The Blue Velvet Brass. Back row

The Blue Velvet Brass. Back row

Rock and Roll Rivalries, Part II

Part two of our look back on the Swinging Sixties in Kimberley and Cranbrook

Part II of II


For the Townsman

Cranbrook had the Bluebird, but Kimberley had McDougall Hall in Townsite, a terrific place to listen and dance to our local bands (a bowling alley was located in the basement too).

McDougall Hall was managed by the venerable Struan Robertson, a Scotsman whose words of “Arrrr You Rrrrrready?” still ring in my ears (as Struan conducted the dry land training for ski racers at the Hall).  The Epics and Henchmen played there a lot. Both of these Kimberley Bands had their loyal followers.

Sadly, Bobby Dixon, the Henchman’s lead singer passed away eight years ago. A few months before Dixie passed away, we went to see Joe Cocker, The Moody Blues, and The Guess Who in Kelowna. Everyhing comes full circle in music I guess.

Nowadays Derek Clement of The Epics is a potter in Grand Prairie, Alberta. Robert “Dusty” Young (an amazing guitar player) lives here in Kimberley  and performs locally with  Marty Musser, Dave Birch and Jamie Neve (incidentally, Veronica Neve was a gogo dancer with Kathy Dixon in the Henchmen). The Henchmen’s drummer Larry Musser is a retired actor living on the Sunshine Coast, while their guitarist Nobber O’Brien plays goal for the Cranbrook Colonels Oldtimers, flies an airplane  he rebuilt from scratch and kayaks regularly on the St Mary River.

By the end of the 1960s a new band was coming on the scene. They were the Blue Velvet Brass, comprised of Guy and Randy Marchi, Ed McKenzie, Mike Turner, who was their lead player, Rudy Sandor, and Dennis Davies on drums. Sam Kirsch took over the drums when Dennis moved to Calgary.

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass had burst on the scene in Los Angeles at that time, and took America by storm. the Tijuana Brass heavily influenced “The Brass.” Most of the group came from the Selkirk Rotary Band. The Blue Velvet Brass eventually went out on the road for two years in Western Canada playing cabarets.

I was working for Van’s Tennis Shoes in Los Angeles California in 1967, and in early December Derek Clement rode the bus down to check out the music scene and help me drive back to Kimberley for Christmas. We went to Sunset Strip just about every night, catching Moby Grape, The Doors (who were awesome!), The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Jefferson Airplane and a few club bands. We drove back up north to Canada. Derek had a Beatle haircut and I had long hair. We stopped for gas in a place called  Weed, California, and drew the attention of the local sheriff, who threw us in the hoosegow for two days for being “damn longhairs.” We paid a $25  fine to the judge and jumped back in the car. In our haste to  get back to Canada, we were promptly stopped for speeding by the sheriff’s brother mile up the road. Back we went to the Weed Courthouse and paid our speeding fine. With Derek driving, we gingerly headed back to B.C.

I have not seen Derek Clement since those days. He moved to Grande Prairie Alberta and became a highly acclaimed potter, along with his wife B.B. Clement. Derek had a younger brother Garth “Wib” Clement, who was a great lead guitar player in his own right at the tender age of 14. Garth now lives in Ottawa.. What a duo he and Rob Young were for the Epics.  Liverpool had the Beatles, but we had The Epics, they were an amazing. band.   Robert “Dusty” Young is the only fellow who plays regularly here in Kimberley, for 60 Hertz)

I was at a dance at The Moose Hall in Kimberley where the Epics were playing. Johnny Jenkins was dancing with a Canadian National Ski Team member (Stephanie Townsend). When who should show up at the dance, but Stephie’s on-again-off-again-on-again boyfriend Glen Sather, a hockey player for the Boston Bruins, who had a reputation of being a tough customer in the National Hockey League. The fight between Sather and Johnny Jenkins lasted about 20 seconds. Glen Sather barely got a punch in against the lighning quick J.J. who had his fists and feet going in a blur, it seemed . We were all in shock, after seeng Sather in scraps on TV on Hockey Night In Canada. Of course this was the same night that Coulter coldcocked a Creston guy with a wrench — ouch!  Good ol’ Kimberley music memories. It does not seem all that long ago, Sadly McdDougall Hall was demolished.

This has been a musical spin thru the 1960s and 70s music scene in Kimberley and Cranbrook . Dennis Davies never stopped drumming. Indeed he has just returned from gigging with Nazareth and The Ventures. Mike Turner plays in Cranbrook with Brad and the Boyz and also The BookEnds. MT plays lead guitar and vocals. Larry Musser took me to a Santana Concert in San Francisco in 1971. To see Carlos Santana play Black Magic Woman  live ( we were 30 feet from the stage)  was just indescribable.