1970 - 1972
Bowles ~ Guitar, Vocals, Songwriter
Larry Brown ~ Bass
Don Davis ~ Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Paul Hernandez ~ Drums
For an updated story on Felix, please see the blog story, here:
There has been at least one other Washington band called Felix. We named our group after the famous cartoon cat, and featured his picture on our drummer, Paul Hernandez' bass drum.
We played original blues, psychedelic and boogie. We paid tribute to my all-time favorite band, Canned Heat, by playing their Fried Hockey Boogie, all 40+ minutes of it, as well as several of their other great songs. We did some Credence, too, because no one else seemed to be covering them in Yakima.
I've led or been a member of dozens of bands, since I began playing in 1963. Felix was my favorite, because we played whatever we wanted, including my originals, and also because of the great guys I was privileged to play with: Don Davis was a rock steady, imaginative, supportive rhythm guitarist, who possessed a clear tenor voice. Larry Brown was one of the best bassists I've ever had the pleasure to mesh notes with. He always knew just what to play. And, Paul Hernandez was a drumming juggernaut. When I first met him, he had a nice, soft touch on the drums, which I immediately starting striving to help him lose! His drumming style definitely changed to what one would call "heavy". When I think back, I can still see him working his butt off, sweating profusely, as he played his great solo in The Boogie.
We truly worked together in this band. We were buddies. Our sound was smoothly meshed, and we really communicated to our audience a feeling of joy, freedom and enthusiasm. At the same time, we featured songs that would make a person think. Among the songs I wrote, we performed "The Gap", which was about the generation gap, "One Way: Jesus", a gospel rock song, "You Need Me", a heavy blues number, and "Pills", written as a message to a friend of ours who I felt was getting in over his head with drugs.
In the truest DIY form, we regularly rented the Civic Center in Mabton, where we put on our own dances. Hundreds of young people would pay a couple of dollars to hear us play several hours of music. We played as long, and as LOUD as we could! You may wonder what the city fathers and mothers thought of us presenting "hippie dances" in Mabton. Actually, they were happy that we gave the kids something to do. And, we hired an off-duty Mabton cop to provide security. He soon became our pal. Nothing made him happier than to see us have a big night, with a large crowd.
We played at high school dances up and down the Yakima Valley, and we played shows at Yakima Valley College. We were surely the first, and perhaps the only band to present a light show there, along with our music. A group of our friends hung giant bed sheets behind us, and projected all sorts of spacey images onto them as we played. The crowd loved it.
Did I mention we played loud? Having been accustomed to using Vox Super Beatle guitar amps in my previous band, The Velvet Illusions, I suddenly found myself going through lesser-quality amps left and right, blowing speakers, frying circuits, etc. Heck, I once blew up a Fender Twin Reverb at band practice! I finally found a used Fender Bassman amp which could stand up to the punishment I dealt out. I kept the volume permanently cranked to 10!
Actually, I coveted Don Davis' mighty Casino amp, because it was the biggest, most powerful amp I'd ever seen. In fact, I'm the guy who sold it to him. I was working for a local music store, Maletta-Deccio. I was trying to talk Don into buying this beautiful, expensive amp. Don said he'd buy the amp if I'd start a band with him. And that's how the band got started!
In our leisure time, we'd all head to a little cafe in "downtown Mabton" take up a couple of booths, and enjoy the down-home food while playing Country songs on the jukebox, such as Loretta Lynn's "Don't Come Home A Drinkin' With Lovin' On Your Mind". We used to think this was hilarious. Little did I know that I would eventually leave the band in 1972, to join a Country Band.
I was recruited by the late, great Japanese steel guitarist, Katsuhiko Kobayashi, to be the front man for his country music band at a local mill workers' tavern. "Katz", whom we all called "Dale", moved to Yakima from Tokyo, where he was in the hottest heavy band there, The Flowers. He played psychedelic music on the steel guitar in a local group, "Smiling Hand". But when it broke up, he was stuck in Yakima, with no work, so he jumped at the chance when a local musician offered to teach him country music. And I, in turn, jumped at the chance to have Katz do the same for me. Along with our drummer, Tim McKeller, we were three hippies trying to play cowboy music. Talk about "alt-country"! Katz eventually became Marty Robbins' steel player, and I went on to sing lead and play guitar in the great Puget Sound country-rock band, Stampede Pass. But that's another story!
Don Davis and I had a reunion via phone in Spring, 2005. I learned that he and Paul, our drummer, had continued with their music careers. Don had played in some Country bands, too. They were no longer in touch with our bassist, Larry, who'd left for parts unknown. Over the phone, Don played me a sample of a cassette recording we made at band practice all those years ago.
How did it sound? Gnarly, man!
Randy Bowles, May 2006
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Last Update: 8 May 2015
Credits: Randy Bowles