Carlson ~ Bass
1963-1967 & 1997-Present
Last Update - 9 July 2012
Sam Carlson, a native of Tacoma, Washington, has led an interesting life. In 1942, his dad stopped in Tacoma long enough to meet a young Swedish girl at the Crescent Ballroom, married her, and went off to war. Sam came along a little more than four years later and grew up as a military brat, moving around the world, but always going back to his home in Tacoma, Washington.
Sam started out to be a musician in 1961 after hearing The Wailers, a local band in Tacoma, who were playing in the same ballroom where his dad met his mom back in '42. That early start failed miserably. Moving to Virginia in 1962 where his father was assigned with the US Army, Sam quickly found himself jamming with a friend J.B. Hildebrand and soon formed a band. Not long after that, Sam and J.B. joined an established band in Hampton, The Invaders. The Invaders were eventually sponsored by WGH, the local top-40 AM radio station.
Just as the career of the Invaders was really taking off in the Fall of '63, Sam's dad retired from the Army and the family relocated to Washington again leaving behind his friends in the Invaders and all his other friends from the Fort Monroe Teen Club and high school. Almost immediately, Sam found another band that was just forming, The Regents. Sam stayed with The Regents from '63 until they disbanded around early '67. In '67 Sam went into the military, as did so many young men in those days. With the princely military wage of $90.60 per month, Sam wound up selling all of his music equipment and never played again until 1995 when he decided to get back into making music... something he enjoyed so much while with The Regents.
There were so many fond memories of being with The Regents that Sam set out to find all of the original members, and by 1997 he was successful. The old band started getting together from time to time just to jam and have fun, and continue to do it on a regular basis.
For the past fourteen years, Sammy has also been playing with a classic rock band in Kennesaw, Georgia. They call themselves The Breaks.
Smiling Sam 1947 ~ 1997 ~ 2009)
Interests - Hobbies
I have been interested is so many things over the years... starting out early in life loving to tinker with cars and playing music with friends. I don't know how many times I took apart and re assembled almost every part of my '55 Chevy and my '60 Pontiac, and dreamed about finally getting my '28 Ford to move under its own power. I dreamed a lot about that '28 Ford moving, but dreaming just didn't do the job. I spent a bunch of money on those old cars and never got any of it back, but it sure was fun.
Music! I've always enjoyed. Music first entered my life in about 1955 when my parents arranged for me to take piano lessons in Southern California. I did that for a few months then switched to trumpet with the school band. In about '59, I got my first guitar. I soon found that I didn't do too well playing chords as a lefty on a right-handed guitar. A short time later I discovered that I was actually quite good at playing bass, even a right-handed bass, and that was what I stuck with for an instrument. For vocal training I joined the choirs at Wilson High School in Tacoma, WA. At one time I was in three different school choirs, including the Studio-Swing Choir and was selected as a tenor for the All State Choir. I guess this came in handy later while singing cadence to marching soldiers during my Army years.
As I get a little older, I find myself interested in digging up those old family roots. My family came over from Scandinavia around the turn of the 20th century or just after. I grew up hearing all the cute accents from family members and Mor Mor (mother's mother). And yes, I have heard almost every Scandinavian joke ever told. Unlike some other groups, we Scandinavians love our ethnic jokes because we think the teller is talking about some other Swede, Dane or Norwegian, not us. So far, I've reached back to about 1100 for my Scandinavian roots. We never lost contact with the family still living in the "Old Country". They were all a great help in finding or leading me to the lost branches of our family tree.
