Merced California Music
Randy Mortensen travels through the Central Valley playing classic country tunes for seniors living in foster care. It's his way of picking up an almost worn-out Ibanez guitar from a tired van in a parking lot and preparing to play a country music show in front of the best audience in the world.
He and other local city promoters hope to make money from the growing rejuvenation of Merced, a Central Valley town of about 2,000 people. The show was promoted by Vince Lavery of VJ Productions, and although the poster is for the performance on the Merced Musical Capitol World website, I believe it dates from February 1968. This photo was taken during her appearance at the annual Long Beach Band Review, which Mercedes High School's Marching 100 participated in. Live bands from the region are part of an event in the city centre heading for the county festival, but they are not the only ones.
The sound of that time is captured in this 1968 photo of a band from Merced High School's Marching 100. The music scene has changed since then, and such clubs and bands are expected to wear uniforms and play with their high school counterparts at the same time. As clubs in the Mercedes area became more conservative when booking bands, the boogeyman had no choice but to compete with uniform bands and show bands when booking. Soon they packed up all the available venues in Mercing and played, but not for long, because the new town hall of the city was soon full.
They kept getting gigs, but it got so bad in Merced that they could barely get a gig, and they got to the point where they would leave Mercing and apparently pack up and go to gigs that are no longer in a state of nationalization. They played the Fillmore again before giving up the ghost and getting out again. We knew we were good because the people in the city were very receptive to us, so we avoided our disadvantage, although there were other bands that tried to get us to gigs.
On Saturday, we shared the bill with Jefferson Airplane at the Merced Exhibition Center. We finally got to the American Legion Hall, where a relatively unknown door was still playing.
I remember rolling into the Dead Pants a few minutes later and noticing Jerry Garcia was standing on stage carrying some of her gear around. A very nice, apologetic and helpful roadie went to get him some drum sets when I realised that he wasn't a roadie, but was with him.
As I recall, John behaved like a Japanese Fender guitar that had more pick-ups in a NASCAR parking lot.
At that time I only knew how to play the clarinet, and it was not an instrument with which I could compete vocally. There were other danceable rock music that I liked, but I didn't want to play in a rock band that played it. Rock bands seem to use many of the same instruments as other bands out of necessity. I was lucky enough to be included in the Blue Notes 45, which you could get, as well as a few other instruments, like guitar and bass.
I was in high school at the time, so I didn't have enough experience with good bands to have any idea how they would have prevailed over other "good" bands. The band as a whole was good, but I thought that some elements of the music could have been managed better than other bands, and that was the idea of balance and dynamism. I saw Blue Notes a few times at the Merced Fair and was lucky enough to get them to dance with me in the hall. Do you have any memories of seeing them, as well as the other band you mentioned, or were you too young to get a chance?
I went to an elementary and middle school band where we sat in a room where all the elements were stressed and dissected. I went to another dance school and performed at a dance concert that got a more peaceful influence from San Francisco, but didn't contain a show that would literally stop me.
The formation that Galaxy recorded in the mid-1960s broke up when the sound was obsolete due to changing trends in rock and soul music. When Kenny Craig and his band, led by his wife and co-singer, broke the mold of the casual San Francisco bands, the label's interest waned and the group moved on to other musicians. Kenny and Craig continued to play the rest of their lives and many years later under the band name.
Merced perform in Elk Grove and look forward to performing at the El Dorado County Fair and Music Festival in Fresno, Calif., on Saturday, May 14, 2016. The picture below shows Kenny Craig, his wife and co-singer, trying to get politics out of Fresno. They recorded their first solo album, "Fresno, CA," in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and then again in 1992.