October 9, 2011

The Red Roosters ..... (Lancaster 1987)

At the DeLux Diner...Chrysler Imperial courtesy of Bill and Carl, Web of Sound Records

The Red Roosters were Lancaster's rockabilly revampers featuring saxophonist Lars Espensen who went from the US Marine Corps, to the Roosters, to playing with the fabulous A-Bones.  He's the only Rooster I knew, but he wasn't the main singer, and I remember the bulk of their songs being pretty clean-cut rockabilly with some Johnny Cash here and there. They were the opening act for the historic Hasil Adkins show at the Moose Lodge right after he was rediscovered by Norton Records et al. The two songs I have on tape are from the Punk's Not Dead show on WFNM.  Lars and and local punk goofballs Jack Lord's Hair were in the studio offending the morals of a few Lancastrians that evening. Unfortunately, that's all I have on The Red Roosters, so if you have any wreckage to share, please chicken-walk it over our way!

John Augustine with Lars, March 1987:
Mr. Moto / Psycho Macho / interview

Steve Patton-Drums
John Harlan-Bass
Phil Risser-Guitar
Lars Espensen-Sax

Thanks to Sophy DiPinto for her photos!

Lars went on to playing honky tonk in Brooklyn with The Gowanus Canal Boys and is currently in Tuscaloosa with The Original Snake Charmers.


  1. I recall that Lars had another band after The Red Roosters called "Charlie and the Cut-ups". I don't think that they lasted too long but it was the same sort of deal with his girlfriend thrown in for looks.

  2. Fun times.

    Founded by Eric Athey in @ 1983 via an ad posted at the Music Center on Orange St. in Lancaster, PA. Athey and Harlan had previously been in a short-lived band called "The Union". Espensen was previously in a group whose name I don't remember - but they had a great female drummer and Risser was their guitar player. Patton had only recently returned from a stint in the Army.

    Our first gig was a fundraiser for Lancaster Independent Press at the Golden Eagle Tavern on King and Lime Streets. After the first set, a young man named Rich Ruoff walked up and asked if we'd like to be the house band for a club he was about to open in Lancaster called The Chameleon. I thought the path to stardom was paved for all of us....

    Original rhythm gtr player (pre-Risser) was the Legendary Smilin' Gary Sipkoff who played a turquoise Fender Duo-Sonic.

    Patton now in the Dallas area - feisty as ever
    Lars in NYC? (Maybe)
    Harlan in L.A. area - believe he has a group called the Psychedelic Cowboys
    Risser lives near Duncannon, PA area
    Athey left for grad school in '86 and went on to form Lancaster-based bands "The Mudcats" and "The Nightcrawlers" - now a singer-songwriter (and lawyer)
    Recordings by Harlan and Athey available on cdbaby.com or spotify