I always had a fascination with antique guns. This fascination eventually led to my taking up target shooting, restoring and selling antique firearms for fun and profit. For me it is a lot of fun to take a 100 year old Swedish military rifle to the range for some bench shooting. I always set up next to some guy with a multi-thousand dollar target rifle, and out shoot him with a $75.00, 100 year old antique. Old "Swedes" are still pretty useful. J
Sammy with Time Domain - Waukesha, WI
Eventually, I went full circle in my interests and returned to music in late 1995 while living in Wisconsin. Jim Valley (Viceroys, Goodtimes, Raiders), got me thinking about playing again. I left Wisconsin in 1997 to accept employment in Georgia, leaving behind my friends and my bands. I had been playing with Time Domain, jamming with another band, and was just starting to rehearse with The Chubby Classics when the new job came up. I didn't have to sit around long after arriving in Georgia. I soon I found myself jamming again, then flying home to Washington to jam with The Regents and our friends from The Sonics. My new band in Georgia is fun. Actually they are more than fun... they are bizarre with wacky senses of humor that fit me just fine. I did not select the first band name for the new band, the other member did. They named us "Sam I Am"! I still am holding out for a band name change to "We Suck!". I don't think I'll win that one now that we are actually getting pretty good (don't tell the other band members I said that they are getting good). We finally settled on the name The Breaks. I think name is appropriate because we are all so old we have to take a lot of breaks. Either that, or it's because we get a break when we get a gig. Lately, we've been getting a lot of breaks :)
Sammy has been a pretty busy guy in the years since he left the Regents. Besides completing a career in the U.S. Army, he wound up with a son and two daughters, and managed to complete a Bachelor of Science degree from New York and a Master of Science from Central Michigan University. So far his children have presented him with the problem of trying to keep track of the birthdays of all his grandsons and granddaughters.
At times it seems I have several families. There are my wife, mother and father, along with the assorted aunts, uncles and cousins. I have three children... HA!, if you can call them children! The eldest is another Sam who served us all in the Gulf War and is still out there protecting us in the US Army. Sam has three sons. The eldest daughter, Jeanette, two sons and two daughters. Then there is the baby, Jackie, who was eating up all my money in school in Florida.
Another family is the large circle of friends from the days I was in the Army. You make a lot of friends when you share a life style with people 24 hours a day in four foreign countries and in nine different states of the USA. Sammy gathered this family around him over a 24 year period... He spent a bit more than 20 years in the Regular Army, rising from Private to First Sergeant; was demoted to Second Lieutenant and rose to Captain before retiring in 1987. Sam started his military time in May of 1967 in Basic Combat Training (BCT) at Fort Lewis, Washington in E Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade (E-3-1). In July of 1967, went to Advanced Individual Training (AIT), Light Weapons Infantry at "Tigerland", Fort Polk, LA, and was assigned to A Company, 6th Battalion, 3rd Brigade (A-6-3). Four assignments later, after graduating from advanced Infantry training, Sam wound up in what is known in some circles as Human Intelligence where he spent twelve of the next 20 years in Asia, Central America and Europe. He was very briefly (about 1 millisecond) recalled for duty during the Gulf War but it ended before he could report. He then went into a Guard unit in Texas where he wound up commanding a Military Police Battalion and departing as a Lieutenant Colonel when he left Texas for employment in Wisconsin in 1995 and temporarily ending his total of 24 years in the military. In May 2005, Sam was called out of retirement and placed back on active duty. From May 2005 to May 2007, he commanded a detachment at Fort Meade, MD., then in September 2007 was sent to Afghanistan where he had the pleasure of working for the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions of the Combined Joint Task Force in Bagram, Afghanistan. He retired again in September 2008, but for only a very short time. In March 2009, Sam was called up out of retirement again and sent back to Afghanistan for another year. He returned to Fort Drum, New York in January 2010 and retired for the 4th time in March 2010.
Sam with his new band in Afghanistan, 2007-2008 - Cool band uniform, huh?
Finally, there is another family I had in my youth, and only recently found again... the original Regents. We shared so many experiences and fun times that we are like brothers. Dave Roland (drums and vocals), Rich Liebe (lead guitar and backup vocals), Richard Rossiter (rhythm guitar and backup vocals), Billy McPherson (saxophone, flute, clarinet), and me, Sammy Carlson (bass and backup vocals). In August 1999, we found the "sixth" member of the '65 group, Dick Foreman. Dick sang with us when Dave couldn't. In December 1999, we found Chris Isakson, who played lead guitar briefly with the original group then continued on with the Regents-II until the final breakup. Soon after finding Chris, we found Terry Bailey, guitarist and front man for Regents-II, then finally in August 2000 we heard from Genie Allen, who sang with the Regents along with Sue Isekite as the Chandelles. Very recently, we also found the Regents II drummer, Chuck Doten and horn player Gary Udovich, then in April of 2003 were thrilled to finally find Sue Isekite.. Except for Olsen, the family is whole again.
