September 28, 2011

The Baker Street Irregulars......... (Lancaster 1966)



Dick Brubaker-bass, Jim Hohenstein-rhythm guitar & vocals, Miles Harriger-drums & vocals, Steve Thornburg-lead guitar; Don Rhoads-keyboards (not pictured)

Original Post, June 2011: 
The Irregulars might have been the bad kids in town that WLAN wouldn't play.  I can't find anything about Largo Records or the band except they had a really trippy sound for little-old Lancaster. If the date is correct they were pretty happenin' with that first big wave of psychedelic music. It Don't Mean Nothin' comes complete with space sounds, and their nearly 5-minute version of Bo Diddley's I'm A Man is just bananas.

(Largo 5002)

Thanks to Spin the Groove and The Rock and Roll Cellar for hipping me.

...........................................................

Addendum from the Depths, September 2011:
Man, this band barely escaped deep analog obscurity.   The tracks survived, thanks to a single and couple of compilations and blog posts, but there was nothing else to go on until Steve of The Baker Street Irregulars happened upon this Tapewrecks post and answered a few questions about the band and the mid-60s Lancaster music scene:
To say I was surprised is a vast understatement. Where on Earth did you ever find a copy of the one and only 45 ever recorded by the Baker Street Irregulars?? 

I am one of the 3 members that formed the BSI back in '65.  I was living on Stonemill Road in Lancaster at the time. The other two members were from Landisville, bassist/singer Jim Hohenstein and drummer/singer Miles Harriger. We were high school kids at the time. I worked part time at the Colonial House of Music.  That's where I met the guys. 
It was a different world back then, in so many ways.  
Oddly, Jim, Miles and myself all had different favorites. Jim was into bands like the Mamas & Papas, and the Association. Miles was strictly British, Rolling Stones and the Beatles in particular.  I was more into oddball groups like the Illinois Speed Press, Paul Butterfield, and the Yardbirds, and was also into flamenco and jazz. Howard Roberts was probably my biggest influence at the time, though you'd never guess it based on the licks on the BSI record. But I had spent some time in Greenwich Village, and in San Francisco, so the psychedelic sound was no stranger to me.  
I remember the Couriers, and I believe there was some affiliation with Mariani's Music. There was a music spot called the Hullabaloo. Lots of local groups played there, often opening for bigger-name acts.  We opened for The Fantastic Johnny C once. 

[Interestingly, for Lancastrians anyway, The Hullabaloo was a franchise affiliated with the TV program, located in Manheim Township and was owned and operated by Ed Ruoff and his wife, parents of Rich Ruoff, founder of Chameleon Club, the main venue for original bands from the 1980s to to the present day. Thanks to reader Brett of Noise Addiction II for the ad above from the Reading Hullabaloo.]
Largo Records was owned and operated by a guy named Wilhelm Hess. Miles's dad was a doctor, and knew Wilhelm from his college days. He hooked us up.  The "studio" was in a barn, halfway to Willow Street. He had a Revox 4-track, and a single Neumann microphone. The additional guitar tracks were added afterward because Wilhelm was not satisfied with the 3-piece sound. The effects were "high tech" for the time (hard to believe!!).... I had an Echoplex, a Vox Wah-Wah, and a Gibson Maestro Fuzztone, a 1961 Telecaster, and a Fender Super Reverb amp. What I wouldn't give to have my old Tele back again!
 
The bastardization of "I'm a Man" was two-fold: the song was way too long, but Wilhelm insisted he could edit it easily. Instead, he sped it up to shorten it! 
We played Franklin & Marshall frat parties often, and other local venues. There was a place out on Route 30 called The Host that we played often. But the band was short-lived.  After high school, Miles and Jim went off to different colleges, and I was headed to Nam.
[The Baker Street Irregulars were featured on both the Pebbles (1998) and Gravel (2007) garage band compilations.] 
I wonder where they even found the record. I had a few copies, and much other music memorabilia, but all was lost in a fire in the late 60s.  A single Polaroid picture of the 45 survived.... my only real evidence that the band ever existed.  
Miles drowned himself over a broken heart in a lake near Charlottesville Virgina, autumn of 1973. What a waste. Despite my best efforts, I've had no luck finding Jim. Upon news of Miles' death, I tried to contact him, but his family had moved. I even traveled back to Pennsylvania to see if maybe one of his neighbors knew where they went.  One told me "maybe Texas", and another said "maybe Maine", but for me it was a dead end search. No Google in those days.
[Jim did, in fact, move to Maine, where he is active as a church leader.]

Thanks to Steve for sharing his memories!
If you remember The Baker Street Irregulars, the Hullabaloo, or any of the happenin' Lancaster music scene from those days, please help salvage the history!


