Beddoes ~ Guitar
John Burton ~ Drums
*Harry Kalensky ~ Drums
*Simon Kendall ~ Bass
Norma Jean MacLaren ~ Vocals
*Peggy Matheson ~ Vocals
*original band line-up
2009 Reunion Group
Beddoes ~ Gutiar
Kristen Ramsden ~ Vocals
Harry Kalensky ~ Drums
Simon Kendall ~ Bass
In Memory of
Peggy Matheson (1949 - 1995)
1968 poster for “Anti-Massacre Dance” at UBC
Tthe Mike Beddoes Blues Band (aka Gingerbox) played in the Vancouver area in 1968-9. Our gigs included the 1969 Aldergrove Beach Music Festival and live music for Michael McLure's play The Beard, which resulted in Vancouver's last obsenity trial!.
Members of the band went on to play in groups including Trooper, Doug & the Slugs, and The Falcons.
Mike Beddoes, May 2006
Mike Beddoes Blues Band (aka Gingerbox), part of the burgeoning late 60s
West Coast music scene, played original blues and psychedelia. A westside
Vancouver teenage band, with a female singer often compared to Buffy St.
Marie and Janis Joplin, they recorded four songs live in 1969, never released.
From spring 1968 through winter 1969, they played more than 50 local gigs
including Aldergrove Beach Rock Festival (May 69) and Michael McLure's
play The Beard (Aug. and Oct. 69). The Beard, performed by
Gallimaufry Theatre Co. at the Arts Club Theatre and the Riverqueen, with
original live music by Mike Beddoes Blues Band, was the last play in Vancouver
to be shut down for obscenity.
All the musicians in the Mike Beddoes Blues Band went on to play professionally: Harry Kalensky in Applejack and Trooper, Simon Kendall and John Burton in Doug and the Slugs, and Mike Beddoes in Ridgerunner (Brain Damage) and The Falcons.
Mike Beddoes, July 2007
Possible alternative band names that were considered:
1. The Vertical Smile
(Norma Jean era)
Movies made: 1. Madelaine Island - I believe all four of us appeared in this Canadian film by Sylvia Spring, shot in Gastown and starring, I think, Jack Darcus.
Most noteable gigs:
1. The Arts Club
Lots of good hair.
The Mike Beddoes Blues Band could eat their weight in bread, cheese, and marmalade on a daily basis.
On a good night, probably as good as any late sixties power trio- type jam band of the era.
John Burton, July 2007
The first band I joined in Vancouver was The Rogues with Blair Thornton and Ron and Merv Hines in 1964. I was 15. We played mainly Shadows and Ventures instrumentals. Harry Kalensky took my place when I left. My next band was The Gremmies with Dwight Ferren in New Hampshire in the summer of 1966. We stayed at Dwight’s parents’ cabin on Lake Sunapee and played every weekend at house parties: Rolling Stones, Troggs, Paul Revere & the Raiders and all the other stuff. Back in Vancouver, after I got my Grade 12 at night school, I decided to start my own band in early 1968 with the highly original name of the Mike Beddoes Blues Band.
Peggy Matheson and I had played some folk stuff a little earlier. She had a hell of a good voice, and a hell of a loud voice, so I invited her to sing and play guitar in my new band. I asked Simon Kendall to play bass because I knew he could (he’d played bass for the first time at a gig with me about a year earlier) and Simon suggested Harry Kalensky on drums because he was funny and could play. He also had his own car. So we bravely set out to conquer the world.
At first the band practiced in my parents’ basement, then at the luxurious residences where I lived. Chemical Row in Kitsilano springs to mind.
I had a Gibson Firebird III and Harry had a fine set of Ludwig Super Classics. Simon started with a Canora bass, got a Fender Precision, and ended up with a Bill Lewis 6-string bass. Peggy had two Shure unidyne mics. Our amps were rubbish but we had Altec or Lansing speakers with homemade cabinets.
For transport, we had Peggy’s blue and white 56 Dodge with a standard transmission and a souped up motor and Harry’s green and white 56 Ford and later coppertone 55 DeSoto.
From the first, we played a lot of our own material. Simon, Harry, and I churned out the psychedelic hits while Peggy wrote the folk-rock. There was one tune we all wrote together in the Hank Williams vein called “Hot Water”. Apart from our own stuff we did 12 bar blues, a little calypso, guitar instrumentals complete with steps, and pastiches of the slushier rock’n’roll hits of yesteryear (eg: “Dream, Dream”).
We sounded pretty good together and were starting to get a local following, but there were a couple of minor problems. I was willing to play pretty well anywhere, but Peggy only wanted to do concerts. If I didn’t snap to it and get some decent gigs she threatened to join another band with some really old guys in their 20s. Meantime, Simon (15) and Harry (16) were acting like teenagers (I was 18): loafing around and not practicing on their own. How to solve these problems? Get some gigs and start playing.
We played local clubs like Big Mothers, Village Bistro, and at UBC. I remember playing an outdoor party at UBC around a swimming pool. I’d always wondered if solid body guitars would float so I put Simon’s Precision bass in the pool. It sank like a stone. I also remember bringing a horn section on stage for one of our gigs at SUB Ballroom, including Gordy Bertram, Pip Doheny, Tom Enns and several others. It was chaotic but a real crowd pleaser.
I liked playing on stage for “The Beard”. The band weren’t given a hell of a lot of direction so, being me, I felt free to make up my own. Unfortunately, I also passed on some of it to the actors. In theatre circles this was a bit like a dog talking. At first the company was too stunned to say anything but, when they did, they made it very clear to me what they thought of my help. Nowadays, I leave actors alone. They know what they’re doing.
|I thought we were
a pretty good, musically adventurous band but I didn’t really appreciate
what we were doing at the time. All I really noticed then was how much
work it was to get the gigs and to make us sound like something. Looking
back, I’d say we were a great original teenage band! What we lacked
in polish we made up for with crude vitality.