Sam's Gear - Old & New
People keep asking me what gear I used in the old days, and what I use now. Okay, for all of the curious people out there... this is the whole list.
1960's Band Vehicles
Everybody seemed to use their own vehicles for band equipment transport. These were the days before BIG equipment bands and the need for roadies (band boys, as we called them then). There were certain vehicles among the group members that wound up being the main band vehicles. First was Dave's VW Bus... which was absolutely necessary to handle Dave's drums and the Leslie speaker cabinet.
The number two vehicle was Sammy's 60's Pontiac Bonneville with a U Haul tagging along behind. That darned car could seat six comfortably as it was the widest production passenger car ever produced in the USA. It had a huge trunk trunk and a 389 c.i./333 BHP V8 engine. When Sammy got done fiddling with the engine, it wound up producing 525 HP out of 451 c.i., that could make that big lead sled got through a 1/4 mile in less than 11 seconds.
After a while with that big built up engine, Sam lost all interest in only getting between 5 miles per gallon and two gallons per mile, so he picked up a '55 Chevrolet Station Wagon with a sensible 265 c.i. V-8 and a 3 speed manual transmission. He later obtained a second '55 Chev wagon with a nice blue paint job (not pictured).
After his first trip to Afghanistan in 2007, Sam picked up a new band vehicle... it was kind of a serious upgrade from the old blue '55 Chev Wagon but the colors were similar. This time he obtained a 2008 Dodge Magnum.
During the early years I had a '61 or '62 Danelectro bass guitar with the several Virginia bands I was in with my buddy J.B. Hildebrand. Along with the Danelectro bass, I had a Silvertone combo amp driving 2 12" speakers of unknown (Sears) manufacture. By the time I joined the Invaders, I dumped the Silvertone for a '63 Fender Bassman piggyback amp.
Right after Joining the Regents, I dumped the Danelectro and bought a P-Bass (a '59, if I recall correctly) from Rich Liebe and kept thumping on that great bass and its flat wound strings until 1967. I sold it to a music store in Lakewood, WA just before I entered the Army in 1967.
When I started up playing again in late 1995, the first bass I put my hand on was a new Standard Fender P-Bass.
In 1996, I replaced the Standard Fender P-Bass with a sunburst Standard Fender Jazz bass and slapped some flat wound string on it. I later gave this bass to my youngest daughter.
Later in 1996, I picked up a Fender P-Bass Lyte DeLuxe 50th Anniversary model with a solid raw mahogany body. I also treated that fine little bass with some Austrian flat wound strings.
For a while in 1998, I had a an old 1968 Mosrite bass, but that 5-ton beast was just too much for my body and fingers so I sold it off pretty darned fast.
In late 2000, I finally took the plunge and bought a 5 string bass, an Ibanez with a beautiful natural wood body. It took me forever to get used to that extra string, but encouragement from Ron Foos and Bill Majkut to stick with it and give it a try, I did. Now I have a tough time playing a 4 string.
In 2001, an opportunity to pick up a backup 5 string bass... new in the box Cort A5 Custom because the buyer never felt he had the time to transition to a 5 string bass. Okay, I stole it from him at the price I paid. I loaned it out to people who are considering changing over to a 5 string. I tell them, "Here, take it and play with it for a month or so. After that time you'll know if you want to buy a 5 string." It is another beautiful natural wood body bass that I now use as my primary instrument.
In 2004, I added an acoustic electric 5-string bass by JB Player to the stash of basses. This is fun to play unplugged and I don't have to worry about someone yelling early in the morning "Hey, turn that thing down". Though not a high dollar item by any means it is surprisingly nice to play, punchy yet clean sounding.
