This album was born one sunny day in the summer of 1970 as I ambled along the mall at the University of Minnesota, where I was a sophomore. The year following the “Summer of Love” wasn’t very lovely on campuses across America. The Altamont Rock Concert and Manson Family murders ended the Age of Aquarius with a thud. Rock god Jim Morrison and guitar genius Duane Allman would both be dead within a year. Musically, the times they were a changin’. “The Dream is Over” sang a prophetic, depressed John Lennon on his first solo album “Plastic Ono Band.” Chaos, rebellion and unrest overtook our campus when a group of students managed to shut down the school as part of a nationwide student strike in response to Nixon’s unannounced invasion of Cambodia.
Classes had been cancelled in the Spring. Already an apathetic student, I became a sailor without a compass, and by the time summer rolled around I was living as a caretaker in the basement of my fraternity house, in a barroom which I had converted, with the help of blankets and egg cartons, into a makeshift recording studio. My nutritional intake came from a Coke machine in the hallway and a new fast-food restaurant down the street called Arby’s. On a primitive Ampex quarter-track machine, I had proceeded to record my own versions of most of Neil Young’s first Reprise album, along with an odd collection of original songs, some of which appear here. The violence and student protests had quelled for a happy event known in Minneapolis as “Soul Of A City,” a festival of music, arts, street theater and counterculture, right here in my front yard. As I wandered through clouds of incense past the artisan booths, dodging mimes, mystics, tarot readers, astrologers and military recruiters, I was drawn to an area near Coffman Student Union where I heard what sounded like rifle shots cascading through the canyons of classroom buildings.
The sound was magnetic, entreating me to cross Washington Avenue to see what it was. As I got closer I saw it was a bandstand, and on it were several scraggly-looking young musicians just about my age scrambling through an amplified, distorted fusion of strange new music. It was harder to follow than my mathematics class, yet was infinitely more intriguing to my ears. I was more attuned at that time to the warm, rich Vanguard recordings of Mississippi John Hurt, played late at night, all night, many a night. “Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor,” “Payday,” “Talking Casey.” It was like Woody Guthrie with emotion, and the finger-picking style was addictive. (I still haven’t shaken it) The beat was implied more than played. Local radio airplay on Mississippi Fred MacDowell’s Capitol recording, “I Do Not Play No Rock ‘n Roll” had drawn me across the river to the West Bank a week earlier to see, and meet MacDowell. playing his riveting, unforgettable one-man show with a beef bone slide guitar, tapping a foot that never quite hit the ground. In retrospect, Fred was the most influential professor I ever had, yet when he was at home in Como, Mississippi he pumped gas for a living at the Stuckey’s Pecan Shop & Texaco Station on the state highway. It never interfered with his stature in my mind.
My own life was to follow a similar path once I chose music, but I didn’t know it at the time. On this sunny summer day I was puzzled by what I heard. The beats were fluid, rambling, but not hard to follow. You simply had to listen to become part of this intoxicating music. How did the singer remember where to go next, or what words to sing? Nothing made sense; there was no schlocky pop chorus, no refrain, no structure, and there were no boundaries or limits to what they could do together. Song after song they jammed and hammered away at something unseen, some mysterious source at the heart of things. Soon the crowd around me became invisible, indistinguishable from the members of the band, and then I too disappeared into the sax, the flute, the bass, the guitar, the Fender Rhodes electric piano and yes, that infinite energy behind it all, the drums! When it was over and the band was packing up, I found myself near a tree where the drummer stood wiping his face with a towel. I walked over, offered my hand and met Stanley Kipper for the first time, then retreated to the quiet of my lodgings, intrigued and deeply inspired by what I had just seen.
At Thanksgiving dinner that year I met Nancy Bundt, an artist-photographer, who became my soulmate and fellow traveler for the journey ahead. My heart was not into school, especially in the wake of the strike, and my formal education ended then and there with a January hitch-hiking trip to Boston and New York City, where Nancy had friends in the world of yoga and meditation. I brought along my Martin D-28 guitar and played here and there, making up songs along the way as I had with my frat brothers at the University. We were lucky in love, life and business.
