of course, as is the case in fairy tales, there was a catch. We’d have to kiss a frog — Clyde Carson. He wanted to be our personal manager.” Continue reading…

A friend who always talked about you

Back in the early 80’s, I lived in the Los Feliz/Atwater area. I spent many a night walking my dog with my neighbor Bud Mason, ne Wayne Mason, who told me stories about growing up in 50’s and 60’s. He seemed to have a story about everything. To give you an idea of how wacky his childhood was, when Oregon went to the Rose Bowl in 1958 they found out Bud had a pet duck. They gave him free tickets in return that the duck could be their mascot for the game. That was the kind of stuff that happened to Bud, and I spent a lot time cracking up at his escapades. He spoke of his days in the navy, hot rodding up and down San Fernando Road, ordering Zombie’s from a black bartender named Ben at Gazzarri’s, and rocking out to a band named “Stark Naked and the Car Thieves.”

I was just a kid back then, but the name was instantly cool to me and remains so to this day. I decided to google your band for kicks, and it is nice to finally be able to put a face to the name. Bud has been gone for a few years now, but every once in a while I think about him fondly and laugh. I have regaled my own son with some of Bud’s stories… and yes, about a band called Stark Naked and the Car Thieves.

Thanks – Anthony