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My first school dance, the most gear I've ever seen !

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by sturoc, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. sturoc


    Dec 12, 2009
    The year: 1972
    The place: Jr. High school Dance... in the Gym !

    The school held several big dances thru out the school year. Always in the gym which was cavernous. You could fit 2- 747s in it. 45 ft high ceiling white cinder block walls, wood flooring of course. You get the picture now. Needless to say, an FOH engineering nightmare.

    I was all of 12 yrs old but had been listening to plenty of great rock since my brother turned me on to it round 1966 and had started to learn guitar and bass then too.
    Excited to attend the dance ck out the girl action, Me and few friends met up walked over. Think it was like a buck to get in.
    When we walked in of course everybody was in their little click groups around the walls.The girls dressed up for the evening...
    Then I saw it...

    A massive wall of amps, cabinets etc
    I had never seen so much backline in my young life up to that point. I thought our local music had alot of gear But these guys looked like they bought anything and everything. The P.A were these huge 'W' CV bins with super large diameter Community Horns on top, like something from Roosevelt's inaugural address, they must have been 24 " dia !

    Scanning left to right Ampeg Marshall Fender Sunn Acoustic Gibson, Guild (yes they made amps) Kustom, Standels.
    on and on.Cabinets stacked 2-3 high. The band members were a small army: 3 guitarist , bassist, 2 keybd players complete with a B-3, Rhodes, upright piano etc etc, drummer, vocalist, female backup vocalist, 3 person Horn section...I mean can you imagine ?
    Just their appearance made them sound great, and in fact, they really were. I wish I took a photo , ugh.

    I had to meet these guys, during a break between songs I asked the bass player where he got his bass from . A very cool Dan Armstrong lucite model. he came up to me with this **** eating grin , Nodding his head to the next song's intro and yelled "Rondo Music" ( yeah this was in N.Jersey)
    I asked if i could stay 'backstage' and watch he said "sure".
    So I gave up on trying to chase the girls and hung out behind the bass stack watching the entire nights performance. As it was I was striking out and this band with it mountain of gear just blew me away.

    What an incredible night these guys played everything from It's a Beautiful Day to Santana to Mountain to James Gang ( first time I ever heard Walk Away !) etc etc.
    I knew my path had now been pre-determined for me.
    And a cute girl whom I had interest in now saw me by the amps and asked " are you with the band ?" I promptly replied "Yeah my friends" ( a blatant lie but hell, anything goes at that moment) and with that I was back in the game.

    After the dance was over i watched them load out into 2 ancient giant box trucks. Never saw them again.
    Though sure they were all over the Northeast.
    Being 12, i just didn't get around much back then !

  2. Garret Graves

    Garret Graves website- ggravesmusic.com Gold Supporting Member

    May 20, 2010
    Arcadia, Ca
    A fun read- you have knack for writing! We know the truth, that it was a fat, balding middle aged guitarist with a 100 watt amp rocking it solo, but that's cool. :)
  3. sturoc


    Dec 12, 2009
    No Way ssabass, though ya may be kidding around,
    these guys were the real deal !

    Fortunately the town where I grew up had a wealth of musicians and bands. Many of whom still play and have gone on to become soundtrack Film TV composers, a Well known Classical guitarist, studio musicians etc.

    God, I miss the 70s !
  4. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Reminds me of a similar high school music experience around 1969.

    I was on the far side the campus when I heard the sound of an electric bass being played, live, by a really good bassist. My feet carried me toward the source of the sound with understandable alacrity.

    What I found was the USAF jazz band playing in the school's open air quad. What I heard was a professional bassist playing Blood Sweat & Tears on a fretless P-bass through an Ampeg fliptop.

    That experience totally crystalized my idea of the ideal electric bass sound.
  5. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    That was a good read, sturoc. Thanks.

    In a different way (but just as impressive) was when the Stan Kenton Orchestra was in town. They did a show at the coliseum, but also played a concert in the USC band hall for us music students. I was sitting about fifteen feet right in front of them. The only amps were for the bassist and a guitar player (I think there was a guitar player. can't remember). Well, about two measures into the first tune I 'bout fell over. Holy smoke, you'd never think an all acoustic band, except for the bass and guitar, could pack so much punch and volume. Jeez! I mean JEEZ!!!

    Also got to sit and discuss arranging with Stan the Man. What a day it was!
  6. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    TO think of all the stuff we went through with gear in those days. PA amp racks that weighed 5 tons, giant bass bins, lights, not to even mention the musicians' gear...holy cow! Our keyboard player had 4 keyboards back then. I had a V4B/810 and later an SVT, guitarists toted a Marshall half stack each...and I don't even want to discuss the drummer.
  7. NJ huh where about in NJ's was the dance
  8. sturoc


    Dec 12, 2009
    Livingston, Mt Pleasant jr high. (west of you).1972
  9. That kind of thing just doesn't happen anymore.
  10. sturoc


    Dec 12, 2009
    and that's a truly sad fact.
    I really was lucky, as perhaps some of you guys are, to have lived thru that period and to have started playing back then.
    Those dances while important for the band playing, were still alot about having FUN too. I bet if you asked a high school kid these days if their school held any dances they would probably reply "uh yeah, the theatre dance class does one every year !"

    Even thought the gear was archaic by today's standards,
    Look at the music produced then compared to today's crap rap etc etc.
    As far as I'm concerned there is no comparison !
  11. I graduated high school 11 years ago, we had DJ's...fun is not a word I'd use to describe it.

    One of my current bands rehearse at the Recording Institute in Hollywood, a member of the band is an instructor at the college. He was sharing a story about how one of his students didn't know how a guitar, pickups and amplifier worked. The student thought a guitar just triggered the sounds/notes desired.