Stilbourne

In 1971, I was attending Tacoma Community College, mainly for the draft deferment (I really and truly didn't want to go play tourist in Viet Nam).

I met Dave Sides in a psychology class I was attending, through another friend, David Dalin (I later married his sister).

Sides as it turned out, was a drummer.

I'd played bass in a number of bands through high school and was looking for something to do to break the tedium of college.

Sides and I had reasonably similar tastes in music. After a while, he introduced me to a guy who was running a gas station over on Center Street in the Oakland area of Tacoma - Bozo the Clown. Bozo played lead.

We jammed a few times in the basement of my parent's house over on Mason Street and it sounded pretty good. We decided to add another guitar - and a lead singer.

We named ourselves Stilbourne - for "still being born" not what happens to dead babies - although I'm not sure anyone ever understood that. We were a very misunderstood band.

We got Dave Hall for guitar. To sing lead, we got Billy Miranda. And that was our mistake.

You see, the one and only real reason we let Billy sing lead was because he had his own PA system. Bad logic. Billy couldn't sing for shit. At The EM Club at McChord AFB

Either way, we did surprisingly well.

Billy as it turned out, had quite a few connections at Ft Lewis and McChord AFB, and soon we had a fairly lucrative schedule of gigs at the various Enlisted Men's and NCO Clubs on the two bases.

It was absolute shit work - playing for a bunch of drunk GI's. Not exactly what you'd call an appreciative audience. But it paid pretty awful damned good.

To break it up, we played a few taverns as well. The pay there wasn't as great, but the audiences were much better - a better class of drunks.

We were going places. I was writing quite a bit of music. I was playing well. We had 2-3 gigs a week, and practiced 2-3 days a week in the basement at my parent's house. It was great!

Things went that way for quite a while, and then it all fell apart Stilbourne - courtesy of President Richard M. Nixon.

I'd lost my college deferment when they stopped giving them ou t in 1972, and had enlisted in the National Guard to avoid the draft and Viet Nam. But I was able to put-off going on my six-months active duty for only so long.

In the fall of 1973, I got my final notice to report for basic training at Ft Dix, New Jersey. And that was that.

The band replaced me with a guy named Jeff, whose last name I can't recall. When I got back in 1974, the band had broken up. I only stayed in Tacoma for a few months, and then ended up moving down to Monterey, California.

RIP Stilbourne.

For the time we were together, we only made one tape at a practice in my basement.

Bozo's brother made the tape for us, on his reel-to-reel recorder. The reel-to-reel had an integral 8-track deck built in. The songs below were taken off an 8-track, and then transferred onto a cassette tape, which I got from Bozo in about the mid-90's.

The audio quality on the original was shit - it was recorded way, way too hot, with only two mics in my basement - which was pretty cramped and had zero acoustics. 8-tracks are notorious for bad audio - and cassettes aren't a helluva lot better.

Thus, the material I have here, 31 years later is very poor quality.

The cassette I had was on its last legs. Mostly only one channel worked - and on it, the sound levels were very low and uneven.

Using Audacity (a really great freeware audio editing program), I made WAV files from the cassette tape, and then made one mono channel out of the best track, and then amplified and EQ'd it to reduce the hiss. The result I encoded into 128 kb/s MP3 files (the quality was bad anyway, so the lower bit-rate probably doesn't make a difference).

It's just barely listenable. It really and truly does sound like shit. But even so, it has its moments.

If we'd only been a few years later, we woulda fit right in as a punk band. we were just a little early.

 

1. Rock and Roll Hootchie Coo 6. Live With Me

2. Brown Sugar

7. Modern Science on Tuesday*
3. Jazz Jam* 8. Mr. Limousine Driver
4. Little Wing 9. NIB

5. Blues Jam*

* Original songs by Stilbourne. Modern Science on Tuesday written by Mike Pellegrini and Bozo the Clown.

 

Note: If you have a recent version of Windows Media Player installed, you can stream the files by clicking on any of the files, and then clicking "Yes" when asked in "Media Bar Settings," if you want to play the file in Windows Media Player (or whatever your default player is).

If you want to download the files, you need to click "No" when asked (in "Media Bar Settings"). After clicking "No", the "File Download" window will appear.

 

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