Spokane, Washington
1977 - 1981


Jim Bartlett ~ Bass
Al Braun ~ Bass
Gordy Deems ~ Guitar
Dale Dunsmoor ~ Drums
Sheldon Miller ~ Drums, Vocals, Song Writer
Steve Samsel ~ Guitar, Vocals
Bob Sluys ~ Bass
Gary "Smitty" Smith ~ Bass
Mike Stirn ~ Guitar, Vocals
Tony Winslow ~ Drums


Chuck Burbank ~ Audio Technician
Tom Hall ~ Sound Engineer
Don Tunnel ~ Manager

In Memory of

Dale Dunsmoor (d. 26 May 2008)
Tony Winslow

Image courtesy of Sheldon Miller
Gary ”Smitty” Smith, Sheldon Miller, Michael Stirn

KRACKER - Rock 'n' roll Warriors
Perhaps it was in the Summer or maybe in the Fall of 1977 that the narcotic scourge of disco reached an ignominious apex from whence began its inevitable decline.  Surely, in the city of Spokane, Washington, this would hold true. For out of that place and time emerged KRACKER: an excitement generating rock 'n' roll turbo producing a power sufficient to crush that snakes head of  pre-recorded disco mania: that beguiling serpent who subdued Spokane's nightclub scene like a false idol mesmerizes a heathen.

Refusing to lay their rock 'n' roll souls beneath that golden calf, KRACKER was, in the beginning, branded as outcasts. Marginalized under disco's cheap and easy fame, the group was relegated to performing within the confines of seedy dives, small-town gigs, frat houses and the like. But these engagements were not done in vain. For it was in these obscure places of  low estate that KRACKER, those puritans of rock, honed their craft. And indeed they honed it well. For, in time, the establishments wherein they plied their musical wares could no longer contain the growing numbers of  pilgrims escaping disco's mundane message. And the fans came in droves seeking baptism under the thundering rock 'n' roll fury that was KRACKER.

And the group gained in stature, reputation and fame; distinguishing themselves within a broad pantheon of  booking agents, record executives, producers, disc jockeys, trade magazines and promoters. As KRACKER albums began selling in their thousands, and as KRACKER music filled the airwaves of the Inland Northwest, so the venue in which they performed did change. Thus it happened that the group moved from the nightclub stage onto the concert stage; and from there into the halls of glory.

So who were these valiant rock warriors who led the vanguard against disco's infamous name?........

    They were MIKE STIRN: the founder of  KRACKER: the song-writing lead guitarist who skillfully wielded his ax like a phalanx to penetrate the hearts of swooning young female admirers.

    And there was STEVE SAMSEL; the lead singing composer whose song writing abilities and well seasoned voice gave KRACKER the clean, original and expressive sound that put heart behind their thunder.

    And there was AL BRAUN; the bearded bassist who presented himself on stage as a foot stomping viking in drag whose throbbing bottom notes formed the solid foundation upon which KRACKER built their sound.

    And there was DALE DUNSMOOR; the soft spoken but hard hitting drummer whose simple, steady rhythm pulled the group through each song like a powerful locomotive.

    And there was CHUCK BURBANK; the irrepressible, uncompromising producer/audio tech who pushed the P A system to the limit of its capacity and beyond; ensuring that the decibel level remain sufficiently high to cause death among small animals.

    And there was TOM HALL; the brilliant young recording technician who, after engineering The KRACKER Album, went on to great success with other recording groups of  renown.

    Then there was Sheldon Miller the song writing, showman, singing drummer who played funky powerful beats, and really had the ability to get the audience involved in the show.

So hail to you, KRACKER; you rock 'n' roll warriors of the night who bore the torch and fought the fight: who kept the faith while others fell: whose strength endured through disco's hell. And now you guitar-clad boys, remembered till this day, can surely look back with pride and say "We stood as watchmen on the wall, we held our posts though lesser men did fall. We were those mythic warriors who stood for right; who vanquished mediocrity that rock's light may shine bright. Yes we were those rock 'n' roll warriors of the night who bore the brunt of disco's might; we few, we valiant lads who fought the good fight."