Addendum 2 from Janet Harriger, August 2013:

The sister of the late Miles Harriger graciously sent in the band photo added above and a great article about the band that really describes their live show and reveals much about the Lancaster music scene in 1966.
Musical Group Affects Psychedelic Happening
     "Memphis, New Orleans and London each boast of a Baker Street but the sounds emanating from the instruments of Lancaster County's Baker Street Irregulars are native solely to that ungeographical 'in city,' home of today's 'now generation.'...
     While many parents would probably turn away in anguish at the first beat of psychedelic sound let alone allow their offspring to manufacture same, Mrs Harriger has taken quite another stand.
     "I have encouraged the boys' playing," she said, adding somewhat defensively, "It's certainly not my type of music, but it IS theirs," and that's important. ...
     Miles cites Steve's "psychedelic guitar" playing as the chief asset to the group's new sound, saying "We couldn't exist without it," Besides, he added, Steve owns most of the equipment.
     The equipment is in itself unique, consisting of lighting gear and devices which produce special sound effects such as the echo which, shades of old, once served to make Miss Patti Page (who?) the Singing Rage. Other strange sounds which the lads interject to hypo their performances include "flying saucer, locomotive, jet" and various and sundry other "weird sounds."
     Armed with this gear, it goes unchallenged that the youths definitely provide auditory stimulation but, as any observer of their live performance could attest, a considerable visual attraction as well.
     Perhaps cashing in on the Liberace following, Dick has, on occasion, taken to the bandstand with lighted candles stemming from his guitar. Jim goes the Judy Garland route, wielding a hand mike up and down stage, straining his 'lifeline' to the limits to bring his vocals smack dab onto the dancefloor where he goes Miss Garland one better by matching the dancers' maneuvers with his own terpsichorean offerings.
     Steve, who whips his guitar behind his head in more inspired moments, once became so engrossed (or as Miles was wont to put it, "psyched out") during a performance that he brought the intrument down from above his head, creating a resounding crescendo upon Miles $50 cymbal. Just what effect this had upon the audience is debatable but the cymbal was certainly 'impressed.'
     The group delightedly reports a growing following within the county, adding more and more "psyche' enthusiasts to the throng through their engagements at such spots as the "Web," Landisville Fire Hall, YWCA Hangout dances, private parties and various county pools.
     Just what the future holds for the group is dependent upon the success of their first recording venture, "I'm A Man," which was recently waxed on the Largo label with an original composition, "It Don't Mean Nothing" by Miles and Jim, on the flip side.
     Although two of the boys will enter college in the fall, they are hoping the disc will make it necessary for recording 'reunions' in the near future. Nevertheless, they intend to commute regularly so that they can continue to perform together.
     Meanwhile, until September, the show goes on -- and up -- and away!

6 comments:

  1. According to Discogs they are on a "Pebbles" comp and a "Gravel" comp:

    http://www.discogs.com/artist/Baker+Street+Irregulars+%282%29

    ...but oddly not on any of the Pennsylvania comps?

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  2. I figured out where I had heard them before. I played it on the radio when Bill Tormas brought his records in for a 60's garage band special I did in April '86.
    The "Pennsylvania" segment of the show was: Centurys, Shaynes, Baker St. Irregulars, Ognir and the Night People, The Couriers, Swamp Rats, Colors of Night and Buccaneers. Then I played Bob Seger (and the Last Heard).

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  3. To say I was surprised is a vast understatement. Where on Earth did you ever find a copy of the one and only 45 ever recorded by the Baker Street Irregulars??....

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  4. My brother was Miles Harriger, drummer of the BSI. I have a few additions/corrections to Steve's comments. Miles died in Nov. 1973. There were 4 band members: Steve, Jim, Miles and Dick at the time of recording. I have a copy of a newspaper article about the band from 1967. Also, Jim's dad wasn't a doctor, but mine is.
    At any rate, they were very edgy for the time and location. I also have an original 45 of the recording.

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  5. I do have a photo of the band some where in a safe place. I must have moved it. I'll look again, but I have a copy that I made for a cd cover. I had the 45 converted to cd and made copies for my family members. I can scan that instead, but the quality won't be the greatest.

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  6. Just came across this blog. I played in 2 bands with Rick Brubaker. The first from 1965-1967 (The Seagrams 7) and the second from 1989-1995 a 12 piece R&B band The SilverHawks which disbanded in 2015. Sadly Dick passed away in 2013. He was a remarkable musician.
    Steve Thornburg was a guitar legend in Lancaster in the late 60's. I remember seeing BSI on several occasions at Hullabaloo. I recall returning to Lancaster after spending 4 years in the military and asking different musicians if Steve was still in the area. It was like he dropped off the face of earth. Glad to hear your still out there Steve. Hope you're still playing.......Ira (Mike)Book

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