The Blue Velvet Brass

The Blue Velvet Brass

A musical walk down memory lane

Part II of Anthony Dransfeld's look at the 60s music scene in Kimberley and Cranbrook

So, Cranbrook had the Bluebird, but we here in 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.  Struan went on to manage Ft. Steele for many years after leaving McDougald

The Epics and Henchmen played there a lot. Both of these Kimberley Bands had their loyal followers. Very sadly Bobby Dixon the Henchman  lead singer passed away eight years ago . He was one of my dearest friends, and I miss his “joy for life” greatly. 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, but perhaps I am biased) lives here in Kimberley B.C.  and performs locally with  Marty Musser, Dave Burch and Jamie Neve (incidentally Veronica Neve  was a Go go Dancer with Kathy Dixon in the Henchmen. The Henchmen  Drummer Larry Musser is a retired actor living on the Sunshine Coast. Larry Musser ”Muss”  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

The Henchmen  guitarist Nobber O’Brien plays goal for the Cranbrook Colonels Old timers, flies an airplane here locally he rebuilt from scratch and kayaks regularly on the St. Marys 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 (MT) who was their lead player, Rudy Sandor, Dennis Davies drums. Sam Kirsch took over the drums when Dennis moved to Calgary. To refresh your memory, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass had burst on the scene in LA  and shortly after that took America by storm. The Tijuana Brass heavily influenced our Kimberley group 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.

The two greatest lovers of music in my life would be my dad Tony (Classical) and Danny Sullivan known to most of us as Sully The Barber, who  introduced me to the early Bee Gees and the Grass Roots.

I was working for Vans Tennis shoes in Los Angeles California in 1967. Around December 1, 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 — 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 in the car. In our haste to  get back to Canada, we promptly were stopped for speeding by the Sheriff’s bro one 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 we got back to Kimberley (Christmas of 1967). 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 at the tender age of 14. Garth now lives in Ottawa. From what I gather Derek (Clemmer) no longer plays the guitar or sings. What a duo he and Rob Young were for the Epics. Amazing those two, and right here in Kimberley.

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 (passed away) was dancing with a Canadian National Ski Team Member (Ms. Stephanie Townsend) Who showed up at the dance?? 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 max. 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 cold cocked a Cranbrookian with a wrench. Ouch! Good ole Kimberley music memories. It does not seem all that long ago. Sadly, Mcdougall Hall was demolished.

This has been a musical spin through the 1960s and 70s music scene in Kimberley and the East Kootenay. 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.


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