Chuck Burbank, October 2002
Sheldon Miller, January 2008

Tony Winslow passed away May 4, 2004 after a courageous battle with Multiple Sclerosis.

Tony was a founding member of The Capers, and the Northwest Rock and Roll Band, who toured the state for the Governors Council of the Arts in the early 1970's.  He also worked with groups such as The Kingsmen and Junior Cadillac before joining Dennis Roberts whom he worked with for many years.

Tony joined our band, Kracker for a short while before his illness forced him to retire. He was a talented guy who had a great sense of humor and was always fun to be around. He will be greatly missed.

Steve Samsel, May 2004

After Dale Dunsmore left the band he was replaced by Sheldon Miller.  When I joined Kracker Al Braun was still the bassist at the time.  I did get to play some shows for a short time with Al Braun on bass.  Al Braun left and was replaced on bass by  Gary “Smitty” Smith who was later replaced by Jim Bartlett.  Later one of Sheldon’s contacts, L.A. based Don Tunnel, came on board as the band’s manager.

Sheldon Miller, January 2008, February 2009

I played bass in Kracker for a bit.  I believe I replaced Al Braun, original bassist.  Sheldon joined on drums at the same time I joined.  Steve Samsel came & went & was sorta replaced by Gordon Deems (guitarist extraordinaire).

My tenure was about six months but it seemed like an important time for Stirn, trying to keep his band going.  They did an album before me & one after me but no recording with me.

Gary Smith, November 2008

I joined Kracker on bass guitar at the beginning of 1981. We gigged around Spokane and Coeur d'Alene playing at Goofy's, The Ratskeller, Cotton Club, and others.

We mainly played in Canada as "USK" (to avoid confusion with a Canadian "Kracker"... USK meaning United States Kracker. I THINK that's the way it went - can't exactly remember. Mike Borderman was on drums. We played a wide variety, including some  new wave (Squeeze, Splint Enz, DEVO, etc) as well as the Stones, The Baby's and of course, a lot of Steve and Mike's original stuff which was excellent!!!!!

Mike's wife Carole ran the sound board AND sang harmonies from there as well-nice job!

I really enjoyed being in the band. We took a trip to LA in March, driving down from Edmonton-... five people in an equipment laden step van freezing our asses off.  Good times!

We went down to play some "showcase" (free) gigs . . . Don Tunnel was the manager and he arranged the trip. He had ties with Spencer Davis (Gimme Some Lovin') and Spencer was going to produce the band.

I'd been playing bass for a couple of years and was adequate.  I'm sure that I would've been replaced, at least in the studio.  I was not an experienced recording bassist, that's for sure!   Plus, I'm pretty direct when it comes to opinions, and I thought Don was taking advantage of the band with 25% off the top for management.  It was pretty steep, I thought, especially since we were only playing club gigs at that time.  We went all the way to LA to play 4-5-6 shows, and they all canceled except for one at The Central (later The Viper Room of River Phoenix fame) and the other at the OK Corral.

I don't know how the whole Don Tunnel/Spencer Davis thing worked out. I was fired in June or July. Dave Nordstrom (I think that was his name) became available, and truth be told, he was a better player than I was and seemed to fit right in.  I probably would've fired me, too.

Mike was an excellent player-slide guitar, and, had a cool look on stage. Steve sang his ass off and did a great job.  His talent was obvious and fit the band.

Mike was like me, competent but not spectacular.  He sang a little and also had his pilot's license.  We went flying once and I bounced the landing (I also had my license) .  I don't know what happened to Mike, the good guy.

I did run into Mike in Spokane in 1999.  He looked the same as he did 18 years earlier.  Don Tunnel? I have no idea where he is.

Bob Sluys, January, 2011

Kracker - Waste of time (USA 1978)
on YouTube

Al Braun's You Tube Page

Steve Samsel
Available at CD Baby

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Last Update:  19 May 2013
Credits: Chuck Burbank, Steve Samsel, Sheldon Miller, Mike Stirn, Gary "Smitty" Smith, Gordy Deems, Bob Sluys, Al Braun
Band # 1059