Wednesday, December 23, 2009

York Farm, Poynette, WI April 24-26, 1970 Sound Storm: Grateful Dead/Illinois Speed Press/Mason Profitt/others

Sound Storm was a rock festival held on the York Farm in Poynette, WI on the weekend of April 24-26, 1970, and attended by about 30,000 people. Poynette is a small community 30 miles North of Madison and 100 miles West of Milwaukee. Although the "hippie invasion" was not welcomed by the community, greeted with great trepidation by the police and subject to numerous risky variables like the weather, in fact the whole weekend was a relaxed celebration of Woodstock Nation in its day.  I have written recently on the Grateful Dead's participation in this event, but the entire story of Sound Storm will be forthcoming in the Wisconsin Magazine of History's March 2010 issue, in a scholarly article by Michael Edmonds.

As an adjunct to Edmonds's forthcoming article, the Wisconsin Historical Society has posted numerous hitherto unpublished photos by co-organizer Bob Pulling of many of the bands who played Sound Storm. In honor of that, I thought I would list what is known about the bands who played Sound Storm. I am not familiar with most of the local bands, but I do know something about the regional bands. I have provided links to the Pulling's photos where available. There are many unidentified performers, so if you would recognize some of the bands who played--like for example it was your band--take a look in the Unidentified Performers pages.

According to the poster (above), the scheduled performers for Sound Storm were

Grateful Dead/Ken Kesey/Crow/Illinois Speed Press/Rotary Connection/Mason Profitt/Fuse/Baby Huey/Soup/The Sorry Muthas/Spectre Inc./Captain Billy's Whiz Bang/Django/Bowery Boys/U.S. Pure/The Soul Asylum/Bliss/Brown Sugar/Ox/Northern Comfort/Tayles/Sargasso/Wheezer Lockinger/Manitoba Hugger/Wingfield/Tounge/Groove/Woodbine/Strophe/Ice/Omaha/Staph/Hope/Fly-By-Night Blues Band/Mother Blues/Don Gibson/Wilderness Road
A different ad also lists Biff Rose, Soup and Bethlehem Boogie Band. What follows are some brief comments on the bands known to me.

The Grateful Dead were, in fact, the Grateful Dead, and I have written elsewhere about their participation .

Ken Kesey, although a friend of organizer Peter Obranovich, was not in fact present. I suspect that his name was a sort of code for "Acid Test," which was not misunderstood by those attending.

Crow were a hard rock band from Minneapolis. Their 1969 debut album Crow Music (on Amaret) included a modest hit single, "Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games With Me)," later covered by Black Sabbath.

Illinois Speed Press were a Chicago band, but they were signed by CBS and moved to Southern California along with another band, the Chicago Transit Authority. The ISP featured guitarists Paul Cotton and Kal David, and they released two excellent if little-noticed albums. Cotton went on to some fame in Poco, and Kal David was in the excellent Fabulous Rhinestones.

Rotary Connection were a Chicago "psychedelic soul" band on Cadet Records, Chess Records rock imprint. They featured lead singer Minnie Ripperton, who achieved fame as a solo artist in the seventies. Sometime in 1970, Rotary Connection had released their fifth album Dinner.

Mason Profitt was led by two brothers John Micheal and Terry Talbot, originally from Indianapolis, but based in Chicago by 1969. The first of their five albums, Wanted, had been released in 1969.

Fuse was a band from Rockford, IL, featuring guitarist Rick Nielsen and bassist Tom Peterson. They released one self-titled, poorly produced album for Epic in 1968. The band broke up in 1971, and Nielsen and Peterson went on to form Cheap Trick.

Baby Huey and The Babysitters were a legendary soul-rock band from Chicago, somewhat in the mold of Sly And The Family Stone. Lead singer "Baby Huey" (James Ramey) was reputedly a dynamic performer, but he had many health problems and he died in October 1970.

Luther Allison, not on the poster, but appearing in Pulling's photos, was a Chicago blues guitarist who had played in Howlin Wolf's band.

Ox were a Milwaukee band that featured guitarist Bob Metzger. Metzger has had a lengthy professional career, and is currently playing guitar for Leonard Cohen.

Captain Billy's Whiz Bang (with a G), according to bassist Michael Pontecorvo,
were a blues/rock 'n roll band out of Madison and played on the Library steps (first Earth Day) on Saturday and then at Sound Storm  Sunday morning.  It was Bob Schmitdke (Guitar), Michael Pontecorvo(Bass-myself), Larry Robertson(Organ) and god help me I can't remember our drummer's name.
Hopefully the drummer will surface soon (thanks to Michael for writing in).

Biff Rose (if he played) was a comedian and songwriter, somewhat different than most of the rock bands on the bill.

The rest of the bands are unknown to me, although there are photos of Northern Comfort, Bowery Boys and Wheezer Lockinger. Anyone with information about the other bands, particularly if they are in  the Unidentified Performers photos, please contact me or mention them in the Comments.