My first bass amp was some '61 or '62 2x10 Silvertone bass amp that I traded in for my '63 Fender Bassman Piggyback. That '63 was a great amp and very punchy. It wasn't a powerhouse, but it got the job done. In '66, I traded the Bassman for a new SUNN 200S... one of the then new monster amps with a whopping 250 watts pushing two 15" Lansing D140F speakers. That was about four times the power of the Bassman. When Uncle Sam called on me to join the US Armed Forces in 1967, I reluctantly sold all my band equipment. Ray Kellog of the Noblemen and Ice picked up the Amp and as of April 2004 Ray reports he still has it and it still works!
When I started up playing again in '95, the first amp I picked up was s nifty little practice amp with a single 8" speaker. That was good enough to practice at home with, but when I got in with Time Domain in early '96, I quickly picked up a Peavey TNT 115BW. That was a nice amp, but without a roadie or wheels, it just got too heavy to carry around.
About a year later, I replaced the Peavey with a Fender BXR 300C. This is one great little combo amp that I've used at private party events to huge venues, such as a major sports stadium. It has plenty of punch for its size and having only a single 15" speaker. At one big outdoor event, I was using the BXR 300 and it was mic'd through our PA system. After the first two songs, I reached back and turned off the mic and turned up the volume on that little powerhouse. Band members turned around and gave surprised smiles that said "YES, we can hear you now!".
In '97, while wandering through the back room of a music store in Waukesha, Wisconsin, I came across a near mint condition SUNN Sonic 1-40 with the optional second cabinet... Wow, an original SUNN Tube BASS amp with two cabinets, each with an original Lansing D140F 15" speaker. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I made my best deal, then the proprietor said, oh, wait... the covers and spare tubes are around here somewhere. Out came a shoe box with all original US manufactured tubes and near mint condition original covers as well for the head and each cabinet. When I examined the connecting cables, they also appeared original as well... This is a great amp... Except for having two cabinets and only half the power (125 watts) it is virtually identical to that old SUNN 200S (250 watts). In January of 2003, I reluctantly adopted that SUNN out to a good family in Pennsylvania. In its lifetime it has lived in Oregon, California, Wisconsin, Georgia, and now Pennsylvania.
The SUNN Sonic 1-40 at its new adopted home in PA
I later found a SUNN Concert Bass head, then later a Coliseum Bass head, both from the early 70's. They are nice, but don't have the fullness and warmth of the tube SUNN head.
Before leaving Wisconsin in '97, I came across a Sonic 2x15 (two Lansing Altec 15") cabinet that was just sitting there pleading with me to take it home. I broke down and took it home with me. I now us it with with the nice Fender BXR 200 head I picked up in 2004. That is a nice combination that my 5 string really likes.
After adopting out the SUNN Sonic 1-40 to a nice family, I picked up a new bottom rig, an Ampeg 4x10 HLF that really sounds great when used in conjunction with the Sonic 2x15 bottom.
In February 2007, I came across a second Fender BXR 200 head, plus a Fender BXR 410H bottom.
None... I never even used a "fuzz" pedal in the 60's. Idid find the right compression pedal, one to make the bass "growl" a bit more. I guess I'm still a Stone Age bass player who mostly just uses whatever doesn't require a pedal.
Until '65, I always used the "band" microphone... usually a big ElectroVoice. In '65 I bought my first microphone, a Shure 545S. What a great microphone.
The next microphone I bought was a Shure SM58. I have no other voice microphones, but do have four Shure mics I use for recording instruments. Shure sure makes good stuff.
Cables, Stands, Pics, Tuners
Who cares? I sure don't. If it works, that's all that matters.Everybody who regularly cruises the net likes links, so here you all are... click on the links bar! If you have any more suggested links that are associated with music of the "classical" period of Pacific Northwest rock and roll, please e-mail them to me at SamCarlson@PNWBands.com or to the site Web Slave at Webmaster@PNWBands.com (oh... did we tell you Sammy is the Web Slave [webmaster] for TheRegents.net and PNWBands.com?