Mike Beddoes, July 2007
In 1966 Mike recruited me to be his bass player at the tender age of 14. I got off to a bumpy start when he persuaded me to join him on a gig with The 8th Dynasty, a cover band from Burnaby. There was one small problem: I’d never played bass before. ‘It’s easy - I’ll tell you where the notes are, and you only have to play one at a time’- I was a piano player, and musically savvy, but my debut was far from stunning. Even though I put my foot and both thumbs in it, Mike stood up for me and I got my princely $12.50 along with the others. Mike & I then struck out on our own.
I was hooked, and kept at it, buying a Canora bass from a pawnshop and plugging into Peg Matheson’s TV set for rehearsals. My mentors were patient, and by the time we got Harry Kalensky to join the band on drums we were pretty pleased with ourselves. We were all inmates of Lord Byng High School at the time, and it was an interesting milieu. Later we would joke about it being show biz high…BTO’s Blair Thornton played in an earlier band with Mike & Harry, Sam Feldman even showed up at school occasionally and was already building his empire, and 3 other future Slugs were among my buddies. One of our early gigs was at the school. Our heroes were fairly predictable: Paul Butterfield, Mothers of Invention, Bob Dylan, Country Joe and the rest of the Bay Area bands who were starting to make waves.
We played school dances, coffee houses, house parties and the occasional plum gig at SUB Ballroom, UBC.
Looking back, I think it somewhat strange that Mike would recruit 2 goofy keyboardists to play bass & drums, but that’s what happened. Maybe he was the Captain Beefheart of Point Grey…
Peg was a feisty, tiny redhead with a huge voice. No-one could ever quite understand where all that sound came from. Unsurprisingly she was often compared to Janis Joplin, but except for Turtle Blues we usually stayed away from her material. Our repertoire was a hodgepodge of styles: earnest singer-songwriter, blues, originals, and psychedelic. Looking at an old set recently I howled. There was a list of songs and running times. The last tune was ‘F#….20 minutes.’
It was a good time to be learning, audiences were very open-minded, the lid was off and anything went. My fondest memories are of flat-out jams in sweaty clubs or parties. The Arts Club on Seymour St hosted one of our finest nights in August, 1968. Other than ‘Frog’, an extended 6/4 jam in E, I have no idea what we played, but we transported ourselves and the crowd to a sweet frenzy.
Another day that summer, Bill Henderson (Collectors/Chilliwack) showed up to jam where we lived. There was just Bill, Mike and I, but the music was amazing, and neither Bill nor I has ever forgotten it.
We played The Bistro on 4th Ave, Big Mother’s, The Advance Mattress, Lord Byng and a host of other gigs, it’s odd to think that none of them was licensed. Then again, none of us had reached 21. I had written some music for the summer stock series at Frederic Wood Theatre, UBC and subsequently we were approached about writing and performing music for Gallimaufry’s production of Michael McClure’s ‘The Beard’ at the old Arts Club.
It was a full sixties extravaganza: multi-media, live rock band, motorcycle on stage and simulated cunnilingus between Billy the Kid and Jean Harlow in heaven. We wrote ‘The Beard Suite’ and took to the stage complete with liquid projection, slides and a 16mm film of Billy riding his hog over the Burrard St Bridge, down the alley and…into the back doors of the theatre! Somehow the movie biker had morphed into the scrawny Wayne Robson and the hog into a Honda but it was still pretty exciting. If memory serves it was a fairly indulgent piece of quasi-theatre, but there was a buzz and we were held over for a week. The production was remounted (so to speak) at Ronnie’s Riverqueen later that fall where we joined the ranks of Lenny Bruce, The Stones and other notables by being busted by Vancouver’s vice squad for gross indecency. Since the band was underage, we were never charged, but it was the end of the run.
After this brush with notoriety and high camp, we reckoned we were poised to take over the world. But though it might sound glib, the idealism and enthusiasm which permeated the outgoing era were about to run into themselves headlong in the new decade. In the sixties we’d played coffee houses, festivals and be-ins. I was proud of our band and full of 17-year-old invincibility. The world awaited. In the seventies, we played biker clubs, strip joints and legions. I couldn’t take coming face to face with that reality, and ran off to work in the bush as a treeplanter. After five years as a mountain man, I hooked up with 2 other MBB alumni and joined Doug & the Slugs.
Simon Kendall, July 2007
Mike Beddoes/The Falcons – www.falconbeachmusic.com
Simon Kendall – www.simonkendall.com
Harry Kalensky – www.trooper.ca
Doug and the Slugs – www.dougandtheslugs.com
Dwight Ferren – www.lestension.com
Pip Doheny – www.johndoheny.com
Mike Beddoes Blues Band 40th Year Reunion
The Mike Beddoes Blues Band was invited to play at the 2009 Kitsilano Summer of Love Festival on 4th Avenue in Vancouver. This would be the first we’d played together in forty years. We thought it would be madness not to accept. So we did.
Simon, Harry, and I spent an afternoon in Simon’s garage going over songs from our old set lists. We were a little rusty, but it felt like only a couple of weeks since we’d played together—not 40 years! It was astonishing and uncanny.
Our main singer, Peggy Matheson, died in 1995 so we asked the two other women who sang with us. They shivered and said it had been a long time. Luckily, my old friend Kristen Ramsden came to the rescue.
At the gig we looked pretty authentic except for one thing—we all wore shoes. The music itself, though, was genuine psychedelic blues. We played our greatest hits including “The Beard Suite” and ended with Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love”.
All in all, it was a great reunion. We plan to play again in another 40 years.
Mike Beddoes, June 2012
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