  1. Bruno reports

    Soup: rock band born in Appleton, Wisconsin, formed by Doug Yankus (vocalsand guitar), Dave Faas (vocals and bass), Rob Griffith (vocals, drums,harmonica) and ex The Steve Miller Band's Jim Peterman (piano).....

    in 1969/70 the band released their first privately pressed album: "Soup" (Arf Arm Artists 1) side has five studio tracks and the other a long live 1969/70 too the band released a single: "Big Boss Man / Veronica" (Target T 1005).....

    In 1970/71 Jim Peterman left and
    Soup became a trio and in 1971 released a second album titled: "The Album Soup" (Big Tree 2007 (reissued with bonus tracks by the excellent Gear Fab label in the Summer '99)
    and soon after the trio split......

    At this point leader Doug Yankus later played in the Nashville-based band White Duck, who released a self-titled album in 1972. White Duck's roster included songwriter John Hiatt and Yankus also played on Hiatt's first solo album, Hangin' Around The Observatory (1974), and later on Slug Line (1979). Sadly, Yankus
    died in 1982.

  2. Bruno:

    Bliss: only known fact about this group is that they in 1969 both released one album: "Bliss" (Canyon 7707) and one single: "Ride The Ship Of Fools / Gangster Of Love" (Canyon 34).

  3. Bruno reports

    Tayles: rock group born in Madison, Wisconsin, 1966 with: Scott Eakin (flute,
    vocals), Rick Markstrom (vocals, drums), Paul Petzold (organ), Bob Schmidtke
    (vocals, guitar) and Jeremy Wilson (vocals, bass; ex The Canterbury's)...

    In early 1971 they released two singles at the same time: "She Made Me That Way / Bizzaro
    Ben" (Age Of Aquarius 1548)and "Funny Paper Sam / It's High Time" (Age Of Aquarius 1549)...

    On March 18, 1972 the band played live at The Nitty Gritty in Madison and the concert was recorded and released on the same year in their only album: "Who Are These Guys"
    (Cinevista CU 1001) (reissued officially on CD by Gear Fab (GF-121) 1999 with the 45 tracks)...

    The Tayles split in 1972, with members going onto the Shakers or the Beans, but they
    reunited as The Tayles in 1976. The name was finally retired in the late 70s and, as the Shakers again, they continued power-poppin' into the 90s. Bob Schmidtke passed away in 1984.

    1. Thanks for this bit. I enjoyed the Shakers as a covers band in the 70s. Huge concert at Union Terrace my first couple of weeks in Madison.

    2. I was the drummer for the Tayles in 1970 at this concert. This was a different lineup than the later one with the Captain Billy's guys. It included me, Ken Ross, on drums, Len Epand on lead guitar, Peter ??? on organ and then Scott Eakin on flute and Jeremy Wilson on bass. Jeremy wrote most of the songs. Most of the songs performed on the Tayles album were first played by this lineup. We also played that year at the Kickapoo Creek festival which had about 40,000 people. Our bus got stuck in the mud after a heavy rain and we had to be pushed by 200 people up a hill so we could get on our way to another concert 12 hours away. Great memories!

    3. Who were the band members of the Shakers? Around 1982/83.

  4. Bruno reports

    Hope: rock group from Lacrosse, Wisconsin, they evolved out of the Jesters III. The line-up is: Jeff Cozy (drums, vocals), James C. Croegaert (vocals, piano), David A. Klug (vocals,bass), Wayne C. McKibbin (vocals, guitar) and Boyd R. Sibley (vocals, organ)...

    They released two singles: "Where Do You Want To Go / One Man" (about 1970) (Coulee 134)
    and "Where Do You Want To Go / Little Things" (1972) (A&M 1355)....and one album: "Hope" (1972) (A&M SP 4329).

  5. I was there that weekend. I remember Black Oak Arkansas and Jefferson Airplane - or whatever they were called then. I distinctly remember them playing in the early morning hours, I think on Saturday. REO Speedwagon was there, if I remember correctly, as was Richie Havens. I think Jimmy Hendrix, as well, because I remember listening to his rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. I was just 17 and it was the only Rock Fest I ever attended. It was wonderful!

  6. I rember The Bowery Boys i use to see them at The Pines Ballroom in Bloomer Wi.. Good band.
    I was the second fest that got called off the second day..

  7. Could the Captain Billy's drummer have been Rick Geurtin?

  8. I was at this festival--amazing, fabulous experience. One band that isn't listed that was there is Siegel-Schwall Band--Corky Siegel (fantastic harp player) and Jim Schwall. They were great!

  9. Ox also included Jon Paris on bass who went on to play with Johnny Winter and many others. He is now a well known guitar player/singer/blues harp player in NYC fronting his own trio.

  10. Tongue was from Menomonie and was a bunch of local and Stout kids, they cut an lp and according to Paul Rabbit, Tongue's lead guitar player, Garcia told him they thought Tongue's version of Morning Dew was better then the Dead's.

  11. Ox open for Jimi Hendrix in Milwaukee, Msyb1, 1970. Soup played locally at UWM an high school. Long and loud

  12. I was at this festival. In addition to cosmic performances by Minnie Ripperton and Rotary Connection, and of course, the Grateful Dead, who really did play for many many hours--all day and into the evening--(the music never stopped) I remember the Siegel-Schwall Band, with Corky Siegel giving some amazing performances.