artist - musician - craftsman
and furniture maker
[May 16, 2021]
simply revland: first vinyl record (1974)
About 6 months had passed since the NDSU Spring Blast Talent Show. It was September of 1974 ... and I was now of legal age chronologically, nonetheless, which now allowed me the luxury of bringing my “man of a thousand voices” act to local pubs and bars, one of which I had grown quite partial to.
The Kahler Motel Pub & Grill had a very honorable crowd, and respectfully refrained from tossing ice cubes or chicken nuggets in my direction while I played, unlike my most recent experience at Moorhead Senior High School. I soon learned that a younger crowd of teens would not be as receptive, as being pelted with bus tokens while attempting Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” would subsequently catch me off guard. Perhaps they took more delight in humiliating me than catching a ride home that day. Regardless, requests were coming my way and I began to give credence to a more mature assemblage of human beings.
The Kahler Motel Pub & Grill
Photo credit: CardCow.com
I had recently been gigging at the local college coffee houses, quite enjoyably ... as the audience leaned toward more of the female persuasion. This eventually, in turn, resulted in a consistent scheduled flow of Friday night pre- and post-performance parties at 1105, something my roommates were quite grateful for. This was the seventies. If you weren’t around, I offer my condolences.
It was now late September ... and I had an appointment. This had been scheduled for a few weeks now, and I had no reasonable explanation for what was coming my way. For on this day….I was cutting my first vinyl recording at Mark Custom Records in Moorhead. I was battling influenza, complete with a fever, and knew I wasn’t up to snuff, but felt an obligation to work my way through it. Not a good time to be sick.
I loaded my guitar case and a bag of cherry-flavored lozenges into my 1972 yellow Volkswagen super beetle and weaved my way to the Moorhead side of the Red River. Sound engineer and local rock legend Bob Eveslage would guide me when I arrived. Bob was a member of the original “Unbelievable Uglies” rock and roll band, so I knew I was in good hands. Two songs. Two hours. And we were done. I was on my way home to bed completely oblivious to how I sounded in that protected soundproof booth, or how many additional tracks Bob was adding. This certainly wasn’t Abbey Road Studios. But today, it would suffice, as I ordered 500 vinyl 45s for my own pleasurable discretion and/or distribution.
The Unbelievable Uglies (1965).
About 5 miles to the south and west, final touches were being put on Fargo’s first mega mall, a term that was new to most of us folks. The developers, a local philanthropic family, would christen it as “West Acres.” Within the confines of this multi-store outlet was Musicland, where my friend John Cosgriff was working nights while he finished college.
When my 45s arrived, a bumpy gravel road was the only thing that stood between my vinyl and their potential distribution. I delivered a box of 50 to my friend, John, hoping to sell a few copies at 99 cents apiece, which would net me half of that. The local radio stations were playing my recording, including KDSU (the flagship station at NDSU), so by now, I was quite full of myself. [You can listen below.]
About a week passed and I got a call from John one evening. He said, “You know, Rev, sometime today you sold 13 copies of your record, more than any other top-40 national recording.” Well, by now, I was hopelessly beside myself. Visions of grandeur had precipitously crafted a nest inside my THC-infested skull. We celebrated that night at 1105, Home of the Bong, calling KDSU often to request either side of the recording. We laughed uncontrollably, thinking the world was probably coming to an end.
This was a long-desired fait accompli, and I could probably just die tomorrow, if I wasn’t so gullibly young, for I soon would come crashing down to planet earth. I waited a couple of weeks to call Musicland again, soaking up every glorious moment that I had. Then, the call itself came. It was Musicland. [I’m sure needing another box of records.] Instead, they asked if I could pick up the remaining 37, as if they weren’t selling. Really.
So ... much to my delight (or, in this case, dismay), I soon realized that I had a fan club at my alma mater: Fargo South High School. A small group of girls from the 4-H Club, all 13 of them, had made that trek on that bumpy gravel road, to dole out a hard-earned dollar to support me financially.
Moral to this story: It’s genuinely difficult to rid yourself of 450 vinyl records of ill repute, if you only have 25 friends. It would take decades for this purging process to come to fruition, leaving just a few in my own collection.
Regardless, an eBay yahoo in Ohio somehow came across one thinking it had an extraordinary value of $85. If he only knew.
He should have called me.