On our second trip to New York we went to work as music copyists for a small publisher doing the sheet music for George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” folio. We lived at 12 Perry Street in Greenwich Village, above both subway lines, and recorded short songs between the noisy trains below. Stephen DeLapp, my friend from a summer, 1969 gig playing the Medora Musical in North Dakota, was attending Yale Divinity School, and our visit to New Haven resulted in an appearance on a local television show, sandwiched between the news and Rat Patrol.
A friend in New York City introduced us to her brother, a record company owner, and by May, 1971, we were back in Minnesota, contract in-hand to record an album of my ramblings and musings. How, I wondered, was I going to do this? What could I do with these songs, fragments and ideas to make a record that people would enjoy? I wanted to do something no one else was doing, not a repeat or imitation like I had done with the Neil Young songs in my frat studio. Then I thought of Stanley Kipper, and realized that the sound I wanted to hear on the record and, ultimately, on the radio was the sound I had heard at Soul of A City last summer. I also thought of a very talented fellow I had met through friends at the University, a great piano-player named Greg Anderson.
I started there, writing a song with Greg we called “Me & The Blind Man.” We had fun doing that, and he came aboard for the project. I then located Stan, who suggested his bass player Dick Hiebeler, and flautist Larry Ankrum, both an integral part of his rock-jazz-fusion sound. Andy Howe was also playing with Stan by this time, and he came into our little group full of ideas about arrangements and instruments. A multi-instrumentalist, Andy could play anything in front of him, and as Stan notes, he did so on this recording with (mostly) good results. Cheerful, charming and brave, Andy became the bandleader. Producer Don Kasen enlisted David Zimmerman to oversee the recording sessions at Sound 80 Studios in Minneapolis, where I would later work with David’s brother Bob Dylan on “Blood On The Tracks.” Rehearsals ensued, songs were chosen, thrown out, re-tooled, rewritten, trashed, made up on the spot, mixed, edited, spliced and fashioned into this humble, impassioned first album, which came out just before Christmas, 1971.
Reviewers heard or imagined the influences, Neil Young and Jefferson Airplane among them, and the album surfaced on regional FM radio with “Trees,” “A Man’s Work” and, mostly, the longest song of the collection, “When I Get Home.” Musically and lyrically, this is an album about a countercultural revolution that redefined a generation’s values and tested its faith. Deep inside the sweet love songs, laments and tentative mantras in this recording, if you listen very hard, you can hear the sounds of war and rebellion hiding in the electricity.
By March of 1972, we were playing concert dates to support radio airplay. At the University of Minnesota, we played our first local show at The Whole Coffeehouse in the basement of Coffman Student Union, a hundred yards from where I had met Stan two years earlier. By this time, however, Andy Howe had moved on to another project, and he eventually landed in Hollywood as music director for America’s Sweetheart Debbie Reynolds. Duplicating the sound of the most popular song in performance was a problem without Andy in the band, and when the time came for the big guitar solo in “When I Get Home,” all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Andy back in the band. Stan. a magnificent drummer and loyal friend, became the conscience of our rotating membership, and has held that position through present day.
by Kevin Odegard
1. Krak`s Song - 1:04
2. Forget The Waste - 2:20
3. Trees - 1:55
4. If Your Heart`s Not In It - 1:44
5. A Man`s Work - 2:30
6. Fathers And Sons - 3:20
7. I Am - 2:32
8. Me And The Blind Man - 3:01
9. Advice From A Stranger - 1:41
10.When I Get Home - 8:32
11.Krak`s Song - Version 2 - 1:58
All songs by Kevin Odegard except track #8 co-written with Greg Anderson
*Kevin Odegard - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Steven Delapp - Acoustic Guitar
*James Hauck - Backing Vocals, Percussion
*Dick Hiebler - Bass
*Stan Kipper - Drums
*Andy Howe - Electric Guitar, Electric Piano
*Max Swanson - Flute
*Tony Glover - Harmonica
*Greg Anderson - Piano, Organ, Electric Piano, Celesta, Backing Vocals
the Free Text